Blood & Semen
After the Great Armageddonic War humans only survived on the vast arid plain of Altamon. Here the high mountains of the Western Alps drained the winds of the toxic rain that annihilated the rest of the world's humans allowing a few million to survive. Over a century later the small residual population of Earth is divided into two adjoining warring nations each determined to exterminate the peoples of the other.
Cruelty, Love and Honour in the Late Twenty Second Century
In the south lies the Arun Nation ruled by the warmaster, His Supreme Justice Bolobo, whose realm dominates the southern part of the plain. He believes in rites and mokratik values. His citadel is a truncated, once giant skyscraper that dominates Kalgoru, his low, grey, almost treeless, congested capital. The front of his patched, slogan incised citadel overlooks the large Revolution Square around which a few newer buildings have been erected. Above His Supreme Justice's speech balcony cast in concrete is: THE PATHS OF CRUELTY LEAD TO THE PALACE OF POWER, a slogan coined by his diminutive Chief Commissar and Psychomaster, Dr. Lorcol. From the square four, multi-cartwidth roads lead through the shanties and rubble built warrens of the proleburbs to the surrounding irrigated lowlands. About a mile west and east of the citadel the concrete fortresses of the two youth gangs, the Mafis and the Yakis rise above the skyline. Rubble and debris from the long ago War are everywhere. A pleasant small river with marvellously clear toxic water briskly meanders through, and outside the city are charming neverdrink lakes. The Western Alps with the huge icefields behind provide a distant scenic backdrop.
To the north lies the Whytun Nation Ruled by the warmaster, King Khaal, The Magnificent. Unlike Bolobo, a general who seized power in a coup, Khaal is the fifth in his royal line. His palace in Edomon is an ancient structure whose large dome miraculously survived the devastation of the War. It overlooks a steep picturesque valley with an equally toxic river which divides the city in two. Khaal's devoted gangs are two young male orders, the Oblais and the Penis, which is how “penitents” got shortened. Their fortified monasteries lie either side of the river between the two low double cart width bridges which serve the inner serfburbs. Khaal's spiritual advisor, His Most Illustrious, the Holy Confessor has his cathedral under the dome. The Western Alps can only be seen from the roofs of taller buildings. The Whytuns are strokrats priding themselves on their pride and tradition. They are contemptuous of the mokratik Aruns.
The two nations war incessantly for control of the springs at the Springface which emerge from ancient unpolluted aquifers in the central foothills of the Western Alps. This precious water sustains almost all human life and each nation's survival and population base depends, it is believed, on how much of the supply they can control. Other streams originating in the immense icefields that formed during the Twenty Year Winter that followed the War contain toxic pollutants and nourish few useful plants on their journey east. They are avoided except by the desperate. To the East lies a forbidding lifeless land with huge lakes, salt pans and low barren hills. It is called the Deadlands as no plants can survive in this region where the persistent toxins accumulate. There are legends of huge oceans far to the west and the east but no one within reckoning of remembered generations has seen them.
Both sides wage war mercilessly using primitive methods and scarce sophisticated technology remaining from the Before. The latter cannot be replaced and the conflict is gradually depleting the supply of weapons and ammunition left over from the Great Armageddonic War in the previous century. Guns are fairly common but bullets and missiles are worth several times their weight in gold. It is a bitter war of attrition where in addition to competing for the critical water they raid each other to deplete the other's population and seize its fertile woman. The war takes a terrible toll on the men who are less than half as numerous as women. The infertile women provide the bulk of the labor and only rise above subsistence through the open and unregulated sex trade. The culture and languages of both nations are similar having common roots which they deny. They are separate races each defining itself by male blood and semen.
In the rugged hilly infertile Wildlands between the two nations independent bands eke out a subsistence from isolated small springs and hunting and gathering. Though their numbers are relatively few and declining they are replenished by exiles and those who flee the protection of their warmasters. Only in the Wildlands are the numbers of men and women approximately equal. Those who were raised there are a bare majority but only a fraction of the population is descended from the people who originally settled there after the War, a century and a half ago. They have however given their distinctive anarchistic culture to all Wildlanders as they have long learned how to survive in a hostile world. Some Wildlanders, or Wildis as they are commonly called, can live away from springs indefinitely; hunting, foraging and finding water in rain pools and succulent plants. Early attempts by the nations to subdue the Wildis by killing them failed and organized hunting ceased. It was a risky business. Both Bolobo and Khaal banned their hunting after they found out that too many of their own men died, of accidents and unknown causes, for the number of Wildlanders killed or captured. And the Wildis are temperamentally useless as slaves for the most part. They can be used but they cannot be eradicated or cheaply massacred. To some extent they form a buffer between the two nations. As everywhere only plants growing on soils where the sparse rainfall or irrigation has leached the toxins out of the soil are safe to eat, and the never plentiful game has learnt over generations to only graze near springs or on the coarser grasses towards the ridges. Only in times of drought do they feed in the lusher looking gullies and valleys.
The other precious resource is fertile women. Only about one in five can conceive and many of the offspring are deformed or retarded. Fertile women are well guarded and are generally reserved for the leaders and the breeding farms which sustain the nations' numbers. Procreation is industrialised. In war fertile women are the ultimate prize as race is determined by the semen of the male. Women who have many children are honoured as Mothers of the Race and provided with luxuries. Infertile females are valued only for their labour, company and sexual services.
Many children are born handicapped, some are culled soon after birth while others less affected are exiled to the plains to raise crops or become part of the lower classes of Kalgoru and Edomon, the respective capitals of the Arun and Whytun nations. Most fertile females are kept at the breeding farms and forced to bear children. Twenty is not uncommon. The selection system is not foolproof and occasionally a supposedly infertile female gives birth to a normal healthy child. When discovered these women are conscripted for the breeding farms. While males are generally potent most are also sterile but this is of little import as only the leaders and selected studs have access to fertile females. For the masses sex bears no relation to procreation and is encouraged as another diversion from the oppressiveness of life, along with drugs and bloody spectacles,
Control of the waters of the Springface's major springs is everything. The men and older youths of both nations are sent to fight in the unending battle to control the hundreds of life giving springs in the central foothills, and maintain and guard the flumes and channels that carry the precious water to the fertile lowlands. The peasants in the lowlands lack arms and organization and must serve those who control the water.
Time is reckoned since the Before, that period of great achievements which they live in the shadow of. All around them are the remnants of an advanced technology, most of it no longer understood, and the cataclysmic consequences of the Great Armageddonic War that ended the Before. What happened? What caused the demise of the Before? Intellectual debate to the extent that it exists is dominated by this question. What flaws of man, culture or society led to the impoverished, confined, degraded world they live in? All Altamonian philosophy revolves around this question.
Both Bolobo and Khaal rely on gangs of boys to control their armies and people. Only the youth have the combination of idealism, malleability, energy and ignorance to be trusted by the warmasters. Most boys are schooled in the harsh ideology of the leaders in their early years at the breeding and nurturery farms and those entering the gangs see themselves as a privileged vanguard, and eagerly serve their warmasters. The others, the proles and serfs without the prospect of children and heirs, care for little beyond their immediate needs and desires, and must be cajoled or coerced into serving the goals of the warmasters.
In the Arun nation Bolobo uses two youth gangs, the Yakis and the Mafis to control his people, especially in the proleburbs of Kalgoru, and to raise money through drugs, gambling and prostitution. The gangs compete, fight each other for business in an unending struggle which Bolobo sees as a training ground for their future roles in government and the military. He takes a personal interest in the discipline and training of the boys in the gangs and oversees their activities. From the most dedicated youth he selects recruits for his personal Revolutionary Guards, for his officer corps and for the commissars assigned to maintain the morale of the troops and to ensure the loyalty of his ambitious generals.
Gang members progress through three stages. When they are initiated, usually soon after they are twelve, they are circumcised and become tyros. Boys who fail to show sufficient stoicism are branded on the cheeks and exiled to work in lowland agriculture and fuel gathering. Circumcision is proof of gang membership and confers status and power over non members. It is like a caste sign and the circumcised can call upon their gang to support them in any disputes they have with the proles. They come under the direct protection of Bolobo. Any questionable death of a circumcised male is relentlessly pursued while that of others seldom attracts attention. Other boys or men who have themselves cut, presumably for the advantages it confers, face severe punishment and castration if they are discovered.
When members reach fourteen they take part in a Fight Rite where they must demonstrate the virtues of aggression, determination, fortitude and cruelty by beating weaker boys and fighting those much stronger in savage contests. If they do not they are severely whipped and may try again but after a second failure they are branded, castrated and exiled. Those who pass the test become junior warriors and can carry weapons and serve as auxiliaries although they are seldom expected to go into battle. At sixteen gang members become Arunteen Warriors and may serve as junior officers and take part in war. They are expected to test themselves and carry out special missions. Boys in the gangs are expected to form big brother-little brother pair bonds. Bonding occurs across age sets, not within them to integrate the gang and foster continuity
The fortress of the Yaki Gang lies east of Bolobo's Citadel and their turf is separated from that of the Mafis by a teeming slum known as the Contested Triangle, or CT, the innermost of the proleburbs. In one of the hundreds of crude rubble hovels clustered against the fortress's thick concrete walls, a Yaki gang pair bond, a Tyro and a Junior Warrior are entwined in passionate embrace. Bolobo approves of such liaisons which he hails as a useful soldiering tradition to foster the qualities of loyalty, heroism and sacrifice. Sex, according to his Psychomaster, Dr. Lorcol, is something to be exploited not repressed. Members are expected to form liaisons with comrades at least two years older or younger than themselves. Sex with females though not forbidden is discouraged as unmanly and prolish. In their training sex is deliberately linked with violence and cruelty as Bolobo believes that this makes his warriors more proficient and terrifying. It is all very obvious to him. For the boys physical and romantic intimacy provide mutual belonging and support and make their harsh existence more bearable.
The older boy Kami, a robust, ash blond, shock haired youth in the full bloom of adolescence is a Junior Warrior, and actually a Wildlander, or Wildi, something unheard of in Kalgoru, and something known to very few. Sol, a slender dark haired pubescent boy with delicate Asian features is a Tyro who spent his first nine years at an elite breeding and nurturery farm where the most distinguished soldiers are rewarded with an opportunity to sire children. The chance to breed is a great incentive for valour. Kami and Sol have been lovers since they met over two years ago. Their love and commitment to each other is profound and they both love sex, sex and more sex.
Kami lies back on their bedding his bent legs supporting Sol who sits on his chest his elbows locked around his lover's knees. Kami's arms encircle Sol's thighs and he licks and sucks Sol's balls, teasing and mouthing them to Sol's squealing delight. "You have the sweetest sweetmeats, little brother." Sol is moaning with delight and starting to pant when his cock, untouched, quivers and squirts a gob of semen which becomes a pearl on his big brother's nose.
Kami continues to gently munch on his ecstatic lover's compact sac until Sol squeals, “I can't take it any more.” They laugh and Sol shifts back, leans over to lick the gob and kisses Kami. Tongues probe and swirl, tasting the juice of their joy. They squirt spermy saliva back and forth in a fluid exchange ritual, the most intimate of rites, and smear it on each other's faces until they glisten. After meticulously licking each other clean, nostrils, ears and sucking on eyelashes, the boys relax. Kami lights a cigarette and shares it with Sol. He gets five a week allowance now that he's a Junior Warrior.
After a few minutes they lazily fondle and kiss. Kami playfully traces the thin pales lines on Sol's chest, residual scars from their whippings at the rites two moons ago. Sol smiles at him, "I like our scars, they make us more like brothers."
“And did you like getting them?”
Sol hesitates, a quizzical expression on his face. “No. But isn't it better to have scars than not, like that big one on your ear? And the thin one by your eyebrow?”
“You think they look good? You do not need them little brother, but when you are a warrior you will get many.” They sloppily kiss, finish the cigarette inhaling lazily, and watch the smoke drift upwards.
Then with a shout of mock aggression Sol pushes his lover back, and leaps on him, pinning his shoulders and working his ass down on Kami's ready rod jiggling and bouncing until his weight is on the older boy's pubes. Kneeling astride Kami he slowly rotates his hips as they gaze into each other's eyes and clasp hands. "I love your cock inside me, big brother, it feels so good and right, my asshole warbles and my bowels glow with exciting fullness."
Leaning forward Kami whispers in his lover's ear, "And I love fucking you this way, I have no desire for a girl's cunt."
Sol replies, "And I… I delight in your warm massage which sends ripples of pleasure through me like the wavelets from a pebble tossed in a pond."
Kami also gives words to his ecstasy, "And I within you, delight in feeling your warm living flesh enfold me with warm sparkling sensations." Gradually the imperceptible thrusts grow in strength, Sol leans forward, they embrace and kiss, the action becoming vigorous, and they pant and squeal and bite into each other's shoulder as Kami climaxes. They disengage and lie back lightly tracing their fingers over their sweating forms until Kami, raising himself, takes Sol's slender cock in his mouth and lovingly brings him to another climax. As the youngster's cock finally goes limp he caresses and kisses the boy's balls admiring the neatly divided crinkled nuts. "I am honoured to be trusted with your most delicate and vulnerable flesh, my prince." He gives them more than a gentle bite.
Sol grins, "For you big brother, I would gladly sacrifice them."
Sol as a farm boy has had a typical life for an Arun boy. Unfortunately his father was killed in battle when he was very young and his busy breeding mother had little time for him. His schooling inculcated devotion to Bolobo and Sol dedicated his young life to serving him. But the farm with its Spartan life and tedious routine bored him, and at nine seeking excitement and opportunity he left and sought a living in Kalgoru.
There he met childless women who mothered, adored, spoiled, fondled and disgusted him. Unhappy, unfulfilled women are everywhere in Kalgoru. Then, like many other youngsters, he began sonning, playing the role of a son for lonely men providing company, filial affection and sometimes minor sexual liberties. Because of his child-like cuteness and willingness to please Sol was much in demand. He learnt to use and enjoy his puerile beauty and was soon able to be choosy, mainly serving younger military men who might help him in his quest to become a warrior in Bolobo's army. The men he sonned seldom beat him although when they did he accepted it without complaint. Like many farm boys he is proud of his fortitude. His “dads” generally treated him well and generously. Sol didn't mind the sexual aspect and the control it gave him, but he did not like the intense emotional scenes where men would cry and slobber over him. Some men invent a history to make the relationship seem more real, a prodigal tale, and occasionally a man comes to believe that the boy is his progeny from some remote affair with an undetected fertile woman. And some boys come to believe that the man who keeps him, if only sometimes, is his real father. Girls, Sol is unsure about and avoids but he admires and is strongly attracted to boys a few years older than himself.
Born of a supposedly infertile mother in the Wildlands, Kami through the twists of fate and fortitude became an Arun Junior Warrior. He is one of extremely few in the Arun Nation who has any intimate knowledge about life in the Wildlands. Kami came to be an Arun in a very round about way. Six years previously during one of the bloody spring campaigns Karrull, a respected colonel in Bolobo's army, set out with a small party to conscript Wildlander labour to repair trails. The Wildis resent this practice and when they lack the strength to refuse they often flee. Karrull is not surprised when they come across a cluster of their shanties that have been hastily abandoned, except for one where a small bushy haired boy stands guard with a spear. The boy challenges Karrull when he approaches and when the colonel draws his sword the boy charges and throws his spear wildly. Karrull grabs him and is about to slit his belly open, a standard grisly method of dealing with enemies and those who challenge Arun authority, when eerie moans come from the shanty. Inside his men discover a woman in the throes of giving birth. The boy, Kami is temporarily spared as the astounded men, totally ignorant of the act of birth, stare in rapt fascination at the woman in the agony of labour. As the infant emerges they are dumbfounded and too ignorant to offer any help. Kami, restrained by Karrull's painful grip watches, screams and struggles as his mother haemorrhages and dies. The men are saddened by the sight and disappointed that they will miss out on the bonus they would get for capturing a fertile woman. The baby girl, if she survives, will nevertheless be worthwhile.
Kami sobs uncontrollably, he feels he could have been able to help, and Karrull, touched, puts a gentle arm around him. The boy looks about ten, well over the age that boys are spared, but the colonel hesitates and when finally one of his men mentions it, he says the boy might be made useful in locating the others, and as a hostage. But it is too late in the day to seek them now as it could be dangerous for the small party to return after dark. They return to camp and send the baby back to their base. Plans change the next day, they no longer need conscript labour, and Kami is left with his legs shackled around a tall stump. In his fear and depression he observes and listens finding he can understand most of their speech, a dialect he quickly begins learning. Some of the men talk to him and bring him water and food. They menacingly joke how meat is scarce and that they are fattening him up, “like the Wildis do”. One man feels his thighs and speculates about how tender and tasty they'd be. Several men hang around him curiously as they seldom encounter a child so young. Some probably think of the sons they will never sire. There's a lull in the fighting, the Whytuns have apparently retreated and no Wildlanders are to be found. Karrull feels no urgency in dispatching the boy and initially hobbled, he has him perform minor chores. The boy is bright and spirited, qualities the man admires. No questions about the boy's fate arise and under oath and threat of a grisly retribution Karrull frees the boy from his restraints to serve as his temporary personal slave.
The colonel naturally despises Wildis as savages but at the same time he respects their cunning and courage, even romanticizing them and their free if precarious lives. Sometimes he wonders if the Wildlanders are tougher stock than the Aruns. He has also begun to question the bloody slaughters in the devious war against the Whytuns. He knows he is showing weakness, and sometimes in his heart he doubts his devotion to Bolobo. But then he has pledged himself to His Supreme Justice. He assures himself that he will indeed kill the boy as custom and honour requires when the campaign is over and he's no longer useful, but he knows it's going to be more difficult than he thought. The boy though obedient refuses to cower and insists that he be called Kami, his Wildland name, and not Slavechild. Karrull has to disguise his growing affection with frequent slaps and blows, supposedly for the boy's laziness and mistakes.
Then one day his men return empty-handed from another expedition to conscript Wildlanders and two men are wounded in a skirmish. Karrull becomes angry and turns his rage on Kami beating him mercilessly with his swagger stick. He thinks to kill him then and there, Will I ever again get such a chance? But the boy grimly withstands his blows and the horror of what he is doing overcomes him and he sits down and weeps. The next day Kami is covered with ugly bruises on his shoulders, back and legs and can barely walk. Karrull, seemingly disinterested treats Kami's worst abrasions and tries to make him comfortable. His longing for the boy grows as he recalls his two disappointing vacations at breeding farms which produced no progeny. He has had various boys son him during his winters in Kalgoru but even to be seen with a Wildi boy would be unthinkable. He is careful to show no emotion but he begins to treat Kami with more respect and tenderness although he continues to administer minor beatings.
And then one time immediately after a fairly nasty punishment he realizes he has falsely beaten the boy and impulsively hugs him, calling him Kami instead of Slavechild, and the boy unsure returns the affection. The men at the camp accept Kami, even spoiling him, and he accompanies Karrull and his men on a series of battles for control of one of the channels leading from the Springface swamps. When they return to their base two moons later, Karrull knows he cannot simply kill the boy. He spends some time in deep thought, My warrior's honour demands but my heart implores, before in inner confusion he takes Kami to a nearby open rocky knoll. Karrull tells him he must swear an oath if he is to live. Following instructions he removes his clothes and stands with his back turned to the Wildlands in the distance below. Karrull takes out his cock and ejaculates into his hand and then nicks his forearm with his sword and mixes his blood with his semen. “Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.” he orders. Kami knows to swallow the mixture. “Now repeat after me: I swear on Arun blood and Arun semen that I will forever forsake the ways of the Wildlanders and dedicate my life to the serving the Arun Nation.” Kami swears the oath. “You must tell no one or the wrath of Bolobo may befall us both.”
Kami has a question, “I've heard of Bolobo, but just who is he?”
“Bolobo is… Bolobo is our great leader and warmaster, the Giver of Rule and His Supreme Justice. Arun boys learn about him from infancy.”
“He's a good man?”
“Good? Leaders are not good, a leader cannot be good in the sense you mean it. A leader must be hard, decisive and sharp.”
“And Bolobo is hard, decisive and sharp?”
“Well sometimes things don't work out but, he is a good leader.”
“Good? Is he a man of honour?” Karrull reflects momentarily,
“You will learn.” They return to the base.
No one even comments when Karrull finds Kami a place at the whores' compound where he passes as the brother of one of the girls. There he finds his baby sister cared for and suckled by a dozen adoring, infertile but lactating, young women. The baby is fat and healthy, and Kami spends many hours with his sister when he's not serving Karrull. He holds her, rocks her and licks her all over. She especially likes the back of neck, where she has two tiny moles, licked and kissed. She sucks on his tongue and he exchanges saliva with her in a bonding ritual. With the onset of winter and freezeup most of the soldiers and girls return to lowlands around Kalgoru and Kami loses track of her. She has been named Kaliya by the girls and is assigned to a fosterage with a lowland family where she will remain until her fertility can be tested.
Colonel Kurrull divides the prize money for Kaliya's capture among the men who saw her born. For Kami he quietly arranges an identity based on a missing boy who was supposedly abducted by Wildis a few years earlier. At the time Bolobo, in the name of protecting Arun children had sent out a party to punish the savages. The colonel, knowing better than to boast and attract scrutiny, only privately reveals to his friends how he had saved this Arun child from slavery or worse.
Kami is dazzled by the wonders of Kalgoru, the huge concrete caves with many rooms and the thousands of people like he's never seen before. But he soon meets people and other boys rapidly learning the ways of the Aruns. He is befriended by childless women and learns to give them a childish love, and more awkwardly receive theirs. He is well fed and petted. Soon he begins to son and learns games, sports and manly pastimes and vices.
Kami will never forget the first man he sonned, Drako an old soldier battle scarred and bitter, who complained incessantly about the shortcomings of Bolobo, and explained how if he had been in charge. the Whytuns would have been vanquished long ago. Old battles are refought for his enlightenment and during long evenings lubricated with vodka he learns about weapons and military strategy. Sober, Drako insists on formal manly behaviour and demands instant obedience. Kami is seldom beaten and then only in frustration and anger when he fails to understand some point the old soldier is making. It is only after these incidents that Drako show any affection. For sex the old soldier prefers whores. While Kami does not take Drako's ideas to heart he learns to become sceptical of much he hears.
Most of the men he sons are younger and seem mainly to want sex, and someone to party with. And the sex is often painful and coloured by lust and jealousy, unlike the casual fondling and sex play he remembers from his years in the Wildlands. Kami does however prosper and receives expensive gifts and is introduced to the flourishing underground scenes of Kalgoru indulging in a variety of drugs and entertainments. While he becomes adept at satisfying their sexual needs he has feelings for very few of them, even those who are respectful, kind and treat him generously. Unlike some boys he learns to avoid the mean and manipulative.
One of his dads, Quigli, is a lonely old scribe with a deformed foot. He was wounded, “luckily” he says, in a battle many years ago and walks with the aid of a gnarly willow staff. Quigli is impressed by Kami's intelligence and curiosity and patiently teaches him to read and write with a tablet and stylus. Paper survives mainly in several hundred books from the Before, most of which cannot be read by anyone, although some claim they can and pretend to be wise men. Most books were burnt as fuel during the bitter Twenty Year Winter. Quigli remarks, “It's a pity they couldn't of burnt the computers instead.” Kami asks him what computers are. The old scribe replies, “They are a dangerous form of magic that turn men towards evil.” The few books that survive are revered as repositories of the wisdom of the Before and are thought to possess mystical powers. Only those in English can be roughly deciphered but many of these are the bound annual reports of Hegemon Omnicorp, formerly The Trans Global Petroleum Corporation, which were found in an underground Kalgoru vault when Bolobo had his citadel enlarged. Possessing these books added to Bolobo's prestige and helped him consolidate his rule. Then, mainly because he had so many copies of the HEGEMON reports, he began burning a book, liberating its manna to assure good fortune for an enterprise or battle. And if that doesn't work he may burn another book. This has proven more popular than sacrificing supposedly fertile women which no one believed were fertile in the first place.
Quigli doesn't think the blue imitation leather bound HEGEMON reports have much to say. They have all these charts and columns of statistics. A large part of the books are numbers. Bolobo likes all the black smoke they make when the plastic covers catch fire but there have been complaints about the smell. Quigli's more concerned about other books. When the only copy of one entitled THE INFERNO was burned to bless a henchman's marriage to a fertile young black haired woman he was saddened. Quigli has used devious means over the years to acquire hundreds of pages with printed words, mostly on both sides and in English, a few pamphlets and a tattered copy of Homer's ODYSSEY. This he shows Kami when he's become proficient in reading the language. They spend many hours discussing its meaning. Quigli worries about the diminishing number of books. He tells Kami about other wonderful things they used to have like movies and videos, but the last one crumbled before he was born. “Some of that stuff would save a lot of lives. You know how many they have to kill in spectacles and at the trials, well they used to have these 'snuff flicks' where they'd make an audio visual recording of someone getting killed, probably a bit of torture first, and they could use it again and again. Just think, if you didn't have to kill new people each time. In some ways the Before was more humane than now.” Rudimentary literacy in the common dialect, Arunese, is widespread among males as many soldiers and workers need to understand written instructions, but Quigli believes, writing could do much more. “Writing could convey people's thoughts and feelings, it could describe all the wonderful and mysterious things in the world. It could reveal the present to the future.” There is also propaganda material, some of which Quigli has authored for Bolobo. He shows Kami a parchment of his praising Bolobo's wisdom and genius.
Kami learns the old man's desires and dances for him. He knows the traditional Wildi dances and he's seen erotic boy and girl dancers on his rounds with the men he's sonned. Kami happily performs for him displaying his lithe handsome body. He dances with grace, coyness and a few obscene gestures which delight and satisfy the old man. When he comes to trust the old man he shows him the more exuberant dances he learnt as a child but is vague about how he knows them. Quigli laughs and cries, and warns him to be careful. Kami feels powerful when he dances, a power of joy and beauty, not cruelty.
Kami also sons a demanding sergeant major who takes great interest in training him as he wished he had been trained himself, and was able to train his soldiers. He pays for his membership at the best Yaki gym, personally coaches him in athletic and military skills, and beats him when he fails to live up to his expectations which happens frequently. Kami does not like the heavy beatings, nor the ugly bruises they leave but he appreciates the training he receives and hopes to become a good warrior.
Shortly before Kami turns twelve, Drako who does not expect to live much longer, offers to help him get into his old gang, the Yakis, and takes him to see Vidor the gang Boss. Kami is elated, he has dreamed of becoming a warrior almost since he arrived in Kalgoru. It is one of the few ways to get ahead in Arun society. He already knows what is expected and has no difficulty qualifying including the painful initiation of circumcision performed by Vidor himself. His intelligence and dedication make him an outstanding tyro and Vidor takes a personal interest in him.
The Psychomaster Dr. Lorcol believes that all new gang members should be evaluated after they've settled in. While most of this is done by his senior deputy commissars he likes to remain involved with the process, and he has heard interesting reports about Kami. About a year after his initiation the young tyro is called to the Chief Commissar's office. Kami enters a large high ceilinged, hall like room at the top of Bolobo's citadel. Beneath a huge window of intricately joined pieces of broken glass giving a view of the Western Alps sits a very short balding man at an immense desk. Dr. Lorcol rises, smiles and gestures for him to be seated. “I've heard good reports about you Kami.”
“Thank you doctor sir.”
“Kami, you should know better than to use 'sir', it's unmokratik. Just call me Mr. Doctor.” Kami nods contritely. “Now your studies, are they progressing well?”
“Oh yes, Mr. Doctor, I've already learnt three ways to kill without weapons.”
“Very good.” He smiles, “And have you taken part in the Discipline Rites?”
“Not yet doctor, but I go every chance I get.”
“Very good.” The doctor smiles, “I'm sure if you're patient you'll soon find yourself on stage."
“I hope so Doctor sir.”
“By the way, can you read?”
“Just a little.”
“Excellent, best we don't get carried away though?” Kami nods knowingly. “Now let me see, my young tyro, I have only a few more questions to ask.” Kami tries to smile back at him but can't. “First I must look at your file.” Dr. Lorcol goes through a large drawer of small hard clay tablets and takes one out. He puts on large black eye frames from a pair of Before Time spectacles and studies the tablet. “I see you were once abducted.”
“That's right Mr. Doctor. I wandered off into the hills one day, I was real bad, and a band of Wildis captured me. They made me into a slave.”
“I remember hearing about your case, it was shocking, a free Arun boy having to serve those filthy lazy savages.”
“Then they traded me to another band who needed a sacrifice, for some potato god, I forget his name, and started fattening me up.”
The doctor places a sympathetic hand on Kami's shoulder, “Their barbaric rituals are well known, eating children, even raw, I know how you must of felt. We really should exterminate them.”
“I think they were going to cook me because they had all this green stuff that would add flavour.” Dr. Lorcol wipes a tear from his eye. “But then Colonel Karrull rescued me and took me to his big camp. When he found out how bad I'd been and that I missed two whipping festivals he beat me, and then he kept beating me again and again as soon as I was healed enough.”
“The colonel is a good man, he'll go far, mark my word. Let him be a role model for you.”
“He already is, Mr. Doctor.”
“Now for the most important questions, my young tyro. I want you to tell me what you think about when you masturbate.”
Kami tries to recall, “I don't think much about anything, I just do it.”
“Very well, but do you ever think of another person?”
“Oh sure, other boys, sometimes girls, mostly the small boys who hang around the gym.”
“Very good, little boys are an appropriate focus. Now what about boys your own age?”
“You know you should be careful about boys your own age, it's bad for gang solidarity.”
“But doctor, I really don't jack off that often, mostly I just have sex.”
“And how often do you have sex?”
“Maybe three or four times a day, sometimes more. It all depends.”
“I see. And who do you have sex with?”
“A lot of different people, you know, kids at the gym, some of the Teen Warriors, Vidor. Like Vidor likes to screw all the tyros.”
“I'm pleased to hear that. I wish more of the senior gang members were as diligent.”
Now getting back to masturbation, do you ever think of Bolobo?”
“Can't say that I have.”
“Don't you think you should?”
“I never thought of that.”
“Now Kami, you tell me you have three or four orgasms a day, don't you think you should reserve at least one orgasm a day for Bolobo? Most boys assure me that they do.” Kami doesn't mind lying, a lot of times it's fun, but the question is very awkward. “Now I'm going to give you this painted statuette of His Supreme Justice. He's wearing his best warmaster's uniform and if you look closely down here you can see the outline of a great big throbbing erection. Isn't it magnificent?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Do you think you could masturbate once a day while you look at it?”
“I could try Mr. Doctor.”
“That's great Kami, that's all I ask. I look forward to talking to you again.”
It is over a year after his own initiation into the Yakis when he meets Sol who comes to the gym with a lieutenant he is sonning. Sol who also has dreams of becoming a warrior, starts hanging around watching the members practise martial arts. He has no membership, he's only eleven, but he makes himself useful running errands, performing minor chores and providing sexual favours for the members. He watches and learns, and is occasionally allowed to take part in activities. Some of the older boys bully and tease Sol for his prettiness, and while he can handle their blows he can't deal with their taunts. One day when he is in tears Kami takes him aside, talks to him and explains that he doesn't have to play their petty games, and to ignore them. He gives him confidence in himself and pride in his prettiness. When this works Sol feels he has found someone who understands and cares for him. He tries not to follow the older boy around but constantly thinks about him.
While Kami enjoys the company and easy sex with older boys he avoids the girls who hang around the gangs. He wants someone special, a lover but not an older one. He likes Sol, he likes his sweet face, spunk and proud sexy attitude, and when he sprains an ankle and Sol offers to help him take care of himself, he eagerly accepts. Sol stays with Kami in his hovel and makes him comfortable. Before they have sex which both want and expect they inspect, sniff and taste each other. They play and wrestle, punch, pinch and spank each other. They explore every inch and orifice of each other. They kiss, lick and giggle. And then when they are more than ready they suck each other's cocks. They suck lazily, teasingly and aggressively playing with each other's sex. Kami squirts three times in Sol's mouth and they kiss, squishing the spermy saliva back and forth in a rite of affiance. Sol who can't squirt is sucked silly. And then they fuck. Kami fucks Sol hard and long until his asshole is sore. Sol does his best at his turn. Fucked out they rest and lazily finger each other and sniff the pungent shitty aroma on their fingers. Sol fetches water and they clean up before they sleep. Sol is happy to wait on his new friend, to fetch things, make tea and run errands, and take the potty to the latrine. Kami lets him do more than he needs to. They are both happier than they can remember. By the time Kami's fully recovered a week later they have become lovers in love. It is a powerful love distinguished by its depth and intensity. Kami shares the secret of his Wildland origins which must be hidden from the gang. Sol's devotion exceeds the usual worship of younger for older boys. They thrive on each other.
While gang members can freely have affairs with boys too young to be initiated, once a boy reaches twelve gang members can no longer fraternize with them as they along with proles are regarded with suspicion. While many members will find another young boy it is not uncommon for a warrior to sponsor a boy for membership and not wanting to give up Sol Kami decides to try. Kami who recently passed his fight rite and became a junior warrior, or JW is well regarded by Vidor, the Yaki Boss, and is given permission to sponsor Sol. He can also perform the cutting ritual if he wants. Bolobo, he's sure, will approve the bond.
Circumcision is a test of the initiate's courage and commitment, and the gangs do not want to make membership easy. Therefore, they are usually more painful than the simple operation requires. Boys are expected to demonstrate the necessary fortitude and any boy who utterly fails the test is branded, castrated and becomes an outcast disdained by even the lowest proles. After the ring of skin is severed it is threaded on the gang's necklace of the Eternal Bond, a long cord of twisted gold filaments on which are threaded the prepuces of the thousands who have ever been Yaki Gang members. After the cord is retied symbolizing the initiate's acceptance into the gang. The boys call it marrying the gang. The necklace holds over a century of Yaki foreskins and is heavy and many yards long when uncoiled. After some years it becomes hard to tell the individual skins apart. At gang councils the necklace is worn by the leader as a symbol of authority. It literally comprises the flesh of all who've been in the gang. They swear their gang oaths by the way of the Eternal Bond. Bolobo, on occasions when he demands unity between the Yakis and Mafis, will intertwine both necklaces and wear them around his neck.
Kami has seen a few circumcisions and certainly remembers his own where Vidor used a not too sharp blade to slowly saw his off his foreskin. Sol is excited about joining and they discuss how to do it and which friends to invite. They want to impress the gang's leaders with Sol's grit and even rehearse a traditional technique favoured when boys initiate little brothers. Vidor with several of his henchmen are waiting in the media centre and two junior warriors set down a litter holding the Yaki Necklace of the Eternal Bond in front of the Boss. Kami introduces Sol and the members inspect him. “Nice looking kid.” Vidor remarks, “You got good taste there Kami.” His henchmen also approve and chat up the cute initiate. Vidor takes the coiled necklace and looks at it pleased, and turning to the two young litter bearers, “You did a good job on the old hoop, it was getting pretty dry and stiff.” One the boys explains that they spent three days cleaning the Necklace with tiny little brushes, a day oiling it and two days buffing. The cord of ancient foreskins is soft to the touch and gleams in motley, rich earthy hues. Vidor places the heavy coil over his head and undoes the clasp. “You know you can't use varnish, I hear some Whytun gang tried it and the skins crumbled after a while and they started using a jar.” The boy's expression says he already knew. “OK, Let's get started then.”
Vidor turns to Sol, “Ready to be snipped kid?” Sol nods, removes his clothes and stands proudly. Kami exchanges glances with a few friends who've come to see the ceremony and congratulate the new member. “I'm glad you're gonna snip him Kami. I get tired of everybody wanting me to it, it don't make no difference who does it.” Kami kneels in front of Sol who gently cradles his head. Kami pulls the snug foreskin forward and clamps it evenly with his teeth. Sol tries to relax, takes a deep breath and pulls his groin away stretching the skin. Then Kami takes his warrior's dagger and using his lips as a guide carefully saws through the taut flesh until Sol's cock snaps back, blood spattering his belly. It's relatively simple and quick and the members politely applaud. Sol manages a proud smile and examines his bleeding cock. Vidor calls for everyone's attention, “Remember, gang, we got to do it right.” All those present take some blood from Sol's cock and use it to anoint themselves on the forehead, over the heart and on their own cocks. When it looks like there's not going to be enough for everyone Sol gets his cock bleeding again and spectators yell their approval.
“A fine new member.” One of the henchmen welcomes him.
Kami takes the severed ring of skin from his mouth and hands it to Vidor who holds it up for the others. After most people have kissed it Vidor threads it on to the Eternal Bond necklace, closes the clasp and announces, “OK Sol, it's official now, you're married to the gang.” Everyone congratulates him and gives him a sloppy kiss. A keg of potent gang brew is opened, pipes are filled with hashish and a drunken party ensues where everyone dances with the new initiate. Sol soon feels little pain and hours later Kami takes the tipsy and exhausted boy back to his hovel. That night he slathers his saliva on the cut but is careful not to suck. He is happy to have a little brother which makes him more than himself.
Sol's cock heals nicely and a few moons later they decide to go to one of the weekly Discipline Rites in the Drama Dome which all gang members are supposed to attend at least once a moon although no one's ever taken attendance. They're both overdue, Sol hates to miss them but Kami says he's seen enough. Bolobo erected the Dome not long after he seized power, he wanted more control of the gangs' rituals than was possible or decent in public. The Drama Dome is a special theatre in the round which can provide up to a thousand standees with intimate views of the stage where the rites are performed. Bolobo sees the trials and punishments as encouraging gang spirit, cruelty, fortitude and as a way of asserting his personal presence and authority. He cultivates the boys in the gangs, he knows how to cater to their good natured, horny, trusting and idealistic sentiments and mould them into warriors, fighting machines, tough, cruel and loyal to him. Bolobo once heard about some Before Time big brother philosopher who demonstrated the cosmic unity of opposites like War is Peace and Love is Hate, and the more he thinks about it, the truer it becomes. Pain is Pleasure, that's an old one we all know but, Cruelty is Kindness? It would be nice to have that, let's see, short term pain for long term gain?, and you know what else? Boys take things more seriously when they're hurt and suffer, it could speed up some learning processes which would be kind. Just think, if you could get them through the ordinance manual in two weeks in stead of six moons they be begging for cruel whippings and you couldn't blame them, that course is so dull.
In his altruistic interludes Bolobo sees himself as helping boys to explore bizarre ways of satisfying, sating their primed and primal urges. The ideal is creative, spontaneous cruelty constantly adjusting according to the nuances of the situation. He likes to observe their reactions. Bolobo gives His boys a demanding and heroic culture and a big role in his political control of the proles and army. At the rites violators and recalcitrant youth belonging to both gangs are tried, whipped and tortured for the enlightenment and entertainment of all gang members. As a mokratic revolutionary he cannot use the majesty of majesties and thus he appropriates that of magistrates. Justice is form. He usually starts with a harangue about the necessity of cruelty and fortitude for a warrior's success which some boys claim never varies.
The accused are tried under the Rule of Bolobo. It is oral law and, to maintain its purity, recording his Rule in writing is forbidden. His Rule is immediate and unappealable. And it is almost always harsh in deference to the principle of cruelty. And as boys need to learn cruelty, as well as endure it, he has them carry out most punishments. Sometimes he even picks a boy at random from the audience to flog one of his peers. Boys must, he believes, learn to give as well as receive. Boys who fail to show mettle during their ordeals are humiliated and on rare occasions castrated, a job Bolobo himself will carry out. This day the program includes the trial and punishment of four young Yaki Gang members who were caught pilfering nirvana from supplies they were supposed to distribute to the proles. As is the custom they will be flogged by similar aged members of the other gang, the Mafis. Boys do not like to lose face and face the taunts of their gang if they fail to show sufficient stoicism or effort. The rites are very competitive with each gang encouraging and cheering on their respective members on the stage.
One reason Kami wants to go this time is to see the punishment of Kalabi, an older youth who crippled a Yaki boy in a gang fight. Two moons earlier the same Kalabi had reported him and Sol for sampling the special food rations reserved for the commissars and they had received the bloodiest whippings of their lives as a result. They still have the scars. They know Kalabi's ordeal will be severe as Bolobo does not like to see any boy's potential as a warrior impaired. Several other boys, both Yakis and Mafis, will be punished for lesser offences. Bolobo believes that these cruel entertainments boost morale and help prepare his boys for the realities of war. And they are very popular.
Kami and Sol put on their distinctive short vests with the gang colours, which are obligatory at gang functions, and arrive early finding good standing places on the second step just behind the front rank. A rigid gang truce is enforced during the rites and members are expected to mingle. Soon other boys crowd around making little room to move. Sol notices Korbo, the leader of the Mafis standing not far away with a young boy wearing no gang colours. This is unusual as the uninitiated are not allowed to attend the rites. However, as an older Mafi boy nearby sarcastically explains, “It's a special privilege, the boy's Korbo's kid brother Beni who's gonna be initiated in a couple of days.” He adds confidentially, “I hear the kid's a bit of a wimp and Korbo thinks seeing the rites might help toughen him up.”
Bolobo, surrounded by burly Revolutionary Guards with bullwhips, makes his way to the small central stage. He is a large, forceful older man with a shaved head dressed in a tailored version of an ordinary soldiers uniform. He wears many ribbons and rainbow epaulets symbolizing his destiny to rule over all peoples. Speaking with practised gestures he makes his inspirational speech extolling aggression, cruelty to enemies and physical fortitude. He again tells them of the legendary philosopher king, the Great Derfuror of the Before. “The Great Derfuror pioneered breeding farms to strengthen his race. He created an elite army of boy warriors to defend his empire. He said youth must be hard, cruel, fearless, and able to bear all pain. And that is what I expect, what I demand from you. He said weakness must be hammered out. And that is what these rites are about. He said he would establish a New Order. And you, the gang youth are the vanguard of my new order based on Arun principles. That is my plan. We must annihilate the degenerate Whytuns, every man, woman and child. We will drive them into the Deadlands where they shall perish. We shall recover our rightful heritage in the north and with Arun blood and semen establish the Union of All Altamon.” A boisterous chant erupts from the audience: “HALLILUJAH, HALLILUJAH, HALLILUJAH. BO LO BO, BO LO BO, BO LO BO.” When the cheers die down he looks at the boys with a stern expression, “These rites are your opportunity to learn the warrior virtues of cruelty and fortitude which will carry us forward to victory.” With fists raised the boys repeat the chant with even greater force. Then calls for the Pledge break out and the boys in unison recite, “Our Wise Warmaster, Giver of Rule and His Supreme Justice we pledge to you: From us according to our ability, to you according to your needs.”
Kami cannot conceal a look of exasperation and confides to Sol, “Don't you think this is a bit much?”
Sol whispers to Kami, “I know you think it's stupid, but he is our glorious leader and our duty is to serve him. And he's right isn't he, even if we can't understand everything yet?” But the boys, even Kami, do enjoy the rites which may be the point.
Bolobo continues, “To those of you who participate on stage I want you to see it as an opportunity to demonstrate Arun fortitude and Arun Cruelty. I want you to think of the other as a Whytun. Pretend that it is a Whytun who is whipping you and this will help you develop Arun fortitude. And if you are charged with carrying out a sentence think of it as a Whytun you are whipping and demonstrate your Arun cruelty.”
Bolobo sits down on a high swivel stool and expostulates on the need not only for justice to be done but for justice to be seen to be done. “If I were to discipline a boy in my private quarters who would see that? Who would know that justice had been done? Justice must be open and proud.” He pauses and speaking more intimately he continues, “There are those who say that the deliberate infliction of physical pain on another person is cruel. And there are those who say that cruelty is wrong. I say to both of you, 'Cruelty is Kindness'. Every time I watch a boy being whipped or tortured I immediately think of the dozen who are deterred by his suffering. Think of the righteous faces and unblemished bodies of the deterred and you will see the kindness of cruelty.” Bolobo doesn't quite believe that but his Psychomaster Dr. Lorcol says it makes sense.
The program begins with a series of four minor whippings for petty, perhaps frivolous offences which are more tests than punishments. All plead guilty in turn and offer their naked bodies for His Supreme Justice's pleasure. Bolobo solemnly delivers his sentences and serenely watches as they are carried out. A tyro is caned as he stands touching his toes. The backs of two junior warriors are lashed from their shoulders to their thighs with a light whip. A teen warrior is etched with a multi-thonged flail around his chest, belly and hips. The gang members cheer on their respective givers and receivers of the painful tests. Partisan feelings build up but Bolobo makes sure the members are intimately mixed, Mafis and Yakis stand side by side and away from close friends. Big and little brother pairs must never touch - Bolobo's Rule. All touching and fondling must be with a member of the other gang, although exceptions may be made for trivial incidents - Bolobo's Rule. And same age sex, normally prohibited, is allowed - Bolobo's Rule. Promiscuous, exogamous sex is the communion of the Discipline Rites. Sharing their bodies across gang divisions when the gangs are competing under the gaze of Bolobo, unites their gang loyalties with him. The gangs' cult of Bolobo sexualizes camaraderie in the presence of sexualized pain. But boys can say 'no' some of the time - Bolobo's Rule.
It is considered good form if a boy can maintain an erection while undergoing his ordeal but only one of the junior warriors succeeds. Bolobo gives him a thumbs up. All end up with prominent weals but none bleed. When a lash catches the neck of the Yaki junior warrior, an illegal blow, a fight threatens to break out, but the guards brandishing their heavy whips quickly quell it. The partisan emotions subside as the whippings continue and many boys become aroused by the sight and sounds of the whippings and begin masturbating and groping their opponent neighbours. Bolobo believes that the sexualization of pain helps boys become more resolute in both inflicting and enduring it.
Then Bolobo announces the first major event; Drusi of Mafi Squad Nine, accused of twice reporting late for sentry duty. A wiry, barely adolescent junior warrior with long magenta spiked hair is brought forward. “How do you plead, guilty as charged, or guilty of treason?”
The boy mumbles “As charged, Your Most Supreme Justice.”
Bolobo looks at the boy and calculates how much he can handle. “This is a very serious offence. “I sentence you to forty strokes, full body, at your flogger's discretion… Will you stand or do you want to be supported?” The trembling boy, unsure of his courage, asks for support. Ropes lowered from above are tied to his wrists at the level of his head. He tries to remain composed but twitches betray his fear. His gang buddies offer him encouragement and chant his name. "Drusi, Drusi, Drusi.” Others shout, "You can do it, show them you can take it."
At a signal from Bolobo the young Yaki boy delegated to carry out the whipping mounts the stage. Cheers erupt from the Yakis in the audience. It's Rani, a boy Sol knows and he calls over to Kami, “It's Rani, from my weapons class, he's lot stronger than he looks. I bet he can make him make him cry out.”
A nearby Mafi Teen Warrior shows Sol a brass coin, “Oh yeah, I got this that says he don't.”
Kami warns his little brother, “You don't see that very often.”
But Sol persists, “Yeah, but he's looking at anybody like he's real scared.” The bet is on. Rani in his colors and blue Yaki briefs flicks the slim leather whip several times and grins at his friends in the crowd. Sol joins in taunting Drusi, “Make him bleed. Make him cry." Although Bolobo frowns on the practice of betting as it detracts from the appreciation of cruelty, he usually ignores it. A few other bets are made on Drusi's fortitude. The audience is quiet as Rani taking his time lashes the Mafi's body trying to hurt him as much as he can with the forty strokes. He picks his targets carefully: the clearly defined ribs of Drusi's skinny chest, his slender thighs, his lean muscled buttocks and his soft hips. Rani does not neglect his pubes and nicks the protuberant cock, but not so much as invoke Bolobo's Rule. The Yakis cheer Rani on to greater efforts, while the Mafis plead with Drusi to hold on. At the end the boy is half held up by the ropes, contorted with pain and drenched with sweat. Although his body is brightly marked with many raw places, there is disappointingly little blood. The consensus is that he just barely managed not to cry. The Mafis give him a loud ovation. Sol pays up. Bolobo appears pleased and remarks that he hopes the boy will take his duties more seriously in the future. It was a very partisan contest and sex was temporarily neglected.
But this changes a couple of floggings later when this particularly cute little tyro is given a full body thrashing that soon has him writhing in some combination of agony and ecstasy and bleeding freely. Almost all of the tightly packed boys became highly aroused and groping frenzies break out between the gangs. Then the much anticipated trials and floggings of the four Yaki juniors, all about fourteen, are announced. Sol feels himself handled by several different boys and concentrates on groping a Mafi boy his age whom he has thought about and likes, but can't fool around with otherwise. For them to meet alone, something Sol does not spend too much time thinking about, would break taboos. The four junior warriors, each carrying on his shoulder a barbell of half his own weight, mount the stage and are spaced around it. They are obviously apprehensive about the ordeal that awaits them but exchange bravado and nod to buddies in the crowd. The boys will compete with each other as well as with the ordeal. Group whippings are popular for those with a sporting sense. The Mafi boy beside him, jabs Kami's elbow and asks, “Do you want to bet on who's last?” Murmurs make their way through the audience. When Bolobo signals the event to begin they raise the barbells and stand posed with them over their heads. His Supreme Justice announces that any boy who lets the barbell drop below his ears will receive extra punishment. Four equally young Mafi boys, clad only in their colours and shiny green Mafi briefs, use both hands to wield the hefty whips. They aim strategically at the armpits and ribs, and across the stomach. Soon the Yaki lads are glistening with sweat and blood blossoms as the hard abrasive whips lacerate their flesh. Exclamations of approval are shouted, and in frenzied promiscuous gropings inspired by the spectacle, balls are painfully squeezed and cocks violently twisted. The shouting declines as the sexual frenzy increases. The four young boys' straining bodies become bloody from their shoulders on down but they show no signs of faltering. The crowd engrossed in intergang groping neglects the contest on the stage. Halfway though the sticky forms are quickly washed down with a hose revealing the extent of their welts and cuts. Some still need to see what they're doing. After the thirty sixth blow one boy can no longer hold his barbell steady and it slips to his shoulder. At the end their lacerated bodies are hosed down again. They are exhausted, in awful lasting pain, and trembling, and their first aid needs are promptly attended to. As for the boy who faltered, Bolobo slaps his balls around and sends him off bawling.
Thinking of each other but unable to touch Kami and Sol have brought themselves to the brink of orgasm two or three times. That, they are saving for the feature event, the torture of Kalabi who had been responsible for their own whipping. They would practice Positive Hate through the pain and sex path to cruelty: Hate the enemy, enjoy his pain. When the tall well built Mafi youth is asked how he pleads to the surprise of everyone he claims it was as accident, saying, “You saw it yourself, Your Supreme Justice.” Every one knows it was an accident but it was not too bright to remind Bolobo. His Supreme Justice replies, “It should be of no concern if you are convicted unfairly. The punishment is still a test for you to master, and a lesson for yourself and for others, whether or not you are guilty. My justice serves a higher purpose. My sagacious Psychomaster believes that the attempt to only punish the guilty was perhaps the fatal flaw, a moral weakness of the Before. Was Derfuror concerned about technical guilt? Was Dubyanus? Justice cannot allow itself to be constrained by truth, it cannot allow itself to be infected by the cult of kindness.” Kalabi is strapped into the whipping frame. Bolobo declares that Kalabi's punishment must be severe, he doesn't mention numbers, and he simply delegates it to Vidor saying he'll add a few personal finishing touches after. He knows how much boys are tamed by responsibilities, and he wants Vidor to 'run a tighter ship' and what better way to help him than to have him execute a severe punishment. The word 'ship' occurs nowhere else in Arunese, and there being no seas its meaning is obscure.
Vidor is unsure how to go about torturing Kalabi. Almost anything is fair. Floggings are always popular, He hefts a heavier whip, quickly gets the feel of it, and begins systematically flogging the Mafi youth front and back. Kami and Sol with imaginary arms around each other, and an imaginary hand on each other's cock, slowly jack their cocks timing their strokes to the regular lashings of the whip. They moan at the brink of agony staring glassy eyed at the spectacle. The whipping is savage, he'll always bear its scars. They squirt in each other's imaginary hands, exquisitely and powerfully, and lick their fingers and palms. The whipping ends almost simultaneously with Kalabi limp and bloody. His ordeal is not over and he is revived. Bolobo takes over and lectures on torturing testicles. "Except in actual wars, never kick the balls, it's too dangerous." With that he punches Kalabi in the balls. "The fist is quite good enough." It's pretty gross, his balls are battered in flurries over minutes ending up swollen and deep purple. The youth is out of his mind.
Two more minor punishments follow but the sexual excitement wanes. All of the boys have had at least one orgasm, and soon partisan interest revives. Kami and Sol go back to their hovel and have two more orgasms each. Sol says he's only really whipped another boy once at the rites although he's been whipped three times but not on the frame. “And that's not counting all the whippings we got as part of our training at the farm. Like you never had that."
“Yeah, I never got beaten until I was captured by Karrull.”
“What's the matter with Wildis that they don't beat their kids, everybody here does?”
“I guess they don't think of it.”
Sol is smug, “See, I told you they were inferior.”
One day Kami and Sol are relaxing in the Yaki Games Lounge playing VIOMAN Level 8 on one of the computers, Sol has just won three games in a row. Computers unlike paper survived the Twenty Year Winter, and although there are a few problems, a fair number are still operational. Bolobo salvaged almost thirty HEGEMON Mark 14s from a vault he found beneath his citadel. Most of the data on them was detailed financial statements from what were called subsidiaries in places with names like London, New York, Dakar and Shanghai, and no one has been able to make any sense of the information. However in large files under the heading of Basic Executive Motivational Training Exercises a large number of violent interactive video games were discovered. Bolobo, after consulting with his spiritual advisor and Psychomaster, Dr. Lorcol, has made proficiency in the games mandatory for full Teen Warrior status. The response has been overwhelming.
While taking a temporary break they see Vidor appear on one of the gang's internal network monitors. Looking more serious than usual he states: “I have a special announcement: This evening after dinner we will be holding our regular moonly Gang Discipline Trials at Media Central. I strongly advise all tyros to attend as it concerns them in particular.” Attendance is voluntary and aside from the accused few bother to go. “I wonder what could be up?” Kami observes and nudges Sol, “I guess that means you.”
“I suppose, but they're usually pretty boring, they just go on and on, never anything interesting. Why don't you come with me?”
“So you don't suffer alone?” Sol doesn't reply and Kami continues, “I can always pick it up on a monitor if there's anything exciting.” But in the end he agrees to accompany his little brother.
The trials are already underway when they arrive. Vidor is sentencing five boys convicted of assorted minor offences to a moon of comserve, which in their case will be latrine duty. One of the convicted quips that he figured it was his turn after all the shit he caused. “It was your turn anyway.” Vidor states, “I try to be fair.” This is followed by a series of ten trials where all the accused are sentenced to a moon of comserve on the kitchen detail.
“See, what did I tell you,” Sol whispers in Kami's ear, “Boring, boring, boring.”
“Well there's still clean up chores.” Kami retorts.
Then a frowning Vidor intones, “We now come to a very serious matter.” Two contrite looking tyros come and stand before him. He looks at them sternly, “You know how Bolobo feels about such things. It's Bolobo's Rule. Now I been told that you two were discovered sexengaging each other in a storeroom, to wit, sucking cocks.” He pauses for effect, “Is that true?” The two tyros shamefacedly admit their crime, plead guilty and beg forgiveness. “I really don't like it when two gang members do things Bolobo don't like, and doing it right here in the fortress. And you guys got unblemished records.” Vidor stares at them cringing more in shame than fear. “OK, I'm gonna be lenient with you. Not that lenient but I don't want you guys to think it won't hurt. I know that kids often get away with same age sex at some of the farms you grew up in. I was there. But you're Yakis now, and we're an honourable Arun gang. You've heard His Supreme Justice go on about the evils of same age sex. You know Bolobo's Rule: it's strictly prohibited. And you know why. You can't have two guys the same age sexengaging. It ain't right. If guys start having sex with agemates the whole gang would break down into age layers. Like old baldy, Dr. Lorcol says we gotta enforce 'vertical sex integration' in the gangs. I do more than my fair share, you wouldn't believe how many tyros I fuck and suck. Bolobo's right when he says same age sex is a cancer attacking gang solidarity.” He checks the temper of the room. “Well, seeing as you guys are only thirteen I'm letting you off with a dozen strokes of the cane, that seems fair. Like if you'd been teens, or even junior warriors I'd a given you at least double that.”
The tyros strip and the first one bends over the seldom used whipping horse presenting his buttocks. One of Vidor's assistants adjusts the cameras so that those in other parts of the fortress get a good view of the proceedings, and as Vidor says, “Can everyone see justice being done”.
Kami nudges Sol, “But can't you love someone just as much when they're the same age?”
“I suppose, but not with sex if you're in a gang. I learnt that at farm school. You got spanked if you were over seven. I did.” Vidor picks out a medium willow cane the thickness of his thumb and flexes it, “If you want, you know, you can jack yourself while I'm beating you. Bolobo says it's up to gangs, and I don't really care.” The boy doesn't want to. Vidor proceeds to lay on a dozen loud, thwacking strokes on the tyro's pert ass raising livid, soon purpling welts. The second boy receives the same treatment and valiantly tries to masturbate but fades after less than nine strokes. They will both be sore and uncomfortable for days. “I hope I don't have to do this again for a while. Just think before you get in bed with anybody, or suck them. If you can't find an older member you should pick up some little kid on the street and get it on with him. They may be greedy bastards but that doesn't mean they can't be a lot of fun too. Or find yourself some old man with a small cock. Even girls if you have to.”
Several more boys await their trials, there is much work to be done around the fortress. Kami and Sol go back to the lounge and play a few games of BODYCOUNT-Level Five, before retiring to their cosy hovel to suck and fuck. “Actually little brother, I'd like to have more sex with agemates, like it's neat, and you don't have to think anything, it would be just pure sex.” Sol ponders a moment, “I figure someone the same age would be more like jacking off, or having a clone, like those doubles the storytellers talk about. I don't mind not doing that so much, but Vidor says you should go both ways, he tells me I should like seven year olds more, but I've tried them. I mean they were OK when I was nine, but now? And then he says I shouldn't forget that I'll have to deal with a little brother sooner or later. It's not what you can't do but what you're supposed to do that gets me.”
Kami agrees, “Not like the proles and the women, they can fuck anybody, they only have to do what they're made to.”
“Bolobo says that's why we're put over the proles. It's what we don't do that makes us better. We are the Chosen.”
“That don't make sense.”
“You missed a lot of good stuff not going to farm school.”
“Some of your numbers thing are good but I don't hear much worth remembering.”
“Like Bolobo knows what's in your heart.”
“Dogshit!” It's a rare night of chastity.
When blizzards start blowing down from the icefields and the ground freezes the campaign at the Springface is over for the season. Except for a few outpost garrisons the men return to Kalgoru and it is time for the annual Victory Celebrations with the War Crimes Trials and Closure Rites. A three day gang truce is ordered for the duration of the celebrations. Kami and Sol along with most other gang members make their way through the proleburbs calling for people to attend the opening ceremonies and show their support for Bolobo. There will be acrobats, clowns, free bread and speeches. This year unlike most, there is an actual victory to celebrate; Bolobo has struck a heavy population blow against Whytun power.
Returning to Revolution Square Kami and Sol stop to look at the battle trophies turned in by the army for bounties. Each brigade has set up a table along one side of the square where all the cocks they've scalped from Whytuns are neatly displayed. The bounties for the circumcised cocks of warriors are much larger than those of others. The amount is also based on size and whether or not there is pubic hair attached. Arun population theory requires that bounties should be paid for all cocks although some claim that those taken from unviable foetuses should be excluded. A smiling pot bellied brigadier with a huge moustache comes over to them, “Admiring our collection boys?” The boys nod. “I'm always glad to meet young Yakis, I was one myself.” Sol asks him how many there are. “My brigade harvested just over a thousand, the most ever. Mind you most are pretty small but what can you expect from little breeding farm boys.” Kami picks up a puny piece of skin and examines it critically. “If you look closely you'll see that it is indeed a cock.” Kami takes his word for it. “Now look at this specimen. It's shrunk a bit but when it was fresh it was over ten inches long. The secret,” he confides, “is not to let them dry too fast. I advise my men to rub them with oil and pack them in moss.” Sol asks if he has many warrior's cocks. “This year we got hardly any circumcised ones. You might check with one of the brigades that fought at the Springface, I hear they got a few.”
By noon there are perhaps thirty thousand assembled in Kalgoru's Revolution Square to hear Bolobo's speech. Many more will come for the evening thanksgiving feast when eighty sheep and sixty pigs will be barbequed. From the balcony of his citadel Bolobo looks over the crowd and acknowledges their ovations. He's mellowed in recent years, he's even thinking of adding 'Most Merciful' to his titles, although anyone who said he was getting old could face a slow death with the price of admissions going to the treasury. In recent years he's been feeling more secure in public as there hasn't been an assassination attempt since a woman threw a potato custard pie in his face. He raises an arm, “My fellow Aruns, my most loyal and loving countrymen, today we are on the cusp of a new age. Final victory over the Whytun hordes is near. Our courageous soldiers have struck at the maternal heart of Khaal's evil empire. Guided by my brilliant strategy and blessed by the wisdom of the ancients my army has destroyed the enemy's largest breeding farm, along with its breeding stock. Thousands upon thousands of future enemy warriors have been slaughtered, some yet in the womb. The enemy will have fewer soldiers and mothers in the future to impede the progress of Arun Destiny. The Whytuns have been mortally wounded and their ultimate defeat is all but assured. And our soldiers have brought back over a hundred fertile women to augment our own growing population.” He pauses while the crowd led by fifty bare breasted Arunteen Cheerleaders chant, “BO LO BO, BO LO BO, GO, GO, GO…”
Kami obscured by some banners overhears a cynical old soldier saying to a friend, “Our Bolobo was indeed brilliant sneaking the shoulder mounted missiles into their territory on the backs of mules, but ten years ago when Khaal's army was less than forty miles from Kalgoru he promised that they would be strictly reserved for defence, and I hear he used up half of our remaining supply.” His friend adds, “And I hear that those women will mostly be given away as rewards to his loyal henchmen and key supporters in the factions.”
Bolobo waits until the applause subsides, “This victory is also a triumph for our mokratik values. It proves the superiority of the Arun way of life over the strokratik slave culture of the Whytuns. We, who are living today, may live to see our Arun nation triumphant throughout All Altamon. When that happens I will no longer be a warlord; there will be no wars. There will be a new civilization based on peace. The great deeds of this era herald a renaissance and will be remembered forever.”
“Yeah,” the old cynic remarks, “He sees himself as the Founding Father of a thousand year regime, and school kids will have to memorize his name along with Derfuror's and Dubyanus's.” His friend observes, “At least it's easier to spell.”
Bolobo continues, “I am asked, 'What should happen to the Wildlands and their primitive occupants?' Some say that they should be exterminated along with the Whytuns. Myself, I do not feel that is necessary. I am basically a conservationist. I envisage keeping part of the Wildlands in its natural state as a protected habitat where it would become a nature preserve for the enjoyment and education of future generations.”
“You gotta give old Bolobo credit.” the old soldier shrugs, “He just wants it so he and his pals can go hunting and bring back some captives to entertain the masses.” His friend nods, “Apparently. I heard he's already been making plans for a hunting lodge, including a ten foot wide fireplace.”
In a more solemn voice Bolobo says, “I regret that due to the great distances involved we were only able to bring back a few war criminals for trial. It was unfortunately necessary to try and execute prisoners on the spot. However, the good news is that it was an excellent year for trophies.” He confides, “I'm sure you'll understand that bringing back fertile women had to be given priority. I look forward to seeing you all at the War Crimes Trials and Closure Rites tomorrow. The Whytun war criminals will be made to pay for their terrorist attacks.” Cheers again interrupt his speech.
Kami hears the old soldier object, “Whytuns indeed! The rumour in the barracks is that he sent a party into the Wildlands which, at the cost of several casualties was able to bring back at the most a dozen or so men and a few women to add to the few Whytuns who survived capture at the Springface. I suppose he didn't want to disappoint the masses, especially the women.” His friend nods agreement, “That would explain why most of their tongues were cut out, not because they shouted insults at him but so they can't identify themselves as Wildis. And have you noticed, none of the ones without tongues are circumcised.” Bolobo's speech goes on for two hours after which the entertainers take over until the thanksgiving feast is ready.
By next morning a stage has been erected in front of the citadel and nine shackled Whytun prisoners are lined up at the back. The others are still in pens. A huge crowd of mostly women has gathered in the square to watch the War Crimes Trials and take part in the Closure Rites. Bolobo's Chief Commissar and Psychomaster, Dr. Lorcol speaks first. He smiles around at the crowd and peers through his eye frames, “My fellow Aruns it is indeed a pleasure to see all your eager Arun faces. We should always be aware of what it means to be an Arun. We should be proud of our mokratik Arun heritage, our Arun blood and Arun semen. Too long have we been terrorized by these degenerate Whytun caricatures of humans. With their degenerate male blood they have no rights, not even the right to live. And they have no culture but oppression and exploitation. That is why we must never forget that our final solution to the Whytun problem is total extermination.
“I can understand some of you feeling squeamishness about the torture and killing of even degenerate creatures. However we should never let pity or sorrow interfere with the healing process. As you watch the rites, as you see flesh torn and blood splatter, concentrate on soaking up the moral satisfaction, and feel the closure, feel your heart lighten. Heal! Grasp the courage to heal. What we witness today should be an inspiration to us all and help us heal from all the abuse and terrorism we have suffered.”
Then Bolobo wearing a tight formal black leather outfit open at the front exposing his dark hairy chest mounts the stage and waits for the cheers to die down. “This year in keeping with our great revolutionary tradition of gender equality, and in recognition of their contributions and their loss of sexual opportunities because so many guys get killed in war, I am dedicated these trials to our female brothers.” Spontaneous cheers led by the Arunteen Cheerleaders erupt from the crowd. “To show them how important they are I am turning over the execution of certain war criminals to women's groups.” Delirious screams break out all over the place. “You have heard the learned doctor. The Chief Commissar is correct. Zero tolerance for Whytuns, and the return of our northern territories. Keep this in mind while you apply torture. We also have a duty to posterity to preserve mokratik values. We should all be proud to be a mokrasy where you can vote for my nominees, and women are respected and have the right to execute war criminals at war crimes trials. The degenerate strokratik Whytuns don't even have trials. Their prisoners never have a chance, they just sacrifice them.”
Bolobo sees the crowd becoming impatient. “Let's get the show on the road. Let the trials begin. Our first war criminal is,” he stops to check his tablet, “a Whytun sergeant.” A handsome warrior about thirty is brought before His Supreme Justice. Bolobo looks him over, “You are charged with attacking an Arun patrol, grievously wounding one of our soldiers and refusing to lay down your sword when ordered… How do you plead you slimy piece of dogshit? Guilty as charged, or guilty of Whytun arrogance?” The Whytun protests that he was only doing his duty. Bolobo hesitates as if pondering his decision before he rules, “If you had surrendered before you attacked I might have tended towards leniency but given the facts of the case there can be only one penalty: Death.” He turns him over to the Avenging Angels of Tantric Torment. A squad of eager blond women equipped with a variety of sharp instruments seize him and a murmur of anticipation sweeps through the crowd. A happy excited crowd blocks Kami's view but he hears the most unmanly sounds coming from the doomed sergeant. It seems he is being is slowly and selectively dismembered. The last cut severs his cock which is tossed into a scramble of young girls who believe that catching it will make them fertile. “Good work girls.” Bolobo beams, “What better closure can you get than sticking it to them, especially a Whytun war criminal. Maybe he killed one of your fuck buddies. How would you like that?” The next prisoner, a middle aged soldier is convicted of escaping lawful custody and is turned over to The Widows of Kalgoru who are determined to make him last until next morning. The Arunteen cheerleaders get a nerdy looking private to terminate. It's hard to keep track of things with three or four tortures going on simultaneously. The Matrons of Labour from the military uniform factory are delighted when they are rewarded with a cute, freckled Whyteen warrior. The last prisoner, a rather pretty acol convicted of insubordination is turned over to The Orphans of the Springface, mostly kids under twelve who've got a lot of ideas they want to try out.
When the remaining prisoners, the ones without tongues are brought before His Supreme Justice he accuses them of waging a terrorist war against the Arun population and committing heinous atrocities against innocent victims, especially children. They cannot of course reply to the charges. “Well,” Bolobo declares, “as you seem to have lost your tongues I have no choice but to find all of you guilty of war crimes.” The prisoners are tied to stakes and tyros place piles of fist sized stones in front of them.
The Chief Commissar has a few words to say. “I have always regarded the Closure Rites as the most important part of the Victory Celebrations as they directly address the needs of victims. Many of you have lost sex partners, dear friends and neighbours to the evil depredations of the heartless Whytuns. Our Supreme Justice is dedicating these criminals to victims. You are all victims! You are victims as much as those who actually died, in fact your suffering may be greater. And victims require closure. You must have the courage to take vengeance into your own hands so you can get on with your lives. Justice demands it! Participate proactively in the healing process. Mete out justice, take control. Now, LET THE HEALING BEGIN!” A few dozen people rush forward and begin stoning the prisoners who soon become bloodied. Brief halts are called while the tyros retrieve stones to be rethrown.
After the last prisoner must certainly be dead Bolobo proclaims, “Justice is served. Justice of the people, by the people, for the people, and it has been seen to be done.”
Bolobo's army also brought back a little four year old boy from the Wildlands. Kami who seldom thinks of his origins is excited and curious. Even though he's obviously miserable the little boy is rather cute, and the women and proles go gaga over him. It's rare to capture a child in the Wildlands although abducting small children is a common form of pillage in Whytun territory. A commissar announces that the boy along with three little Whytuns captured earlier, he will be Arunized. After which they will be sent to a nurturery farm. The best boys to capture are those under about five or six years who can still be taught to hate their former people. Four of them are worth as much as one fertile woman. Older captives often retain too many memories to be trusted as soldiers. Whytun boys over seven are killed on sight.
“I never seen kids get Arunized, d'you wanna watch?” Sol asks.
“Sure, I'd like to know too.”
“But you must know what it's like, I mean I was always an Arun, not like you.” Kami shakes his head. “But you must know, come on tell me what was it like when you were Arunized?”
Kami's pretty sure he never was. “Nobody ever said I had to. Officially I've always been an Arun.”
“Yeah, but they must have done something to change you into an Arun.”
“What could they do that would make a difference?”
“Bolobo says it's blood and semen that makes you an Arun.”
“Well if that's the case,” Kami jokes, “maybe it was your blood and semen.”
Each of the four small boys is carried into the centre of the circle of spectators by a menstruating fertile woman who smears her blood over his body as she croons and soothingly pets the child. More menstruating women come forward and contribute their blood rubbing it in their ears, mouths and assholes until the boys are thoroughly covered and their hair is matted with sticky blood. Then dozens of boys from just pubescent up and several ancient and reputably wise men masturbate and ejaculate on the boys and rub the semen around until they glisten with the pinkish gooey fluid. Several old crones, Mothers of the Race, come forward and inspect the boys, confer amongst themselves and proclaim that the boys have been transmuted, and are now Aruns. Cheers erupt from the crowd and the bewildered boys are passed around, embraced, and lifted up on the shoulders of warriors who parade them around Revolution Square. Bolobo appears on his balcony and gives an emotional speech. “It gives me great joy to welcome these four youngsters into the Arun Race and Nation. My heart soars like the mythic eagle of the Before…”
Kami and Sol do not stay. Kami says, “I think I need more Arunizing”, and they retire to their cosy hovel for some gooey sex.
Not long after, Vidor their boss, assigns Kami and Sol the dangerous job of resupplying their bunker in the Contested Triangle with a moon's supply of nirvana for the proles. They must be wary of Mafi lookouts and patrols. Bolobo has the gangs compete for the drug trade in the Contested Triangle as part of their training for war. The two boys strap the packs of drugs on to their bodies, put on prole clothes and set out during the busy early afternoon. They have almost reached the bunker when they are stopped by a Mafi patrol who suspecting they may be Yakis, demand to see their cocks. They go to comply but then make a break for it. Kami manages to escape and deliver his packs to the bunker but Sol is captured after a desperate struggle and taken to the Mafi's fortress. Quickly returning to report to Vidor, Kami finds that Korbo the Mafi Boss has already contacted him via their computer connections. There are a few ancient, but high tech video and audio set ups surviving as these were not used up in fighting. Korbo gives the Yaki leader an ultimatum: "Abandon your bunker in the Contested Triangle, or your little tyro will provide some interesting entertainment for my boys." Korbo can't cripple the young Yaki without arousing Bolobo's wrath but he can still have a lot of fun with him. Korbo has cameras set up and word is spread through the Mafi fortress, it's been a while since they've had a live torture show, and soon the studio is packed with eager spectators. Others watch on monitors. With Sol tied down on a narrow table it is like an operating theatre, and indeed it is.
Viewers at the Yaki's fortress monitor see Sol tied down to a narrow table, helpless but with a resolute expression. The camera in close up pans his young slender body as Korbo describes the painful possibilities. Kami watches as Korbo twists Sol's head toward the camera. "Your Yaki buddies are watching too, why don't you smile for them. We have set it up so they can see and hear every little thing that happens." Korbo twists Sol's ear viciously making him squeal. "How was that? Is the audio coming in clear over there? Are we ready?" Vidor says there is nothing they can do. It is unthinkable to abandon the bunker. While Bolobo certainly doesn't discourage his gangs from fighting there are limits. He doesn't care if boys are savagely beaten, tortured and their bodies disfigured with scars, as long as it does not impair their potential as warriors. Gang members are too valuable a resource to squander. Korbo appears on the monitor, "It's really quite simple, abandon your bunker in the C.T., so that it is no longer a contested zone, or some very unpleasant things are going to happen to your sweet little tyro, and you'll get to watch it all for free.”
As his henchmen hold Sol still Korbo takes a stiletto from his boot. He runs the blade over the boy's smooth skinned body occasionally gesturing as if to slice off a nipple, an ear, a finger or maybe his diminutive balls. He then grins and mockingly reassures the camera, "I'm only joking... maybe." Then as a henchman pulls Sol head back by his hair Korbo nicks his cheek and blood trickles down his face. "Oops!" Korbo chuckles to himself and peering into the camera asks, "But doesn't he look better with a little colour on his face?" Kami becomes so agitated that others have to restrain him. Korbo starts puncturing Sol's pale chest and belly just enough to draw a few drops of blood, "Now you have ten minutes to start pulling your boys out from the bunker, or..."
Kami is outraged, he screams and tears at his hair. He bawls, "We must save him." he pleads but he knows it is not possible.
Vidor reminds him that to give up their bunker in the CT would weaken them throughout all the proleburbs. “Even with five times the warriors we couldn't take the Mafi's fortress, and think of the casualties. If we back down Bolobo would never let us forget. We must let them do what they may to Sol.” The Yakis make no reply as the minutes pass.
Then Korbo announces, “Show time.” He gestures to the camera, gives the audience a close up of the stiletto's gleaming blade, and grasps Sol's small balls squeezing them out to the end of the sac. Sol struggles and curses his tormentor but his efforts only amuse the Mafi chief. “I hope your buddies are watching closely.” Korbo strokes them with the flat of the stiletto. “I'm in no hurry.” When the Yakis still do not reply Korbo turns again towards the camera. “They are rather small trophies”, he says squeezing Sol's sac, “but perhaps with some encouragement they might become more worthy specimens.” He begins regularly slapping Sol's taut sac, the boy grimacing and convulsing in pain each time. Kami becomes desperate watching his beloved's balls, the ones he loves to suck on, being viciously beaten. The brutal ball beating goes on and on. Kami feels he will explode, But what can I do? Then Sol passes out from the pain.
Unable any longer to control his anguish Kami leaves. He decides he must rescue Sol if he can. Still dressed in prole garb and walking confidently to avoid attracting attention he soon makes his way to the centre of Mafi turf. At their fortress he finds them busy erecting banners and making preparations for Beni's initiation into their gang tomorrow. He hears that Korbo has decreed a holiday in his brother's honour, and that he himself will perform the circumcision on his kid brother. Kami hopes he can sneak in while the Mafis are in a festive mood but he finds their entrances are well guarded. He realizes his idea of rescuing Sol is foolhardy, there's no way he could get in, the most he could expect would be to suffer along side of his beloved little brother. He manages not to dwell on the idea.
Meanwhile, when Sol revives, Korbo announces, “While we're waiting for his balls to get full trophy size,” he checks them, “they're getting there, eh folks?, I figure it's time that our little Yaki narco trafficker had a good whipping. You all OK on that? Nothing like a good whipping to perk up his nerve endings, give 'em a good work out.” Korbo signals the four captors to come forward. “It ain't often we capture one of them Yaki bastards without the protection of their gang colours and we can beat them as much as we like. So to show my appreciation and by way of my delegatory authority I'm awarding you guys the honour of whipping this miserable Yaki drug dealer."
The four boys look pleased but one explains that they'd sooner drink vodka and fuck some girls for a change. Korbo is not unsympathetic, The Law According to the Rule of Bolobo can be flexible, and he's sure others would like to whip Sol. After a huddle it's agreed that the four captors can auction off the rights to whip the Yaki narco trafficker. The auction is fairly spirited with a consortium of three young Mafi tyros, probably first timers, outbidding the others for the right to inflict sixty lashes. Sol is tied into a whipping frame, spotlights pick out his slender body and the eager youngsters begin lashing him. The clumsy blows may be less painful at the time but they cause a number of nasty cuts. Microphones by the monitors provide appreciative feedback from viewers in other parts of the fortress. Bets are made on whether he'll pass out again. After, Korbo turns to the subdued and bleeding boy, "You're a star, the guys liked your performance and I think you deserve an encore." After another twenty one lashes his body glistens with blood and sweat.
Kami, hanging around the side entrance to the Mafi Fortress sees Korbo's kid brother Beni sneak out alone and haggle with a dealer in potions near the gate. He moves closer and overhears the boy asking for laudanum, and Kami realizes he wants the painkiller for his circumcision which will be the climax of his initiation. Beni seems unsure of what to choose and Kami on momentary inspiration beckons Beni over and tells him he has a more potent drug. Beni wants to know how good it is. "Well, I could cut off your, arm and if you weren't looking you wouldn't notice it."
"Sure. Would you like a free sample?" He leads the unsuspecting youngster down an alley, knocks him out with a rock and quickly dumps him in an old battered Before Time plastic green garbage can. It's heavy, but it's not unusual to see prole boys struggling with large loads, and he manages to make it safely back to Yaki turf.
In the meantime Sol's torture continues as his limbs are stretched and twisted, and his nipples and cocked pierced with thick tapered skewers and he is subjected to prolonged electrotorture. Vidor and the Yakis can only helplessly watch. Most of Sol's slender body is raw and bruised and he is barely conscious. When Kami arrives with his prisoner Korbo is leering from the monitor, fondling Sol's grossly swollen testicles and taunts, “Ah, they are getting plump and juicy. Almost ready to harvest, wouldn't you say?”
Vidor triumphantly drags Beni before their camera and announces, “Now we will see. Whatever you can do, we can do better, we can do anything better than you. And do it to, your kid brother.”
Korbo is momentarily shocked, but then a smile comes over his face. “My brother is not yet a Mafi, he is not even a gang member, and cannot therefore be subject to gang law, so there!” According to Bolobo's Rule he is correct, uninitiated boys are only subject to his jurisdiction, not that of the gangs. Anything more than a routine beating could get the Yakis into trouble.
“Release Sol immediately or you will pay for this. Or your brother will.” Vidor tries to bluff but he's ready to admit failure.
Then Kami has a clever idea and whispers to Vidor, “You know, tomorrow Beni turns twelve and the Mafis were going to initiate him right away. I wouldn't have captured him but for that. Why don't we just wait until midnight and initiate him first? And then when he's a Yaki we can torture him as much as we like under our gang rules.”
Vidor hesitates a moment, he is going to have to proclaim a new law first, which he's done before, before becoming enthusiastic. He informs Korbo that they intend to initiate his kid brother into the Yaki Gang. He explains that there's no legal reason why Beni can't be a Yaki, and be subject to the gang's internal discipline. “That would be fair!”
The Mafi leader is furious and threatens to kill Sol before he recognizes it's not a good idea. Vidor has the boy stripped and tied down to a table similar to the one Sol is on. The camera pans Beni's helpless frail body and terrified expression. Vidor tells Kami that he can have the honour of circumcising Beni at his initiation and that he should take his time doing it. Kami is eager to avenge Sol's suffering and examines the frightened child, grasps his little cock and gleefully stretches out the droopy foreskin. “Maybe I could twist it off with pliers?”
Korbo screams, "Bolobo wouldn't allow it, he will have you all whipped and tortured at the Dome."
Vidor replies, “The snipping will be nothing compared to what we will do after he's one of us.” He turns to Kami and asks, “What do you think we should do to our little initiate's nuts?”
Korbo's bluff is apparently called but then he smugly reminds them that boys must voluntarily agree to being initiated, “and Beni would never agree to being a Yaki.” Once again Vidor has to admit that Korbo has a point, although it's not unknown for boys to be forced. They could only torture Beni so much to make him voluntarily agree, which is reasonable, and Beni's only as brave as he's scared. .
Then Kami announces that he thinks he can persuade Beni to agree. When Vidor asks him how he says, “Let me talk to him in private.” Alone with Beni he asks him. “Do you want me to tell your brother how I captured you? Do you want him to know you were so scared you were trying to buy laudanum to avoid the pain?”
Beni starts to sob, “I was scared I'd cry when he cut me, and I would be shamed. I was afraid they might cut off my balls and exile me.”
Kami feels a minute amount of sympathy and asks, "Wouldn't it be the same if your brother found out about the laudanum?" If Beni fears anything more than being circumcised it's his brother's anger and rejection. Kami promises he won't tell anyone if he agrees to join the Yakis. The poor child is trapped between a rock and a hard place as they say. “If they release Sol right away I won't hurt you as much as I was planning.”
Beni's bonds are loosened and looking quite uncomfortable he asks his brother to release Sol and says, “I will agree, I will be initiated into the Yakis.” Vidor turns the volume down so Beni doesn't have to go through his brother's outraged harangue and has the table moved away from the camera.
A few minutes later Sol is released from his shackles and given some water to drink. Kami is allowed to talk to him. Korbo is willing to negotiate. Vidor not only insists that Sol be released immediately but also that the nirvana they seized from him be returned. A prisoner exchange is arranged with Sol being carried on a stretcher. Kami who'd been conjuring up the most exquisite tortures is relieved that he won't have to inflict them on the frightened child. Sol's body is covered with raw oozing sores and his joints are strained making movement awkward but he has no injuries that require a healer.
Kami carries him into their hovel and lays him down on their bedding. His grotesquely swollen balls are especially tender and Kami's anger returns as he examines them. He arranges cushions and pads as best he can to make his lover comfortable, lights the charcoal stove and puts on water for tea. Then he prepares a pipe of opium and offers it to Sol to help his pain. Sol sucks on the pipe and soon finds himself in another place. Kami sponges him, and carefully licks the lacerations which have not yet begun to scab, cleaning them and coating them with healing saliva. Sol relaxes and is asleep before he finishes his tea. His lover covers and kisses him, lies beside him with an arm around his shoulders before going to sleep himself. Sol sleeps until after noon and is stiff and sore when he awakes. Kami brings him tea and a piss pot, and holds his bruised cock as he empties his bladder. "You Are feeling better!" he exclaims when Sol's cock rises. Sol smiles for the first time and Kami delicately mouths his abused organ. His body responds with small undulations and he moans, "It hurts… and feels so good." And after he spurts he remarks, "I feel even better now." However it takes several days of feeding, licking, loving and sucking before he is able to go out.
Vidor's impressed by Kami, he's one of his most resourceful members. Not long after he abducted Beni he puts him in charge of selling lottery tickets in one of the proleburbs in their turf. Without the concerns of procreation and paternity, and the ideals of Before Time marriage, promiscuity is common among the proles and there is little need for organized prostitution. Sex with either sex tends to be free and easy, it is a safe pastime for the masses and all sorts of supposed aphrodisiacs, aids, devices and pornography are pedalled by vendors. There's no such thing as perversions, only choices.
The gangs manage to raise some money putting out attractive prepubescent girls too young to be tested for fertility, and hence potentially exotic, but well trained in the erotic arts. However among the proles there are many fertile men and many more who believe they are, and among them the desire to sire a child and indulge in the pleasures of parenthood are strong. The leaders' monopoly on procreation is widely resented. To counter this Bolobo has set up a lottery where the winners get to fuck a certified fertile female five times over a moon. The few resultant births have been well publicized and the children are pampered by their often several fathers who are allowed generous visitation privileges. The lottery encourages many proles to work harder and has helped enrich the Treasury and Bolobo.
Halota is a buxom woman around thirty who has six children already and brings along her youngest daughter, Gema, a toddler who still seeks her mother's breast. This is convincing evidence of her fertility. She is delighted to “be going on the road” as she calls it. “You boys can't imagine how incredibly boring it is being a breeder. All those super virile studs are a bunch conceited airheads. I prefer the clumsy soldiers on their vacations.”
Sol points out, “It's pretty boring for the kids too.”
“At least you get to do things, we can't do this, and can't do that because it might be dangerous. They won't even let me ride the horses at the farm. And I don't know how many times I've heard the stupid tales of the government storytellers. I spend half my time knitting socks for the army.” Halota is very demanding and the boys have to acquire expensive cosmetics, perfumes, and fancy clothes from vendors in the street markets. She spends hours with hairdressers, manicurists and those who claim to be psychotherapists and fortune tellers. She insists that Sol massage her feet when he has other things to do. Halota brings along two pretty 'maids' who also require pampering. and Kami hires two labourers to help with the work.
They set up a tent in the local market with a huge bed, four comfortable chairs and a large playpen with toys. Halota is very good at her job, she plays with her little Gema, who is just starting to walk and displays her ample self and her daughters charms in an enticing manner. The men talk babytalk to the toddler, make faces and try to get Gema's attention. Occasionally if her mother approves, a man, delight radiating from his face, is allowed to hold her briefly. Whenever Gema is nursed large crowds gather around. The men stare in wonder as they watch her vigorously suck on her mother's teats. Halota squeezing her breast lightly demonstrates how the milk sprays from the nipple. A man gets a tiny taste and swoons. The boys and the maids sell many lottery tickets but much of the money goes to purchasing luxuries for Halota and her maids. Sol discovers he's good at sales. He shows off his slender body with a sexual grace that projects a son the men never had, and cons them into gambling on progeny. What he already enjoys became more than fun, it's a profitable talent. At the end of each day the winning ticket is drawn. The winner is ecstatic, buys drugs for his friends, and spends an evening of fantasy fulfilment with Halota. And he still has four one hour sessions left in the coming moon to hope upon. If a child is born the appropriate time later he may believe that he is a father although the mother may have been prizing up to thirty winners at the time. Some children at the farms are visited by a dozen daddies. Kami has his first female fuck with Halota and likes it, and soon fucks the young maids as well. And it helps the sex with Sol get even better. And the maids eventually seduce Sol.
And then one night as they are shutting down and the maids are slutting out on eager Sol, a big prole man shows up and demands a fuck with Halota. He claims he bought many tickets but never won and is now ruined. He has “rights” and grabs Halota. Kami tries to stop him and gets smashed to the ground. Only the quick arrival of Sol and the two maids, all naked from their tryst, prevent a rape. The man collapses in tears. “It's not fair after all the tickets I bought. I would give my life to make a baby.” The others all condemn him. “Not rape.” he protests, “Only to make a child, I would never rape for sex.” Kami's uncertain what to do as the prole pleads, “Life is all there is to die for.” Under the Rule of Bolobo he could have the prole executed for attempted rape of a fertile female, or he could ignore the whole thing, unless of course, he had to do something. Life and death decisions, nothing special about the man, not cultured or young enough to be a valuable slave, why not kill him? The prole refuses to leave and Sol sort of likes the idea of killing him but it could be awkward and a lot of trouble after. Finally Kami gives the man some of the nirvana he keeps for Halota to get him to leave. Sol is concerned, “What would Bolobo think?” Kami sucks him and fucks him with more vigour and less love than usual until his little brother is exhausted
Early in the spring Bolobo's confident mood is shattered by the news that Whytun saboteurs, under the cover of late winter mists descending from the icefields, have destroyed a huge section of the main canal bringing water from the Springs to the fertile lowlands around Kalgoru where most of their food is grown. Bolobo is furious as the breach occurred in a region normally securely under Arun control. Without the water the Arun Nation faces famine. The scant snowmelt and rains will only last until summer. Plans for a massive mobilization of manpower are prepared to repair the breach. For the first time in many years women are to be conscripted, something which could cause unrest and threaten the stability of his rule. The role of the gangs may be critical.
At the next Discipline Day Rights Bolobo appears with the two Eternal Bonds intertwined and draped around his neck. There's been word of a special announcement and ominous rumors circulate. Kami and Sol have never seen so many packed into the Dome. For the first time monitors are broadcasting the rites in both fortresses for those unable to get into the Dome. There is tense anticipation. His Supreme Justice strikes a serious pose and he begins somberly, “The wicked Whytuns have struck at the heart of our beloved Arun Nation. Our very survival is at stake. In a devious sneak attack the cowardly Whytuns have sabotaged the Great Canal on which on which our very existence depends. This is an act of wanton terrorism! We must respond as we never have before and I am counting on my loyal Mafis and Yakis to assist in this great national effort. We have a lot of work to do.” The boys are aghast and then a mood of militancy sweeps over them. Cries of “You can count on us” and “Death to the Whytuns” can be heard over the angry murmuring. “First there will be an absolute truce, a patriotic truth until the crisis is over. I don't need to tell you the consequences of violating a truce. Many of you will soon be leaving to assist our soldiers at the front and our workers repairing the breach. This may be the last Discipline Rite you attend for a while. I want you to be ready.” He pauses and looks around at the audience. “As I look around I see a number of faces I have not seen on this stage. The Discipline Rites are for everyone. As we have a relatively short program today I am going to select some volunteers.” This is not the first time Bolobo has done this, he doesn't like to see boys left out. “The rites are a crucible which helps forge hard and cruel warriors. It is an opportunity to prepare yourselves for the coming struggle, to steel yourselves for battle.”
He glances around and picks out a small Mafi lad with blue spiked hair. “You, come up here… What's your name?”
“Wini, your Supreme Justice.”
“Are you afraid?”
“No Your Justice. I want to go fight the evil Whytuns.” A Yaki boy is picked to administer the whipping and the small Mafi boy's face lights up as the welt raising strokes strike his pale wiry body. At the end, pleased with his livid weals, he beams proudly and asks, “Now can I go fight them Whytuns, your Supreme Justice?”
Before Bolobo can compose his answer a pretty curly headed Yaki tyro pushes his way to the stage and pleads, “Whip me too, whip me.” Another boy shouts, “Me too, your Supreme Justice, me too.”
Bolobo holds up his hand, a gesture that usually brings immediate silence, but dozens of boys are rushing forward begging to be whipped, anxious to demonstrate their grit and commitment. He is unable to quieten the clamour and not wanting to dampen their patriotism he restrains his burly guards with their bullwhips. He is gratified by the fervour of His boys and relents. He selects one boy and then another to be whipped, hoping to placate them.
“But I've never been whipped at the rites.” a disappointed junior warrior complains. “Me neither” another shouts.
Overcome with emotion by the electric scene Bolobo is losing control. He tries to limit it to those who've never been whipped before at the rites but even this is impossible. There is no way that all those wanting to be whipped can be accommodated. The scheduled trials are forgotten. Finally boys spill out into the square and hundreds of boys pair off, often Yaki with Yaki and Mafi with Mafi, and take turns whipping and beating each other with whatever is available. A forlorn naked boy comes up to Kami and implores him to whip him, and then complains he's not being hit hard enough. Proles stare incredulously at the orgy of flagellation. Women stop and shake their heads.
Bolobo promises generous pensions, free drugs, young girls and fertile women as rewards for the best workers, and even better food in the face of famine. There are risks, the proles will resent being drafted for the dangerous and strenuous task, and a few may be tempted to loot supplies and flee into the nearby Wildlands. Most gang members, Bolobo's most zealous commissars along with some trusted warriors, are given the job of controlling the proles forced to march to the breach and labour on the huge repair works. All horses, mules and oxen are conscripted to carry tools and supplies. In a desperate move the breeding farms are practically emptied of all children able to make the trek to the construction camps at the breach. There will be small children for the workers and soldiers to hold, cuddle, kiss and play parent to. Some cynically remark that the kids are Bolobo's secret weapon. Few of those conscripted ever get to socialize with children under ten and the chance to spend a few hours entertaining or playing games with them. Ersatz paternity, is a powerful incentive. Efforts are made to mobilize the women with only limited success.
Under the guidance of the commissars the soldiers will provide the muscle to keep the workers in line while the gangs will provide intelligence, regulate access to the little children and dole out drugs and perks to keep the prole conscripts pacified. Kami and Sol become part of a squad escorting a dozen pretty young girls, two certified fertile women and forty young children to entertain and boost the morale of the men at one of the breach camps. Other gang squads operating under the Quartermaster will pick up drugs on a daily basis for distribution to the conscripts who will be given as much methin as they need in the mornings and enough nirvana after work to ease their pain and let them sleep.
A huge crowd in the tens of thousands gathers in Revolution Square and the roads leading into it. Bolobo with Dr. Lorcol at his side appear at his balcony “Today we face a historic challenge. The stakes are higher than they've ever been. Workers and warriors the fate of our great nation is in your hands.” He exhorts the soldiers and workers to repair the breach and defeat the Whytuns.
Kami, one of many gang members keeping an eye on the crowd, sees Quigli and greets his old dad. The old scribe is happy to see him, “Are you listening to our wise warmaster?”
Kami seldom bothers because he's heard it all before, but stops to listen to Bolobo. “We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight at the breaches, we shall fight in the foothills, We shall fight in the lowlands. We shall never surrender.”
Kami has to admit that he sounds more eloquent than usual. Quigli smiles and confides sheepishly, “I wrote the speech for him.” It's time for cheers and the nubile Arunteen Cheerleaders, their bouncy breasts bouncing, lead the crowd. Kami, to set an example for the nearby proles joins in the shouting, “BO LO BO, BO LO BO, BO LO BO. GO GO GO, GO GO GO.”
Bolobo continues, “I do not forget women, and the heroic role they can play in our noble struggle. Without women there'd be nobody to do most of the work. And with the men away we need them to work harder. And last, but not least, without women there'd only be boys to fuck. Think about that. And I say to you who doubt the contribution of our female brethren that what women lack in strength they make up for by eating less.” The men applaud. For them it is an exciting challenge.
“And now, to guarantee the success of this great national endeavour I offer a sacrifice to all and any gods and great spirits.” A large portable brazier is placed before him and he holds up a book, a copy of GIDEON'S BIBLE.
Quigli whispers in Kami's ear, “He originally wanted to burn this big COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE book, there's only one copy, but I pointed out that the binding had purple stripes, the Whytun royal colour, and that it might not be auspicious. He insisted on a book so I suggested the Gideons. He's got several copies and I don't think one is a great loss. I had a chance to study one once. It is a very difficult and strange book full of magic, miracles, vengeance, great massacres and strange ideas about sex. I believe its pages may hold clues to help explain why the peoples of the Before destroyed their world.”
Bolobo solemnly places the book on the fire. As smoke begins to rise Bolobo intones, “Bless our mission, preserve our race and cripple our enemies. Marxomumble paddywack nicknack. With these flames I liberate the ancient wisdom imprisoned in these pages.” Coughing forces him to stop briefly. “May the smoke's essence guide and protect our warriors and workers. May it fine tune the flight of our arrows and spears into the vitals of our foes. May it call up the spirit of Mozi, the ancient prophet who slew his enemies cities at a time, and reminded us not to forget the little ones.”
“I hope he keeps at least one of those bibles because someday, someone may be able to make sense out of it, and who knows, perhaps even the HEGEMON reports may be able to tell us something.” Kami nods in agreement. “You know it's a pity he couldn't burn computers instead.”
Kami looks at him questioningly, “I bet you've never played PEACEKEEPER, or you wouldn't say that.”
The old scribe has only tried it once and detests games. But then Kami didn't really expect that old Quigli would like a game where you got points for torturing prisoners just for fun. “In fact sometimes I think computers may have had a hand in the demise of the Before.”
The road into the foothills follows an old Before Time route but progress is slow with all the children and the women who insist on their comforts. Much of the surface is uneven as the asphalt pavement has been quarried for fuel. Six days out they branch off onto a steep graded trail that leads to the military fort not far from the breach, that guards the huge flumes where the canal crosses a large polluted river. Two days up the trail rounding a turn they see the breach on the hillside across the wide river valley. An entire shoulder of the hill has collapsed taking out a half mile of the canal and damming the toxic melt water below. A few miles ahead they reach the fort. They find out that the Whytuns had tunnelled into the hill below the canal and came up beneath it. Water pouring through the bottom soon became a torrent as the tunnel widened until a section of the hillside slumped. Half of the patrol responsible for the section of the canal were summarily executed on Bolobo's orders. Huge quantities of earth must be moved to regrade the hillside and reconstruct the canal and hundreds of tons of clay to line it must be carried up from the river. They have only a couple of moons to complete the job before mid summer when the crops will start dying.
They set up a camp on the far side of the breach where workers with shovels and baskets are carving a new channel into the steep hillside. They erect a large nursery tent for the smaller children with toys and a couple of puppies. Workers earn visitation rights and when they cash them in they can pick a child and take it to one of several small tents with makeshift furniture and knick-knacks to suggest a home. Boys over eight, who have been given a practical crash course on sexual techniques, just in case they should need it, are expected to stay with the workers. Dr. Lorcol was concerned that they might pick up subversive political ideas but Bolobo has faith in their indoctrination.
Kami and Sol enjoy their work. Even Sol is relieved that they don't have to attend meetings or listen to speeches. They check the records of the foremen and calculate each worker's visitation rights, whore time or credits towards a fuck with a fertile woman. Most men choose the children and, most often Kami introduces the worker to the available children and usually lets him have the one he wants. Most soon start coming back for the same child every time. Although there are problems occasionally the children are mostly happy to have so much individual adult attention, something they get little of on the farms. And the proles work hard and their work gets ahead of schedule. Both big and little brother have fun with the girls although both prefer sex with each other. The Wildlands are not far away, they can see them to the northeast, and Kami occasionally feels nostalgia for his former home. Late in the evenings he tells Sol about life in the Wildlands. Sol is curious but can't understand how anyone could like it. “How could you look good in dressed in rabbit and deerskins? And no gangs or big buildings or computers?” Aruns, he insists are much more civilized.
The canal is finally repaired and the life sustaining waters flow to the Arun lowlands. Harvests are low and many go hungry but few die. Bolobo is impressed by the effort and plans to make lakes in the lowlands to store water for future emergencies. However with the diversion of labour and soldiers the Whytuns are able extend their control at the Springface.
The Annual Victory Celebrations are subdued and attendance is low. Many brigades of workers are away working building dams for Bolobo's reservoirs and many children have not returned to the farms. His soldiers only turn in a few small bags of cocks for bounty, and there are suspicions that some of these were scalped from Wildis, or their own casualties. Dr. Lorcol expresses concern that the bounties may lead to soldiers attacking easy targets rather than killing Whytun soldiers. There are only a handful of Whytun prisoners for the War Crimes Trials and Closure Rites, the least anyone can remember. Bolobo will have to make the most of those he has. Most are allocated to the women for their heroic efforts on the home front.
Gang life returns to normal. Kami becomes an Arunteen warrior when the Yaki teen warriors invite him to a ceremony where he has to eat what he's told is Bolobo's shit. Then Vidor pins a TW badge to his gang vest and they all get drunk and stoned. It's a lot more pleasant than what Sol faces a couple of moons later.
At about fourteen a tyro faces an ordeal where he must demonstrate his ability to keep on fighting after being savagely beaten. He then becomes a Junior Warrior and may take part in military campaigns but generally not the actual fighting. Sol has to earn his Junior Warrior badge by fighting four Mafi boys at a moonly Fight Rite in the Drama Dome. Kami got the scar by his eyebrow at his fight rite. At the Dome Bolobo sits on his high swivel stool and times the five minute rounds with his big gold watch. The rules are few: No weapons, no maiming and no kicks to the head, balls and kidneys. And there is also Bolobo's special Rule: Show no mercy. The boys strip to a thong and pouch which provide no protection. The first boy Sol faces is a diminutive tyro who barely looks twelve and is over a head shorter than himself. He's skinny and not very strong, but he's quick and agile and knows how to use his knees and feet. It's a couple of minutes before Sol manages to land a solid blow, but then he lands at least a dozen more jarring blows on his elusive opponent. The tough little Mafi tyro, bruised and bleeding from his nose, is still on his feet groggily fighting at the end of the round. Sol knows he should have done better to prove his aggressiveness and cruelty.
The next boy is only a little smaller than Sol but muscular. They spar for over a minute before the other boy, moving under his guard, gets in a flurry of vicious blows to Sol's gut before he can break free. Sol continues to get the worst of it until with a couple of minutes left he trips the boy, knees him in the stomach, and starts kicking him as hard as he can. The audience applauds. Finally the Mafi manages to grab Sol's foot bringing him down, but with Sol on top he gets his face punched until the end of the round. He is retching, coughing blood and has to be helped off the stage.
Sol is starting to get tired and only has a few minutes before he faces his third opponent, a husky Mafi lad a bit bigger than himself and probably over a year older. Sol manages to avoid the worst of the boy's punches and kicks for the first half, and once unbalancing him, pounds him with a flurry of nasty blows to his ribs. But he can't match the other's strength and is soon down on the ground, has his arms painfully twisted and his face pummelled until bloody. Finally he manages to break free and charge the boy, clinching to reduce the power of his blows. At the end his face is puffed with one eye almost shut and the pain in his gut makes it difficult to stand up straight.
His last opponent is practically full grown and towers over Sol. He is less a match for this boy than the first one was for him, and he is exhausted, weakened and in pain from fighting. It is basically a heavy beating with time outs to allow Sol to recover his senses and get to his feet. But Sol, as he must, keeps on fighting as best he can, and keeps getting punched, kicked, kneed and stomped on. It ends when he is incapable of responding. Kami has to guide and support Sol as he receives his warrior's dagger and JW badge. Bolobo looks down at the dazed and battered boy, “You will, I am sure, become a great warrior and Whytun killer. With this dagger you are no longer a child, but a young man, and this badge proclaims your status as an Arun warrior, cherish it forever.”
Before the next fight rite contest starts Kami helps him back to their hovel and very gently licks his cuts. He's seen worse. “There, now you are going to have a few neat little scars.” He teases. Sol, his face puffed and swollen tries to say something but it is painful to talk. He feels so miserable he doesn't even want sex. Kami makes him as comfortable as he can and applies cold wet rags to his worst bruises. Smoking opium makes Sol cough painfully, so Kami chews up a few tabs of nirvana he's pilfered, and dribbles the mixture into his beloved little brother's swollen mouth. A few minutes later they both feel the soporific effects. By the end of the next day the new junior warrior is starting to feel better and welcomes Kami's lips around his cock and his cock up his ass.
During the winter Kami and Sol train in the martial arts and the use of weapons at gang school. Their physical training is strenuous with drills, forced marches and obstacle courses. They also learn basic military tactics. Kami catches and kills a sheared sheep with his dagger to pass his final rest. On the last day they are treated to a speech by the Psychomaster. Wearing his official Psychomaster's uniform inspired by the bizniz suit of the Before he mounts the special platform he needs. Under the quaintly tailored dark blue jacket he has a white collared shirt with a multicolored strip of fabric around his neck. He puts on his big black Before Time eye frames, looks around and smiles at the boys. He is pleased and after a couple of feeble attempts at levity he speaks earnestly:
Many of you are going forth for the first time into the battle zones. I want you to keep your lessons in mind and don't forget cruelty. Keep the ideal of cruelty close to your hearts. It is said that the Before collapsed because men became soft. We don't want to make that mistake. It is said that men neglected the most essential warrior virtues of fortitude and cruelty. Cruelty is power, cruelty purges the soul, cruelty makes you free.
And just as His Supreme Justice speaks of justice being seen to be done, so it is with cruelty. Cruelty, especially public cruelty strengthens the morale of the nation. Cruelty is not just about imparting fear in those who might otherwise oppose us but cruelty, the spectacle of flesh attacked, generates invaluable moral satisfaction which is one of the foundations of political stability. People feel good about themselves when they can securely observe the suffering of evil others. The true warrior not only practises cruelty, he enjoys it. That is the test you should set for yourselves, to enjoy cruelty. Here in Arunland everyone has the mokratik right to advocate cruelty and sing its praises. We give boys freedom to learn cruelty, and the opportunity to express themselves by being cruel to others. This is an opportunity that's denied Whytun boys. Remember cruelty is an honoured virtue. But it has not always been so.
There have always been simple minded preachers of kindness, but beginning centuries before the Before's end, irrational, self serving, so called humanitarians prospered by condemning cruelty, stirring up the proles and malcontents. The result? Cruelty was systematically repressed. First they stopped the beating of animals, then workers and convicts, and lastly and most disastrously, the beating of children. Can you imagine? In fact cruel punishments became generally prohibited. Torture was condemned as inhuman and systematically repressed. Luckily torture did not die out and the craft's secrets were passed down. For many years torture only survived as a persecuted underground activity in secret dungeons, police stations and remote army bases. The repression was so severe and the popular hunger for it so great that desperate people formed clandestine organizations so they could practise torture if only on each other.
It is said that the Mighty Dubyanus strove to restore torture to its former glory, but his plan lacked vision and ultimately failed. Much of this can be explained by opposition from a cabal of squeamish libokrats. But his plan was full of contradictions. Instead of making torture public and bringing it to the masses he set up a centralized torture depot for his empire on a remote island. The masses were denied the opportunity to see torture done and satisfy their moral yearnings. However new innovations and scientific methods were developed based on the pioneering work carried out by the Great Derfuror earlier. Technically the results were highly successful in causing suffering and extracting information. But again, probably because of the libokrats only torture which left no visible marks was allowed. While narrowly effective, invisible torture lacks potential spin offs. How can torture be a morally satisfying spectacle if there are no welts, blood and exposed bones? At the most you'd just have moans and screams. As you all learnt in your Elementary Aggression classes the moral satisfaction generated by torture is directly related to the visual/audio effects and the number of viewers. Dubyanus neglected the moral satisfaction of the masses and the potential multiplier effect of torture was not exploited. I like to think that if he had tortured his prisoners publicly before the masses and had used proven, traditional bloody methods the tragedy that befell the world could have been avoided. His approach was not mokratik. While we must still give the Mighty Dubyanus credit for his valiant efforts we must remember that he ultimately failed to understand torture's potential.
When Dr. Lorcol pauses the boys applaud loudly as the Chief Commissar beams proudly. Then one boy raises his hand and asks, “What about criminals, should we torture them too?” The doctor smiles:
I'm glad you asked that question. The answer, most emphatically is yes. Torture is perhaps a more useful and efficient tool for dealing with criminals than prisoners. Torture of criminals has a long and illustrious history. It is the punishment par excellence. When we look to the past for guidance we find that without torture it became necessary to resort to lengthy prison sentences, and millions upon millions were jailed. This policy failed on two counts. First it provided very little in the way of moral satisfaction as the masses were hardly aware of the prisoners' suffering as it all occurred inside the prisons. And secondly it proved very costly keeping all these men imprisoned. Financial prudence led to an increasing reliance on executions as punishment. However given the libokratik aversion to cruelty, executions had to be painless. Not only that but they lacked the courage to hold even these in public where the masses could enjoy at least a modicum of moral satisfaction. And in their zealous squeamishness about cruelty, they even hooded convicts before killing them, denying even the few spectators allowed the pleasure of seeing the dying agonies. Inevitably the policy of secluded and painless executions led to an exponential growth in their number in a futile and misguided attempt at compensation. Still, they provided little moral satisfaction, and it was wasteful of human resources. If only the masses could hear the condemned man's cries and screams and see his face contort and body writhe as life is wrenched out of him, then you would need far fewer deaths to provide a high level of moral satisfaction to the public. Some groups lost so many of their youth as a result of these policies that their loyalties shifted to terrorists. Politics became unstable and disaster ensued.
I'm afraid I digressed boys.” The doctor smiles apologetically. “What I really want to say is that if you chance to meet a Whytun in battle, or have one of them captive, remember to be cruel. Savour the thrill of your daggers, swords and spears piercing living flesh, delight in the sight of the blood pouring out of wounds, exalt to the sounds of dying gasps. And whenever you get the chance, torture, torture, torture. There's a lot of practical stuff you don't get in school. The message I want to leave with you is a simple one, 'It's cool to be cruel'.
The boys are inspired and give the good doctor a lengthy ovation interspersed with cries of, “Kill the Whytuns!”, “Let me at 'em!” “Crush their balls!”
Sol turns to Kami, “Wouldn't it be neat if we had a Whytun of our own to torture?”
“Yeah, well I suppose so, we could try.”
With the opening of the war season at the Springface Kami and Sol are assigned as a big and little brother pair to a squad patrolling a long section of a large diversion channel in the foothills. Their base is well back of the heated battles near the Springface but much closer than they were the previous year. They are to search for any signs of Whytuns who might try to sabotage vulnerable sections, especially the flumes where they cross small toxic watercourses. Major repairs would mean draining men from the front. There are two other bonded pairs in the squad and each take turns patrolling ten miles up and twelve miles down the channel from their remote bush camp.
Early on the second day Kami and Sol set out upstream where the channel cuts across gentle slopes. Kami takes a route above the channel while Sol quietly makes his way along a crude bush path below. A dozen yards ahead he spots a Whytun junior warrior with long bleach tipped hair picking berries into a pouch. The berries are abundant nourished by seepage from the channel. He may be part of an enemy patrol or sabotage team. He should first inform Kami but when the boy squats to shit Sol sees this as an opportunity and decides instead to sneak up and kill the Whytun. He'll tell Kami there wasn't enough time. Then they can wait in ambush if others come looking for him. He takes his dagger out of its leg sheath. As he cautiously advances he is thrilled at the thought of making his first kill, something he has dreamed about for years. Bolobo personally awards the Primamorti Medals for the first enemy a warrior kills. It is rare that a Junior Warrior receives one. Sol can see himself standing before the warmaster receiving his, a silver cross with the form of a man hanging on it. For subsequent kills warriors receive tiny cross shaped pins.
Just before Sol is about to strike the Whytun boy hears him, deflects the blow and grabs a broken branch. They spar and it becomes a standoff until Kami hearing the commotion arrives, and quickly grabs the boy from behind and subdues him. Sol is elated, he has his dagger ready and taunts the Whytun JW, “I won't miss this time.” He turns to Kami excitedly, “Just think, we will share our first kill!” and he gets ready to slit open the struggling boy's belly, the favoured way for terminating enemies. They say it's lot harder to do than it looks.
“Wait.” Kami calls out. “He may have information.”
Sol's eyes light up, “You mean torture him?” When Kami nods he enthusiastically ties the captive's wrists behind his back, and then up around his neck leaving him uncomfortably bent back. Kami is convinced that there must be a larger party of Whytuns as so young a boy would not be sent out alone. He tries questioning their wild looking, defiant, bleach tipped captive, but except for his name, Pichu, and that of his breeding farm, he tells them very little. They feel it may be dangerous to hang around and decide to return to their camp where they can take their time interrogating their prisoner. Sol contemplates the painful choices he has, and lists a few possibilities out loud. Then he has a question. “Hey Kami, is it true that, Anything goes?”
“Yeah, there's not a bunch of rules like when the Mafis tortured you, it's more like the War Crimes Trials at the Victory Celebrations.”
Sol's imagination is liberated but his thinking is pretty basic. “Isn't it different if you're trying to get information?”
Kami remembers talking about it in gang school, “Well, if you want them to talk don't cut out their tongues.” Sol feels he's being teased, but he's happy to be torturing at last.
They have not gone far when they see a group of four young Whytun warriors in the distance approaching them. They were lucky to see them first and immediately duck. Pichu tries to call out to a tall purple haired youth but Sol grabs the cord around his neck instantly silencing him. They drag Pichu with them down a gully where they hide until the Whytuns pass. They can hear them boasting and laughing. “I say we kill him now.” Sol teases Kami as he runs his blade over the helpless boy's belly. “We know there's more of you now.” He slices open the Whytun's tunic and pokes at his cock with his blade. “I could have a lot of fun with this, and get a bounty too. Or I could keep it as a souvenir of my first kill.”
Pichu says he is not afraid. “I know you're gonna kill me anyway, just like we do in all the Aruns we get hold of. But my big buddy Taj, he's gonna get you, that was his Holy Terrorist squad.” Kami is in no hurry to kill Pichu and they make good time back to their camp.
When they arrive at their camp Kami and Sol are shocked and horrified by what they find; their four comrades have been slaughtered, their bellies slit open with the intestines spilling out and their cocks scalped, taken as trophies. Nearby they find their tunics soiled with faeces and urine. They must have been taken by surprise as there is little sign of struggle. Pichu is smugly pleased and sneers, “You guys are next.”
Sol turns on him, hate burning in his eyes, “This one does not deserve an easy death.” Sol flings Pichu to the ground and starts kicking him.
Kami watches momentarily before signing Sol to stop, “We will savour vengeance, but first we bury our comrades.” Pichu is bound securely so that if he struggles he will choke himself more, and they drag the corpses to the base of a low sand cliff and trigger a slide to cover them. Sol asks Kami if he's ever really tortured anyone before? “Only once. Back when I was with Karrull, I was with this squad that caught this Whytun warrior who'd ambushed one of our guys, and left him slit open. Everybody wanted revenge. We tortured him all night and most of the next day before he croaked. It was “anything goes”, as long as it didn't kill him too quick. I'd never seen anyone get beaten like that and getting his eyes poked. Everyone had to do something. I was scared but they said it was OK because he was a Whytun. Being the youngest I only got to torture a foot. The guy was still making a racket and squirming like crazy, and they held his leg for me while I smashed the side of his foot, it was his left foot, with this boulder that took two hands to lift. I thought it was great at first, getting my share, but then the blood starting oozing out and there were bits of bone. And it was me doing it, making him scream. They wanted me to do more, like as Bolobo, and the Great Derfuror in the Before, say, 'Only the cruel are truly free'. I didn't want to, and after they made me fight, to teach me cruelty. That's when I got my ear torn.”
“I like that scar, it looks kinda neat.”
“Yeah, well it took moons to heal.”
Kami and Sol return to Pichu who is trying not to show fear. Sol looks over to their captive who's testing his bindings. He confronts their captive, “I'm gonna make you beg and scream. You'll wish you were never born.” Sol recalls the time the Mafis worked over his nuts and how they hurt and sneers at Pichu, “I'm gonna twist off your balls and make you eat them” Deferring to his big brother he asks, “You wanna work on this piece of shit first? I'll hold if you like. But save me his balls, I got plans.” Sol reties Pichu around the trunk of a small pine with his arms above him, looks at him contemptuously, and knees him in the crotch a couple of times before cutting away the rest of his clothes with his dagger. He carelessly and deliberately nicks the squirming boy. Pichu, naked, vulnerable, and despite his pain, remains defiant. Sol is striving to be cruel, as he believes he should be. As Kami watches he playfully and calculatingly pokes and twists the point of his dagger into the captive's belly, chest, and thighs until blood starts dripping down his body. He follows this with flurries of punches that daze the boy and leave him generously smeared with his own blood. Temporarily satisfied he turns to Kami, “You want to take over, big brother? I want to rest for a while.”
Kami has been thinking about torture and cruelty. They fascinate him. Is that why Aruns are more powerful than Wildis? He ponders the substance of cruelty: To understand cruelty is to know the pain of victims, and to be truly cruel is to enjoy their suffering. Kami takes pliers from his tool kit and clamps one of Pichu's tiny nipples. He closely watches Pichu's face as he savagely crushes and cuts the small tit inflicting excruciating pain, seeking its horror in the other's eyes. He finds it, Pichu's agonized reactions are a window into his suffering. He tries to freeze the moment for the future. While Kami does not feel it, he gets a glimpse of its awesomeness and feels a strange excitement. Pichu's fear, pain and misery engulf him and contort his face. Am I enjoying this? He thinks of his dead comrades and their defiled bodies. And he thinks of how he once also awaited execution, and sees before him a helpless and suffering person. He looks at the crushed bleeding nipple and knows that it will never look the same again. Should I crush his other one, or some other sensitive part of him? … And observe what it does to him? The effort and the experience. Is he motivated to be cruel?
“We might go easier on you if you cooperate. Now tell me what you're up to, and just who are those comrades of yours?” He doesn't think he'll get any useful information, but it provides some practical purpose for the torture he is inflicting, and avoids the question of enjoying cruelty.
“Do whatever you want. I won't rat on my buddies. My beloved big buddy Taj will avenge my death. Our love is pure and total. He's a Holy Terrorist, one of Khaal's Elite Guards. He is a master of stealth and cunning and he will seek you out, and he will slaughter a hundred Aruns in my name.” Kami cannot but admire Pichu's bravado and thinks to simply kill him on the spot.
He needs the practice, but he hesitates and Sol asks, “Aren't you gonna do his other tit, like rip it right off?”
“Maybe later.” Kami's unsure, “With all the blood it's getting hard to see what you're doing. I think I'll just watch for a while.”
Sol is eager to take over, “Like losing his nuts won't kill him, will it?” Kami doesn't think so but tells him to be careful he doesn't bleed too much. “And I got plans for his cock, D'you think if I skinned it, I could stretch the skin over the handle of my dagger? It would give it a better grip for killing more Whytuns.”
“If yours could fit, I'd say his would.” Sol examines Pichu's cock and when it swells at his touch he smiles smugly. I can do what I want to him, like this. Then he grabs Pichu's balls, pounds his fist into them and studies the convulsive reaction of the helpless victim. He does it a couple of times more. I wonder if I really could twist them off? Using both hands and bracing himself he tugs and twists straining as hard as he can. Pichu struggles and screams, and things already slippery with blood and sweat, slip through. Sol realizes that twisting off balls is not as simple as he thought. “D'you think if I tied a cord around them it would work?” Again Kami is wondering if they shouldn't just kill the Whytun boy.
Suddenly they hear a noise behind them and turn, but the danger's in front as two Whyteen Warriors charge them. One grapples with Sol while the other narrowly misses Kami's neck with his sword. Kami ducks behind the tree and holds his dagger to Pichu's throat. Sol is on the ground unconscious, a Whytun foot poised to break his neck. “TAJ! TAJ!” Pichu shouts. The tall purple haired youth, older and stronger than himself orders Kami to drop his dagger. There's a sudden silence. It's a no win situation for Kami. They both die either way. But then he can at least take Pichu with them and he positions his dagger for a fatal thrust. Tajori lowers his sword and raises a hand, “If you kill my beloved I promise you a very slow death, not like your lucky comrades. And, you will get to see your young comrade suffer horribly first.” A minute passes, Sol comes to and the other Whytun trusses him wrists to ankles behind his back and with his dagger ready he yanks up Sol's tunic exposing his belly.
Kami persists, “I will kill your dear Pichu boy. He'll be one less Whytun.” Tajori looks at his beloved in fear and desperation, anger and hate whelming up in him. Kami's hand trembles. I die anyway, but must Sol? And Tajori's love for Pichu, how great and pure is it? And how sweet is it to execute the lover of the guy who killed my comrades right before his eyes? He finds no joy in the prospect of slitting Pichu's throat. He searches for some satisfaction, he wants it as something more than duty. But Sol, his other who allows him to define himself, My Prince. How lost I'd be. He holds the dagger, resolutely for the moment, its tip pricking in behind the boy's windpipe. And Pichu, helpless, seems prepared for his fate. Kami is desperate and confused, his love for Sol and his warrior's discipline. He blurts. “Are you ready to sacrifice your loyal loving Pichu?” He begins to cry as he works the dagger's point in deeper.
Tajori wavers and looks to Baba who punctures Sol's belly just above his cock, he's ready to rip it open. Sol looks up at Kami, his expression indicating that he too is prepared to die. How can I negotiate life? Oaths need blood and semen, fear or a god's name. Can I be honourable with an enemy I've sworn on my honour to eradicate? Death with honour? The role is powerful. But then there is the love of special comrades. The fear he feels for his little brother is tested when he notices that beneath his drying blood Pichu is as lovely a boy as any. A sexy fleshy beauty, and beauty on its own can be a reason not to kill. He knows what it would be like, he has seen life's blood gurgle out of wounds before. He doesn't know what Taj thinks but negotiates with him. Both speak of warriors' honour while compromising it as they have been taught. They strike a bargain: Pichu's life for Sol's, and Kami's fate will be in their hands. The other WhyTeen warrior, Baba unties Sol who remains defiant. He says he won't leave Kami, and offers to exchange his life for his big brother's. Kami tells him. “You cannot, and I do not want it.”
Sol shrieks and cries and becoming enraged he screams, “Then I will avenge your death a hundred fold.”
Kami counsels, “Better just to remember our love, and lead your life with honour.” They awkwardly embrace, grasp each other's cock and bid an emotional farewell.
“I will love you always. When I have my own junior warrior I want him to be like you.” Sol will have a few minutes to get away. Kami will keep his dagger to Pichu's throat until the lengthening shadow of a tall pine reaches his feet.
Several, it seems interminable minutes later, when the shadow touches his toes Kami tosses his dagger on the ground and awaits his fate. Baba immediately binds his wrists behind his back as Taj unties Pichu and embraces him tearfully. They kiss and swish their saliva back and forth in grateful bliss. Taj sponges and licks the blood off his body, oils him and covers him with his tunic to keep warm. They do not bother to go after Sol and later Kami overhears them discussing his fate. Baba suggests taking him back to their base to entertain the soldiers. “The men are bored and a spectacle would do them good.”
Tajori agrees, “Yeah, might even put more fight in them to see some Arun blood.”
Baba observes, “Too bad we couldn't take him back to Edomon. This time of year we could probably find people willing to pay good money to see a special sacrifice. They really like to watch younger boys getting done in.” The idea is however impractical, they will hold the spectacle at camp.
Pichu who's starting to recover and in a vengeful mood demands, “I should get to kill him after what he did to my tit.” Tajori agrees.
Baba says, “OK but we should see how much we can make off him first. Like the men get tired of sex, women and children all the time, and I bet that some would like to have a bit of hands-on fun with our prisoner, and maybe others would pay to watch. And with a commission on the bets, it all adds up.”
Tajori agrees but points out, “But it wouldn't be fair to Pichu if the prisoner doesn't show real signs of life when he gives him the coup de grace.”
Pichu is assured that the prisoner will have some life left in him when the time comes. He's satisfied and tugs on Kami's cock, “And not a bad trophy eh?”
They set off making camp at dusk across the valley a few miles away. Baba ties Kami wrists and ankles between two trees and keeps an eye on him as he prepares a simple meal. Away from the others Taj makes a comfortable place for Pichu who is still weak from his ordeal. They joyfully kiss and cry, and then Taj carefully licks his little buddy's puncture wounds and tormented balls, and then anoints him with perfumed oil and lovingly sucks his responsive cock to relieve the pressure in his balls as much as anything.
Kami is given water but no food. His captors refuse to speak to him but he finds their dialect, Whytuntung is both similar and quite familiar, and he recalls his mother's speech, she who had fled Edomon long before his birth. Before he retires Pichu comes over and kicks him several times, “Taj won't let me kill you now, or cut anything off, but he says as long as you can still walk…” He kicks Kami in the stomach a few more times then he stomps on his crotch, “That's for Khaal.” and then he pees on his face. “And that's for me.”
The next day they continue north taking a lower faster route skirting the Wildlands. Kami, bound as Pichu was before, finds the pace difficult with his restraints and his young captor, whom he'd tortured the day before, clearly enjoys the task of whipping him with a switch when he falters. “Faster, you piece of dog shit. You're just lucky Taj won't let me mess up that stupid face of yours. Spoil your looks he says.” The low intensity torment continues all day. Kami tries to think of the honourable death that awaits him, that is if he can be resolute and demonstrate Arun fortitude in the face of a slow cruel death, but instead he thinks of saving himself.
Kami tries to start conversations with his captors but is ignored. Pichu curses him and whips him more when he tries. The JW has discovered that willow makes better switches than aspen which breaks too easily. Kami persists and adopting the Whytun style of speaking and using almost forgotten idioms he learnt from his mother he finally gets a response when he recalls the ultimate Whytun expletive, “Son of a Wildi whore”, and spits it at Tajori.
The angry purple haired youth demands, “Where did you learn to speak like that? Are you a traitor too?”
Kami tells them he was born in the Wildlands, and that his mother was from Edomon. And I could tell them my father was a Whytun, so I am too. “Like the Aruns abducted me.”
Baba doesn't believe him, “I bet you were trained as a spy.”
Should I be a spy? Would they keep me alive longer? Or torture me more? Kami knows that he can't pass as a Whytun. It would be better to be a Wildi than an Arun, He knows an Arun warrior shouldn't think that way but… “But the Aruns really did abduct me two years ago, and this general fell madly in love with me, and he didn't kill me like was he was supposed to, and he made me his son for real, like he's a pal of Bolobo, and Bolobo rules, and I learned all sorts of inside things.”
Tajori does not believe him, but he is however interested when Kami shares some of his knowledge about the Wildis. “I have talked to a number of conscripts, I know their savage customs and have seen their strange rhythmic dances.” The purple haired youth who sees himself as a future Whytun general is professionally curious about the Wildlands. “Where did you learn so much about the Wildis?” Tajori suspects that the Aruns may be trying to make a deal with the Wildis. While he is logically sceptical of anything his doomed captive might say, he listens anyway and questions him as to how an Arun knows so much about the Wildis. Kami denies he's an Arun. “You are an Arun. I've known lots of Wildis. They're all degenerate, ignorant beasts. They have no books, they eat raw flesh, and they never circumcise. Wildis are what you get when the blood and semen of the two nations become mixed. They are an amalgam of the scum sloughed off by the nations; the sick, the retards, the misfits and the unmanageable. They are rejects, occasionally breeding with other rejects, becoming an ever baser race. Why, I don't even keep track of the Wildis I kill.” Kami wonders, Is it best to be an Arun after all? “It was the mixing of male blood, and semen, that caused the downfall of the Before. His Most Illustrious Holy Confessor has proven that this mixing of the many races reached such a critical state that it caused the Great Armageddonic War which left just us and you, the polar pure races. And the strongest is destined to triumph, and must exterminate the other and all those whose blood and semen got mixed up. His Most Illustrious says we will always have to be tested in case of hidden helixes. I am one of the Chosen, and our Master Race will be triumphant.” Kami can't pass as a Wildi and it's as fatal being an Arun. Temporarily forgetting about his warrior's code Kami thinks and says, “Well my mother was from Edomon, and my real father talked the same way so I figure he was a Whytun too.”
“No one who flees to the Wildlands could be a pure Whytun, even a woman, it could a hidden helix.”
“But I picked your way of speaking pretty quick, didn't I? I'm a Whytun bloodandsemenwise, just like you. Taj's eyes light up and Kami's hopes dim, “You mean you're a race traitor?”
Baba jumps up, “Hey treason! We ain't had a good treason spectacle in years. I hear they try and make the sacrifices last three days.”
“But I'm Wildi.” Kami unfaithful to his warrior's code protests. It's pure pretence of course and he has no proof.
Taj states, “If I thought you were a Wildi I wouldn't bother keeping you alive another minute.
Kami unsure if he's seeking a quick death or merely pursuing some absurd hope blurts, “But I am a Wildi. I can even dance like them, I really can.”
“Really?” Tajori sneers and they continue in silence.
Pichu picks it up, “A Wildi dancer eh?” and singing a popular Whytun ditty he starts switching Kami in time to the music, and demands that he dance. Kami can do very little with his bonds and Pichu gets bored and decides on new things to whip him for.
That evening they make camp near a tiny isolated spring. Baba hobbles Kami and unties his arms so he can join the others in eating berries growing nearby and assumed to be safe. He can't remember being so hungry before, and it feels so good to move his arms again. After having his legs tied around a tree he is given some soup and a chunk of hard bread to eat. Pichu tells him, “We reach base tomorrow,” and adds with a grin, “so enjoy your last meal.” He pees on the bread “so it's softer to eat”. Kami eats every crumb.
Then Tajori comes over, squats near him and questions him about the Wildlanders. “How do they fight? I know they hardly ever do but we lose men in skirmishes. How do they execute prisoners?” He's heard they don't but knows they must. “And what is this nonsense that they won't even torture?.”
Kami is able to get back into his Wildland days and remember a lot of things he hasn't thought about before and answers as he can. “We always fought by running away, and you mustn't have anything you can't run away from.” Actually Wildis would like quite a few more possessions if they could. And they pretend to be poorer than they actually are.
Tajori expresses disgust and indignation on hearing how backward and stupid the Wildis are, “You mean that they practise 'Weakness is Strength'?” Kami doesn't really answer but Taj is overwhelmed by the insight. “They pervert weakness into strength like some pervert hate into love. The Holy Confessor has warned us about the 'turncheek heresy'.” Tajori thinks some more, “And how can you have business if people don't have possessions?” He looks at Kami. “Don't think you can talk your way out of your doom. I just want to understand you. Only through knowing your victim intimately beforehand, can you experience the full depth of the killing experience. I want to get the most out of your death. It's not often I get much chance to discuss things with my, clients is not the right word, but you know what I mean.”
Baba realizes, “Hey, If we make him a traitor maybe it would pay to keep him for our annual Victory Celebrations and Inquisition. He could be a feature sacrifice.”
Taj is cautious, “It would be a lot of extra work to keep him alive.”
But Pichu likes the idea, “That would mean we could do more to him now because he'd be healed by then.”
It's a valid point but Taj tells him he still can't start cutting things off, but then seeing Pichu's pleading eyes softens Taj's heart, “Maybe a couple of fingers.” But then Taj reconsiders, “You should be patient my little lion,” he affectionately rubs his little buddy's ass, “and I'll let you try out all sorts of interesting tortures.”
Kami still trying says, “As an Arun warrior it would be dishonourable for me to lie, merely save my own life, but it's true. I'm really a Wildi.”
Taj laughs. “An Arun swearing he's Wildi? As a Wildi you would have no honour, and would naturally lie. You are a dishonourable Arun.” Kami's unsure, Is it better to die an Arun or a Wildi?
Baba comes over and warns Taj not to be deceived. “If you're one of them Wildis then where's your foreskin?”
Tajori nods, “Good point Baba, we could cut off his balls for impersonating a warrior.”
“Me. I'll do it!” Pichu shouts.
But Taj is curious, “But you say you can dance?”
“Yes, but not tied around a tree.”
Taj looks thoughtful and confers with Baba suggesting it might be interesting. “You had better not try anything, or I may allow Pichu a few more liberties.” They untie Kami and he is told to dance as the Wildis do. Baba holding Tajori's sword stands behind him and Pichu draws his dagger.
Kami takes off his clothes, I wish I had some anklets, bracelets and beads to make sound and decorate my body. He starts slowly, his head bowed and bobbing, making short shuffling steps, and gradually builds up the tempo swinging his arms up and arching his back. I wish they had some music, even a drum. His feet start to pound the ground and he leaps in the air gesturing side to side and shouting “Aiiyah, aiiyah, Liberdadi!” The flickering firelight accents and mystifies Kami's dancing. The Whytuns stare in fascination. He goes through the seven attitudes of classic Wildland dancing, and is exhausted and dripping with sweat at the end.
Tajori is satisfied that his story about being a Wildlander is true. “So what?” Baba inquires and smugly observes, “His cock is cut and it would make a real nice trophy for someone.” Pichu thinks he should get to scalp Kami's cock as well as the coup de grace thing, and maybe do it first just in case others might. Taj says he'll think about it. Kami's retied around the tree and he tries to sleep but dread of his coming ordeal, a death beyond any battle's gore, keeps him awake for hours. He has seen what happens at spectacles. He feels an unwarrior like pity for himself and forces himself to think of a bright future for Sol.
At dawn they hear noises and find themselves surrounded by a dozen Wildlanders armed with clubs and spears. The Whytuns are warned not reach for their weapons, and the fur and skin clad men move in, break their swords and take their daggers. Taj is fearful and tries to be conciliatory. Their apparent leader Beretha, a huge, gruff, shaggy haired woman dressed in furs points to Kami and demands, “Let him go.”
Tajori protests, “But he's ours, he's our prisoner, he's an Arun warrior who wants to kill us.”
Beretha glares at him, “Why do you take our people?”
“But look at his uniform, he's an Arun.”
“So what's the cloth he's wearing got to do with it?”
Tajori unties Kami's legs and Beretha calls him over and hugs him tightly. “Last night we heard you sing and watched you dance, but we were only two and had to go back for more.” She turns angrily to Tajori and Baba. “We have so few boys, and you come and take them, and our men too, and some don't come back like you promise.” She kisses Kami affectionately, asks him his name, fondles his cock and smiles.
Tajori loudly complains, “If you still think he's a Wildi just look at his cock.”
She sneers at him, “What difference does that make, you Northie turd of a bitch? When we saw him dance we knew he was a Wildland boy.” Kami's Wildlanger is slightly rusty as he gratefully thanks his rescuers and tells his story. They welcome him back, but he does not see himself re-entering their world. “What should we do with those miserable Northies?” Beretha inquires.
“They were going to kill me. As an Arun I'd kill them all now. But if you do Khaal will send in a terror squad to punish you. He'll wipe out everybody for a hundred miles around, Wildis and Aruns.”
Beretha is sarcastic, “Khaal? Bolobo? That is all they know. Why do you dog turds like to kill so much?”
Tajori is offended by the question and tries to be reasonable, “We only kill enemies.”
“Are we your enemy?”
“Whytuns don't go around killing Wildis, only to teach them lessons.”
“What do we need to learn? And what about hunting?”
“That was years ago.”
“You Northies have softer hearts now?”
“You even make it hard for us to hunt deer.” The Wildis are contemptuous.
Kami thinks of his new Wildi friends: I know they would kill the Whytuns, and I know they wouldn't want to. Kami doesn't want his saviours punished but if they let the Whytuns go Khaal might still send in a squad to avenge their honour, he knows Bolobo would. And it would be even worse to kill some but not others. The solution Kami advances is to keep one as a hostage for security. Maybe even get some money for him later. Tajori's obviously worth a lot more than babbling Baba or Pichu, and besides Sol might get jealous if I kept him. The others are told that Tajori will be released in two full moons to discourage an early attack. A northern border area is agreed on. “And tell them they better bring some ransom money, like some gold and lots of it.” Baba and Pichu are allowed to leave minus their weapons, tools and hard bread. Kami takes custody of Tajori, and one of Beretha's men, Olab, a huge balding bearded man offers to help guard him. What can I do with him? I can't take him back to the base, the trip would be dangerous, and it would be hard to stop frustrated soldiers from killing him. They would get a big bounty for his cock. And he can't remain where he is. What would Bolobo do? Beretha is concerned that the Northies may return in force to attempt a rescue and suggests they flee into the Wildlands. Kami has qualms about it but they set off together into the eroded dry hills and gorges of the western Wildlands. Kami worries, I must get back to the base soon, they'll think I'm dead, and poor Sol, my beloved little brother.
Travel is difficult in the rugged, often scrubby countryside. There are trails but they are deliberately discontinuous and the secret is to know where to get from one to another. Taj is usually blindfolded when these portages are made and gets scratched, cut and bruised as he stumbles through thorn patches and slips on loose rocks. Water of any kind is scarce and safe water must be carried in bladderskins between the tiny springs and seepages. Much of the time they take to the higher grassy ridges where they are able to hunt rabbits and the occasional deer to go with the berries and tiny mutant potatoes they gather.
Kami often thinks of Sol, he misses him terribly. It's not the sex, Wildis are very promiscuous and proud of it. Those who are born there are seldom sure of their paternity and it's rude to ask or make claims about it. All men are fathers. He has delightful encounters with the men and boys in Beretha's band and she does her best to entice him into her furs, “Don't they teach you any manners down south?” But she's very understanding when he declines. His circumcised cock is a novelty, everybody looks at it, most examine it curiously, play with it, and ask questions about the practice. They are horrified and think it is barbaric, but then most of what they hear from exiles and refugees about the nations is pretty horrible.
After two and a half days Kami dispenses with Taj's restraints during the day. He knows how uncomfortable they are and they slow everybody down. Beretha says it would hard for the hostage to escape, “Where would he go?” Kami still shackles him at night. He realizes he must find a place to hold his hostage and return to the base, And Sol! He imagines Sol in his arms, licking, squirty kissing, and the new aromas of his groin. I really like his new hairs.
Taj's feet and legs have become covered with sores and he has a nasty gouge on his thigh from falling on a broken branch while blindfolded. He slows them down even more and there is a question of how long he can keep up the pace. Kami feels he must do something. After binding his hostage's ankles and wrists he washes his legs with water from a nearby stream and examines them. One of Beretha's men gives him some juice squeezed from leaves to apply to the sores. The gash starts half way up his thigh and goes almost to his groin. Kami examines it and decides it needs a thorough cleaning. He begins licking it, his tongue probing and removing tiny particles of dirt and bark from the gash. The worst is at the top and Kami squirts in his saliva and sucks it out trying to flush the wound. Only Taj's grimaces acknowledge the pain.
Then Kami looks up from licking out the wound and sees Taj regarding him with an amused expression. “You Aruns are strange, so like us and yet so different.”
“What do you mean?” Kami wants to finish licking out the wound so it will heal better.
“Like what you're doing. I would never allow male Arun blood to pollute my lips and risk my purity.”
“Blood is blood, and I don't want you slowing us down.”
“And I suppose semen is semen? Like you Aruns have no honour, you are little better than the savage Wildis who have no taboos.” Tajori sneers.
“And what do you find savage about the Wildis?”
“Well for one thing, no Whytun warrior would allow a woman to lead him. And I hear they eat children. But mainly they are inferior because they are weak and squeamish. I could tell almost right away when they captured us, that they didn't want to kill us. Maybe you did, but not them. And I understand they even refuse to torture.”
“Would you have preferred, that they killed you?”
Kami's sarcasm is ignored. “No, but I think it shows their weakness.”
Kami asks, “You speak of honour. Do you regret our deal? Wasn't that weakness?” Taj is silent and Kami goes back to probing his wound and sucking, probably giving him more pain than necessary. Kami starts noticing Taj, not just his ego and zeal, but, Those purple tinged ashen ringlets starting to descend his downy cheeks and gather on his chin. And his cock which is brushing against his cheek, It's a real snaky one and I like his smell and the hair doesn't look bad, He thinks about sucking it. I bet that would gross him out, He's seriously thinking of it, if only out of spite for the snob. Boys a couple of years older are nice for a change, And he has deep set Yaki blue eyes. He doesn't want to rape his hostage but, I bet he'd be really embarrassed if I got him off, and mixed our semen. He contemplates the principle of cruelty.
“D'you want it flushed out?” Kami asks Taj, who uncomfortable with Arun saliva on his raw flesh, agrees. But Kami had inadvertently taken a leak earlier and can produce only a trickle. He takes Taj's cock, bends it into the gash and tells him to pee. Taj is not entirely unaroused and it takes a while before he can pee. Kami enjoys keeping his hand on the situation. Too bad we're enemies and all this blood and semen stuff. He does however handle and admire Taj's generous organ more than is required for the task, enough to get both of them quite aroused, and Taj quite indignant by the time he stops. “I wasn't gonna start mixing things,” Kami reassures Taj, “but I bet your cock couldn't tell the difference.”
A minute later a calmer Tajori rationalizes, “It's not just blood and semen, it is also with Pichu. You must understand, I love Pichu. He is more than a little buddy, he is my protégé, he has killed seven already. I love him beyond anything else.”
“More than you love Mr. Magnificent?” Again Taj is silent. “Is your love of Pichu different from mine for Sol?”
Taj feels pressed for a reply again, “You must understand I have great plans for Pichu. For him, I don't know, for him perhaps I compromised my honour as a member of the Elite Guard. But you? I don't know your code.”
Kami drinking in his sexy bound captive observes, “Maybe we have more in common than you think.” Kami observes softening the conversation, “You miss him?.”
Tears seep from Taj's eyes and after a minute he breaks the silence, “Ah, my dear Pichu, my lion, my little buddy, my magnificent fuck!” Taj is becoming aroused again.
Kami understands and lightly strokes his own cock as he waxes on his love for Sol, “My prince who enlivens my life and illuminates my soul. He gives me his love, his loyalty, his intelligence, his playfulness and his wonderful asshole.”
Taj is full of Pichu's praises, “My sleek lion is a son for my ego, a lover for my loins and an alter for my ego”. Kami lusting for Sol feels such affinity with Taj's love for Pichu that he very carefully unshackles one of Taj's arms so he can jack off too. “Taj exalts, “I love feeling his sharp teeth biting my nipples while I squeeze his delicate balls.” Kami relates the sexy beauty he saw in Pichu as he had his dagger to the boy's throat. “People and population,” Taj laments, “and I saw Sol's courage as Baba held the point of his dagger in his lovely heaving belly, ready to slit it open. There was a warrior boy.” After Kami has slurped down his own semen he asks if he can lick up Taj's. Taj looks horrified, “It would pollute you.”
“Dog shit, I can remember when I was a Wildi boy we used to like tasting different men, we learnt a lot by tasting and smelling things. Yours wouldn't be the first Whytun's.” Kami agrees not to lick his cock and to sponge him off after.
As they continue their journey east Kami's mind goes back to his Wildland days. Memories of long treks foraging and hunting, and evenings around campfires singing, dancing and listening to the storytellers with images from their exotic tales float through his mind. My mother made me beads to wear the first time I danced with the men. And the wondrous legends of the Before when men flew like crows even to the moon. He also remembers going hungry and thirsty and having to flee the nations' marauding armies, and how people he knew were killed in skirmishes and others were taken away. Especially in the evenings when they relax around the fire, and the boys entertain the others playing flutes and dancing, he feels the Wildlands and its free life pulling him back. He feels so welcome, “You know? In some ways it's like being home again. He tries not to be tempted but, They think I'm dead. And he feels a strange thrill. But I'm an Arun warrior, and I swore my oath to Karrull. And his beloved little brother, Sol! I miss him so, and I might never see him again. But then he remembers Sol's devotion to Bolobo, and his contempt for the ways of the Wildis. Reassuring himself Kami feels his tunic's heavy cloth and glances at his badges which define his talents and progress in the gang, and again feels secure in his Arunteen warrior person.
Then on the fifth day they get news that they are safe, the Whytuns have retreated. Beretha tells him that she and her band are returning to their homes to tend their weed and poppies. “In two moons I make my trek to The Place That Finds You and sit with our elders.” Olab the guard volunteers to stay to with him as a guide and help care for his hostage, and Kami is glad to have the big, genial but taciturn Wildi's assistance in the unfamiliar territory. On their last night together Kami joins Beretha, wallows in her huge breasts and thinking of all the women who pleasured him when he first got to Kalgoru, he pleasures her with his adolescent body and hardy cock. “You should stay with us, you are really a Wildi.”
Kami protests. “But I'm an Arun now, I have sworn on my warrior's honour to serve Bolobo.”
“Pity.” She mocks him, “We have no such honour here. Have fun with your hostage.”
“What do mean?”
In the morning the two warriors in uniform, captor and hostage, and the big, bearded fur clad Wildi guard take a more northerly route.
Kami sees his hostage as a mission. And I just might get a big ransom. Yeah, hire some Wildis so the Whytuns don't try any tricks. The colonel would have to get a share, and I'd need to piece off the Wildis, I hear they're getting greedy. And there's others. He remembers most of the things you're supposed to do from gang school. He'd be lucky to keep a tenth of it. At least they know I freed Sol. He feels proud to be dealing with the problems of a mission. The Wildis don't have to deal with that shit. He feels confidently Arun.
At times he feels a little bit ashamed at how he tried to save himself by saying he was a Wildi. It is a dishonour that might be forgiven, given his mission. I'm not a Wildlander. I am an Arunteen Warrior, And I Love war. That's where it's at. War seems so wonderful. If it wasn't for war I'd a never become an Arun, and a warrior. And you wouldn't really need the Discipline Rites, or even gangs if you don't have war. And what about Bolobo, what would he do? But you'd still have breeding farms and nurtureries, you wouldn't want to be like the Wildis. I don't think wars are all that good. But if you got rid of war, what would you have left. You'd still have Kalgoru and breeding farms but there's not much else to fight for. Mostly you'd just have peace. Like that's what Bolobo says: Ending war causes peace. Warriors need war. Peace is bad for warriors, I know that. And Dr. Lorcol says most of us don't get killed in the war.
But Kami has learnt a lot of bad things about the Wildlands in Kalgoru, and sometimes he figures it must have been different when he was a little boy. It was sort of nice then. But Karrull told me to forget about the Wildlands, he said it would be good for me, and I tried to forget and it worked.
Kami figures that he can be back at base in a week. All he needs is to find a Wildi with a jail where he can store Taj until a ransom would supposedly be d. With Olab doing most of the negotiating Kami wanders through this corner of the Wildlands looking for a jail. They have no luck and some Wildis make of fun of the idea of locking someone up. Kami is not surprised, he can't remember ever hearing about jails and isn't sure if they have a word for them. All they ever do is banish people. And then he remembers being told in gang school: Wildis have no concept of justice, They're ignorant and only care about people not hurting others. How can you have justice without hurting people? No vengeance, no punishment, no closure. Where is the principle of cruelty if you accept that? And no wars. Like we wouldn't have the great arts and ideals, the noble causes for honour if we didn't have war and killing. Like Wildis don't even beat their children. Kami can see how that might not be all that bad.
The search for a jailer is futile despite promises of generous rewards. It turns out easier to find someone who will butcher Tajori, sausages and all, than someone who would hold him prisoner for two moons. The lack of jails and no respect for money just goes to show how primitive Wildis are. None of Kami's training has prepared him for this. What should a Yaki do? And it comes to him, he must make a jail. And when they see how good they are maybe… They try to rent a sturdy shanty but no one wants a prisoner in theirs. Nobody will make him a big cage although he's sure they could. It's a quandary. What's the good of a prisoner without a jail? And Olab is not very sympathetic.
Kami can't delay much longer, he must secure the hostage and report to his colonel. And let Sol know he's alive. But he's stuck. What would Bolobo do? He figures Bolobo would just kill Tajori but then he's given his word that he won't. And he also realizes that over two moons it would be hard to prevent his hostage from escaping. He might kill me escaping. After much thought, and knowing he won't get much help from the Wildis, he decides he must let Taj go. He remembers when Karrull let him go and decides to make his captive swear an oath. He must swear not to harm me, or bring trouble to the Wildis. And it would be best if he didn't go back for two moons. Maybe I could offer him a share of his ransom money if he did.
With his dagger handy he tells Tajori that he will let him go free “But first you must take a blood and semen oath not to harm me or bring harm to the Wildis.”
“And if I don't?”
Kami hesitates before he says, “Then I shall kill you.”
“My honour prohibits it. I would never mix my blood and semen with an Arun's. Khaal's Edict prohibits it.” He offers his word.
“A Whytun's word?” Kami sneers sarcastically. Once again Kami has his blade against the throat of a Whytun. “Well?”
“But it would pollute me.”
“Dogshit! Semen is only semen. Yours didn't pollute me. And besides, do you want to see Pichu again?”
Tajori protests his honour, “Our blood may only mingle on the battlefield; our semen can never mix. We are different races, we are different blood. You can no more Whytunize an Arun male than you can turn trees into paper. We do not attempt to transmute toddlers like you, we keep our male blood pure.”
“Liar, I know you steal Wildi kids, and Arun too if you can.”
“You challenge my word! I assure you we only use them for experiments, and feed them to The Magnificent's pigs after.”
“Dogshit! My mother was a Whytun and I remember her saying that your Holy Confessor sent the Guards around all the serfburbs looking for runaway slaveboys. She said they were beautiful sexy boys who'd fled one of Khaal's harems. After she got here she realized by the way they spoke they must have been Wildis.”
“That is blasphemy.” Tajori is enraged, “Khaal would never allow his semen…” But perhaps knowing some truth or rumour he begins to cry. “If someone is spreading such lies, they should get the Eternal Confession and never see light, or hear sound beyond their own cries, again.” Tajori sobs.
Kami puts an arm around his shoulders and tries to comfort him, “Semen is just semen.” Kami begins stroking the Whyteen warrior's responsive cock with his other hand. “Well?”
Tajori reluctantly answers, “I'm only doing this for my beloved Pichu, and I'm quite capable of jacking myself, thank you.”
Kami, watching the handsome youth caress himself, has no trouble squirting in his hand. He doesn't know what image fuels Tajori's drive, hopefully himself but more likely his beloved's, but he catches his semen seconds later. He takes hold of Taj's cock and carefully makes a nick in the side of the knob drawing a trickle of blood. “They say cock blood is best for oaths.” And he quickly does the same to his own. Kami pools the blood with the semen in his hand and stirs it with a finger, and holds it up to Taj.
“I swear I will not harm you or any Wildis.” Tajori gingerly takes the mixture into his mouth and Kami laps up the rest. It is more a formal than a passionate kiss but they squish the fluid back and forth a few times before swallowing.
Kami tells him, “You are free to leave.” Olab who has been discreetly watching with a perplexed expression, is happy to be unemployed. After a brief farewell he heads for home. Tajori however has seen enough to know he would be vulnerable on his own in the Wildlands and asks to stay with Kami. Kami also feels alone and apprehensive. It's like Olab was guarding me too. While they are still enemies they agree to be companions for the time being.
Tajori warns, “But I must return, it is my duty.”
“Can't you wait a while?”
“I understand. I will speak to my fathersir, he's a powerful general and the Wildlands will be spared.”
“What? You know who your father is?”
“Of course, I am of family.”
“What do you mean by family? We all have mothers.”
“I mean a real family, a fathersir and mother in a bonding blessed by His Most Illustrious, the Holy Confessor. My great grandfathersir was a great general and the magnificent of the day gave him his own fertile woman and she produced nine children. We are a noble family, we only breed with other families, none of this farm trash. We are strokrats. My fathersir is Mahali, Khaal's top general.”
“You'd a been worth a big ransom!”
“No, because of family honour. Pride would have prevented them from paying anything. We're strokrats, not mokrats like you. We do not let gangs choose their own members and discipline themselves. We do not allow serfs nirvana. We have committees appointed by Khaal himself to decide on memberships, and it's our job as Elite guards to whip gang members. We only allow serfs weed and on Khaal's birthday a little vodka.”
Using the Sun and taking to the ridges from time to time they head northwest towards the Springface and closer to Whytunland avoiding others when they can. Kami shows his Whytun companion how to live off the land as they go. He remembers where to look for wild potatoes and other roots. Taj learns quickly and jokes, “I'm beginning to think you are a Wildi.” Taj makes himself a spear and kills a fawn. With the gut he makes a bow and kills rabbits and crows. He is a natural born killer, and they eat more meat than either have known. They are not always able to cook and only hunger teaches them to enjoy raw flesh.
They stop at a cluster of shanties, seeking directions and news. They have no guard to negotiate and while the Wildis are amazed at seeing a Northie and Southie peacefully together, they are afraid and not very helpful. Kami looks at his tunic with its ribbons and badges and recalls his own fear of uniforms from his Wildland days. But I'm an Arun warrior and I'm still on duty. When a women boldly offers him a knee length fur trimmed robe in exchange for his colourful tunic he refuses. He thinks it might be a good idea to put it over his tunic but he has nothing to offer. Those gathered around watch intently. The woman says, “Cloth is nice but just cloth. I give you a charm too.” She hands him a brass circle with diagonal bar on a pendant, a common charm. “It bans all bad things.” He accepts it with a gnawing uncertainty, removes his tunic and without modesty puts on the robe. They think I'm dead. She smiles approvingly, “Now you are a Wildi.” Those gathered around nod and smile encouragingly. Kami thinks about that. Tajori feels uncomfortable alone in uniform but he won't exchange his tunic. He too is still on duty. Food is scarce and they share two rabbits with the band. When they hear of a larger settlement to the north with a good spring they set out hopefully.
Taj soon realizes that his uniform is a problem. When he kills a large doe the next day he brings it back to the settlement to barter. He exchanges it for a simple leather robe and a pouch to pack his uniform and undershirt in. That evening as he carefully folds his tunic, Taj talks about his Whytun training. “Putting this away brings back my past.” Kami looks at the purple HT badge. “This badge with the dripping blades I got in Holy Terrorist School. I was the best in my kill skills class. After the lectures and dummies we watched demonstrations and practised on these retards and degenerates. They were abject and filthy, some were diseased, and they said the Nation was better off without them. Useless infertile women, backward little children and unmanageable boys. They were allowed to fight back and a few did, but we had clubs, daggers and swords.” Kami's heard rumours about certain Revolutionary Guard squads. “We called ourselves 'Injans'.” Taj recalls with nostalgia.
Kami describes the Discipline Rites Bolobo holds. Taj is not impressed. “The Magnificent does not hold trials, his Edict is absolute. We are not a degenerate mokrasy, only Guards are permitted to whip and torture boys, and we absolutely prohibit any sex with girls or members of the other gang. Confessors provide each boy with a list of those he must have sex with, and another with whom it is optional.” Kami's appalled by the unmokratik revelation. “You'd get three moons confession for fooling around off list. But it is considered an honour for a boy if he is required to have sex with his confessor. They believe that by controlling the intermingling of boys' and men's semen they can ensure brave warriors and social harmony. When I met Pichu it was like magic. Such passion. And then the lovely trusting child smiled at me and seemed to welcome my whip. Oh how I was smitten, it was carnal bliss. I got my fathersir to use his influence with His Most Illustrious to get my little lion into the Oblais, and then to bond and bless our pairing and host a big party at the palace after.”
“Well I had Sol picked out and got him into the Yakis as soon as I could. I even cut him at his initiation.”
“No!” Taj is incredulous, “Allowing boys to choose their buddies and to circumcise each other? How mokratik can you get. It is ordained that only confessors are empowered. Our boys are done in large groups. The Illustrious personally makes the cut and collects all the skins and blood in this big ornate Before Time crystal bowl. And then all the boys who can, jack off into it. Everything is to be joined and united. His Illustrious, who is supposed to have fasted for a week, drinks it all down with a dash of vodka to help it blend. Then it's usually a couple of days before he shits. We take the turd made up of the flesh and blood of the initiates blended with the semen of the gang, dry it and grind it into a fine powder which is placed into the Urn of Posterity. The ceremonies have been perfected over time.”
Kami doesn't think it's fair, “It's wrong for the confessor to have all the fun, I think, everybody should have a chance to circumcise.”
“We may not whip and torture like you but we've got our Festivals of Fortitude every full moon. Khaal, advised by His Most Illustrious picks four acols, four boy warriors and two Whyteens from each gang to compete in torture contests, mostly seems to pick the prettier boys. The categories include the cane, the long whip, genital torment, the Guantanamo stretch and the Gringo Water Torture. He pairs off the gang members and the Elite Guard carries out his instructions.. We spends hours practising to achieve consistency and pride ourselves on administering the festival ordeals even handedly. I pride myself on the quality of the welts I make, and I've been told that my whipwork is as good as the great masters. At the Festival Khaal personally grades each boy on his performance, hundreds each day. This makes a lot of work for the guards who have to whip them. They figure they shouldn't have to whip more than twenty boys a shift and tend to slacken off over quota. But then there was this veterans' group who were always demanding more blood at the festivals, saying that today's boys can't take it like they used to. We had to use a lot more force anyway, which left us exhausted at the end of each shift. We were also under pressure to produce a little blood to justify the high festival admission prices. Then at the end of the festival the winners in each category mount the stage and kneel before His Most Illustrious who places a crown of thorns on their heads in honour of the ancient prophet Masochristi who preached that children should suffer. Then the winners would march around the room while we all sang hymns. One I really liked was:
All things harsh and dutiful
All torments great and small
All things cruel and painful
We suffer for Lord Khaal
“The festivals were all about dedicating our bodies to Khaal.”
“Your festival doesn't sound very fair or like much fun, at least for the boys.”
“What do you mean?”
“It doesn't seem right that they don't let boys whip each other, like it can be a lot of fun.”
We sometimes let boys get away with whipping each other at internal gang events, but whipping cannot compare to the thrill of killing.”
“What about punishments?” Kami wants to know.
“Confession. Boys are sentenced to days of darkness and silence and boredom which provide no glory. Very few offend his Magnificent's Edicts twice.”
“But you torture and kill prisoners?”
“That is different, that is not punishment. We don't have crude war crimes trials and just execute prisoners like you do. We have professionally choreographed inquisitions and dramatic sacrifices with all sorts of special effects, not like your barbaric trials and executions. You may call it closure for the healing of victims, we call it honouring the gods, entertaining the populace and inspiring our youth and soldiers. We hold that physical torments and executions ennoble the brave victim and are therefore uncivilized as punishment. Confession is the only punishment permitted.”
Kami is curious about a blue pin in the shape of a book. “Oh that, it's my Oblais Order pin, the other gang, the Penis, have crossed whips on theirs. We Oblais are the older and more noble order, we go back to the Twenty Years Winter scavenging and selling combustibles, mostly books, which explains the pin. Because we were rich the first Most Illustrious seized our fort and tried to run the gang after expelling the leaders and half the boys. He brought in his own hired managers and made everybody whip themselves to prove their devotion. They became the Penis. It didn't work. The others, us Oblais survived because of our wealth and experience, and when the Maggie, I mean the Magnificent at the time, became convinced of the virtues of competition the second Illustrious arranged a deal. The differences are no longer great, we have more boys of family and we spurn their cheap routine indulgence in the whip. We save our flesh for the Festivals of Fortitude.”
“I didn't know you Whytuns had books, they told us you guys can't even read.”
“We can as much as we need to, and we have books but we are careful about how we handle them. I've seen piles of books in the palace, the thing is they must never be opened or their mystical powers may escape and make people crazy. We didn't realize this for a long time. The early maggies never thought of books, or even knew about all the books that were in the palace's storerooms. There was no interest in old books; all those with pictures had been cut up years ago, and they were apparently useless. But the writing in these Before Time books, or at least some of them is dangerous, at least if people expose themselves to it. People had forgotten how dangerous books are even if you can't read them.
Years ago some men asked to look at the ones in the Palace. There was some archaic reference to freedom of information, and not knowing any better the Maggie let them open the books and look at the pages. And you can guess what happened, an evil mystic power escaped and went straight to the men's minds. More men came to expose themselves to the pages and it wasn't long after that they tried to overthrow the monarchy. Nobody doubted that the books made them do it. At the inquisition after the revolt was extinguished witnesses confessed that after opening the books the men would often go through them slowly page by page in some repetitive ritual. A popular clamour arose for all books to be burnt, zero tolerance was necessary to protect the public and there was no need to take any chances. If just one mind can be saved, they claimed it would be worth all the smoke. But then the alchemists warned that burning the books might release rather than destroy their dangerous mystic powers. This was dogshit of course, tons were burnt during the Winter. The alchemists then claimed that the burning of books had only made the Winter much worse and longer. They pointed out that the Winter only ended after all, or almost all the books had been burned. Panic spread through Edomon and charm sellers made a fortune.” Kami feels an urge to say something but refrains. “Then debate shifted as to whether the mystic powers of books had spirits which could be appeased and possibly harnessed. Chants and offerings were suggested, nobody bothers with prayers anymore. The War had proven their futility. Would the spirits like a sacrifice? And what or who? Virgins could be created for a small indulgence but the seers said that only a fertile woman would suffice, although throwing in a boy or two wouldn't hurt either.
“The Holy Confessor wisely refused to give in to the extremists who wanted to burn all the books. And he completely ignored the relativists who wanted the books classified into forensic categories and regulated which promised fancy jobs for them and their friends. However the Confessor was concerned about another firewood crisis. His solution was simple. He got the Maggie to issue an Edict: Thou shalt not open books. It was brilliant, it cost nothing and it gave people a reason to feel good about something they weren't doing anyway. And there would be emergency fuel. But the next maggie had been impressed by the evil power of books and made them part of his arsenal. He promised the people that they would only be used if Edomon were in mortal danger and he built catapults for attacking the enemy that were cleverly designed so that the books would open on impact. With this defence in place most of the remaining Before Time weapons were rapidly squandered. There are however sinister rumours in the palace that the Confessor allows his henchmen to look at the books and that that's why he wants a separate cathedral.”
Kami asks if he can read. “I can obey orders in Whytuntung, but I would certainly never try to read an old book.”
“But,” Kami protests, “I've probably looked at as many old books as you've killed people.”
Taj is taken aback, “You must be a braver man than me.” Kami avoids false modesty and says he can't believe books have power. Taj trying to be less dogmatic says, “There have been others, ones who call themselves savants, who merely claim that in the long run, reading, and this thing the Before called the Internet, indirectly led to their downfall. They say that reading had apparently been increasing for generations, without anyone seeming to be aware of the growing danger. It was simply the case of people being allowed to know too much and they presumptuously invented what they called 'rights', for themselves. But as these others, all now doing Eternal Confession, explain it, information suddenly reached a critical mass, where there was no turning back, and there was a suffocating toxic explosion of information that engulfed everything. Minds were poisoned on an unprecedented scale. People knew so much, including what their own leaders were doing, that the world became dangerously unstable, and weapons with unforeseen consequences were unleashed. Freedom of information, as they called it, set things up for the Great Armageddonic War.”
Kami's interested, “Is that what you think?”
“I was only explaining, a warrior's job is to do.”
“But you can still think.”
“I don't think about killing, I just do. Thinking interferes with knowing what to do. But then lately I think, if I don't eat people then why kill them? Even you Wildis don't eat people I've discovered.” Kami doesn't understand everything Taj says, he didn't even go to a farm school, just the street and the gang, but he understands things that formal education inhibits. Or his Wildi does.
Taj is refolding his tunic trying to get it to fit into the pouch. “And this one with the red cross is my Crusader Club crest, you have to kill fifty Aruns to get it.”
Kami is surprised, “Fifty?”
“By the way, how many have you killed, give or take a few?”
“Well,” Kami modestly replies, “I've done a bit of torturing, but Pichu was as close as I've come to killing anybody.”
Tajori is surprised and indignant, “You mean I was the prisoner of, one who has never killed?”
“I want to kill, but it just hasn't happened. Does it matter?”
“You don't understand. It is shameful enough to be a prisoner, but for an Elite Guard, a Holy Terrorist with a Crusader Club crest, to be the captive of one without his Primamorti is beyond disgrace.”
“Well, I could kill You.” Kami teases.
Kami is thinking about asking him if they have fight rites when Tajori has a question. “Pichu told me that your little buddy wanted his cock skin for the handle of his dagger, I thought you Aruns only scalped for bounty.”
“We can keep them for souvenirs if we want, and Pichu's would have been Sol's first.”
“I got my first cock skin as an acol, I gave it to my mother for a thimble. Khaal does not pay bounties. We only scalp cocks as trophies, and we don't bother with tiny ones like you Aruns. By Khaal's Edict they must be over four inches long. Once Pichu brought me this cock he said he cut off an Arun soldier, but it was under three and there was no sign of hair, the boy couldn't have been more than eight or nine. It was a matter of honour. I didn't have the heart to punish Pichu so I beat him instead.”
“Well what do you do with the cocks?” Kami wants to know.
“Some soldiers hang cock skins from their belts so they look more fearsome in battle but I've found that they can get in the way. The finest specimens adorn the Magnificent's Crown, and I was honoured when one I'd scalped was added, the first by a Whyteen in years. Khaal's spiritual advisor, His Most Illustrious, opposes bounties, he claims they turn killing into a male numbers game. Soldiers would naturally tend go after little boys instead of confronting enemy warriors.” Taj pauses, “And it would also lead them to neglect the killing of women.”
Kami recalls guest lecturers at the gang school talking about tactics in his Population War classes, and agrees he has a point. “Bolobo wanted to give bounties for breasts but his Chief Commissar and Psychomaster claimed that the soldiers might suck on them and have bad 'family thoughts', and nothing was done.”
That night lying side by side looking up at the starry sky, and listening to the Wildis sing and dance a few yards away, each imagines his little lover as he strokes his cock. Taj observes, “Mine's still raw where you nicked it. D'you think it will leave a scar?”
“I hope so, oath cuts are supposed to leave scars as a reminder. You can always rub in some ashes to make sure.”
“I never had any scars until Holy Terrorist School. All the farm boys, if you look at them closely, have dozens of fine scars from their annual school whipping tests but being of family I was never whipped as a child so my body would be unblemished when I was initiated.”
“Family boys got treated easy?”
“Oh no, I was always beaten with a paddle instead which I'm sure hurt a lot more than the whips. The bruises lasted half a moon.” As he jacks away feeling the slight ridge on his cock head Kami thinks, I bet Sol will really like my new scar. He imagines his hand is his beloved's lips and squirts.
Two days later after killing three rabbits and two crows they are tired and thirsty, very thirsty as they have only had rabbit blood to drink. Luckily they come across a large band camped around a tiny spring and gratefully accept drinks. They share their kill with the Wildis who cook up a feast with wild potatoes and greens to go with the meat. It's the best meal they've had in a long time and for the first time they join the Wildis around the fire. They give what little news they have and then the elders make speeches which few pay attention to. The women start the singing and others bring out drums and rattles. Soon most are singing and Kami recalling some of the songs joins in to the delight of the others. Taj is asked if he sings but declines. Then pipes of weed are passed around and Kami tokes deeply. Taj looks at him, “You smoke weed?” Kami passes him the pipe. “But weed's a serf drug. Warriors only do methin although we are allowed nirvana on special occasions.”
“Like Khaal's birthday?” Kami teases, “I don't think you'll find any methin here.”
Then the children, or most of them begin to dance with the adults clapping and drumming the beat. Three boys and two girls toss off their robes and cloaks and stomp, twist, wiggle and leap in an almost gymnastic exhibition. Taj turns to Kami, “Have they no intergender decency?”
Taj remarks that the oldest boy who may be twelve or thirteen reminds him of his dear Pichu. Kami likes his looks too. Then several men and women begin dancing, and the children tired and sweating take a break. The boy they'd admired comes over to check out the strangers. “Where are you from?” he inquires. Kami tells him he's from Arunland and that they are heading north. “I thought you might be from the way you talk. And you?” he turns to Taj. Taj likes his looks, he's reluctant to speak but thinking the boy would guess anyway he tells him he's a Whytun. “Well why aren't you two fighting?” Before they can think of a reply the boy who's introduced himself as Tiko says, “I know, I bet you're refugees.” He brings out a bladderskin and asks if they'd like a drink. “My fathers made it, it's berry flavoured.” Kami takes a swig and almost gags. “Good eh?”
Taj tries some, “Wow, it's as potent as Khaal's Special Reserve Vodka.”
Tiko looks pleased, “They made the still out of an old Hegemon rocket casing.” The boy sits down between them and has a few sips himself. They watch the dancers who are sensuously gliding around each other. Tiko remarks, “I like the red haired one with the big boobs, but she says my cock's still too small. She used to work on an Arun food farm.” He stares at her playing with himself and swaying in time to the slow beat. He looks down at Taj's crotch, “You horny?” When he doesn't reply he pulls up Taj's robe and remarks, “Are you ever.”
A woman sitting nearby leans over, “Don't let him bother you. He can be a nuisance.”
By this time Tiko is playfully stroking Taj's cock and the Whyteen's eyes are glazing over. “You were a warrior weren't you?”
Taj looks embarrassed and the woman admonishes the boy, “Don't pester the man.”
Tiko sulks and Kami recalling Wildland etiquette slowly jacks the boy who spurts a few drops before claiming it tickles too much. Tiko and the teens have a few more swigs. The pipe comes around again and even Taj has a couple of tokes. He confides to Kami that he's never met a boy like that before. “Don't worry, I used to do it all the time when I was a Wildi kid. It's just Wildland hospitality. Like Wildis know more about sex than we do.”
When they leave the others both are incredibly aroused. Tiko has been a catalyst. Kami quickly kindles up their sleeping fire. No words are necessary; they are hot and know they're going to fuck. Together they've imagined their little brother buddies, their own and each others, and experienced them in their minds as they climbed to their climaxes and squirted. And they have drank each others bodies with their eyes and noses. They strip, and facing each other kneeling on the moss they size each other up, alert and rigidly aroused. While they are no longer adversaries this is a test. Kami, he who has never killed, knows what he has to do: He must be the equal of Taj, he who has killed many.
Taj seems to understand, “I don't care if you've never killed anyone.”
Kami, referring to another taboo retorts, “And I don't care if you're an agemate.” He's probably more than two years older, but anyway. He must take the initiative. Watching Taj's eyes he smartly slaps his cock. Taj takes a breath and returns the sensation with greater force. This painful erotic testing only lasts a few turns. Following Kami's lead they very gently touch and explore each other's faces, chests and thighs. Kami picks up his dagger and strokes Taj's body with its honed blade even lightly trimming his auburn pubic patch. Then he holds his arms out and knees apart as Taj draws the blade across his body. Then as each tenses his muscles the other pricks his chest, shoulders and thighs, just enough to draw a few drops of blood. From their cuts they smear themselves, the patterns grotesque in the firelight. They play. They play rough, they wrestle, grab and test each other with feints and teasing slaps. They attack each other's blood smeared body with half muted violence, hard and horny, and then robustly, aggressively and loudly suck and fuck, and spank, and fuck and suck and spank, each time smearing the blood and semen around. Finally the warm sticky boys lie sated, arms locked, gazing into the others eyes. In the morning, kneeling, embracing, they kiss and exchange saliva.
Kami and Taj set off northwest towards the Springface. A day and a half out they meet a Wildi band fleeing east. They tell of a huge battle that has spilled over into the western Wildlands, and of waters red with blood where water has never been seen before. Taj becomes excited, his father is the Whytun commander, and Kami knows that Colonel, now General Karrull is at the Springface. Taj tells Kami, “I must go and join in the battle, but it will be hard to start killing again. Killing is fine, easy, no problem until you stop, then you start looking at others, even Wildis as… people not population. In the Before they had all these wonderful weapons that let you kill remotely without even seeing who you're killing. We have very few such weapons left. But then I don't think remote killing can be as satisfying. Killing face to face, or more likely from behind, I'm sure is better. You get to see things. The closer the better. I was hoping to kill you more intimately than I'd ever done before, to experience and know your killing. I thought of just using my hands.”
Kami wants his say, “And I have wanted to kill, your throat has tempted me, but it didn't seem right in the Wildlands.”
“Killing fatigue is a problem that even The Holy Confessor recognizes. I may have to take some hate seminars and anger enhancement classes. But even then I don't think killing will ever bring me the same joy as before.”
Meanwhile Sol makes it back to the base. He is heartbroken over the loss of his big brother and tearfully reports what has happened. The men are saddened by their losses and the colonel in charge vows to avenge the deaths. The commissar agrees but says that it was dishonourable of Kami to have made the deal with Tajori, “Any negotiation with enemies is an act of weakness”, Bolobo, he's sure, has made a Rule. He doesn't blame Sol, but speculates that he may have been a bad influence. Sol is ordered not to mourn Kami's death but rather to harden his heart against the Whytuns. “Revenge is the solution to personal losses. That which the Psychomaster calls 'closure', and which heals the wounds of the victims created by another victim's death.” Sol tries to understand and believe but has problems doing both. The commissar suspects that Sol is a victim of his own failure to relinquish his love for his dead big brother. He should be provided with another as soon as one is available, “I would suggest a hardened warrior who could beat and fuck some sense into him. In the meantime give him a mission.”
The colonel has Sol accompany the punitive expedition seeking to find Tajori's squad. All they find is a dying Whytun soldier along a trail and the men give Sol the honour of slitting his belly. He has to be shown, at times with a hand on his. Perhaps a sharper knife would have made it easier, and the soldier's struggles don't help. A warrior advises him, “Don't forget his cock.” The men offer encouragement as he saws it off. “You feeling better now?”
Sol lies when he says, “A lot.”
“And you'll feel even better when you get the bounty.”
Two days out they fall into an ambush and two of the squad are killed before they can drive off the attackers, but they wound one and capture him. They decide to take the prisoner, an ordinary serf conscript, back to their base for a spectacle. The soldier does not want to face a slow death. He claims he has useful information and tries to negotiate, at least for a quick death. He tells them what he heard from Baba and Pichu, of the deal that was made, and of the encounter with the Wildis where Kami took Tajori as a hostage. He thinks they would be glad to hear that the Kami guy is alive and has Tajori as a hostage. The commissar is outraged, “You mean he did not kill the other two? And what is he doing with the Wildlanders?” He orders the spectacle to proceed, “Justice demands that victims be granted closure.” He declares that Kami is not only a coward but a traitor as well. “I will authorize a special bounty for the man who brings me his cock.” Sol conceals his joy over the news that Kami is alive but he refuses to take part in the torture of the Whytun soldier despite the urgings of others. The colonel argues that he needs a rest and should be excused this time.
Sol is distraught, confused, caught between his devotion to Bolobo and his love for Kami. He is sure His Supreme Justice would not agree with the commissar. Maybe I could appeal to Bolobo personally? He dwells on his good times with Kami. He knows he is honourable and brave. Then he struggles to not think of Kami. He thinks back on his life, the years at the Mighty Dubyanus Nurturery Farm, named for one of the mythical heroes of the Before. He is sometimes considered the god of lightning because he could strike anywhere, and it is said that he killed his enemies not once but ten times over until there was just dust left. He has heard soldiers argue that the Mighty Dubyanus was more powerful than the Great Derfuror. An old soldier he sonned once told him that Dubyanus liberated truth from the bonds of evidence while Derfuror only lied. And Dubyanus was so rich that he bought nations just to save himself the trouble of conquering them. He recalls the big Bolobo Birthday Celebrations at the farm: All us boys got dressed up as warriors and we paraded around with wooden swords. And there'd be a big feast. We'd see this animal called a pig being killed and cut up into little pieces and we'd all get one to roast on sticks over a fire. Once I got a piece of the intestine which I didn't like much. And you could have as much potato as you wanted. After we'd sing songs like:
Onward Arun warriors, Forward to the Springs
Death to all the Whytuns, Bolobo victory brings.
The one I liked best was:
You are my idol, my only idol
You make me braver when life is rough
You'll never know Bo, how much I love you
Please make me cruel and tough enough.
Then at the end we'd recite the pledge again, the from each one that Kami thinks is stupid, while we jacked ourselves, like we couldn't squirt, well there was this one kid. Then they brought this tiny glass bottle they called a vial. It had Bolobo's semen in it, and we all got to kiss it. And once when I was eight I got a big gold star made of real paper for being first in my class at the Summer Whipping Festival. I'd thought of Bolobo the whole time. The stars were real big that year. One of the staff impregnators found one of those cellars where people used to try and hide from the War. None of the food was any good but the cartons were. A lot of it was HEGEMON'S, Hedgy the Hedgehog's Triple Frosted Flakes. Like they sure had some neat stuff to eat back then. You could see Hedgy's feet on the back of my star. I've always wondered what triple frosted flakes tasted like.
What should I do? Like Bolobo is a good man even if it doesn't seem that way. He has to be. He would save Kami. Maybe I should really try to not think about him. He tries to masturbate but can't even get a hardon. What's the matter with me? He remembers when he was eight and stopped masturbating for a whole moon to see what would happen, and nothing did. He never told anyone, except Kami. Kami sure learnt a lot of neat ways to do it in the Wildlands. What is happening anyway? Kami's not a traitor. My life for that Whytun kid? Is that wrong? Maybe not killing all of them was. He can't know exactly what's happening. Maybe he met people he knows there? And I can't even jack off, like at the farm they used to tell you to jack off if you get upset. Like a lot of things at the farm were stupid. All the lining up and marching, and you couldn't go up in the hills without an adult because the Wildis might get you. Kami swears they don't eat children. And all these guys you had to call “Daddy” when they came to visit you. I guess it was more dogshit.
Sol recalls one way Kami told him about, You just dangle threads on it. He sees some strands of black lichen draped along a pine branch. He is immediately hard. He lies back on thick moss and lightly brushes his incredibly aroused cock. Kami said he was too young to squirt back then but it was still a lot of fun. He thinks of the ways his cock feels when Kami's sucking it, and when he's fucking his big brother's ass and his balls bounce. I'm so close, He can see Kami's groin inches in front of him, the new hairs spreading up towards his navel and his bigger balls. He stops and rests. He recalls the tastes and smells of Kami; his groin, his armpits and hair. Minutes later just the touch of a strand of lichen hairs start his cock spurting. That was wild. Suddenly he knows what he must do: He must find Kami and warn him.
The colonel finds chores around the base to occupy Sol's time and to keep an eye on him. Not until the third day when the colonel sends him with a message for a guard post four miles down the trail towards Kalgoru does he have a reason to be away. They can see him lope down the trail for a mile. Further along at a gully he ducks down to a small river in the valley and marches upstream along its bars and boulders to a low saddle over a ridge to where he can see the beginning of the Wildlands to the northeast. It takes three long, hungry and sometimes thirsty days for him to reach the scrubby eroded, irregular hills along its southern edge. He remembers Kami telling him about a certain plant whose roots you could eat, and he finds several along the way and he drinks from a tiny side stream which his beloved told him were safer. He finds himself following natural routes and evidence of tracks as he tries to keep northeast in mind. He enters an area of canyons and gorges incised into the low plateau. He sees where people have camped and finds an abandoned shanty, but he sees no Wildis. He sees rabbits and a coyote but can find almost nothing he can eat and he's becoming too weak to continue much longer. He finds a grassy ledge where water drips from a mossy crack and sleeps. Sol rests for a day and finds a few berries. He's shocked by how skinny he's become. He tries to continue the next day but heat and thirst bring him back to the dripping moss. Then he injures a foot when he falls and walking becomes extremely painful, a heavy persistent pain he cannot endure long. He stays by the dripping moss and loses track of the days. He can find almost nothing to eat and starvation is beginning to define his skeleton.
Then one day he wakes up when he feels something tugging at him. A couple of young girls, wearing soft leather cloaks trimmed with multi coloured swatches of fur, are trying to pull off his clothes. He tries to resist but finds little strength. One of the girls, grabbing at his linen undershirt says, “I want it for my mummy to make things.” Sol's almost surprised he understands her. “And what are you doing here anyway, you…”
The other girl helps her, “He's a Southie, you can tell by the red badges.”
“You Bad Southie.”
Sol remembering Bolobo's Rule about intergender decency says, “You can't have it.”
“Oh yeah.” They get his tunic off without much trouble. Sol is exhausted and helpless after a minute of futile struggle.
“But I have to cover myself.”
“Why? We don't have to.” The girl lifts up her strangely stylish cloak and shows him her hairless cunt. They pull off his shirt leaving him naked.
The other girl takes his dagger and cuts the buttons off his tunic. “You can have this back now.” She sticks out her tongue at him, “And this is my new digging stick.” she waves his dagger at him. The girls are pleased with their loot and wander off happily giggling and chattering.
A couple of hours later four women come and carry him to a cluster of shanties. About a dozen Wildlanders dressed in skins and fur curiously gather around him. They bring him some potatoes with a meaty sauce and he feasts on very little. Sol tells them his story and how he wants to find Kami to warn him, but they find it hard to believe that any Arun would have a Wildi friend. After a couple of days the adults pay little attention to him, it is the children who bring him small amounts of food and talk to him. He doesn't get much to eat but he soon becomes strong enough to walk around. He goes from one person to another and asks to speak to their leader but no one seems to understand him, and they answer no questions about their plans for him. When he asks one old man about their leader he laughs at him, and tells him to walk around a tree twice. A woman covets the thick fabric of his tunic and wants his badges so she can cut them up to decorate a robe she's making for her son. Sol tries to bargain for food but she ignores him. She will however give him an old fur robe. He tries it on, it's warmer and more decent than his tunic, and the children say he looks cool. He makes an exchange for the tunic but insists on keeping his small JW badge.
And then one day he suddenly realizes he can't go back to the Aruns, he's a deserter and would be executed if caught. When he realizes he's now a Wildlander, that is what he has to be, he cries for most of the day feeling sorry for himself. He looks at his JW badge and thinks about Bolobo and the rites and his friends in gang. He'll never be a soldier. Oh that I could have died gloriously in battle. He dreams of Kami, a strange enigmatic Kami who is just there, and the next day he begins looking at the Wildlands differently, as his new home. He becomes more curious about the people, he discovers that one of the men used to be a Whytun soldier, and he joins the Wildis around the fire in the evening, toking from pipes of baccy and weed. He listens to stories, legends about the Before when there were crows of many colours, and he laughs at the skits and jokes about the Northies and the Southies, and the children throw off their cloaks and robes and perform energetic traditional Wildland dances, rattling their beads and bangles. Adults join in and later there is singing and promiscuous cuddling and fondling.
One of the dancers, a boy about eight, sits by Sol and asks him if he can taste him. “Taste what?” The boy points to his crotch, “Your sex juice, I never tasted Southie.” Sol has only jacked off since Kami, and when the boy grins, “I bet you like it.” he feels aroused by the thought and agrees. “What happened to you?” he asks when he sees his circumcised cock. Sol tries to explain but the boy only feels sorry for him. After the boy remarks, “Not as nice, but you taste good, not like old men who smoke too much baccy.” The boy tells his friends about the unusual cock and a few come over and look. The Wildis become more open to him, he has lots of sex of various sorts, but they keep an eye on him. The children take him on gathering trips where he learns what's good to eat, and what's not, and they show him how to make snares to catch rabbits. They teach him games and take him to a neverdrink lake where he learns to clumsily swim.
He regains his strength and starts thinking about finding Kami again. And again he starts asking about their leader or someone who can help him. Finally an old woman takes him aside, and pointing to a hill a day's journey north, she says, “I found her there, but you must be patient.” The next morning he trades his JW badge for an old rusty dagger and sets off. By late afternoon he reaches the rounded rocky hilltop. He drinks rain water that has collected in mossy hollows and finds some of the spicy little corms they add to their stews for flavour. He sits down and watches the brilliant sunset. The dark peaks at the front of the Western Alps seem to be holding back the immense bulging icefield which glows a reddy orange in the light. He thinks he can see where the colonel's base would be, half way up to the snowline on a near mountain. To the north and east the rough Wildlands stretch endlessly, and southeast towards Kalgoru, he can make out the lighter streaky hues of the Arun lowlands.
He stays three days subsisting on the peppery corms which burn his mouth and detach his mind from his body. He does not believe the teasing visions and waits. But no one comes. At last in a sometimes terrifying dream he realizes that no one else will come, and that he must lead himself. I could have just walked around a tree twice and met myself. He confidently sets off northeast and with what he's learnt he finds enough to feed himself. He even snares a rabbit which he eats raw. I've seen them do it. He struggles with his blunt dagger and pries the furry skin aside with his hands so he can get his teeth into the warm stretchy flesh. In his journey through the gorges and along the grassy ridges he comes across other small bands of Wildlanders. They accept him as one of them and pass on local news, but no one has heard of Kami or can suggest how to find him.
At a place where a small spring percolates out of the base of a steep hill Sol finds a larger encampment with maybe twenty shanties. They welcome him and ask the news, and he tells his story again. While they have met Southies before, they have never seen one so young, and with one of those ugly cocks too. The refugees are mostly weary soldiers fleeing the slaughter at the Springs and peasants escaping the drudgery of food farms. “Those who were Southies and Northies live at peace here.” An old woman tells him. “As for your Kami you should ask the storyteller, he has recently come from the east and has much news.”
That evening Sol listens to the storyteller, Peetil, a tall dark young man with a huge head of curly black hair. Using his lyre as a soundtrack he sings his stories, playing many roles. He has traditional tales from the Before, of men travelling to the planets, of strange creatures that swim through water as crows fly through the air. A haunting epic poem of gloom and death from the Twenty Year Winter has his listeners weeping. He brings news of other bands; births, friends, and deaths and depredations. He has travelled to the edge of the Deadlands and seen the dust storms that sometimes bring death to the eastern Wildlands. There is no dancing this night and people talk about what they've heard. Sol asks Peetil if he has news of Kami. He hasn't, but suggests that if he has a Northie hostage to return he might be in the north. He will be travelling that way in two days and Sol is welcome to come with him. Sol likes the handsome young storyteller and they sleep together. Sol has never had such a big cock up his ass before and seldom one so satisfying. After, Peetil pleasures him with Wildland tricks that leave him contentedly exhausted, more than the mouths of eight year olds. Many boys older and younger seek to share his furs at night. Two days later they set off early in the morning after a light shower knowing water will be plentiful for a few days.
Peetil is known and welcomed everywhere. His songs and stories are spread by others and precede him wherever he goes. He is a favourite among boys and many want to son him. Sol meets many people, mostly the young who are his fans and they put them up with themselves. Everywhere boys crowd around him, and Peetil explains, “I'm a roving dad, in reverse. They take care of me. I'll never be a father but I'll dad all boys.” Around the campfires he often sings, Forget those Infertility Blues:
You may never be a father
Never have no progeny
It doesn't really matter
If your love is truly free
You can choose, you better believe it,
To overcome those empty feeling
There's always kids a needing
Love and things to learn
Don't confine it to your breeding
You've got respect to earn
You can choose, to actually achieve it
To overcome those empty feeling
You can have a family
You can be a home
You can be adadding
And never be alone
You can choose, you will never rue it
To overcome those empty feeling
I was lonely for some loving
Deserted by all joy
Looking for some meaning
Until I found a boy
You can choose, you can simply do it
To overcome those empty feeling
All my love's for boys now
Boys reveal the truth
Life is worth the effort
With their gift of youth
You can choose, be glad you never blew it
To overcome those empty feeling
While Sol is beginning to appreciate the life of the Wildlands the lack of progress depresses him. It's been moons since Sol played PEACEKEEPER or BODYCOUNT, his favourite because every body counts. He does think about it. It's more fun than real killing. The Wildis don't have chairs or proper tables, or many bowls and their shanties are flimsy. He could destroy one with his hands, and they don't make cloth or pottery. Sol complains to a Wildi one day about the lack of soap. The guy looks at Sol and says “We could make it. Refugees arrive with many skills and trades. We could make all sorts of things; buildings like Edomon and Kalgoru, and we could cultivate a lot more than baccy, weed and poppy. But if we couldn't pick up and run we would have to fight, and most would die.” Sol thinks, If they had better trails they could flee faster. But then he realizes that would help their enemies too. “When your most important things are in you head you got more freedom and security.”
Sol is not convinced, “But it's nice to have more than one pot for cooking, and soap, chairs and money. And what can you do for fun, you have no computer games?”
A teenage girl teases, “We suffer. We have to make sex with boys like you instead.”
At the next cluster of shanties they meet an old storyteller who's come from the west. He tells them that two days west the armies of the nations have chased water into the Wildlands and are fighting a bloody battle. And he recalls seeing from a distance two men heading west who fit Kami's and Tajori's description. At Sol's urging they head west almost immediately. The next day they encounter a band fleeing east with tales of carnage. Peetil is apprehensive and insists that they proceed with great care.
BELOW THE SPRINGFACE
At the twenty mile long main Springface soldier-workers battle with weapons and shovels to get to, divert and defend the waters that percolate from several stratas on the lower 500 feet of the escarpment near the eastern edge the foothills. The water is fought over again and again and may take a number of different routes to whichever nation ends up with it, or it may be lost. It is like two intelligent root systems attacking each other trying to take over parts the other's networks. It is very much a game of clever strategy, opportunity and killing skills. Extra men always help. Part of the enemy's system may be captured and drawn into that of the other. And of course ever so often a slide or slumpage is triggered by the digging where men are sometimes crushed and die. A slide may create an opportunity for one side or the other and more men die fighting. The wounded and maimed are cheaply honoured and those losing more than a limb receive the heart-shaped Fathers of the War pin. Severe winters prevent year round fighting and the summer is the time of greatest need. The battle season begins around breakup when the trails become passable and tapers off at the end of the growing season
The highest and one of the more productive stratas is easiest to capture from the north, and the Whytuns usually control most of it. The vantage it provides as well as its water lead to almost continuous fighting. To a lesser extent the same is true of the next layer. Beneath that is the most productive and contested strata where over the years digging and fighting have made a large sloping swamp that diverts easily either way. Control over it also makes it easy to divert the flows of the higher springs, particular towards its northern end.
In a bold and costly move the Arun army under the direction of now General Karrull seize most of the second strata and divert it directly to a part of the level below which they already control. Then, from below, they breached the Whytun channel draining most of the top level. The combined waters pour into the main swampy area faster than the Aruns can divert it into channels they control. This leads to a major disaster when the rising waters overflow the embankments and erodes a new channel which rapidly drains the swamp and the water they had hoped to capture down to the lowest strata level. The new channel quickly expands and deepens, severing a number of connections and capturing their water as well. The gullying new stream leaves pockets of men isolated on both sides cut off from their comrades and doomed to be slaughtered by the enemy. The desperate need to repair and reconnect channels creates prime killing opportunities. The new channel now draining the major portion of the total flow of the springs reaches the level of the lowest strata at the Springface where a similar situation is created. Whichever army is able to tap this ponding will control the bulk of the water, a situation that has never occurred before. It is a desperate situation as both sides attempt to divert the pond to their own channels and at the same time prevent a further breach. Below this elevation water cannot be channelled to the lowlands and would drain into the infertile Wildlands where it would lost to both sides. The fate of both nations is at stake. The fighting which goes on for days is desperate and casualties are enormous. The Aruns under Karrull gain the upper hand and are able to capture most of the water but a new breach occurs and a large part of the precious water flows out through an ancient watercourse in the foothills and into the normally dry border of the Wildlands. The situation is desperate for both sides and both rush reserves and new forces to the front.
Khaal orders General Mahali, Taj's fathersir to take command of the Whytun forces. The general quickly realizes the futility of gaining control of the lower strata and devises a scheme to outflank the Aruns. While one army will attack the Aruns at the Springface he will lead another army through the edge of the Wildlands bypassing the Aruns to attack the main Arun canals south of the Springs. If the plan succeeds the Aruns will be forced to divert much of their manpower to defend their canals hopefully allowing the Whytuns to seize the lower strata. The temporarily abundant supply of water along the edge of the Wildlands makes the flanking operation logistically practical. General Karrull soon becomes aware of the danger and leads most of his men down the new channel in an attempt to head them off but they lose the initiative and most of his men are slaughtered in the borderlands. However Mahali's advance is blunted and his plan ultimately fails when fresh Arun reserves on their way to the front discover Mahali's army and with the advantage of surprise destroy it before it is able to reach the Arun canals. Both sides shift their attention back to the Springface to repair their channels and salvage what they can. However the situation has been drastically and permanently altered, instead of a complex interface of the two systems, the Springface is roughly divided in two by the newly created gorge-like channel. While they can keep water out of it, enormous effort would be required to increase the share of either side. A natural border has been formed and fighting no longer makes much sense. The armies who have lost almost half their fighting strength are in any case demoralized. Both nations face a severe shortage of water for their crops but will have enough for bare survival.
As Kami and Taj approach the western edge of the Wildlands below the Springface they encounter dozens of haggard fleeing soldiers from both armies. They tell of unprecedented carnage and slaughter. Few can expect to survive in the now empty and infertile Wildlands where they seek refuge. Further on they begin to find the bodies of soldiers, Arun and Whytun. Amongst them Kami sees several gang members he knows. He is horrified. They find some soldiers horribly wounded with a few begging to die. Kami slits the throat of a slowly dying Whytun, his first kill. They kill several others who are beyond hope. As they proceed the lower ground becomes wet in places and the corpses increase. They are overwhelmed.
They climb an outlying knoll of the foothills and, concealing themselves, can see to the north an immense battlefield in the scrubby borderlands littered with thousands of bodies. About a hundred Aruns are going through the battlefield helping their wounded, killing any Whytun survivors and looting. While the Aruns appear to have won, by far most of the dead are theirs. Then Kami sees General Karrull with a group of warriors and officers. Kami moving closer tries to hear what they are saying but can only guess from the tone and gestures. An Arun soldier is brought before the general and after some animated discussion he is taken away and beheaded. Kami thinks about his one time master and owner and wonders what the soldier had done his execution. Only in the last few years has he fully realized what Karrull did for him when he made him swear on his blood and semen. Then a squad of soldiers approach them with a cluster of shackled prisoners. The general signals the men to proceed. They may be destined for the War Crimes Trials but seeing the Arun losses Kami doubts if they will be allowed to survive that long.
Then Taj sees Pichu among the prisoners and becomes frantic. Kami has to restrain him from a suicidal attempt to rescue him. He tells him about Karrull and wonders if there's anything he can do. “Maybe there's a chance.” he tells him. The prisoners are led to the base of the knoll where they are shackled around trees and guards with swords and bows are posted nearby perhaps as much to protect them as to prevent escape. Pichu's wrists and ankles are securely chained around a small sturdy pine near the cluster of officers' tents.
They go back a mile or so into the Wildlands and finding a secluded spot they wait and scheme. Taj has reckless ideas of sneaking in after dark and cutting Pichu free but their only tool is Kami's dagger. Kami wonders if he could persuade Kurrull to let Pichu go but, What could I tell him? What would be worth Pichu's life? He decides to talk to him anyway. He'll understand about me losing my uniform and not reporting. Kami also wonders about his oath that he forsake the Wildlands and serve the Arun Nation. Have I really violated it?
Suddenly Taj grabs his shoulder and points, “Is that Sol?” They can see two Wildis a tall dark man and another but it's a few seconds before Kami can get a good glimpse through the brush, and then calling out his name, “SOL, SOL!” he runs crashing through bushes and leaps on his beloved prince. It is a tearful, hugging, fondling reunion and they kiss sloppily squishing their saliva back and forth in joyful communion and lick each others faces.
When they have calmed down Sol delivers his news: “They know you're alive and you can't go back. The local commissar has put a big bounty on your cock.” Kami is astonished, his plans, his future are gone, along with his hopes to free Pichu. After waiting for the shock to sink in Sol continues, “There's something else you should know. I can't go back either, I deserted to warn you. I figure I'm a Wildi now.”
Kami's stunned, everything has changed, he embraces Sol and smiles, “I guess we're just a couple of Wildis.”
They become aware of the others. Peetil and Taj are introduced and explanations are given with Sol reassured about Taj. So much has changed. They talk and exchange news. Peetil has a rabbit which they butcher, and not wanting to risk a fire, they eat it raw. Kami watches his beloved gnaw on a bone and declares, “You really are a Wildi.” Sol smiles and offers him the bone.
In the morning when Peetil says he's heading east next day Sol hugs and thanks him. “May we meet again.” and with his white teeth flashing he adds, “I have a thought for a love ballad about two warrior boys.”
Their joy is dampened by Taj's despair. If Kami cannot intercede Pichu is doomed. And Karrull as his duty requires would have no choice but to turn him over to the commissar. Early in the morning the three of them with no real plan head back towards the knoll. The prisoners are being readied to be moved, probably back to the base or maybe Kalgoru, but a bloody spectacle in either case. They also see Arun soldiers coming from the south and hear that they had encircled the large Whytun vanguard and annihilated them. A column departs but the shackle linked prisoners are too well guarded to hope to free Pichu by force. Taj laments, “If only I had my sword I would try to kill enough of them, but we've only one good dagger between us.” Keeping out of sight they follow the column south until they stop to camp for the night. The line of prisoners is shackled securely between trees.
After dark they are able to get close enough to hear the soldiers talking as they eat their meagre rations. “They must have made this fucking bread out of concrete, you need a hammer to eat it.”
“Ah comrade, you must try the mouldy pieces, they're much softer, and the white maggots, but not the yellow ones, are delicious.”
A third observes, “Well, we've always got our fucking captives, the Wildis think human flesh is a delicacy.”
The second rejoins, “Really? I thought they only ate little kids in their rituals.” Kami has an idea.
The next day they split up with Sol keeping an eye on the column while Taj and Kami hunt. They find a family of frightened deer hiding in a box canyon. Taj spears the buck and kills two fawns while Kami kills the doe. They crudely butcher them on the spot, gorging on the warm livers but leaving the guts, feet and heads behind. It is dusk by the time they have packed the meat to where Sol is waiting near the soldiers' encampment. Kami observes the soldiers for minute and hefts a hind quarter over his shoulder and approaches them, calling out that he has meat to barter, and that there's plenty more where this came from, enough to last the dozen soldiers for several days. The sergeant in charge tries to bargain but they have nothing to trade. Kami tells them they have no use for money or gold. When some look like they're ready to grab his meat Kami asks about their captives. “In seven days we have our feast in honour of the Potato God, and we need a sacrifice to ensure a bountiful harvest. And none of the mothers want to sell their children this year.” He looks over at the prisoners. “Like someone not too tough as most elders don't have many teeth.” The sergeant is sympathetic and says he can take his pick. Four soldiers bring Pichu down to where Taj and Sol obscuring their faces are waiting, and take the meat back with them. When Taj reveals himself a minute later there's a delirious passionate reunion. Pichu is overjoyed but confused about Kami and Sol. It takes Taj a few minutes to explain what has happened and that they are now friends. Pichu is also very hungry having not eaten for days.
After they've eaten most of the fawn they kept for themselves Pichu tells his story. “It took us two days to get back to our base and another four to Edomon. We went straight to your old man, the general. I just wanted to tell him how you were a hostage for two moons and the ransom thing. Well he didn't want to hear about any ransom, family honour and all that. But Baba talked too much and I don't know all he talked to. He told him everything from the time our Holy Terrorist squad left the base, all the Aruns we killed, and how I was supposed to stay hidden and be a lookout, but started picking berries, and how you guys caught me. Like it wasn't you being captured so much but that is was Wildi savages and that you,” looking at Kami, “were so young, 'captive of a mere boy', he said. The gang monitor news and the noon speeches at the Holy Plaza were saying that you didn't even have a Primamorti. It was very humiliating for him. And then your fathersir really got into all this family honour stuff. Your great grandfathersir and all that.”
“Did he say anything about me?” Taj asks.
“He called you a wimp, he especially didn't like that deal you made with Kami.” He turns to Kami, “He told me that he would have let you slit my throat. Baba must have told him everything he could think of. Your fathersir said I was a bad influence and threatened me, and then he said he's not a violent man that way. Then His Most Illustrious arrived with two arch confessors and a squad of Elite Guards, and began questioning us. He asked me if I was still your little buddy and he seemed angry when I said yes. I was scared he would punish me. He asked Baba why he didn't kill Sol, and Baba professed remorse and begged forgiveness. The Illustrious advised your fathersir to send an expedition against the Wildis to punish them, and rescue you, even if you got killed. Honour he said. Baba said a big funeral would impress the serfs. The Confessor agreed saying that it would show the serfs that the nobility was sharing their sacrifices.
“Then, at the Confessor's urging and with his blessing, your fathersir gives me to Baba as his little buddy, sort of like a reward.”
Taj is shocked and becomes very angry, “He gave you? I can't believe that my fathersir would do such a thing.”
“Well,” Pichu goes on, “I don't think he was happy about it. Anyway, I was more like a slave, I had to work even, and it was always the same fucking thing every night. I'd sooner have your ugly old man's greasy hands on me than Baba's.”
“D'you think my fathersir wants me back?”
“Well, I found out from that cute stable slave you and your old man like screwing, that he was collecting gold for your ransom. It was supposed to be a secret but I figure others must have known.”
Taj nods, “The Illustrious seems to know everything.”
“Anyway, I thanked the kid for the information and gave him a charm which was all I had.”
Taj hugs Pichu and tells him, he missed him so.
“Me too, I missed you so much that every chance I got, I pretended that my fingers were your cock.”
“Thinking of you my little lion has kept me alive and brought me here.”
“Did you jack off on me a lot?”
“More than anyone else.”
“Almost all the time.” Soon they are nuzzling in such a way that it makes it difficult for either to speak.
Able to talk again Pichu continues. “When the news of all the breaches reached Edomon, Khaal held a huge rally with jugglers, kites and free bread, and made a big patriotic speech. Your fathersir was put in charge and we all rushed to the front. Baba was made leader of our squad and we were to be a Holy Terrorist killer platoon directly under your old man. But when we got to the front we were placed with this battalion owing fealty to His Most Illustrious, they said we were holy shock troops, but they were an odd bunch who didn't seem to know much about fighting. Baba said some were malcontents. Anyway we were to attack at the top strata. It's like the Aruns were expecting us, we were massacred, I didn't even kill one Arun. I only survived because there were so many bodies to hide among. Baba was suspicious, he figured it was a setup. Just before he died, he said that enemies were trying to get rid of us both, and maybe your fathersir. I don't trust the Most Illustrious.”
Taj is astonished and very upset, “I never doubted the Holy Confessor before, but then I've heard things. We should go back right away. Once the confessors have done their work things will be extremely dangerous, especially if they find out about the ransom. They would want Eternal Confession for fathersir and everybody.”
His little buddy is cautious. “I don't think it's safe for us, or your fathersir. I'm pretty sure they want to kill me”
“What else can we do? We're Whytun warriors.” With Kami and Sol's encouragement they decide to wait, nobody in Whytunland even knows they're alive.
The next morning they retreat into the Wildlands, find a smart leather robe for Pichu and seek out news. They discover that hundreds of soldiers have fled into the Wildlands, the Wildis have never seen so many. Casualties have been enormous, perhaps a third on each side killed. Weapons are offered for food but only a few Wildis are interested. They question soldiers from both armies but learn little they don't already know. Taj is concerned about his fathersir. “I must return and find out what is happening, my family may need me.”
Kami cautions, “I don't know much about this family thing but shouldn't we try to find out what is happening before you go back to Edomon, there's no point if they just kill you.”
“But how?” None of these soldiers will know anything about the politics of Edomon. Maybe I could go in disguise, there'll be much confusion after all the fighting, and I could find out. Maybe the Illustrious is trying to take over, I've heard it said that he's ambitious.”
Kami muses, “What about the ransom? If your father did send some guys to rescue you maybe they'd know.”
“If what I'm beginning to suspect is true they might want to kill me instead.” It will soon be two moons and they decide to see if anyone shows up.
They head north towards the Whytunland border to find out what is happening and to be near the place Taj is supposed to be released. They learn of two Northies on horseback who say they come as emissaries looking for him. It could be a trap, they might be the Most Illustrious' agents or bounty hunters. When they locate the men Kami and Sol disguise themselves as Wildis, even to stretching their remaining skin over their knobs and stitching it to hide their circumcisions as Wildis are expected to have no sense of modesty. Taj and Pichu stay back to see if they recognize them. Kami, whose Wildlanger has come back does most of the talking. “You the guys looking for a Northie, a tall feller with purple in his hair?” The men on horseback are anxious to find him but won't state their business. “What about the other one, he talks like a Southie and's no bigger than my cousin here, d'you want him too?” The men are interested in both. “You paying for both?”
“What do you mean?”
“We heard the Northie was being ransomed, gold, a whole lot of gold. But there's no reason to give it to the Southie, we'd sooner eat him he's so young and pretty.”
“You got both?”
“Well the wee Southie and his buddies got the Northie tied up and we might have to kill him anyway. He's a nasty number and could be a bit of trouble. How about we just bring his cock?” The men think it over and decide that would be sufficient. “D'you have any salt? Southies tend to be a mite tasteless.” They give him a small bag of salt which is something precious in the Wildlands. Kami thanks them and tells them, “Oh, we gotta see the gold first.” One of the men brings out a small leather pouch of glittery dust. Kami who's only seen gold in jewellery before exclaims, “That's it?” He takes a small pinch and promises to deliver the Northie, “What with offing the Southie it could take a couple of days.”
When they go back to where the others are hiding Taj says they don't recognize either of them. “I would of thought my fathersir would send one of his trusted vassals or servants.” Taj fears the worst. “I suspect that they may be agents of the Most Illustrious. The gold is genuine but I'm sure my fathersir would have given them more than what would fill the pouch you describe.”
Pichu suggests, “Maybe we should ambush these guys, make them talk and find out what is happening, and take whatever gold they have while we're at it.”
“We can't do that.” Taj warns, “They're supposed to bring me back, and if they don't all hell could break loose. Khaal would probably find out and send in a Holy Terrorist squad to teach the Wildis a lesson, and maybe kill us too. And my fathersir and family, if they're still alive, what would happen to them? Eternal Confession would kill them. And besides we don't know if those emissaries could tell us anything useful.”
Pichu has another idea, “But suppose they thought you were dead?”
Kami's eyes light up, “Yeah Taj, you could die.”
“Yeah, after killing me and escaping, you have an accident, and die.”
Taj grasps the idea, “I still have my uniform and we could send it back as proof.”
“With lots of your Whytun blood on it.”
“Better still, I could die of the plague, that would strike fear even into Khaal's heart and they would leave the Wildlands alone.” The boys erupt in cheers, punch each other's shoulders and hug. It has been many years since the plague has decimated the nations and it has always broken out in the congested slums of Edomon or Kalgoru, but it has always been officially blamed on the Wildis. “But,” Taj asks, “how do we bring it off?” Kami whispers a plan to Taj.
They are debating their next move when a terrified Wildi woman arrives at their camp and tells them that a couple of Whytun soldiers are extorting her tiny band and pleads for help. The emaciated soldiers are threatening to kill their three children if they don't get food. Kami offers to help. Taking Sol and Pichu with him and he goes to investigate. They find the bedraggled soldiers holding the Wildi children hostage at swordpoint. The weakened soldiers quickly recognize they are no match for Kami and the two armed and ferocious looking boys, and quickly let the children go. Sol takes their weapons. “We only want to go home.” one feebly explains.
Kami looks them over, “You guys are barely worth eating”.
Sol examining the younger one seems to disagree and licking his lips and affecting Wildlanger asks, “D'you guys have any salt?”
The older Whytun pleads, “Don't kill us, we're just ordinary serf soldiers,”
Sol pushes his Wildlanger, “Even so, I bet the Southies would give us something for your cocks.”
“Please, please.” The Whytun begs. “Most of our comrades were massacred in an ambush south of here by Arun reserves.”
“An ambush?” Kami asks.
“Yeah, there was supposed to be a Holy Terrorist killer platoon leading the way.” Pichu starts to say something but Kami stops him. The old soldier continues, “Only a few of us escaped and most died because there's nothing to eat here. Even our general was killed.”
“Mahali?” Pichu interjects.
“I saw it with my own eyes and I hear they scalped him after.” Kami glares at Pichu, he wasn't supposed to talk because of his Whytuntung accent but the news is astounding.
Kami is now sure that the emissaries are not to be trusted and will probably kill him if he shows up. He approaches the two Whytun soldiers and tells them, “I have decided not to kill you but there is something you must do.” The men say they will agree to anything. Kami tells them that they can eat and go home if they deliver a message to some officials from Whytunland and bring back some gold. He explains that the officials would trust them rather than some Wildis. He confers privately with Sol and Pichu. They are to restrain the Whytun soldiers and bring them back to camp a couple of hours later. Pichu is to say absolutely nothing and Sol as little as possible.
Kami gives Taj the awful news about his fathersir. Taj breaks down in tears, yanks on his hair and draws his nails across his chest. He tries to comfort him, he can sympathize but while he can understand crying over a lost mother, the loss of a father, an of family father, is beyond his comprehension. Grief turns into anger, Taj suspects treachery and curses Khaal and the Most Illustrious. He cries and cries and they hug again. When he regains his composure he says, “Pichu is right, we cannot go back, and Pichu is all I have, my dear beloved Pichu.” He is silent and contemplative for a while and then he announces, “There's nothing we can do.” Kami reminds him that they still have their plan, and couple of Whytun soldiers might help them bring it off. After discussing it Taj etches a letter on a piece of aspen bark and puts it in the pouch with his uniform:
I killed the Arun Kami and two of his Wildi confederates and was able to escape. I hoped to see you soon but I have been taken by the plague which is spreading rapidly through the Wildlands. Sores cover my body and I cough blood. I do not expect to live more than a day or two. I have done my best to preserve our family honour. Please give the bearer of this message an appropriate reward.
Farewell Fathersir. Your loyal son Taji.
They make preparations for the arrival of the Whytun soldiers. When they do arrive Kami shows them a mounded rudimentary grave. “This guy said he was some sort of Northie nobleman, whatever that is.” Kami spits on the mound. “Like a lot of people are croaking these days. Some say it's the plague but that's a pile of dogshit.” Kami stares at the soldiers. “But he promised us more gold, said these guys would have a big pouch of it.” Kami pulls aside the leaves covering the form revealing Taj half covered with sand, his body seemingly mottled with bloody sores and smeared with ashes and his eyes staring vacantly up. “We found him dying and he gave us what gold he had and said we'd get more if we delivered this.” Kami presents the older soldier with the pouch containing Taj's tunic, “You will give it to the men on horseback who will give you gold. You bring the gold back to us. Don't screw us around or we'll come after you and kill you. D'you understand?” Leaving Taj behind they move their camp to near the meeting place finding some food for the hungry soldiers on the way. Next morning the men on horseback appear.
They send the soldiers out to meet the emissaries. They see them give the pouch with Taj's uniform to one of the men and watch him read the aspen bark note. After a minute an argument breaks out, Taj thinks it's about gold, and then the man kills one soldier with his sword. The other tries to run back but is quickly cut down. The 'emissaries' ride off to the north towards Whytunland.
Taj announces, “I guess we're all Wildis now.” but he doesn't sound enthusiastic.
Pichu seems even less happy at the prospect, “I don't want to have to eat raw meat again.”
“I don't think anybody does.” Kami points out.
“But Wildis eat babies, I know they do.”
Sol protests, “Dogshit! What d'you mean? I don't eat babies or any people, and I'm a Wildi.” Pichu looks at him questioningly.
“I'm a Wildi too.” Kami adds, “It's something that happens to you.”
“But aren't you still really Aruns? Just because you guys are disguised doesn't change things.” Pichu looks to Taj for reassurance, “At least you're not really a Wildi.” Taj shakes his head and draws his little buddy closer to console him. “But your blood and semen,” Pichu protests, “you mixed yours with Khaal's when you swore eternal fealty.”
“But if he wants my cock, and probably yours too?”
“But your warrior's honour demands that you serve Khaal?”
“Well,” Kami points out, “if you're a refugee, you're a Wildi, and that takes care of your warrior's honour.”
“But, but…” Taj stammers and becomes lost in his thoughts. “But what about my family?”
“There is family here in the Wildlands.”
Taj ponders and Pichu speaks up, “If we go back we wouldn't be Wildis, would we?”
Kami and Sol are amused and Taj says to his little buddy, “We can't go back, and live, but it depends on you. D'you want to be a dead Whytun?”
“I… I guess I'd sooner be a Wildi.”
Sol tries to explain, “Look, you don't choose to be a Wildi any more than you chose to be a Whytun or Arun.”
Taj hugs Pichu and gives him a sloppy kiss, “You're still my little buddy.” Pichu smiles and they embrace. They all exchange sloppy kisses squishing the saliva back and forth.
THE PLACE THAT FINDS YOU
The boys decide to join the Wildi exodus away from the depredations of the desperate fleeing soldiers who have left little to eat. They set off southeast towards the heart of the Wildlands. That afternoon they fill their bladderskins at a seepage and camp at a secluded place near the top of a hill where they can risk a fire. They have a few potatoes and two rabbits, and there are plenty of peppery corms around. Pichu's in better spirits and Kami passes around a pipeful of weed with a touch of baccy he'd been saving.
The fire warms and highlights the playful foreplay of big and little brother and big and little buddy, and projects huge shadows of the action on the rock faces. The sex becomes more serious and then Pichu notices the scar on Taj's cockhead and asks him how he got it. “Kami gave it to me, and I nicked him.”
Pichu looks at him open mouthed, “Have you been screwing Kami?”
It's an awkward question with blood and semen implications, but Taj simply answers, “Of course.” He explains to his little buddy, “Semen is only semen, and us Wildis like sharing it.” Pichu looks thoughtful for a moment before they lazily resume sucking each other, enjoying the flesh on flesh and the warmth of the fire.
Then when they are temporarily disentangled two Wildi girls and a shaggy headed boy, all barely adolescent, wander into the light of the campfire. The dark haired girl with green eyes politely asks, “Can we play with you guys?” Kami knows it would be rude to refuse without a good reason. Taj and Pichu make no sign but Sol is more than curious. She allows his tongue on her cunt for a few seconds before she stops him, “You gotta use your tongue right.” and tells him how she likes it done. The other girl with golden locks squats between Taj and Pichu and tells them she likes their trimmed cocks. She tells Taj, “Yours is too big.” and pointing at the boy, “His is too small but yours,” she handles Pichu's cock, “is just right.” Pichu doesn't know what to do, he's never had sex with a female, it's unmanly for a Whytun boy, but he's desperately horny for her. Taj tells him to go ahead and, “Don't worry about semen. Trust me, semen is just semen.” Pichu obediently tries but it's more of a lesson than a fuck, and he gives up after a while.
The shaggy head Wildi boy doffs his robe with a flair, shows off his wiry body and asks, “You like me to dance?” Kami's eager to watch. “I will show you a special dance I learned from a refugee,” he picks up some leaves and holds them in front of his crotch, “This is how boys in Edomon dance.” It's a slow titillating erotic dance, lots of ass wiggling, and he brushes the leaves against himself, “Very easy to learn, but sometimes hard to keep cock hard all the time.” The green eyed girl who'd been training Sol comes over and applies her tactile charms to Kami's indulgent body, he does not disappoint her. After his dance the boy seeing Pichu unattended opens his robe. And Pichu more comfortable with the attention of boys than girls is soon rigidly aroused by the Wildi child's tricks. Expertly teased he soon just has to squirt, and in his lust he is manoeuvred until his lips almost touch the boy's slippery skin cock. Taj gazes benignly at his little buddy and nods, and Pichu, partly for reasons of obedience, sucks. Semen is just semen. At some point during the evening it becomes an orgy as more Wildi kids arrive, and a good time is had by all, and semen is exchanged and recycled promiscuously, as the Wildis believe it should be. It ends hours later ends with the shaggy head boy fucking Pichu who twists his head around and asks, “How do you make you little cock feel so good?” The shaggy head Wildi boy grins and shrugs.
Pichu, partly inspired by his big buddy's example, undergoes an intensive course of Wildi sex therapy in the next few days. He discovers the particular delight of girls and women and quickly learns the gentler techniques and etiquette of fucking them, and being seduced. He revels in his new popularity. He begins to admire and like Kami, and with his new confidence takes him aside one evening with lascivious intent. Having tormented each other before adds spice to their sex. He likes Kami's robust body and notes the scar on his cock head. “Taj's is bigger.”
“And so is his cock.” Kami likes Pichu's lean muscled torso, musky smells and cocky attitude. He licks and sucks the strange lumpy nipple he'd tortured and mangled. “Sol wanted me to do worse to your other one, but I figured one was enough.”
Later, with Kami on his back and knees drawn back Pichu fucks him and clamps his teeth on his nipple, biting and drawing blood. Blood is just blood? Kami wants it and offers his other tit but, “One is enough.” They squirt in and on each other and lick themselves clean.
Pichu has never quite forgiven Sol for the tortures he suffered, his balls were tender for days. But now feeling like a Wildi and starting to think like one he decides to have it out. One evening he grabs Sol's arm and leads him to a secluded place and half suggests, half demands, “Let's play. Let's fuck and whatever else.”
Sol welcomes the approach, “You mean like two ex junior warrior Wildis?”.
“Yeah.” and he pushes Sol over, leaps on him and they wrestle aggressively. They're evenly matched, and both are soon out of breath.
Then kneeling, facing each other Sol admires his mangled nipple, and all the small, still pink puncture scars he made with the dagger. “They look neat. You should thank me.”
Pichu smiles mischievously, “Will you thank me for this?” he grabs Sol's balls with both hands and squeezes them between his palms with most of his strength. It is far from the worst Sol's felt and not anything like what he did to Pichu before, but it is still very painful. He grasps Pichu's balls and squeezes back and they study the pain and determination in each other's faces as they exchange the peculiar agony of testicle torture. A very long minute is enough.
Satisfied and feeling better about each other they touch lips and rest. After looking into each other's eyes for a minute they start gently playing, fondling, and then taking turns fuck each other. For both the similarity of age and warrior background is new to their sex. It is very physical and thrilling and soon hard again they fuck more vigorously. Relaxing they explore each other's bodies noting their various scars. “Looks like you got more than me.” Sol comments.
“Yeah, and I bet you missed some too.” Pichu twists his body and shows him his ass and thighs. “The ones from the Fortitude Rites are easy to see but notice all these really faint ones, there must be a hundred… They're from the annual school whipping tests. You can just make them out. Each year a team of junior warriors, maybe twenty, would come up from Edomon to whip all the boys over seven. It was a big three day event, a stage was set up in the dining hall, the whole school would be there and peasants would come from miles around. There'd even be some serfs. Girls weren't supposed to watch us get whipped but some did and there were never any mothers or women; I don't think they wanted to. Each boy, I think there was about seven hundred of us, would be called up before the school confessor. We'd have to strip, bow to him and kiss his feet. Then we'd stand with our hands over our head and two JWs would lash us with these thin whips, sometimes both at the same time. They stung like crazy but usually didn't cut much, just so there'd be some blood. The confessor would watch to make sure they hit hard enough but not too hard. If they didn't do it right they got punished. The young kids only got thirty lashes but the eleven year olds got a hundred. Afterwards you got blessed by the confessor. If you failed by crying or flinching too much you got punished, usually a week of darkness and silence in a closet you couldn't move around in. And you had to take the test again in a moon.”
Sol is curious, “That sounds a lot heavier than our Summer Whipping Festivals, I got hardly any marks left from them, and we got to whip each other and there was no punishments, just a gold star if you won.”
Pichu is surprised, “What? You guys actually whipped each other?”
“We'd even practice among ourselves so it would look good.”
“We'd get punished for that. It was considered unstrokratik. I remember one time, it was back before we were eight, and all we got was weekly ass strappings as part of our physical training, like they were nothing and we used to joke about them. Anyway, sometimes we'd spank each other just for fun. Once a bunch of us got caught and we all got a week's confession. That was the most awful thing ever. We weren't mokrats like you.”
“You never got beaten as punishment?”
“No, that was unstokratic. For certain sins like not having your uniform right the confessor would make you scribe out whole tablets from the book of rules and write a story about how sorry you were. That's how you learnt to read and write. If you didn't get punished you never learned more than reading rules and orders. I learnt to read real good.”
“What about sex, I mean if you can't whip each other?” Sol inquires.
“Well before you're seven it doesn't matter, you can have sex with anybody. I never got left alone. But after that there has to be a two year age difference, and a confessor has to approve of it. Of course with adults and warriors you don't have choice. When the JWs came for the annual whipping tests we boys used to see how many we could have sex with. Like there were never any teenagers around the farm, just us and the staff. One year I got fucked by seven different JWs. That's how I met Taj. He fucked me the first day. I was eleven by then and then after he sucked me. It was beautiful. He was taking a chance because warriors are only supposed to fuck little boys. It was very unstrokratik, but then there was a lot of unstrokratik sex going on at the farm. It made me feel very special to have a JW suck me and it was the first time I felt real love. The next day he was one of the JWs picked to whip me, and when he looked at me with a sort of smile, and lashed me extra hard I knew he liked me too. I closed my eyes to bathe in the pain and tried to smile as he whipped me. He gave me these. See.” He shows Sol several long thin scars on his ribcage. “And then the next day he sucked me again and I got to taste his semen. I'd never felt so honoured.”
Pichu pauses and Sol says, “That's awesome, that is so neat, like Kami's never whipped me.”
“When I was selected for the gangs a few moons later I was lucky to be assigned to the Oblais, and a couple of weeks after that I was made Taj's little buddy. You can't imagine how happy I was. He bathed me in his semen and let me taste his blood. He trained me so that pain alone can get me off. I am learning the secrets of Enurement, to master control.”
A while later Pichu observes, “You don't have a nick on your cockhead like Taj and Kami.”
“I wouldn't mind one but you need a special occasion... How about you?”
Pichu thinks, This is a special occasion. “Maybe just a little cut, don't make it bigger than Taj's though.”
“Don't tempt me.” Sol takes his dagger, squeezes Pichu's cock and carefully makes a shallow slice on the knob. A line of blood slowly forms.
Pichu stares at it, “That was nothing compared to when I was mozied.”
“Yeah, like when you get your skin cut off when you join and it shows that you're a Chosen. The Most Illustrious eats the skins as a sacrament to the Venerable Mozi.”
“Is he that ancient prophet who said you gotta kill little kids too?”
“Yeah, and he's the guy who started all this business of cutting skin off cocks. He was like that Masochristi guy who predicted the Armageddonic War and the Coming of the Khaals. Some even said he'd show up too. Mozi was our school's patron saint.”
“I never heard of mozies. When we get cut it's just part of joining the gang and showing you can take it. And we have a party after.”
“A party? That must be why they told us that when you guys did it, it was blasphemy. That was another reason we had to kill Aruns.” Pichu stares at the soft sculpture of Sol's full cock. “With us cutting is a very solemn ceremony, it's a sacred offering, it's when you became one of the Chosen People of the Master Race.” Pichu reaches out and grasps Sol's cock and carefully nicks the head with the dagger. They watch the blood ooze out and press their cuts together. Then they lie beside each other head to crotch and they suck cocks, each knowing that the pain he feels is repeated in the other. They suck until their mouths are full of blood and semen and sitting up they kiss and squish the mixture back and forth again and again before they swallow.
“That was good.” Sol remarks licking his lips but not thinking about flavour in particular.
Pichu looks at him, “I guess I'm not a Whytun any more.”
“No, but you're a great Wildi.”
“And semen is just semen.” They play affectionately, fondle lazily and sleep.
Their journey becomes more difficult. The land is broken and they spend much time climbing and descending steep hills. They are unable to keep a course and become disoriented, but they push on hoping to find someone who can give directions, or at least tell them where they are. Towards the end of one day they enter a narrow gorge and after an hour or so it widens into a beautiful park like valley with aspen groves, tall pines and fine grass. It is the most beautiful place they've see in the Wildlands, and down in a depression surrounded by willows they see a long, narrow clear pond as wide as the pines are tall. Kami assumes it's a neverdrink lake but then he notices animal trails leading to it and places where people have camped around it. They check it out, the water is refreshing, and make camp nearby. Wild potatoes are abundant. The next morning Taj kills a buck and Pichu and Sol climb to the top of a nearby hill and bring back a pouch of the peppery corms and greens. Sol says he could see the Western Alps where the snowline is descending. They feast on roast deer and spend a second night by the lovely pond. In the morning they intend to set off but they can't decide which way to go and feel no urgency to move. It is a beautiful warm sunny day and things seem so peaceful. They relax, sun themselves and play in the sandy bottomed pond, splashing and dunking one another. Sol and Kami swim across the pond. They come back and show Pichu how to swim and then Taj becomes interested in the Wildi sport. Exhausted they rest before indulging in some light promiscuous sex and collecting wood. That night they build a big fire to warm them against the chilly starry night, and big brother with little brother and big buddy with little buddy fall asleep around the fire.
They awake to the sounds of voices chattering and laughing in the distance. Then an ancient withered man no bigger than a ten year old but with an enormous cock dangling to his knees comes over and says “Hello.” The boys get up and exchange greetings. “I'm Saggo, and it's not because of my cock.” He sits beside them with his cock curled up like a pet on his lap. “Well it seems you've arrived at the right place, Beretha of the big boobs said you might show up.” And then Beretha arrives with perhaps a dozen more Wildis.
“Welcome to The Place That Finds You, you horny reprobates.” She and Kami hug and lightly fondle. She tells the others that Kami's one of their stolen children who's come home. “And who's this one?” she points to Sol, “Your lovey boy? He could crawl into my furs anytime.” She turns to Sol, “I suppose you got one of those funny cocks too?” Sol is taken aback by her forwardness, intergender decency is a deeply ingrained taboo, and he blushes. “Enough of that.” She lifts his robe. “I hope you know how to use it. You wouldn't believe how clumsy most outsiders are.” She turns to Taj, “I figured I might see your sexy face again. When you went off with Olab I figured the hostage deal wouldn't last. I could see old Torn Ear was starting to lust after you. And I see you got your lovey back too.” She pats Pichu's head affectionately, “I like your funny titty.” and ruffles his crotch.
“Did the Wildlands get to you too?” Saggo butts in, “Don't take the Wildland's ugliest corrupter of youth too seriously.”
“You stay out of this, you disgusting old seducer of innocent whores.”
“That's not true.”
“Only because you can't resurrect that corpse between your legs any more.”
“It's earned a rest.”
“And us too.” someone adds.
More people arrive and are introduced; elders, storytellers and those who come to sit. Sol finds Peetil at the pond playing his lyre. “I was thinking about you and your friend. I have a new ballad.” Sol calls Kami over and Peetil fingering his lyre sings:
(KAMI AND SOLLY)
Kami and Solly were warriors
Bro lovers ever so true
Bound more by their passionate loving
Than semen 'n blood ever do
But fate tore them apart, and did them wrong
Kami bartered his life for his lover's
So he could survive in his place
So great was his love for his brother
There was nothing that he wouldn't face
His love was so incredibly strong
But a shaggy big breasted woman
Freed him from a horrible doom
Led him into the Wildlands to save him
Where he found his natural home
But when he thought of his bro, oh how he did long
Now Sol learned that his lover was living
But his joy soon turned to shock
For his lover was branded a traitor
And had a big price on his cock
He decided to act, and had to be strong
Sol deserted to warn him of danger
Forsaking his honour for love
He found he was welcomed by Wildis
Alas none knew of his trove
But he discovered a place, where he could belong
And then by a great bloody battle
Where armies were dying and dead
The warriors found one another
Becoming true Wildis instead
Fate brought them together, and righted a wrong
Later they join Taj and Pichu who are sitting listening to some elders and sitters discuss the eternal question: What caused the demise of the Before? What led to the war that all but exterminated humanity? Opinions in the Wildlands are as diverse as in the nations.
“Not enough sex.” claims Amora, a still shapely crone not much bigger than Saggo, “Would men fight if they could always fuck instead?”
“Depends on who they could fuck,” Saggo glances at Beretha who sticks out her tongue at him.
“Holy promiscuity,” Amora continues looking over the older boys and younger men, “like the mythical chimpanzee. Men were made to fuck on sight, and to fuck anybody they can. The only fighting men should do is over women, or boys I suppose, that would keep men too busy to fight wars.”
Saggo is not impressed, “Are you suggesting that women and boys have a duty to distract men from martial ambitions?”
“And tie them down with quality sex?” Amora nods and smiles.
“I'll buy that.” Saggo's pet stretches as if to yawn.
She continues, “I've heard it takes a village to keep a truly promiscuous man satisfied. If war caused the demise of the Before, then perhaps it was the lack of enough truly promiscuous women and boys.”
“And properly trained and motivated one would hope.”
Dogshit!” Beretha exclaims, “You mind is as soft as your cock. Remember when you told us how your cock was not allowed to rest while you explored its limits, and it was suctioned by old whores, women and small boys all day long for a moon and you still weren't sated, or so you claimed? I figured you would have gained more wisdom than that.”
“My attempt to attain total bliss taught me that sex is merely a path.”
“Really, and where does it lead?” someone remarks.
“I suppose there are others, but are they as much fun?” Sex has its limitations.
Taj who has been listening closely speaks, “But men love war, it's exciting, heroic and even beautiful in its majesty at times. Men without family have difficulty finding purpose and place, or history. What man wants to grow old without tales of war to relate to those who'll listen? To kill is a job, and in war the ultimate job. It requires skill and is a source of pride when you do it well, and at times it gives a rush of heavy power. I am good at killing and I enjoyed it.” The listeners buzz amongst themselves and wait for him to continue. “It was thrilling, I was in awe, especially close up when you saw the enemy die. And it was always enemies you killed, or so believed. Wars cannot be stopped, there'll always be men who like to fight, but if there's only blades and points, and it's only the men who get killed, it becomes a dangerous sport.”
“But wouldn't enough sex satisfy them instead?” Amora suggests.
“No.” Taj states, “The appetite for sex is more easily sated than that for war. And why not have both?”
“But what if,” Amora adds, “they also had enough weed and poppy to always keep their pipes full?”
Bevla a sitter with budding breasts tenting her soft cloak questions, “Are you saying that all the masses require is sex and some good opiates?”
“What more do humans need? Anything more and things can become dangerous.”
Saggo disagrees, “It's not what they need, but what they want. Men want a lot of things.” and he lists possessions, vanities and glory. “It was the wanting of other things that led the Before to its doom.”
“But that was all greed.” Amora insists.
“But some say that greed causes wars.”
Bevla adds. “The wanting can be worse than the things themselves.”
Saggo offers, “And perhaps not wanting things too.”
“But if people practised moderation and only wanted enough, then maybe there'd be no wars. All things in moderation should be the rule.” Bevla suggests.
“Dogshit,” Saggo exclaims, “moderation's fine as a practice, but never as a principle. How can one know what is enough without knowing what's too much? No one chooses to be merely moderately satisfied or happy, but if less rather than more makes you most happy, that's fine.”
Bevla changing the subject somewhat asks, “What about God?”
“You mean the Great Whomever?” someone asks.
“The Whatever is more like it.” Saggo interjects.
Well, just something to believe in, so people feel peaceful, and not… warlike.” the girl explains.
“I hope you're not thinking of the all powerful God of the Before, the one with all the prophets and pretensions, the one people used to try talking to?”
“No, nothing like that.”
“Good,” Saggo looks at her, “Not even Whytun confessors believe in Him, and if you did you'd have to blame Him for an awful lot.”
“How about just little things to believe in, things that make life seem right?”
“A lot of little gods maybe, like one for each tree and animal, and maybe big rocks?”
“Not gods maybe, but knowing that something's there beyond our tiny lives.”
“So you're not alone?” Saggo asks.
“Well, so you feel you're part of something greater.”
“Greater than,” Saggo gestures to all those around, “what we can see, touch and be another to? We are not alone when we're together, and in each other's thoughts.”
“But is there no big meaning or plan?”
“You mean no Whatever?” Bevla appears uncertain and Saggo suggests, “You can have beliefs, and rules you choose to live by, and that is good, as long as they're not something you make a religion out of, and want others to go along. That's when the trouble starts. I think one reason we don't war is because we don't have gods and religions.”
“Does that mean we don't have souls either?” the girl wants to know.
“Well I don't think I'd want one anyway.” Saggo replies, “What would be the use of having one? I don't see why anyone would want one unless their religion required it.”
“Why would religion want you to have a soul?” Bevla asks.
“So they can scare people into believing they can still be punished after they die.”
Nilato, an austere man with a trimmed black beard speaks up, “But the Aruns don't have gods or religion and they're always at war.”
“They worship Bolobo and worshipping leaders is worse than worshipping gods.” Saggo slaps his thigh making his pet bounce.
Bevla ponders the idea, “Is leaders the reason then? Like we don't have leaders.”
“Well, none we respect or follow.” Saggo acidly replies.
“Very true,” Beretha quips.
Nilato steps in, “Once you've got leaders, you're on the slippery slope to government, and we all know that it's governments that make war. Government is always bad.”
Beretha counters, “Leaders are not the problem, it's the fact that people obey them, and that is where ordinary people are much to blame.”
Nilato nods and laments, “Humans do have an unfortunate capacity for obeying leaders, and it may be worse if they believe they somehow chose them by voting.”
“But,” Bevla is uncertain, “we Wildis still fight.”
“Of course, I was even ready to off some Whytuns a while ago,” Beretha glances at Taj and Pichu, “Fights between people are not like wars, many of us do fight, sometimes savagely, but we do not fight because someone tells us to. That's because we're not obedient people, even our children are not obedient.”
Nilato concurs, “Nor do we expect them to be. It's by disobedience that they best learn much of what they need to know.”
“But don't we still need something, something to guide us?” Bevla asks.
“We have our customs, and rules common to the people.” Saggo points out.
Hubs, an old one time Whytun soldier observes, “Sometimes I think we need more law here.” This kind of talk is about the nearest thing to heresy among the Wildis.
“Khaal's Edicts, Bolobo's Rules?” Beretha sneers, “You outbornlings are hopeless, you love what you flee.”
“I don't mean that,” Hubs explains, “but just so that you know more things for sure.”
Nilato frowns, “Like what you can't do? I think some ancient philosopher said that freedom is knowing what you can't do. That's true, but once there are means of making laws that freedom becomes less and less. Laws should not be made, our ethics alone should guide us. Laws that are taught or imposed only serve the justice of the powerful.”
“It was not always like that,” Saggo adopts a wise expression, “It is said that in the times before the ancients when men roamed the world in bands, and there were no chiefs or kings or priests, that law existed, only existed in the minds of the people; and was what was agreed to be fair and just.”
Nilato agrees, “Ah, law without order, that would be ideal as long as there were no Laws.”
“Sort of. Law was owned by the people not their leaders or nations. Only when someone was harmed, and the harm was there for all to see, would people convene to resolve the harm. Witnesses would testify and the elders would listen, and after much discussion a decision would be reached.”
“But then,” Nilato interrupts, “leaders and those who claimed to know the whims of gods arose and demanded their own laws, and imposed them on the people. And it was then that beliefs, ideas, things, and just simple orneriness began to be punished as crimes. Governments took over religion and left the gods to their temples. Government became people management; what they could do, what they had to do, and lot of silly and big things they couldn't do like what people could see, fantasize, say and possess. More and more laws about everything came into being and people needed experts. They needed experts in laws and experts on evidence as the people were no longer trusted with their common senses. Experts proved that inner thoughts and feeling are harmful acts warranting government action and severe punishment. Laws caused more problems than they resolved.”
“Well at least Bolobo and the Khaals got rid of those lawyer guys.” a sitter comments, “I heard that the crowds in Edomon cheered as they were sacrificed.”
“But”, Saggo observes, “I don't think that rules and edicts were an improvement.”
Nilato protests, “That is not the point. Laws serve the powerful and provide moral satisfaction to the masses with the messages they send, messages of fear, hate and vengeance. Those with power were always sending messages. We will execute or deal harshly with this person to send a message that something will not be tolerated. We will invade this inconvenient nation to send a message.”
“Were the messages received the same as those sent?” a sitter asks.
“The senders didn't care. The received messages are not the ones sent, they may have been; be careful, be evasive, lie, cheat or resist. What is the message of cruelty? Of excessive punishments? What is the message of bombs and bullets, or was when they still were in abundance? What is the message of the nations' 'lessons', the depredations of the Wildlands? The messages are designed to feed the moral satisfaction of the righteous whom those in power always pander to. The messages are for them, not those who for whatever reasons transgress the morality of the powerful. Beware of those who use Law to 'send messages'”.
Bevla wonders, “But if there were leaders who were enlightened and laws that were wise, would there still be war?”
“Like a philosopher king?” Saggo suggests.
Nilato protests, “No. We don't need philosopher kings, or philosophy for kings on how to rule, we need philosophy for the ordinary people so they can avoid kings of any kind.”
“Few have been able to do that.” Saggo points out.
Beretha speaks, “Old Nilato's breath carries some truth even if it stinks worse than his farts. People got to know how to rule their leaders. What you need to do is just arrange things so that somebody feels they are in power and see that they get the right kind of support to indulge themselves in harmless activities like vices. Get them hooked on cheap indulgences, like poppy and double distilled brew, and lots of pretty young boys, even girls if necessary. And even mushy adorations as a last resort.”
“But,” Bevla objects, “that's corruption? You wouldn't want corrupt leaders, would you?”
Beretha looks at her, “Better we corrupt those who are playing our leaders than for them to corrupt us.”
“But what if they still want to do bad things?”
The Beyond, or what is beyond the Western Alps, the Deadlands and forbidding deserts north and south is another subject of much speculation. Few doubt the legends of vast oceans, vaster than Altamon itself, but is that all? Kantrina, a woman who is admired for the beautiful leather hats and pouches she makes asks, “What is the Beyond like?”
“The Beyond according to legend,” Saggo replies, “is that the world is a globe, not that it really matters, and that it is vast, many times Altamon, and it spins making night and day.”
Kantrina then asks, “What is a globe?”
“It is a round, and it's round all ways, like a deer's bladder only more so. I'm not sure if the world was always that way but towards the end of the Before, they globalized and made it so. I've heard legends that the world was once flat.”
“Round in all ways?” Kantrina inquires.
“Yes,” Saggo assures her.
“How could something be round all ways?”
“Like a rain drop on a leaf, or two rocket nose cones back to back but not as pointed.”
“And that is the world?”
“Yes, according to legend.”
“Children should know the legends, don't you think? They should understand what the Beyond is. They should know what a globe is.”
“I would be careful Kantrina,” Fraydo, a timid former army clerk warns, “some say that globalization led to the downfall of the Before.”
“But just a small globe, something that children could hold in their hands?” The consensus is that small globalization would not be dangerous, although Fraydo expresses concern. Kantrina thanks them for their wisdom and leaves to attend her children.
The discussion continues. “Is there life in the Beyond?” a young girl inquires, “Intelligent life like us?”
“I'm not sure how intelligent we are,” Saggo muses, “but life, maybe. There were so many kinds of life. There were dozens of different trees not just the four we know now. And there were creatures that flew through water like crows fly through the air, and some were much bigger than people. And not all crows were black, there were blue crows, yellow crows and even crows of many colours it is said. Some may survive.”
“But what about humans?” the girl persists.
“Legends relate that messages from the Beyond ceased half way through the Twenty Year Winter although their cities were not all destroyed. We are likely alone.”
A few days later Kantrina returns with a perfectly round globe about a foot across which she has sewn out of scraps of leather and stuffed with dry leaves so it keeps its shape. Saggo says it is like the world but it is too soft. “The world is hard,” Saggo points out stamping a foot on the ground, “not like my cock which was overworked in the horniness of my youth.”
Kantrina is disappointed, “I wanted something to show the children so they would understand the legends.”
“Maybe you could fill it with sand”, a sitter suggests but they decide that would make it too heavy.
“I know,” Pelesok, a hunter and one the youngest elders speaks up, “maybe if we blew up a bladder inside it would be hard.” Bladders are often used as play things but there's not much that can be done with them. A deer bladder is quickly found and placed inside, and Pelesok blows into it while Kantrina sews it tight. And when the globe is dropped, to the amazement of all, it smartly bounces back!
Fraydo shrieks in fear, “Ahieee! It wants to attack. I see a dark magic at work here. We must destroy it immediately or this globalization will spread out of control and we shall all be doomed.” The globe is closely examined, squeezed and punched. After much discussion it is generally agreed that the globe is not dangerous, it merely pushes back when force is applied, and that its actions are defensive, not aggressive. And they also find that it's fun to play catch with, maybe not as good as stag scrotums filled with pulverized aspen bark, but safer for children. Kantrina thanks them and leaves with her bouncy globe to show it to the children. The elders and the sitters return to their discussion of why the nations war.
“War is a lot of work.” Pentar, a former Arun soldier remarks, “It's not just the fighting but the drills and marches, and packing weapons and supplies through the endless muck. I think if men were lazy enough there'd be no wars.” The idea causes a respectful murmuring amongst the men present and they nod their approval.
“Men!” Beretha pounds her fist into the ground, “As if they weren't lazy enough already”.
The ex-soldier explains, “They could still be helpful, but if ways could be found to discourage labour, and women's labour too, they wouldn't be able to make war.”
A sitter has a question, “I don't know what they looked like but didn't the ancients say that things called taxes discouraged people from working. Do you think if there were enough of them, that they would prevent wars?”
Pentar does not appear impressed, “Taxes are money and things that governments take from the people.”
“You mean that you can't have taxes without government?”
“I'm afraid so.” The taxes idea is quickly forgotten.
Just then the globe comes flying through their midst with eight children chasing after it. A boy stops it with his foot and kicks it back, right into Saggo who for once looks surprised. The globe bounces off his head and two girls scramble for it knocking over a couple of sitters. Finally another boy gets it and kicks it back where it came from. “What are you doing?” Bevla demands.
“We're playing 'no hands'.” he informs her.
“Well it looks more like war.” When the globe comes back several minutes later practically all the children around, twenty or so, are chasing after it. The elders decide to move to a safer location. And then the globe goes soft and the children bring it back to be fixed. It takes Pelesok a while to find the leak and fix it, pine pitch seems to help. He gets it even harder this time and he bounces the ball a few times before giving it to the kids.
Saggo has an idea, “Pelesok, d'you think you could fit a bladder in my cock and blow it up hard.”
Beretha teases, “The only thing that could make your cock stiff is rigormortis.”
“I can't wait to die.” Sago quips.
It's not long before several of the smaller children come back complaining about the big kids. They want another globe because one is not enough. The men look at Kantrina. “It took me two days to make. It was to explain a legend. I never thought of it as a toy.”
“Two days to make a toy?” someone asks. Everyone agrees they have a problem. Wildi toys are all things found or simply put together from leftovers or what is available. The idea of toys not being more or less free has never come up before.
Fraydo says, “That proves that the globe should be destroyed. That would solve the problem.” The children whine and burst into tears, a very unusual behaviour for Wildi children. A heated argument breaks out over what to do, an unusual thing among Wildi adults. “Globalization, that's what caused the demise of the Before, even small globalization is dangerous as we can already see.” Fraydo maintains.
“But toys never caused wars.” Saggo counters.
Fraydo disagrees, “And where do think spears came from? Children's throwing sticks, and swords? Why I've heard that the mighty weapons of the Before began as little things that went 'bang' originally devised to entertain children.”
“But children should have things to play with.” A sitter protests.
“Well,” Amora states, “they've got cocks and cunts and each other's bodies, and beyond a certain age I don't think they need much else.”
Saggo disagrees, “Children, even teen boys can become bored with sex. I gave it up for a week when I was fourteen.” This admission stuns some of the sitters coming from such an authority. Soon the shouting becomes so loud that nobody can be heard although most are sympathetic to the children's demands.
Fraydo however warns, “If they spend their time kicking globes around and getting all worked up they'll neglect sex, and the next thing you'll have is fighting and wars.”
Things eventually quieten down and the adults feel embarrassed about their unwildi outbursts. Finally they decide to accept the risks and the children prevail. Kantrina says she'll be happy to make another globe and people offer her leather and thread. She starts right away as she listens to the continuing debate about the demise of the Before. But they soon realize that one more will not be enough and with several eager teen boys and girls offering to help she says she'll make as many as she can.
“But there must have been something more,” a sitter insists, “to lead people to destroy their world?”
“Evil?” someone offers,
“But we know there's no evil, it's all in the head.” another sitter notes.
“Precisely,” Saggo slaps his thigh, careful of his pet, “the evil of sin, and the sin of evil. Sins were things you knew were wrong, things you shouldn't do, so for sins to work people had to learn what they were.”
A another sitter asks, “But how can wrong be taught? Who's going to show them?”
Saggo nods respectfully, “The wrongs or sins were everywhere, almost anywhere, they were things people did all the time. They just had to be labelled as sin, or wrong, or evil.”
The sitter doesn't understand, “How can things be named evil?”
“By assuming them. You moralize which is more or less the same thing, and claim to know good from evil.”
“So the evil has to be in the mind?”
“Yes. Moral concepts are those beyond context of situation and attitudes. No place for joy, pain or sheer indifference of others. It not like ethics or what people think just or fair. Morality relates to a higher power or what others think. What they call morality is the root of what they call evil.”
“You mean without morality there is no evil?” a sitter asks.
“Certainly, without morality there can be no moralizing, judging or righteousness, and righteousness is what justifies hate and condemning one's fellows to suffer. It is the excuse for cruelty.”
Kami speaks, “I never thought of Bolobo as righteous before.”
“They all are. Strangely however, embedded in ancient texts, but ignored by the philosophers of the Before, was the idea that knowledge of good and evil was the origin of what they called sin.”
“Sin? You mean the wrongs without harm? Are you saying that this moralizing was the original sin?" a sitter asks.
“Yes, and instead the philosophers claimed the original sin was disobeying some god, which of course became popular with leaders demanding obedience to themselves. That way they could judge good and evil, condemn and punish.”
“Ah, but wasn't it up to the god to judge and punish?”
“Yes. But people weren't adverse to helping the god out, they claimed they were doing the god's work for him.”
“Was he lazy?” someone quips.
“Can there be different righteousnesses?” an earnest boy asks.
“What if two opposing righteousnesses collide?”
“They may fight, and among nations war.”
“You mean morality leads to righteousness which leads to war?”
“Sometimes.” Saggo replies, “And sometimes strong nations simply judged, condemned and punished others, and took them over. They justified it by saying that they were inferior races, like the Southies and the Northies, or they labelled them as rogue nations or part of an axis of evil.”
Another sitter, an old woman asks, “And what did they moralize about?”
“A number of things but sex, children and sex as much as anything.”
“But why was sex so important? It's only fun that can lead to knowing and love. And the kids in my band need things to do so they aren't always pestering us old folk. I don't know what I'd do if they didn't spend so much time kissing, sucking and fucking, but even then it's not like the Before Time when people had magic picture boxes for their kids when they got bored with sex.”
“I don't think it was like that.” Saggo posits, “Kids never got a chance to get bored with sex, it was such a big deal, and they made it as scarce as they could. Like in the Before you had to grow up before you could act like a child. Sex was placed on a pedestal at the bottom of a shit pit. And sex wasn't supposed to be about fun, but love. And the love was supposed to come first, as if anyone could know, and this led to frustration, uncertainty, insecurity, and this thing they called guilt. And guilt required all sorts of things.”
“Did guilt cause them to fight?”
“I don't think so, but it helped. Fighting redeemed the self worth of men. And in the Before men believed…”
“Enough of your dogshit Saggo, go pet your pet.” Beretha has had as much as she can take, “Guilt? I don't know, but all men, and sexy young boys, are fucked up, but is that a problem? It only makes them more interesting and, what did the mind snobs call it, challenging?”
“Or vulnerable?” Bevla contributes.
“Men don't need morality to war.” Beretha continues, “They enjoy it like Taj says, and I must say I rather like young warriors. I find them delicious and…” She looks over to Taj.
Saggo objects, “Sentiments like that can only encourage men to war.”
“Dogshit, you impotent lecher.”
“You double dugged, bosomy bitch, spawn of the before of the Before, corrupter of respectable libertines, you're making women part of the reason for war.”
“Suck my warts, Uddercock, I don't think the Before or the before before that, can tell us anything that our cunts can't. Women know, they're stupid if they don't, that men like to follow. Smart women lead. But give men leaders and they will war.”
After three days they all decide to go home. Food, especially game and wild potatoes are becoming hard to find and if they don't leave soon there won't be enough for next year.
The globe craze quickly spreads through the Wildlands as boys, girls and young men take it up and work and plead for more globes. It's not long before someone comes up with the idea of goals using two trees and 'no hands' becomes a game. When bands play each other, usually all who are interested with no limit on numbers, it becomes a team sport. But as one side may have three times as many players 'winning' is not a factor and it is poor form to keep score. It soon becomes called kickglobe and abetted by a mild winter it reaches the borderlands by spring. The only thing holding it back is the shortage of needles and thread. These they must get from the nations, and the itinerant traders who frequent the borderlands prosper during the winter with a few taking kickglobes in payment.
The war season has been a disaster for both sides with it's unprecedented losses and the acute shortage of water has left many hungry if not starving. Only Bolobo's new reservoirs avert famine in Kalgoru. The soldiers returning from their costly victories are demoralized and resentful at the loss of so many of their comrades. The women are also unhappy lamenting the loss of male friends and fuck buddies in a society where men were already scarce. In an attempt to prevent unrest Bolobo increases the production of nirvana and orders the gangs to cut the price by half.
The Annual Victory Celebrations are subdued. Bolobo's speech calls for patience and perseverance. Dr. Lorcol speaks of the nobility of suffering. It builds character and inner strength he tells the crowd. Only ten captives are brought back for the War Crimes Trials and half of these are boys. There are rumours in the barracks that hundreds of others failed to survive the journey. And Bolobo has been too preoccupied with other matters to supplement their numbers with an expedition into the Wildlands. He is particularly concerned about appeasing the sex deprived women because of the shortage of adult male prisoners to offer the women for closure. They much prefer men to teenagers claiming they can't get the same moral satisfaction out of closing boys. The boys he decides to use for the main closure rite and hopes that prolonged dramatic tortures will compensate for the lack of numbers. There will be nothing as tame as stoning this year. The Psychomaster is concerned about the effects of diminished moral satisfaction on the political stability of Arunland. Bolobo desperately brings in acrobats, jugglers and musicians in an attempt to make up for the paucity of blood. The gangs are ordered to put on a parade celebrating pain and agony which he hopes will provide some vicarious moral satisfaction. But while there is plenty of cheap vodka there is little food for the feast this year. Attendance is way down, and the crowds lack their usual enthusiasm.
When a tall handsome young Whytun warrior is awarded to the Widows of Kalgoru, instead of being tortured and soon killed, he is raped and kept alive and made to fuck again and again. Only over a day later is he finally killed when other women seeking vengeance tear him apart. When Dr. Lorcol finds out he is horrified, the soldier's semen might corrupt the purity of other men the women have contact with. “It could infect the entire population!” He tries to set up a quarantine but when accusations and counter-accusations break out there are hundreds, then thousands of women implicated. The race is in mortal danger. A new Bolobo's Rule is proclaimed: Women can only have sex with other women. Then a riot breaks out and few males over ten are left unravished.
It is however a remarkably bountiful year for trophies at over three times the previous record. Large sacks containing thousands of stinking putrefying cocks are dumped in Revolution Square. The brigades hire small boys to spread them out to dry, turn them over from time to time and oil them as necessary to prevent excessive shrinkage. When they are tallied it is found that the total number exceeds the number of Arun casualties which most agree were greater than those suffered by the Whytuns. As the Aruns controlled most of the battlefields after the fighting this leads to the widespread belief that many, if not most of the cocks presented for bounty payments were scalped from their own men. Bolobo is caught between the popular outrage of the public and the insistent demands of the brigadiers for money to pay their impoverished troops who are on the verge of mutiny. There is also the problem that the extraordinary bounty payouts would bankrupt his already depleted treasury. It's not like he could just simply print more money as there's no paper to begin with. The nation has to rely on gold, brass and copper coins, all of which are in fixed supply. Bolobo, with the backing of popular sentiment announces that he is abolishing the bounty system. However, he is establishing a heritage collection program to preserve large and exceptional specimens for posterity, and magnanimously announces that he is prepared to bequeath his own cock. Not everyone is happy and Dr. Lorcol proposes a committee under himself to examine the contested cocks. He claims that from traces of blood and possibly semen he can determine their racial origin.
In Whytunland after the devastating battle losses, including the death of Mahali, and the concern over water supplies, The Holy Confessor makes an attempt to usurp power. The news of Tajori's death weakens the strokrats and fear of the plague adds to the uncertainty. With a cabal of confessors backing him, His Most Illustrious exposes Khaal for his little Wildi boy catamites, and expounds on the necessity of keeping Whytun semen pure, untainted by the inferior races. The strokratik families are rounded up and placed in eternal confession except for the leaders who are killed while trying to escape. The Inquisition is about to begin when the Wildi boys escape and the Elite Guards pursue them into the cathedral's sacristy where they discover The Holy Confessor with an open book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, a Twentieth Century heretic. By its title it is obviously subversive and the probable cause of his attempted coup. The cabal of confessors take The Magnificent hostage to bargain for the release of His Most Illustrious. However the serfs led by veterans rise up and kill the confessors but not before Khaal is murdered. The serfs drag most of the strokratik families out of eternal confession and kill them too.
The Elite Guards meanwhile discover the extraordinary sexual talents of the Wildi boys, they can understand the dead king's lust for them, and they all soon irretrievably pollute themselves with the alien semen. His Most Illustrious tries to make a deal, he will keep quiet about the Wildi boys if they let him go. They've almost reached an agreement when it's discovered that several of the catamites have run off again. News of what has been going on with them spreads throughout Edomon and the population is horrified, confused and concerned. It is only when His Most Illustrious has an epiphany, a personal visit from the Great Whomever he claims, where it is revealed to him in a blinding vision that semen is just semen and blood is incidentally blood, that the Elite Guards release him. The people welcome this revelation, it's simpler and removes any burdens resulting from dubious encounters in their lives and those before them. The book charges are dropped when he agrees to exile himself to the Wildlands where he is unlikely to survive.
Tajori and Pichu can no longer constrain themselves. Rumours and counter-rumours drift into the northern Wildlands. Finally disguising themselves as ordinary Whytun soldiers they make their way to Edomon. The city is in disarray with factions fighting openly for control. Chaos, bloody anarchy seems inevitable. Taj believes that if he had come back earlier before the families were massacred he could have done something by rallying strokratik forces and taking over as king. But it's too late now and Taj has no desire to be king anyway. And while he no longer feels any family or warrior's honour, or loyalty to Whytunland, he still wants to help the people. He soon realizes what he must do, something no one else could. He must put his superb killing skills at the service of humanity.
It takes them a day to get ready. Tajori and Pichu put on masks, squeeze into distinctive tight fitting costumes totally unlike those of any faction and with a big “SS”, for Serve and Select on the chests, and they start killing. In a series of daring daylight exploits the big buddy/little buddy, deadly duo assassinates seventeen key leaders striking terror into all the factions. Pichu exclaims, “WOW, it's like we're Holy Terrorists again, only this time we're killing the right people.” There is talk of little else in Edomon other than Slayerman, as he is dubbed, and his young companion. Even open books have no effect on them. No faction wants to seize control and differences are quickly resolved. Slayerman and Slayerboy are never seen again but myths grow up around them. It is said that they are time travellers from the Before and that they may return if anyone tries to grab too much power.
Back in the Wildlands the four boys lead a life of mobile domesticity; hunting, traveling, doing a bit of trading, telling their stories and exploring the land, minds and bodies they encounter. Several families find them and the boys stay and return. It is pleasant enough but not very exciting. But even Taj adapts to the relaxed pace and rejoices in the pleasures of the Wildlands.
On a cloudy late spring day after a long drizzle Sol comes up to Kami looking unusually serious, “I have been thinking about us, about how we spark happiness and make each other whole.”
“Our love is beyond any bonding my prince.”
“You will always be my devoted big brother. You are my love, my inspiration. You have given me joy and wisdom, and liberated me from the follies of the world. You have helped me find what being alive is all about, I want you to know how grateful I am.”
“Do you think you've done less for me? You have helped me know and define myself as no one else has.”
Sol looks thoughtful, “I never thought of it that way, and to hear you say that makes my heart rejoice… But I would ask for one thing.”
“Of course, but you've never asked for anything before.”
“True, but you have always given without asking. I could not have expected more.”
“What is it then?” Sol hesitates and appears apologetic, “I… I want you to whip me. I want my body to bear your scars, I want you to take me in love where others have taken me in malice and indifference.”
“But Sol, I've never wanted to whip or hurt you.”
“You never have, you have never caused me pain, or given it.”
“Why should I now?”
“Because now I want it. I know you don't like to hurt or torture people, I once saw that as weakness, remember when you were torturing Pichu's tits and stopped?”
“I tried being cruel, I just didn't enjoy it.”
“I know, but I'm not asking you to be cruel, I want you, my beloved big brother, to whip me, to whip me bloody.”
“Are you thinking of Pichu's story of how Taj whipping him confirmed his love?”
“Your love does not need confirmation, but Pichu's story is a beautiful one.”
Kami looks into Sol's eyes, “With love I shall.” and he tenderly kisses him.
Sol leads him to a place where they will not disturb their Wildi friends and retrieves a heavy, crudely made leather whip, “I made it for you.”
“It is a cruel whip.”
“But you are not cruel.” Sol removes his robe and stands facing his beloved big brother legs apart and arms held high. A hint of a smile plays on his face and Kami thinks that he has never looked more beautiful. Kami has always enjoyed watching and whipping willing boys at the rites. It thrills him beyond arousal. He studies Sol for only a moment before he slams his first blow across his pale narrow chest leaving a bright raw weal. Kami continues lashing his prince as he shifts and turns offering his whole body to the blows. Kami sees and in his mind feels the landing of each blow. Blood oozes and drips from the lacerations and Sol becomes unsteady as the physical agony builds up but his almost ecstatic expression encourages Kami to continue. After maybe fifty hard lashes Sol's ordeal abruptly ends as if by common agreement.
Kami looks at him, “You're a bloody mess.”
Sol blinking and catching his breath manages, “But a happy mess.” He is exhausted and sits down on a mossy ledge and starts examining his welts and cuts. “You're gonna have to lick some of these to speed the healing.”
“I know, I suppose that's my reward.”
“And I should get a few neat scars.”
A while later they return to the encampment and a pretty girl Sol's age comes up to him and asks if he'd like to play. Sol has to refuse, he doesn't want the others to see his body until it's healed. “Later?” she asks. Again he refuses.
He turns to Kami and whispers, “Now my real suffering begins.”
Kami laughs, “I'll try to help.”
Later that evening Sol effusively thanks his big brother for the whipping, “It's like we're totally each others. I never want to be whipped again.”
“Good.” Sol is exceptionally passionate and squirts three more times before they fall asleep in their furs.
Spring comes early to the lowlands and after last year's poor harvests the need for water is urgent. When the armies arrive at the Springface the ground is still frozen and ice is everywhere. Because of the huge losses the previous year the armies are smaller, and the soldiers less motivated. When they discover that the new channel approximately divides the water evenly, and that enormous effort is require to increase the share of one side, the enthusiasm for combat becomes negligible. The commissars and confessors do their best but they command little respect. Most of the rather desultory fighting is done by the bow men and close encounters are uncommon except at the upper strata.
A hundred or so starving soldiers from both sides managed to survive the winter in the Wildlands and when the armies arrive they drift back to the Springface seeking food. While some were fed by Wildis or found sufficient game, others pillaged as they could and even resorted to cannibalism, eating their comrades and any Wildis they could kill. Several picked up subversive ideas and the kickglobe craze from their Wildi contacts. While normally they would have been treated as deserters and killed, the massive slaughter of the previous season has relaxed discipline and they are accepted back by their respective armies. The commissars and confessors are unhappy but the mood and edginess of the soldiers restrain their zeal. There has also been fraternization between Aruns and Whytuns which is kept quiet.
The collection systems are repaired as soon as thaw permits and water starts to flow down the channels and canals to the lowlands. Without the losses due to fighting there is enough for both nations. Bolobo's reservoirs ensure that there will be a good harvest and the Whytuns are copying the idea. Because of the shortages rations are less than usual leading to unrest. Parties are sent into the Wildlands to hunt game and pillage whatever they can. They find little food but they encounter Wildis armed with weapons the fleeing soldiers abandoned or traded the previous year, and they are eager to barter. They want needles and thread and will supply meat, greens and potatoes. This is unexpected and the armies' stocks of sewing materials are quickly depleted necessitating more to be requisitioned. And then the soldiers discover kickglobe and as some already know the game others quickly learn. Actual fighting is neglected. The game evolves rapidly with a second goal added away from the first and boundaries are placed on the area of play. And the soldiers decide that each side should have the same number of players. Platoons play platoons and bet on the results. The few Wildi traders who see the games are shocked by all the rules encumbering the game and the soldiers' aggressive play. The game has degenerated into a kind of war. Towards the end of the boring war season arrangements are made for a team from each army to play the other. It is a ferocious inconclusive game with deaths and injuries on both sides, but these are nothing compared to the riot that follows which leaves seventy dead. It does however provide some trophies for the soldiers to take home as evidence of their military prowess.
EPILOGUE: The Victory Celebrations Fourteen years later
Kami and Sol have never returned to Kalgoru. They have vaguely heard of changes, neomokratization, and those who trade with the Aruns do not believe they would be in danger any more. But it is amazing second hand accounts of the Annual Victory Celebrations which have aroused their curiosity. With a supply of trading goods, a pouch of coins and some Arunish clothing they've acquired, they set out for Kalgoru expecting the trip to pay for itself. With relative peace at the Springface in recent years there's been more trading as the Wildlanders feeling more secure become more interested in possessions. Wildland kickglobes and fine leatherwork are in demand in the nations. Their journey is peaceful and uneventful and their Arunese is faultless by the time they arrive in Kalgoru They have no difficulty selling their trading goods at excellent prices and find themselves fairly flush.
Physically the city has changed little since their Yaki gang days but there is an air of laxity and perhaps prosperity especially around Revolution Square which has become more of a market with stalls lining the perimeter. “Look,” Sol calls out, “YAKI FASHIONS” Beneath the banner is a tablet inscribed: The finest in retro attire. Half a dozen teenagers are going through racks and piles of clothing. A boy holds a flimsy version of a Yaki vest in front of him, “Hey Perla, how would this look on me?” Kami notices that the badges are parodies of the ones he remembers.
“I don't know Zenie, I sort of liked the green Mafi tunic better.”
“It's only for the party after the Victory bash. It'll probably get trashed at the closure rites anyway.”
A young sales clerk comes up to Sol, “Have you seen our new arrivals from Edomon? Maybe you'd like a badge for a son?” He shows them a purple HT badge, “That stands for Hot Teen.”
They overhear one of the boys, “D'you hear that?” he snickers, “One of my old dads makes those badges in his hovel.”
Sol declines the badge. “Maybe you'd like a ticket for the game tomorrow? The Yaki Warriors are playing the CT Proles, and the winner gets to meet the Mafi Dons in the kickglobe final.”
Not far along they come to a black beamed, faux rubble boutique stall with a salvage metal sign of pointy letters above the entrance announcing: The Cutting Edge. Three preteen boys are looking at a series of display tablets at the counter. A dark curly haired boy informs the others, “The Mozie's strictly for nerds, it hardly leaves anything. I like the Petal Cut best.”
His stocky red haired buddy scoffs, “That went out years ago along with ear petalling. Me? I think I'll get a Semi, most of my older friends have them.”
“Oh, you like that, 'Is he or isn't he' look?”
“Yeah, it's sort of neat, and like you don't know what's gonna be in, in a few years time. But then my girlfriend just wants me to get my foreskin pierced with eight of those little gold rings. Says she'll fuck me twice a day if I do.”
“But they don't work too good for assholes.” the first boy cautions.
The third boy wants nothing to do with body modification and flatly states, “I'm just gonna leave mine as is. Nobody's fooling around with my cock.”
The first boy comments, “Go ahead if you want, don't, just don't it. But it used to be only the gangs got cut, and you'd get your balls cut off for being cut if you weren't in a gang.” He looks at his two buddies, “So I am going to exercise my neomokratik right and get mine cut. So there.” He is cool enough not to stick out his tongue.
A clerk immediately comes over and explains their price schedule. The rule seems to be that the more they cut off the less they charge. “And we charge extra if you want a painkiller, but most boys don't bother.” The last thing they hear is the boy complaining about how long it will be before he can start fucking again.
“Hey, look at all the pine branches, just like home.” Sol punches Kami's shoulder and they go look at a clothing stall. A wood sign proclaims: Authentic Styles of the Wildlands. “Look at the lousy workmanship on that leather jacket.” Sol complains.
“Yeah, and the trim, it looks more like rat than rabbit.” They exchange expressions of disgust and move on.
Farther along they find the Designer Scars stand. They watch a young woman baring her bosom explain to the proprietor, “I'd like a thin curved scar about this long,” she holds fingers apart, “above each nipple and three little ones below. Just like Fora's.”
Her slightly older friend opens her cloak so the scartician can see. “We can do that, no problem.” he says.
Fora suggests, “Why don't you get some around your belly button too? You know, maybe a star pattern like Sura at the flour mill has.”
The woman demures. “But she's such a slave to fashion and looks so passé with her petalled ears.” She decides against the star pattern for the time being. The scartician selects a small, thin but very abrasive whip, and expertly lashes the woman's breasts. The woman gives a sigh of relief when they're done. After carefully sponging the blood off the scartician applies an astringent. “Ow, that hurt worse than the whip.”
The scartician nods, “We'd charge extra for the pain but it's a good idea in any case.” He hands her a small jar adding, “Just rub some of this special cream on them for the next couple of days and they should ridge up nicely. Remember, if you're not satisfied we give free touch ups.” The satisfied customer gladly pays the proprietor. He then approaches Kami and Sol, “Would you be interested in some scars? We have all kinds of scars depending on the type of whip. Thick ones? Thin ones? Smooth or textured? Knife work too. What would you like?” He shows them some display tablets, “This year a lot of guys are getting flicked patterns of nicks spangling their bods.” Kami and Sol browse the designs. “Also, for those who don't believe that scars are forever, we have a special technique for six moon only scars. For active young men like yourselves scars can make striking body accents you know.” They keep listening. “They can make powerful personal statements.” After listening for a minute or so they explain to the scartician that they have enough scars already.
Then they both see it at the same time: The Ye Olde Gang Drug Store. They check it out. “Nirvana! We haven't done nirvana in years.” Sol sets himself up, “And look at the prices, they're less than half what we used to charge.” The storekeeper lets them try a little taste and they buy six tabs.
“Look, real cigarettes.” Kami exclaims, “I'm getting sick of that harsh Wildi baccy.” They buy ten. “That should last us a week.” They also examine the weed, sniffing it and burning a tiny amount. “Dogshit if you ask me.” Kami whispers to Sol who agrees. They ask if he's got anything better. The storekeeper assures them that it's the best there is.
They decide it's time they find a place to stay and ask the storekeeper. “Well,” he drawls, “there's the Yaki Inn for one. They usually got some nice hovels. It's the big concrete building about a mile east. You can't miss it.”
A large level area has been cleared in front of the old fortress and dozens of boys are practising kickglobe. Their play is much more disciplined than Wildi boy's and the coaches continually harangue and correct them. Spectators watch intently, call out encouragement to sons and scream protests condemning both boys and coaches. It hardly looks like fun and Kami and Sol shake their heads. Near the entrance a fat jolly storyteller is entertaining a cluster of children accompanying himself with a stringed box:
(THE KICKGLOBE SONG)
It all came together
For a legend true
It all came together
Where the Place finds you
It all came together
Kantrina's hands and leather
Bladder breath whatever
Making something new
The globe went a bouncing
And nothing was the same
The globe went a bouncing
An' became a kiddie's game
The globe went a bouncing
An amazing round thing
That went around announcing
Kantrina's claim t' fame
Kickglobe's a religion
Listen to the praise
Kickglobe's a religion
Hear the loud hoorays
Kickglobe's a religion
Everybody's kids in
All the moms are stitchin'
Kickglobe is a craze
Sol drops a coin in his hat and the jolly man thanks them. “Where did you come by that song?” Sol asks.
“It is an old kickglobe song that soldiers brought back from the Springface. It's seldom sung any more, the new ones are about teams.” Sol is sure it must be Peetil's.
Kami and Sol can't get their old hovel but rent a comfortable larger one nearby. The bedding's not too clean and certainly not as comfortable as the furs they're used to. But it's like old times as they cuddle and feel the pleasant mellowing effect of the nirvana overtake them. They're not boys any more. Their love is old, confident and rather familiar. The sex is lazy and drawn out, and after they share a cigarette, the perfect punctuation to sex.
Then they realize that they're hungry, very hungry and they go into the large Yaki Inn dining hall. It's crowded, mostly boys and many of them sweaty and stinky from playing kickglobe. A lot of them are with older men whom they may be sonning. The women are mostly clustered around the serving tables. Big tureens are full of a meaty stew, mashed potatoes and a variety of vegetables, some seldom seen in the Wildlands. What interests them most is the bread, big stacks of whitish bread that have them salivating immediately. The Wildis have only the most primitive milling devices and their bread is like a baked porridge. They load up on the bread, exotic vegetables and stew and generously sprinkle everything with salt. They find a place at a long table opposite two boys about sixteen and fourteen who introduce themselves as Adi and Lil Bo. “You guys sure must like bread.” Adi observes, “Don't you know potatoes are better for you?”
Kami explains that they seldom get to eat such nice bread. Adi wants to know where they're from. Kami replies “Up north.”
Lil Bo asks, “Is it safe up there, for little kids I mean?” Kami assures him that it is. “What about the Wildis? I hear they eat little kids.”
Adi butts in to say, “That's just for scaring little kids. You're not supposed to believe that after you turn twelve. And besides they only ever eat tiny babies.”
Kami decides to speak, “Well I never heard of them eating anybody, and I know a few Wildis.”
“Really?” Lil Bo's all ears, “What're they like?”
Sol answers, “Well if you put them in Arun clothes and taught them to talk a bit different you'd have a hard time telling them apart from us.”
“No way.” Lil Bo is not convinced, “What about their claws?”
Kami teases, “They can retract them like the mythical cat.”
Sol opens his eyes wide, “We could be Wildis for all you know.” They all go back to eating with Kami and Sol savouring the subtle flavour of the delicious white bread.
“Where are you from?” Sol inquires. “Karlemar.” Adi says, “You know, where Bolobo's from, they still got the tent over the birthplace shrine he built.” Adi stage whispers, “Lil Bo was named after him, you know.”
“Hey, you don't need to tell them that.”
“We been here a couple of years now. It's hard to find good dads in Karlemar unless you want to grow sugar beets. But since two of my dads were Yakis I was able to get a scholarship at the school here. It's not bad if you like kickglobe and martial arts, but they're pretty useless these days. They only got two games computers left now and it takes weeks to get on. It's OK, but you really need a good dad or two on the side if you want to learn anything interesting. Like Lil Bo's got one who's a tax collector.”
“But he still hasn't shown me how he gets to keep so much for himself.”
“Well don't let him have any sex then.”
“I've told you he's not interested anyway, he just wants to party and fuck girls. He just wants me to show off as his 'pretty boy' to impress his friends."
Adi is sympathetic, “I know what you mean. It's always better when dads want sex because then you got some control. I got this old general who makes me listen to war stories and how terrible things were. I'd sooner be fucked any day, but at least he teaches me a lot of neat things.”
“You mean that Karrull guy I saw you with at the veteran's reunion?” Adi nods.
“Is he still around?” Kami asks. “Yeah, most days you can find him at The Vodka Shack behind the Drama Dome.”
“Are you members of the gang?” Kami wants to know.
“Adi is, but it costs a lot to join unless you're good at kickglobe. But you get a lot of privileges.”
“I get thirty percent off on my hovel, which we share, and I get free admission to the Warrior's games. And you're exempt from some of the worst punishments like latrine duty and washing dishes.”
“Yeah, like at the Discipline Rites old Vidor always picks on the non members for the dirty work, unless you're a tyro he likes, in which case you get to be one of his chamber boys.”
“Do they still whip boys at the rites?”
“Yeah, sometimes quite a few.” Adi explains, “If you don't like the punishment they assign you, then you have the neomokratik right to be whipped instead.”
“Like me.” Lil Bo jumps in, “I chose to be whipped a couple of moons ago when they wanted me to haul chunks of asphalt and load them into the furnace. You also have to whip the next boy unless you choose more whipping.”
“Yeah, Vidor's pretty lazy and does things the easy way.”
“Is he still down on same age sex?”
“I don't know. There's something in the rules about it but you can have sex with anyone you want. Like that big brother/little brother bonding trip doesn't mean what it used to I'm told. It's just something they drag out for formal occasions.”
“What about initiations?” Sol asks, “Do you still get circumcised?”
“Oh sure, if you want to,” Adi says, “but it's not free like it used to be. I had to pay about half the going rate. But you have to be careful if Vidor does it or he'll give you a mozie.” Having finished dinner Kami tells the boys they're going to look up some old friends. “We gotta go son for a while, help some oldtimers party so they don't feel so lonely and old.” Kami and Sol invite them to drop by their hovel later. “We can't stay too late because we got things to do for the celebrations early tomorrow.”
Kami decides to look for General Karrull and they head off towards Revolution Square. They pass by what is more a house than a shanty with a walled garden at the side. Above the gate they see: MAMA HALOTA'S FAMILY EMPORIUM: The pleasures of parenting can be yours. “I bet she's the fertile we used to sell tickets on.” Sol exclaims. They decide to check and knock on the gate. A pretty young woman opens it and tells them that visitation hours are almost over and they need an appointment anyway. Kami explains that they just want to see Halota, that they are old friends. The girl takes their names and a minute later Halota appears and invites them in. She looks matronly gorgeous in a long low cut dress, tasteful gold baubles and her hair piled up in a huge bun. “Why Kami and Sol, what a pleasant surprise! I thought you both died in that awful Little Armageddon.” She kisses them both.
“It's a long story, let's say, but it's sure great running into you.”
“You've certainly become handsome young men, not that I wish that I were younger.”
After further pleasantries Kami asks, “How did you end up here?”
“After the fighting more or less died down, and there was no big need for soldiers and warriors, the funding for the breeding farms dried up. We couldn't keep them going with donations, the would be fathers and the visitation fees of kid lonely men. So pretty well all of us fertiles moved into Kalgoru and the larger towns where we could sell our breeding services and rent out the kids.”
“That's sort of like when we had that lottery going and what we did at the breach.”
“Yes. That certainly gave us some ideas. But now women are running things and not Bolobo and his crazy commissar.”
“What happened to The Mighty Dubyanus Breeding Farm and Nurturery?” Sol asks.
“Gone, completely gone. I think they're raising pigs there now. Two of our women used to work there but that was probably after your time Sol.”
“I don't think there's anybody I'd want to see. I hardly knew my mother anyway.”
“You're a bit late to see the house. Most of the customers have left and youngest children are in bed. But there's still one couple here.” In a comfortably furnished room they see a doting young man and woman in their late twenties playing with a five year old girl showing her how to arrange the blocks in a puzzle. Halota explains, “They come in after dinner every day to play and take care of little Prisa. They get along very well and they've already taught her the alphabet. It's almost time for them to leave and they'll soon be getting her into her pyjamas and ready for bed. I'll probably let them read Prisa a story if she's not too tired. Everybody's fascinated by children and wants to be involved with them. Sometimes I think children have become the main form of adult entertainment in Kalgoru. Gambling and vodka sales are way down. I hear the peasants are planting fewer potatoes and more cane for candy.”
“You seem to be prosperous.” Sol observes.
“We researched our market thoroughly and pride ourselves on being child focussed. We limit the children to no more than three sets of parents at a time plus one or two daddies for the older ones. In addition to their visitation fees most customers buy the children toys and clothes or pay for dancing and music lessons. There's just not enough children to go round. Most fertiles don't want to spend all their lives breeding and the birth rate is down. More and more kids are raised in families of only a mother and father now. Of course they're expected to share their kids with their childless neighbours. I heard of one fertile with four small ones she had neighbors doing all her cleaning and cooking, and waiting on her so they could be near her children. If kids don't like their home they all know enough to move on. There's a lot of competition for the kids and with few exceptions they do well. However there will always be a need for places like ours. We have three mother/breeders and eight young children here which is about the right size. Our fertiles try to keep the paternity of any pregnancy uncertain by fucking enough different men each moon. Otherwise they'll want to claim possession of the children and take them home, and we lose out on the rentals. I retired a few years ago and have just one child left here. I expect he'll soon be out sonning on his own. I have my pretty maids and hope never to fuck a man again.”
“Visitations are noon to early evening. Much of the feeding, toilet training and bathing is done by the customers. After the customers have established a relationship they can take the child out for brief excursions once or twice a week. They love it. Of course it's not like full time parenting which can be trying. Our costs are low and the children are well provided for. It's a very profitable business. The government, what's left of it, believes that family emporiums are a stabilizing influence on society leading to fewer domestic disturbances and less violence and crime.”
The Sun is setting behind the Western Alps when they enter The Vodka Shack, a dim, low ceilinged rubble stone structure decorated with parts salvaged from Before Time weapons. There are few customers and they soon find Karrull sitting alone in an alcove with a half full bottle in front of him. Sol remains in the background as Kami approaches. “Colonel Karrull, do you remember me?”
The general studies his face. “That ear… Why you're… Kami. I thought you were dead.” He becomes effusive, embraces Kami, weeps openly and fingers his torn ear. “I remember being angry with my men when they did that to you.” Kami is overcome in the presence of the man who once spared his life and blabs his gratitude. “You didn't know how I struggled. I was forsaking my honour by letting you live. I feared for myself as I rejoiced in my love for you.” The general insists that Kami have a drink and orders barbequed puppy snacks. They raise their genuine Before Time spice jars in a toast to maudlin fate. Kami has never tasted such smooth and potent vodka.
“You made me swear an oath when you let me live. I struggled with it while I could, until my cock became its price.”
“Honour is not like that Before Time concept of virginity, it evolves and can be regained.” Karrull listens to his story which Kami relates more as the tale of a refugee adapting, than one of a youth finding his home. “I heard about that commissar wanting your cock, and about the little brother who ran away to join you.” Kami introduces Sol as still his little brother and another jar is filled. “There were rumours you had a hostage but there were many strange rumours that terrible summer.” Kami doesn't mention about seeing him on the battlefield after. “I had a clever plan. I thought I could seize the entire Springface and force a peace on the Whytuns, I don't think any of the top generals wanted to annihilate them. I wanted to end the inane slaughter. We even had a few commissars with us. But the diversions got out of hand and both sides became desperate when their survival was threatened. I have what I believe the ancients called 'guilt', for setting off the most terrible battle within reckoning. My hopeful plan led to unprecedented slaughter and my grief was such that I almost killed myself. The only good thing was that both sides used up most of their remaining Before Time weapons. We had no more missiles and only a few hundred bullets left, and we could make no more. And the Whytuns in a curious final attack catapulted books at us, one of my officers lost an eye.” Kami laughs and explains their theory about the power of open books. “But it was the last real battle the nations fought. There's consolation in that and what followed.” Karrull pauses, takes another drink, and almost sounding nostalgic continues, “They still fight little battles at the upper strata, but it's more ceremonial than anything else. There are still warriors but since government stopped paying for everything few bother to arm and provision themselves for war. A lot more people get killed in kickglobe riots these days.”
“It wasn't until moons after the Victory Celebrations that year that the masses fully realized the extent of the slaughter at the front, and started referring to the Little Armageddon. In their sorrow they became angry, and as victims demanded free nirvana for the survivors. Neoclosure they called it. The Psychomaster, declared an outbreak of cognitive distortions and ordered all commissars to provide free anti-drug counselling. Few were interested and the funds for the mandatory program went neomokratikly astray. When Bolobo refused the victims' demands, the veterans stormed the gang fortresses and looted their nirvana supplies. The Revolutionary Guard with its own losses did nothing to stop them. And when the supplies ran out the veterans took over the factories and proclaimed a free nirvana policy, and it was cheap enough to be almost free for a while. Bolobo's treasury had already been bankrupted by bounty payouts and without money from nirvana he could barely afford to keep up his citadel. He announced a new creative tax collecting crusade and burnt a few books to ensure its success. The tax collectors prospered as never before and kept Bolobo in style for a few years, but then a tax revolt sprang up and they had to privatize the citadel to avoid bankruptcy. The gangs also had a very difficult time. Nirvana trafficking had been their main income. They canvassed donations, lowered their standards and tried to sell memberships. They sold tickets to the Discipline Rites, and for a while a number of proles came to watch the punishments, but they treated it as a joke which spoilt the effect.”
“And what about the Eternal Bond?” Kami asks.
“Bolobo left both of them both in the Drama Dome one day and rats ate them. And when they all died, some suspected varnish poisoning, there was a big argument over whether the rats were being punished or not.” The old general has another drink. “I suspect the gangs would have gone under if the kickglobe craze hadn't come along a year later. Once they started playing kickglobe the Discipline Rites were neglected, they could get five times the revenue from tickets to the games. And after each game there was usually a riot and more boys got beaten and bloodied than ever before. And then the proles formed teams and started besting the gangs and the riots got a lot bigger. Some think that boys were much better off in the old days, but there's no turning back. With the collapse of government chaos threatened. Some suggested that they should hold elections where people voted for leaders. Some claimed that's how the Great Derfuror and the Mighty Dubyanus came to be leaders but others disputed this. Some extremists even questioned if they were good men. Many suspected that elections somehow contributed to the demise of the Before, and the idea was dropped. Instead each proleburg and town holds lotteries to select their leaders 'neomokratikly' as they call it. Each place has two police forces, usually from the gangs, so people can choose which one they want to use.
Corruption is everywhere and has become so neomokratized that it's hardly worthwhile any more. It is chaos, creeping chaos, traditrional values are collapsing: There's no respect for semen any more, it's just another commodity. People swear oaths on anything these days, even books they can't read. I blame the women for that, just because they don't produce semen doesn't mean they can destroy old traditions. There is no order and discipline, it's neo mockery, if you ask me. Yet it all seems to work. But there is no place for eccentric old generals like me, or honour in the old sense. Engineers run the Springface now. It seems this,” he takes another drink, “is my only duty now.” Kami feels sympathy for his old master.
“And what about Bolobo, whatever became of him?”
“Bolobo? Oh he's still around. He's got more medals, ribbons and honours than before, all gladly given by the people of Arunland. You will see him tomorrow at the Victory Celebrations. He'll be giving the opening speech as always.”
“But what about Bolobo's Rule? And his power?”
“They're still there, they even found some blank paper to write them down on, but it's all been neomokratized, and comes in twenty three versions.” Karrull starts giving examples of inconsistency but soon his eyes close and he dozes. On their way back they pass by a fancy new house. A sign over the entrance proclaims: Nitpi and Plebar, Ruleyers “Make Bolobo's Rule work for you”.
Back at their comfortable hovel Kami sits in deep thought trying to make sense of Karrull's account. He can understand the old general's disillusionment and feels a little sad. Sol tries to cheer him up, stroking his neck and then his cock, and suggests they do more nirvana. Kami isn't interested, lights up a cigarette and gazes at the twisting smoke. Then there's knock at the door and Adi and Lil Bo announce themselves. The boys ask if they found their friends and relate the rather boring party time they had with the veterans. “They enjoyed themselves.” Adi begins, “After a little vodka we even got them singing and dancing, but then they got into all this talk about the old days and how terrible they were.”
“Yeah.” Lil Bo agrees, “It got pretty mushy, they practically mauled us, feeling us up and telling us 'dear boys' about how lucky we are now.”
Adi concludes, “I'm glad those ugly old farts didn't want sex.”
Sol the good host offers their guests cigarettes, “Tobacco?”
Lil Bo looks indignant, “That stuff is bad for you.”
Adi adds, “If you do it too much.”
They each take one but before they light up Lil Bo seems to remember something, “Show them what you got.”
Adi dumps some round buds of weed out of a small oiled bark pouch and holds them up to their noses. “It's wicked Wildi weed, not like the stuff the government sells.” Even Sol is impressed and the cigarettes are put aside. They leisurely toke, listening to the muffled sounds from the street and becoming aware of each other's bodily presence. “Do you guys have sons?” Adi asks.
Kami looks at the boy taking in his boyish beauty and replies, “At home we are dads to many boys.”
Adi looks at him with equal interest, “Do you want to get close and see what happens?”
“Yeah, those old farts got us pretty horny.” Lil Bo adds. There is much boisterous play, teasing and laughing before things slow down and when the boys get to see their cocks Lil Bo exclaims, “You guys was warriors!” The sex is fun for all.
After, smoking his cigarette, Adi remarks, “You guys are good. Where'd you learn all those neat things and sucking like that?”
When they awake the boys are gone. It's fairly late. After grabbing some porridge in the dining hall they make their way to the square where there's already a good crowd. A large stage has been erected where Bolobo, grey and obese, is sitting attired in an ornate uniform weighted down by a huge collection of medals, pins and bars. He is surrounded by four ageing guards with old bullwhips. He wears huge Before Time eyeframes with glass in one side. Kami turns to a young women beside him and asks about his strange frames. “Last year he had glass in both sides but he can hardly see anyway since he stared at the Sun seeking inspiration. After the Psychomaster went crazy he tried all sorts of things.”.
A few minutes later after four sets of little girls have presented His Supreme Justice with bouquets of flowers, loud chanting breaks out, BO LO BO, BO LO BO, BO LO BO, GO SLOW BO, HO HO HO, NO NO NO. Interspersed are other shouts such as, 'Show us your limpy, Gimpy'. Kami looking very perplexed turns to the young woman again. She glares at him, “Where've you been? Old Bo's been deaf for years ever since he tinkered with that Before Time bomb.”
Bolobo squints around at the crowd, “My fellow Aruns, workers, warriors and women, as I look around at all your familiar faces I am reminded of the struggles we have been through. And we must continue to make sacrifices for the race.” He pauses and taking a more somber tone he continues, “We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday. Oh deep in my heart I do believe that we shall annihilate the evil Whytuns and that day is soon.” Kami wonders if Quigli's still helping him with his speeches. “I have a dream. We shall reclaim our rightful heritage in the north, and I shall have my hunting lodge in the Wildlands.” He looks around at the adulatory faces. “Through all this we must remember to keep a place for cruelty in our hearts. We must cherish violence in our actions. We shall be victorious. There shall be one emperor for All Altamon.” Again loud chanting breaks out. BO LO BO, NO NO NO, NO MO JO, YO YO YO. After the crowd quietens Bolobo looks over the crowd seeking their understanding, “Once again my generals have let us down by bringing back less than a dozen war criminals to sate our thirst for moral satisfaction. I wish the good doctor was here to help us through closure. He always understood things better than me. I may have to bring back bounties.” He pulls himself together and with a fist raised calls out, “Let the War Crimes Trials begin!”
The first prisoners are brought forward and a clerk announces, “Three senior Whytun generals accused of plotting against our army, clearly a conspiracy Your Supreme Justice.” The three sexy young men attired in flamboyant uniforms plead guilty as charged and Bolobo turns them over to the Arunteen cheerleaders for closure. “They deserve an excruciatingly cruel and slow death appropriate to their heinous crimes against our peace loving nation.” The prisoners are seized by squads of frenzied young girls. Bolobo raises his hand for silence, “May the lucky girls who catch their cocks be blessed with fertility.” The prisoners are lightly lashed with feather whips and their ticklish squeals are screams of agony to Bolobo's ears. The stage becomes a stage and is made slippery with the blood drawn from the pigs, sheep and dogs being roasted for the feast. Justice is done and seen and heard to be done. The Whytun generals, fucked out from their sentences, join in the cheers at the end.
An exhausted Bolobo, waving fitfully at his adoring masses is helped from the stage by his guards as the crowd gives its final ovation. Kami and Sol smile at each other. The young woman turns to them, “You may despise him like the others, but how would you like to have all your food laced with nirvana and be exhibited like a freak a few times a year?” Kami and Sol say nothing and leave to watch The Pain Pride Parade.
Naked little drummer boys with cosmetic bruises are followed by older flute players brightly striped with blood red dye are in turn are followed by leaping, wiggling, stomping dancers, each exotically body painted to represent one of The Fifty Seven Varieties of Agony according to their banner. Kami thinks he can detect Wildi influences in their movements. Sol recognizes Adi among them, his blue tinged body, accented by brilliant pink genitals, nipples and lips, undulating in black plastic chains. He waves at them as he passes. Then Lil Bo shows up, “Did you see Adi? I helped him do most of it.” A series of carts representing each burb and various groups pass in front of them. Some contain black leather clad torturers displaying their whips and implements and are pulled by naked slaves lashed by linen streamers. Two carts hold huge ferocious effigies: the Great Derfuror and the Mighty Dubyanus. Another has dozens of children's bark drawings depicting the cruel tortures they would inflict on Whytuns. Parading along side the carts are cross dressed, garishly attired Whytun demons and monsters who provocatively tease the children with obscene gestures. At the end a 'Wildi Man' in scruffy furs darts about in a crouch, growling and biting into a pink cloth doll frightening little children who scamper away.
Adi will be joining them and while they are waiting for him to change Lil Bo asks them if they want to take in the WhipMart. Both are quite curious and ask him what it is. He explains that after the War Crimes Trials were neomokratized there were a lot of people, mostly old gang members and ugly women, who missed the old spectacles. “So some biznizmen moved in and niched the market.” Lil Bo goes on to explain, “A lot of peasant boys like to come and see the celebrations, but if their dads don't come through getting whipped is about the only way they can make the money.” He leads them around to the far side of the citadel where an area has been barricaded off. “It's not free, you have pay admission.”
Inside there are perhaps a hundred spectators and over a dozen eager candidates, mostly boys in their teens. Lil Bo tells them that if you want to whip one you have negotiate with him. They watch a couple of men, old veterans by their looks, whip two teen boys leaving them brightly welted but hardly fazed. Then a scraggly woman about fifty has a handsome hirsute young man tied to a whipping post and viciously lashes him. After when he won't agree to another twenty lashes without a generous bonus she bitterly complains. “I should have drawn blood, lots of it, and he hardly bled at all. It's these cheap crummy whips and it's not fair, I should at least get my money back.” She turns to the crowd with a look of disgust, gets little sympathy and stomps out.
There's a lull in the activity and then a stern old soldier proudly wearing his medals and ribbons leads a hesitant boy about twelve up to a group of candidates and asks him to pick out one. The boy who's apparently sonning the old man looks them over and selects a boy not much older than himself. A price is quickly agreed upon. The candidate strips and it takes a while for the boy to decide how he wants to do it finally having the teen's arms tied between two posts. The boy is handed a light whip and his dad explains the best places to hit cautioning him about going too high. The boy makes a couple of desultory swats across his victim's ribs and turns to his dad. “No. No. You're not using it right.” He takes the boy's wrist in his hand and shows him. “You've got to bring it way back like this and then strike as hard as you can using your wrist to flick it. In the good old days we learnt all this in nurturery school.” The boy resumes flogging the teen showing much improved form and basks in the approval of his dad.
Again there is a lull and a tall well built boy about sixteen comes up to Kami and Sol and asks if they'd be interested. Sol is not interested but Kami rather likes his handsome face, proud chest and clean cut look so unlike Wildi boys. The boy has a lovely sensuous, full lipped smile, and he partly opens his robe showing off his pale clear, sweat moist skin that contrasts with his black, short spiked hair. “You like to whip me?” He looks slightly hopeful and Kami is tempted.
“Why do you think I might want to whip you?”
“Ah, I seen you looking at me.” The teen pulls his robe back revealing his generous tumescent cock. “I'd sooner be whipped by someone like you than a little boy or a greybeard.
“Do it.” Sol encourages him, “We got coin.”
“But I haven't whipped anyone since you know when.”
“That was OK, wasn't it?” While Kami procrastinates Lil Bo talks to the teen, Buri, finding out that he's come all the way from the other side of Karlemar, and that they know a few people in common including Adi.
Kami looks into the teen's confident face, he really wants to whip the boy; he wants to lash his lovely, healthy, unblemished flesh and see how he takes it. This is odd. Always before he had whipped as play, part of a rite, or torture. And Sol because I love him. But just paying a kid for the pleasure of whipping him? All other meanings become stripped from the act. Because I want to. Just because I want to, and what a magnificent boy to whip. He could think of no reason beyond the sheer enjoyment of doing it. He asks, “Have you been whipped very much.”
“No. I was spanked a bit when I was little but not after the farm shut down and the school moved into town. I never got into whipping games like the kids in the Bolobo Club. But I always wanted to see the celebrations, and other kids who'd been told me about the MoneyMart, which is what they call it… But I've been watching; I know what to expect.” Kami likes Buri's spunky attitude as much as his husky pristine body. Kami asks him how much he wants and Buri demands double what each of the two teens received for a dozen lashes. Kami likes his bizniz sense and makes a counter offer. Buri won't budge. “That's how much I want.”
Buri appears relaxed as he looks back into Kami's eyes. Kami agrees to the boy's generous asking price but suggests six extra lashes, “to make it more interesting.” Buri accepts the challenge. The first lash sends a shudder through his body but his expression remains calm, almost amused. Buri remains composed for most of the whipping but is struggling to control himself at the end as Kami pushes him as far as he can. It's a good hard thrashing, blood blotches his adolescent torso but nothing injurious.
Buri looks at his painfully marked body and then at Kami, “I figure I really earned my money.”
Kami looks at him, “You did, every coin. You were great, I thank you.”
“It'll be a while before I forget it.” Kami nods and Buri smiles as he leaves to start spending his money.
An attractive young woman propositions Sol who's become aroused but hesitates before declining. After he confides, “It might have been interesting but it didn't seem right.” Kami keeps thinking about Buri, he likes and admires him, and briefly indulges in trivial infatuation before trying to put him out of his mind.
Adi finds them and they go off to the Drama Dome to watch the Sexiads. One of Lil Bo's friends is in the no hands event. They're just in time. A dozen naked boys from twelve to fifteen are standing around the edge of the stage. Vidor who's put on a lot of weight is running the show. “I want it to be fair, so during the competition I want the audience to be absolutely silent. Now boys, I want all of you to put on your blindfolds and place your hands on top of your head.” He checks to see that their eyes are properly covered while a dozen little girls, barely suppressing their giggles and carrying crow feather dusters, come on stage. “Several of you boys are not completely soft so to make things fair we'll make sure you all are.” The little girls begin tickling the boys on their chests, bellies and between their legs. There's a lot of muffled laughing and when all the boys have been totally soft for a minute Vidor calls out, “GO.”
The audience watches intently as cocks begin to rise. One boy is fully erect in ten seconds. Lil Bo points out his friend who's not far behind. Almost a minute passes and the tension becomes almost unbearable as the boys concentrate on ejaculating. Sol thinks he can see Lil Bo's friend's spasms starting when the boy next to him squirts into the audience. Cheers erupt, blindfolds come off and the losers finish themselves off by hand. The winner receives two free tickets to the next Warrior's kickglobe game, a rather small prize. Lil Bo explains “It's the honour that's important.” Sol notices the winner accepting money and suspects there was a pool. “Money's important too.” Lil Bo adds. Sol and Kami decide not to stay for the distance event.
The Feast has started and they join the hungry crowd devouring the roast pigs, sheep and dogs, and huge stacks of white bread. The meat while satisfying is not particularly tasty. Sol thinks the dog is too dry and chewy, “Not like the tender three moon puppy we have at home.”
“Yeah, and the pig could have used a bit more seasoning.” As they make their way towards the old Yaki fortress Sol recognizes a bakery down a narrow side lane. “I remember when I was sonning and I had a dad who'd take me there for their sugared berry buns, they were the best.” They decide to indulge in the delicacies of Kalgoru and order a dozen to go.
At a table they notice Buri with Adi sharing a pastry. Kami feels a rush through his body when he sees the magnificent boy he recently flogged. Buri casually announces. “It's the house speciality, crows liver and egg pie. I've always wanted to try it but you can't get it in Karlemar.”
Kami covering his surging emotions quips, “I'm glad you're enjoying the price of your stripes.”
“I'll remember this pie long after I've forgotten them… But it was hard at the end.” Kami knows how his body feels, a little nirvana would be nice, and he visualizes other possibilities.
Sol has never tried the pie so they order one for themselves. They categorize and enjoy the rare treat. Then Adi mentions, “I was telling Buri about those neat things you showed me and…” Kami sees Buri looking at him with a sly wistful smile. It's too much and Kami insists that they all go back to their hovel. Buri removes his robe. The eighteen dark weals crossing his torso and thighs can be easily counted. He shows them off to the others. Adi is a bit grossed out but impressed.
Sol notices a place where two weals cross on his chest and there's a tiny cut, “You might get a bit of scar from this.”
Kami takes a close look, “Licking would help. Do you want me too?” he asks hopefully.
“No. A little scar there won't bother me.” Sol tells him about rubbing in ashes to make it ridge up. Kami sees something of himself in the bright proud boy he whipped and enlightens and delights him with Wildi sexual tricks. He tries to not let his wild infatuation become too obvious. He thoroughly licks all of Buri's lash marks tasting his blood and sweat, sniffing his warm scents, and savouring his semen twice. Buri is a keen student. And Kami has not felt such passion since his early days with Sol.
And Sol follows the Wildi injunction to know and experience others, not only their minds and ideas but also their bodies. Adi has a good time, “I can't wait to show my friends!”
The next morning they head off to see the beauty pageants where Lil Bo is a contestant. On their way they decide to try out one of Kalgoru's famous chicory houses which they recall from their sonning days. They sit in the open front store sipping their brew and watch a vendor across road. A virile, bristly haired young man with a dark trimmed beard carrying a tray of small jars stops in front. He calls out, “Semen for sale. Fresh semen for sale. All proceeds for charity.” On the front of his tray they read: Kalgoru Charity Corporation: A Division of Mafi Enterprises. An elderly man stops and asks him what he has. “Plain and sugared, and let me look, my last jar of Saisonay Naturelle. The boys all swore they ate nothing but peppery corms for a week.”
“I hear that stuff is really potent, but it's so expensive.”
“True, but we gotta keep an extra eye on those boys,” the vendor explains, “and it's not just what they eat, customers have complained about the boys smoking tobacco because it spoils the flavour. You also gotta remember that all our semen comes from boys in their horny mid teens when the anti-ageins are at their peak.” The old man is tempted by the Naturelle. “Customers have been telling me that it goes real good with roast sheep too.”
“Maybe next moon.” The old man reluctantly buys a jar of plain, a more frugal hope for virility.
Sol turns to Kami, “Semen doesn't slow down ageing.”
“If it did I'd be younger than you.”
Then two young women and a man stop and want a dozen jars of the sugared. “You sure that'll be enough for forty drinks?” the man asks.
“You don't need that much if you just want to give the vodka a little body and take the edge off it, but if you want that extra sex effect you need at least that much.” They ask if there's anything cheaper. “Well,” the vendor informs them, “the dehydrated is quite a bit less but we only recommend it for baking.” They take the dozen jars.
Sol turns to Kami grinning, “Do you think we need any?”
When the vendor discovers they are not buyers he requests, “Maybe just a small donation? The boys have put so much effort into it. All the boys in the burb are donating their morning ejaculations to raise money for the charity so they can get uniforms for their kickglobe team.” Sol gives him a small coin. “If you know anybody with back pain, I've got just the thing, this special imported Holy Whytun semen. All the penitents swear by it.”
They head towards the Square along a narrow two cartwidth road lined with shanties and rubblestone houses. From a window above them a young boy waves to attract their attention and points to some writing on the wall below:
(SONGS OF THE SEMEN SELLERS)
Buy it from Dooey
Mine is really gooey
A single ejacujection
Does wonders for complexion
And that's no hooey
Take it from the flesh
Directly from the donor
When it's really fresh
Spurting from his boner
Buy it from Kolin
Mine is rather thin
Ideal for the over age
With its better coverage
On badly wrinkled skin
Buy it from Miki
Mine is very sticky
And with a little luck
It'll never come unstuck
But removing it is tricky
Buy it from Lil Bob
Just a really tiny blob
Boys' first squirts are extra sweet
So give yourself an extra treat
And eat it from my cob
Buy it from Armand
Mine is very bland
Mixes well in lover's potions
Use it for your nasty notions
I'm our no name brand
Patronize your local independent semen suppliers where freshness is guaranteed. Deep deliveries in all orifices a speciality. Keep your bucks in the burb. Don't get ripped off, boycott Kalgoru Charity Corporation products.
“You guys gonna come up?” the boy asks hopefully when Kami and Sol have read it. They're not interested but they toss him up a small coin anyway. “Aw come on, I'm horny and I'll give you a discount.” Sol explains that they're on their way to the beauty pageant. “Dooey's in the fifteen's contest, look for a kid with green spiked hair and a real long skinny cock, that'll be him.” They thank the boy and continue on.
When they reach the square they make their way over to the stage and find a good spot near the front. Up on the stage Kami sees his old dad Quigli at the judges' table looking much older with long straggly grey hair. The last dressed girl twelve is just finishing her act. She wiggles her bum making her skimpy grass skirt jiggle and casts a coy smile at the judges. A teen boy nearby remarks to a friend, “I'd give her a seven.”
“Wait 'til you see her do her nude dancing part, she'll be closer to a nine.” The dressed boy twelves are next and both are impressed by the clever scant costumes which accent the sexiness of their coyly moving and posing forms. Then the girl twelves come on stage one by one, and perform their erotic nude dances, smiling enticingly and fondling themselves. When the last one performs the second teen smugly tells his friend, “I told you her tits were real.” The boy twelves are slightly more interesting with much bouncing, flapping their cocks against their bellies, leaping and stomping and things that neither can remember Arun boys doing before. Most spectators are impressed by an acrobatic red head who performs a vigorous stomping dance working himself into a frenzy before collapsing on his back. Then slowly he raises his legs, gets into a shoulder stand and bending himself over briefly kisses his cock. He leaps up and bows. Neither Kami nor Sol are particularly impressed with the performances. Wildi kids are far better dancers.
They are watching a rather pretty slender boy with a huge curly head perform a well practised, slow and sensuous cock teasing routine, when Adi runs up, “Has Lil Bo been up yet? I got waylaid by one of my dads.” It's a while before Lil Bo appears, his pale flesh looking quite striking with its black featherwork accoutrements. A feather wig with long sideburns, a small feather goatee, and a small downy angular patch framing his perky pink cock. Black feather bracelets and anklets decorate and flatter his wiry body. His movements, poses and subsequent dancing are no match for his costume. After, Kami and Sol take the two boys to a chicory house for a snack and return to watch the fifteens and sixteens who are much more sexy, energetic and entertaining. Dooey does amazing things with his long skinny cock. The boys leave to attend to some dads and Kami and Sol wait for Quigli.
They help the lame old scribe down from the stage. He is delighted to see Kami, “I thought that might be you, there's not many ears like yours, but everyone thought you were dead.”
“It's a long story, and being as good as dead helped me learn to live.” Kami tells his story of finding his home in the Wildlands as the old scribe using his staff for support leads them down the road to his 'new home'.
“Ever since I saw you dance I felt there was some Wildi there and when you disappeared I had thought perhaps…”
“And it was my dancing, my Wildi dancing that saved my life.”
Quigli muses, “Well, it only enriched mine, which was nice. I've always wanted to see the original again. These new 'Wildic' movements and steps you see, and they are daring, are the result of clumsy third hand accounts. It's a pity the Wildlanders don't have travelling dance troupes.” About half an hour later near the river they come to a new rubblestone structure as big as four typical hovels and almost twice as high. Across the top is a concrete lintel inscribed with the words, THE PEOPLES NEOMOKRATIK LIBRARY OF KALGORU. “After Bolobo found that the smoke was hurting his lungs he lost all interest in books and I was able to requisition them. And when the Whytuns donated a few hundred more I convinced the Republican Guard that their job of protecting these powerful, magical and politically useful artefacts would be easier if they were kept in a special building. There are a minimum of two guards at any time.”
When they enter Kami and Sol look around at shelves of books and bundles, maybe a thousand in all, arranged by language. And then stacked on a table there are several dozen beautifully bound, deep blue copies of Hegemon Omnicorp: Annual Reports, none of which date later than the 2040s. “That is a project of my protégé, the most brilliant pupil I've encountered. She's just a young woman of twenty. She learnt to read in less than a moon and understands the manipulation of numbers. She's a better student than you ever were and she's mastered English to the point where she's teaching me things. And I believe she's figured out what happened. She may even be able to end the debate about what caused the demise of the Before. It's time we went on to thinking about other things. It's like the ancients used to debate the existence of a boss god and neglected other things. It's all there in the Hegemon Reports.” This is fascinating, and had they known revolutionary, news, and both are interested in learning more. “I'm not sure it matters any more. But best you let her tell you, her thoughts are clearer than mine.” Quigli calls his young assistant. He winks at Kami and confides, “She also dances magnificently, but not as good as you.”
An attractive confident young woman walks in and is introduced as Kaliya. “I'll let her explain what she found.”
Kaliya begins, “I imagine you've both heard about Hegemon OmniCorp. From their annual reports I have been able to get a picture of the Before in its last years.” She waits to make sure her listeners are following, “First, as the Trans Global Petroleum Corporation they essentially controlled all the oil. We're pretty sure that's the black liquid in the old road paving we mine for fuel. But oil was far more important than that. Almost everything depended on it. Nations fought wars over it, just as they do over water, and controlling oil required controlling nations. That wasn't always that easy. According to the old Trans Global reports some of nations were troublesome, so when they became Hegemon Omnicorp they set up a World Government Division and merged them all. This however led to marketing problems for WMD, the Weapons and Munitions Division, who prospered under the old separate state arrangement, so they countered by making a sweetheart deal with the Narcotics Division which had the largest military forces. Narcotics were promised control over a drug called Viagra which was also claimed by GMA, the Global Morality Agency. This Viagra was originally supposed have properties similar to those claimed for boy semen but then the GMA promoted it as an anti-immorality drug. Apparently it enabled men to have sex with partners that normally would not arouse them, in particular their wives of many years. It was believed to reinforce family values by reducing the need for men to seek more exciting partners. They expected that things they called prostitution, adultery and pornography would be reduced. They wanted Viagra and similar drugs prohibited for general use but mandatory for all married men over forty and those experiencing marital difficulties. With over a billion prisoners to draw upon and hundreds of millions of well armed guards the GMA refused to give up control.” Kami and Sol listen in rapt attention.
“The Marketing and Advertising Division, MAD, tried vainly to intercede but their budget had been cut to the bone by ROB, the Redundancy Oversight Board which some believed was where the real power lay. There were rumours of behind the scenes lobbying by uncapitalistic investors. And somehow something called child pornography, we've never been able to figure out what it was exactly, became involved. Then the World Health Division…” Kami notices Sol staring at the young scribe as if he were interested in more than her words. “Then the Narcotics Division tried to make a deal with some dissatisfied shareholders but…” Kami taps Sol's shoulder to see if he's all right and he looks around with a vacant expression. It's love “The problems first came to a head in the Shanghai Branch, which seems to have been better organized than most, when they launched a nuclear attack on the London Branch which was believed to be manipulating the price of drugs including something like methin and the potion Viagra. Towards the end the World Government Division made a desperate attempt to stop things, not that they'd had much success before, but it was like all the divisions really believed in what they professed to believe. The chief executives, perhaps out of fear, cut everybody else's budget to expand the WMD.” She pauses. “And there are no more records after that except for a note scrawled at the end of the last Hegemon Report: 'Nuke the bastards'”.
Sol comes to and exclaims, “That was really beautiful!”
Kami however is astounded, “You mean it was all stupidity?”.
Quigli nods wisely, “I'm afraid it's true. As far as we can tell there were no nations or even terrorists left by that time, just Hegemon Omnicorp. It would almost certainly appear that the Great Armageddonic War was a corporate civil war.”
Quigli serves his guests drinks, and while Sol breathlessly confers with Kaliya, Kami asks the old scribe what he thinks will happen. Quigli looks at him with a worried expression, “Some people are concerned about what will happen when Bolobo goes. Leaders could arise and order and discipline might spring up. The healers are doing the best they know to keep him going by making him drink a quart of boy semen every day. Some boys are certainly prospering as a result. I suppose it's all very neomokratik but I worry that the boys are not getting enough real sex.”
“Things are better however. You had a land without fathers, and the real mothers were busy breeding and enjoying the privileges accorded the fertiles. The children were raised by the farm staff who trained the boys in warrior virtues and patriotism. And the girls? Well, they were treated fairly well until their fertility was determined. The boys' fathers were seldom known although they may have had a few presumptive ones. The boys had themselves, and when they were older, dads. Leaders like Bolobo gave them a role and made them feel important. Without families men made better soldiers and the age discrepant pair bonds provided a base of asymmetrical intimacy for their lives. Men's hunger for family life was a means of control. The system began during the depredations of the Twenty Year Winter which produced ruthless leaders and billions of deaths. The two fertile areas could find clean well water for several years but the only abundant source was the Springface which used to flow into the rugged, barren western Wildlands and soon seep underground. Each side started tapping the water with long canals to the lowlands. Construction casualties exceeded those of the war in some early years. It was a perfect war, it was fought away from the lowlands, it provided purpose, it pruned the male population and weakened the status of women. The Little Armageddon and this neomokratization bizniz is like living in some hopeful might have been.
“And Dr. Lorcol?”
“Apparently he was secretly in love with Bolobo, and when His Supreme Justice became neomokratized he was heartbroken and went mad. He went around the city preaching the virtues of cruelty and trying to whip anybody he could. And then he started paying teen boys to whip him at the end of his speeches. People lost faith in the commissars after that. Then a couple of years after it began they found the Psychomaster with all these little statuettes of Bolobo stuck up his ass. The healers managed to save him but he has to wear a shit bag and has been on heavy nirvana medication ever since.”
While they converse Kami also finds it difficult to keep his eyes off the young woman, she is somehow more than beautiful. He feels something, but not sexual. Unlike Sol he has no reason to believe he can father children, and he has always preferred the charms of men and boys. But there is something about her, he sees some resemblance to himself in her. He looks at her long tresses, a bit darker than his own hair, It's like I can taste something, and suddenly he blurts, “I bet you got two moles on the back of your neck."
Kaliya's startled, “How could you know. I've never met you before.” Kami explains to his sister her Wildland origins and a bit of his own life. It takes a while for Kaliya to comprehend things but then tears of joy flow and she hugs her brother and caresses his head. Sol and Quigli stare in amazement. When she regains her composure she jokes, “Well I guess it gives me more class than just being a breeding farm girl.”
Sol seems more enamoured of Kaliya than ever. Now I know why I feel the way I do, it's the Kami in her. He tries to control himself but it's difficult, and he tells her adoringly, “You're beautiful.” which for a Wildi is very brazen. He wants to say, “I love you”, but that can be considered coercive by Wildis.
She looks at him and smiles, “We'll see what happens later.” Sol is smitten and for once doesn't particularly want to fuck, he wants Kaliya. But of course they fuck.
Kami is unable to acknowledge the full depth of Sol's new found love. There are plenty of boys prettier than Kaliya. But then she is his sister, an unaccustomed thing for him to have. However Kami has to acknowledge his joy in Buri; his body, person and mind. Love? But Sol is beyond this and appears to be in love, that ancient kind of romantic love, like the painful longing love he felt for Sol years ago. Sol surfacing turns to Kami, “I know she's your little sister, but she's not mine.”
“But you are my little brother.” Kami is concerned and confused.
Sol counters, “She's not some silly girl who would be the end of things.” They kiss briefly squishing saliva back and forth.
The four go out to eat splurging on sheep's eye soup and mule tenderloin at a famous old eatery, The Pink Hedgehog. The next day while Sol and Kaliya become acquainted Kami goes around to the markets and buys needles, thread, awls, punches and scissors to take back with him. Prices are half what traders charge. He also stocks up on white bread for the trip. When he returns Sol is excited, “Kaliya's thinks she's a fertile and she's fun to fuck and thinks I'd be a good father.”
Kami, feeling like a big brother, or a dad, cautions, “Don't get carried away and forget all you learnt in the Wildlands.”
They spend a few extra days in Kalgoru while Sol and Kaliya talk and arrange things. She wants to see the Wildlands and listen to Wildlanger as spoken there but must be back before the coldest moons. Sol is in the mythical Heaven. Kami spends his time with Buri, together they explore Kalgoru and each other. Their histories and secrets are revealed, and plans are made for the winter. Kami wants a son. Buri is a brave, bright and curious lad, and while he never thought he'd ever son a Wildi, he pledges himself to Kami. After they formally bond, exchanging fluids before Kaliya and Sol, Kami tells Buri that if he liked crows liver and egg pie that he'll love fresh warm rabbit kidneys with greenberry sauce and salt. Kami stocks up on white bread again and the four of them make their way towards the Wildlands.