By Robert Lynch
“Bring in the convicted.” The Judge looked over the notes of the case.
The large doors opened, and prisoner 06452-017 was led in by his chains. “Please, Judge,” the inmate pleaded, “This has all been a mistake!”
The Judge raised her hand, silencing the prisoner. “This is not a mistake. You have been found guilty, your defence was robust, and your appeals have been analysed and failed. This is not a place to re-litigate the facts; it is a place where you must face the consequences of your actions.”
“Silence.” The judge said. “You will behave with decorum in my court or the bailiff will make you.”
There was silence in the courtroom.
“Good.” The Judge said, returning to the cases paperwork. “Your crimes are numerous, and your guilt is certain. You have shown a pattern of behaviour that leads me to believe that rehabilitation is unlikely. You must be taken from society. You shall be sent to the arena.”
“No!” the prisoner tried to escape but was physically restrained and beaten.
“Pitiful.” The Judge said. “He will make a poor gladiator.”
From the courthouse, the prisoner was taken to an induction facility. Sedated, cleaned, and prepped for surgery; the doctors advanced upon him.
When his eyes opened, the prisoner looked down. He did not see with his own eyes. His body was robotic, more than 10 meters tall; a gladiator colossus. His real body was somewhere else, filled with electrodes and tubes, tied to a gurney. His new body moved the same as the old one. He got up and flexed from his fingers to his toes, testing each joint. He reached up and felt his head. He could feel the mane of fibres that poked out of his welded-on helmet. His hands traced the face through the slit in the ancient Greek style helmet. The contours were not of his face.
“Good, you’re acclimatising nicely.” A voice said. The prisoner turned and looked or the source of the noise. A man in a lab coat stood in a doorway to the prisoner’s right. He was holding a firebrand. “One last thing to test.” The brand jutted forward, and the prisoner stood still. He was a metal man now. How could fire hurt him?
The brand hit the metal chest of the Colossus, and the fire felt as real as if it was thrust at the prisoner’s chest. The prisoner leapt back in surprise and pain.
“Good.” The lab coat man said. “You first fight will be in a few minutes, prepare yourself.”
The prisoner tried to speak, but no sound came out.
“You have no vocal speakers, so don’t waste your effort.” The lab coat man said. “Remember, the feedback can kill you, so be conservative in your throws and vicious when you see an opening. And don’t think you can cheat us by trying to lose. The pain is real, but you won’t die. You’ll be hooked up to another colossus and fight tomorrow. We get a bonus for every fight you win; if we’re happy we’ll fix up your injuries between fights, if not you’ll be in agony for every moment of your existence, your choice.”
He bellowed in rage at the man and tried to attack Lab coat man, but the metal arms went straight through a hologram. “Good.” Lab coat man said. “You’ll need that anger.”
In neither rage nor pain did the Colossus make a sound.