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Ludus Gladiatorum of House Cronenii: Dacen Prime, Romulan Empire

Stardate: 53325.4

As the light from Dacen's dual moons reflected off the quiet sands of the training pit, Tigranian grunted under the weight of the fifty-five kilogram log across his shoulders. He had apparently earned enough confidence with his captors that the guards wouldn't immediately return him to his cell after the evening meal. While the other gladiators who had earned this privilege usually spent their precious free time cavorting with the female house slaves and binging on cheap Romulan ale, Tigranian had taken to returning to the training pit while it was unoccupied.

His pain and shame over the injustices he had suffered at the hands of Selonia still ran deep. Somehow, he hoped the exertion would somehow replace his emotional anquish with physical pain. Unfortunately, no matter how many times he squatted the heavy log down to the ground and lifted it again, he still felt that woman's disgusting touch on his skin. The faith that he would ever leave this hellish place and be free from his supposed mistress' whims was fading by the day.

Finally, his rage became too much, and he angrily threw down the beam with a hollow thud. He looked up at the stars, sweat pouring from his bare skin, and shouted at the sky. His cries echoed off the stone walls.

As the sounds of his fury were again replaced with the quiet chirping of the local insects, he listened to his labored breathing. He knew his wife was up there, somewhere among the vast blackness and shimmering points of light. He did his best to remember her beautiful face, and prayed that if she thought he was dead, she was at least carrying on with her life.

"When I first arrived, I used to come out here at night as well," Rellas' voice sounded from the stone steps behind him. Tigranian turned around and viewed his fellow gladiator step out into the moonlight.

"I don't mean to sound unwelcoming, but I would prefer to be alone right now," he said trying to feign annoyance.

"No, you don't," Rellas replied. "If you did, you would have returned to your cell."

Tigranian stifled a laugh. He still didn't know if he should trust this man or not, but he was the closest thing in the ludus that Tigranian had to a friend, and he currently needed all the friends that he could get.

"Whom do you look for?" Rellas asked with compassion in his voice.

"What?" Tigranian said.

"There is only one reason why slaves like us look to the stars. It is to try to catch of a glimpse of someone we once knew, on a world that once was ours before it was taken." Rellas looked up, scanned the horizon, and then pointed to a speck of light. "That one, there in the distance, is my home. When I was younger, I would spend hours speaking to it, hoping that my mother would hear my words and remember her son."

Tigranian paused.

"Her name is Laria," he finally managed to get out. "She is my wife."

"Then I pray to my gods that your love visits her heart tonight," Rellas said before adding, "for your people have not slain them yet."

They both laughed.

"And I pray that your mother receives a visit from your love as well."

"Did you and Laria have many happy years together at least?" Rellas asked. Tigranian shook his head.

"No," Tigranian mused with a slight pause, "but what we had together was enough to last a lifetime. If I can somehow find a way redeem my honor in this blighted place, maybe we will reunite in Sto'Vo'Kor," Tigranian turned to return the log to the corner of the training pit.

"Maybe you can find a way to redeem your honor and hold your wife again, Son of Tigranian. I told you, there are many here who would fight if given the chance." Rellas' words caused Tigranian to freeze.

"What are you suggesting?" Tigranian said crossing over to his companion. "That we rise up? Start an insurrection? That would be beyond foolish. You're talking about naked gladiators with rusted swords against an Empire with disruptors and starships. Our bodies would be vaporized before we made it to the front gate."

"Is that the attitude of someone who claims to follow this warrior-emperor, Kahless?" Rellas replied indignantly.

"Kahless himself said that the 'wind does not respect a fool!" Tigranian shouted. "Jumping into a fight without hope of victory is not honorable, it is vainglorious and stupid."

"Very well, Son of Tigranian," Rellas said turning back towards the stone steps. "Then live the rest of your life here with us in this place of pain. Watch your comrades die in the arena for the pleasure of the pointed-ears knowing that it will soon be your turn to be slaughtered as well. If you will not die fighting for freedom, than die as an animal. I will leave you with your wife."

Rellas began to descend back towards the gladiator cells.

"However, I warn you," he said suddenly looking back over his shoulder. "It gets harder to imagine them speaking back to you. Trust me, I know."

Then he was gone, and Tigranian was alone in the moonlight again.

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