Chapter 8

Administrator Herod Bonetti sat at his desk in his well ventilated office and pursed his lips as he rested his chin on his fingertips.

“I'm not sure what you would have me do General Marx.” He's listened to the Military General with great interest.

“All I'm saying is that those animals in the Pit are gaining celebrated notoriety and it's wrong Sir.” Marx said stiffly. “They've managed to weasel themselves into governmental circles, and I dread to think where else. Not only that, but expect to be able to do exactly as they please with no repercussions.” He pointed to Captain Pape who was now sporting two very shiny black eyes and a split over his nose, as well as a noticeable limp. “He's a Military Captain, Sir! The whole army is being made a mockery of.”

“General, I can no more intervene in a scuffle between two citizens here than I could if they were brawling outside of Nap's Tavern. As I said, what would you have me do? Downgrade the arena and the Pit to state prison status again?” Bonetti felt rather irritated at this seemingly trivial issue that General Marx insisted quite persistently in bringing to his personal attention.

“It wasn't just a scuffle, Administrator Bonetti. Captain Pape was on duty and that particular gladiator is the current champion.” Marx said loudly and Bonetti rose his eyebrows. “Yes Sir, no ordinary gladiator. You know what those people are like, they make icons of their champions. If their champion is allowed to run amok in a governmental Villa, of all places, then they'll follow suit. I'm sure you remember the siege of the parliament building a few years ago?” This 'siege' had been Blacklock and three other gladiators and that was all. They'd found it necessary to approach the parliament building itself, and in person, when their reports of three dead and rotting bodies that were dumped in the water reservoir in the Pit, went unheard for four days. The 'siege' went on for another four days because the government labelled the personal request a siege and therefore were not obliged to meet 'demands'. The absurdity of this was that no one but the Military were allowed to touch dead bodies, with the exception of identified gladiator bodies, until a cause of death had been established. Blacklock would have been jailed had he attempted to remove the corpses from the water supply. Not many could try and manhandle Blacklock away from anywhere and come out unscathed and two cadets and one captain had received minor bruises during the course of this incident. “Eight good soldiers needed severe medical treatment as a result of that. This is the reason those type of people were prevented from obtaining any sort of dependant job, let alone one that involves influencing others. They're a mob Sir and they always will be.”

“Are you suggesting that I go and remove this gladiator champion from his position?” Bonetti laughed in amusement. “Apart from the revenue we'd lose, do you really want the gladiators disbanded? Surely that will release them into the society you're so very concerned about. There again, they're all trained fighters, perhaps the Military is a natural progression.”

“Not even vaguely similar Sir.” Marx said in disgust and decided not to correct the Administrator regarding the arena champion's gender. “They need controlled, as they were before. We didn't get Military officers being freely assaulted when that slum was contained. They should be weeded out of our society Sir, and thrown back in with their own kind, where they belong. Let's face it, it wouldn't be difficult, they maintain ghetto status themselves for the Pit.”

“Marx, the number of ex-gladiators in our dependant employment bracket is so low that it simply wouldn't be worth the manpower. If they ever leave the Pit then the positions they take are in the service of established families or trades.” Bonetti yawned. “I really can't see why you saw it necessary to alert me to this. It's a skirmish. Your Captain isn't the first to be injured on duty and he certainly won't be the last.”

“We could make sure they understand that this sort of blatant thuggery won't be tolerated, Sir.” Marx said quickly. “Obviously seeking out all independently employed ex Pit-dwellers would be harsh and fanatical. If we make an example, Sir, then that rabble will know we're serious about this and this sort of unchecked violence will not be tolerated in the future.” Marx pointed at Pape again who nodded in agreement.

“Example?” Bonetti rose his eyebrows again.

“Yes Sir. The repercussions of apprehending the arena champion would be ... troublesome ... to us at this particular time. Apprehending a librarian, however, and making it known that such people are a dissident threat to Azoria if in these positions will re-awaken people's awareness to just how far through our society these rebels have seeped.” Marx glanced at Pape then back at Bonetti.

“The library on Blue Lane? The librarian is an ex-gladiator?” Bonetti said in surprise.

“He is Sir, and once a anarchist, always an anarchist. He should never have been offered such a position of employment. These people need to know that they cannot take advantage of our offers of equality and freedom and repay it by public displays of violence. The gladiator champion's outrageous behaviour towards my Captain has resulted directly in the dismissal of one of their kind from a civic job. The citizens of the Pit need to know this most clearly.” Marx said confidently.

“You do appreciate that I couldn't possibly make such a decision alone?” Bonetti said slowly. “If it backfires, we have a gladiator revolt. You do understand that I presume?”

“Sir, even with the entire population of the Pit out in force, the Military still outnumbers, out-skills and is obviously far more organised and efficient than them. We have the means to control it Sir, and we have a reason to. This librarian needs apprehended as a warning.” Marx said.

“Your suggestion has been noted, General Marx.” Bonetti nodded. He hadn't realised the situation in the Pit was such a threat, in fact he hadn't realised there was a situation at all. That was no good, no good at all. A Governor had to be in touch with his citizens, something that the current one certainly wasn't and that was leading to a decline in his popularity. Bonetti didn't see himself as an opportunist but after ten years as an Administrator he honestly did believe he was due a promotion. The people of Azoria needed to see something positive and the removal of disruptive factions in their society couldn't be anything but good. “Dismissed.” He waved his hand at the soldiers.

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