Chapter 1

Everything must Begin

“There are times when I doubt the intelligence the Gods have given you Tuel. It is not healthy to ask all that you do. Mark what I say, that tongue of yours will land you in places not to your liking. Know you not the dangers you present? Can you not see what will happen to the like of you?”  Vite let out a breath when she finished. “I vow you will be the death of me, beloved friend.” She then gave Tuel a loving smile. “I state only what I know to be true. I do not want you to see harm.” She placed a hand on Tuel’s shoulder. “Here is not a place of forgiveness.” Vite whispered. Her eyes seemed to glaze over as she looked into the past. She was remembering Lani.

“There is nothing your words could have done for her Vite.” Tuel said consolingly. She knew what Vite was thinking of. Lani had been a beautiful woman; they always took the beautiful ones.  In their later years Vite and Tuel had earned the respect of the Dome. They had lasted long in the world around them and had privileges because of it. She sighed; she did not miss the days when she battled. She feared the only reason for her and Vite’s survival was because fewer women had stood in the way then. It was easier to defend oneself against ill-schooled chits. But now their battle days were over and their only reason for existence was for the training of the new women to come. Such a sad life they had in store.

“I know Tuel, but I was fond of her no less.” Vite looked at seven girls sleeping soundly. They had no fear, as of yet. There was still another shipment to come with a head count of ten by five she was told.  When they arrived the training would start, and then the hard life would begin.  “I hate what we know these girls will soon do to each other.”

“It is not something we can change. It never has been, my friend. This is their fate as it has always been.” Vite said, sighing. “We will do what we must when they come and hope they survive.”

“Very well Vite, very well.”  They sat in a comfortable silence for a time. Both were deep in their thoughts.  What the next day held they did not wish to know. The world of the Dome was not a place for softness and many of these women would not last long. None would ever see their homes again. The sooner they accepted that the stronger they would be.

That had been Lani’s mistake. She had always thought she would return home to her planet Foa and so she had not trained for her survival but merely to bide her time until a search party rescued her. It was when she realized the distance Cydria was from civilized worlds that she began to become careless. Tuel could not impart to Vite that Lani had been fighting in search of death. Home was where she wanted to be and the desertion of that notion depressed her. It was the last chink in her already failing armor. It did not take long before Lani, still achingly beautiful with her long flowing black hair and tanned skin was carried into the under-chamber where they slept, dead.  Her death served as a cool reminder that the Dome was all that there was for these girls.

It had become their homes. Dolph, Xiau, Foa, Lixen, Tirth, and Mence. These planets had no bearing to the girls now. Another lesson they had better learn quickly. The Dome was death knocking at the door. It was all really a test to see who could keep the door closed the longest. These girls had not the option that Vite and she herself had had. Scarcity of women and the Dome’s newness in itself were the reasons they had survived to become trainers. In the present day there was a replenishing supply of women and the warriors whom called Cydria home gave much to keep the Dome alive and prosperous. It was Cydria’s main profit and the Cydrians were not fond of the idea of losing it.

What disturbed Tuel the most though was the fact that a woman stood at the top of it all. Every battler of the Dome knew the face of Phera Lithe Mire. She oversaw battles along with the men of Cydria. She gloated at the stupidity of the women she had captured and basked in their deaths. Phera Lithe had a cruel beauty that was stark. Her coldness and fondness for pain had twisted her features into an almost unbearable beauty to rest eyes upon. But the men of Cydria loved her and found her unfailingly magnificent. They vied for her attention. It was their want to be her consort. What man would not want a woman of such pale, ethereal looks and turquoise eyes that seem to reflect all and see nothing? Any man would feel fulfilled by her side. She had not taken one as of yet but it was known that it was soon to come. There had to be an heir to take her place when she would leave. A cruel and just a coldly beautiful girl-child to follow in her mother’s footsteps. It sickened Tuel. At the age of ten by four she was an old woman compared to the young ages of women who were being chosen to fight. They seemed to get younger and younger.

Tuel sighed. She knew why their age was growing younger. Phera Lithe wanted highly trained girls to watch. In this way the battles lasted longer, girls survived for longer and she had more money. Some girls who showed exceptional promised where pulled from the Dome and forced to be warrior concubines or, worst yet, chosen to be in Phera Lithe’s army. She only chose the girls that had become bitter over their time in the Dome. She showed them false love and housed them in luxurious homes. They grew to love her and protected her blindly. Tuel knew it was not always out of pure compassion but the threat of being returned to the Dome. No one wanted back in after leaving and they knew if they returned their death would be forthcoming.

Yes, Vite and Tuel both were saddened by what the faceless unknown girls would have to face in this world. This world where men held the title warrior and boasted their prowess, but where women, with no title, except for amongst themselves, proved their prowess and were the real warriors.

The life to come for the seven and ten by five women was harsh. She only expected for twenty of the women to last to the next shipment. That was only a one-year away. A year of training and a year of battle. As they trained the shipment before them was using their skills to survive. When the new shipment came in another year Tuel’s new women would begin to fight. It was an ever-going cycle. The Dome was never free of fights.

Some women bested their year of combat and were chosen to leave and lead other lives while others stayed and died off after another year or two.  The way of the Dome was a short life span. The best way for a girl to live now was to last a year and hope to become a concubine or a foot in Phera Lithe’s army. Tuel hoped for more women to be concubines then in the army. She could not stomach them defending a woman who had sent so many to certain death. It was left to be seen. Tuel stood slowly, smiling slightly at her soar joints. It was good to be alive. She had survived the Dome; it was all she could hope for. The seven that had already survived one year had just a short time to try to get into the Phera’s good graces before they too would have only death.

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