By Rotwang (Zardreth@Cyberking.be)
Ram was covered in bruises, bumps, bandages and Band-Aids scattered all over her.
She was very good-looking in a roughly hewn way, with a stocky, but still feminine build.
She wore dirty jeans, heavy boots, a halter-top and a bandana over her long black hair kept in a simple tail.
With a piercing gaze, she watched the man slowly walking up to her.
She had been leaning against the wall and let her chair fall on four legs again.
"Ready ?" He asked.
"Sure !" She said and got up, following him.
He brought her to a room where a man in a white labcoat was waiting for her.
"Would you mind undressing ?" He asked.
Ram just gave him a cocky sneer and pulled her stained, blood-encrusted top over her head, freeing her well-shaped breasts.
"Ever had any broken bones ?" The man asked, examining a few scars.
Ram just gave him a big smile as answer.
The man raised an eyebrow and prepped up the scanner.
Ram felt ill at ease in the skin-tight bodysuit.
"Ah, Juanita !" A man called out as she walked in.
"I preferred to be called Ram !" She snapped, making the rotund man pause.
"Well ... Ram, I see the good doctor has your neural scans ?"
The doctor handed over a data-chip.
"Perfect, we can start preliminary tests." The man said, taking a cigar out of his pocket.
Ram shivered as the man put his fat, gold-ringed fingers on her body, but she kept herself from slamming her elbow into his face.
"We really need the WRGF title !" The fat man said. "The future of gladiator fights in the CSA depends on it !"
"And then you decided to cheat ?" Ram said, being as direct as her name.
The man smiled and lit his cigar. "We need a winner to rekindle the popularity, or sponsors will withdraw from the WRGF fund." Bluish smoke shrouded his multi-chinned face. "We can't have the Chinese hold the title for fifteen years !"
"So you thought a pit-fighter might be the answer ?" Ram said.
"You're not the first, you know ..."
"I heard it from one of your "suits", you got five fighters from the top league."
"One died and another is in a vegetative state. The others refused after that." He said.
"And so you figured that a poor little girl like me would fight for money ?"
"I've seen enough underground fights to know top-leaguers would never cut it."
Ram just paused as a door opened in front of them.
"Welcome to the World Robot Gladiator Federation !"
"Mr. Hoggs, Ram." A young woman in a designer dress and a designer body greeted them.
"Well this is it ! The Cybersuit !" She said. "Do you have the neural pattern scans ?"
Hoggs handed the chip over to her.
Ram watched what looked like a gutted and splayed Robot Gladiatrix. "Impressive." She said.
"Impressive it is !" The woman said. "It's our last hope to save the WRGF."
"So I heard many times over, am I not important in this equation ?" Ram said.
"I'm sorry, but we've worked so hard on it ..." The woman said and seemed genuinely annoyed.
"Let's test it !" Hoggs said.
"We need to test the suit so we can fit it to you personally and configure it to your specific mental patterns." She said and reached for a computer console. "After the testing we will program the interface and implant it into your brain."
Ram couldn't prevent herself touching the pad at the back of her neck, where the interface had been implanted.
Shari walked into the room and smiled with her magazine lips. She probably had picked them out of a catalogue... She was over fifty years old, but she didn't look a day over twenty.
"How are we doing ?" She asked.
Ram disliked her because she was rich and had lived a pampered life, while at the same time she liked her because she was open and honest.
Ram was naked under she sheets and Shari just blushed as she got up.
Looking over her shoulder and holding up her hair, she waited. "So ?"
Shari chuckled. "You do have such a beautiful body. Too bad it's full of scars."
"The scars prove I'm alive." Ram said. 'That I've lived !"
"I never had a scar in my life." Shari said and put her hand on Ram's back.
Ram dropped her hair and turned around.
Shari gave her her prettiest smile and held her hands to her body, but here eyes drifted over Ram's breasts.
"The plug's at the back !" Ram said.
Shari put up a cajoling smile and slipped her hands over Ram's sides. "Don't tell me you never fancied another woman !"
Ram recoiled and covered her body with her arms. "I was too busy hitting guys who couldn't stay off me."
"I'm not a guy." Shari said. "Why don't you try it out ? As women, we have the advantage over men, that we know what we really like."
Her hands were so soft ... Ram instantly put up her mental guard. "Just check my plug !" She turned around and lifted her hair.
"I may dream of you tonight ..." Shari said.
That night in her bare room, Ram couldn't sleep. It was the way Shari had touched her ...
She shifted her thoughts and tried to forget about the incident.
In a sense, she didn't belong in this world. She lived in the crowed, smelly arcologies, whereas Shari and Hoggs lived in mansions and belonged to the privileged few who never had to set foot on the ground of the sprawling city.
She then remembered her six brothers ... She quickly learned to defend herself, give back as much as she could taken and over time, even give some more. Fighting was her life, her whole existence ... Unlike the Top-leaguers, she wasn't a bodysculpted amazon, and she knew none of them would last five minutes in a real fight.
She got up and looked at herself in the mirror. She had a square build with slender sides, strong legs and a well-formed chest, with hard nipples from being punched all the time. Even without the many punches to her face, she had a rough, but striking face.
Light poured into the room.
"I dreamed about you." Said a soft voice ...
Ram turned around and saw Shari holding something in her hand.
"Mind if I go over that gorgeous body of yours ?" She said and her teeth shone brightly, although she was backlit from the hall.
Ram just watched her and walked up to the bed and dropped herself onto it.
"I promise I won't try anything you won't like." Shari said and approached her.
"If you try you'll never ever be able to." Ram said, still tense and defensive.
"Just relax ..." Shari dropped her nightgown and climbed into the bed.
It started just like a massage, Shari's hands going over, exploring, touching and probing.
"You're so tense." Shari said, rubbing over tight muscles. "Just enjoy it, flow along with it."
Slowly, Ram began to wind down. It was a massage like any other until she felt Shari shift towards certain parts of her body, causing a tingling sensation.
And then she felt a soft kiss on her back.
Ram just melted.
Suddenly Ram longed for that soft embrace, the warm touch and the gentle pleasure. Most of the sex in her life had been like a fight, short and brutal, but now Shari was putting a spell on her...
Ram felt confused. As if she'd woken from a long night of jumbled dreams and nightmares.
She had trouble focussing on anything, not even put up her guard.
Then it struck her that her sight was missing.
"Lights." She said, but she never heard her own voice. Let alone see the light.
By now her instincts were telling her something was very wrong ...
Ram wanted to put her guard up, but her body would not react, as if ... It wasn't present.
Suddenly her vision returned ... like a TV switching on.
"I'm sorry ..." Shari's eyes were red with tears.
Ram wanted to speak or move, but her body was still absent.
"Is she on line ?" Hoggs asked with a cigar between his bloated fingers.
"I'm sorry we had to lie to you girl, but the WRGF controls are so sharp they would have spotted you in a flash."
Ram was burning with anger.
"But after all, you're only a copy." He said and tipped his Stetson to her.
"I'm sorry, Ram. I know you're somewhere in there ..." Shari went. "But a braintap always kills the original."
Tear flowed out of her eyes. "I wanted to make your last hours happy ones ... I admired you, because you were strong with a will of your own." Her voice broke. "I'm sorry they killed you."
Ram was a ghost, the electronically encoded memory of a dead woman who had fought all her life inside a body designed for combat ...
"Just send her in." Hoggs' voice came over the interphone.
"I'm so sorry Ram !" Sheri hugged her. "Please forgive me !"
Ram was activated. Her mind blossomed into its full electronic potential.
Now given the power of movement, she looked down at her body, a gunmetal amazon. It felt wrong. The breasts were far too large, the waist too thin and the legs too long.
It was an idealized metal amazon's body, unlike her stocky old body.
Shari looked away as the elevator brought Ram up into the arena filled with screaming fans.
Her Chinese challenger was waiting for her. Now, Ram would only know battle as the perfect gladiatrix, the union of mind and machine.
But one thing was sure. Hoggs was going to pay ... And it would be painful, extremely painful ...