The invitations to the Great Elevation have been sent. Wienner Brunshwarz personally ensured that they were delivered to the chosen ones. Twenty silver and ten gold invitations were read out in the utmost secrecy and the receipt was signed. A mere formality.
Silver invitations contained only the date and time of obligatory presence to watch the entire event and the clause of utmost confidentiality. Breach of the clause was punishable by death of the signee, their entire family up to two generations past and future as well as forfeiture of property. It was uncommon on Xome. In fact, every person, who received this invitation, hasn’t seen such restrictions personally signed by the Empress before.
Gold invitations, aside from the above mentioned clause, contained only the date and place to appear. These, in turn, weren’t a surprise for the invitees. Each person, who received a gold invitation was a witness during previous Great Elevation and had received a silver one.
However, one thing was a surprise for almost every person, who signed for a gold invitation. It included information that offered a choice they didn’t expect. You could choose not to come to the Great Elevation. This, of course, had its consequences, however, they weren’t as terrifying as those for the breach of the confidentiality clause. The alternative was deprivation of nationality of the Empire of Revived Blood and instant expulsion from its territory, infamy and ban on returning. At least, you were awarded 24 hours to prepare for that instance and your family and property were safe. Of course, the confidentiality clause still remained in full force for life.
Over the next 23 hours five people left the territory of Xome in their private shuttles. Four of them, before they left the moon, realized that they weren’t able to contact their families, however, that didn’t affect their decision to flee. The fifth person, a woman called Yama Kokato, formally didn’t have any family. She decided to appreciate the generosity of the Empress’s offer and sold as much of her property as she managed, which was almost 70% of her assets. On such short notice, she was able to receive only 20% of their factual value, which was still enough to start a new long and good life of an affluent person in another place. That is if she was capable of holding her tongue but she had learned to do that a long time ago.
Everyone else arrived on time.
At the end of a technical passage of water treatment circuit on the lowest level of sewers located under a giant theme park in the city of Karatzella there was a door with a biomedical reader. Each one of the five stood within the reader’s reach and then entered a technical elevator that was behind the door. Once they were all inside, the elevator started descending. Four hundred meters lower there was a corridor they had already seen through the „eyes” of cameras, when they were watching the last Great Elevation.
There were ten doors along the walls of the corridor, each with a name of one of the participants. They entered their rooms. They were familiar with the preparation procedure. You do not forget something like that. Even if you’ve seen it just once, seven years before.
Gela Molnar, the only woman among the five participants sat down on a low platform in the preparation room. She stripped herself naked and took a long five minute shower. She showered with real water that was about to enter the city’s circuit for the first time. It was a luxury even she couldn’t afford very often earlier. She went out of the shower and, still wet, approached a small white table. She grabbed a knife that was there. It looked exactly like the ones in standard military equipment.
With a quick flick she cut the skin on her left forearm. The cut was deep. Just like she had predicted and planned before. Blood started streaming down her palm and fingers onto the surface of the table. It formed a quickly expanding puddle on top. She didn’t know how much blood she had to sacrifice but she knew it was necessary to level the playing field with all the participants. It seemed to her that she lost about half a liter before she heard a click coming from a drawer under the table top. She opened it and grabbed a cauterizer that was inside. She quickly pressed it against her wound. It burned slightly when the device was sealing the cut, mending her damaged veins and skin, with directional discharges, but she held back the grimace of pain.
She leaned on both her hands against the table top. With her own blood she painted her lips and nipples. She picked up the knife. Her skin was still a bit damp after the shower. Staggering, she moved towards the door that opened on the other side of the preparation room. A transport pod that awaited her there took her to her starting position.
Seven years earlier she watched the chosen ones struggle in the technical passageways. This time, they were going to fight in quite a large partially natural cave with artificial walls of various heights. There was only one light source in the middle of the ceiling and it ensured visibility reduced to a few meters.
She knew her rivals, of course, although she thought there would be more of them. Last time she watched a fight between seven candidates. This time there was just five of them. Her - Executive Director of M&G Water Company, Kienzolo Ckhao - President of a construction company, Enenzi Rybaczek - owner of Manao Lights that did visual framing of sporting events, Khanadaki Su - boss of a food processing plants network and Pawel Q. Reev - brokering of surrogates hire. Surely each one of them, just like her, spent a lot of time over the past seven years learning knife fighting techniques.
A hologram lit up in front of her starting position. She suspected that the same thing was happening at her rivals’ posts but she didn’t notice any glare coming from other parts of the cave. Empress Aina’s image appeared in front of Gela. Aina was as naked as her and she was staggeringly beautiful.
- Welcome to the Great Elevation - said the Empress. - You are familiar with the main rules. The only difference is the place. Apart from a knife, each one of you has a flashlight. The flashlight has an off switch, however, if you press it you can’t turn the light back on. - At this moment Gela noticed that the flashlight that was lying at her feet, that she just hadn’t noticed earlier, turned on.
- In this competition there’s only one rule. Only one of you will come out of this cave alive. As a reward, the winner will have the honor of participating in something they will never forget, it will be a chance to experience a pleasure available only to the legendary heroes and immortals. Hers or his fate will become inextricably linked to mine for ever. I officially declare this competition started.
The hologram disappeared. Gela picked up the flashlight and shone it towards the ceiling of the cave. She turned it off and quickly closed her eyes to adjust them to the darkness as quickly as possible and began a short mediation to induce combat trance.
Her instincts didn’t fail her. It wasn’t until ten minutes later, when the first opponent, lured with her flashlight, started creeping clumsily. A quick stab in the neck did the trick.
Two hours later she was standing in front of her last living opponent. She killed two of them herself. Khanadaki Su was also holding two knives in his hands so he must have killed Pawel. However, there was a stream of blood flowing from Khanadaki’s stomach and it seemed he couldn’t stop the bleeding. Before they got close to each other at a fighting distance, she bowed deeply and respectfully.
A few seconds later it was all over. Covered in blood that wasn’t hers, she stepped onto Su’s transport pod that lit up after his death. It was located in the middle of the cave. A swarm of drones set out to clean the competition site. The pod lifted her up and floated into a corridor above her. Gela Molnar didn’t drop the knives from her shaking hands as she didn’t know what was still in store for her. This is when the transmission from the last Great Elevation she had participated in as a viewer seven year ago ended.
The pod entered a hall of a large lounge. The only piece of furniture here was a low bed with Mother Aina resting on it. Above her, fixed to the ceiling, the corpses of four men were hanging. The corpses were still dripping blood. On the bed and the Empress.
- I know what you want to do - said Aina - but before you do that you have to satisfy me. As you can see, I’m unarmed and alone. I guarantee that no one else apart from you and me will enter this room.
Gela threw the knives on the floor and approached Empress Aina. She stared pleasuring her with her blood stained fingers and her tongue. She could feel the drops of dense blood dripping from the ceiling. She watched the Empress climaxing from her touch and from every drop of blood that fell right into her mouth.
To her amazement and terror, Gela Molnar, Executive Director of M&G Water Company, was so turned on by this gruesome scene that she had an orgasm as well.
Afterwards, when Aina was lying exhausted under an already scarce shower of blood, Gela picked up the knife that was lying by the bed and slit Aina’s throat. The Empress didn’t fight back. Gela started weeping and fell asleep.
When the Empress’s body stopped spasming, drones flew out from the walls and took her corpse through a round door that opened.
When Gela woke up she was clean and naked. There were no signs of the butchery that had taken place. Lying next to her was Aina, clean and naked with no visible wounds.
- Hello Gela Molnar, my lover - said Aina - thank you for helping me achieve another Great Elevation.
- But… you… I…. - Gela was unable to articulate her thoughts.
- Hello Gela Molnar, my lover, Great Elevator, new Deputy Minister of the Environment - said Aina and smiled at her coquettishly.