Full Name: Varies
It was a two or three day run to the arena, maybe longer if there was trouble on his path. There would always be those who thought they could gain an edge by eliminating the competition as they travelled. The Ulthar did not mind that – if you were weak enough or stupid enough to be killed along the road they had no use for you anyway. If the thought of being attacked while making the journey to the Great Contest made you nervous, then you would not last the first few minutes of the trials.
Cheraam was lucky to attend the last Great Contest. Ten cycles ago, his eldest bull brother had competed and lost. His brother was strong but slow, and besides, he had never really been in many scraps, too gentle by far to last in the crucible of the Contest. But Cheraam had learned from his brother’s mistakes. He worked tirelessly to train his body. He fought everyone he could in the surrounding plantations. He was faster, tougher and far meaner than his bull brothers. He would win his place or die in the dirt – that was better than slaving on the estates.
The elders spoke of days long ago when the people of Taurus V had lived peaceful lives wandering the great yellow grass plains. Those ancients had strived for artistic perfection and oneness with their community. In the old days a male that showed selfless concern for the tribe had his choice of females. Then the Ulthar Empire came from above with fire and machines, laying waste to the peaceful ways of the tribes. Cheraam didn’t believe it, concluding they were tales the weak and timid would tell to reassure themselves.
The Ulthar ruled Taurus V unquestioned, and demanded great tribute each cycle. The immense plantations were all that existed there now. Each farm employed thousands to work vast fields, raising crops for their masters. The best females were hoarded by the land owners or given to warriors who prevailed in the Contest. Every few cycles a plantation would fail to meet the quota, and then the Ulthar would rain fire from the sky and obliterate that land. That was the price paid for weakness. With each such Ulthar strike, neighboring landowners would claim the lost lands, working ever harder to appease the Empire.
For the majority of the natives of Taurus, the Great Contest was the only escape. Prove yourself a superior fighter and the Ulthar would free you from servitude and a cycle of misery. Higher in status above even that of plantation owners, warriors serving the Empire were given access to the best breeding females, taught the secrets of the Ulthar, and allowed to fight amongst the stars. If a Taurus trooper survived long enough, they retired home and were given a plantation of their own. Life in military service to the Ulthar was not easy, that was true, but to Cheraam it was better than toiling ceaseless under the yoke of others.
He had waited, and trained, for the ten cycles since the last contest. Six bulls from the plantation also planned to compete. They were swiftly dispatched, their bodies scattered around the back pasture where they had agreed to meet. Those others were weak and would never have succeeded. Only the strongest and most vicious fighters would meet the Ulthar’s exacting standards. Cheraam finished scrubbing the blood from his axe and set off down the road. His first task was done, and done well. Two or three days running, a few more weaklings trampled on the way, and he would be at the Contest. He would become one of the elite Shock Troops of the Ulthar Empire.