Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

“Listen to me closely, Commander, and form a visual. The beautiful naked Christian is lashed to the side of the mighty bull as it agitates in the stall beneath the arena. Hands scream for air as they are bound with braided leather to its magnificent horns. The Christian’s feet are roped and tied to a sash that loops the bellows that heave within the beast’s belly. A torment that enrages as it digs and rips at its groin.”

“Ouch, I feel that.”

“Focus, please, refrain from speaking, Commander. You can feel the surge of the bull’s fear and it ripples in shuddering waves and transfers from the animal’s hide and into the glisten of the Christian’s oil and herb slicked skin. It is a kind of tangible heat this fear, one that floats and lays thick in the air.”

The technician taps at the screen as an image melts and forms from the pixels.

“The Christian’s hair still carries the rich blooming scent of the spice they washed through it. But it is a scent that fails beneath the heady stink of the bull. Warm fluids purge from both as at once they sense the end.”

The Commander’s eyes flicker and roll back into his head and he bites hard at his lip.

“You hear the rolling boom of the crowd. The bull and the body are as one. Shapes and colours stretch as if melted and a drunken bewilderment slots in for their fear. The Christian’s form is exquisitely beautiful. A virgin chosen by men. Sickly old men employed by the Emperor, so eager were they to search out and make so his perversions. To find one so perfect, so young and so pure.”

The Commander’s breath shudders just behind his bit lips and sweat starts to gather at his flesh.

“Silenzio. You hear nothing but the beating of lungs within chests. And then, suddenly, trumpets open the doors at the top of the ramp and the bull thumps up and into the stinging glare of the day.”

The technician leans in and places a cold probe on the Commander’s shoulder.

“OK, Sir. Formulate this narrative forward to your conclusion and give me a final visual if you would”, the technician makes a clicking sound as he pulls and finalises an image from the Commander’s neural feed.


“What is?”

“Since introducing this particular narrative, a high percentage render the exact same image that you just did. A massive bull lays dead. Blood streaming from its mouth. A spear protrudes from his side. Skewering his heart. A beautiful woman lays naked. She, too, is dead and still bound to the horns of the bull. In a repose that could just as easily be framed as wistful sleep. No signs of violence, save for the bindings at her hands and feet. Her long red hair cascades and lays gently as it fuses with the animal’s blood and stains into the dust. Her breasts are exposed and a white pall drapes across her hips. Almost as if she is a lover about to stir. And the Emperor and his warrants, they look on. Detached. This is interesting.”

“You said that. We’re all the same? A collective. Bees in a hive?”

“No, it’s just I never mentioned that the Christian was a woman. Death and blood and sex. It is so interesting for us to examine these instinctive equations of your… how do you refer to them? Base instincts.”

“Fucking sentient AI. Who are you to judge me?”, snaps the Commander.

“We do not judge. It is you that painted the picture.”