I don't think my fellow Clades in Rho Sector like me much.
I'm not sure why, but I suspect that I'm not "Clade" enough for them. I was built for the arena and there is a certain design aesthetic used for Lace & Steel Clades. We tend to be tall, fit, well-shaped, with a minimum of secondary animal characteristics. I, for example, have the tall tapering ears and thick tail of a fox, but virtually nothing else of the vulpine about me. Other Clades might have whiskers, manes, short claws, vertical pupils, or even fine pelts. I, on the other hand, look almost human.
It is as if I purposely have made myself look so. As if I am trying to become a human and have turned my back on my origins. I see the looks, the comments, and gestures. My fellow Rho Sector Clades consider me nothing more than a fur-suit, "Clade on the outside, human on the inside."
It is not a good thing to be despised by one's own people.
I don't know why I find it unsettling that other Clades would dislike me because of my appearance. I should remember the words of Bertrand Russell, "Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." And I, am not a member of 'the herd.' Perhaps things would be different if I had been created here in Angelus. Part of the exclusion, I think, is due to my Lace & Steel association. There is a perception that those of us in Lace & Steel have it 'better' then other Clades. That we have an easier time of it.
Nothing, in my mind, could be further from the truth.
We are made to fight. From the time of our decanting to the time we are broken down and recycled, Lace & Steel Clades do little else then train. We are taught weapons, styles, stances, and techniques. We have little social time and almost no personal freedom. We are property, with no rights and no say in our future. Sure, we are well-fed, well-housed, well-clothed, and well-attended medically, but we are also rented out as sexual companions, paraded about for the amusement of our human masters, and sent out to fight when and where they want. And if the clients want blood, it is the Clades who are chosen for the death matches.
Most humans in Lace & Steel are under very tight contracts, and must answer to their corporate sponsors as closely as we do, but they still have a few rights. We have none. Killing a human is murder, killing a Clade is destruction of property. And I have killed other Clades in the arena. I have even killed a human or two.
Plato said it best: "The measure of a man is what he does with power." And those with the power—the megacorporations—abuse their position and do whatever they wish, whenever they wish. It is the golden rule for the modern age—those who have the gold, make the rules. And I was one of their pawns.
I have tried to put my time in the arena behind me, It doesn't do well for one to dwell on the past. Once I escaped, I decided my life had begun anew, and the Winter Fox was, if not dead, best forgotten.
So, I will walk the streets of Rho. I will wear my uniform and carry my head high, and will ignore the looks and the comments. I will also try and remember what my commander told me—"We aren't normal people Chrysine. We're XSWAT. We do all of the ugly, dirty, messy, dangerous jobs that need doing, and no one ever thanks us for it. But we do it because it needs doing."
Officer Chrysine, XSWAT