Remember how I said that after all that gladiator training, a big tough guy like Darren needs to be worked hard physically if he's not to become bored and rebellious? Wow!

Gladiator training worked and trained everything so we could fight. Our trainers were smart so we didn't have to be. But once Darren got some meat back on his bones, he wanted to train dumb -- BIG lifts for his pecs and biceps, lots of pullups for the traps. He tried to cheat his way back into gladiator shape. He hated working the supporting muscles that he needed to rebuild. He'd overtrain and then snarl and bitch at days of light weights and the stationary bike. No transverse abdominus that holds the core together (keeping the small of the back on the ground at all times, extend or lower the raised legs as far as possible). No rear delts that support the shoulders (prone, lots of little lifts). Not even legs and hips except dumb, heavy quad work. NO flexibility, no injury resistance, no muscle anaerobic or aerobic endurance, no muscle tone, no cardio, but he looked good, just standing there. He was a squeeze toy. He'd never survive a match, let alone a labouring job.

I tried to explain. I wasn't just a Marine. I was a Recon Marine. That means Reconnaissance. We jumped into problems we didn't know were ours until the President told us. Then we cleared enough territory and bad guys to make a patch for the ordinary Marines. The Army might come when our guys had stuff half-controlled. Anyway, the reconditioning I'd had to do way too often was way tougher than Reconnaissance. Reconnaissance was fun; reconditioning was work. Darren hated reconditioning but I had to help him get through it.

We had a really dumb scene. I asked (barked, really) if he'd rather be back at Phillips with Jason, and he said he did. That was a better life -- food, fun, training, gym, pool, pool deck for tanning, locked in a cell with Jamie every night. I had to agree that gladiator was easier and more fun, except that Jason prostituted and abused him, that Phillips took money to cripple him and throw him away, and that I'd rescued him. He was mad at being a crippled ex-gladiator, trying to become a construction labourer, and all he saw was me. To get his attention to help him back on track, I borrowed the gym manager's cane to give Darren six, something I'd sworn I'd never do. (Remember I took 12 rather than cane Jamie.). Darren bitched and tried a swing at me. But I'm a bruiser, remember, so I decked him with a good gut punch. I bent him over, told him to keep holding his ankles, and kept my non-cane hand on his back for control -- and reassurance. Darren snarled and his look would have killed me, but after the first jump and double repetition he stayed down. We would learn to harness his struggle for self-control.

That night I had to explain it to Jamie and Luke. We didn't have the usual master-slave relation, which usually worked okay, because I was a slave when Jamie and Darren met me. When Jamie asked if I'd cane him too, and I said I would if I had to, things stayed tense. I bought my owner's cane (a light one, lighter than the gym's, way lighter than the school's), to go with my trainer's tawse. Darren had one more scene, with 12 (plus four extra to stay down), before he started acting smarter.

I tried not to be a bully. I know the difference between a civilian spotter (he lifts the last couple grams or ounces) and a slave-trainer (he drives you to your own last couple kilograms or pounds). Your adrenaline and endorphins do it, and my body missed them. That's why, even training hard and smart, I'm in worse shape than when I was a gladiator. So I cleared it with the manager that when no owners and not many slaves were around, I could strip off the shirt, hand Darren the tawse, and get a real workout.

Now Darren was ready, and Doc's operation worked just as he said it would. Darren worked hard and smart at recovery. Catch with medicine balls, ladder work and rope-climbing, laps in a pool that would accept slaves -- and heavy squats, stretching, and weights.

When he could run again (in the industrial compound, not on public roads) I took him to choose his free-man running shoes. I trained with him, starting with easy walk-jogs, then strides, intervals (repeat 200 metres up to 3,000 metres, with walk or jog breaks), lots of hills, 5-km and 10-km race-pace runs, and long, slow runs. I started leaving the tawse behind. Finally he could race me at 5 km and 10 km distances. I made the stakes that the winner chooses whether to flog or fuck after a 5k -- both after a 10k. Finally he could catch me. Our gym work and our running both improved.

We both shaped up great. Luke and Jamie started looking at me better, too. So did contractors, at the pickup depot, but I didn't bite. Darren was almost ready to go to work with the other guys. He chose his work boots and broke them in running. I started running in my old combat boots, to keep up. We both collected the stakes. I enjoyed real, competitive, motivated, man-to-man training again. I'd missed it.

But that weekend!



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