APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 8 August, 1999



Part 2: The Toros

Scott R. Blow

[Note: Part One of this three-part article appears in Volume 1, Number 7. Additionally, Scott presents an additional Toro, the Javarite Bull, in "Eastern Suns Exotics" from Volume 1, Number 4 - The Creature Feature. -Ed.]

While the ancient Spanish matadors dealt exclusively with bovines, the "bullfighters" of Terra Nova contend with a much wider variety of opponents. Collectively called 'Toros,' these fighting beasts all behave differently, requiring a number of different strategies. Barnabies fight differently than bulls, and both behave differently than the savage bull springer. This diversity demands a flexibility in fighting styles that the Javarite matadors' forbears never needed. Consequently, it behooves the toreros to study their opponents and adapt their tactics.

The Barnabus Iguana is widely accepted as the least exciting toro. Despite their huge size and fearsome appearance, barnabies are extremely docile. So much so, in fact, that they must be injected full of stimulants and psychotropic drugs in order to provoke the aggression required for a good fight. Even when drugged the beasts are slow and cumbersome, making them less flashy opponents than the other toros. Barnabies are still enormously strong, however, and more than one incautious matador has found himself swatted down after straying too close. Barnabies are readily available and easier to care for than other kinds of toros, though, both reasons why the barnaby is still a common fixture in the arena. Bullfight officials have compensated for the relative slowness of the animals by pitting three or more barnabies against a single torero at once. This use of multiple combatants ensures a lively match for even the most jaded of audiences.

Bulls are the most common opponents. They are traditional and feature the optimum blend of agility and strength. Bulls are also reminders of Earth, making them especially appealing to homesick, backwards-looking shajhalin. The physical appearances aside, however, the bulls of the 62nd century have changed a lot from their pre-colonial ancestors. Gene-tailoring and selective breeding programs have made these beasts tougher and fiercer than ever. The triumph of the matador over the bull is no longer guaranteed; more than a hundred unfortunate toreros have died facing Javarite bulls in this century alone. Cunning matadors sometimes try to hedge their bets by bribing ranchers to file down the tips of the bull's horns. To the layman, the blunted horns are indistinguishable from the originals once they have been shaped back into points. This highly illegal practice, known in Equatorial Hispanic as afeitado, not only robs the animal of its chief weapons, but also interferes greatly with the bull's judgment of depth. The penalties for this crime are exceedingly harsh; after all, bullfighting is the state sport. Offenders, both the bribing matador and the rancher accomplice, can expect to lose one of their hands as a permanent mark of disgrace. In addition to this mutilation, they are left with a choice: fight an undamaged bull in their semi-crippled state or leave Javari forever. Despite the often fatal consequences (this is a virtual death sentence for the untrained rancher), most would rather face the bull than experience the life-long shame associated with exile.

Bull springers are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. As strong as an Earth bull, these over-bred springers are also the most vicious and nimble of toros. Deceptively fast for their size, only the most daring matadors ever set foot in the ring with a bull springer. Fighting these animals is strictly a 50/50 proposition; the matador must be carried out of the ring fully half the time. Bull springers are more than just the deadliest of opponents, however. They are the symbol of Javari: tough and volatile, uncompromising. Both the matador and his opponent are reflections of the best qualities of the Javarite people. No matter who is struck down in the ring, the Javarite people always triumph.

Coming Up: Part Three

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 8 August, 1999