“Life Aboard Ship”

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

Star date: 190623-I haven’t spent as much time on this as I would have liked to but I am choosing to post now rather than wait two weeks when I return from an “Island” job. There is no internet where I’ll be working, though I will be doing some limited blogging on my cell phone. “Enjoy” this bleak story – it is what my heart is showing me these days.
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“Maybe what I really need is sleep, he said to himself. A sort of twilight of living, with only the background sound of Beethoven audible. All the rest a blur.

No, he decided; I want to be! I want to act and accomplish something. And every year it becomes more necessary. Every year, too, it slips further and further away.” (A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick)

I awoke, as does everyone sooner or later, aboard a strange craft, a ship that sailed through emptiness, bound for nowhere; a ship that would never find a port of call or ever crash on any shore. I knew this long ago, although no one ever spoke of it. In the daytime, the closest non-ship entity one could see was, of course, the sun. At night, if one happened to be on deck, one could see the stars out there, forever out of reach, the ship never getting any closer to any one of them. Sometimes one could see the moon, and although much closer than any star, or sun, it too remained aloof, at an unreachable distance.

One did not board the Ship, one was born on it and was automatically made a member of the crew. Everyone on board was crew, no exceptions. What you did as crew was determined by others and their perceived, claimed or stated needs.

Since Ship itself was quite automated, there really was nothing to do as far as sailing it. So crew served crew until that was the only thing that anyone knew how to do. The more people were born on Ship, the more it all became self-serving, with those who became leaders demanding more from their underlings. Of course the underlings had to find ways to please their masters so they learned to delve down into Ship to find resources that could be made into objects that would please or titillate the masters. Most of us became resource extractors, all to stay alive, some to seek promotions.

I don’t know the exact day, but an idea came to me: what was the point of all that? Who were we all, why were we on Ship and where were we going? I stopped my drilling, much to the annoyance of my partner, and sat down to think about this.

Where did I come from? Nowhere. Where was I going? Nowhere. What was then the point of my existence? There was none. Even if I found the strength and motivation to fulfill and surpass my quota of diamonds; even if I finally got a promotion, I would be old and near death by then. What could I expect then? Nothing. I would cease and my body would be thrown overboard, as all were except for the Captains and other rich and powerful who had themselves encased in crystal caskets and buried with much pomp and ceremony down the empty shafts of what had been our most productive mines. The shafts were then sealed and commemorative plaques put on the entrances. I leave the question with you: how much better off were these rich dead than the dead flung overboard?

Although I would become one of the outcasts, I left the mine and went up on deck to feel the noonday sun and the wind; to hear the waves beat against the hull and listen to the endless sounds of people everywhere talking, laughing, crying, cursing, praying, cheering and some even singing. These people were, in a sense, alive, but what is life without purpose except to satisfy the immediate, to seek a bit more pleasure or to avoid punishment for any and all reasons? It seemed to me that they were simply going through the motions of something they believed in, not as happening now, but as some sort of hope that it would happen by and by.

I do not need to tell you that there were many varieties of official and quasi-official beliefs aboard Ship that most people adhered to. The gist of those beliefs was that one’s soul would go to another ship once separated from one’s dead body and life would be vastly improved in that new place. The new masters would be benign and merciful… of course.

I asked myself why people believed such things when no one could furnish any evidence of their truthfulness? There was a simple enough answer: why not, when life on Ship was general misery and pointlessness and there was nothing better to believe in? If nothing came of it after one’s death, one would be none the wiser. Meantime this bit of hope made life’s tenuousness, fear and misery a bit easier to bear. It was a simple mechanism grossly exploited, of course, by those who pretended to know about life after death. 

Without dependents being an outcast is not as bad as it sounds. You can use your skills to help others and be paid back in food, clothes and temporary shelter. Survival is not difficult when one has been toughened in mining for diamonds deep in the lower bowels of Ship. On deck at least there is a pretense of freedom; there is fresh air, water can be skimmed from water barrels, left-overs and discards can be looked through before they are incinerated or recycled.

Thus I lived the later years of my life and thus I discovered a new ‘connection’ to Ship. It came to me gradually that Ship was talking to me, had always been talking to me but the people noise had blocked Ship’s communications from my mind. Now that I had more freedom I could, and did, move away from people whenever possible and in relative quiet I heard Ship.

I hadn’t known that Ship was aware of what the people were doing on board and in particular, how they were damaging Ship by their greedy delving for ever more esoteric ‘resources’ below deck and down, down, into its deepest accessible bowels. Ship’s voice was sad.

‘You are killing me,’ she said to me in an old woman’s voice, ‘and when I die, you will all die too. That should be obvious to as intelligent a race as yours but somehow your lack of purpose has deadened your understanding of cause and effect. Where are your logicians? Where you philosophers? Where is your empathy? When those things die, you die. No intelligent, sentient and self aware species can guide itself without logic, philosophy and empathy.’

What happens now, Ship?’

‘Like you I am going to die. My lifeless hulk will continue to haunt this orbit for millions of your years. Perhaps, in time beyond time I will return and bring it back to life again so I can be another ark. Perhaps.’

‘Everything, everyone, on board will die then?’

‘Yes, everything.’

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]
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[begin blog post #58]

That night Tiki is angry.  Not at me, she knows nothing of my intercession to get her to work kitchen duty, but at the men. 

“Damn them, damn them, damn them!” she mutters in that hoarse whisper all females learn to speak in from the time they utter their first words.  “I be fighter, not gorok!  I train with weapon, not clean dirty bowl and sweep floor for dirty cooks.  Damn them!”  

A ‘gorok’ is a particular class of female worker slave who does the most menial type of kitchen work.  She doesn’t cook, or even serve.  She peels, grinds, husks and cleans, cleans, cleans, endlessly.  Her “shifts” have no set times.  She is up hours before anyone else, warming up ovens, washing utensils and cleaning counters and floors.  She sleeps, when permitted, during the middle hours of the day and of the night.  She is up late into the night cleaning, locked inside the kitchens with sensors ready to set off alarms if she walks outside her perimeter.  A slave of slaves.  There is usually a round the clock complement of eight of these goroks in our kitchens.

Because Tiki is my slave, she is allowed out of the kitchens at nightfall to spend the night with me.  I had hoped otherwise, but I can redeem this time, I think.  I fully enjoy her outburst.  There is fire in this one.  Not hate, not pride, just pure fire.  She has a dream, a vision, however short: to be the best fighter ever to grace the arena.  To beat my record.  I can tell.  Now to blend patience and humility into that fire so it can never be doused, whatever happens to the body of this woman. This one is going to develop into a true mind being, I can sense that already.  I have three years to prepare her to become a hero to the women of her world.  That’s sufficient when one has good material to work with.  It is my turn to do my hoarse communication.

“Come Tiki,”  she rolls between my legs and cuddles against my body.  “You be fine.  You no gorok.  You be fine fighter, best fighter.  Say you this every day.  Pick up broom, it ‘staff’ for you.  Sweep husks and peelings from floor like opponents in arena – just dust to Tiki.  Strong is Tiki.  Mongoose shaking cobra to death.”  She nudges deeper into me, her hair tickling my throat and begins unselfconsciously sucking her thumb.  I take her hand gently and pull the thumb out of her mouth and offer her my nipple instead.  She takes it greedily and smiles at me.  Haven’t I been here before?  Beware Antierra, the snakes aren’t all outside in the coarse grasses at the edge of the desert!  They be hissing from the very walls that contain you.

Wars aren’t won in a day.  They take planning, patience, courage and finally just the sheer gut of the fighters to win them.  Tiki does not take kindly to her new life.  From kitchen duty she is shifted to cleaning the straw in the cages and then to sweeping the yards and washing the blood on the flagstones where some of the women have been “punished” for certain infractions.  In this past week we were made to witness two “punishments” to the death, one of an older fighter whose owner cancelled his contract and condemned her to the next killing orgy.  She was put into a private killing orgy for the trainers, a bit of fun approved by the overseer.  She was led to the centre of the yard and  armed with nothing but a standard training staff, was viciously set upon by six trainers until they had managed to break several ribs and one arm.  When she could no longer defend herself they crushed her skull.  When she died they cheered and toasted their victory.  Old king Jestor would have been truly proud of these men.

The other, a trainee who had a nightmare and did not shut up in time when one of the women tried to awaken her, was flogged to death for breaking the rule of silence.  We watched, listened to her screams and pleas for mercy, her dying moans.  We heard the standard warning, returned to life as usual.  What I would give, had I anything to give, to enter the auto-medic and be given the heart of an android, or better, a heart of stone.  To not feel.  To not have to endure this suffering planet.

It is the way of it… and I cannot help feeling.  To cry?  To curse?  I glance at the bloody, pulpy mess hanging from that steel torture pole I know intimately.  I wonder why it is not I who is hanging there.  I imagine the life that was there, that is no more.  I sat next to her yesterday at morning meal and she smiled sadly at me under her eyelashes.  Well, maybe it is me there because I realize I cannot curse.  If I cannot curse, then I have incarnated all of it.  Each time another dies, I die two deaths: hers and mine.  Malefactus is a neuro-inductor and I am attached to its probes all the time.  

Under the wan light of Albaral coming through the openings in the high black stone walls Tiki and I talk in our cage as we nestle against each other enjoying the mutual warmth of our bodies.  Menial labour brings anger and shame from Tiki.  She is afraid they want to demote her to the rank of goronda, the general purpose female worker drone.  “Damn them!” – her favourite expression towards men in general.  That fire is burning dangerously bright.  The wick needs trimming or the flame will smoke up the glass and obscure the vision. 

I study my feelings for her as a hawk watches his prey moving unawares, feeding peacefully in the grasses below his perch.  I must let her take all of me she needs yet refuse to ever let her possess any of me.  I know how to do this, I know I can do it, but do I have the willpower?  How does an older woman not lose herself in those black pools of sadness that pass for eyes in such children who have never experienced childhood?  Creatures destined to die before they experience adulthood?  What does that make them?

I try my best logic on her.  “Tiki, listen me.  I good fighter, yes?”

“Yes sir, you best fighter.  All women say you best.”

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

“Trust.  Believe me.  You think me true to you?”

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

This is extremely dangerous ground.  Who in their right mind wants to be believed by someone who will put her life at stake for what you tell her?  I speak slowly, pitching my voice so she can get every word, every inflection – the tone of voice to them being much more meaningful than the words used to convey it. 

“Good you believe.  But careful you be not believe everything I say.”  She tries to speak and I put my hand on her mouth.  “Wait, I finish, I explain.  I know things you not know.  Things good for me.  Maybe not good for you.  You, me, different.  You listen – I say – you try.  If work for you, is good for you, yes?  If not work for you, is not good for you.  I not know if good for you.  I guess.  I have vision.  Like you but is my vision.  You have vision to be best fighter.  Good vision.  I have different vision.  To be best woman; to be good woman.  I not good woman Tiki.  Good fighter only.  But man can be good fighter too, better than best woman.  But man cannot be good woman.  I have what called “exclusive” vision – be special. 

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]

Gimpy

(A short story, by Sha’Tara)

I was starting my third grade year when I got to know a scrawny first grade little kid with large beautiful brown eyes everyone called “Gimp” or “Gimpy.” I just want to quickly write up how it was we actually met, I mean to talk to each other.

It was lunch time and most of the kids who didn’t go home for lunch gathered in one large room of multi-purpose usage. There were tables and benches and the odd older desk too for those who liked to sit alone and perhaps read, or draw. Remember that was a while ago, even transistor radios didn’t exist then!

I had picked one of the old desks because I wanted to continue reading a book I’d just got my hands on: Treasure Island. It promised well right from the beginning and I was eager to find out if Jim would get to go sailing.

I had opened my lunch kit and was inspecting my food when there was a bit of a commotion. A scrawny kid was being called names and laughed at. One of those at the ‘bully’ table called the kid over, dangled a chocolate bar in a wrapper in front of him, then threw it down the aisle. The kid raced after it, got it, tore open the wrapper to find that it had been stuffed with dirt.

Amidst the jeers and laughter, I looked at that kid’s sad, confused and disappointed face. He saw me looking at him and realized I wasn’t of those making fun of him. He carefully put the chocolate wrapper still filled with dirt into the garbage can and limped over to my desk. He stood there and I saw his eyes grow even bigger as he eyed my lunch.

I may have been only eight years old but I came from a large family and I knew a hungry look on a kid’s face when I saw one. I asked him to come over and sit beside me, then I offered him half of everything I had packed for myself. The kid ate every crumb and I realized that he was starving. So I gave him more and kept less. I felt, I dunno, something warm and good and powerful rising inside me as I watched him devour my lunch. I didn’t even feel hungry anymore.

We became friends, and I think he sort of adopted me as a big sister. So I decided to help him with his school work as well. He was, from my point of view, terribly slow. Obviously he’d never been shown how to read, write or even do simple arithmetic at home before coming to school. In fact, when I asked him his age, he reluctantly admitted he was also eight years old. He looked no more than five.

“How come you didn’t come to school when you were six like the rest of us then?”

“My mom said it was too much bother and she couldn’t afford to buy me new clothes, that school was useless anyway. So I stayed home and on the street until a lady called a social worker came to see my mom and after she got some clothes for me, I came to school. Is school really useless, Deena?”

“No it isn’t, Gimpy. School is like being on a holiday where you get to practice your imagination, you get to learn things only adults would normally know, and when you know how to read, oh boy, all those books, all those amazing stories you can make your own, like you can accompany those people in the stories, become one of them, play along, have endless adventures.”

“Why doesn’t my mom know this?”

I had no answer but to admit I didn’t know. My own parents loved reading all sorts of stuff and they made sure we would not be kept in the dark. I had learned about measurements from reading labels on cans and bottles. I had already tried some recipes printed on the back of cereal boxes. I knew how to tell the difference between several ‘medicines’ stored in the bathroom medicine cabinet, as well as those stored in the milk house to be used for the cows, pigs or chickens.

A couple of weeks after I had gotten to know Gimpy I had to miss a day of school. After school Gimpy came to my house crying, his jacket torn and with a terrible black eye and split lip. My heart raced when I saw that. Even more so when he told me that the bullies had assaulted him at afternoon recess and beaten him severely.

“What about Sister Blanche? Didn’t she see what was going on, or heard anything?”

“I dunno. She watched, didn’t do nothin’.”

“Did nothing… Oh, never mind, let me fix you up as best we can and we’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

As I remember that day, so many years ago now, it wasn’t one of my best days. I wanted to be a truly good person. I never wanted to get into any kind of trouble and certainly did not want to get involved in a fight with other kids, particularly bullies. But I knew I still had to confront them. After all they had assaulted my ‘little brother’ and this was a blood thing from my point of view.

I kind of started it wrong the next morning when I waylaid the chief trouble maker who had assaulted Gimpy with, “Hey chicken shit, are you so scared to take on someone your own size you gotta beat up a little kid?” And I walked right up to him, sticking my face practically in his. “That’s unfinished business you left yesterday and I’m here to make sure it is finished so you’ll know not to mess with us.”

That was the trigger. He threw down his books and came at me. Now I may have been a girl but my dad had taught me a few fighting tricks of his own, some of which he had warned me never to talk about or brag about. He taught me about men’s particular weakness down there between their legs and I saw my chance to test that particular move. Needless to say it worked like a charm. When the others saw their leader down on the ground moaning and crying, they not only backed off, they ran.

I suppose that would have been that except a sister of those bullies went to tattle to Sister Blanche who immediately stepped over to us, grabbed me by the arm, pinching as hard as she could and made me stand by the blackboard in front of the whole class. When all were settled she ordered me to bend over her desk and she certainly didn’t hold back on the strap. When I yelled that “they” had started it, I got more, so much I couldn’t sit straight the rest of that day.

I didn’t cry and swore I’d get even, not on the bullies, I knew they’d stay away from me and Gimpy from now on, oh no, my aim was Sister Blanche. Whatever was her problem I’d make her pay. And I did, though not in any way I had thought possible if quite impractical. What I needed was something practical, and that’s what I got, from a very practical source: my mother.

After school (and after I managed to give the evil eye to Sister Blanche) I took Gimpy home so I could do a bit of sewing on his clothes, and put more salve on his shiner – that left eye was almost shut by then. It happened that mom had come in from the fields and of course wanted to know the story behind the black eye. So I told her, and Gimpy haltingly told his own version, without embellishments, including my punishment at school.

I should tell you, my mom has a fiery temper. She doesn’t “take any shit” as dad would often, and proudly say and she’d tell him to “shush George.” She didn’t say anything but I knew that she was brewing something up; I heard her and dad talking later that night.

Chores done, lunches made and time to head for school and here’s mom, in her Sunday best outfit, holding the door open, then walking with me to school.

“What’s going on, mom?” I asked and got the predictable answer,

“You’ll see.” And that was it. She went in with me and stood at the back of the room until the kids were settled at their desks then walked up to Sister Blanche and stated, loudly and clearly, “I want to have a talk with you, Sister. Now, and no excuses. Either right here in front of your class, or find us an office to talk in. Just know that I’m in no mood for games, savvy?”

I liked that “savvy” the way she said it. It was like reading a novel. I was so proud of her at that moment I swore to myself that I would become just like that some day. Anyway, Sister gave the class a reading assignment, put an older girl in charge and she and my mom left the room.

Sister Blanche came back a while later and let me tell you that if looks could kill, I’d have been six feet under and Sister Blanche in prison for life! I didn’t feel uncomfortable though. I gave her the same look right back, you know the kind when you feel that palpitation in your eyelids? The danger look full of hate and anger? It was at that moment that I realized Sister Blanche was just as much of a bully as those who had beaten up Gimpy. I grew up a lot that day!

That had been a Thursday and when Saturday morning was well engaged mom told me to get dressed, that we were going to see Gimpy’s mom. I was surprised but not terribly. Mom did things like that. If she had her mind on doing something it got done, (case closed as I liked to add for myself). That was mom.

When we got there, we had to bang heavily on the door to get an answer. Gimpy’s mom (who seemed too young to be a mom by my standards) stood there, holding on to the door, bleary eyed and her hair a total mess. She didn’t smell clean either.

“Where’s Gimpy?” asked mom.

“I dunno. It’s Saturday, innit? He’s probably roaming the streets looking for stuff.”

“You mean looking for something to eat, don’t you Violet?”

“I feed him. I got food here.”

“Yeah? Let’s see what you have that your kid could eat and live off of then.”

“Not today, I just cleaned out the fridge yesterday. I was going to go shopping today.”

“But you spent the money on booze, didn’t you, Violet? Look Vi, it’s none of my business what you do with your own life, OK? But the whole village is talking – not that those hypocrites are any better – but you’re going to lose your boy sooner than later. My daughter here has been seeing to getting Gimpy food at school, but that’s not enough. We could do more, but where would be your responsibility? By the way, I need to know your kid’s real name, Vi. What is it?”

“It’s Vidal. Don’t say I told you, and please, oh please, don’t call him that, he just hates it.”

“I don’t blame him. OK, at least I know. Now is not the time but later this afternoon I want you to come over to our house for tea, and I want for you and me to have a very, very serious talk, OK? You were a good girl not so long ago Vi. You babysat my kids and did a great job. It’s never too late to get back on track. If you don’t, Gimpy will be taken away from you and there won’t be anything any of us can do. Deena and Gimpy are very good friends and I’d hate to see them separated. Promise you’ll come?”

“I promise I’ll come Mrs. Bennett, I promise.”

“Good. I have a few dollars here for you to buy some decent groceries. Do something good for your boy, it’s high time to make him proud of you just as my kids are proud of me, if that makes any sense. Go shopping, hold your head high and ignore the snotty noses. Right now you have one thing in your favour as far as I’m concerned: you’re not a pew warming hypocrite. Not much but it’s something to go on. See you later.”

We walked home together, mom and I, and I held her hand as if she’d been royalty and I’d just been adopted. That kind of pride. And she taught me a new word. She said, “there’s a name for people like Sister Blanche and that’s a bigot. She thinks Gimpy’s mom is a bad sinner because she doesn’t go to church and she ‘entertains’ on her own. That’s why she didn’t help Gimp. You don’t ever want to be like that Sister Blanche.”

That was my mom. That was the shining light of humanity I swore to myself I would learn from, and I did. My mom didn’t actually die, she just moved inside me where I had left a big part of my heart for her to live in. She is there still.

I need to finish this, so here goes. Violet, that is, Mrs. Atkinson did choose to become responsible and raised her boy properly from there on. Gimpy became Doctor Vidal Atkinson, now retired. Sister Blanche was transferred halfway through that school year – she was not regretted by anyone, and isn’t it sad to not realize when one’s character is faulty and needs changing? The ‘bullies’ grew up and did change their characters… I even dated a couple of them and we had some pretty wild times. When my dad was dying, his last words were, “Don’t take any shit, Jane” as mom sat by his bedside crying and saying, “It’s so hard all of a sudden Todd. You were my life, my whole life. What will I do now?” But he passed on without an answer for her, or me.

And me? Well I’m still Deena Bennett and I’ve been sort of a writer of stories and tales and of the stuff that any observing person can see. Some of us just know how to put it in words so that others can also remember. Have I been successful? That depends. I was there for Gimpy and how many lives did he save as a good doctor? I grew a heart big enough to accommodate my mom and I and quite a few Violet type strays over the years. I never had to beg for anything.

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #57

(Continuing with the saga, now back in the slave quarters with their usual, unchanging conundrums – or are they really unchanging, or dare I say, unchangeable?)

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.
[end blog post #56]

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[begin blog post #57]

Chapter 26 – Tiki Tells a Story and An’Tierra Remembers

As the daily treatments of ice-cold water on bare flesh in pre-dawn light causes shock and exhilaration at the same time, so I put my mind through this process.  I do my mantras against fear and for total detachment.  Each morning I push Tiki away from my body and close my heart to her sounds and scent.  She is doing everything in her child-woman power to seduce me to be mother and lover to her.  I am doing everything in my power to give her all she really needs that I can give without falling into the temptation of ownership.  Quasi-legally, because the men decree it so, she is my slave until they (or I) decide otherwise, or until either of us is killed.  I could kill her myself and nothing much would come of it, except maybe I’d have to reimburse her owner (if she has one yet, there is no way of knowing) by taking an extra turn in the arena. 

The lives of females are the cheapest commodity on Malefactus until the betting starts on a fight.  A young trainee without reputation and without an owner has no value at all.  She may earn some points through sexual performance but that’s shaky.  Most of these men, the trainers, handlers, blacksmiths and male nurses or medics aren’t that interested in “performance.”  They just take you when they feel a need and discard you, often with a slap or a kick.  Romance is not their strong point.

Tiki has already been gang-raped twice during her voyage to Hyrete from her segregated crèche in a fortified village in an independent principality east of the kingdom of Elbre and south of the Union of Estáan where she was raised from an infant.  The trip by foot, using male slaves as baggage carriers, took over four weeks of difficult walking through soft and shifting dunes.  There were twenty-four young females when the trek began.  Twenty three arrived in various degrees of exhaustion from starvation, dehydration and physical abuse at the compound in Hyrete.

The soldiers who accompanied the trek to guard against raiders decided that each night they would have a sex orgy.  So each night a couple of the girls were forced to perform erotic dances for which they had not been trained and were then raped repeatedly.  Some were otherwise abused.  One cried out under torture and was killed after they finished with her.  According to Tiki, the soldier guards were drinking heavily and mixing chakr in their brew.  Under the influence of the drink, they mixed the forbidden drink using the dying girl’s blood and chakr.  Then they took pieces of her body and cooked themselves a “sacred” meal.  I’d heard a similar story from Tiegli so I have no reason to doubt Tiki’s account of that ghoulish march.  For these girls the slave compound in the great keep of Hyrete would seem a reprieve, a place of safety… until they find out otherwise. 

There is yet no such place on T’Sing Tarleyn for any woman.  What, you may ask, constitutes a “safe” place for a woman, in any society, on any world?  I would say from personal experience it’s a place where a woman is safe without having to rely on anyone else, especially on a male, to protect her.  Ideally, wherever a woman happens to be, that is automatically her sacred, inalienable and inviolable sanctuary.  In any situation, any role, a woman is approached only by her permission.  Only when she clearly indicates her sanctuary is open can another walk in to “touch” her.  That is how I see it now.

Yes I know Tiki desperately needs a mother figure in her life.  She desperately needs love and protection, however tenuous, from an elder.  I know I can provide some of it for her, but I want her to find it on her own, within herself.  The only place of comfort and safety here is within one’s heart and mind.  There is nothing that can help you outside of yourself.  Nothing.  That is, I realize belatedly, the true “lesson” of the stack worlds, regardless whether they are on the “light” or the “dark” side of the balance equation.

I brought this knowledge with me here, of course.  It’s something all Altarians know, a basic natural awareness.  Tiegli discovered this before she died.  The “Concubines” or twins already know this.  Perhaps the Cydroids also, although their minds do not function like ours so I still do not know how they perceive their reality in relation to natural humans. 

Now Tiki must learn it for herself.  I must allow her close to me while keeping my anti-emotion shields up when we are in contact.  I begin by approaching my handlers and complaining that Tiki is too much of a distraction.  She needs to be occupied.  I address Delton, overseer of handlers.

“Speak sir?”

His gaze sweeps over me with a rather neutral and tired look as I stand with head bowed.  “Speak gora.”  It’s the ritual opening.  A reminder that has lost much of its meaning over the years I’ve heard it, as do all rituals, yet deadly dangerous to take for granted.  Rituals are noticed, not in being performed but in being ignored.  I speak without looking at his face, focusing on a purple blotch above his left knee.

“Young slave 1339-32-19 which shares sleep with me need better employ sir.  She has use, perhaps kitchen?  Perhaps clean the straw?  Too weak for weapons training yet sir.  Too young, waste of time – me.  Need time for older fighters to make better.  Maybe train to help nurse?” 

I display the most abject and humble stance I can muster, using the kind of pidgin they prefer to hear, in the hope he will even listen.  He sneers – another ritual – and motions me away.  I’ve been “heard” whatever comes of it.  I know after so many years that they are good at listening and pretending they don’t.  Females know nothing so they cannot accept any suggestions directly.  They discuss any point I raise privately in their strategy and meeting sessions, taking full credit for any idea they think has merit. 

Later that day Tiki, or should I say slave #1339-32-19 is taken from our cage and escorted into the kitchens.  The number I quote is the last line of numbers branded on her backside.  It refers to year, batch number and number in batch when she was admitted into the training compound in Hyrete.  For example, year #1339 is admission to Hyrete arena compound as trainee at age 13.  #32 is thirty-second batch to arrive that year.  #19 is order of branding as number nineteen in batch.  She has another brand line above that stating the year of birth and class of breeding.  Hers is #1326-04.  Born year 1326 local time; class 4 female fighter.  She is permanently branded as a gladiator.  Any man can thus know instantly what she is – not whom – women have no status as human beings.

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #56

I’m a philosopher by experience but also because I am a natural-born Altarian.  We are doers, of course, but not exactly fools who rush in where angels fear to tread.  Before we act we seek to know.  Of course it is not always possible to know, since knowledge emanates from a blend of experience and information.  So we act on what what we’ve studied and already know from experience and attempt to move forward. Thus we are more than what we do; we do not necessarily act according to what we are – that is, what we have become.  We do not allow nature or programming to box us in so easily.  As the doctor pointed out, we have a devious mind developed for one purpose: to thread its way unerringly through the labyrinth of life. That labyrinth takes us, of necessity, through the darkest paths of hell — through the experience of evil.
[end blog post #55
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begin blog post #56]

Chronicler Michele Dellman notes a shift in the monologue here.

The following is purportedly from An’Tierra’s own actually hand-written notes found in the same medical facility attached to the gladiator compound in the Great Keep of the city of Hyrete in the kingdom of Elbre.  They were uncovered buried under a corner stone, sealed in a cheelth envelope she probably had her blacksmith friend manufacture for her. These are An’Tierra’s own words as she wrote them.  We must assume that the reason for this shift would be because the “recorder” was not available and she was convalescing at the time.

‘Sometimes when we find our forward movement lost in some impenetrable fog, we must retrace some steps, look back and take stock of our understanding.

And in this search for the source of evil, I must now look back.  I will probe ever deeper into my memories and find me, or a partial me, who has already done this kind of evil and I will study myself there.  I will dig out that buried part of my past that I may understand Malefactus and from this knowledge, trace the evil to its source.  The bait that will attract this source to me is my own heart; that part of it that once belonged to evil and for which evil has, and probably always will have, an affinity – or until I discover the source of this sickness and destroy it.

There could be no better time than now to do this.  Already so deeply compromised, with little room remaining in my heart to go but up, I must firmly and conclusively go down those remaining steps into my ultimate darkness and embrace my own spiritual death.  In that death, I, An’Tierra, will personally atone for all the deaths I have seen – and been the cause of – on this world and before that.  The difficult process of redemption can thus begin – with me.  That was always the plan, to lose myself in this process out here on one of Earth’s stack worlds which could be referred to as a part of the ISSA conscience of Earth.

Why conscience?  Because it should be evident by now that the real purpose of any set of stack worlds is to provide a place where incarnates of ISSA consciousness of any such world can find a temporary home after dis-incarnation – after their physical death.  The spirits, or ‘souls’ of people needed a place of rest during their ‘lost’ times between incarnations.  So their makers; their gods, created astral copies of their world which I, long ago while still living on Earth, dubbed stack worlds.  These worlds have been variously described as the Abode of the Dead; Heaven; Valhalla; Nirvana; Olympus; Great Beyond; Limbo; Purgatory; Sheol; Tartarus; Hades; Place of Torment; Hell and a host of other names found in all Earthian languages – all of them.  They feature heavily in all of man’s religious beliefs and mythology.  Nor are the concepts and beliefs tied to them restricted to Old Earth.  Wherever humanity is found, this belief is also found.  The reason for this is simple.

Over the aeons of human evolution and climb to self-awareness, it became evident that “life” was more than one short passage on some world, having a series of perhaps interesting but ultimately meaningless experiences after which came permanent obliteration of all that one had ever been, ever known, ever accomplished.  Teachers, often called lords or saints; avatars or saviours, appeared here and there over the years and taught continuity of life, personal responsibility and accountability to the whole through worship of some divine source or ‘All Thing’ called God and a turning away from doing evil.  Such evil was generally described as that which causes harm to others and would earn one eternal punishment in some sort of torment or annihilation.

It was taught that spirits or souls of the dead went to certain “worlds” where they were permanently rewarded for their good deeds in heaven;  or where they were prepared for a return to their “home” world – in this case Earth – through further spiritual evolution by suffering,  either in ‘purgatory’ or on some other astral world. Or, they were permanently banished to suffer eternally in hell for having lived evil lives without repenting of such. These were the basic, simplistic teachings given Earthians by their Teachers.

Some described these outer or astral worlds graphically, the best known images of such worlds being the joys of heaven and the tortures of hell.  Generic terms that served well enough in their time but have now lost their meaning entirely.  In the spiritual emptiness of Earth, from the 19th Century (C-19) to C-22, dissatisfied individuals began to earnestly search for the real abodes of the dead.  By the end of C-22 no one believed in death as termination.  It was then known that de-incarnation meant re-incarnation somewhere else.  It was also known by then that the ancient gods, or the God – basically male and autocratic – was no longer in charge of events in the cosmos.  A great shift had taken place which all ISSA beings sensed even if they did not comprehend its nature and wanted to deny it having taken place.

By the end of C-22 Earthians were dying by the millions.  Localized armed conflicts of a violence and viciousness never seen before flared and burned in every large country, and these broke up into small fiefs, kingdoms or independent city-states.  Unknown diseases, mostly caused by decomposing human bodies, ravaged large areas leaving few alive.  Waves of genocides were launched by groups against groups until no one remained to fight or one overcame the other and totally decimated them.  Revolutions took their toll.  So-called Earth changes, Earthquakes and tsunamis devastated low lands and mountain cities.  Food growing lands were poisoned by the rampaging waters filled with deadly chemicals, residues from destroyed petro-chemical refining and storage plants and the ever-present pestilence caused by decomposing bodies of humans and animals.

By the onset of the 22nd century (C-22), Earth had begun to enter her Great Death that would proceed inexorably to the middle of C-24, bringing the peak human population from 8.6 billions at the end of C-21 to possibly less than one billion.  (The exact lower figure is unavailable as the die-back was still in effect when I was in contact with information from Earth) This massive die-back began to have a sobering effect upon the technological and market-place madness that had rendered Earth all but un-inhabitable for most land and sea life.  But one thing remained to plague Earthian humanity: its inability to consider equality of genders.  Through the die-back, women and children’s position in society fell drastically once more. Men regained most of their patriarchal power positions and absolute authority.  Female and child slavery surfaced openly everywhere.  Sexual bondage became the only way a woman had for seeking protection for herself and her children if she had any.

During those terrible times a small group of WindWalkers incarnated on Earth to study the situation.  As one of those  (we were only five individuals) and an “expert” on Earthian mores, besides being now a full-fledged Altarian master of logic, I led this group.  Our purpose was not meant to render physical help as such an effort would have required a massive input of support and services from the Galactic human family which was at that time weakened by, and fully involved in, fighting the Melkiar invasion and in any case was still cut-off from interaction with Earth and her stack worlds.

We concentrated our efforts in determining what was wrong with the thinking patterns of Earthians, that they could not see the damage they were doing to themselves and their world by oppressing the female aspect.

At the beginning of our investigations we had blamed their misogynist tendencies squarely unto their greater religions, all of whom claimed a divine right to make laws based on worship of a single Male Deity that basically, in whatever form worshipped, feared and hated the female.  But these fabrications were no longer in contention for power.  What remained was purely secular.  Political power was ascendant, followed distantly by money.  A kind of Neo-Late-Dark-Age mindset ruled the planet.

The five of us, three males and two females disguised as males of necessity, used various approaches to do our research among two basic groups:  the rich owners from whom we hoped to learn of their needs to oppress their females and young, and among the most exploited groups, in the compounds where women were kept ostensibly for their protection, along with their children.  Among these “protected” groups, young nubile females – and not a few young pretty boys also – were chosen to sate the sexual and sadistic appetites of rich and powerful males.  Many young women were simply auctioned off as house slaves or into the sex trade: to pimps and owners of proliferating brothels and entertainment houses.

As we casually walked among these people and interacted with them, using simple logic methods for questioning, we analyzed their ways and motives.  In doing so it became obvious to us that they were not free of mind to do what they were doing.  “Something” was driving them.

That “something” I concluded was an energy that emanated from one of Earth’s astral worlds.  I remembered having had that idea long ago in another life on Earth.  I had dubbed my “imaginary” world “Malefactus” – first as a joke and a play on words, then as a means of focusing on its reality – at least for me.  A starting point.  I advised my WindWalker group that I would de-incarnate from Earth, re-incarnate on the training astro-world Beta-9 for my license upgrade, some more basic training, and join the fight against the Melkiars as skipper of Jump Scout ships.  Whatever I could learn on Earth I had already transferred via mind-jump through my Galactic Altarian contacts to be stored in Altarian archives dedicated to me as Al’Tara – copies to be filed on the galactic wandering library mind Aíoná.

Following this – I had a clear awareness that I would die in that war – I would return to Altaria for rest, refocusing and research on Malefactus.  My plan was simple.  Once I had enough information regarding that possible astral world, I would re-incarnate on it and proceed to do whatever could be done to effect change there – at what I hoped would be the source of Earth’s misogynist sickness.

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.

[end blog post #56]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #55

(I’m really falling behind in following up on posting the “Manifesto” and sorry about that, I know it makes it difficult to follow the story through these gaps. I’ll try to get back on track, but no promise as long as work keeps interfering with my life… dang it all!)

The process:  Access, study, feel, understand, delete.  Yeah, I should have been a Cydroid.  For it is one of our truisms that we, human and Avatari alike, cannot delete our past; cannot disown it.  We can but dis-empower or empower it according to our present need and understanding.

And in my sleep I dream of the constant we call “evil” but it is a sweet dream, not a nightmare.

[end blog post #54]
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[begin blog post #55]

From chronicler Michele Dellman, T’Sing Tarleyn historian for the Supremacy.

Galactic date-year 67,854, classic date-year [?] (Not available at this time to this reporter due to the amount of chaos resulting from the attacks upon, and subsequent destruction of the fortified city of Hyrete)

The following was put together from antique memcorder cards found in the medical facility that served the Hyrete arena where the female gladiators, or fighters as they were called, were kept in a massive arrangement of cages behind stone walls twenty or more meters high and several meters thick, protected by an actual moat and a most sophisticated array of alarm systems. 

The following set was not written by the historical figure called An’Tierra but by someone with access to a computer linked to an off-world ship that transcribed her thoughts, probably while she was under sedation and receiving secret and illegal medical treatment in an old auto-medic mentioned by her but subsequently never found.  An educated guess here is that the transcriber was one of the Echinoza Cydroids purportedly from another mythical world called Koron.

These are but copies of long-lost originals. Note that she refers to herself as “Al’Tara” – name of a pseudo-historical figure on Old Earth that appears under other names in annals of the Supremacy pre-and post-dating the Melkiar wars.  The name “Al’Tara” was, it is said, her name as an Altarian, that is, as a human being [or one of the mythical Avatari?] from the ‘lost’ or “hidden” world of Altaria. 

‘I’ve seen many things in my travels as Al’Tara.  Wonders and horrors.  I’ve easily accepted the wonders, yes, and marvelled.  I’ve also accepted the natural horrors; movements in the chaos side of space/time giving rise to massive destruction of entire worlds.  I’ve faced the possible extinction of entire galaxies and all the riches and life they hold.  I’ve participated in many rescue attempts, some successful, most not.  I rejoiced at our successes and accepted our failures.   

During my many passages upon Old Earth, or Túat Har, I observed natural predators, from viruses to large mammals and even plants.  And not long ago I was a participant in the Melkiar wars.  I even encountered some of their robotic life forms.  Probed them to discover they had been uniquely programmed to kill, but without malice or intent to hurt.  Predators kill to perpetuate their species.  The Melkiars only destroyed that which they were designed to consider inimical concepts to their nature.

But never, never have I been able to accept, let alone comprehend, evil.  Evil is not that which destroys or even kills.  Evil, as I have observed it, is that which causes pain and hurt to others with intent based in sentient malevolence.  Evil is that which is done with malice aforethought.  It is planned to produce pain in another so that the perpetrator will feel a surge of sadistic pleasure by inflicting the pain. It’s ultimate purpose is to destroy the will of its victims, to crush them until nothing remains. That is how I describe evil.

The perpetrator of evil, the true sadist, needs to actually perform the pain-inducing act upon another, always helpless, victim; never on someone who has a chance of fighting back.  The true sadist never takes a chance on getting hurt.  If his victim manages to inflict pain on him, this reduces his level of pleasure and correspondingly increases his level of anger and hate towards the victim. 

Malefactus – I must explain why I call it that.  A malefactor is an evil doer; a law breaker.  But here you find a specific law-breaker, speaking of course of that one and only law written in, and for, the entire cosmos, or wherever life may be found, the law that says we must all care; all protect the innocent and the weak in order to strengthen them.  We must “love” the other in our power not as ourselves, but more, much more, than ourselves – beyond anything we would do for ourselves! We must develop and practice compassion to the highest level possible within our understanding.

On Malefactus, the perpetrator; the law breaker; the malefactor; is male.  The male factor of T’Sing Tarleyn, the “World of Man” is an utterly evil mindset.  The male ISSA beings here cannot apparently help themselves, true, but they also do not wish to do so.  They enjoy being what they are; doing what they do.  Their social mores are predicated upon the total oppression of the female.  Their economy such as it is, being but a caricature of a true economy is totally dependent on active misogyny.  Their judicial system ensconces it, preventing anyone from avoiding it.  As for their religious system, I have not, as yet, discovered if they have one and if they do, how it relates to that particular rampant evil that rules T’Sing Tarleyn.

Regarding the men, I cannot have a real conversation with any of them so it is dangerous to draw any solid conclusion about their state of mind.  They are pseudo-human, therefore they have to be consciously aware of the law at some level. They are not mindless predators but perpetrators of evil behaviour.   Much in the way the people of Old Earth were also aware of it.  Yet they live as if it did not exist for them.  But I wonder, aren’t there some throw-back types among them that actually “fall in love” with a female?  Some who would want to protect her, hide her, find her a safe haven somewhere, even if it cost him his life?  Is there no physical love except among the women? 

I have seen no open demonstration of homosexuality and that seems strange on such a world.  But then should it be, if males simply cannot love at all?  If all they can do is “fuck” and all they know is that it is done with females and then only in the form of “hate rape” resulting in violence done to her? 

There is another aspect of evil I still fail to understand.  I believe that humans are all equipped to “see” beauty with some variations, but within a general unifying whole.  We are also equally equipped to see ugliness, also with variations but with a general similarity.  Outside of this awareness are what I refer to as the exceptions.  Those who have the concepts turned around in their minds and hearts.  Some, because they are sick but some because they are simply put, evil.  On some worlds, these “exceptions” do not prove the rule, they are the rule.

Evil loves to mar and destroy beauty.  From defacement of buildings with graffiti to smashing windows, polluting and destroying the natural environment, mistreating animals, including in this all hunting and fishing done for sport, beating and raping women, oppressing children, oppressing and enslaving those who are helpless and without protection.  Take it in any order, it all comes down to the same thing.  Destruction of that which exhibits beauty gives evil types psychopathic pleasure.  What kind of force drives ISSA beings to find pleasure in marring that which is beautiful? 

Evil: I have no other answer.  None of the answers I’ve heard, read about or considered, answer the question in a more understandable fashion.

So, how do I understand Malefactus, a world where the only pleasure experienced seems to be in causing the maximum of pain to helpless victims?  Since I’ve been here in these cages, the training compound, and the bloody arena, I’ve met – yes, and befriended – hundreds of young girls who did not survive their first time in the arena and women who succumbed to their opponents.  I’ve seen them viciously beaten, raped, tortured.  I’ve heard them scream for mercy and watched them being killed without qualm on the part of the male perpetrators. 

I’ve seen them dismembered for their body parts and have helped pick up the mangled bloody corpses and torsos.  I’ve taken them in my arms, their blood covering my body as I carried them and placed them as gently as I could upon the putrefaction-covered auto-driven flat decked ‘haulers’ and which in my heart I reverently call hearses, thus giving a moment of human acknowledgment to the dead martyrs whose bodies are taken away I know not exactly where though I suspect it is to the outer desert sands for vultures to feed upon.

In the worlds of true humans and even in the worlds of pseudo-humans such as Old Earth I have seen much beauty.  But never have I seen anything to compare to the combination of natural beauty and intelligence seen, first in a child and second, in a young human female.  It surpasses all.  Somehow that is the particular beauty that the evil of misogyny lurking in the pseudo-human heart targets before all else. 

I will not close my eyes to this terrible legacy life has somehow, either naturally or by some horrible mistake, bestowed upon all of us.  I will continue to look into this concept of evil for an answer.  What is the motivation behind this force?  Is it lust?  Hate?  Fear? Does evil begin with one and end with the other, and if so, in what direction does it flow?  Do you begin with a heart full of vices and by indulging some, or all, end up evil?  Are we what we do, or what we become as we act in accordance with what we discover ourselves to be?  This may seem like a chicken and egg conundrum, but that has already been solved.  In timeless reality, the “chicken” can indeed lay the egg from which it is hatched.  There is no beginning and no ending, only questions and answers that we use as “artificial” points of reference (called beginnings and endings) by which we define infinity.

I’m a philosopher by experience but also because I am a natural-born Altarian.  We are doers, of course, but not exactly fools who rush in where angels fear to tread.  Before we act we seek to know.  Of course it is not always possible to know, since knowledge emanates from a blend of experience and information.  So we act on what we’ve studied and already know from experience and attempt to move forward.  Thus we are more than what we do; we do not necessarily act according to what we are – that is, what we have become.  We do not allow nature or programming to box us in so easily.  As the doctor pointed out, we have a devious mind developed for one purpose: to thread its way unerringly through the labyrinth of life. That labyrinth takes us, of necessity, through the darkest paths of hell — through the experience of evil.

[end blog post #55