…“I’ve cursed Malefactus and every male on it. I’ve looked into the sky at Albaral and cursed that too. I’ve used the doctor to my own ends instead of just taking it like everybody else and dying as I should have. In the end it seems to me that I am the one who brought all these diabolical things to Malefactus; that I made a most terrible mistake long ago and now everybody is paying for my foolishness and my false sense of redemptive properties. I’m an idiot, YBA.
“You are looking at a wreck and a wretch of a once human being! To seek more vengeance, and along with letting myself fall in love with a man I can never really be with – you heard me earlier and heard his response – what can I say?
[end blog post #49]
[begin blog post #50]
“Yes, of course I can feel your thoughts, human. I also know that you love Dr. Echinoza – and so do I. I’m his mistress. When he disappears at times it’s to spend time with me. We have a place hidden deep in the southern hemisphere, beyond the great desert and beyond the land of the black ones. A simple little fold-up hut by the sea that we collapse and hide when we are away. We enjoy each other’s company and we are in love, as you put it. But I would never place my joy before yours. If he chose you, I would serve you as the one who is me. Perhaps, since you are human you could give him the child I can never. Cydroids cannot impregnate nor become pregnant. We can only be cloned.
“As for your concerns regarding vengeance or compassion, “methinks you doth protest too much.” Your conundrum is not a problem to us. If Warmo is convicted of his crimes, or at least one of them, he will forfeit his life. He will be offered something he cannot refuse: to meet you personally and fight you to the death in the arena. His hate for the doctor and specifically for you, not only as the one who survived the special treatment he had planned for you and escaped from his misogynist sadism, but as a woman who has a reputation for killing that surpasses his own; who stands higher in stature than he and who has the concerns of the King whereas he has lost his – all these can only mean one thing. He will be eager to kill you. And you will find him a tougher match than anything you’ve ever known. It is good that you should fight him to honour all the ones whose lives he has broken and devoured. This task belongs to you, Antierra.
“I’ve studied your experiences from your mind. In Old Earth as you call it, you have an expression, “He fought like a cornered animal.” That is what you will be fighting: a cornered animal. But not just any animal. This Warmo I can compare to your memories of a creature you called a “wolverine” – a large rodent-like weasel family predatory creature that used to wander the wilds of your adoptive homeland on Old Earth; a loner that dangerous predators much larger than itself carefully avoided. There is another creature I could compare Warmo to that also exists in your mind from your adoptive home world: a Tasmanian devil. That is what this pseudo-human is comparable to. But do not dwell on that now. Your subconscious will inventory my words and present you with a way to defeat this creature.
“When you enter the auto-medic for your replacements – you will be in there for two and a half days minimum – I will connect you with the info-vid and give you, in pictures and words, all that we have collected on Warmo. When you are ‘returned’ after your treatment you will possess the rudimentary inner workings of Warmo’s mind.
“He will think you are literally reading his mind when you meet him. So the challenge will be both physical and intellectual. Get close enough to hold the mirror. Speak to him, however you must, in whatever tone. He won’t be able to stop you then. The key to defeating him is to play on his subconscious superstition and fear of the unknown. All sadistic types do so from their pathological fear of the unknown, of the place beyond death they fear above anything. So display his death – show it to him. Let him feel it, over and over. That is how you play him down and defeat him.
“You seem so sure about everything. How can you know all this?”
“Cydroids never operate without knowledge, Antierra. We project constantly into the immediate future and shape it to our needs based on our previous experiences in similar situations – or so it seems to us. Or we shape ourselves to its needs. Our nature possesses the innate ability of instant adaptation to any and all contingencies. If we fail to grasp existing information based on knowledge, that is, based on experience, we run instantaneous simulations in our mind – in linked pattern with our twins whenever possible, and we operate based on that approach. We must “know” before we “do” and so we always know because we have already “done” what we are about to do.”
“YBA, I’m overwhelmed and amazed by you. You are the most human non-human I’ve ever encountered, as far as my memories can reach at this moment.”
“Do you realize that when you call me “YBA” you are directly accessing the minds of all my twins? That you are speaking to all of us? We respond to our name-stamp. YBA – all of us, from 1 to 5. Say ‘YBA5’ and the others won’t listen. I don’t mind either way, just thought you should know.
“I paid you the highest compliment any Cydroid can give a human. Now you have reciprocated by giving me the highest compliment any true human could give a Cydroid. I think we have a mind-link now. That is, in your language, we are friends.”
“How can you consider me your friend when I’ve openly stated I loved Bal, that is, Dr. Echinoza as a woman loves a man?”
“Ah, but all the more reason you see. The choice between us, if one needs to be made, must be his. You and I, we are females, women. We do not need to make this choice at all! He must be the one to know his own feelings about us. Why could he not love both you and I simultaneously without any problem? I certainly would encourage it. Wouldn’t you? We understand what it means to love a man. The more women love that man; the more he is truly loved by the many women, the better that man will be in every possible way a man can be.
“Our role, ultimately, if nature ever gave us one as humanoid females, is to make men better than they are, or think they can be. And we do this by pleasing them and satisfying them. Not as rutting animals, but in love. You see, if we love them, no matter how much all they ever want to do is “fuck” as you call it, they will receive the full benefit of our love. And if we are true to our nature, giving such love will only strengthen us. It will never diminish us as long as we are not interacting from either enforced submission, expectation or jealousy, meaning in competition with other females.”
I had anticipated her reply. “Your words would not sit well with some of the women I have known, especially on Túat Har of C-20! But you are right, I would also encourage the sharing. Actually YBA5, I don’t want to love him like that. I don’t want to bear his child or be his mistress, wife or have any other attachments to him. Logically, I don’t need the complications, even were circumstances different, for example, were I on Koron with him. If as you say I’m to be repaired and live, I must concentrate on what I came here to do. Let him find sexual pleasure with me when we are together if he still wants that from me. I will certainly give him that out of friendship and gratitude, and with love. That is if he doesn’t just take it! But that’s not what he expects from me. He wants to know what I know of the workings of our universe, information he does not have. For the rest, he has you.
“But tell me this. Has he ever, even when in your idyllic hideaway, turned on you and hit you, or cursed you as he did me?”
“Well, of course. It’s not as intense down there, away from this concentrated world of men but it happens regularly that he is taken by the fever. He beats me. He curses me, yes.”
“How do you respond?”
“I can only respond as would your Deirdre. I let him beat me and curse me. I allow it to flow out of him. But unlike the Cholradil, I do it for love, deliberately and knowingly, neither because I can’t help it, nor out of a sense of submission. I could certainly stop him. I could easily disable him, even harm him. But by allowing it to flow I heal him that way. Afterward I make sure he does not go into his guilt-based depression. I fully understand the sickness and I separate the sick from the disease, Antierra. I am programmed for this but I also do it by choice, as a doctor and healer. Now let me check the condition of your mind before I give you a half-cube of stim because your pain should be returning full force, yes?”
“Yes it is. By force of habit I wanted to bear it and not take any medication for it. Hold it and absorb it, you know.”
“That is good for the fights and in the long nights of pain from blows and wounds when you lie in the cages, yes. To identify with the others, to understand in empathy, in compassion? But it is unnecessary here. I will not allow it. Here, take it now.”
She hands me the half-cube of stim from Deirdre’s parting gift – and if only she could have known how it would help me! – then holds my arm, careful not to disturb its current resting place and puts her other hand on my temple.
“I sense your thoughts. They are clear now. The effects of the sedating drug we gave you are fading and you are thinking properly. Yes, you have created good wiring in your brain. I like touching you, getting your impressions. I’ve never seen such openness, such divergent worlds. I like your world of Altaria. I like that last place where you sat and waited for the right moment to leave. What a sad journey to take, yet so beautiful. You gave up everything to come here. You “died” all alone after all those days spent just looking into the great Rift valley, without sleep, food or water. Your sea birds, the giant osoleys, they are such beautiful creatures. I can almost reach out to them and call them to sweep gracefully beneath your falling body and carry it out to the ocean for a proper burial – where it is generally believed all biological life comes from and returns to.
“I must add this regarding your outburst earlier. All those evil, diabolical things you insist you’ve done. Self-pity, Antierra. Hyperbole. You are a true and straight Altarian. Do not let any horror, on any world or place, take away the honour you owe yourself. Never let doubt dishonour who you know you truly are. It would be a sad day for all of us if you gave up.”
I find my eyes filling with tears as she reads these details in my mind. I had expected her to find nothing but a chaotic mess of darkness and filth in there. She holds up a mirror for my mind to heal itself from the “little death” of fear and doubt. I am indeed, still alive, very much so.
And I remain, despite all of this pain and confusion, Al’Tara the Altarian.
I am not lost. I will pass this test.
[end blog post #50]