Antierra Manifesto – blog post #83

[Onward with the story, huh?]

“Well Antierra, we meet again my dear.  You certainly made a mess of yourself in that last fight.”

“It wasn’t exactly my idea, Bal.  I encountered something I had never successfully confronted before; something I knew well.  An ancient and deadly nemesis that had anticipated my coming here and had prepared itself to destroy me. It almost succeeded – twice.  The first time you saved me.  The second time, I took responsibility for myself and fought it out, as must we all sooner or later.  I wish I hadn’t let it get so strong and really challenged it sooner.  All those lives it persecuted me and I submitted to it thinking there was no better way.  And likely there wasn’t, not then, not yet: I wasn’t strong enough or focused.  I suppose this is the logical place where the outcome from such long-term hatred had to be determined and one of us consumed by it.”

End blog post #82
_________________
Begin Blog post #83

Balomo holds my hand and looks at my scarred, beaten and old body.  There is no sexual desire in him now, hah!  I don’t mind.  I think I’ve known for some time that ‘sex’ was no longer on my agenda.  “You avatars see the world in strange ways.  I knew there was something utterly wrong and odd about Warmo but I would not have thought he was on par with your abilities.  Are there many like him or you who can travel through dimensions and through time to seek each other out to destroy each other’s spirit or mind?  With so much enmity?”

“As below, so above, Bal. Relative to the number of ISSA’s in the universe (or parallel worlds) we are very few.  But we do tend to make waves where we battle.  What happened with the motion for my execution?”

“Temporary reprieve.  Nothing settled.  The king, as you would expect, vetoed the motion but he cannot defeat it.  It will be re-introduced each week until accepted or defeated by a two-third majority vote of the Court.  If for, they will kill you, the method not described in the motion.  We suspect they may be planning to have you put in their next killing orgy.”

“Ah, such pleasant thoughts for me to entertain while I recuperate.  How much better than a State-sponsored parade in my honour for destroying the evil Wizard.  Seriously, how long have I been out of circulation this time?”

“Only five days so far.  You will have to return to the training and exercise yard within two days or the motion for your execution will automatically stand.  Seven days is the maximum any fighter can have as you know.  It’s their law.”

“Yes I know the law.  Seven days to return to active duty.  If the fighter is not fit by that time she is executed.  I’ll make it.  Any news from the compound?  How’s Tiki?  The Concubine twins?  The crazy young sex-slave addict, if you know whom I mean?”

“The kitchen Cydroids keep me informed.  I’m supposed to tell you that the slave you call Tiki has begun training and I hear good things.  She is fast and certainly determined, so say the handlers.  One of the twins as you call them has been killed.  Her ‘sister’ is borderline ‘dikfol’ from grief and has already fought two rounds single-handed against two-man teams, killing all four.  We need you to talk to her and maybe find her a match.  We think she wants to die but cannot end it as long as she can kill men.  The young addict, I regret to say, is dead.  She was strangled in the kitchens.  Two kitchen staffers were flogged to death for that worthless ‘pess.’  She was stealing chakr-laced fighter foods to use for favours and for herself.  Someone caught her.  We’ll never know who killed her.”

I take the weight of Bal’s news in my heart and hold it there.  I feel utterly dejected.  I cannot hold back my tears and turning away on the gurney, sob loudly and freely.  The lump in my throat could choke a horse.  So little change despite the sacrifices.  I know I shouldn’t have expectations but as anyone who goes through a war knows, it cannot be helped.  We always hope for change bringing in better things.  I need a better answer to it all but as this world is currently wired, it won’t allow me to find one.  Not directly anyway. 

I’ve defeated my personal nemesis.  Accomplished the impossible.  Remained alive through a series of miracles such as men not punishing me for flaunting their rules; surviving a fight to the death with an actual demon; manifesting events that got me access to an AI auto-med to put my body back into a semblance of a woman’s form and fighting fitness.  None of that brings me the comfort I long for.  Always thrown back to the beginning, it seems.

From now on, it must be small steps again.  I must train Tiki and continue the Teaching but before I can do that I must somehow cleanse myself of the accumulated grief and guilt for all the pain I have caused to other sentient beings while I’ve been here. 

A male Cydroid and Balomo stand beside my bed studiously avoiding looking in my direction.  They know I must work out my own sense of culpability; that any outside interference will only confuse me the more.  Finally I can look up again.

“I want you to sit up,” says Bal “and take XBA7’s hand.”

Without help I manage to sit, fight off a dizzy spell and take the Cydroid’s outstretched hand.  He helps me off the gurney and I stand shakily, feeling both cold and hot at the same time.  I turn and throw up, or try to.  There is nothing in my stomach and only bile drips from my lips.  I heave over and over until I begin to fall.  The Cydroid holds me by the waist from behind and I regain enough strength to finally stand unaided.  I’m handed a glass with a mouth rinse to clean myself.  Bal then hands me the flask with the pink nectar and I sip slowly.  Things come into focus. 

I look down at my body and by what I can see I am glad they have no mirrors here.  I must look like a one hundred year old skeleton!  Good!  Maybe I can just scare my challengers to death in my next encounters, hah!  I walk around the gurney, close enough to fall on it should my strength fail.  I manage, still feeling dangerously woozy.  I walk a little further, make a half-turn and stare at my prison. 

The sun is hitting the far north wall, painting a dull orange-yellow into the texture of the weathered stones above the shadows cast by spired turrets thrusting themselves into the afternoon sky from the red-brown tiled roofs of ponderous square structures whose purpose I’ve never bothered to enquire about. There’s another piece of crenellation missing up there.  Why aren’t they doing a better job of repairing their keep, their great city?  On occasion while walking from the training areas to the forge carrying the weapons needing attention I noticed large cracks in the masonry between the square stones.  Are they just letting the keep fall apart because modern weaponry makes the idea of a ‘fort’ redundant?  Or is their economy collapsing from the combination of rising costs from raising, training and maintaining of slaves and perhaps even more relevant, a growing debt due to gambling?  Or is the war with Estáan expanding and draining more from the battered economy of Elbre?

End blog post #83

13 thoughts on “Antierra Manifesto – blog post #83

  1. George F.

    “their next killing orgy.”…a concept that explains a lot of things about mankind, which I may use!
    “Always thrown back to the beginning, it seems.” Ah, yes, always returning to the mean without breaking the cycle. I find breaking the cycle difficult in my life as well. Great story, Sha’

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, George – any comment on the story is greatly appreciated – it means someone read it and has an opinion on it. I like the mention on breaking the cycle. As far back as I can remember, I too have been working, literally day and night, in finding ways to break my own personal cycle. FRUSTRATING!!! We can study and we can build up our store of knowledge but nothing cuts it if we do not experience it. I think that’s the problem with artificial intelligence: it can have great stores of knowledge but can it actually “experience” anything? Entities like the Cydroids and Cedric the Medic in my story, or Akira in yours – what do they actually know? Knowing has to combine knowledge and experience. After – how long? – in the garden of Eden, it was after Adam and Eve were thrown out with their bit of knowledge from the tree and their experience with a “Trump” like god, that Adam finally “knew” his wife and she conceived – made a new life from the combination of knowledge and experience. That’s what puzzled me about Akira: she was able to conceive without feelings? Lasseter is right, there’s nobody like her anywhere in all of creation. Your own story is doubly fascinating because of that. Can she be the long sought after perfect combination of machine and human? Can she evolve without the curse of the “back to the beginning” cycle we are stuck with? I sure hope you continue with the story even if at times it wants to run dry. (Note: reference is to https://randomwalkthroughintelligentuniverse.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/tabula-rasa-no-more/ )

      Reply
      1. George F.

        Great comments, insights and questions, Sha’. If I can stick to my schedule, Akira will speak in the next post. And yes, she can conceive without feelings. I’ll be addressing that…

      2. George F.

        You hit on it. AI cannot experience anything. The world’s best computer, beating the best human chess players, doesn’t know it’s even playing chess. Another topic I’ll be bringing up soon…

  2. deteremineddespitewp

    And here we are seamlessly back into the harsh reality of ‘The War’. Antierra has a universality about her which at times transcends her gender and her particular place in the ‘whole’ of existence. At times such as these she is ‘The Solider’. The front-line character who plays a part in winning a battle or simply surviving it only to find the next day there is another fight to deal with and so on. I find this very moving; to use some old phrases ‘she has paid her dues’ and yet is still required to ‘keep on keeping on’…definitely… ‘living in a stacked deck’.
    (Arketre is leaning over my shoulder again)

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Roger. I just knew you would “recognize” a lot of Arketre in the soldier aspect of Antierra’s (Al’Tara’s) lives as an active soldier in the fleets of the “Supremacy” during the quasi endless war against the ubiquitous Melkiar invaders. Makes for quite the introspection as she is forced to remember those past lives. As the recorder (I call myself the recorder rather than writer) of the Manifesto I continue to ask myself the same question: is this really “me” – this me, engaged in these events after my training on Altaria? Is this what I am now, and will later be, training for? I will be that – empowered and courageous enough to do these things? Since these aren’t rhetorical questions I have to answer them in the affirmative: that’s my own future I’m describing. That, Roger, is weird. But as YLea insisted, nothing is impossible. Do I want it? Do I want to rise above all the foibles of my Earthian passages? Do I want to know through personal experience what the voluntary cost of self sacrifice entails? The answer is … yes. I already understand and accept the need to be more than I believe myself capable of being and what I remain unsure or, I’ll just jump in! It will be those times when a fool rushes in where an angel would fear to tread.

      Reply
      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thank you, Roger. Keep giving voices to your own heroines and you will discover that once a path is chosen from determined purpose, the outcome is never in doubt.

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