“There be no new method. Train or be punished. You – you,” they point at me and Tiki, “continue. You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners. Stop again, we flog.” And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather. We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.
End blog post #86
Begin blog post #87
Ah, new trainers. Stupid, dense, closed minded. Always the same with new ones.
“OK Tiki, get ready, I your challenger now. I nod head, you attack.”
As soon as I nod she charges into my guard and I barely have time to block her. She swings wide to the left – a perfectly executed and masterful feint. Spinning and dropping below my block she comes in and lays her staff solidly on my hip. I feel that! But I’m proud of her then. She has the talent and the will. Able to overcome the reticence of hitting a friend, that is good.
“Good Tiki. That hurt for real. Now I be more careful with you, mongoose. I am enraged cobra now. If I get near, I have poison in fangs, hah!”
And we continue to spar. She scores several painful hits on me. I know I haven’t yet put in all my power in this fight and I’ve pulled back my own blows because I don’t want her to become discouraged, but I’m not far from my limit. This creature is a natural fighter, bred for the work. She will do as well as any has ever done. She won’t get angry, she’ll get even. Her vengeance will not be personal and won’t eat at her as it did with the Concubines and so many I’ve seen pass through here. She’ll lay them down neatly and professionally. Tomorrow I plan to test her on the swords, then on the axe. I will have to introduce a bit of creativity in that professionalism, for the entertainment value and the surprises. That’s my specialty: the surprise effect.
‘Tomorrow is promised to no one.’ Yes, I know. But for all of us here, beside perhaps enough food to sate our hunger later, some loving tonight in our cages, what is there but tomorrow? Don’t call it a promise then, just call it hope. Some won’t even make it. Bodies will be taken out of the cages this coming morning, I know.
During our break and partner switch the late day heat rises even more. The breeze has died out completely and it is oppressive. Our drinking and washing water is almost hot. The stones would burn the feet if we weren’t walking on thick calluses. This has to herald another thunder storm; nature’s impromptu performance to give us a little bit of entertainment and brief excitement in the night. I’m reminded of the last night I spent with Deirdre. So many storms since that night yet so little precipitation even through the winter that was unseasonably cold and we suffered much from exposure in it.
My new sparring partner is an older fighter I’d seen before. She smiles at me and gestures for a quick talk.
“We remember, Anti. Remember Teaching of Great Desert Beast. We pray like you say and the Warmo was killed. We know in heart he now dead. Not even ghost remain. We need learn more of Teaching. Tonight, you speak, yes? Give more power to woman.”
This is such a terrible responsibility, to teach people the very concepts they need to free themselves but which will cause them so much more pain in the beginning. You get used to a situation and settle into it, getting the most of it you can. Comfort is relative. Suddenly you are given a new idea and your relative comfort rug is pulled from under you. This new idea is naked and vulnerable so you protect it with your body and mind. Now you become vulnerable. Certain you must be that it is worth protecting and even dying for. Or else, why do it? So if I teach these women, it has to be about becoming free from the horrors men are imposing on them.
How do we approach this concept of freedom? It cannot, ever, be with violence. Slaves throughout the histories of the worlds of humanity have attempted violent rebellions time and again. In each case they were slaughtered and the conditions of survivors made worse. This the Teaching makes very clear. Most women of Malefactus have no means of turning to violence against the men. They are untrained, unarmed slaves. Even us with our weapons’ skills – what are those good for but to entertain? They are useless against the real weapons of the police and military. In any confrontation the laser weapons would turn our bodies into piles of smoking meat in seconds.
I spar with the woman, demonstrating as many new tricks to her as I can. As do most of the fighters she learns quickly. We are using the long double edged, double-handed sword lately, for whatever reason, becoming the new fad in the arena. Most challengers go for it now and this has meant we’ve had to spend much more time boning up on our skills with it. The smaller women have a difficult time with this weapon. It is too long and it slows their movements down. Consequently our losses have increased incrementally. That probably explains why the ‘brave’ men of Malefactus choose this weapon: it gives them an automatic advantage over the shorter, lighter females.
But I must say this: the women are game. Not only because they have no choice, but because they continue to improve themselves in many ways. They now understand that any weapon can be mastered with skill if it is understood. A small woman can move her body as she wields the long sword, thus not having to move the whole weight of it. Kind of a hammer-throw concept: if you understand the lever concept, the centering balance point of your body does not have to be the fulcrum all the time. You can create a hypothetical point for your fulcrum, your body at one end of the lever and the point of the sword at the other. Now you can ‘orbit’ around your imaginary centre point. This requires great agility of feet and complete focus.
You use the weight of the weapon to propel you to a different location, removing the target – you – and placing the sword in an unexpected position relative to the challenger. When he goes for you, neither you nor your sword are there – just your imaginary fulcrum point – and you can take him by surprise from an endless possibility of unexpected angles. Those of us who are larger of body have less use of this concept and I find it difficult to teach. So I have trained and assigned other fighters to do this part for me.
“Can I ask you to teach my slave this sword technique you have developed, please?” I ask her. “And can I have your woman power name also?”
She beams to be asked a favour by such a one as I. To be able to teach the Desert Beast Woman’s slave, that is truly an honour for her.
“In prayer, I be Swala. Yes, and please, I do this for you. I teach good. The slave… ‘Tiki’?… she is very good with weapons already. She very lucky to be slave to you and learn by touching much with you.”
“Your number for the trainers, Swala?” She turns and I read 1334-02-28.
The women here believe it is possible to absorb another’s skills and strength as much by being physically close as by training with you. I have noticed lately that many of the women find ways to get close to me to let their hands linger on me. They want to absorb, to share the fighter part of me that has survived so long in the arena fights. This is especially true now that I have killed the Warmo. I have become a sort of inamorata to them. They truly believe I am the reincarnation of their Great Desert Beast. I have reawakened the old myth and they are putting fuel on the fire.
For better or worse it is a truism that avatar change agents have consistently used existing mythology to propel themselves upon the stage of whatever ISSA world they felt called to make change in. We take on the persona of their favourite idol, myth, deity, or claim we are a child, brother, sister or other relative of that deity. Again, it’s that compromised morality problem. For us time is ever of the essence. We rarely have the luxury to begin from scratch to build ourselves up to their expectations. We are coming on stage so to speak somewhere in the middle of the action, or more often near the end of it. We have to fit ourselves in someone else’s story – believably so or we don’t get to speak our lines – it’s that simple.
Thus Antierra or “Anti” is now the daughter of the Desert Beast and has become, in the eyes and hearts of the women fighters of T’Sing Tarleyn the legitimate Desert Beast Woman, symbol of freedom for all T’Sing Tarleyn womanhood. Well, as my good doctor said, I’ve brought all of them to a very dangerous crossroads. How many avatars have brought those who believed in them to such a place then been martyred or killed to disappear following promises to return soon but never did? How many worlds were thus politically changed on the surface but the basic problems that originally called the avatar’s attention remained unchanged?
Earth was, or remains, one of those places. Promises were made that were not kept and each time the people’s hopes were raised only to be dashed. They were abandoned to their own devices and continued to perish despite Herculean efforts to maintain the reality of their disappeared avatars. Powerful movements became powerful religions or powerful political factions that claimed to exist as stewards for the avatar but refused to take on the responsibility such a claim entailed. If anything can be said of those institutions it would be that they ended up demonstrating the exact opposite of what the “Master” taught so clearly.
I am on Malefactus fully aware of this problem and determined not to repeat this terrible mistake.
And how do I propose to do this?
First by beginning the process of self-empowerment among these female fighters. They must ultimately believe in themselves as possessors of the power deriving from ‘the Teaching’ of their avatar.
Second, by understanding that my redemptive work achieved through deliberate submission to the lowest form of degradation in human slavery will only have begun when I leave here.
Third, by programming myself to ‘return’ immediately after I die here. No break, no hiatus, no seeking advice, no rest and relaxation on beautiful Altaria or other hidden world. I belong to Malefactus until such time as it recognizes me, that is, its female population.
Fourth, by exercising my rights and powers as a WindWalker – to live and die by my own choices. My fate and that of the people I choose to share myself with is entirely in my hands.
Five, by empowering myself to reject any and all temptations put forth during my ‘in-between’ times by those who would buy me out or destroy me. For it is true that all of us are constantly being watched by the forces we come upon and challenge. Every battle we fight in the flesh is a battle we have already fought, are fighting, must continue to fight, in spirit.
End blog post #87