[How time flies this time of year. But, better late than never, here’s blog post #104]
Now eighteen of my children are heading out into the unknown to attempt the building of some kind of normal life they have never experienced. They and their men hitching rides in the open on flimsy carriers are the seeds of a new culture, the hope of Malefactus. Much hinges on the success of this venture, and taken one part at a time, it is a simple plan. But put all those pieces together to happen simultaneously and you have a complex structure that can collapse on itself from the outset. I’ve never been one to overlook possibility of trouble. Life has not been so easy on me that I can afford to do that. But at this stage, what can I do but join in the women’s prayer and offer mine to our ‘goddess’ in hope?
* Bene Gesserit mantra against fear – Dune, by Frank Herbert
End blog post #103
Start blog post #104
Seeing an opportunity to speak near the end of our training session I signal I want as many women as possible to get within earshot of my words. As I gather the weapons, examine them and store them, I speak to them in our special tone that men hear only as muted sounds which they now allow as they think it has to do with weapons handling.
“I ask this of you, fighters. That you stand firmly behind our escape plan. Tonight or tomorrow will decide it. The storms are fully upon us and all other matters have been taken care of. So now, please, time to turn to the Goddess and entrust this great venture to her care. Our people will pass through her lands and we want her to bless their passage and help them fly through to the southern sea and the islands where they will make a new life. They must succeed. They must. It’s no different than entering the arena. This is a fight to the death. None of these people can come back, for to do so is to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to do. They will succeed or every one of them will die in the desert, in the lands of the black ones or by the sea shore if there is no food and water to be found. Many things we cannot know, but we can all focus ourselves on this venture. We can all be a part of it. We have shown our solidarity by not speaking of this to anyone except through trusted channels. For this we will all be blessed. Now we need to pray ‘so our ships launch and our new world is found.’”
I explain the meaning of the line from the early days of human expansion into space as they faced unknown dangers taking their seed ships into unexplored solar systems to find that one planet, or group of planets, that would accept their type of life. Mostly they were successful yet many were lost in space, never finding suitable worlds or landing on inimical places and dying cruel deaths there. Seedships were designed to land and ‘park’ themselves. Once committed to a landing they could not be launched again or returned to a safe orbit.
The women understand. They walk somberly towards the toilets, drinking and washing troughs. It is so quiet here, we can hear the clattering in the kitchens, the intermittent bombing in the north and another quite welcome sound: thunder. The thunder heads have finally past apogee and are quickly filling the whole sky above us. Thunder rumbles louder with each passing minute and we rejoice inwardly. I make the secret sign of ‘victory’ and it is quietly passed along among all the women. We are one. The great escape is on!
The young women bring our food and Tieka finds me finally. “It’s on for tonight. I would thank you but I have nothing suitable I can find to say to you for this.”
“Look in my eyes, Tieka” I say and lift my face to hers in the gathering gloom. She sees the tears there and knows she need say nothing more. Her body sizzles with anticipation and the stress of the long wait. The onus for success now lies with them, not us. Here we part company and take a different road. She knows. We squeeze hands and she carries on with her duties. Nothing out of the ordinary could be seen by any observer. But each one of us is alive, more alive than we’ve ever been in our entire lives here.
“All right there, line up for count, to your cells, now!” We file past the wash troughs, rinse our mouths and hands and line up as we head for the cells. I did not recognize that voice but I’m thinking the entire escape group must be out here now in official capacity to be ready for action. Indeed at the cages we are sorted and all those earmarked for the escape are place in the front row of cages, four to a cell. The women are ordered to stand at the back of each cell as the gates are locked, then each lock sliced open clean with hand lasers on tight beam. It must all seem as a break-in, not an escape.
Hand signals flash quickly between the women, and also between men and women. I have to admit, love began and accomplished what nothing else could do all the long years I’ve been here. I’m seeing a miracle take place right here. This reminds me, not of an escape, but of a group of settlers heading for the wilderness to begin a new life.
The great doors remain open, their automated mechanism disabled electronically. We can see the action in the yard between flashes of lightning. I count five carrier shapes floating by, two coasting past loaded with men and three, one half-full, gliding towards our compound and landing at the entrance. I see mounds covered with netting on every carrier – the supplies and what have to be heavy laser guns mounted on turrets on each side of the pilot’s cabin.
Quickly the women file out and are made to slip on desert coloured men’s hooded robes to protect them from the whipping sands then shown to take their place lotus fashion on the flat decks of the carriers. The women are given straps to put over their shoulders and ropes to hold on to. One by one, silently, the carriers lift off and disappear from view in the pelting rain and buffeting winds. It is done. Once more we wait. Who can sleep now?
“Anti, are you asleep?” It is Tiki’s voice from a cage to my left.
“Tiki, how are you?”
“Excited. My friend the Concubine has something to share with you. She was afraid to tell you earlier, but it’s good.”
“Aw come on Tiki, you can’t fool an old woman. I know what it is: she is in love with you.” I say this to tease her, I’m quite sure such an obvious observation would not need to be shared. Everyone in the compound knows these two are inseparable.
“No! Tell her, tell her!”
“Antierra?” It’s the sultry, sexy voice of the Concubine. “What I want to tell you is I have a name also. I found it in my head during our last fight. It is my goddess and power name. It is ‘Tallala’” She pronounces it ‘Tayaya’ and it literally translates as Freedom and Hope. I do not reply for a moment to clear another lump in the throat. These people amaze me more and more.
“Freedom and Hope. Ah woman, what a name. This you did not make up. This is given to you by the goddess herself to carry for her as a banner. When you die that name will carry you past all the darkness to your true home. Bear it well and proudly. Bear it for all of us. When you enter the fight, use it as your mantra. In your last fight, when you lie in the red sands dying, say it as your prayer. Then in your heart forgive that last man because by taking your body he is giving you access to your own freedom and your own hope.
“Now in honour of the One who gave it, hold your friend, touch forehead to forehead and say the name – slowly, just once. This binds you both to that name. And I, as her Teacher to you, bless you both.”
There is much approving grunting and sighing throughout the cages. The message is past on to the far end and even the ‘dikfols’ chained there are not excluded. This message and tonight’s venture is for all of us, all of us everywhere. We have already overcome. Now to make our ‘others’ realize this throughout space and time!
We do finally sleep and when morning comes we are awakened earlier than usual when the “break in” is discovered. Old guards in threadbare and ill-fitting uniforms walk over to our compound, examine the great open doors, try their remotes on them then give up. They examine the cut locks on the cages. Someone, a messenger, comes running up with the news that the five newly repaired carriers are missing as well as some trainers, handlers, guards and the two chief engineers of the hangars. Some time later it is noted that two of the night shift security personnel are also missing. The moat is scanned and broken pieces of shunts and remotes are dragged from the water.
The story comes together fairly quickly, the evidence so obvious. The two security personnel were Estáani spies and were able to disable the sensors and alarms with equipment given to them by their people. Estáani commandos broke in, stole the carriers and various types of supplies and weapons, took captives for sex and slaves and returned to their camps using the carriers to carry their loot. So carefully did the Cydroids craft this multi-faceted deception that no other conclusion can be drawn. As if more evidence was needed, lost gloves and other artifacts used by the Estáani were found in the near desert. The investigation is concluded swiftly and no one in the compound punished. What questions we could answer of what we saw no one would credit anyway. We are ignorant goras. They file us out of our cages to the wash troughs and the tables. How good breakfast tastes this morning, even under the oppressive humidity of last night’s storm! And it looks like another one is going to hit us today.
I scan the skies and I’m happy to see the great cyclones of sand continuing to partially block the sun’s rays and the sky’s normally sharp blue is of a tan colour. The ‘goddess’ continues to bless our efforts, it would seem. ‘I thank you Mother’ I whisper quietly and in my heart I feel a flutter of a response. She is awakening, I know.
End blog post #104