Category Archives: hand to hand combat

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #109

This blog post concludes “The Antierra Manifesto” – thanks for reading.

What is Antierra thinking as she stands there?  She looks up into the stands, makes the “mercy” gesture and points at the two young girls beside her.  Her gesture is greeted by spitting and cursing.  She turns to the two children and while they are looking at the approaching men wide eyed and shaking, she puts her sword through their hearts.  Then she turns to the men and utters the loudest blood-curdling shriek that place has ever heard.  I had never heard anything like it and it made me shudder.  It seems to come from some awakened beast, not of human voice. Long it echoes along the high walls and through the compounds; so loud it is, it intimidates that wild and unruly crowd to utter and cowed silence.
End blog post #108
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Start blog post #109

She then walks alone to meet the line of men, suddenly no longer an ugly and limping old crone who is nothing but skin, bone and sinew but a tall regal figure who knows her purpose and means to complete it.  The deadly sword flashes red in the plasma lights, the blade still dripping from the blood of the dead girls, and it performs a series of lightning movements that leave a trail of utter carnage until she drops dead, not of wounds but simple heart-stopping exhaustion.  This I can vouch for as I was standing close enough for my sensors to detect her heart stop beating.  She had taken her human body to its final limits.

One of the surviving challengers shouts his cry of victory but no one in the stands picks it up.  For once that crowd is stunned by what it is seeing.  Twenty-three men lie dead and dying around the body of the Desert Beast.  Where is the victory?

The remaining men rush upon the standing group of defenders and kill them one by one, still taking heavy losses.  Only nine men remain of that last ‘rush’ to claim their victory and all of those bear some kind of cut or stab wound.  The last female to remain alive kills herself with her dagger rather than submit to rape.  A new power has arisen on T’Sing Tarleyn.

Even in death the Desert Beast scores.  Never has this place seen such devastation at the hands of a few trained fighters against what, by comparison, can only be called an army of men.

The “harvesting” and trading of female body parts carries little excitement today.  The price paid is much too high for any male to find his enjoyment therein.  The greatest price lies in the message sent to the thousands who came to see women tortured, raped and mutilated before they were even dead.  What they saw instead was a severely organized stand by twenty three female fighters, most of these untrained and certifiable crazies, and an additional twenty females with no fighting skills whatsoever, kill one hundred and ninety-one armed males. 

A sobering set of statistics for the men to mull over.  Not all males are beyond the ability to use some reasoning or exercise wonder.  Many, I would guess, are glad their number was not called.  In previous orgies the ones called were always considered the lucky ones.  Not so today.

Of note:  The scavengers carefully avoid touching the body of the fallen Desert Beast.  No one approaches to cut off any of her parts.  They know she did not die of wounds inflicted by men and having no understanding of such a concept as spontaneous death through the shut-down of body functions as in a massive coronary, they still fear her presence.  After they leave, eunuch slaves and female fighters enter the arena to remove the bodies of the women and take them to the waiting carriers.

Of note:  There is a definite reverence among eunuchs and fighters as they pick up and carry the bodies.  These fallen women are heroes to those who remain behind.  This too is new.  Whatever else the Teaching may have accomplished in the few years it has been verbalized in the fighter compounds, it has made the fighters and some male staff aware that perhaps there is such a thing as life beyond death. This Antierra asserted constantly.  That idea was basic to the Teaching. This we Cydroids cannot know as none of us have “died” the real death. Those of us who were killed, such as XBA9 at the hands of the Warmo’s inquisition, were re-grown and are alive, all the more aware for our experiences.  Perhaps what Antierra taught is a similar process.

As to the women fighters, they are proud this day.  Among them, and perhaps among the compound male staff as well, the exploits of Antierra and her magnetic way of expounding any kind of Teaching, be it in tactical, weapons handling, relationships or ethics and her more questionable ‘spacer’ stories will live long and inspire generations to come.  I say this because I have known her.  I say this because through her I, Cydroid XBA3, became more human.  I just have this wish, that I had been able to join her in those rushes in the arena, to stand by her and use my considerable strength to protect her.  Something I know would have expanded my developing consciousness.  I wish I had been able to practice that special “touch” with her I saw the women do constantly for one-another.

As I think about it, I believe I was actually in love with Antierra.  Perhaps not as humans speak of love between man and woman, but there was something about her mind I found irresistible.  I “wish” I could believe her stories about reincarnation and crossing at will through dimensional barriers from world to world so I could hope to see her again as my sisters believe they will. 

For anyone who may some day read this data, think of it this way: Antierra was a human being who was able to make even an AI see life through a new dimension.  She made me, not less Cydroid, but more human.  I felt compassion when I watched her in the arena on that day.  I felt something hurt me deeply when she slid her sword through the two girls’ hearts to kill them instantly and painlessly.  What I felt was her pain, the pain she used to activate her decisive power.  Now her sorrow and her inevitable joy are forever a part of my brain patterning or shall I dare say, my human understanding. 

Signed: Cydroid XBA3, Doctor Balomo Echinoza Cydroid Family.  Location:

Arena Fighter Compound, Hyrete, Capital of the Kingdom of Elbre, T’Sing Tarleyn, Autumn, Year 1341.

_______________________________________________

After watching and listening to this ancient holorec report I sit for a long time alone in a darkened room.  I sip on a glass of sherry and find my favourite drink insipid as I consider the implications therein. 

 It is useless to try to dismiss it as exaggeration: Cydroids, like our Androids, could not lie.  Even one touched either temporarily or permanently by ‘real’ feelings would still be incapable of this kind of fabrication.  Only if someone’s life was at stake and a story need be made up to create a chain of confusing events or a diversion  would a Cydroid “lie” – but it would not be a lie to them, just an alternate temporary reality to complete and terminate a program loop.

 Let XBA3’s words stand forever as history; as our history. There will be no changes, no apologies, from me.  What I just wrote from the memcard records is an actual event and I am concluding my report as is. I raise my tepid glass of sherry to the crumbling stone walls of this ancient keep and toast Antierra: “To the Fighters of Hyrete!”  And from the walls comes an echo of many voices in reply, the once silent voices of the women who trained, loved, fought and died alongside of their Teacher:  “To the Goddess!”

Signed: Michele Dellman

(Personal comment – not to be included in the official report.

My work of chronicler accomplished here, there remains the daunting task of trying to understand what all this means to me personally, as a woman with the remnant of a small voice, in a greater galactic and universal world once more strangling in ever-expanding webs of male-dominated religious oligarchies, plutocracies and centralized brutal military dictatorships, all and still, in the name of God, Trade and Security where women’s voices remain taboo or all too symbolic beyond the confines of home, workplace or entertainment palaces; when men by and large continue to oppress and kill our spirit, our mind, if not always our bodies.

 And I ask myself this resurgent and damning question: what, ultimately, is a woman’s purpose in the scheme of human affairs?  I realize I just shrugged as Antierra was wont to when a question asked was not giving her the logical answer she could accept and truthfully verbalize.  

Maybe the worst part of this question is that I know what she would say: “As below, so above.  You are a woman.  You exist.  You are real.  So you continue.  The goddess lives in you.”

(“M. D.”)

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #108

I must sleep now.  Tomorrow I will be empowered, one last time, to use every technique, every trick with weapons I’ve ever learned and used or can remember.  I will be free to grab an opponents weapons if I so choose and use it against him, or them.  There are no rules tomorrow.  I plan to use Tomia as a bulwark against the attacking males to protect the two young trainees for as long as we can, if the girls will let us.  At least that will give us a common purpose, apart from just tearing men apart and being torn apart by them in turn.
Tomorrow is our future.   

End blog post #107
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Start blog post #108

Epilogue

A report from researcher and chronicler for the Supremacy,  Michele Dellman

From the reams of committee reports, council decisions, legal proceedings, including almost endless lists of supply requests, legal gambling wins and losses subject to the King’s tax and other documents found after the sack of Hyrete and which I scanned through for many days looking to satisfy my curiosity about this place I became excited when I saw the name of Antierra surface again in a set of memcards used in the antique datacoms of the period.  Most of the story has already been published but for some reason the last days, or day, of that particular female fighter had not been recovered.  After some painstaking efforts to translate this digital document, I have this to add to what I have boldly called ‘The Antierra Manifesto’ in my private collection.

 Sometime after the defeat of Heitchef Warmo in the arena, Antierra was eventually condemned to die by execution.  Through the efforts of her [lover? friend?] called Doctor Balomo Echinoza, a doctor of medicine and anthropologist from the world of Koron on assignment to Elbre, the sentence was commuted to Antierra being condemned to a fight to the death in a killing orgy in the arena of Hyrete.  Here are the reports made by one of Doctor Echinosa’s Cydroids of that fateful day.  Be warned that the following is not for the queasy.

Report by Cydroid number XBA3 for archiving

“My name, as given to me by Antierra, is Xoba Three, normally known as Cydroid XBA3.  I am one of the male Cydroids of doctor Echinoza’s family.  I was one of the handlers who took Antierra to the arena the day of the killing orgy and thus observed the proceedings.  This is a verbal report of what took place.

First the fighters are escorted to the edge of the arena and made to stand, unarmed and naked for the crowd to curse and lust after.  Personal items are thrown at the women to fall harmlessly on the freshly raked sands and have to be collected and taken away by male eunuch slaves.  23 female fighters, mostly dikfols, including Antierra, are lined up along the wall, then another twenty females are also brought in.  The total number of females in the arena when the gates are officially closed and manned by armed guards and specially cleared fighters is exactly 43.  These must all be killed regardless of performance or how many men they kill attempting to survive.  If men stop entering the arena to fight the remaining fighters because of fear, the fighters will be decimated with lasers.  This is an execution, not a fight.  The fighting is for entertainment value and blood-letting only.  There is no official betting as on a normal fight though it is common for challengers and spectators to bet between each other as to numbers of kills.  Most of the audience is made up of street males who cannot usually afford to attend fights and the unofficial sums that pass through their hands in this unofficial betting are negligible.

In the annals, this “interactive” event is marked as an official holiday.

Each female is given a weapon at random.  Antierra gets a long double-handed  sword, undoubtedly a subtle gift from the judge for she is deadliest with this weapon.  A trumpet blows and a gate opens at the opposite end of the arena floor.  Naked men troop in.  I count exactly fifty in the first group.  They all hold various types of weapons which according to the rules of this day, must be official.  How this is determined is by lottery draw.  Each man, as he enters the arena to file in the stands is given a ticket with a number on it.  While the men of Elbre cannot read letters, much less words, they can all read numbers and work with them.  Statistics and money are very important here.  When the stands have filled, or the entrance gates are officially closed, whichever comes first, numbers are called.  Each man with a ticket number that matches the called number takes it to the judges’ tables and receives a weapon in exchange for his ticket.  He then strips and joins the group that will be let into the arena to fight the females.

Thus it appears that for the rag-tag group of dikfols who can barely defend themselves due to problems with their heads, the half dozen or so truly trained fighters and the twenty sacrificial victims of worker and sex slave categories added to the roster for additional numbers, the judges choose to allow fifty men in at one time as challengers.  I will do the human thing here and colour my report with the use of sarcasm: fair is fair after all.  Honour and bravery must always be displayed by the male heroes.

Another trumpet sounds and the fight is on.  The men rush upon the women.  Antierra has organized her group in a tight square and boxed in the less trained and most vulnerable members, the two child-women dikfols and the worker females.  Two of the workers insist on joining in the first rush and do a passable job of defending themselves.  Antierra’s fighters decimate over twenty of the rushing louts before they even realize what has happened.  The fighters grab the men’s weapons as back up and pass them behind to their charges for quick access.  The male rush ends with the score: fifty men killed.  One woman dead and three wounded, one seriously.

With just enough time for Antierra to rearrange her quadrangle, another fifty “challengers” are let in.  The bodies have been piled to the side by the eunuchs and the challengers are somewhat intimidated by the sight of their male buddies lying dead and bleeding still.  Nevertheless, loaded with brew and chakr mix they rush the defensive ring of women.  The remaining active fighters dispatch these as fast as they can, Antierra’s long sword never missing a throat, arm or torso.  She decapitates two rushers while throwing two daggers at a man who had jumped the cordon and attacked a frightened worker female.  Before the dagger got him he had killed the female.  Score on second rush: 50 males dead, five females, of which three of Antierra’s trained force.  That leaves Antierra still unscathed and three trained and clear-minded fighters, of whom one has several cuts and is bleeding profusely.

Antierra looks at her hopeless situation and forces five more dikfol trained fighters to take the point, and uses three of the worker females as partners.  The one she has named “Tomia” is still active and taking another point of the square when the third rush trumpet sounds.  The men do not run into the women’s weapons this time.  They take time to organize themselves somewhat and become more wary and dangerous.  The fighters are better armed but less sure now that except for two, the best are dead or disabled.  Antierra holds two daggers in one hand and is still using her long sword.  Tomia is armed with two of the deadly staffs fully extended.  There is no finesse here, just killing speed.  Dispatch as many men as you can as fast as you can.

The men attack viciously.  They are pushed back even more viciously.  Dikfols now smell blood and scream their hate, throwing themselves at the men, taking several down permanently before they are speared from behind.  The fighting continues until all the men are dead or dying.  Women’s bodies lie all over now.  Antierra is cut and bleeding across the forehead.  Her worker partners are all dead.  Tomia is dying.  Only one of the real fighters remains standing and eleven other women, including the small girl women who now must take their place in the defense position.  It is hard to imagine that so few women could have dispatched one hundred and fifty men and no one calls for mercy.  No, let me correct this statement.  It is not hard to imagine, it is impossible to.

A fourth trumpet sounds and another fifty men are ready to attack the remaining group of defenders.  They come, fresh and eager to maim and kill.  They want body parts.  They are the ones who will mostly survive this day, this they can see; the ones who will be royally treated for giving their friends in the stands the coveted female body parts.  They are the ones who will rape and torture the remaining living females.

What is Antierra thinking as she stands there?  She looks up into the stands, makes the “mercy” gesture and points at the two young girls beside her.  Her gesture is greeted by spitting and cursing.  She turns to the two children and while they are looking at the approaching men wide eyed and shaking, she puts her sword through their hearts.  Then she turns to the men and utters the loudest blood-curdling shriek that place has ever heard.  I had never heard anything like it and it made me shudder.  It seems to come from some awakened beast, not of human voice. Long it echoes along the high walls and through the compounds; so loud it is, it intimidates that wild and unruly crowd to utter and cowed silence.

End blog post #108

Antierra Manifesto – Blog Post #107

I watch her working her mind to find names for the other women.  She frowns deeply and certainly works hard to find fitting names.  She knows these women, a couple of whom are just small girls barely thirteen I’d wager, someone having faked their brands to expedite their sale and make a quick buck.  They likely went over the edge from sexual and other physical abuse, torture, overdosing on chakr or from having witnessed horrors their young minds could no longer absorb.  It could be all of the above.  The most dangerous part of any young fighter’s life is the trip from the crèche to the fighter arena.  I try not to imagine watching these children being set upon by males to be dismembered while still alive and their parts thrown over the walls into the crazed crowd, but the image remains nevertheless.  This is one more horror I must remember, in case the temptation to forget becomes too seductive.

End blog post #106
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Start blog post #107

I know Tomia will give them appropriate names or titles and know the ploy will work.  Always it has.  For we are also the names we bear and the more names we use the broader become the personalities we may properly express, for each name is associated with a partial through our remembrances.  Each partial, associated with one or several past lives, carries a vital part of who we are.  These partials will be with us in the arena tomorrow and how much we will need their presence and strength then!  Goddess help these ahyas tomorrow when I no longer can!

When the servant women return to clean up after us and feed us I seek out the messenger.  She comes over but before she speaks I ask her if she desires a secret name if she hasn’t got one yet.  She indicates she has no name, just her branding. 

“I name you Angelia.”  In their tongue it’s pronounced ‘aneya.’  “It means special messenger.  Do you have message for me from goronda?” 

“Goronda say, ‘Your friend is well on planet Koron.  Now she is teaching a new course in ethics at the high academy for philosophers.  Also she is being studied, at her insistence, by medical authorities for possible cloning.  We are excited at the possibilities and everyone who knows her loves her.  The President of the Koron World Court has given her a special citizenship.  She is citizen of the entire world of Koron, not just one of its fifty-two countries.  She can freely travel to any part of the world she wishes and no one can question her as to motives.  She also expressed her undying love for the fighter Antierra to be conveyed to her whenever possible.’ 

“That is what goronda say.”

“Thank you Angelia.  You are a perfect messenger.”

“Thank you for name.  May I share with goronda?”

“Yes you may.  She will understand and help you with it.”

“I know you die tomorrow.”  There are large rolling tears on her white pinched face.  “I not know to say proper, wish you not die.  Wish you stay to teach more.”

“Listen Angelia.  No one really die.  Just body die, give much hurt but after, one alive again, free.  Maybe I return and teach you when you training for fighter.  I look different but it be me.  I make sure you know.  Take my hand, hold tight.  Touch me and take from me what is left.  You be the last fighter to take Antierra power.  Use it well, Angelia.  Be not sad.  Is good for me go away tomorrow into timeless.  I come back: this believe.  Now is good for you learn name, practice self-empowerment.”

“What means self-empowerment?”

“Ask goronda to explain.  She know you better.  She mind touch, explain with power.  She very good ahya.  Trust goronda, Angelia.  Go now, or guards punish you.”

She slips through the returning trainees and disappears. 

It is always especially quiet in the cages any night before an orgy.  Tonight seems even more so.  I can just make out the silhouette of Tomia sitting quietly.  I try to focus on her thoughts but I encounter the white noise again.  She has shut down, just waiting.  I swing my gaze around, see the two little trainees lying down.  One is crying, whether in knowledge of tomorrow’s horrors or from some other nightmare, I’ll never know.  I wish I could reach over and hold her.  We can’t even comfort one-another.  These people’s cruelty seems boundless.  Yet how many times have I encountered the same, in quality if not in quantity, on Túat Har?  The people there had the same lack of awareness of the pain they inflicted on others, including millions of non-human sentients who shared planet space with them; the same lack of empathy towards those of their world who died every day so some could become rich and be comfortable.  This is nothing new, just more of same in a concentrated bitter brew.  Indeed, that is the lesson of the stack worlds, isn’t it. 

As below, so above my teachers insisted on telling me.  Here you no longer doubt the wisdom of that saying.

I must sleep now.  Tomorrow I will be empowered, one last time, to use every technique, every trick with weapons I’ve ever learned and used or can remember.  I will be free to grab an opponents weapons if I so choose and use it against him, or them.  There are no rules tomorrow.  I plan to use Tomia as a bulwark against the attacking males to protect the two young trainees for as long as we can, if the girls will let us.  At least that will give us a common purpose, apart from just tearing men apart and being torn apart by them in turn.

Tomorrow is our future.   

 

 

 

End blog post #107

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #106

“Never again we be goras.  Now we be ahya!  Always! Forever! Together we be ahya!  Say it low together.  This is my last mantra, my last Teaching.  Remember you all be ahya!   Let men say ‘gora’ but you must translate that as ahya in your mind each time to break the evil spell.  Practice self-empowerment, always.  That is our greatest weapon, ahyas.”  

End blog post #105
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Start blog post #106

Throughout the cages hundreds of voices in turn repeat that last Teaching.  Then there is silence.  They sense I wish to be left alone now to think and sleep.  It’s not so different than facing a fight to the death in the arena.  The part about not being able to win doesn’t quite become real after so many fights ‘won’ during those long, long years that seem at least four times their physical number: a mere thirteen years. 

Yes, only thirteen years to go from a beautiful twenty five year old female to one who feels seventy-five and looks it.  My hair is short and almost completely white at thirty-eight.  My body is covered in scars and lumps.  One leg is bent outward from a badly set fracture when I was not able to get proper medical attention after a particularly vicious fight.  I’m missing my middle finger on the right hand.  A deep cut across my left breast left a thick ugly brown welt there.  The top half of my left ear was lopped off long ago and half my teeth are missing from blows to the face, not all from the arena.  It’s no wonder they learned long ago to feed us with gruel, broths and stews.  Many of us could never chew solid foods and would starve to death.

The clanking of the cage gates awaken us in the morning.  A shaft of sunlight bathes our space for a few moments and it is glorious to see the dust motes floating in its gold and silver rays.  I can sense how much nature would like to speak to all of us and teach us simpler, better ways.  I have sensed the same things on Altaria… and back on Túat Har.  For a few moments I let myself bask in the comfort of those memories.  One more day, and however long I can last in the arena tomorrow and I’ll be going home should I choose to do that. 

I try once more to communicate simple words with some of the dikfols – we are twenty-three, including myself, shackled to the sliding rings – and this time meet with some success.  A few are not so far gone that they cannot speak but their minds are all darkened.  They spit at me, or in my direction and call me every low slang curse word they can dredge up.  I let it pass as a storm and say nothing in return.  They had expected me to react in the same way; my silence takes them by surprise.

“Why you hate me, goras?”  ( I have to use that term or they will get even angrier.)

One of the women snarls at me.  “You turn men against us, evil you be.  We know.  Men, they beat us and say because you hate them.  We know.  Now you die in orgy too krosspeeg.  Maybe I kill you myself.  Hate you.  Haaaate you!” She screams it at me.

“Stupid you be goras.” I reply in the fighter’s low throaty power voice.  “Stupid to listen lying men.  Is why you are here, because you stupid.  I help women, many years.  You be knowing this.  I get lovers together.  I send hurt goras to doctor to save life.  I take on bad drooks and fight myself for some I know cannot fight good.  I teach many good weapons trick, yes? 

“I say this to you goras.  Yes, you kill me tomorrow, instead of men who be killing all us.  Is smart?  I be best fighter ever.  Tomorrow, if we together, kill many, many evil men.  Maybe so many they no have killing orgy again.  Maybe young lovers not have to be killed that way no more.  Try understand!  Tomorrow  we all die.  We be friends to fight men? Or we be stupid and kill one-other to believe lying men?  You try kill me tomorrow, I promise I kill you first.  I better than you, any weapon I use.  Weapons my magic.  I be daughter of Great Desert Beast.  Ask others tonight.  They be knowing.  But maybe I just let men, let you, kill me because I tired living with stupid goras.  Maybe I just die, go home, never return to help more.  Maybe I just spit on T’Sing Tarleyn and let women and children continue die.  My world, it good place.  Everyone happy there.” 

And I turn my head away from them and say again the one word they understand better than anything else: “Stupid!”

There is silence for a time then one of them says hesitantly, “I think.  I too be good fighter.  I think I fight with you, be partner?”

I reply slowly, “Yes.  Is good thinking.  I like.”

“How you know when dead you go home?  When dead, I dead.  Not have home.”

“Listen to me.  First I give you name, Tomia.  You like?”

“Yes, very good, I like much.  I be Tomia.  It mean?”

“It mean quick understanding.  It mean now you have person.  Now you have name, no stay dead.  They kill, you move from dead body, you fly to home.  Not hard.  You find quick.  Friends there, they help.  All fine.  Is how it is.  This big ahya secret, men not know this.  Men not find Tomia home.  Safe there.”

“Other dikfols here, how they go home?  No name, cannot speak.  Brain broken.”

“They be your family now, Tomia.  You think name, give name to each one.  That name, it go inside broken brain and follow spirit after body dead.  Very powerful is secret name.  When awake from dead body, they find name.  They too be free.  You, Tomia, set ahya friends free.”

I watch her working her mind to find names for the other women.  She frowns deeply and certainly works hard to find fitting names.  She knows these women, a couple of whom are just small girls barely thirteen I’d wager, someone having faked their brands to expedite their sale and make a quick buck.  They likely went over the edge from sexual and other physical abuse, torture, overdosing on chakr or from having witnessed horrors their young minds could no longer absorb.  It could be all of the above.  The most dangerous part of any young fighter’s life is the trip from the crèche to the fighter arena.  I try not to imagine watching these children being set upon by males to be dismembered while still alive and their parts thrown over the walls into the crazed crowd, but the image remains nevertheless.  This is one more horror I must remember, in case the temptation to forget becomes too seductive.

End blog post #106

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #104

[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
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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