Category Archives: Eroticism

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #84

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
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Begin Blog post #84

I’m remembering the confused economics of Old Earth, early C-21, near the end of my last ‘formal’ life there and do a comparison with what is happening here.  I don’t have much of a perspective of Malefactus, being a slave within a compound buried inside a city and no access to current events, to the history, of the rest of this world.  On Old Earth there was a common, mostly subconscious awareness that economics based purely on exploitation of any resource and measured by the interest of greed would cause a massive collapse of society.  Of course the inevitable happened on that world as its primary resource called crude oil, peaked and dwindled with little actually in place to replace it, despite the best of hopes at the time.   

What about here?  What’s it like, say, in some city or town on the southern shores of their ‘Great Sea’ as they call it?  What constitutes the basis of that economy?  Is it the same dreadful thing as here in Hyrete?  Or do they fish, farm, mine, grow fruit maybe?  I know the females are still slaves, no matter where one goes on T’Sing Tarleyn; that the basic labour is all done by slavery, but do they treat their slaves better?  I don’t know why they should and I have to assume that no matter where one is on this world things are as bad as here. 

Long ago my ‘Teachers’ taught me how to look at the things which I had no way of knowing for certain.  “As below, so above.”  Translated it simply means that when projecting into other dimensions, other worlds, other places or into the future, go with your knowledge.  Remember that knowledge comes from two sources irrevocably blended together: information and experience.” 

Why does it matter to me how women are treated in those places I can not know about?  It matters simply because all that I have gone through here, all that I am going to yet experience, is meaningless to me if such a passage does not result in the betterment of their lives in some way.  It matters because over the years I have lived here the women I have met, young or old, all have a place in my heart.  They are, to me, mothers, sisters, lovers, daughters.  It matters because I will never be free in heart as long as they remain slaves. 

“When none of it matters it will all be yours.”  So I was taught those many years ago on Old Earth.  I remember the lessons so clearly now that I’ve failed every one of them.  And you know, maybe that is the purpose of every ‘great’ lesson, that we never get them until we realize we’ve failed at what we thought they were about.  Only then can we begin to rise to the challenge: that beyond the obvious lies reality.  This I’ve learned about being truly alive: that it will never cease to amaze me, no matter where I find myself, nor in what circumstances. 

That may well explain why in some place beyond time I sat with many good friends, human and others and we decided to join the shadow beings who are called “WindWalkers” within the All-Thing.  The “Ever-Wanderers” or “Avatari.”  Such joy we felt then, when we sang our song in unison, its power vibrating among the stars and their countless worlds, participating and adding power to the music of the spheres.  When we raised our hands, we created a crystal of rainbow light that for a moment illuminated our spirits and minds and cleansed us of all blemishes.  We enjoined ourselves to remember, as it has been said, the voices of the dead and of the living and take that remembrance as the gift of the Avatari to the worlds we would inhabit. 

We could not have known then the nature of the trials that awaited us among the various planes of existence we would visit and incarnate.  We could not have known that it was every weakness and every failure we would rise from that would determine who we were and how we could function.  We could not have known that the only power that would serve us in the end was what we ourselves manifested from our surroundings and from within ourselves.  We could not have known that in most instances where we would be most effective we would simply give our own physical lives to these worlds.  And not just once.

I’ve now managed a few steps without help and away from any support.  I feel a bit more confident.  Slowly, I bend forward, keeping a shaky balance, then attempt to bend back.  I fall but wave the Cydroid away.  I get up and regain my balance.  My head continues to clear and that distant drum beat that was the beating of my heart in my damaged temple fades more and more.  I cross the alley to a stone pillar and lean on it.  Bal has followed me and stands next to me.  He’s wearing a silken mauve robe that flows in the breeze and he looks very handsome to me.  Why not?  By galactic standards I’m but a very young woman, not a battered crone who should have died years ago.  Ah well, I truly do not care actually that I don’t attract him anymore.  I may not have changed things much on this world but I have gained a new kind of adulthood, a new kind of understanding from my experiences. 

Maybe there is one great lesson to be learned before one evolves into full humanity; the correct answer to the Sphinxian question:

‘How does one become human?’

The answer could go something like this: to become aware that ‘any allegiance to a deity or concept or universal principle which puts obedience above decent behaviour toward an innocent is evil.’ [1]

Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson above all lessons ISSA beings must learn before they evolve into full humanity.  The correct answer to any demand for sacrifice, by any Power whatsoever, is to offer oneself in place of the other, even if the act seems utterly hopeless.  It never is.  Infinity redeems, not history, not time, not God, not the gods.

“Bal, how long have I lived here?”  For in truth I can no longer remember.

“You came here in the fifth month of the year one thousand three hundred and twenty-eight (1328).  It is now the seventh month of one thousand three hundred and forty-one (1341). You have been here thirteen years and two months.  Do you want the statistics on the number of times you fought and won in the arena?”

“No!”  The cry comes from deep within my spirit, from beyond time itself.  “I have won nothing, Bal, except my mind freedom when I defeated and destroyed the Warmo.  All the others, no matter who they thought they were or I believed them to be, are my victims.  I killed them, all of them.  Yes, it could be said I had no choice, but I had.  I came here of choice.  Yes it could be said I wanted to help the women of this world and that remains as true today as the first day I was branded and became a T’Sing Tarleyn slave woman and fighter.  But the blood I shed, especially the times I enjoyed shedding it, I must yet atone for.  Nothing is free; nothing is ever what it seems.  Every good or evil event has its opposite.”

“You are too hard on yourself, almost to the point of blindness.  If you refuse to see the good you have brought here by your sacrifices how will you ever succeed?  Antierra – you will die in that arena, perhaps soon.  The auto-med reports many failures in setting things to right in your body.  The Warmo did things to you we cannot repair.  Your heart is damaged but not all of your damage is physical, do you understand?  You must regain control of yourself for this world still desperately needs you.

[1]   Quote from “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons, p. 292

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #79

(The one-on-one battle to the death between Antierra and Warmo continues and concludes.)

This is his power over me, he knows.  He pictures himself to me thus:  I see the spy who took over the leadership of the people I had come to love so long ago in Galilee and Judea, the serpent who destroyed the work begun by the man I’d hoped would change things forever.  I see the Christian judge in C-16 who had me tortured and hanged as a witch in England.  I see the father who rejected the blind daughter and condemned her to a short life in the wilds of Scotland in C-19.  I see the husband who beat me regularly in the barn on that farm in eastern France.  I see the SS Obersturmführer in Paris who personally directed the torture of female prisoners connected to the French underground and at whose hands I died.  I see Warmo himself, master of the T’Sing Tarleyn official Inquisition and my recent escape from his clutches.  He shows me that not only is he going to finish the job, but he’s going to get every woman still alive who was released from his torture that day. 

 

End blog post #78
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Begin blog post #79

I must die at his hands.  No, not just die, I must know he has triumphed and I must wear the pain he will inflict on me as part of his necklace of conquests.  He must drink my blood while I still live and that crowd up there must know he is the Master.  ‘I am your death’ he whispers in my brain.  ‘I am the One who will destroy you and all those who believe in your power.  This time there will be no escape for you.  No next life, no place to go.  It ends here.  I will rape, not your body, but your mind.  I will destroy you utterly, Al’Tara.’

He has discovered my true nature and revealed his.  Whoever heard of such a contest?  Yes, in the stories of “The Highlander” – a similar tale of arch-enemies chasing each other across the boundaries of time until only one remains, evil or good.  This contest does not mean there are only two of us in existence but that one of us here, today, must die for all time. 

It’s my turn to touch his twisted mind with thoughts as clear as water flowing from melting snows on a high mountain.  I call forth my light and speak into his mind:  ‘I’m not so easy to convince that another entity, however powerful, however evil, can destroy me.  I have met with gods and other entities in the cosmos.  I have seen into infinity.  I have penetrated the very fabric of the web of life.  I have seen the twists and turns of infinite changes.  It does not have to end here, even if I cannot complete this task with this fragile and broken body.  I can escape you…’

I feel elation come from him.  I continue, ‘Ah… now I understand your game demon.  Of course I cannot escape from you.  I am bound to this fight by a promise I have made long, long ago.  A promise to help, not only the women of Malefactus, but those of Earth also.  I have a task to accomplish and I am trapped by it.  Yes, you are right, it will end here.  It will end between you, my ancient nemesis and myself.  I must defeat you, you give me no option.  I must.  And so let me show you how I brace myself for this final act.  However it plays out, I cannot let you have me for I’m all that stands between you and those I’ve promised to protect from you.  To the death of the self, Warmo.’ 

If only they would call a break!  But there will be no break. 

Already the crowd has become restless again.  They want a resumption of the gore; they want blood and they want to see one die.  They want to feel that death, the death of a female fighter.  They want him to tear my body apart and throw pieces of it over the wall into their hands.  They want to take their drug, the chakr they carry for their celebration and suck the blood from the dripping pieces.  They are blood-maddened, enraged. 

Aristocrats!  This time the arena authorities must have decided to take no chances and spend the money on proper policing.  Black-clad police-soldiers, armour pulsing in combat readiness,  begin to file down, goose-stepping through the aisles, two abreast, lasers activated to stun.  The crowd subsides somewhat.  The ones who refuse to settle down are removed without any struggle.

I move my arms and my legs as if I were working a water-logged wooden puppet.  But at least I can control my movements.  I flex my hands, elbows, knees and toes.  Everything works, in slow motion, so it seems, but it works.  I can continue.  Do I feel pain?  What is pain?  All of life is pain, it seems. Everything a birth and a death at the same time.  Nothing but a sea of pain that you swim in just to stay afloat.  And you wonder why you do it and you know:

It is the way of it.

Warmo stands now and has tested himself also.  He brings his hands together, grabs them, pulls then releases.  He forces his lame and terribly swollen foot forward and exercises it lightly, enough to show me he can stand and he can fight.  He smiles through his mangled lips.  I counter with the attacking female fighter’s last sound: the call to the death – “Aieeeeeeeeeeeaaahhhh!” and approach him once more. 

Into the death grip.

With the encouragement of the crazed crowd we come at each other.  No finesse now;  no wild moves.  Just pure determination and force of muscles.  Our hands lock together and we both begin to pull down, trying to break each-other’s wrists.  Oh, the pain!  He has the strength of the demon in him and if he could he’d bite at my face.  His battered mouth opens and despite the gap where I knocked out two teeth he still intends to bite into me and suck blood.

I lock in the bionics and tug down more, bringing his face closer.  The smell of him is overwhelming but I block it with my pain.  I give one final pull and snap his left wrist.  His hand goes limp.  I release it and bring my hand to his face, slamming into the bleeding gums, breaking more teeth.  He tries to bite my fingers as I jab into his mouth to grab his tongue.  He cannot and I tear it out of his mouth.

Meanwhile I’m still pulling down to break his other wrist.  Another pull and another snap.  What his hellish cross did to my wrists in his dungeon I have returned to him.  I know I have won.  Bit by bit I tear away at him, breaking bone, tearing into muscle.  I stomp on his feet with the bionic-equipped foot and break his arches, making him collapse on the sand.  I continue to beat his body to a pulp.  I aim a kick at his genitals and rip one of them off.  A few more blows and kicks and I ease off slowly, watching him convulse and bleed to death at my feet.

I stand utterly alone.  There is no crowd.  No arena, nothing.  Just empty space with colours floating around me as if I were experiencing the Shearing drive effect. 

End blog post #79

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #73

No, this will not happen.  I have a job to do.  My training and my enhancements were all gifts to me exactly for this moment.  XBA9 was tortured to death so I would have this opportunity.  This is one of those classic turning points in history when one person, one “hero” can make the difference and everything changes, forever.
End blog post #72
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Begin blog post #73

Chapter 32 – The Fight of the Beasts – Part One

The evening before the fight gives us a clear sky with glowing red clouds in a fiery sunset.  The setting sun sends off rays all the way to the meridian above the keep.  It is beautiful.  I ask my handlers if I can just stand for a while and watch the patterns in the sky, alone.  To my surprise they acquiesce to my request and two of them stand almost respectfully at some distance behind me, also staring into the beauty spread so lavishly above us.  Suddenly they both approach me and hold my arms gently.  One of them puts his hand under my chin as I instinctively bow my head in submission and makes me look into his face.  He pulls me slowly to himself and kisses me, as he’s undoubtedly seen women do with each other many times. 

This too is another of those massive breakthroughs. 

The other looks perplexed by his partner’s move, then tries it also.  I kiss him back warmly and gently.  I move my hand to his penis and it is fully erect, hard in my hand.  I fondle him.  He understands now at least one of the uses of kissing.  To him it had always been nothing more than some kind of stupid display of female emotion and weakness. 

Both of them take me around the back of the weapons cases and make love to me.  Yes, they actually make love.  They allow me to play them and arouse them fully before they come.  It is pleasant; it is good; it is like giving the finger to that terrible Force that my “high” sense keeps telling me uses the artificial world of Albaral to poison the men’s minds against women on this world.  No it’s even better than that.  It’s an awakening for the three of us. A bonding that can never be reversed.

They walk me back slowly to the cages.  Tiki is standing, a bit worried I think, maybe jealous.  I take her in my arms and for a long time after the gate has closed and the handlers have walked away we hold and caress each other.  I see many faces turned to me, to us.  On those faces closest to me I see smiles – smiles!  I smile back at them then Tiki and I slip down together into the straw and soon fall asleep.  Another dreamless, innocent sleep that ends with the morning call.  I awaken from a great distance and immediately realize what day this is.

It has been said that ‘only the dead do not know fear’ but if that is true then I must surely be dead.  I do not feel fear.  I feel as a bride on her wedding day.  This is when it comes together for me. 

So many paths, so many twists, turns, dead ends.  But this path has been the most trying.  For years I struggled on it and the thorns, thistles, broken branches and fallen trees kept blocking my advance, tripping me, crushing my bones and making me bleed.  For some days now I’ve stopped struggling and now the path is clear. 

Ahead, in a clear bright light I see one single set of stairs and two altars.  The one on the left is covered with a pure white linen cloth on which the sacrificial victim must lie to be offered in death to the god.  Beside it stands the high priest with the sacrificial knife to cut the victim’s heart out.  Yes, I remember that part.

On the other is a wonderful set of deadly blades and a knight with a golden sword half drawn waiting to knight me and hand me the blades. 

It’s a simple, age-old choice. 

One, I believe and I trust the High Priest to know better than I ever could.  In his hands I die a sacrifice to the God as I have been in the habit of doing over and over. 

Two, I walk to the Knight, kneel, accept the knighthood proffered.  I take the weapons, walk past the altar into the room where the demon in black metal armour awaits my entrance.  He is ready to fight me, dishonour me, kill and devour me along with all I have ever loved and cared for, living or dead.

That is the choice I have been moving towards since I evolved into ISSA consciousness.  This choice determines whether I graduate, or remain in obedient subservience and servitude to a Higher Power.

I choose the weapons.  I go to meet Warmo.  It is time.

End blog post #73

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]
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[begin blog post #58]

That night Tiki is angry.  Not at me, she knows nothing of my intercession to get her to work kitchen duty, but at the men. 

“Damn them, damn them, damn them!” she mutters in that hoarse whisper all females learn to speak in from the time they utter their first words.  “I be fighter, not gorok!  I train with weapon, not clean dirty bowl and sweep floor for dirty cooks.  Damn them!”  

A ‘gorok’ is a particular class of female worker slave who does the most menial type of kitchen work.  She doesn’t cook, or even serve.  She peels, grinds, husks and cleans, cleans, cleans, endlessly.  Her “shifts” have no set times.  She is up hours before anyone else, warming up ovens, washing utensils and cleaning counters and floors.  She sleeps, when permitted, during the middle hours of the day and of the night.  She is up late into the night cleaning, locked inside the kitchens with sensors ready to set off alarms if she walks outside her perimeter.  A slave of slaves.  There is usually a round the clock complement of eight of these goroks in our kitchens.

Because Tiki is my slave, she is allowed out of the kitchens at nightfall to spend the night with me.  I had hoped otherwise, but I can redeem this time, I think.  I fully enjoy her outburst.  There is fire in this one.  Not hate, not pride, just pure fire.  She has a dream, a vision, however short: to be the best fighter ever to grace the arena.  To beat my record.  I can tell.  Now to blend patience and humility into that fire so it can never be doused, whatever happens to the body of this woman. This one is going to develop into a true mind being, I can sense that already.  I have three years to prepare her to become a hero to the women of her world.  That’s sufficient when one has good material to work with.  It is my turn to do my hoarse communication.

“Come Tiki,”  she rolls between my legs and cuddles against my body.  “You be fine.  You no gorok.  You be fine fighter, best fighter.  Say you this every day.  Pick up broom, it ‘staff’ for you.  Sweep husks and peelings from floor like opponents in arena – just dust to Tiki.  Strong is Tiki.  Mongoose shaking cobra to death.”  She nudges deeper into me, her hair tickling my throat and begins unselfconsciously sucking her thumb.  I take her hand gently and pull the thumb out of her mouth and offer her my nipple instead.  She takes it greedily and smiles at me.  Haven’t I been here before?  Beware Antierra, the snakes aren’t all outside in the coarse grasses at the edge of the desert!  They be hissing from the very walls that contain you.

Wars aren’t won in a day.  They take planning, patience, courage and finally just the sheer gut of the fighters to win them.  Tiki does not take kindly to her new life.  From kitchen duty she is shifted to cleaning the straw in the cages and then to sweeping the yards and washing the blood on the flagstones where some of the women have been “punished” for certain infractions.  In this past week we were made to witness two “punishments” to the death, one of an older fighter whose owner cancelled his contract and condemned her to the next killing orgy.  She was put into a private killing orgy for the trainers, a bit of fun approved by the overseer.  She was led to the centre of the yard and  armed with nothing but a standard training staff, was viciously set upon by six trainers until they had managed to break several ribs and one arm.  When she could no longer defend herself they crushed her skull.  When she died they cheered and toasted their victory.  Old king Jestor would have been truly proud of these men.

The other, a trainee who had a nightmare and did not shut up in time when one of the women tried to awaken her, was flogged to death for breaking the rule of silence.  We watched, listened to her screams and pleas for mercy, her dying moans.  We heard the standard warning, returned to life as usual.  What I would give, had I anything to give, to enter the auto-medic and be given the heart of an android, or better, a heart of stone.  To not feel.  To not have to endure this suffering planet.

It is the way of it… and I cannot help feeling.  To cry?  To curse?  I glance at the bloody, pulpy mess hanging from that steel torture pole I know intimately.  I wonder why it is not I who is hanging there.  I imagine the life that was there, that is no more.  I sat next to her yesterday at morning meal and she smiled sadly at me under her eyelashes.  Well, maybe it is me there because I realize I cannot curse.  If I cannot curse, then I have incarnated all of it.  Each time another dies, I die two deaths: hers and mine.  Malefactus is a neuro-inductor and I am attached to its probes all the time.  

Under the wan light of Albaral coming through the openings in the high black stone walls Tiki and I talk in our cage as we nestle against each other enjoying the mutual warmth of our bodies.  Menial labour brings anger and shame from Tiki.  She is afraid they want to demote her to the rank of goronda, the general purpose female worker drone.  “Damn them!” – her favourite expression towards men in general.  That fire is burning dangerously bright.  The wick needs trimming or the flame will smoke up the glass and obscure the vision. 

I study my feelings for her as a hawk watches his prey moving unawares, feeding peacefully in the grasses below his perch.  I must let her take all of me she needs yet refuse to ever let her possess any of me.  I know how to do this, I know I can do it, but do I have the willpower?  How does an older woman not lose herself in those black pools of sadness that pass for eyes in such children who have never experienced childhood?  Creatures destined to die before they experience adulthood?  What does that make them?

I try my best logic on her.  “Tiki, listen me.  I good fighter, yes?”

“Yes sir, you best fighter.  All women say you best.”

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

“Trust.  Believe me.  You think me true to you?”

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

This is extremely dangerous ground.  Who in their right mind wants to be believed by someone who will put her life at stake for what you tell her?  I speak slowly, pitching my voice so she can get every word, every inflection – the tone of voice to them being much more meaningful than the words used to convey it. 

“Good you believe.  But careful you be not believe everything I say.”  She tries to speak and I put my hand on her mouth.  “Wait, I finish, I explain.  I know things you not know.  Things good for me.  Maybe not good for you.  You, me, different.  You listen – I say – you try.  If work for you, is good for you, yes?  If not work for you, is not good for you.  I not know if good for you.  I guess.  I have vision.  Like you but is my vision.  You have vision to be best fighter.  Good vision.  I have different vision.  To be best woman; to be good woman.  I not good woman Tiki.  Good fighter only.  But man can be good fighter too, better than best woman.  But man cannot be good woman.  I have what called “exclusive” vision – be special. 

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #19

[begin blog post #19]

The doctor is not seeing me anymore and when I receive a particularly large wound, she pinches it closed with her long skinny fingers or her mouth in turn, doing so for hours at a time, refusing to let me stir.  I’m sure she saves my life on a couple of occasions by stemming flowing blood from cut arteries.  She always has her braided straw ropes which she makes during the night and hides in the straw bedding, ready to use as tourniquets. 

She is a totally amazing creature, yet seemingly unaware of her special skills, talents and gifts.  She is human, I know, yet she is more, something intangible that motivates her, pushing her to be what she is.   

It is during those long, quiet times when I’m recovering and she sits by me that I tell her stories and build alternate and future lives in her mind.  I speak to her of other worlds where people are not like they are on T’Sing Tarleyn.  I try to explain space travel that allows one to jump instantly between worlds so far apart that it would take several lifetimes of one person to reach, even if he were travelling as fast as a beam of light.  I relate some aspects of my remembered past lives in order to broaden the field of her understanding for I have learned by attempts to interact with most of the people here that beyond their immediate concern for this life, awareness drops into a void.  For them there is nothing beyond death. 

She puzzles deeply over the confusing quality of the lives of the people of Túat Har, of the simplicity of life in the silence of Parnako where the people there communicate exclusively by telepathy; and the fullness of the joy experienced by those who spend time on my “home world” of Altaria.  She asks many questions for which there are no answers, simply because in the living of the questions, she, and only she, can find the answers.  Just as I have to find mine.  I also attempt to explain that aspect of life to her.

How incredibly receptive – and consequently dangerous to herself – she is!  She wants to believe everything I tell her and this frightens me so for I am helpless to protect her from the unknowns her new-found knowledge may bring upon her.  Yet there is no fear at all in her, although she has exposed so much of it in me! 

I fear her utter, totally unconditional love for me, following the dreadful emptiness of her previous life may have made her a bit mad.  And again, I’m probably as wrong as can be in that respect.  The quality of her is such that whenever I think I’ve got her pegged to a certain understanding, or pattern of thought, she moves beyond it, out of my mind’s grasp.

For a while as I got to know her I thought it was simple innocence that made her at the same time utterly one with me and inscrutably fluid to escape any template I made of her mind.  But there are no innocents on Malefactus.  These children raised in crèches know all that is to befall them when they are taken from their questionable childhood safety and sold “into the trade” as slaves.  They are told everything, often even elaborated upon deliberately to frighten them. 

Sometimes in the telling, their bleak future is made even worse than what I’ve described so far.  The viciousness and malice of this society possesses few bounds.  The weak, in whatever form found, have but one purpose: to be exploited and oppressed to the utmost; the very marrow of their lives sucked from them.  So far I have found no redeemable moral values here.  Everything is set up to be cut and dry.  Those who have power will do whatever it takes to keep it, or augment it.  Those who have none, even the little they may think they have will be ripped from their minds, their hearts, their bodies by the most shameless, heartless and cruel ways that can be devised by minds sold into the concept of evil.  Along with her strange nature my young friend shows many signs of having been thus mentally and physically abused.  There is a dark, despairing side to her I can feel in her unguarded moments. 

So I love her all the more.  Weeks somehow stretch into months, months become the dreadful year taking her closer to the arena. 

Basically there seem to be little discernable change of seasons in this part of T’Sing Tarleyn.  Yearly temperatures vary little, except by changes in the weather.  Because it is a dry and sandy world it loses much of its heat during the night and the mornings are always cold.  The days are hot and dry, evenings cool, if the sky is cloudless. 

If it is the rainy season, the mornings are not as cold – but the wet and humidity on our bare skins makes it more miserable to bear while we eat (always in the open, regardless of the weather), train or repair our weapons and armour.  The only times we are permitted indoors apart from our sleeping and holding cages is when we are being used for sex and occasionally when we are being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries from the fights.  If the injury is life-threatening is it cheaper for our owners to buy a replacement fighter and let us die than attempt “repairs.”  More often than not a badly injured fighter, even if she has killed her opponent, is killed by her handlers in the arena, thus giving the crowd a moment of temporary satisfaction. 

During this strange and very emotional time I watch her grow.  She has a full growth of pubic hair now and her breasts are filling out.  I notice the men looking her over more and more.  I try to warn her about what they are about to do to her.  She smiles at me as if I’d lost my mind.  “I know that!” she whispers.  “Are you jealous?” 

“No sweet one, I’m not jealous – yes, I am jealous, damn you!”  She smiles mischievously, “Mostly I’m scared for you that you may do something unacceptable and be punished.  I want you to be everything they want you to be, to fit in, no matter what they say or do.  Whatever you and I are together, we are not when separated.  Keep those lives separate and never forget you are a fighter slave and not my child-lover.”

“Am I really your child-lover?”  Her tone is reproachful and I’m stung to the quick by it.  “You’ve never made love to me.  I watch the others and I’ve been waiting.  Is there something wrong with me?  Don’t you love me?”

Oh the pain those words carry!  Oh please, I don’t want to hear that!  Again I realize I’ve thoroughly messed up with another when I was so convinced I was being kind and understanding.  Is there no way to “do the right thing” on this stupid world?  Or am I such a fool?

“Sweet, I love you more than I can tell or show.  I just thought you should be the one to, you know, make the first move.  You give me so much all the time, I was afraid to take something from you, you may not have been ready or willing to share with me.”

She leans over to me, puts her head on my shoulder and whispers, “You crazy old woman!  If you love me and you’re the oldest, you take me.  That’s how it’s done.  I cannot do it first – that would be wrong and punishable.  When I was put in your cage, I became your bond slave for as long as either one of us lives or you reject me for another.  But you would have known that, wouldn’t you?”

Old woman she calls me.  Old?  I’m maybe seven years older than when I arrived here!  Thirty two classic (Old Earth) years?  Or is this world so twisted that even time moves in some terribly debilitating way, aging some and not others?  No, it’s not time, it’s the way we are treated.  We are all old women the moment we enter the arena.  When youth is forced to kill to defend or avenge; when it is forced to die, it is no longer youth.  It becomes a ghost that wears an aging death mask.

Professional gladiators are at the prime of their lives on their first fight, usually at around sixteen years of age.  From then on, they age quickly, if they live to age at all.  I’m well past my prime now…  Even the trainers are no longer that interested in taking me for sex in their barracks.  Younger ones have taken my place. 

“Make love to me!” she says, “before the men take me.  I want you first.  Here.”  She digs into the straw and pulls up an implement that could pass, in shape and size, for an erect penis.  “Break my skin, please.  I don’t want them to have it.  It’s what we do where I come from but they took me before it was done.  So I have been waiting for my lover; for you to do it.”

What can I say?  I’m beyond amazed at her candour and offer of herself to me.  then I have an idea.  “Sweet, if I be the one to break your skin, I want to take your blood, mix it with mine – I’ll open that fresh wound on my left arm here,” (she knows exactly which one it is and winces) “and I will mix our blood in my hands and baptize you as I promised I would.”

Her large eyes light up with a glow.  “Yes, do it!”

And so we mix our blood together and with the few drops that I can keep in my hand, I sprinkle her forehead as she holds her head reverently backward as I had instructed her to do – a ritual so she could have something to remember later.  I smear the rest of the blood in her hair and hold on to her tightly.  We both cry.

[end blog post #19]