Category Archives: Loyalty

Antierra Manifesto-blog post #72

That was the first and last addict I encountered in the compounds.  She lost her appetite for stim, at least around me.  I could have left my cube lying in her cage and she would not have touched it.  Maybe it was cruel; maybe it wasn’t funny but Tiki and I and a few other women laughed much over this unusual episode.  That it should happen at a time when I was flying so high was also of note.  The air of celebration continued until the day of the fight. 

End blog post #71
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Begin blog post #72

The Warmo, now a condemned prisoner, is escorted naked into our compound to choose his weapons.  There is much staring and gawking, but no noise as we had been warned the silence rule would be fully and viciously enforced while the Warmo was among us.  I could feel the tension and hate among the women.  There is not one here who would hesitate for one second to throw herself at him and tear off his balls and finish him off.  Well, he does not look cut.  He’s  not a eunuch so his lack of sexual desire towards his female victims must speak of something else.  Homosexual?  I could throw that in his face tomorrow.  And I’d just love to add that aberration to his public rap sheet!  Homosexuals are as common as sand here, but that can never be admitted to – another capital crime.  While female fighters and sex-slaves are expected to have same-sex lovers, males are prohibited from expressing themselves in similar fashion. 

I follow the Warmo’s movements as a hawk watches its prey.  What weapons will the rat choose?  The staff.  That’s good for me.  But he does not stop there.  He appears to have a special permit to use several weapons in any order he chooses.  He picks the long sword and the combination rapier and short sword.  Now I have to figure out his game.  There is no apparent sense to his choices so he’s worked out a system whereby he can defeat me with these choices.  I must logically deduce the reason behind his apparently random and meaningless choice.  He is escorted out and I ask permission to consider the weapons just chosen.  I watch the faces of the trainers when I make my request.  One of them sneers openly at me.  Ahah!  There is a connection between some information he has given Warmo and the choices.  Well, never mind that for the moment.  First concentrate in what order a thoroughly trained and professional fighter would use the particular weapons chosen.

First the staff.  Its strengths I am familiar with.  What are its weaknesses regarding the other weapons?  It’s long and thin.  A good blow across it with the large sword would easily weaken or even cut it in half.  Point one.  Warmo intends to switch weapons during the fighting, not during regular drinking breaks.  He starts with the staff, forcing me to match him, gets me engaged then switches to the sword and cuts into my weapon, breaking it and leaving me wide open to a thrust.  How does he intend to switch weapons so fast?

He cannot leave the sword just lying in the sand – a menace to his feet and I could grab it.  A scabbard!  He will be wearing the long sword on his back.  That has never been done in the arena but this is no ordinary fight.  We are billed as Beasts, therefore rules can be bent or broken to accommodate the fare.  Judges can be bought.  I have to remind myself of the awesome load of gambling money riding on this contest. 

Allowing for my intuition being correct, what about the rapier and dagger?  To carry poison.  Despite my invented stories I have no access to poison and besides I wouldn’t use it.  I intend to bring this creature down piecemeal, literally cutting him down to size.  I am the cat, he is the rat.  He may bite but I will get him in the end.  He is just one rat, not a pack.  This rat will use the long sword to tire me out if he hasn’t dispatched me with his switch already.  At the first opportunity he will trade for the rapier and dagger to make an opening for the poisoned tip to come in contact with my skin. 

What kind of poison?  Certainly the deadliest known.  It will be the concoction they call yalney, a deadly yellowish liquid stored in glass containers complete with glass stoppers.  Nothing else will hold it. If you put it on your blade it eats through it in about an hour on average.  They demonstrated this to me at the forge and I’ve never forgotten what it did to our beautiful steel.  It bubbles lightly and gels quickly on steel and you can pour it lightly over a surface that will contact flesh. 

Within fifteen minutes of contact anywhere on bare human skin the body begins to close on itself.  It impacts the nervous system, relaxing the muscles, first in the extremities then working its way to the heart.  The victim remains fully conscious for hours and finally goes into convulsions and spasms then death.  Very painful.  But imagine the pleasure the Warmo would derive from thus disabling me then proceeding to take me apart while I remain conscious?  He’d cut open my wrists and ankles and expose the bionic circuits to the judges.  He’d be vindicated…

Who will put the poison on his blade?  It would have to be put on while we are fighting, not before or it will have eaten through by then.  One of the floor judges or an assistant.  While we are on a drinking break.  Of course, simple.  After the break, he casually switches weapons as if nothing was out of the ordinary. 

I’m in a bit of a sobered state of mind now.  I realize I have my work cut out for myself in that fight.  Time to assess my strengths – I know my weaknesses and have dealt with that, perhaps a bit too much.  You can easily psych yourself out that way too.

Analysis of strengths. 

I’m at least as proficient in the use of weapons as is the Warmo.  I’m younger and faster.  I have bionic implants.  I have more recent training and most likely I possess superior weapons, simply because the “new and improved” ones were not in the weapons lock-up cases when Warmo made his choices.  My “special house blend” including all armour and my ‘magic’ sandals, is now being prepared and packed for the arena and will be safely stashed into the weapons lock-up shortly. 

Tiki was sent down to the forge to let the smiths know of Warmo’s choices.  I have already advised the chief smith I want him to personally bring up the weapons and armour, not to entrust them to his young charges.  I fear the jealousy and hatred of that young apprentice may have spread to the others and could result in deliberate sabotage or “accidental loss” of my weapons package.  Any such misadventure would certainly result in my death.  Who knows how long Warmo’s arm still reaches throughout the keep of Hyrete?  Who can know who’s been bought?

So much is riding on this match to the death.  So much, for the women of the keep, especially for Tiki; for my friend the doctor and his Cydroids.  At this moment I hold their fate in my hands.

I know that according to Elbran law, if the male “criminal” kills his female fighter, he is exonerated of all charges against him.  If this were to happen, Warmo would immediately be given his position and power back.  He would re-open his torture dungeons and sweep through the women’s compound to grab any of them who ever fought with me, were trained by me, slept with me or in some way befriended me.  Such is the pattern of psychotic hate.  I remember it so well from a life on Old Earth in C-20.  They called themselves Nazis, and the worst ones (called distilled villainy by one of my history professors in a following life) were SS guards.  You were guilty by association and torture was automatic if arrested. How many would Warmo claim?  How many tortured to death? 

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

 

A Man, a Survivor

[a poem by   ~burning woman~  ]

A strange old man, a very ancient figure,
that’s who he was,
who he is,
who he will always be
.

A man of many titles in as many times:
poor Bill, mendicant, beggar and tramp.

At times,
panhandler, good-for-nothing loafer,
deadbeat, vagrant, hobo, gypsy
and in more recent times,
a welfare bum.

Sometimes this strange man
whom everybody sees, nobody knows
comes back from the sea,
sometimes from the wars or prison:
no one comes to the quay
or the bus stop to meet him

and to hug him.

Alone,
carrying a damp and dirty canvas bag
he limps down some dark alley
to find a familiar den,
a smoke-filled tavern, an inn.
a halfway house.

For a few coins, a room under a stairway
a garret with drafty shutters,
a condemned house

become his home ’til the angels come
or the demons, and who can ever tell?

Sometimes he just gets tired of jostling
for position and wealth – leaves one night
never to come back. Why for?

His wife re-married, does he care?
Who’s to know? Not even he
wandering the drafty city streets
with his new title and essential wealth.

He’s a successful miner now,
mining garbage for treasures
haphazardly arranged in a rusty shopping cart
(of front squeaky bent wheel
from an accidental encounter with a taxi)
until deposited for safekeeping.

They call him homeless now, the
politically correct term
for this strange old man who never did fit,
who in his youth had a strong back
to break up the coal, carry gear and pack a rifle
walk through flooded paddies
and burn babies in their mothers’ arms
inside grass huts in a land so far away.

He knew well enough then why he did this:
for God and country and freedom
they’d told him so and he believed.

He came back from the killing fields
to log the dark green hills
until the trees were gone.
He cleaned out curbs and culverts
for a pittance in part time jobs
to bolster free enterprise and capitalism.

“It’s all good” they said with a leer
and what could he do but believe?

He doesn’t remember much of that
and really, what does it matter now?
the rich got richer and died,
the dead remain dead
and he’s got his place
behind four loosened cement bricks
under a forgotten embankment
where he hides his “Precious”
and keeps a mouldy sleeping bag,
drinks, sleeps and feeds his nightmares
of bullets and blood,
of flames that roast flesh,
of screams of pain and terror:
the voices of the dead
his last remaining friends.

It’s time to work the streets again,
push the rusty cart with the squeaky bent wheel
until the angels return again
or the demons, and who’s to know?

He’ll be there again tomorrow
and the day after that
and even after the Great Day
there he will be in his dirty tattered rags
his long stringy hair blowing wildly
in the cold, cold winds that haunt
the endless dirty, drafty, empty city streets

What will his title be
next time I pass him by trying not to notice?

I think I already know this, in my heart
as I look around and ponder this place:
he’ll be the survivor.

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 #57

(Continuing with the saga, now back in the slave quarters with their usual, unchanging conundrums – or are they really unchanging, or dare I say, unchangeable?)

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.
[end blog post #56]

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[begin blog post #57]

Chapter 26 – Tiki Tells a Story and An’Tierra Remembers

As the daily treatments of ice-cold water on bare flesh in pre-dawn light causes shock and exhilaration at the same time, so I put my mind through this process.  I do my mantras against fear and for total detachment.  Each morning I push Tiki away from my body and close my heart to her sounds and scent.  She is doing everything in her child-woman power to seduce me to be mother and lover to her.  I am doing everything in my power to give her all she really needs that I can give without falling into the temptation of ownership.  Quasi-legally, because the men decree it so, she is my slave until they (or I) decide otherwise, or until either of us is killed.  I could kill her myself and nothing much would come of it, except maybe I’d have to reimburse her owner (if she has one yet, there is no way of knowing) by taking an extra turn in the arena. 

The lives of females are the cheapest commodity on Malefactus until the betting starts on a fight.  A young trainee without reputation and without an owner has no value at all.  She may earn some points through sexual performance but that’s shaky.  Most of these men, the trainers, handlers, blacksmiths and male nurses or medics aren’t that interested in “performance.”  They just take you when they feel a need and discard you, often with a slap or a kick.  Romance is not their strong point.

Tiki has already been gang-raped twice during her voyage to Hyrete from her segregated crèche in a fortified village in an independent principality east of the kingdom of Elbre and south of the Union of Estáan where she was raised from an infant.  The trip by foot, using male slaves as baggage carriers, took over four weeks of difficult walking through soft and shifting dunes.  There were twenty-four young females when the trek began.  Twenty three arrived in various degrees of exhaustion from starvation, dehydration and physical abuse at the compound in Hyrete.

The soldiers who accompanied the trek to guard against raiders decided that each night they would have a sex orgy.  So each night a couple of the girls were forced to perform erotic dances for which they had not been trained and were then raped repeatedly.  Some were otherwise abused.  One cried out under torture and was killed after they finished with her.  According to Tiki, the soldier guards were drinking heavily and mixing chakr in their brew.  Under the influence of the drink, they mixed the forbidden drink using the dying girl’s blood and chakr.  Then they took pieces of her body and cooked themselves a “sacred” meal.  I’d heard a similar story from Tiegli so I have no reason to doubt Tiki’s account of that ghoulish march.  For these girls the slave compound in the great keep of Hyrete would seem a reprieve, a place of safety… until they find out otherwise. 

There is yet no such place on T’Sing Tarleyn for any woman.  What, you may ask, constitutes a “safe” place for a woman, in any society, on any world?  I would say from personal experience it’s a place where a woman is safe without having to rely on anyone else, especially on a male, to protect her.  Ideally, wherever a woman happens to be, that is automatically her sacred, inalienable and inviolable sanctuary.  In any situation, any role, a woman is approached only by her permission.  Only when she clearly indicates her sanctuary is open can another walk in to “touch” her.  That is how I see it now.

Yes I know Tiki desperately needs a mother figure in her life.  She desperately needs love and protection, however tenuous, from an elder.  I know I can provide some of it for her, but I want her to find it on her own, within herself.  The only place of comfort and safety here is within one’s heart and mind.  There is nothing that can help you outside of yourself.  Nothing.  That is, I realize belatedly, the true “lesson” of the stack worlds, regardless whether they are on the “light” or the “dark” side of the balance equation.

I brought this knowledge with me here, of course.  It’s something all Altarians know, a basic natural awareness.  Tiegli discovered this before she died.  The “Concubines” or twins already know this.  Perhaps the Cydroids also, although their minds do not function like ours so I still do not know how they perceive their reality in relation to natural humans. 

Now Tiki must learn it for herself.  I must allow her close to me while keeping my anti-emotion shields up when we are in contact.  I begin by approaching my handlers and complaining that Tiki is too much of a distraction.  She needs to be occupied.  I address Delton, overseer of handlers.

“Speak sir?”

His gaze sweeps over me with a rather neutral and tired look as I stand with head bowed.  “Speak gora.”  It’s the ritual opening.  A reminder that has lost much of its meaning over the years I’ve heard it, as do all rituals, yet deadly dangerous to take for granted.  Rituals are noticed, not in being performed but in being ignored.  I speak without looking at his face, focusing on a purple blotch above his left knee.

“Young slave 1339-32-19 which shares sleep with me need better employ sir.  She has use, perhaps kitchen?  Perhaps clean the straw?  Too weak for weapons training yet sir.  Too young, waste of time – me.  Need time for older fighters to make better.  Maybe train to help nurse?” 

I display the most abject and humble stance I can muster, using the kind of pidgin they prefer to hear, in the hope he will even listen.  He sneers – another ritual – and motions me away.  I’ve been “heard” whatever comes of it.  I know after so many years that they are good at listening and pretending they don’t.  Females know nothing so they cannot accept any suggestions directly.  They discuss any point I raise privately in their strategy and meeting sessions, taking full credit for any idea they think has merit. 

Later that day Tiki, or should I say slave #1339-32-19 is taken from our cage and escorted into the kitchens.  The number I quote is the last line of numbers branded on her backside.  It refers to year, batch number and number in batch when she was admitted into the training compound in Hyrete.  For example, year #1339 is admission to Hyrete arena compound as trainee at age 13.  #32 is thirty-second batch to arrive that year.  #19 is order of branding as number nineteen in batch.  She has another brand line above that stating the year of birth and class of breeding.  Hers is #1326-04.  Born year 1326 local time; class 4 female fighter.  She is permanently branded as a gladiator.  Any man can thus know instantly what she is – not whom – women have no status as human beings.

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]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

(…that goes on, this goes on… another short episode from Antierra’s life – and I did not forget to add a title to the blog post this time. Gets confusing when I don’t number them and if I don’t get better at blogging from a cell phone, I’d better remember to drag my combination laptop/tablet Asus computer wherever I go! The problem with that is, it only works where there’s WIFI whereas the cell phone works anywhere there’s phone coverage. Decisions, decisions…)
________________________________________
Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]
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[begin blog post #53]

She is a typical T’Sing Tarleynan, small, stocky, with short fingers and stubby toes.  Her hair is almost black, cut rough and short.  She has a thin-lipped smile that reveals pointy, gapped teeth.  She makes no move towards me as I lie down on one side of the cage.  She just watches, her black eyes glinting in the pale light, as if waiting for a signal from me as to what I want from her.  I motion for her to move beside me and she does quickly and quietly.  Waits again. 

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

“Here in the cage I’d rather you don’t call me that.” 

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

“It means I fighter and now family for you.”  And for some reason not yet clear to me, I suddenly decide to imitate the paucity of words in her language – to make myself more like her and the others in the compound.  I get the impression that I need to lower my standards even more to be accepted, if not understood.  Better late than never. 

“Ah good.  And what I be called by you, please?”

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

“Little animal from an old world.  It kills snakes.  You know snakes?”

“Oh yes, in desert and in grass prairies?  Many snakes.  Dangerous.  The black people, they tell stories of big snakes to take a man, crush and eat whole.  Is mongoose so strong?”

“Yes Tiki.  Mongoose is small but fast and strong. Kills poison snake called cobra that has big head with marks and small body.”

“There are those here…”

“Yes and they be called men…”  I do not hide the bitterness of my statement from her but this is not Deirdre.  Such subtleties are lost to her, as to most women I have met.

“Oh!  You mean I mongoose, kill cobra men?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.  When you are trained you kill men, many men.  They fear you then.  Fear your power of woman.”

“I like you telling of my power Anti.  I come here three days and they burn my number under old one, see?” She shows me her fresh brand and I remember the pain of it in my own buttock, and the shame to go with it too.  “And I feel so scared and small.  No friends.  No one to care.  The men, they have sex with me, many men.  They hurt me so much, aiiee!  They, you say, torture me, make me cry down there in a room behind great stone doors.” 

She points in some vague direction I locate as north-east.  “They put metal string inside me and make me burn – terrible pain, terrible.  Now they give me to you.  Say you lose your lover – she dead they say, yes?  Maybe I be her now for you?”  She touches me lightly on the thigh and I feel her shaking remembering her pain.

“Yes Tiki, she dead.  She run away and not come back.  I too now all alone and very sad.  Like you.  Like you they take me in torture room under walls, deep under the ground.”  And I point down to make her understand my meaning of ‘down.’  “They hurt me and make me scream – so much pain, Tiki.  All of us here, so much pain we endure.  What you think, we should all have so much pain always, from men, huh?”

As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #52

While awakening and being returned into hypnotic “sleep” over and over; being automatically rolled out of the A-M for Dr. Echinoza’s inspection and Yoba Five’s gentle touch, feeding and rolling over, I completely lose sense of time.  It could have been years, or hours.  I feel an unnatural tingling in my hands and instinctively want to scratch but of course cannot.  I’m securely bound to the gurney, face down this time.  It seems that each time I’m sent back in, if I faced down, now I’m facing up and vice-versa.  There is no pain, just total mild discomfort.  Ants are crawling up both my arms and up my leg. 

Another “out” session.  This time I am facing up.  Bal is asking questions.  I have to focus on his voice – I thought I was dreaming again.
[end blog post #51]
______________________

[begin blog post #52]

“Can you feel your implants?”

“I can feel ants crawling up my arms and leg but of implants nary a crawling do I feel.”

“You’re a really bad poet Antierra.  The tingling and itching is normal as the bionic parts are integrating with the biological.  Can you flex your fingers for me?”

He puts his hand in mine and I squeeze.  He yells and commands me to let go.  I do, surprised at his reaction.

“What happened?  Was there an electrical discharge from my body?”

“That would have been easier.  You now have positronic command-linked “hardware” supplementing your biological structure with an approximately ten to one transfer ratio of force.  You almost crushed my hand with your grip.  Here, hold this.”  He hands me what looks like a hard rubber ball.

“I want you to squeeze this with your right hand, then with your left.  I want to measure the stress you put on it.”

“Hard?”

“Try normal, if that means anything.”  It doesn’t.  I squeeze what I think is normal and the ball disintegrates.

“I’m sorry Bal.  I can’t seem to control the effects of the squeeze.”

“Don’t worry, that will come with a bit of practice.  Also, you will eventually feel the pain you cause your own flesh and you will crack your skin when you squeeze too hard.  Your own flesh will bruise until it adapts.  It will adapt very quickly, as will your skin – changing its encoding is part of the treatment.”

“What about my ankle, leg and foot, Bal?  Are they like this, out of control too?”  I feel excitement, elation and fear all at the same time.  So many “what if’s” with this new body.

“I don’t know.  We’ll have to get you standing to test that.  But my guess is, yes, you’ll have the same problems adapting to your implants there.  Would you like to stand?”

“Bal, I feel I’ve been lying down for years!  Yes I certainly wish to stand.”

“It’s only been just over twenty-four hours actually.

Yoba Five comes over and unstraps me and helps me sit on the gurney.  The light fades and I drop in her arms helpless.  Before I pass out I notice she gingerly grabs my arms and holds my hands away from her.  I close my fists on empty space.

As soon as I recover I’m helped to my feet and taken out of the old Jump Scout ship into the open part of Bal’s office.  The “wall” swishes into place.  They let go of me and I stand on both feet but can only feel one.  I lift my feet, one at a time and watch them move.  Gradually a new feeling comes to my positronic side and I manage to take several steps before I get confused and stumble. 

Yoba Five grabs me from behind but again avoids my hands.  Bal hands me a short stick to hold on to and I find I can control how much pressure I put on it.  Then my foot regains some feeling and I walk some more.  Then more.  I stand on the left foot only and keep my balance without feeling any stress.  This is good.  I feel no pain anywhere in my body.  Gradually I grow into a wild euphoric state of body and mind.  I want to run out in the yards, screaming, shouting and laughing.  I want to tell everybody on this stupid world how beautiful life can be if they just choose it so. 

“Well now we know for certain the replacements worked as planned, that the cleaning is thorough and your healing complete, Antierra.”  The soothing voice of Yoba Five fills me with pleasure.

“Thank you Yoba Five.”

The Cydroid’s laugh floats out to me like the music of a limpid mountain stream trickling down over moss covered rocks.  “I’m YBA2.  My twin is resting.  But I can accept your thanks for her.”

“That is amazing.  You are identical to her in every detail.  Even in my heart I cannot tell you apart.”

“Neither can our lover Bal, most of the time, and he’s had us for many years.”  And she leans over to the Doctor and kisses him hotly.  I stare.  She laughs at me.

“YBA5 obviously did not tell you we share everything in our family group.  Everything.  Naturally we share lovers.  Why should they care?  If one of us is in some way occupied or indisposed he does not have to go without our attentions.  I’ve personally accompanied Dr. Echinoza on dozens of trysts to the southern hideaway.  I did not always mention I was not YBA5, even though I know that his preference is for my youngest sister.  Games of love are good if they harm no one.  Cydroids do not chose to experience jealousy.  It’s a thing that would be of no value to us.”

“I’m going to keep you under close observation for another day.” says Bal.  “We still have four days to bring you out of retirement, girl.  Let’s not take any chances with any malfunction of the positronic implants.  You must be absolutely aware of them and confident of your control over them before you can return to your normal life here.  You will be under close scrutiny because it is well known that no one recovers from Warmo’s treatments.  I hope you are working on a solid story as to why you recovered so easily?”

“I have.  If I’m questioned, the Inquisitor’s machine failed to crush my wrists.  It only bruised me severely but never damaged any muscle or bone.  I was released before the mistake was discovered.  And will someone please, please, tell me if my lover has been found?  Can I see her again, please?”

“Very convincing, Altarian.  (He always says this with a barely repressed sneer, as if to say ‘well it’s your story and I don’t have to buy into it.’)  You’re female so they won’t expect too much.  They’ll likely accept your distraught state over the loss of your Cholradil lover and will warn you to settle down or face consequences.  You will meekly accept the rebuke and be quiet.  Things should return to normal.  Just don’t grab any weapon or someone’s arm and crush it with your bare hands.  And don’t be too quick to use that left foot in fighting.  Only as necessary, you understand?  Eyes and ears will be on you, and from you, on us.  We want to destroy Warmo.  Do your part as discussed and desist from doing more than agreed.  Let us do our work.”

“I promise.  Thank you again doctor, for everything.  But mostly, thank you for saving Deirdre.”

“Your lover?  What about me?  Don’t you love me anymore?”  And he smiles and winks at me as he says this.

“I am terribly embarrassed, doctor, I mean, Bal.  You were correct, that was the drug talking, the misery I felt from losing Deirdre and the shock of the torture.  I wanted to cling to someone real.  No, I don’t love you, certainly not that way.  I admire you and I respect you.  You are free from any other attention or intention.  But if you otherwise want me or need me, for that you need not ask.  It’s yours.”

“Very understanding.  I agree, you should be a Cydroid.  We couldn’t do that but we made you a little faster and tougher than before.  You are now a partially bionic being.  Let’s hope our enhancements won’t be looked at too closely if they should get exposed by cuts in the arena.  You will exercise caution?”

“Yes I will.  I understand your concern.  You have your people to worry about here and your hopes for change in this place.  I’m here to help, not hinder.  I will use the advantages you have invested me with to the best of my ability, Bal.  Please convey my thanks and full admiration to XBA9.”

It’s YBA2 who answers.  “That won’t be necessary.  He does not do it for thanks or admiration, but for the experience and being part of an elaborate and complex game.  We Cydroids play many games that endanger life.  It’s often how we seek answers to existential questions that remain beyond ourselves.  We have many abilities you do not have, such as blocking neural responses to pain.  If we had to feel these worlds the way you do we would be in worse shape than the Cholradil.  We will do our part.  Get ready to do yours.”

Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #50

…“I’ve cursed Malefactus and every male on it.  I’ve looked into the sky at Albaral and cursed that too.  I’ve used the doctor to my own ends instead of just taking it like everybody else and dying as I should have.  In the end it seems to me that I am the one who brought all these diabolical things to Malefactus; that I made a most terrible mistake long ago and now everybody is paying for my foolishness and my false sense of redemptive properties.  I’m an idiot, YBA. 

“You are looking at a wreck and a wretch of a once human being!  To seek more vengeance, and along with letting myself fall in love with a man I can never really be with – you heard me earlier and heard his response – what can I say? 
[end blog post #49]
_______________________
[begin blog post #50]

“Yes, of course I can feel your thoughts, human.  I also know that you love Dr. Echinoza – and so do I.  I’m his mistress.  When he disappears at times it’s to spend time with me.  We have a place hidden deep in the southern hemisphere, beyond the great desert and beyond the land of the black ones.  A simple little fold-up hut by the sea that we collapse and hide when we are away.  We enjoy each other’s company and we are in love, as you put it.  But I would never place my joy before yours.  If he chose you, I would serve you as the one who is me.  Perhaps, since you are human you could give him the child I can never.  Cydroids cannot impregnate nor become pregnant.  We can only be cloned.

“As for your concerns regarding vengeance or compassion, “methinks you doth protest too much.” Your conundrum is not a problem to us.  If Warmo is convicted of his crimes, or at least one of them, he will forfeit his life.  He will be offered something he cannot refuse: to meet you personally and fight you to the death in the arena.  His hate for the doctor and specifically for you, not only as the one who survived the special treatment he had planned for you and escaped from his misogynist sadism, but as a woman who has a reputation for killing that surpasses his own; who stands higher in stature than he and who has the concerns of the King whereas he has lost his – all these can only mean one thing.  He will be eager to kill you.  And you will find him a tougher match than anything you’ve ever known.  It is good that you should fight him to honour all the ones whose lives he has broken and devoured.  This task belongs to you, Antierra.

“I’ve studied your experiences from your mind.  In Old Earth as you call it, you have an expression, “He fought like a cornered animal.”  That is what you will be fighting: a cornered animal.  But not just any animal.  This Warmo I can compare to your memories of a creature you called a “wolverine” – a large rodent-like weasel family predatory creature that used to wander the wilds of your adoptive homeland on Old Earth; a loner that dangerous predators much larger than itself carefully avoided.  There is another creature I could compare Warmo to that also exists in your mind from your adoptive home world: a Tasmanian devil.  That is what this pseudo-human is comparable to.  But do not dwell on that now.  Your subconscious will inventory my words and present you with a way to defeat this creature. 

“When you enter the auto-medic for your replacements – you will be in there for two and a half days minimum – I will connect you with the info-vid and give you, in pictures and words, all that we have collected on Warmo.  When you are ‘returned’ after your treatment you will possess the rudimentary inner workings of Warmo’s mind. 

“He will think you are literally reading his mind when you meet him.  So the challenge will be both physical and intellectual.  Get close enough to hold the mirror.  Speak to him, however you must, in whatever tone.  He won’t be able to stop you then.  The key to defeating him is to play on his subconscious superstition and fear of the unknown.  All sadistic types do so from their pathological fear of the unknown, of the place beyond death they fear above anything.  So display his death – show it to him.  Let him feel it, over and over.  That is how you play him down and defeat him.

“You seem so sure about everything.  How can you know all this?”

“Cydroids never operate without knowledge, Antierra.  We project constantly into the immediate future and shape it to our needs based on our previous experiences in similar situations – or so it seems to us.  Or we shape ourselves to its needs.  Our nature possesses the innate ability of instant adaptation to any and all contingencies.  If we fail to grasp existing information based on knowledge, that is, based on experience, we run instantaneous simulations in our mind – in linked pattern with our twins whenever possible, and we operate based on that approach.  We must “know” before we “do” and so we always know because we have already “done” what we are about to do.”

“YBA, I’m overwhelmed and amazed by you.  You are the most human non-human I’ve ever encountered, as far as my memories can reach at this moment.”

“Do you realize that when you call me “YBA” you are directly accessing the minds of all my twins?  That you are speaking to all of us?  We respond to our name-stamp.  YBA – all of us, from 1 to 5.  Say ‘YBA5’ and the others won’t  listen.  I don’t mind either way, just thought you should know.

“I paid you the highest compliment any Cydroid can give a human.  Now you have reciprocated by giving me the highest compliment any true human could give a Cydroid.  I think we have a mind-link now.  That is, in your language, we are friends.”

“How can you consider me your friend when I’ve openly stated I loved Bal, that is, Dr. Echinoza as a woman loves a man?”

“Ah, but all the more reason you see.  The choice between us, if one needs to be made, must be his.  You and I, we are females, women.  We do not need to make this choice at all!  He must be the one to know his own feelings about us.  Why could he not love both you and I simultaneously without any problem?  I certainly would encourage it.  Wouldn’t you?  We understand what it means to love a man.  The more women love that man; the more he is truly loved by the many women, the better that man will be in every possible way a man can be.

“Our role, ultimately, if nature ever gave us one as humanoid females, is to make men better than they are, or think they can be.  And we do this by pleasing them and satisfying them.  Not as rutting animals, but in love.  You see, if we love them, no matter how much all they ever want to do is “fuck” as you call it, they will receive the full benefit of our love.  And if we are true to our nature, giving such love will only strengthen us.  It will never diminish us as long as we are not interacting from either enforced submission, expectation or jealousy, meaning in competition with other females.”

I had anticipated her reply.  “Your words would not sit well with some of the women I have known, especially on Túat Har of C-20!  But you are right, I would also encourage the sharing.  Actually YBA5, I don’t want to love him like that.  I don’t want to bear his child or be his mistress, wife or have any other attachments to him.  Logically, I don’t need the complications, even were circumstances different, for example, were I on Koron with him.  If as you say I’m to be repaired and live, I must concentrate on what I came here to do.  Let him find sexual pleasure with me when we are together if he still wants that from me.  I will certainly give him that out of friendship and gratitude, and with love.  That is if he doesn’t just take it!  But that’s not what he expects from me.  He wants to know what I know of the workings of our universe, information he does not have. For the rest, he has you.

“But tell me this.  Has he ever, even when in your idyllic hideaway, turned on you and hit you, or cursed you as he did me?” 

“Well, of course.  It’s not as intense down there, away from this concentrated world of men but it happens regularly that he is taken by the fever.  He beats me.  He curses me, yes.”

“How do you respond?”

“I can only respond as would your Deirdre.  I let him beat me and curse me.  I allow it to flow out of him.  But unlike the Cholradil, I do it for love, deliberately and knowingly, neither because I can’t help it, nor out of a sense of submission.  I could certainly stop him.  I could easily disable him, even harm him.  But by allowing it to flow I heal him that way.  Afterward I make sure he does not go into his guilt-based depression.  I fully understand the sickness and I separate the sick from the disease, Antierra.  I am programmed for this but I also do it by choice, as a doctor and healer.  Now let me check the condition of your mind before I give you a half-cube of stim because your pain should be returning full force, yes?”

“Yes it is.  By force of habit I wanted to bear it and not take any medication for it.  Hold it and absorb it, you know.”

“That is good for the fights and in the long nights of pain from blows and wounds when you lie in the cages, yes.  To identify with the others, to understand in empathy, in compassion?  But it is unnecessary here.  I will not allow it.  Here, take it now.”

She hands me the half-cube of stim from Deirdre’s parting gift – and if only she could have known how it would help me! – then holds my arm, careful not to disturb its current resting place and puts her other hand on my temple.

“I sense your thoughts.  They are clear now.  The effects of the sedating drug we gave you are fading and you are thinking properly.  Yes, you have created good wiring in your brain.  I like touching you, getting your impressions.  I’ve never seen such openness, such divergent worlds.  I like your world of Altaria.  I like that last place where you sat and waited for the right moment to leave.  What a sad journey to take, yet so beautiful.  You gave up everything to come here.  You “died” all alone after all those days spent just looking into the great Rift valley, without sleep, food or water.  Your sea birds, the giant osoleys, they are such beautiful creatures.  I can almost reach out to them and call them to sweep gracefully beneath your falling body and carry it out to the ocean for a proper burial – where it is generally believed all biological life comes from and returns to.

“I must add this regarding your outburst earlier.  All those evil, diabolical things you insist you’ve done.  Self-pity, Antierra.  Hyperbole.  You are a true and straight Altarian.  Do not let any horror, on any world or place, take away the honour you owe yourself.  Never let doubt dishonour who you know you truly are.  It would be a sad day for all of us if you gave up.”

I find my eyes filling with tears as she reads these details in my mind.  I had expected her to find nothing but a chaotic mess of darkness and filth in there.  She holds up a mirror for my mind to heal itself from the “little death” of fear and doubt.  I am indeed, still alive, very much so. 

And I remain, despite all of this pain and confusion, Al’Tara the Altarian. 

I am not lost.  I will pass this test.

[end blog post #50]