Category Archives: Quest

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #39

The second fight has lasted over three hours.  Later the doctor tells me it was the longest one-on-one combat fights ever recorded.  Even as Torlat still twitches on the ground the King rises, ends the tournament and dismisses the unruly crowd with a show of force from several hundred black-clad uniformed and armoured Hyrete police held in readiness.  As the police units file down the aisles in the stands all outbursts cease.  The fans file out to consider their staggering losses and a few to rejoice over their winnings.  Despite the mounting evidence that female fighters will overcome their male challengers on an average of three to one, these sick men cannot believe the evidence, going with their feelings of revulsion and hate; believing women are weaker than men and continuing to place their bets on the male challengers.   

I live another day, and to what end?  For the moment, there is but one end: to save Deirdre.

[end blog post #38]
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[begin blog post #39]

Chapter 17 – If One Woman Escapes

In the weeks following the fight I am employed, or better said, occupied, strictly as trainer of new recruits.  It is a time of reflection and observation.  I think about my performance, not in the physical realm – there is not much I could change or improve on that – but in my heart and in my mind.  I think about what I thought I would do here, and what I have done instead.  In deep and constant retrospection, I analyze my feelings.  The killings are now beginning to haunt my thoughts.  I feel like a murderer of innocents.  Innocents because I realize they are pushed to be what they are.  Something drives them, something they have no defence against.  I encounter that same feeling of helplessness and frustration I knew so well on Túat Har when I encountered injustice and the various levels of oppression constant in all her societies.

Balomo Echinoza, medical doctor and anthropologist, citizen of the world of Koron, intelligent, educated, aware; an interstellar traveler renowned for his research and writings, after fifteen years on this world is succumbing to the same misogynist force that controls all the men of T’Sing Tarleyn.  He falls into moods of uncontrollable rage against a woman if he feels she has slighted him in some way and strikes her without any qualms until the madness recedes and he realizes his act.  Then he plunges into deep despair.

How much longer before I too become like other gladiator females and fight simply because I want to live and I have no other choice, or worse, because I want to kill men?  I realize now that both the men and women of this world are victims of some Power beyond their will to overcome.  Even the rare Cholradil, the natural born empaths, do not see the problem of Malefactus.  They see themselves as the problem for being unable to become normal members of their society.

I thought at first the problem was in the local natural stimulant drug made from the chakr root.  A simplistic conclusion that was quickly proved wrong.  Neither Bal nor I use it and the few times I did, it only made me sick.  And why do the Cholradil – both female and male – remain immune to the sickness? 

Yes, I did learn that there are male Cholradil on this world.  The males never live past the rite of puberty.  When confronted by the female he must kill, she invariably kills him, end of story.  So, according to Deirdre, Cholradil males absorb large quantities of chakr in desperate attempts to overcome their dreaded affliction – all to no avail.  They cannot hurt another, no matter what is done to them and no matter what they do to themselves.

So, does one have to be born a natural empath to be immune to misogyny or can one develop that sense somehow?  I have no answer.  The only side issue I find from this line of questioning is that I would never want to become a natural empath.  To be driven to whatever end by a feeling you have absolutely no control over is a terrible thing.  It’s too much like an addiction.  On Altaria we are empaths by choice.  We choose how we respond to our feelings. 

I remember a time when I was going through particular angst over my visions of this world.  I entered into an extended fast without food or water.  To do this I walked up the green hills of my Altarian home near the valley of the Great Rift we call Shaliant.  I got to the top after three days of steady walking, not stopping of day or night – there is seldom any real darkness there because of our binary sun system.   I remember my feet being guided to my destination by the very soil and stone of the planet herself during my ascent, for she too is an empath. 

At the highest point I sat on a smooth red mound of sun-baked clay, now abandoned, made by travelling swarms of long reddish coloured architect beetles.  These creatures build their mounds over long years of endless work, going through a full cycle, then suddenly swarming and taking flight to the very last, travelling hundreds of miles before they must descend again, lay their eggs in the ground and die.  The emerging larva then begin their task of building a new mound.

Long I stayed awake through the days and the nights, sitting motionless, thus becoming more aware of life’s movements all around.  I knew the fundamental impressions I was taking from my world would keep me sane enough to know when it was time to return, whatever happened to me as a result of my choices.  They were the trigger I would use to cause the remembrance of my true self, whatever the dangers, the temptations or seductions put before me.

Allow me to describe this small aspect of Altaria.  Mists filled Shaliant in the mornings and gently lift, or fade throughout the day as one of our two suns fill the deep canyons to reveal the sinewy bed of the river Fallouin, longest water course on Altaria.  I could hear the dragged-out cries from the majestic osoleys, or sea birds, below the promontory outcropping where I sat and sometimes could see them soaring slowly and gracefully on the thermals far below my vantage point, their grey-blue wingspans up to five times the length of my body.  They come in from the sea during their breeding periods that last approximately two years.  Their time at sea we measure at seventeen to twenty-one years depending on the species.  There are tales on our world of the old sea people (still known as the Mer-people on Túat Har) talking to the osoleys and of their children riding them.  I believe these tales have more than a little truth to them.

But I hadn’t climbed to the top of Shaliant to enjoy the beauty of this totally unspoiled natural space, nor to guarantee my return in some future.  I had come to rediscover another aspect of myself… and to cry alone.  There is an odd flow of intelligent “mind” energy over Shaliant that has the power to block all telepathic connections.  It is so strong that you cannot take any flying object over it, but must circumnavigate it.  It blocks all flow of information from artificial computers.  Only natural life can penetrate the mystery of Shaliant, or survive in it unscathed. 

I wanted to block out the protective, empathic love of Altaria that flows naturally through all of us.  I wanted to re-experience loneliness, as I had known it on Earth and knew I’d know even more on Malefactus.  I remained on Shaliant for over a month.  I relearned how to cry within a brokenness of heart.  I relearned to allow all my feelings to jumble in and out of mind and heart and throw me in utter confusion.  I relearned how to live within the mad cacophony considered normal on non-empath worlds.

It was from these heights that I chose to fade out of my Altarian body, allowing myself to fall over the edge of the Great Rift, plummeting into the maze to re-awaken and manifest physically transformed, on Malefactus. 

Speaking of Malefactus, there is more to this world that makes me wonder.  I cannot see much of it from the confines of our sleeping and training compound, but in this micro environment some things are obvious.  You never hear anyone sing.  It is prohibited.  Why?  There are no visible birds except for the vultures that appear without fail at every killing.  There are no animals, wild or domesticated, except for whatever makes that lugubrious call on our walls in the night.  You rarely see a blade of grass growing along the base of the great stone walls or in fissures and cracks, though there should be.  If one does grow and is found, we are supposed to pull it out and bring it to a trainer to be disposed of… as if a freely growing thing was a sign of disease, or weakness.  Of course no one does that.  Any green thing we find, that being rare enough, we eat!

No flowers, wild or domestic, are ever seen.  No leaf ever blows in from outside, so my guess is there are no tall trees, at least in this part of the world.  Tiegli mentioned trees that made tents in the deep south.

Where do the vegetables we eat come from?  And the straw we put in our cages?  No answer.

I’ve been here several years now and the only thing that has changed is in the amount of sand blowing in and spreading in the yards, in the washing troughs and on the tables and seats.  We have to clean it out and sweep constantly.  I notice less rain also and on rare occasions our water has been rationed.  When I first came here I was aware of a salty sea smell on certain days when the winds blew strong and steady from the north-east, bringing in clouds and rain.  Now the smell is brackish and of rotting sea vegetation as on hot days when the tide goes way out in a collector bay.  I’m guessing the level of the water is dropping.  Is this a natural cycle or an environmental anomaly?  Is the entire planet experiencing desertification?  I have no answer.

Well no, that is not quite exact.  I do have the beginning of vision dreams now.  For years I wondered why my ability to dream was gone.  I think the same force that causes the misogynist imbalance is also responsible for preventing people from dreaming.  I know the women don’t dream, though some have reported seeing things at night akin to nightmares but they “see” their dreams as something happening outside of themselves.  They see ghosts wandering around the cages and walking through the walls.  They have little sense of creativity and most dismiss “brain images” as nonsense that will get you killed in the arena.

On recurrent dream is an image of the planet imploding, with all of her natural life force simply flowing out of her, leaving her, as if she were dying and sending off seeds of herself to re-grow herself somewhere else.  If this is the case, it may come to pass that the sun will also die and all that will remain to light this doomed place will be the cursed Albaral, assuming of course that it is indeed self-powered and its light isn’t just a reflection of the natural sun.

Each time I verbalize the name of Albaral I find myself entering a psychic trance and “seeing” ideas as well as images connected to this artificial sun.  This time I see the image of “Melkiar,” not as invading AI’s in spaceships, but as a gigantic artificial life form frozen within an ancient shiny black metallic carapace housing some kind of mind once an ISSA life, now drained of every aspect of its original self.  A monstrous entity capable of programming AI’s to destroy all that it once was, as if doing so could erase the memory of what it had been before greed for longevity corrupted it. 

Where do you exist now, in space/time, Melkiar?  Where are you?  What are your plans?  Is Albaral one of your observation posts? 

Could there be some connection between this world and the invaders of the United Treaty Worlds?  For example the doctor’s old auto-medic cannibalized from one of the UTW jump scout ships that was sunk beneath the massive stone walls of Hyrete: how was that embedded under a fifty meter thick foundation supporting a twenty metre stone wall without being damaged?  Melkiars could morph from thousands of small armed robots to giant inorganic brains encased in elephantine carapaces that could withstand the most powerful fusion weaponry.  The only way we learned to destroy these monstrosities were with tripleheaded singularity grenades which create multi-level fusion bursts that “ate” their intended target then “died” before they could expand into an uncontrolled melt-down.  

These Melkiar constructs could travel unaided through short distances in deep vacuum space.  They could hack their way through the hardest stone, causing havoc in mining communities of asteroid fields.  Certainly, if they did penetrate the Malefactus stack world dimension along with the jump scouts, they could have easily taken an auto-medic and placed it here.  The question foremost in my mind remains, ‘Why?’  What use would they have for an auto-medic designed to repair biological life forms, namely human bodies when their entire drive was to destroy all biologicals?

What else could they do we know nothing about?  Much research into their particular type of life ended with the wars.  No one wanted more to do with them.  Probably another big mistake.  But logically, if there is any logic to this place, why would they hide an auto-medic here in Hyrete?  Is it possible there are AI rebels even among the Melkiar who sought to save human lives?  Is there a relationship between the Melkiar, perhaps in some of their early penetrations in this Galaxy and the black metal men who defeated the green Desert Beast by blowing her ship out of the sky and subsequently enslaving the women and children of T’Sing Tarleyn?  What about the chronology of these events?  What happens to “linear time” when crossing dimensions?  Could the Melkiars have wandered in this dimension thousands of years ago while at the same non-linear “time” invading our dimension of the Galaxy?

Obviously I’m not yet asking the right questions but I’ll get there.

[end blog post #39]

Dreaming and Past Life Remembrances

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

When I first started on the path of awakening to self-empowerment I began to dream strange new dreams. I filled pages of records of dreams I made it my task to interpret for myself. I had been dreaming before, of course, since as far back as I could remember but these new dreams were teaching dreams, many having nothing to do with Earth or this life.

From these strange dreams I became aware of memories from past lives. As I worked at developing my new nature and a topsy-turvy different understanding of life and a possible purpose in having become a participant in it, those dreams began to subside in proportion to how much I entered into past life remembrances and adapted what I remembered to my current and ever-changing circumstances.

Was there a connection between increased past life awareness and the negative effect on my dreaming? Being the curious type I wanted to know why past life remembrances should negatively affect quantity and quality of dreaming.

Obviously the first question was, why do we dream anyway? What’s the point?

The point, I realized, is that dreams are the mind’s safety valve. The mind cannot be contained within a strictly material, single life event, nor even within a religious context which amounts to the same thing, what I’d call, based on personal experience, a state of mindlessness. (I’m talking about religion, not spirituality.) Dreams I realized, serve as pressure reliefs for an enslaved mind. They remind the mind being that no matter what is believed, there is more that the Matrix mind prison cannot contain, deny or explain.

Once we break out of the “thou shalt not” programming and allow our mind to develop cosmically, outside the totalitarian bounds of the Matrix and accept that we are more than we are allowed to know, dreams have served their purpose. Now we can contemplate our own remembrances of past/future lives without listening to the very loud societal voice that says, “You’re crazy!” We know that crazy is refusal to look in photo albums and the old diaries because the System says they don’t exist. The Voice of Reason that says there are no such things as past lives, never mind future ones. We are not supposed to have other lives than this one. Only two possibilities officially allowed: annihilation at death for the materialist or the permanently removed zombie state of heaven or hell for the religionist. That’s all she wrote, says the priest-psychiatrist, now go shopping.

What are dreams then? Until we awaken they are the safety valve that prevents us from complete mind death. They cannot enlighten, however, just prevent, keeping the mind on life-support until the Eureka moment that changes everything and from which there is no turning back. Until we dare trust ourselves rather than the System as we learn to explore ourselves through our past/future lives, deliberately and purposefully choosing to remember who we really are, remembering hidden lives we have experienced however brutal or insignificant they may have been.

It’s not what we did that matters, as psychics like to emphasize, it’s that we dare give the System the finger by remembering ourselves though we were never given space to appear in any official history book; we dare rise from the common grave of the ignorant, forgotten, enslaved, trod under and murdered unwashed masses.

Because I have worked hard at penetrating the wall of lies erected by the System to separate this me from all other “me’s” of past/future lives – the process is not a linear or chronological progression – I have achieved something that has taken me beyond the need to vent my mind through dreams that needed interpretation. I have shattered the time mirror to see myself in myriads of dimensions and shapes without having to feel foolish about it, or the need to hide. My mind is no longer on life support. I no longer have to to choose between religion and materialism.  Best of all I no longer need to be an Amazombie Googleite Facebookian!!!

I grew up from the ground as a slender shoot, extended leaves through my dreams, then shot up a seed head through past life remembrances that is now ready to scatter its seeds over time and space when the wind of death blows over me. Within my own seeds I will take flight and go on and on and nothing can ever stop me again.

That is what I call freedom.

I’ll Forgive you, Eddie

(I do have a short story for the March Blog Battle “Dusk” but this isn’t it!  I was in a mood so I wrote this out tonight… go figure.)

Short Story – by Sha’Tara

I’ll forgive you Eddie, just as soon as you give me time to work this one out. I mean, the lying, the cheating, the way you’ve made me feel cheap in the eyes of our friends while boosting your bottomless pit of an ego and sucking the life out of me.

First, I have to go back over time and find that place, not in the photo album but in my memory, where I found myself truly “in love” with you; that place where I said “yes” when you asked me to marry you. But there is no such place, is there, Eddie. I said “yes” because I was pregnant and I’d call that duress, wouldn’t you?

How did you make me pregnant, Eddie? Do you remember your little trick at the Christmas party? Sammy told me how you put the date rape drug in my drink while I went to the ladies’ but years only later, Eddie. I remember the shock of discovering that bit of truth about you. Why did you stick around after that? Did you feel guilty, or was it the fear of being exposed by your own friends who knew what you’d done? Fear, wasn’t it. You felt obligated to marry me because it’s how we did things in those days.

Why did you stick around after our baby boy died of crib death Eddie? Was it because I brought in good money from my legal secretary job while also providing the house wife bit? So you had a comfortable place to live when your contruction jobs went soft? A safe base from which you could go out to bars, bowling alleys, race tracks and clubs to have fun, screw and gamble our money away? So you’d have someone to beat up when something pissed you off?

Hey, don’t make that face. Did you think I didn’t know about the affairs? You fucked my best friend Vivian and she finally admitted it because she felt guilty she said. But you Eddie, did you ever feel guilty? Does a rat ever feel guilt? No. It’s not in its nature, nor yours. You’re not just a rat Eddie, you’re a cockroach and I’ve been thinking that it’s time I did something serious about my pest problem. Time I returned the favour for that date rape drug thing, the beatings and my suspicion that little Alfred had help in his crib death.

You’re lying there on the floor beside the couch and wondering why you can hear what I’m saying to you but you can’t get up. It’s really quite simple: you’re having a heart attack. OK I’ll admit to having helped it along by playing with your prescriptions but you won’t be blabbing to anyone about that. That’s why I became a pharmacist after quitting the legal profession; this is so much more fun. There was no point seeking redress through legal channels, you’d eaten us out of house and home back when and even if you went to jail you’re the type that would just ooze through the bars to walk the streets again.

I’m sure you wondered why I invited you back into my life after all these years but you couldn’t resist a free B&B and you’d always considered me stupid, all evidence to the contrary. I have to thank you for accepting my invitation to come in out of the cold for old times sake. A softy, me, right? An easy mark, that’s me again. Oh you ignorant, vile, murderous imbecile, Eddie. I made it my life’s goal, after I got rid of you, to get even with you. No, not exactly even, just one step further. I felt I owed you that much.

What’s that you’re saying? You want me to call an ambulance? Oh but I will, I promise. That’s all part of the plan. I just want to watch you die in pain and agony first, is that too much to ask? What? I didn’t get that but I’ll assume you said that you understand completely. Thanks Eddie for agreeing to help me fulfill my lifelong ambition. I’m going to sit by the fireplace, have a glass of our favorite wine and watch you die.

Here’s to us, Eddie. I’ll forgive you when I see you in hell you bastard.

Dialogue with a Teacher

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

“I would be a catalyst for change, a change agent.”
“Why?” She asked, her back to me. She seemed to be staring at something beyond the horizon only she could see.
“Why?” I replied, “It’s this world, Teacher; it breaks my heart.”
“So you would change it then?”
“Yes.”
“You understand how change happens, do you not?”
“I think so… but there are so many ways…”
“No! Not if you desire good change. Yes, many ways to bring about change that nurtures unhappiness, misery and endless grief. But the good change, how do you make that come about?”
“I do not know… I simply do not know how.”
“Very well. I am going to reveal some ancient wisdom to you, then you will understand though it may change your mind about being a change agent. Have you ever fallen in love with someone? Ever been so in love that nothing else mattered?”
“Yes I have been, long, long ago.”
“Can you recall your feelings of that time?”
“Somewhat, yes. Pure madness!”
“Madness yes, but all good change comes from that sort of madness. Life proceeds from that madness. Children are born because of it. Now for the great secret but first you get one guess: where does this madness originate? What is its genesis?”
“Trick question, Teacher? I honestly do not know.”
“Such a seed can only be found in one place in the entire universe: in your heart. You must mine for it, extract it, grind and polish it, love it above everything else, desire it more than anything else then give it out freely and completely to the world you wish to see change come about in.
“Know this, that once you give it away you must die. You know the truth of it, “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it will not produce fruit.” You were taught this when only a child and you remember that lesson. Of all the lesser teachings you received from your tribal parents and teachers, you kept this one and one other.
“Now remember this also, my Avatar, there are many ways to die. Dying is easy but there is only one way to live: with compassion through complete detachment. You understand?”
“Yes Teacher, I do understand.”
“Does it make you want to change your mind?”
I was very slow in answering her, not because I was unsure about my choices but because the moment was so charged with “sacred” energy. I suppose she would have said my reply was predictable.
“On the contrary, Teacher, this is an affirmation. As to that second lesson you alluded to, I remember it well also…”small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Be sure to remain on it.”

So far, so good, what I know

So far, so good, and this is what I know.

I know I’m not what acquaintances think I am. I knew this long ago but it’s one of those things not easy to admit. If I’m not what’s portrayed on the social flat screen display, then I have to make the effort to discover who I really am.

From somewhen during the time of gestation we are programmed to not know who we are but to rely upon the social video and mirror display for the answer to “who am I?” I am assigned a gender, given a name, raised in the social family zoo which eventually expands to include a neighbourhood, a school, possibly a church, sports clubs or the farm, personal relationships, college, a job, marriage, the sprouting of a new family zoo, bits and pieces of the planet seen from the tourist’s eye-view and so on until death.

What I might suspect I might be is not relevant to any of that. If there is a funeral, some gathered folks, eulogy or such words spoken, in the end all that will be said can be put in these words: was she a good function? A good tool?

Tonight I was just starting to read a book called “Waking Gods” by Sylvain Neuvel. Basically the protagonist awakens to the fact that she is not who people think she is and the person they think she is, is already dead, only they don’t know that, she does. She has read ‘her’ personal history and story and realizes, having awakened from some dream, how little she has in common with her doppelganger. Bits and pieces only, little else, and the relationships the ‘others’ insist on linking her with she has to pretend to have some emotional connections to it. She doesn’t want them but her social status insists, for the moment, that she agrees to them.

And I went, ‘Wow!’ Indeed, that is how it is when you awaken to your real self. It won’t change the social camera display or the face in the mirror but it will change everything within. That’s where the real me lives and if I open my mind to myself, a lot is going to change, outside the necessary pretense.

Then I begin to wonder, how necessary is that pretense after all? What reputation I may have isn’t mine, it belongs to the camera and the mirror. Do I care about that? Isn’t it a fact that any reputation the social image maintains isn’t for me, but for the benefit of the the social construct? Do I care about the social mirage? The family? The friends and neighbours who would turn on me in a second if they realized that the “me” I’ve been talking about for years is actually real, and not the B&W photos or Kodachrome cartoon face from the family album they associate with me?

I know that the day I chose a purpose for my life; that I chose to no longer be a function of the Matrix, that everything changed.  My life was turned right side up and I’ve been walking normally ever since. A good thing to know.

Quote: “When I enter a spiritual journey, who am I traveling to see? When I go on a quest, what am I looking for? When I go on a mind’s voyage of discovery, what do I hope to find? The answer: myself, always myself. Everything is a reflection of myself. If I don’t like it, I have but one option: to change myself.” — Sha’Tara – monologues.

Detachment to Life

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

“I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but let us discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA*, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron.”  (Antierra monologue speaking of her teachings on detachment while on her home world of Altaria – Antierra Manifesto)

Once the basics of one Earthian incarnation have been experienced – surviving, satisfying desires, experimenting with physical senses, what’s left but death, or entering upon a quest for the greater meaning of Life as a self aware being? 

If one chooses “death” which to me means going on repeating experiences pointlessly, then that’s that.  If one chooses the quest, there has to be a sure way to enter into that which guarantees one will not fall back into such silly behaviour as being a sports fan, chasing the opposite gender for sexual gratification, “making” money, hating, fighting, killing then dying to find out it was all a chimera.

Seems to me the way to freedom is opened through detachment.  What keeps us enslaved to the wheel of the System is an array of attachments each one justifying and strengthening the other. It behooves us therefore to relinquish all our attachments to the things this world offers more as bait than as satisfaction (since none ever completely satisfy, and that should be a very broad hint). 

OK, so I want to learn the meaning of Life, not just the meaning (if there be any) of one little incarnation on this little world but the meaning of Life as expressed through an infinite and timeless cosmos: that meaning! Only a free being can ever hope to enter into such a quest.  Attachments are all those things, big and small, that translate as chains, shackles, stanchions, locks, doors, walls, perimeters, limits that take one to termination.  In this situation, death becomes the final attachment. 

Before one tackles the difficult concept of death, one should consider the pattern of lesser attachments that enslave us to our body and its world and how we are connected to the pattern.  As long as a single attachment remains unexplored and connected, death remains the final enigma. Yet unless one can know all about death, even if the words to describe this certainty do not exist, the quest for Life remains closed.  Death was invented to create the impression that there is no such thing as “Life” as an infinite concept; that “Life” had been conquered. All attachments are lies and death is the final and greatest lie of all when living under attachments.

How then does one person achieve a place of total detachment?  As said above, it isn’t easy.  To my heroine (granted she is under extreme stress in that part of the story) it seems impossible.  But nothing is impossible! Impossible is just another attachment!

Detachment, once decided upon, comes through self empowerment.  All my choices are mine and I take full responsibility for the results.  Sure, there will remain many little itches of attachments, like cold sniffles or skin blemishes, but my immune system is self empowerment and that is how I heal myself, as much and as many times as it takes.  I learn not to repeat stupid or pointless moves. I learn to be satisfied with an experience that I know will not improve the more I do it. 

Prayers will not be answered with greater alacrity or better overall results.  Hockey games won’t improve. TV won’t demonstrate a higher level of intelligence. Cigarettes or booze won’t taste better. Crossing borders won’t become easier or safer and sex… well I think we all know the answer to that one.

I learn not to waste my time on the treadmill or the merry-go-round and I learn to use that salvaged time to better my understanding.  If I have any problem on how to direct this new understanding, I cradle it within compassion thus guaranteeing a successful continuation to the quest I am on.

Yes Antierra, it is possible to become totally detached.  You have to learn to take the broader view of the concept.    

*ISSA: acronym for intelligent, sentient, self aware

 

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #12

[begin blog post #12]

Chapter 7 – In for the Long Haul

“If a path to the better there be it begins with a full look at the worst.”  (Thomas Hardy)

It’s a truism of war: short lives engender fast promotion.  I’ve been promoted to unofficial trainer of new trainees.  My unorthodox ways with hand weapons, especially blades has earned me some recognition. 

The next few months bring little change except I am fitted with a couple of different sets of armour.  One is just a basic skirt made of that same light alloy I realize now is not made of anything familiar to me.  I am fitted with forearm and shinbone protectors as well and have to train with these things on.  They are quite stiff and take some getting used to.  I fail to understand their purpose until I begin to train with the staff.  Ah, I discover that smashing the staff against bones of arms and legs is the preferred method of bringing one’s opponent down.  It can break a forearm or cause such numbing pain on the shin that you simply collapse.  The armour takes some of the blow allowing one to move out of range and recover.  The skirt is used to protect one’s loins from a sudden thrust by the opponent.  That leaves one’s thighs, ribs, hands and face exposed.  But these areas are the easiest to protect.

I’m fast on this particular weapon.  It’s as if I’d used it many a time before.  I have.  I remember reading up on this fighting method and practicing while preparing for my incarnation.  Yes, I know this weapon, but I did not know it could be so deadly.  These staves have pressure points in them that allow the user to shorten or extend them by as much as twelve “thumbs” (akin to inch on Old Earth) thus keeping the opponent always guessing at the distance to pull back, swing or thrust.  They also have one pointed end with which to spear, unlike the ones I am familiar with. 

“Can spear point of staff be poisoned, drugged as with the dagger, sir?” I ask my handler while studying the weapon.

“Yes.  Done all time.” he replies. 

No fighter would ever be permitted such a trick, even if such things were available to us, but for the male contenders there is no dishonour in trickery, however he brings down his opponent slave.  In fact dirty, deadly tricks provide additional entertainment for a paying and braying public that always demands something new and more exciting.  It is the nature of those who participate as spectators of organized sport in any society.  Lust for blood and varying levels of violence dominates their minds.  Deceit is always a part of the game, in sports and war.

I also train with a type of wide battle axe, by far the heaviest weapon used by female gladiators and not very popular.  But we do not make the choices so we have to train and ready ourselves to handle all the officially approved weapons.  With this weapon comes the other type of armour – a robe thing covering the upper body to halfway down the thighs and a helmet equipped with a chin strap.  I feel encased in this contraption, quickly chafing and sweating profusely.  It doesn’t have suitable slits to let me open my long legs wide enough for proper balance.  Bad design, or someone forgot my stature. 

I have difficulties handling the heavy weapon with sufficient speed.  My cut arm gives me trouble and my ambidextrous abilities are of no use.  I can only wield this thing one way, my right hand forward on the handle, my left holding back to guide the stroke.  I cannot switch sides without losing connection with my brain.  To make matters worse, the handle is round, straight and smooth all the way.  As soon as it is coated with sweat or blood it becomes all but impossible to hang on to, never mind use it effectively against an opponent. What I wouldn’t give now for one of those real axe handles of Old Earth.  I must find a way to re-design this ugly contraption if I’m to use it in combat.  Ugh!

I hate this method of fighting and would forego it if weapons’ choices fell upon us.  So I train the harder on this thing because I know that sooner or later someone, some spy, some paid trainer or even a female gladiator, out of spite or for some “favour” will reveal my weakness to an informant and I will pay with my life.  I won’t let that happen.  Too many questions left unanswered and too little accomplished in terms of touching upon the private thoughts of other gladiators.  I’m not even “at bat” yet as to sharing any kind of philosophy with the other women.  I’m still an outcast although the young ones’ faces light up when they train with me.  With our signals and low-pitched voice I tell them stories they find fascinating.  It doesn’t matter to me whether they believe me or not, enough that they consider me not only the best fight teacher but a great story-teller.

Day after numbing day, while women continue to be sent to the arena, some  returning cut and bruised, some never, I train.  For the time being at the very least I’ve managed to close my heart and mind to pain and the ever-present sense of fear.  I turn my attention to local details, studying the small but solid hierarchy of the compounds, overseers, handlers, trainers, medics and fighters, looking for answers to my many questions about the social fabric underlying T’Sing Tarleyn.  I search quietly, surreptitiously, for potential leaders, rebels, among the women, even among the men or for weaknesses in the stratified set-up.  I find little to go on.  I try to tap into the women’s minds and receive nothing but white noise – meaningless thought jargon in answer to my probe.  Is this a trick of the mind they play, or are they so brain-dead, confused, mad?  I can’t believe that.  They must have some natural, instinctive method for blocking their thoughts from probes and scanners, both of which I have become aware, are in use around the compound, in our cage areas and in the arena. 

That strange, advanced, inscrutable, esoteric technology that continues to haunt my mind and my dreams.  Where does that come from?  Who really rules this world?

From the other side of the spectrum, I’ve had sex with several of the handlers, trainers and male “nurses” or medics by now.  A couple of them are quite taken by me and I’ve become their “favourite” of sorts.  A dangerous play.  One of them comes to me now and announces that I’ve got a turn in the arena tomorrow.  I pay close attention because there has been no warning of such before.  This has to be something different, unusual.

“Your challengers come soon to watch displays.  You demonstrate skills with sword and dagger, staff and axe.  Word of advice, demonstrate greatest ability with axe, they don’t choose.  Demonstrate least with staff, they chose.  Simple.  That how you make success; turn things around to you, to owner advantage.  So you get to choose weapons after all, huh?” and he pats me on the butt, then casually puts his hand on my breast, fondling the nipple.  Reluctantly he removes his hand before he is noticed. 

However flaunted, the law remains in place: no male may have intercourse with, or demonstrate affection for, any female – under pain of death.  And everyone jealously watches everyone else for any advantage they may derive from blowing the whistle. 

Honour, indeed, hah!  I spit the word out in my head.  And I remember Tiegli.  I miss her terribly at night.  I miss her simple wisdom and her love for me, however brief that was.  And I wonder where she is now.  ‘Shut up – concentrate on here and now.  You are a gladiator.  A fighter, nothing else.’  So I tell myself and return to my work.

Two men, simply, almost poorly dressed, appearing anxious or nervous arrive through one of the stone portals I didn’t even know existed so perfectly does it blend with the surrounding wall.  They are directed to my exercise space and watch me make my moves with the weapons.  I survey them through my lashes.  Both shorter than I by a head – that’s normal.  No unusual musculature that I can see.  They do not seem to have that cat-like walk preferred by those who frequent the arena just for a chance to bet on a fight they are getting into.  Yes, there are professional fighters, killers, out there who make a living by killing us for those who employ them.  They are frowned upon but like bounty hunters, tolerated, as they take chances and cause the stakes to rise.  The women call them drooks.  These two are definitely not drooks, that much I know.

As instructed, I first use the axe and go through some rather esoteric moves, actually impossible in a real confrontation with a living opponent.  I make it look real by letting the heavy weapon slip through my hand and embed itself in a wooden sparring post cut and roughly carved to the size of a man.  They seem suitably impressed.  I then take off my armour and naked, go through my sword routine.  Again I demonstrate undeniable speed and skills with these, suddenly diving on my back and pulling the dagger, sliding it upward and stabbing the wood “man” in what would be his loins or stomach.  

Putting on the light skirt and protector pads, I then heft the staff.  I look at it suspiciously and thrust viciously but wildly at the wood post, missing it.  I pirouette, pretending to regain my composure and aim the side of the staff at the dummy but instead of hitting high enough to break an arm, or low enough to numb a leg, I hit it straight in the middle, the most easily defended part of the body.

My trainer stops me and upbraids me loudly, bemoaning I’ve made him look ridiculous as trainer.  He pulls the staff from my hands, orders me to remove the armour and sends me to wash.  The ploy seems to have worked.  I observe the two “contenders” choosing the staff.

[end blog post #12]