Category Archives: Relationships

Sorrow and Joy

[a poem by  ~burning woman~ ]

What do you look at
When you lie awake in the night
Eyes wide open watching
Tumbling clouds hiding stars and moon?
What keeps you awake, so restless?

I see Sorrow
Walking bent over
Along graffiti’d walls in some city street:
She wears a worn black coat
Broken shoes without socks
And hunger is eating her.

Her eyesight is failing,
With gnarled hands she touches
Doorways and stoops
Seeking a home to hide in,
Perhaps just a place to rest.

But though she is many,
For her there is no place
And she must wander on
To the end of her strength,
To the end of her reason.

She is so far away,
Why should you care?
Why lose precious sleep
Over such a pathetic vision?
What is she to you?

She is everything to me,
My sister, my twin, my heart.
We were separated at birth,
Rejecting her, they called me Joy!
I must recall her from her darkness.

Though we were destined
To live ever separate and apart
I will no longer allow this curse
To rule my life and ruin hers.
I will to share her fate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Elita Theorem

[a short story by  Sha’Tara]
(Inspired, in part, by Isaac Asimov’s “Prelude to Foundation)

 Ansar and Elita were what you would call lovers.  Ansar was a member of the galactic arch-council located at that time on the pivotal world they called Juno.  Elita was mathematician and social historian at the famed university of Urtank, in the central high mountains of Sector T-41 of planet Quatl-Iln.  The following is a time-captured record of a brief exchange that took place in those long ago days after Elita worked out a program from a theory that stated that “time” was primarily a recording device in which could be read both past and future events.  The sharper the “reader” the more accurate would the reading of the sought events be.  It is all old hat now, as they say, but in the years prior to mankind’s initial scattering from his original galaxy (circa year 22,000 old reckoning) this was considered very naïve and pseudo-scientific.  But let’s hear what they were saying…

“We have a past, you know, Ansar.  A real past, which to this day society insists on dubbing a myth.  I’ll be brief.  We originated on one world only and you’ve heard that “myth” before, I’m sure.  You don’t buy it, but I do.  And then I don’t.”

“Make some sense, Elita.  Don’t speak to me in your usual riddles.  Either you do, or you don’t.  You can’t have it both ways.”

“No riddle.  Just simple fact which I can have “both ways” as you so eloquently put.  Our world of origin in the preserved language was called earth.  There mankind evolved, so it was thought, and taught, and from there he spread his wings and flew away to discover the galaxy.  And now, we are once more precariously balanced upon the horns of an old dilemma.  For centuries our real growth has been in decline.  At the same time, mankind is again looking beyond his doorstep, this time looking to jump to other galaxies and perhaps begin again.  And I can generally predict what is going to happen.  We are going to make the jump.  We will “begin” again and what we leave behind will continue to decline, to shrivel upon itself and die.  As did earth.”

“How do you know this?”

“Mathematical projection says so.  Observation says so.  Simple statistical projection says so.  Increasingly indolent ways of a pampered population says so.  Breakthroughs in non-ship-non-moving travel says so.  Shortages in resources marginalizing and starving millions of poorer planets says so.   The leadership vacuum says so.   Before rebellions and total war engulf the galaxy, you will have a scattering.  These scatterings are the seedings, and every time a group of humans seeds itself upon a new world as yet untouched by previous human presence and exploitation, that group is irreversibly changed.  Those who survive become, to the eyes of those left behind (if they are able to see) either monsters, mutants, or super-human depending on the point of view.  And, what was left behind fears these who have escaped.  Their authorities pursue them, hoping to control them and to feed from them.  Failing that, trying to destroy them.” 

“But what does any of that say to your belief that some mythical world called earth was man’s original world?”

“Don’t you see?  Earth man was a seedling.  It was planted on that ancient now long-gone world and it flourished there.  But it did not actually originate there.  It did not, as was then claimed, physically evolve from the muck and mire of the planet, anymore than we evolved from the rocky strata of this stony world.  The early people of earth were ruled and enslaved by their forebears but in their fevered discovery of new-found abilities, they shook off the yoke of their masters, of the sowers, and unmindful of the consequences, literally exiled themselves upon their world with no means of leaving, or of contacting any other possible sown worlds.  So engrossed did they become with self-discovery and exploitation of their world that they soon forgot how they got there.  New leadership, fearful of having to share power with galactic powers, ordered the re-writing of history and established religions that relegated the real-life human sowers to ineffable divinities to be idolized in worship.  

It would be thousands of years before the ever-present urge to resume the sowing cycle would obsess these Earthians and they would abandon their internecine warfare to concentrate on going to the stars.  Predictably they did so, for we are here.  And predictably, they carried with them the belief that they originated on earth, thus making that world the ruling world of the galaxy.  Sadly, that is why it was slagged by the “new” children who did not tolerate that a backward little planet so far from galactic centre would rule over the whole.   Much was lost in the destruction of earth but the greatest loss was in records of what happened so long ago, before Earthians were solidly established on their new world.  Records of previous generations, previous intelligences, previous star-farers who gave birth to Earthians and thence, to us.  We must re-discover those records.”  

“You make a persuasive argument but I remain unconvinced.  You have no real proof that what you have conjured could ever have some basis in  fact.” 

“Proof.  People put so much faith in that word.  But perhaps there is proof.  If I could actually and correctly predict a specific future event using certain formulas I’ve developed, would you consider that proof that we can draw out reality from the chaos of the unknown?”

“If, indeed!  Yes, if you could predict exactly a certain future event, I’d see that as proof.  But what about the past?”

“But don’t you see it?  There is no difference.  If we can accurately predict the future, we can just as accurately “predict” what happened in the unknown past.  Let’s say that your family drove to a certain town while you were in your mother’s womb.  Once in that new town, you were born there.  The family possessed a past that was not yours.  However, when old enough to drive, you could choose to drive forward from that town, or to, in a sense, retrace your family’s steps by driving back down the road into the past.  Some things would be different, but you could verify that the world they spoke of did in fact exist. 

I believe that my computer program and my calculations can do this for mankind and perhaps much more.  Certainly we will be able to “verify” not only where we are going, but where we come from. There are those who are so intent on destroying all vestiges of the old myths.  They want to destroy the old religions that have clung to mankind from the earth days to now.  The way to demystify the past is not by pretending or claiming it did not happen, but by proving it did happen, and demonstrating how it did so.  The ancient “gods” then become simple humans with what would be to us very primitive technology and were neither eternal nor all-powerful non-material beings as fabricated religions have falsely claimed for so long until now.” 

“Interesting.  With our funding, you claim you can develop this new science that will show not only how our future will develop but prove that the mythical past did in fact happen?  Will there be more to your argument when you present it to the Council for, what must certainly become, substantial additional funding?”

“Do I need more?  Are you not curious?  Would you not risk a few billion credits to find out where you came from and where you are going in, say, a thousand years from now?  If we, as humans, must continue to bootstrap our ways across parsecs and eons of space-time, can’t we at least secure stronger and longer straps for ourselves?  Must our existence continue to be an endless, chaotic gamble against the forces of time and the universe?  Must we forever be running from our enemies, be they competing intelligences or depleted environments, and towards unknown conditions that may test us beyond our abilities to resist and overcome?  I think that what we term “expanded awareness” has to include an ability to remember the distant past and to appropriate to certainty a much longer portion of the future.  We cannot continue to launch ourselves as dandelion seeds in the winds for the day will come when we will literally fall in among an inimical race that will destroy us, probably out of fear of our predatory ways coupled with our unnaturally prolific birthrate.  We are predators, Ansar, and represent a very real threat to any other intelligent species already established around us.  It would be extremely naïve to think we have not been noticed.  If we know the future, we can avoid such an encounter and prevent catastrophe to ourselves.” 

“My curiosity is certainly not as expanded as yours, love.  But I’ll support you on Council even though I don’t share your enthusiasm for socio-history.  I would be satisfied if you could predict the next day of windless sunshine so we could go mountain climbing.  What do you say to that?”

“Just the two of us?”

“Just the two of us.”

“Would you accept an educated guess?”

“I will, but I have one condition.”

“Ah?”

“Will you accept my ring?  It will be a year tomorrow since the last time you said ‘no’ to me.”

“I accept your ring, Ansar.  Without conditions. As to the weather, my guess is the wind will have to be reckoned with but safe enough for experts like us.” 

 It was ten years later that Elita’s group in Urtank saw the first fruits of her efforts.  It was another twenty-three years before the theory was fully tested when a no-ship “fleet” consisting of seventeen billion people jumping off from Juno would have encountered an enemy force that would have destroyed them had they not “seen” this prior to departure and changed course accordingly.  Two hundred years after that, as this inimical intelligence began to seriously encroach upon new human settlements, it was caught in a 5-pronged attack by humans and was annihilated.  These perfectly timed attacks were devised using the Elita Theorem of time recordings.  

To add a little explanation to this theory, let me just say that it resembles the reading of those old movie strips.  Once a “time line” is focused upon, the computer can “play” the “image frames” either forward or backward.  An identical “time line” can be read from any number of different places, even distant galaxies, without distortion.  Hence the possibility of simultaneous action at vast distances. 

And so we are in the process of conquering the universe.  What will we do, should we discover that our universal space-time model does not apply beyond our universal borders?  Who will break through the next mystery should the Elita theorem fail at that point? Are we still curious enough to dare go and find out? Do we even have a choice?

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #94

“I’d like to have friend #1334-02-28 if it pleases.”  He enters the numbers and motions me to head for the cages where the guards wait for further orders.  He walks to another hut and two handlers walk to the cages behind me.  I am let in to my space and soon the ‘transfers’ are done.  I move into Swala’s cage; Tieka is moved to Zel’s cage.

End blog post #93
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Begin blog post #94

What just happened here are the kinds of things that get you both loved and hated.  When people who have no power see others in similar circumstances apparently without real effort wielding external power, there is jealousy.  When such power brokerage benefits some, they will love you until you fail.  They never expect you to fail.  When you do they turn against you. 

So here’s my thought on the matter.  Methinks heroes should always die young, just after they have accomplished the one thing, whatever it was they set out to do and they should only set out to do one thing.  Then everybody is happy and there are, hopefully, no more expectations – unless they believe their hero is some sort of avatar.  Then the hero’s reputation will both rise and plummet as followers and detractors face off.  It’s foolish, it’s wasteful, it’s so human. 

The women in the cages will love me more than ever, that cannot be helped.  Friends of the overseer will hate me with a passion.  That cannot be helped either.  In the end I will fail those who love me and give satisfaction to those who hate me.  I will die a violent death.  The ones will feel abandoned, the others vindicated.  So I have learned.  So it must be.  Unless I am wrong about this, as wrong as I’ve been about so many other things since I came here.  I wouldn’t mind being wrong in this case!

I turn to Swala.  She seems happy to be with me, but I must ask.  “You want me with you, Swala?”

“I be happy with you, yes Anti.  Always, I like you.  Copy fighting and training ways.  Listen to Teaching.  You tell stories from stars, I always listen.  I believe all from you.  Trust, I do.  I be friend with you.”

There is a quiet, sensible kind of gentler energy to be with an older woman.  Older by our standards.  Swala is twenty years old and has already survived many fights in the arena, few of them fair.  Strong, muscular, heavier than most fighters, she is a favourite for the gamblers and for that has paid a heavy price already.  She carries many scars and ugly welts on her back – result of some ‘unofficial’ flogging probably received in some drunken sex orgy.  Doesn’t matter.  I move against her and we begin to doze off together, nothing left to say that isn’t better left unsaid.  As with Tiegli, this is the closest thing to what the Cydroids would call mind touch. 

You wonder I did not say, “Deirdre”?  Ah but with her the mind touch was always cancelling out by our carnal feelings for one-another, our “need” of each other.  Every time we got close to the knowing it was like poking your finger in a mirror surface of a small pond.  Any reflected image there is broken up.  No, our mind touch, such as it was, could never be pure, no matter how good a thing I thought we had or I wanted to believe we had.  It was always spoiled by the ‘shattering’ energy of hormonal action.

It’s good to just be with a friend during the night.  Especially when your feelings won’t let you decide whether to be happy or sad with your situation.  I enter the Teaching: from sorrow, of which I have plenty here, comes joy, always.  I embrace that joy tonight.  Once embraced it more than suffices.  That’s the thing about joy, you know?  It is self-fulfilling.  If you experience joy in that moment it is impossible to know less or more of it.  It manifests only in completion.  That too is part of the Teaching.

Morning comes, clear, beautiful, clean.  The purple glory of early morning sky has faded, giving way to reveal a deep turquoise blue painted from battlement to roof to battlement across the top of the old keep.  This means no desert storm blowing sand in the sky.  It also means we should enjoy the morning freshness for the rest of the day will bring on oppressive heat.  After our meal we wash and begin our training ritual.  No fights scheduled for today since the fixed one was cancelled.  Our male trainers are less truculent than usual and I wonder if my judge friend has had a meeting with them and laid the law down.  That has happened at times in the past. 

As weapons master, even though the title must remain unofficial, I oversee the distribution of the weapons and how they are handled by each fighter even before they are used.  I insist on the ritual of awareness to be practiced by every trainee.  It took me years to have the male trainers and handlers turn a deaf ear to my exhortations to the women; to ignore the silence rule in this instance.  They are not so stupid they can’t see the results of my teaching on weapons handling.

Thus I address the women each time I am the unofficial overseer (nor do I address them in their pidgin but in proper language):

“Every weapon you hold becomes your friend and it seeks to accomplish three basic tasks: to protect and defend you and to defeat your enemy.  That is the energy it carries; the purpose for which it is made.  It knows this.  That is no different than how a fighter is bred and becomes a member of the female ‘fighter elite’ that you are.  As your bodies are bred for a specific purpose which allows you to fight men who are stronger and heavier than you and to defeat them time and again, so your weapons are ‘bred’ to defend and to attack.  You have no other purpose, neither have they.  So know your weapon well before every fight.  Handle it with pride and use it only with the best of skill you possess.  Never get sloppy with a weapon for if it loses respect for your grip, stance, methods, it will fail you.  It will not let you down if you do not let it down.  This is a great teaching that goes beyond weapons to everything in the land and the sky.  It is the teaching on balance of energies. 

You know of scales?”  They nod affirmatively.  “Good, when you see scales tip one way, you have two choices: either you step on the heavy side and cause the tipping to complete swiftly, or you jump on the lighter side and cause the balance to be restored.  The master must know beforehand which step to take then take it without hesitation.  This you must understand as fighters: whether to join the heavier force and cause it to fall, or oppose it and cause it to hold.”

This too I consider part of the Teaching.  Making the women aware that everything possesses its own spirit; its own force through awareness of purpose and surroundings.  That inanimate “objects” so-called have energy.  That energy fields, or forces, contain sentience causing them to hold together.  When we enter these forces or manipulate them we join with them and become a part of them.  This is life.

“As with human partners, if you have a special and precious weapon, say a sword that you treasure and with which you have won many battles, you do not, at the end of the fight, throw it in a pile with other weapons of various kinds to be handled or even taken by anyone.  I could tell you stories of very ancient times when knights (they were a special class of fighter) kept their swords in scabbards that were worth more than the sword itself, in terms of money.  They inlaid precious stones in the scabbards, the holding belts and even in the hilts of their blades.  It was their way of telling their sword friend how much they appreciated them.  And know this, that if the knight was ever in dire straights and became poor, he may sell his horse, his armour, the very scabbard and belt that held the sword, but he would never sell the sword.  If he could not carry it openly, he would find a place for it, wrap it carefully in oiled rags and hide it with the hope that in better days, or at great need, he would find it again.  Thus many old swords were found again by new fighters and new tales of heroes born from difficult times.

“Now hold your weapons high and salute life.  Salute victory.  Salute the goddess who slowly awakens to you as you awaken to her.  Our days are coming, as surely as the seasons change.  Hail to the weapons!”

Each time we go through this ritual the women barely restrain themselves from cheering.  These are the moments that inexorably change the face of Malefactus. 

End blog post #94

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #93

“Wild” slaves such as myself, rarely found, even rarer they manage to survive the rapes and tortures suffered in the orgies, are branded by admission year plus a #-1, meaning number of ‘wilds’ and non-crèche raised.  These brands are usually found only on the black women captured beyond the desert.  For whatever reason, although they are physically taller, stronger and superior in weapons handling, the men of Malefactus have not seen fit to breed them.  Or perhaps they have and the breeding program failed.  They are moody and very dangerous.  They seem to be missing an essential element of the ‘normal’ ISSA mental make-up due to breeding or evolutionary branching.
End blog post #92
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Begin blog post #93

My first order of business is to contrive to have Tieka and the ‘Lover’ put in  the same cage.  Obvious – they must be able to plot together and must know each other’s abilities and weaknesses to a fault.  Also they must know if they like each other and if both be willing to die for their love.  Not such an easy task.  Glad I am I don’t have Tiki to worry about anymore.

“You!”  The overseer points at me.  “Come here.”  Oh-oh, what now.  I walk slowly with head bowed to his private table under the overhang.  He is chewing on some concoction that smells of onion.  Even for this malodorous place, he stinks.  Glad I am at the moment I am no longer sexually attractive or desirable.  I stand a meter from him, stop and wait, head still bowed.  A slave does not make eye contact with an overseer, at least not until he orders her to, then if she does not, he slaps her.  If she does, he slaps her.  It’s the no-win game they like to play.  This one is the worst kind we’ve ever had running the compound.  Not one redeeming quality have I ever observed in him.

“You ready now die old witch?  Tomorrow get two challengers, they fight you together.  They kill you sure this time.  I tired you be around, cause trouble with young slaves.” 

I know he’s the one who arranged for such an unfair fight, two men together against one woman.  The gambling once more will go against me.  What chance do I have to survive this?  Especially if the two men are pros.  It’s been many years since I’ve done two on one but after Warmo it’ll be either extremely easy or impossible.  Which do I choose?  No choice.  I’m still needed here with the women, as Yoba stated.  ‘I fight, I kill.’  It’s our mantra.  I say nothing in reply, wait.

“You I hate more than others, old bitch.  You ugly, disgusting krosspeeg.  You think you man killer, huh?  Maybe I kill you now.”  He pulls a dagger from a concealed sheath in his belt under the soft overhanging paunch of a stomach.  He points it in my direction, standing up slowly.  Instinctively I jump back and spread my legs, poised to ward the thrust and take him down to fall on his own knife.  He knows I can do it, and easily too.  He grins, his yellow teeth sticking over his lips – yeah, who’s ugly!  I think, ‘coward piece of shit.’

“They choose weapon already.  Maybe I tell you, maybe not, huh?”  Another violation of strict policy.  The challenger must choose his weapons in front of the fighter.

“Must need know for weapons judge.”  I reply simply, letting it hang there.  Just a hint of a threat which I know he gets.

“One choose staff.  Other axe.”  But that’s a total violation of any regulation, an impossible conundrum for the fighter.  Unless it’s two on two, they must use the same weapon.  How do I choose mine now?  Shithead.  I want to jump at him and crush his stinking face in my hands.  I feel the bionic circuits pulsing.  Fortunately a red-robed judge walks by and I importune him, taking a considerable chance.

“Please sir, there be problem with weapons choice for tomorrow.  I fight two men, same time.  They choose different weapon.  Which I choose?  Legal problem, cannot decide.”

The judge turns on the overseer in obvious anger.  “What’s that Achnarr?  How can two challengers choose different weapons on one fighter?  Who authorized this?”  What a pleasure it is to see the overseer go weak with fear.  Well, well, well.  This fight is a more than personal hate on Achnarr’s part.  It’s a put-up job, obviously, another assassination attempt on me, the winnings going to the overseer.  No one obviously has been advised of Achnarr’s illegal manipulations in his favour.  The judge’s face now matches his robe.

“Guards!”  Five burly black-suited guards come running from their barracks, laser guns drawn.  “Take this ‘dungut’ and lock it up.”  Indicating the overseer. 

“I, Algomo, authorize the arrest.  Charged with crime of fixing fights.  He’s been fixing the fights for himself.” 

I just manage to lock eyes with Achnarr as he’s being put in restraints.  ‘I want you now, Achnarr.  See you in the arena.  How brave will you feel there?’ 

The judge turns to me:  “You slave, you say nothing.  Tomorrow’s fight is cancelled until this is sorted out.  I know you can understand my speech, no need to pretend with me.  I know you well, Antierra.  I know you by name and reputation.  Doc Bal and I are friends.  Tomorrow I get the challengers to choose weapons properly in front of you.  Then we schedule this fight for next day if there is an opening for it.  Can you handle two very good challengers on your own?  I may not be able to change that part.”

“Yes sir, I can.  I fight, I kill.” 

“Good.  You may go to your quarters.  Do you have any requests at this moment regarding living arrangements?  Do you need a lover?  I hear you have given yours up to the ‘Concubine.’  You continue to amaze us Antierra, and maybe frighten us a little too, I don’t mind telling you.  So?  What do you need?”

“Ah, sir… you amaze me too.  I don’t know; slaves do not ask.”

“I give you an order then.  Tell me what you want done.”

“Slave #1336-14-09 would like trainee #1341-15-07 for lover.”  He lifts the heavy sleeve on the red robe and activates a Datacom.  He enters the numbers without asking me to repeat them.  Pretty good, I think.

“It will be done.  And you, I order you, ask.”

“Sir there be a matter of a corrupt judge who tried to have me assassinated during a training session.  The fighter to question in this matter is #1341-29-03” (See blog post #86)

“That will be done.”  He enters the numbers on his Datacom. 

“More on this matter, please.  If the judge is condemned to arena challenge I’d like for the fighter he implicated to be the one to fight him.  A just exchange, I believe.”

He stares at me for some moments, eyebrows raised.  “You have a sharp mind.  I think Balomo may be right about you.  You shouldn’t be here at all, but at the King’s palace and Council chambers making policy for this land.  What a waste of good material.  Sad.  Now tell me about your current living arrangements.  Would you like some change?”

“I’d like to have friend #1334-02-28 if it pleases.”  He enters the numbers and motions me to head for the cages where the guards wait for further orders.  He walks to another hut and two handlers walk to the cages behind me.  I am let in to my space and soon the ‘transfers’ are done.  I move into Swala’s cage; Tieka is moved to Zel’s cage.

End blog post #93

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #92

So yes, I’ve become a manipulator.  But in my heart I know I’m motivated by compassion, there being no hope here of personal gain.  It is not easy to give Tiki up.  She has been my companion for some years now and I have motherly feelings for her.  I’m sending her into a new life, a dangerous unknown.  It seems a truism that whenever you want to help others improve their lives you will suffer loss and pain.  This has been true for me in hundreds of remembered incarnations.  If I wanted to break that pattern I should certainly have avoided this little trip through the crushing labyrinthine pressures within the confines of Malefactus… and specifically within the stone walls of Hyrete.
End blog post #91


Begin blog post #92

Chapter 37 – Tiki’s First Arena Contest – Love Speaks

There was no scene when Tiki found out I’d let her go to be with the Concubine.  If anything it was a relief for her because she was under the impression I was angry at her.  She understood intuitively that my decision was for her benefit, not because I was angry.  She had grown up and needed a real partner and lover now, not a mother, which mostly I had been to her.  She had enough of the Teaching also to develop her own mindset regarding what is right and what is wrong.  There was time for that.  With the Concubine she would be able to hone her professional fighting sense.  She would be better matched with a peer and teach even as she learned more.  This venture should even them out a bit, taking the more dangerous edge from both of them.

She smiles more now and treats me as more of an equal.  This is good, although I worry about her still.  Especially today: it’s her first match and she’s already been taken from the cages to eat the traditional chakr-laden food of the fighter, alone.  Her opponent challenger I’m not too concerned about.  He is no professional fighter and to prove it, chose the obvious: the two-handed sword, thinking as is their wont that it would give him the advantage as a physically stronger male.  When he came to observe Tiki fight with the various weapons I made sure that she was doing it with me and demonstrated a very poor understanding of the long sword.  I made her look even worse by forcing it out of her hands and sending it flying, then tripping her with my sword pointed directly at her heart.  Even Tiki was fooled by the move and thought I was getting my revenge for that week-ago fighter trance idiocy.  I did not explain.  Just withdrew the sword and let her stand to retrieve her lost weapon, her face deeply flushed.

It was enough to convince the male challenger he had found her weakness and jump at the chance to choose the sword.  Well, it would be his last mistake, no doubt of that.

Two other fighters were prepared for the arena when we were let out of our cages to relieve ourselves, wash and eat, ready for the routine of training.  An hour or so later Tiki returned escorted by two handlers.  She was neither smiling nor scowling, just her usual plainly serious self.  I saw not one scratch on her as she drank, ate a light ‘lunch’ alone that all returning fighters not badly wounded earn.  After which she joined the training line-up, finding her partner.  Then she smiled – no, she beamed!  They certainly have something going those two and it’s good for as long as it lasts.

Near the end of our session I begin to inspect the cleaning and storing of the ‘weapons’ – I’ve instituted the unbreakable rule that all weapons, however poor, old or worn-out, be treated as if they were the best ever made and fresh from the forge.  I inspect them for dirt, blood, sweat.  Blades must shine with oil.  Handles must be clean.  If they show signs of handle wrapping unravelling they must be re-wound, tightened and knotted.  Only if tools are required for the repairs do I put them aside for kitchen staff to sew or forge to repair. 

While I’m doing this two young men approach me and make as if they want sex with me.  Surprised surely, but having no choice I follow them to an empty hut.  Once inside, one of the men, a trainer, puts his hand out and takes mine very gently. 

“I be Tieka man Hudu…” he begins with understandable hesitation.  The handler takes my other hand and says,

“I too be loving woman fighter and I friend of Hudu.  I be Huntu.  We be needing to escape from Hyrete soon.  Tieka no fight.  Say love stop her hurting man.  I afraid for Hudu and girl woman.  Need to help, maybe I too escape, take woman.  Go south, deep desert there, hide in storms from great eye.”

I shudder when he mentions the ‘great eye’ and ask, “What is great eye?”  He points into the sky,

“Albaral.  It sees.  It knows when things not right.  If people run, reports to Council.  When your lover escape, news come from Albaral.  No alarms given, yes, but they know.  They see something strange in desert, like fire shooting into sky – maybe sky boat.  We told by leader; cannot chase sky boat.  Need terrible storm to block great eye.  Not just cloud, need Desert Beast Fire in sky.”

I gather he means the kind of lightning generated by great sand storms.  Ah well, didn’t I know that about Albaral!  It is an observation post, an active satellite – but who really controls it?  No matter now.  I have to digest this new information and see how many more astral rabbits I can pull out of my hat and have hidden up my non-existent sleeves.

“You right to tell me.  But what I do?  I slave woman, old, tired.  Die soon maybe.  How I help?”

“Not know, we do.  But know you very wise.  Have many tricks.  Have friends.  You they say daughter of Great Desert Beast.  You they say is Teacher.  You they say will know.  We just ask.  We trust you as man.”

Well, that is quite an admission and confession.  The words, ‘We trust you as man’ coming from a man to a woman slave may not have been uttered on this world for hundreds of years.  Am I making an impression here?  No time to explore this further as I must return to the line-ups or we become suspicious.  I wave my hand, “I think.  Speak to trusting women.  Pray to goddess.  Find way, always we find way, friends of goddess.  What be Huntu woman name?”

Huntu replies, “I not know name.  She say secret woman name, for goddess only.  She be 1336-14-09.”

“Listen Huntu.  I call her ‘Zel’ so she has name to call, yes?”

“Zel is name, yes.  Thank you sir.”

Before we emerge I insist they make fun of me as if they’d had a good old time with the crone.  I look angry to convince handlers that I did not enjoy myself.  They are pleased at the cruelty and indicate so with lewd finger gestures at the two young men who must pretend they enjoyed themselves too.  While I eat I ponder my role in this new drama and certain crisis.  I can’t always go running to the doctor and Cydroids with every problem.  How do we, women, tackle this with any possibility of success if I do not involve my friends?  But what right do I have to compromise their work here?  None.  That I will not do.  If we are to ever succeed we must find it within ourselves.  If others choose to become involved later, that will be their choice.  Maybe I’m being stubborn; maybe, who knows, I’m becoming senile.  But I see much farther than I did when I came here.  Not so far that these people cannot share my vision, just farther than they yet realize they can see.

Well first I must identify the slave 1336-14-09 I call ‘Zel.’  She is three years older than Tiki (1339-32-19) so around eighteen to twenty.  A fighter in her prime.  Tieka is a thirteen year old kitchen gorok, just arrived this year in Hyrete.  Her brand would read, line one #1328-04 – born 1328, class 4 – bred fighter; line two 1341-15-07 for admission year, batch, number in batch. 

I better explain this strange record keeping of female slaves.  It’s quite simple actually.  The important brand dates refer to admission to Hyrete keep and batch numbers.  That is how females are auctioned off, not by birth date.  This could seem confusing to some.  Batch numbers are important to buyers as they are used to trace the crèche where the slave was raised and the kind of ‘product’ it is reputed to contain.  Every ‘batch’ comes from a particular crèche in Elbre and sometimes even beyond.  They are all official birth places. 

“Wild” slaves such as myself, rarely found, even rarer they manage to survive the rapes and tortures suffered in the orgies, are branded by admission year plus a #-1, meaning number of ‘wilds’ and non-crèche raised.  These brands are usually found only on the black women captured beyond the desert.  For whatever reason, although they are physically taller, stronger and superior in weapons handling, the men of Malefactus have not seen fit to breed them.  Or perhaps they have and the breeding program failed.  They are moody and very dangerous.  They seem to be missing an essential element of the ‘normal’ ISSA mental make-up due to breeding or evolutionary branching.

End blog post #92

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #91

(In which Tiki’s training demonstrates a flaw in the use of emotion when engaged in one-on-one to the death fight – or, when things are not what they appear to be.)


Always when I say thank you to these women they remain surprised, even shocked.  It is the word you use to men, not to women.  For someone to thank them means recognition of their humanity, equality, worth.  That simple word goes a long way anywhere it is used but never more so than here.
“Ready Tiki?”
“Yes.  I drink, I feel strong.  Ready.  More sword?”

End blog post #90
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Begin blog post #91

“Not today but tomorrow morning again.  The sword.”  I take it as she hands it to me to file – as trainer I’m also weapons master – and I pick the rapier and dagger combo.  I hand her the set to strap her belt on and I do the same.  We both test our weapons, stepping on the blade of the rapier and bending to find weaknesses, cracks or to test if the steel has lost its resilience and remains bent.  We check the daggers for bad edges or broken points.  These of course have all of those faults but this is the proper thing to do with new weapons before any fight and I insist the training includes every aspect of the official arena fight protocol.  In the arena, if a weapon shows defective and the weapons judge agrees it must be replaced with a new one.  A quick test can save your life.

We take our stances and begin.  You move much faster with the rapier.  It’s not meant to slash but only to stab.  It’s all body work, placing the body out of reach, parrying a thrust, jumping forward, backward, dancing, one arm out to maintain balance or to create a feint.  On Old Earth they called this ‘fencing’ though the term always amused me.  There is nothing amusing here, as these deadly blades keep thrusting at your naked flesh.  There is no place on the body you cannot stab.  All is fair game.  The extended arm, unlike in fencing, is there also to make that sudden grab for the dagger, in a killing move inside the challenger’s defence or to throw at a vulnerable spot to disable or kill.

Tiki has obviously trained on this set because her skills are superior to mine and her speed almost on par.  My bionic ankle allows me to take chances on balance which she cannot.  I can see her wondering how I do certain moves and trying to mimic them.  That’s what I want – to see her push herself beyond her set limits and discover new abilities.  Faster we move, parrying and stabbing with lightning strokes.  She scores on my thigh and I get her on the arm.  Gasping for breath and having drawn blood, I signal a break.  She pulls back and refuses to let me see she is tired and thirsty.  She holds the sword poised, ready to start again. 

I motion break again and gingerly put my sword down.  She jumps at me and if I hadn’t been expecting it and drawn my dagger to parry she would have had me in the heart.  I don’t think she would have gone through with the move this time, but in the arena nothing would have stopped her.  As it is I barely escape the thrust by sliding sideways and catching her just slightly off-balance, send her flying to the stones.  Then I pick up my rapier again to lunge but she’s already flying out of reach and ready to fight again.

Now she needs a serious lesson on obedience to a command.  I heft the rapier in my left hand, my dagger in the right and crossing them advance on her.  She attacks below the cross as I expected her to do.  Flipping the light dagger down and turning the rapier forward I trap her move and put the tip of my sword to her throat and push in just enough to draw blood.  She cannot move at all and does not know what to do.

“Drop your weapon, gora!” I order her in a deep throaty voice.  “Drop or die!”  She glares at me and drops it.  I pull back.  “Why did you not stop when I signal for break, Tiki?”

“I could finish fight.  I could kill challenger.  He drop sword.  I move in to finish…”

“You were caught in an evil fighter trance Tiki and I could have killed you.  You made a very big mistake.  Never do that again.  If there is a next time, you die for sure.  I won’t play these stupid games.  Death is always on the line and challengers never play games.” 

She lowers her face and holds her hands open and out to indicate her total acceptance and subservience.  “Yes master.  I very sorry.  Never, never do that again.  Too much into fight.  Trapped by desire to win.  Not play game.”

“You understand then.  Good.  I have news for you: arena fight next week.  Weapons choice made three days before the fight – you are very lucky to be given three days to train with chosen fight weapon.  You are a very lucky woman, understand?”     

This episode has strained our relationship somewhat and made me think.  Time for her to find another mate in the cages.  I approach the remaining “Concubine” – she calls herself ‘Satka’ and ask her if she would like to have another partner to train and fight with.  She looks at me with that strange look some women get when addicted to killing.  Dangerous, borderline dikfol even, but the kind I believe Tiki needs to associate with to learn the difference between her deadly inbred professional killer mind and that of an emotional killer. 

I ask as a favour to me, “Would you take my slave Tiki as your slave and partner?”

She makes a gesture and gives me a thin, crooked smile.  “Cannot refuse, Anti.  I take.  I watch her train.  She very good, hard fighter.  Together we kill men, many men.  I avenge my sister lover now, sure.  I take her.”  She hesitates then in a moment of daring, whispers to me,  “She come to me for night too?”

“Yes, No longer mine.  All for you.  Hope you and she good together.   Watch over each other.  Take care each other.  I not interfere in personal life of you and her, promise.  Yes?”

“Yes sir.  I do this.  I pleased; great gift to me.”  And for the first time since her arrival in Hyrete, Satka is smiling.   

So yes, I’ve become a manipulator.  But in my heart I know I’m motivated by compassion, there being no hope here of personal gain.  It is not easy to give Tiki up.  She has been my companion for some years now and I have motherly feelings for her.  I’m sending her into a new life, a dangerous unknown.  It seems a truism that whenever you want to help others improve their lives you will suffer loss and pain.  This has been true for me in hundreds of remembered incarnations.  If I wanted to break that pattern I should certainly have avoided this little trip through the crushing labyrinthine pressures within the confines of Malefactus… and specifically within the stone walls of Hyrete.

End blog post #91

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #90

In which Antierra plays the game of “plans within plans” and trains Tiki for her first arena fight.
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Now the truly difficult part: to detach from these momentous events so as not to get devastated if disaster strikes ‘tomorrow’ – if someone recants and sells out Tieka or if the lovers do something truly stupid.  Win, lose or draw, I must carry on.  Other equally weighty matters demand to be attended to.
End blog post #89
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Begin blog post #90

The storm has blown over.  The air is cooling and we return to our normal positions in our straw beds.  Tiki is already lying down sleeping as if she had not a care in the world.  And why should she carry any cares?  This is her world, her way of life, what she is bred for.  She has no other expectations but to be the best fighter to enter the arena.  I envy her… often.

The morning comes, fresh and clear.  We take our places at the wash troughs.  The water is cold now but it feels good washing off the sweat of the night.  We sit at the tables, following the established rule of rotation so no one gets used to a special place to get special treatment from kitchen staff.  I do not see Tiki at the tables but I know she is no longer kitchen hand.  I cannot identify Tieka in the daytime but I suspect she must be in the kitchens or one of the young ones passing out the bowls.  I’ll find out what she looks like today sometime.  It is imperative I know her better and also meet the ‘man’ in question.  The plans I’m formulating for them need very careful attention in the near future.

There’s the matter of the corrupt judge to attend to.  I send a message via a young trainee who has taken a liking to me, to the Cydroid in the kitchen.  Soon the trainee passes by again and whispers, while laying her head on my shoulder, ‘Goronda says she give friend information about red man.’  I thank her gently for the message… and for trusting me.  I know she is ecstatic from the recognition.  Old fighters carry much power among the young ones.  We are their only hope for possibility of a long life.  They emulate as well as take energy from us.

That set in motion, I locate Tiki and arrange to continue her training, today with the long sword.  We use old swords with rough and dulled edges but even so one can get badly cut or bruised by them.  It requires as much skill to avoid contact in training as in the arena.  We generally pull no punches here.  In fact the opposite is often true: that fighters see each other even more competitively than they see their arena challengers.  It is only the women’s equal skills that prevent more killings in training than in actual combat.  Also, trainers and handlers like to see us draw each other’s blood and sense the hate that can flow sometimes between sparring partners.  You play games here, it’s for keeps.

Tiki has no training on the long sword as yet.  So I begin from scratch.  I make her hold it steady, straight up to get the feel of its weight.  Straight out in front, holding it firmly with both hands to feel it’s gravitational pull.  To the side and above her head to feel how it can pull one off-balance, then ninety degrees straight down, point in a pavers crack to illustrate how easy it is to loose control of it for a short bodied person.  If you try to swing and did not notice the end is embedded in the sand or floor of the arena, you lose that move and your life.

I can see her frustration and try to ease the tension.  No pidgin from me now.  “It’s not hard Tiki.  Like the staff, make it a part of you.  An extension of your arms.  Know its length, weight and limits.  Remember your opponent has the same weapon so except for body length and strength he has no other advantage.”

“But those mean everything!  He reach me before I reach him.  How I do this with clumsy sword?”

“Not clumsy, just unfamiliar.  You are very smart and you are a bred fighter.  Think sword.  Your whole body is the sword.  Tiki is the sword.  Move with it, not against it.  Make love.  Don’t control, let it flow from your heart, your point of greatest desire.  Swing with your body, not just your arm.  Not just your sword.  OK, this way, look.”

I demonstrate the imaginary pivot point while the sword tip moves one way, I the other while holding it two-handed at arms’ length.  I can see the light come on in her face.  She smiles and repeats my move.  Brilliantly, better than mine.  Now we carry on and she improves by the minute until she is a blur of slashing, parrying, stabbing steel and white flesh never in the same place for a second.  Truly a work of art.  I have to admire her style.  I find her another partner to spar with and call a trainer’s attention.  He saunters over, gloating over the nude female bodies as he walks along, choosing which ones he’s going to enjoy later.

“What you want, gora?” 

“Please, I want you observe this one.”  I point to Tiki in full fighting mode with her long sword.  “I think this one very good.  Worth much.  Good bet on fight, even first.  Not lose fight for long, long time.  Natural fighter.  Good gamble for you put money on.”

He looks at me slyly.  With some of them I can make positive connections and be recognized as almost human.  They rely on my expertise here since I’ve been fighting and training longer than anyone has, including staffers. 

“This one you want protect huh?  Lover.”

“Please sir, not lover.  Just very good fighter, need for you to know.  That one in my cage, yes, but not lover.”

“You think it ready for fight?  Then we book fight for it.  Not problem.  We have young fool male in trouble for raping concubine of ‘chnoll’ (aristocrat of the generally hated social strata) and must pay fine cannot pay.  Must fight in arena.  We put him with this one.”  Points at Tiki.  “We book fight in one week.  Challenger choose weapons three days from fight.  Yes?”

“Please, yes, that is very good.  Thank you.”  I bow and remain without moving while he returns to the shade of an overhang where they installed a table for cards, dice and drinking.

I know that the match will be ‘fair’ in favour of the fighter in this case because they like me (but can never admit it of course) and because it’s Tiki’s first entry.  They sometimes try to match new fighters with unskilled challengers.  It will be good for Tiki to win her first match fairly easily and probably not get hurt in the bargain.  A good deal, as well as I can manage with my limited bargaining influence. 

Tiki has tired out her partner and is leaning on the sword, panting and covered in streaks of muddy, dusty sweat.  She tosses her head proudly as I approach and salutes me with the sword, her eyes gleaming.  The partner says to me in our throaty, low voice:

“That one very dangerous.  Is killer.  Please, I no fight it more.”

“You may find another partner, and thank you for testing her for me.”

Always when I say thank you to these women they remain surprised, even shocked.  It is the word you use to men, not to women.  For someone to thank them means recognition of their humanity, equality, worth.  That simple word goes a long way anywhere it is used but never more so than here.

“Ready Tiki?”

“Yes.  I drink, I feel strong.  Ready.  More sword?”

End blog post #90