Category Archives: Relationships

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

Antierra Manifesto-blog post #89

(In which an unexpected but hoped-for development changes the way the game is played.)

The difference between I and them is obvious to me in this moment.  They are more intelligent than I, being in their own element.  They are better equipped to understand.  They are more aware of the obvious.  And certainly they have more experience.  So what do they need of me?  They need the catalyst, that which forces change.  That’s all I am.  I have to put myself in the center of this latent force to create the explosion.  I am the mine that causes the avalanche; the detonator that causes the charge to blow.
End blog post #88
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Begin blog post #89

So I say, “Good, we talk.  Now I tell you truth.  You women, you know answers to question already.  Is all in heart, I say true.  This I know.  What you say is only little bit what each one know deep in heart.  Afraid you are say stupid thing, other women make fun, get angry, think stupid.  So now I stupid speak for all.  I speak heart stupid for all women.  Listen.

“Is possible love all men.  Is possible be only good, not do evil to men like men ask.  Is possible everything.  But not safe to do, not always wise to do.  If women refuse obey men, women all killed, yes?”  They grunt agreement. 

“Agree.  Not good thing.  But if evil in man come from hidden beast, how to fight evil?  Must find other way.  Satisfy men, satisfy women.  How Anti beat evil Warmo?”

“Fight Warmo.  Kill Warmo.  This we know.  This we do always.  No good.  More Warmo men come.  Same thing happen.”

“If Warmo say, ‘Sorry, I do this no more.’  What Antierra do now?”

“Kill.  Warmo lie to save life.  Anyone lie to save life.”

“If Warmo say truth and I kill, who wrong now?”

“Warmo do wrong, die.  Cannot live.  Do more evil.  Truth not important.  Kill Warmo important.”

“Wrong.  Truth important.  If Warmo tell truth, Anti let live, Anti die.  Warmo different now.  Spirit of Anti in Warmo.  Try to help women.  Change many things.  See King, see good doctor.  Powerful man make life better for all women.  Is possible.”

“This stupid speak, Anti?”  The question comes from a very young, newly arrived trainee, a gorok.

I reply emphatically seeing a real opportunity to reveal the ‘humble’ and totally honest/innocent side of the Teaching:  “Yes this stupid speak – my stupid speak.  Say what many afraid to say.  Say that maybe woman can hear man talk in heart; understand man.  Love man.  Not for favour from man, but make man feel good.  Say that maybe man good too.  Say push evil out into shadow, speak with man as speak with woman.  Kind.  Stupid speak say even if man hit woman, not understand, woman still love man; not hate; not fear.  This stupid speak from old, stupid Anti.  I know no more.  You – all you – decide how you live.  As always same… or try stupid speak.”

The young trainee gorok speaks again.  “I be #1341-15-07.  Tieka is name I give goddess to know by.  I not want be fighter.  I thinking maybe I die, not kill man.  See too many evil things.  I no want do bad to man.  Now I stupid speak too, to all women,”  She indicates all the cages with her arms, “kill me if no like.  I be having love with man.  Special good feeling.  He be having love with me.  He no take other women, only me.  He touch me, I feel good.  I touch him, he say he feel good too.  He look at me, I feel good.  I have love for man.  He have love for Tieka.  I keep this now.  If I kill man, I kill love feeling too.  So must die to keep.  This he know.  He very sad for me.  Cry.  I see water on face.  He good man; he very good man.  I too very sad for him.”

I hear gasps and grumblings all over the cages at this revelation.  But this is an omen, much more powerful than anything I could have said or done, more powerful than any storm that could bring this keep down.  This is the key to our victory.  After all the years I spent here, this is the first public expression of a woman’s love for a man, or a man’s for a woman (taking her words for it and I entertain not a moment’s doubt that this child is telling the whole truth – she has put her life on the line for it among her peers.)

Now it’s my turn.  To be perfectly understood I choose pidgin talk again.  “Gorok Tieka doing stupid speak for all us.  Listen from heart now, women.  Listen to girl-woman Tieka with love in heart.  This I say is great gift from goddess now.  This Tieka strong woman, stronger than all us.  Ready to die for love of man.  Die terrible death you all know – flogging for not obeying.  And maybe if man found, he too die terrible death.  Evil now ready to destroy this love.  Is like little green thing grow by stone wall near wash trough.  Do we pull little green thing and give to trainers to destroy?  Do we hide, protect?  What we do now?”

Silence greets my question.  Then from farther in the cages a woman speaks: “Kill gorok.  She make big trouble for all.  Stupid.  Make gorok tell of man, report man to handlers.  Then I say kill gorok.  This big, big trouble.”

Hate.  Fear.  Jealousy.  Reactions to something new, challenging, dangerous, and the basic pseudo-human selfishness that resents something that could benefit another but not the self.  I must counter this thought with logical reasoning, not emotion.

“Listen women.  This from toughest fighter you see ever.  I say we take gorok in heart.  She be new change for us, this place.  I say we find power to keep Tieka from arena.  I say we protect love, all us, do what can to save from evil.  I say we make vow.  We protect, hide Tieka and man.  Say we find heart way for escape from here, take man with her, go into desert, into south far, far away from men, from evil eye. 

“Now must know.  Must hear from fighter who say ‘kill gorok’ – need know how woman feel now.  Must know deep heart truth from woman; if fighter talk to trainers, if  have Tieka and man killed.  Must all know.”

I hear guttural noises deep in the cages.  Angry talking.  I wait, trying not to listen to the arguments.  I hold Tiki close to me, wondering what she is thinking.  She hasn’t said a word, yet this was the same argument we had had long ago.  How do you love in such a place?

The same condemning voice is raised above the wind and sound of whipped rain on the tiled roof far above.  “I be woman who say ‘kill gorok.’  Friend and I talk.  We think this change dangerous but maybe good like Teacher say.  I be Gonda.  On name I promise protect gorok Tieka.  Promise to help if can.  Understand why must do this now.  I think time for change come for us all. I think Desert Beast coming awake for us.”

The effect is electric.  General agreement is voiced throughout the compound and all those near Tieka put their hands on her.  In their hearts they are intoning a protection chant over her.  We have unity of spirit.  I squeeze Tiki’s hand and whisper to her, “Things changing Tiki.  Much sorrow yet to have but things changing for good now.”   She wraps her arms around me and squeezes hard, holding on and sharing her joy at being part of this, not, I sense, understanding it all and a bit lost in the process.  After all, she is one of those  purebred fighters, the result of the breeding of certain lines for qualities desired.  In some ways she is much like the Cholradil with little latitude for choice.  How could she understand Tieka’s abhorrence of killing?  In the worlds of compromised morality… well, I have to admit, there be different levels of ‘love’ evidently.   Antierra old girl, there’s hope for you to learn new tricks yet.

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 matters to attend to.

End blog post #89

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #88

… Five, by empowering myself to reject any and all temptations put forth during my ‘in-between’ times by those who would buy me out or destroy me.  For it is true that all of us are constantly being watched by the forces we come upon and challenge.  Every battle we fight in the flesh is a battle we have already fought, are fighting, must continue to fight in spirit.
End blog post #87
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Begin blog post #88

Chapter 36 – “Stupid Speak” in the Cages – More of ‘The Teaching’

Due to the oppressive heat we are ordered to close the training earlier than usual and allowed to spend more time at the wash troughs.  The women eagerly wash each other and would be laughing happily were it allowed.  Tiki and Swala are playing with each other in the water until a couple of guards walk by and take them inside a small hut constructed of plain grey plasglas – a typical movable guard station.  They return a while later and I can just imagine how hot it must have been in there with those men.  It’s time to eat and I am starving.

The food, whatever it is, tastes as great as any I’ve ever eaten.  I quietly thank the young girl who brings it and ask her to pass my thanks to all kitchen staff.  She smiles shyly and as is their habit, rubs her head against my shoulder, letting it linger there a few precious seconds.  “Absorbing” my strength, I know.  I let my inner energy flow into her and can feel the difference as she takes it in.  They do know this trick, it’s not just a belief of theirs.  I wonder if it’s because they cannot speak freely they developed this power?  It’s the same concept as using hands and movements of the head to communicate when words are too dangerous to use.  Also, as I mentioned before, they use a quick rhythmic tapping upon the arm to indicate they do not understand something.

The meal over we are quickly and quietly ordered to our cages.  We lay on the straw, sweating, waiting.  The storm has moved in now and we hear the first distant rumblings of thunder.  It suddenly gets darker so we know the black roiling clouds have reached over to cover the sun.  The thunder gets closer and louder and now we can see reflections from flashes of lightning.  A hot breeze flows through the cages – our handlers having had the decency to leave the heavy doors open to create drafts.  We remain quiet and expectant as the thunder continues to rumble.  A bright flash immediately followed by a rumble and concussion tells us another part of the keep has been hit.  Soon there is the cry of men running and we hear carriages whining by.  I worry about Balomo and the Cydroids while most of the women are hoping the lightning destroyed the inquisition’s dungeons.

More lightning strikes and rumbles of falling stones tell us major damage is being done to parts of the keep.  It reminds me of bombardments during my brief years in the Melkiar invasions.  You crouch and hope you’re not the target.  Unlike then, I cannot run.  I cannot take my troops to safer grounds here.  We are prisoners in an old castle whose walls could topple upon us if the heavenly bombardment followed by its concussive blasts repeats much longer.  I’ve seen the cracks and done mind sweeps of this place.  The entire structure is weakening with each passing season.

One good thing about all this commotion, we can freely talk as the men are busy saving their hides or digging each other out of rubble and the noise covers our voices.  I call the women closest to Tiki and I and we ‘introduce’ ourselves formally, using our women names.

Suddenly unsure as how to proceed, I sense so much expectation from them, I begin thus,  “What women of T’Sing Tarleyn want more than anything?”

“Want alla! (freedom, pron. ‘aya’).  Want no more beatings, killings.  Want children.  Want family.  Want safe place.  Want home.”  These were the main “wants” I identified among the many, all of which were legitimate.  At least they had some idea that what they were experiencing was not normal; not what they were supposed to experience.  They had thought about it and knew life was supposed to give them better things than what they were given.  I ask,

“How women get good things, you think?”

They had ideas on that too.

“If men all gone, we free.  If goddess kill all men, this our land then.  We no more kill.  Have children by river, be happy.  Grow food as did long, long ago.  Build houses, be safe.  If men come, we kill.  No more they take us, no more.”

They raise their voices in anger and I ask the few near me to quieten them just in case.  Then I pose the obvious devil’s advocate question:

“If no men, how make babies?  How have children?  Babies, children, they come from man seed, yes?”

“Goddess make seed, make babies for us.  We not need men; not have evil babies from evil men.”

I reply, “Goddess not make seed.  Goddess make love.  Goddess, she fight against evil men long ago, they win, see?  Goddess not evil warrior, not fighter.  You think maybe problem not from men but from other very evil beast?  Twist, destroy men heart so they no feel woman pain, woman love?”

A woman hidden in the dark behind me says, “This hard to know.  We know men evil.  Kill women, always.  No woman free here.  Is women free other place, Anti?”

“Some place, yes, women free like men.  No difference.  No hate, no fighting, no killing.  Not many place yet.  But problem here, not other place.  Must fix problem here.  Like broken thing.  Cannot leave broken thing here to find good one other place.  Must fix here, now.  Cannot go to other place to live.  Cannot leave here, see?  This your world.  If men no fix, then women, they fix.  How women fix this world?”

“Women no can fix.  No power.  Goddess must fix for women.  She good.  She strong, powerful in sky boat…”

I stop that line of reasoning sharply:  “You forget.  She be beaten in sky boat.  Gone down in desert long ago.  Evil machine men, they enslave all women and children then.  Goddess no help then.  Be no help without all women with her; all women.  This very important.”

“How we with her?  If she dead, we be dead too?”

“She not dead,”  I reply, “she in bad dream.  All women together, they awake her from bad dream.  Take long, long time.  But first women must awake from same bad dream.  This men do here, is bad dream.  Not real.  Is evil, evil never real, not like dirt, straw, cloud, food or love.  Evil only real if women think it real.  Evil power is in weak thinking.

“Evil not grow here.  Always from other place it come.  From skies, from stars far away.  This evil, it eat good part of men heart, make evil.  If evil beaten, men awake too, no longer evil.  No longer hurt women.  This women must understand.

“Listen: is evil, not man-evil must fight.  Fight real challenger, not shadow.  Women, they fight shadow of evil in men, kill men, evil not die, just shadow die.  Evil go into other men.  Always make more evil.”

“Good, we know now.  How we fight evil, not shadow-evil?”

“Very hard.  Take very strong woman to do.  First, must have no man-evil in woman heart.  No man-hate.  No man-fear.  Must have only knowing.  Un-der-standing.  A-ware-ness.  Must know woman heart.  True.  Clean, like wash.  No evil in woman heart.  That be first thing.  Is possible this?”

“Is not possible, Anti.  If we no hate men, no kill men, we killed.  If we no work when men say ‘work’ we killed.  If we refuse men sex, we forced, gang-raped, flogged, killed.  Soon, no woman, no children alive on T’Sing Tarleyn.  Only stupid men.  If we not do bad to men, this they hate more than if we do bad.  How you say?  Men, they want women hurt them too.  They like hurt.  They crazy.  How you fix crazy?  Must kill crazy.”

How to explain my particular conundrum of ‘compromised morality’ or doing good by wrong concept to these simple minds?  I must be really dense not to see the obvious here.  They are innocents.  They would understand me if I could bring my knowledge to their experience.

And suddenly, in this dark cage surrounded by so much despair blended in so much newly awakened hope I understand the failure of so many Teachers in so many incarnations on so many human worlds.  It is their inability to climb to the top of this mountain and face the real scaffold: that we have less awareness than they have.

The difference between I and them is obvious to me in this moment.  They are more intelligent than I, being in their own element.  They are better equipped to understand.  They are more aware of the obvious.  And certainly they have more experience.  So what do they need of me?  They need the catalyst, that which forces change.  That’s all I am.  I have to put myself in the center of this latent force to create the explosion.  I am the mine that causes the avalanche; the detonator that causes the charge to blow.

End blog post #88

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #87

There be no new method.  Train or be punished.  You – you,”  they point at me and Tiki, “continue.  You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners.  Stop again, we flog.”  And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather.  We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.
End blog post #86
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Begin blog post #87

Ah, new trainers.  Stupid, dense, closed minded.  Always the same with new ones. 

“OK Tiki, get ready, I your challenger now.  I nod head, you attack.”

As soon as I nod she charges into my guard and I barely have time to block her.  She swings wide to the left – a perfectly executed and masterful feint.  Spinning and dropping below my block she comes in and lays her staff solidly on my hip.  I feel that!  But I’m proud of her then.  She has the talent and the will.  Able to overcome the reticence of hitting a friend, that is good.

“Good Tiki.  That hurt for real.  Now I be more careful with you, mongoose.  I am enraged cobra now.  If I get near, I have poison in fangs, hah!”

And we continue to spar.  She scores several painful hits on me.  I know I haven’t yet put in all my power in this fight and I’ve pulled back my own blows because I don’t want her to become discouraged, but I’m not far from my limit.  This creature is a natural fighter, bred for the work.  She will do as well as any has ever done.  She won’t get angry, she’ll get even.  Her vengeance will not be personal and won’t eat at her as it did with the Concubines and so many I’ve seen pass through here.  She’ll lay them down neatly and professionally.  Tomorrow I plan to test her on the swords, then on the axe.  I will have to introduce a bit of creativity in that professionalism, for the entertainment value and the surprises.  That’s my specialty: the surprise effect.

‘Tomorrow is promised to no one.’  Yes, I know.  But for all of us here, beside perhaps enough food to sate our hunger later, some loving tonight in our cages, what is there but tomorrow?  Don’t call it a promise then, just call it hope.  Some won’t even make it.  Bodies will be taken out of the cages this coming morning, I know.

During our break and partner switch the late day heat rises even more.  The breeze has died out completely and it is oppressive.  Our drinking and washing water is almost hot.  The stones would burn the feet if we weren’t walking on thick calluses.  This has to herald another thunder storm; nature’s impromptu performance to give us a little bit of entertainment and brief excitement in the night.  I’m reminded of the last night I spent with Deirdre.  So many storms since that night yet so little precipitation even through the winter that was unseasonably cold and we suffered much from exposure in it.

My new sparring partner is an older fighter I’d seen before.  She smiles at me and gestures for a quick talk. 

“We remember, Anti.  Remember Teaching of Great Desert Beast.  We pray like you say and the Warmo was killed.  We know in heart he now dead.  Not even ghost remain.  We need learn more of Teaching.  Tonight, you speak, yes?  Give more power to woman.”

This is such a terrible responsibility, to teach people the very concepts they need to free themselves but which will cause them so much more pain in the beginning.  You get used to a situation and settle into it, getting the most of it you can.  Comfort is relative.  Suddenly you are given a new idea and your relative comfort rug is pulled from under you.  This new idea is naked and vulnerable so you protect it with your body and mind.  Now you become vulnerable.  Certain you must be that it is worth protecting and even dying for.  Or else, why do it?  So if I teach these women, it has to be about becoming free from the horrors men are imposing on them. 

How do we approach this concept of freedom?  It cannot, ever, be with violence.  Slaves throughout the histories of the worlds of humanity have attempted violent rebellions time and again.  In each case they were slaughtered and the conditions of survivors made worse.  This the Teaching makes very clear.  Most women of Malefactus have no means of turning to violence against the men.  They are untrained, unarmed slaves.  Even us with our weapons’ skills – what are those good for but to entertain?  They are useless against the real weapons of the police and military.  In any confrontation the laser weapons would turn our bodies into piles of smoking meat in seconds.

I spar with the woman, demonstrating as many new tricks to her as I can.  As do most of the fighters she learns quickly.  We are using the long double edged, double-handed sword lately, for whatever reason, becoming the new fad in the arena.  Most challengers go for it now and this has meant we’ve had to spend much more time boning up on our skills with it.  The smaller women have a difficult time with this weapon.  It is too long and it slows their movements down.  Consequently our losses have increased incrementally.  That probably explains why the ‘brave’ men of Malefactus choose this weapon: it gives them an automatic advantage over the shorter, lighter females. 

But I must say this: the women are game.  Not only because they have no choice, but because they continue to improve themselves in many ways.  They now understand that any weapon can be mastered with skill if it is understood.  A small woman can move her body as she wields the long sword, thus not having to move the whole weight of it.  Kind of a hammer-throw concept: if you understand the lever concept, the centering balance point of your body does not have to be the fulcrum all the time.  You can create a hypothetical point for your fulcrum, your body at one end of the lever and the point of the sword at the other.  Now you can ‘orbit’ around your imaginary centre point. This requires great agility of feet and complete focus.

You use the weight of the weapon to propel you to a different location, removing the target – you – and placing the sword in an unexpected position relative to the challenger.  When he goes for you, neither you nor your sword are there – just your imaginary fulcrum point – and you can take him by surprise from an endless possibility of unexpected angles.  Those of us who are larger of body have less use of this concept and I find it difficult to teach.  So I have trained and assigned other fighters to do this part for me. 

“Can I ask you to teach my slave this sword technique you have developed, please?”  I ask her.  “And can I have your woman power name also?”

She beams to be asked a favour by such a one as I.  To be able to teach the Desert Beast Woman’s slave, that is truly an honour for her.

“In prayer, I be Swala.  Yes, and please, I do this for you.  I teach good.  The slave… ‘Tiki’?… she is very good with weapons already.  She very lucky to be slave to you and learn by touching much with you.”

“Your number for the trainers, Swala?”  She turns and I read 1334-02-28.

The women here believe it is possible to absorb another’s skills and strength as much by being physically close as by training with you.  I have noticed lately that many of the women find ways to get close to me to let their hands linger on me.  They want to absorb, to share the fighter part of me that has survived so long in the arena fights.  This is especially true now that I have killed the Warmo.  I have become a sort of inamorata to them.  They truly believe I am the reincarnation of their Great Desert Beast.  I have reawakened the old myth and they are putting fuel on the fire.

For better or worse it is a truism that avatar change agents have consistently used existing mythology to propel themselves upon the stage of whatever ISSA world they felt called to make change in.  We take on the persona of their favourite idol, myth, deity, or claim we are a child, brother, sister or other relative of that deity.  Again, it’s that compromised morality problem.  For us time is ever of the essence.  We rarely have the luxury to begin from scratch to build ourselves up to their expectations.  We are coming on stage so to speak somewhere in the middle of the action, or more often near the end of it.  We have to fit ourselves in someone else’s story – believably so or we don’t get to speak our lines – it’s that simple.

Thus Antierra or “Anti” is now the daughter of the Desert Beast and has become, in the eyes and hearts of the women fighters of T’Sing Tarleyn  the legitimate Desert Beast Woman, symbol of freedom for all T’Sing Tarleyn womanhood.  Well, as my good doctor said, I’ve brought all of them to a very dangerous crossroads.  How many avatars have brought those who believed in them to such a place then been martyred or killed to disappear following promises to return soon but never did?  How many worlds were thus politically changed on the surface but the basic problems that originally called the avatar’s attention remained unchanged? 

Earth was, or remains, one of those places.  Promises were made that were not kept and each time the people’s hopes were raised only to be dashed.  They were abandoned to their own devices and continued to perish despite Herculean efforts to maintain the reality of their disappeared avatars.  Powerful movements became powerful religions or powerful political factions  that claimed to exist as stewards for the avatar but refused to take on the responsibility such a claim entailed.  If anything can be said of those institutions it would be that they ended up demonstrating the exact opposite of what the “Master” taught so clearly.

I am on Malefactus fully aware of this problem and determined not to repeat this terrible mistake. 

And how do I propose to do this? 

First by beginning the process of self-empowerment among these female fighters.  They must ultimately believe in themselves as possessors of the power deriving from ‘the Teaching’ of their avatar.

Second, by understanding that my redemptive work achieved through deliberate submission to the lowest form of degradation in human slavery will only have begun when I leave here. 

Third, by programming myself to ‘return’ immediately after I die here.  No break, no hiatus, no seeking advice, no rest and relaxation on beautiful Altaria or other hidden world.  I belong to Malefactus until such time as it recognizes me, that is, its female population.

Fourth, by exercising my rights and powers as a WindWalker – to live and die by my own choices.  My fate and that of the people I choose to share myself with is entirely in my hands. 

Five, by empowering myself to reject any and all temptations put forth during my ‘in-between’ times by those who would buy me out or destroy me.  For it is true that all of us are constantly being watched by the forces we come upon and challenge.  Every battle we fight in the flesh is a battle we have already fought, are fighting, must continue to fight, in spirit.

End blog post #87

A Rhetorical Question

Short story by Sha’Tara

“Don’t mean to pry but that’s three buses you let go by. You look at them, stare inside then you sit down again.”

“Yes, you’re right. I wanted to ride around town but I really have no clue about these buses. I don’t even know how to pay to ride.”

“Oh! My name is Amelia. How come you know nothing about city bus transit?”

“My name is Ben, pleased to meet you. I just came in on a train down from Slago.”

“Slago? What’s a Slago?”

“It’s actually a place no one’s heard of unless they live in Slago, with the possible exception of some lowly clerk in the revenue service.”

“Slago… that’s some name for a town.”

“Slago’s not a town Mel. It’s an abandoned gopher hole in the middle of a forest, half of which is dead due to a wild fire two summers ago.”

“You called me Mel. Why is it that everybody when they hear my name, they have to call me Mel?”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t give a damn, really. It was a rhetorical question. You do know about those?”

“Rhetorical question? I’ll ask you one: can you introduce me to these labyrinthine buses if I buy you dinner, or are you working today, or otherwise engaged?”

“That is not a rhetorical question; it begs a few answers.”

“So I don’t know what a rhetorical question is. Do you have any answers for me?”
“Sure, OK. No, I’m not working today, I was going to do some shopping. I can explain some bus basics, get you started. It’s not rocket science. Think: if the bozos you bump into on the sidewalks can do it, hey! And yes, I’ll accept your dinner invitation. Do I get to pick the restaurant?”

“You’ll have to, I don’t know anything about this city.”

How was I to know that a simple conversation in a bus stop would deliver a fun day, a great dinner, a whirlwind romance, two children, a house with an unaffordable mortgage, a philandering, abusive drinking husband and a bitter divorce eleven years later? How’s that for a rhetorical question.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #85

Late again… resuming blog posting of the “Manifesto”… 

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

End blog post #84
_________________________________

Begin blog post #85

“By the standards of Hyrete fighters you are the longest surviving ever.  Granted you began your fighting at an approximate age of twenty-five compared to the usual age of sixteen for regularly bred fighters.  But that only means you had much less training and experience when you were pitted against some of the best challengers in the realm.  Still, no fighter has ever lived past thirty in the official records.  You are approximately thirty seven.  Just a reminder to you that you held on in hope of accomplishing more.  And you may yet. 

“I’ve heard of your ‘Teaching’ among the women.  The slave you call Tiki tried to explain it to YBA4 in the kitchens.  I understand it not at all – seems foolishness to me, but I won’t be caught underestimating you again.  Just be careful with that line of ‘work’ because the men are nervous and it would take but a spark to ignite a pogrom against all the females of this realm, perhaps in the entire world.  You have brought all of us to a critical point.  We are not all as certain of what lies beyond death as you are, you know.  However short, however terrible its circumstances, life remains precious to us all.”

I know what he is saying.  He looks so sad and I feel self-conscious and stupid for being the cause of so much upset.  One of my Altarian elder teachers had given me the following proposition to work through: 

  1. a) Prepare yourself with all the knowledge you can, train yourself in manifestation and self-regeneration, go to this world you speak of and cause the change you believe will help the people there and save your other world you call Earth, if that is what you know you must do.
  2. b) Follow the path of Ultimate Logic and close off the parts of your life that had anything to do with Earth and her stack worlds as you know them to exist. Take the rest cure you earned, change yourself and return to us for re-assignment when you feel ready for something else, perhaps somewhat less daunting?  There are a number of worlds assigned to us now being terra-formed and populated.  They could use your expertise.

“Know this, then: there is nothing anywhere that can be used to measure or determine which of your choices will cause the greatest ‘good’ in the aeons to follow.  The good you choose to do today may be the great evil of tomorrow.  The world you save today may become your nemesis of tomorrow.  The evil you pursue to destroy may yet claim you also.  Conversely if you do nothing, the results may still be the same.  The question is for your mind alone.  We can neither agree nor disagree with your choices.  For at the avatar level of mind all choices you make are entirely your own and you live by them until you change them.”

I turn to the doctor again.

“I understand only too well Bal.  Don’t you realize how much I wish I could do it all myself without involving others in the additional sacrifices demanded by planned change?  That cannot be.  As I chose then, they too must choose now.  And so must the men.  When a world succumbs to a particular evil, Bal, the people on that world must wake up to it and decide eventually to fight it or be destroyed by it.  This is as true of individuals as it is of worlds.  This I have seen in my travels.  That was the fate of Old Earth: that her people refused to see the obvious evil that was destroying the fabric of their societies and continued in it long after there was even any point to it.  Result?  Billions died Bal.  Billions!  For nothing.  It did not have to play out that way.  There are always two paths for every ISSA.  Always choice, always.”     

Chapter 35 – Training Tiki – Clumsy Attempt on my Life

I am sad to leave the comfort of Bal’s place and the peace of mind given me by the Cydroids’ presence.  But if I’m to remain here longer I have to return to the training compound; to my world.  I walk slowly back unescorted as is now my unofficial ‘right’ to do.  It’s the third day of the week, early morning and the sun is already beating down into the courtyards.  Some passages are stifling hot.

Not much has changed, I notice as I re-enter the training areas.  There has been some rain and the stones were swept clean and washed.  The smell is a bit more tolerable and there’s a steady breeze blowing, cooling the space of reflected heat from the midday sun.  The women are lined up, sparring savagely against each other, their white bodies shining with sweat.  Some already have bloody cuts and black bruises.  I may not have mentioned it before but many women die in these training sessions.  Often the training is used as an excuse to kill a rival who may have ‘stolen’ a lover or to get rid of a suspected snitch.  The hated woman will be fighting her opponent when set upon from behind by another trainee in league with her own opponent.

Training kills are superficially investigated and seldom punished.  It is considered as maintenance costs.  The male thinking is that any trainee who lets herself get killed in training wouldn’t be worth putting in the arena.

I introduce myself to the new trainers and am escorted to Delton’s office, the overseer.  I bow to him and wait to be addressed.   

“Hah, our killer slave return from dead.  You look disgusting.  I hear they be discussing your execution huh?  Good.  You past prime now.  Die soon.  Killing orgy, I be thinking.  Good to watch.  I get ticket, yeah.  You be wanting?”

“I be wanting to train slave was in my cage, slave #1339-32-19?”

“Ah, that young one, she be good sex.  I enjoy her much.  Wiry bitch.  Deek?”  He yells out the door of the office to an assistant sitting at one of the tables playing cards.  “Off your lazy ass.  Get the ‘teela’ from kitchen, now!”

Within a couple of minutes he returns with Tiki in tow, dragging her roughly.  She sees me and her face for a moment lights up then she also bows, hiding her face in her hair.  Delton eyes her and is thinking to take her in front of me just for the malice of it.  He senses I wouldn’t care and says:  “Take the teela.  Train good and I fight it myself, beat it down and fuck it for you.  You watch.”

If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate.  This is nothing to get twisted about.  A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next.  I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki.  Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.

End blog post #85

Is it worth it?

 [a short story by Sha’Tara]
(I’ve probably posted this story in the past but I feel like it’s time to run it again since I’m having some discussions on the subject of empathy…)
________________________

        Lanky Andy, Andrew Larkin, walked into “The Odyssey” restaurant at exactly 1800 hours.  He allowed his transitioning photochromic lenses to clear enough so he could scan the seats.  Eddie, Edward Aberhart, his friend, was seated in a booth halfway down the window aisle, facing the entrance door.  He waved at Andy.

        “Jees… Jesus Eddie, you look like shit. What’s up?  What’s with the ‘I need to see you right away, like today!’ call?”

        “It’s like this Andy.  I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve been thinking about things for years now and it’s turned into a bloody nightmare.  I keep asking myself, ‘Is is worth it?  What am I doing here?  What’s the point of anything, anything at all.’ and nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right.”

        “What does Linda have to say about your, um, nightmare?”
        “Linda’s gone.  She packed up, went back to her family down south.  I haven’t spoken to her since she left, that’d be about two months ago.  Just packed up while I went uptown, loaded up the car, took Jessie with her and left me a note on the kitchen table: ‘I’m going to stay with mom for a bit until I can get a job at the hospital down there.  I know a doctor, I’ve got excellent references as an ER nurse, I’ll get a job.  Please, don’t call me, don’t call mom, just vanish from our lives.  If you follow, I’ll get an injunction based on emotional abuse.  I don’t care what you do Eddie, just disappear from my life; from our lives.  You’ve become creepy, sick, but not something I can do anything about.  I won’t let you drag us into your nightmare.  Goodbye Eddie.’ and that’s it.”
        “Well, nothing like a cheery get together to get things rolling.”
        A busty, dark “Greek” looking waitress came by, took their orders and said their drinks would be right up. 
        ‘I sure hope so’ thought Andy.  ‘I need a drink, the kind that helps you put your thoughts together, then wipes them out so you can enjoy life again, if only for a day.’
        Although the place was three quarters full, it being Saturday evening after all, the drinks miraculously showed up within three minutes.  Eddie fingered the cold condensation on the outside of his glass.  He didn’t pick it up, didn’t drink, just stared as if he was reading a message.  Andy sipped on his, smacked his lips then swallowed the entire glass, waving at a waitress for a refill.
        “All right, goddamn it Eddie, you got me here.  Don’t tell me you’re just going through another of your emotional bullshit phases.  I had enough of that shit with you in college.  Let’s cut to the chase, what’s eating you?”
        “I’m really sorry Andy but my life sucks.  I hate teaching and I don’t believe anything the curriculum makes me teach the kids so I can’t really motivate them.  Well, how could I?  I can’t motivate myself any longer.
        “You know I used to attend the Pentecostal church.  I thought I had some sort of relationship with God.  It felt good, right, proper and my life made sense.  I joined the Lions’ Club to be of service in the community and that reinforced my belief that life had purpose.  I married Linda and I was sure I really loved her.  Jessie’s birth, now that was some celebration after all the scare that she would be abnormal – nothing wrong with that kid.  I had it all and then it all went away.  I mean it, Andy: it just evaporated.  Like I fell in some big black bottomless hole.  That’s where I’m talking to you from: a black pit of despair, falling with nothing to hang on to.  Can you accept that?  I’m not asking you to understand, just accept this is how it is.”
        “Do you want me to lie to you?”
        “No.”
        “OK then, I can’t – no, let me put it more clearly for you: I won’t accept it.  I’m a rational person, Eddie.  If something fucks up upstairs, it’s up to me to go up there and straighten it up.  There’s no Chimera up there that’s going to take over and fuck up my life – not before now, not now, and not ever in the future.  I wouldn’t let it happen.  That’s my answer to your asking me to accept your current state of mind: I don’t because if I did, then I’d have to try to understand it next – and I’m simply not going there.  I don’t play mind games Eddie.  My own life is controlled; some people say I’m as hard as a rock, well fine, that to me is high praise.  That’s why you stuck with me through college too, you needed that hardness to put grit into your own mush, Eddie.
        “What the fuck, man.  You are the one who got Linda, you whiny wimp of an excuse for a man.  She went for you because she felt sorry for you most of the time.  But I was the one who loved her Eddie.  How often I imagined what we could have done as a couple, as a team.  A doctor and a nurse, and I would have pushed her to get her medical degree too.  We would have been all over the world, helping people, I mean really helping.  A team on fire.  Fuck you Eddie, you miserable excuse for a human being.  I feel so sorry for you right now I want to punch in that baby face of yours.  Goddam it, I don’t believe this.”
        “Why have you never told me of your feelings for Linda until now?  I didn’t know, honest.”
        “Of course you didn’t know, you self-absorbed little shit.  All that’s ever really mattered to you was you and your precious feelings.  ‘I joined the Lions’ club to be of service to the community.’  Such a crock.  You joined to find support for your insecurities – tell me honestly that isn’t true.”
        “Ah hell Andy, I didn’t call you here for you to beat up on me.  I’m down, Andy.  I can’t take this.  Is this fun for you, crushing what’s left of a total loser?”
        “OK, OK, I’ll back off if you’ll level with me and tell me what’s really the problem.  What’s the cause of your black pit of despair, Eddie?  What’s this Gremlin you’ve got on your back that you can’t shake off this time?”
        “The honest truth, Andy: the world, and my life in it.  Have you followed the news lately?  With all the crap that’s going on and that keeps arising all over, is it really worth it?  Is there some point to it?  The world’s in a shambles, what am I supposed to do?  Ignore it?  Carry on like what’s her name, Pollyanna?
        “I wake up in the middle of the night and I have visions, terrible visions, of things happening to thousands of people, horrible things.  And I feel guilty about it all, I can’t help myself, and the guilt won’t go away.  It’s like everything bad that happens is my fault.  I’m responsible somehow, as if I were a puppet and I was being played, forced to watch; forced to link my lifestyle to the problems of other people.  If I enjoy something, they go without.  If I eat, they starve.  If I have a house to live in, they are homeless.  If I have rights, they are enslaved.  If I’m free, they are in prison.  I’m cursed, Andy; I’m the other side of the coin.”
        As their food was being served, Andy didn’t answer.  He moved some plates around, ordered another drink, looked up at Eddie and said, “Ed, drink your fucking drink, right now.”
        The waitress looked up, a shocked look on her face.  “Sorry, that’s between my friend and I here.  Please bring him another drink, he’s going to need it.”
        The waitress almost scampered away.  Andy started eating and felt ravenous.  He swallowed, then started to laugh.  Not so loud as to cause embarrassment but so Eddie would hear it and stare at him.
        “You find something amusing, Andy?” Eddie put his empty glass down, looked into Andy’s eyes.
        “Yeah, you.”
        “My problems are amusing to you?  I thought doctors were supposed to be empathetic.”
        “Some are but it’s definitely not a trade requirement.  If it was most of us would be out of work tomorrow.  But this has nothing to do with me being a doctor, or you a high school teacher.  We’ve been dancing around a much more serious business called life.  You asked me, is it worth it?  Before I answer that, give me a rational alternative to what you call life.”
     “That’s a nuts question.  How can there be a rational alternative to life?”
        “Ah, got you there haven’t I?”
        “I don’t have any answer for you.  Are you talking about an alternative to life?  How can there be such a thing?”
        “Have you heard of NDE’s or near death experiences that some people claim to have had?”
        “Vaguely.  Here and there.  There’s no proof of such a thing actually happening. Just the brain reacting in a crisis when life is on the line.”
        “Exactly!”  Andy drank some more and it seemed his drinks were tasting better each time.  So did the food.  “Got to congratulate you, Eddie, this is one hell of a fine restaurant.  Not fancy, but you can’t beat this food, or the drinks either.  Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed myself more at a meal.  Go ahead, dig in, dig in.  This is fantastic!”
        “What do you mean, ‘Exactly’?”
        “Mmmm… what?”
        “I said there was no proof that NDE’s are real experiences and you said, ‘Exactly.'”
        “And I meant every word!”  Andy laughed at the puzzled expression in his friend’s face and noticed that outside, the world had gone dark except for street lights and the lampshades over the booths made new shadows.
        “Ease up on the drinks, Andy, you’re losing it.”
        “Actually I’m getting it, Eddie.”
        “Care to explain?”  He took a serious drink and suddenly felt himself unwind.  As if something good was going to happen.  Imagine that: nothing good had seemed to happen for ages.  He knew it wasn’t the drink, nor the food.  Anticipation. He actually felt it.
        “I never realized it until now,” said Andy.  “About you, I mean.  I always thought you were somewhat of a sissy, a wimp you know, going around feeling sorry for yourself, bringing people into your circle to empathize with you.  But that wasn’t it at all.  You were just confused, selling yourself short, unaware of your own nature, thus unable to take advantage of it.”  He seemed to look at Eddie with some sort of awe.  “I never knew; never suspected even.”
        “Would you tell me what you’re going on about, Andy?  You’re confusing me and I think you’ve had too much to drink.”
        “Oh just wait.  I haven’t had half enough.  I’ve been a fool, Eddie, a complete idiot.  I’m the one who’s been totally self-centered and blind.  You know what you are, buddy?”
        “Hey, this is getting scary.  What am I?  Some sort of Reptilian alien?”  Eddie smiled, ate some, enjoyed it.  “You going to keep me in suspense?”
        “No.  I’ve got it.  You, my very dear friend and pain in the ass, are an empath.  A real, honest to God empath.  That’s what explains your angst, you visions, your despair; your deep questioning of the purpose of life. You feel it man, you feel it all and you have never learned how to deal with it.  You’re supposed the “channel” this stuff, not keep it bottled up.  It’s not about you, it’s about this world, and how life evolves or adapts itself within.  That life needs to communicate; to give itself messages and in human terms, those messages are carried by empaths.
        “When I said, “exactly” I meant it: it’s all based on empathy.  There’s no need of proof once you pass a certain point, or reach a certain level of evolution – it just is.  I’m a surgeon and I know a bit about NDE’s.  I’ve had talks with quite a few patients who, after thanking me for saving their life, went on to describe their experiences under anaesthesia when they experienced clinical death.  I was interested but never convinced beyond what you said: brain reaction.
        “But it wasn’t that, don’t you see?  These NDE people are empaths!  They crossed over and came back because their nature provided the bridge between the physical world of their body and the spirit, or mental, world inhabited by their consciousness.  I remember talking about this with Linda.  She didn’t make the connection between NDE’ers and empathy, but she accepted the experience as very real.  Goddam Eddie, she was right!  I just needed to see the connecting thread and you just showed it to me.  Your angst is your connection to others, Eddie.  You’re not cursed, you are blessed, old friend.”
        “If that’s the case, shouldn’t it have made me selfless and compassionate instead of the loser wimp you see before you?”
        “No, I see it now, that’s not how it works.  You needed teachers and you didn’t get them – luck of the draw I suppose.  You needed to be taught self-empowerment and self-reliance.  That’s where the rubber hits the road I bet.  That’s where it comes together and changes you completely.  Think about it, Eddie.  Think about it long and seriously.  While you’re on top of that, teach yourself about channelling – pass it on, don’t keep it in.  You’re watching the movie, you’re not in the story being chased by those demons, though they are real.  You can sense them but they don’t know you exist.  That’s your key and your power.  You can exert influence upon the stories in your mind if you learn how to transmute the information then upload it in its changed form.  I read about this stuff; it’s amazing I never got it until now.  You: you’re the key.  You’re the Avatar.  You’re the one making it happen now, right now, while you’re outside of yourself.
        “Is that my alternative to life?”
        “Yes.  You see, there isn’t just one form of life, there are infinite types of life.  People like yourself, well, they can slip in and out of any form they choose.  You have the power to do that and that’s how you survive in worlds given over to violence like this one.  You don’t stay in the line of fire, you duck, you live to fight another day.  But you’re always on the front lines regardless of where you go in your mind.”
        “You missed your calling, you should have been a preacher.  I’m sold.  Just hoping it isn’t the drinks talking, or feeling.”
        “It isn’t the drinks.  This is like a revelation.  I’m sold too.  I’m no empath, I know that, but you know who else is?”
        “Linda!”
        “You bet, Linda.  And I’m going after her.  I love her; I’ve always loved her and I’m going to make it up to her for not pushing my way between the two of you.  Got that?”
        “Yes, I got that.  It’s how it’s got to be.”  He hesitated for a moment, then added,   “I know you’ll be good for her, and you’ll take good care of Jessie.  Let me know when you guys are married, or settled.  I’d like to visit.”
        “I’ll do that.  No, I mean we’ll do that.”