Category Archives: Romance

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

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.

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…)
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        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.”

The Weaver of Peace

[I have known for many years that I would never be an author, nor think of myself as a writer. Actually, I am a story teller, that’s in. The following is another tale of Al’Tara’s universal wanderings as the Avatar of Compassion. Al’Tara is my cosmic alter ego until such time as I “graduate” to that position, that is.   Sha’Tara]

The Weaver of Peace
{a short story, by   ~burning woman~  }

I had heard of a particular human person on a world we call Harmony. If I were to write it the way the locals say it, it would sound like a line of ZZZZZ’s… but never mind that. I was in the neighbourhood, so to speak, just a few hundred light years away and between assignments I decided to meet this human person.

I was quite unprepared for what I saw when I met “Alice” as I shall call her. She was perhaps twenty Earth years of age and certainly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, if one stretches the word to the upper limits of its meaning.

I introduced myself as the avatar Al’Tara but she already knew of me and was pleased to meet me personally. In the grand scheme of things people like me do not have much free time so I asked Alice to tell me her story, explaining that what I’d heard left much to be desired.

I noticed (and felt) a great sadness emanating from her as she began.

“I was born one of those women to become a magnet for love and when I was fifteen I fell in love with a particular man. All men automatically “fell in love” with me but I managed to keep myself for that particular lover. Our attraction was beyond anything I could ever imagine. From the moment I met him, my heart only beat for him.

Then the unthinkable, in my way of thinking, happened: I discovered that he was cheating on me with a friend of mine. I went into a blind rage, then planned my revenge. Eventually I killed them both.”

“And what was your punishment?” I asked as innocently as possible, already knowing the answer.

“They didn’t punish me. The verdict from a judge and the families of those I killed was that I should live with my endless awareness of my guilt. They knew I had re-incarnated on their world from a past life on a world called Earth and they made allowances for my errant behaviour. ‘She hasn’t had time to lose the effects of her many lives on that world where her behaviour is considered normal. We must give her time to evolve to understand the two sides of love.’

“What did they mean by that, then?” I asked, again knowing the answer but eager to see if she understood.

“Love, and I understand this now, has two faces: one is jealous, the other is self-sacrificing.”

I saw tears pooling in her lovely dark eyes and flowing down her cheeks but made no comment on that. Instead I asked, “How old were you when you killed your lover?”

“I was seventeen then. I am twenty one now.”

“Your story has spread and when I heard it, I wanted to know how you have proceeded since that time, and how your understanding of love may have changed. You said it has a jealous face, which you’ve certainly experienced, and a self-sacrificing face. You say you understand this now, so what have you done to wear this self-sacrificing face?”

“I’ve made a decision that will give me that face. There is a primitive world recently discovered by the Supremacy that is ruled by what they call tribalism.  The people there are forever fighting feuds, duels and wars, committing genocides, enslaving each other and using women as war booty. It’s a free-for-all kind of place and if things continue as they are, it is believed that the inhabitants are going to destroy themselves. If they gain access to technology, the rate of attrition will rise exponentially.

“There has been discussions between representatives of the Supremacy and the more powerful war lords. They have an ancient law that if an individual gives himself up voluntarily and without any hesitation as a living sacrifice, the act, upon consummation, would force a hundred year truce. You know what my decision is don’t you, Avatar Al’Tara. I have decided to be their Weaver of Peace.”

“Please just call me Al’Tara, or Tara, we do not hold to titles. Yes, I understand that you wish to be this volunteer blood sacrifice to bring a hundred year peace to an entire world. Why do you feel this is for you?”

“Tara, you must know the weight of guilt I have been living under! Add to that, men still desire me and seek me, even knowing my story, and I cannot reciprocate. I’ve still only experienced but the one side of love. I need to complete my face. Consider also that I have so much to lose. I have physical beauty, youth and perfect health. Despite my horrible crime I am universally desired and lack for nothing. My sacrifice will be utter, complete.”

“Because these primitive War Lords, so-called, will not be able to barter for your sexual favours, and many of them will not want the truce you will be forcing upon them, they will pour their hate on you as their “Dedicated” and will insist that you suffer the pains of hell.  They will torture you in the most terrible ways before they allow you to die. You do know that?”

“Yes… yes, I do know that. It’s the price I must pay to earn the love this world has shown me and would give me if it could. I only need to move forward, neither fainting nor turning back.”

“You are a brave woman, Alice. Your commitment to your salutary purpose is honourable. Let me touch your mind and give you something to help you through your ordeal.”

“I wish for nothing. I was offered special surgery to deaden the pain but refused. I cannot accept.”

“This isn’t about deadening or lessening your pain; it’s to give you constancy and focus during your trial. What I give you will enhance your experience. Furthermore, if you ever dreamed of becoming an Avatar, I’m offering you a rare shortcut. I also offer to accompany you and to be there to ease your mind and guide your spirit when you leave you body. I know no one is allowed to accompany you but I will be invisible to all but you. I will stay with you and touch you but without distracting you from your purpose. Accept?”

“Oh, Tara! Now I know I can do this. Thank you.”

PS: I wanted to add a YouTube link to Kate Price’s “Weaver of Peace” which is my favourite Kate Price ballad. I couldn’t find any YouTube links for Kate Price, but here’s the link to the lyrics:

http://www.songlyrics.com/kate-price/peaceweaver-lyrics/

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #69

Tiki brushes my back with a free hand as she walks by, still sulking from thinking of herself as condemned to gorok work.  I smile, but not so she can see.  The rain begins to pelt down but warm now in this world’s summer season.  I want to stand in it and dance just as total darkness falls in the courtyard.  That would be a sight indeed.  The oldest crone in the compound dancing wildly in the rain.  I know I could get away with it just this one time, but I cannot take the chance another woman would be punished for my actions.  They do have a sense of justice here, however twisted!  Somebody always has to pay or make up the difference.

End blog post #68

_________________

Begin blog post #69

Chapter 30 – The Gift – Doing ‘Right by Wrong’ (Compromised Morality)

Tiki finds me in the dark as we crowd inside the stone vault where the cages are mounted. She hugs me quietly and unerringly leads us to our cage. I can smell the fresh straw that she helped put in earlier in the day. I can immediately tell she managed to put extra layers in our section. It feels good to lay in it full length, let her lay on top of me as the young ones like to do and feel her warmth and slow movements. Dangerously arousing.

Tiki, how you find me so quick in the dark?”

I follow scent of you. I know it you. My nose, it knows.” She laughs low to hear herself say something funny. I laugh also.

Thank you for the fresh straw, Tiki. You are very good, very strong worker. Now I know. Now I ask for you to train as fighter. Soon, no more gorok work for Tiki.” We both laugh as she throws herself into me and wraps her short arms around my skinny, bony torso.

You say ‘thank you’ to me? To woman? Why it feel so good to hear, huh?” and before I can think of an answer she continues breathlessly, “I train for fighter now? Is true?”

Yes is true. You begin training now. Hard, tough training. You swear you be best fighter, best ever fighter, Tiki? Better than me?”

I have awakened a deeper part of her. She weighs my words carefully.

Tiki cannot say she better than you. Only when Tiki dying from blows in arena, when old, then she know if better. I say I swear to be best fighter. Then I work and I do my promise to you.”

Listen Tiki. I teach you new words. You swear means you make ‘a vow’.”

“… a vow.”

Yes. Now say this: I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti.”

I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti.”

Tiki, good words be power words. Speak new words and always you find new power in them. Power of expression. Expression is word that means how you talk, how you speak to me, how you communicate. Strong words – you know deep meaning, they make people listen. Even challenger listen, even enemy must listen to power word.”

I make a vow to fulfill my promise to you Anti. I learn expre-shon to communicate.” She twists her lips with the sounds. She laughs quietly.

One small step for me, one giant step for the women of Malefactus, no, I must learn to use my new name for this world: T’Sing Tallala – Land of Freedom and Hope.

That is the happy part of our life here. I don’t carry the burden of ‘inloveness’ as I did with Deirdre, so have much more freedom to express myself and my compassionate heart constriction to suffering is easier to bear as it is now properly spread over the entire compound, to include all the women. In time I expect to be able to ‘push’ my compassion to include the planet and all the people on it, men, women, children. For now, that is not possible.

The thunder rumbles outside and lightning still flashes and lights the dark stones in our vault. It gives me a lightness of heart I enjoy. From somewhere an opening allows a draft to blow over us, giving us goose pimples. We bury deeper in the straw and giggle.

It is time to continue another line of teaching.

Tiki, do you remember the other day when we spoke of love and I said I would teach you of a love that does not cause pain or hurt?”

Huhmmm…” She had placed her hand under my right armpit and is twirling the hair growing profusely there. Long ago I learned that when any of these young ones share space with me, my body belongs to them. It is the body of the mother they never had. They can use it or explore it as they wish. There is so much freedom in just allowing the flesh to move with the surface feelings. I enjoy her physical company. Her silent way of seeking comfort and exploring all the feelings her body can give her by contact with mine.

It called selfless love Tiki. It means you love to make other feel good, not you. Always you love for other, not for you.”

I not Cholradil. I love if choose to love. If I not like, I not love. How can I be best fighter if love in my heart? It would hurt, make no sense.”

I do not mean as a Cholradil. What they have be not love. Is called natural empathy. Is feeling. True love not feeling. As you say, you choose to love. But true love choose to love all people same. No one special in heart. All same.”

Stupid Anti. You love Warmo? What happen if you do? He live, he go back to torture us. So, how you love us if no kill him. How you love him if kill him?”

Tiki, you be sharp, girl. You win this round hands down.” She taps my arm to indicate she doesn’t understand me. “Is OK. This what I mean. I think about what you say. Is true what you say. I not know how I love Warmo, even if possible. Have to kill Warmo? Yes, have to. Have to hurt him very, very bad, long time before I kill. Hurt him much and men watching must see hurt. Maybe even feel hurt I give Warmo. Have to give him what he give us to teach him how we feel.”

Yes indeed, if I would not become a useless sacrificial victim to Warmo I must remain of a divided personality. I must exist this portion of my time within a compromised morality context. I must continue to do ‘right by wrong.’ Some choices are not in our hands, that is, we make certain choices not by our nature or personal code of conduct but of necessity when the ‘greater good’ is at stake. And what is the ‘greater good’ that forces me to compromise my own nature?

I have resolved this moral question in my mind thus. If I perform an evil act against another to prevent a greater evil, that is acceptable providing such an act, if successful, does not in any way benefit me personally. Ideally such an act would bring about the desired effect while I, like the Phoenix, would be sacrificed in its fiery wake. It is important to understand this when faced with all such moral dilemmas. If I survive the ‘doing right by wrong’ act, I must atone for my part in it. If it benefits me, I must divest myself entirely of any and all such gain.

Having reminded myself of this process in my mind, I continue explaining these difficult concepts.

End blog post #69

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

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

[end blog post #57]
______________________

[begin blog post #58]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

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

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #58]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #52

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

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

[begin blog post #52]

“Can you feel your implants?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hard?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you Yoba Five.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #52]