Category Archives: science fiction

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

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

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

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

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

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

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

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

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

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

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

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

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

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

“There are those here…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #53]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #51

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

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

I am not lost.  I will pass this test.

[end blog post #50]


[begin blog post #51]

Chapter 24 – ‘Bionic Woman’ faces Malefactus

According to YBA5 I have been granted a week to return ready to train and fight, or be officially terminated as ordered by the Arena Fighter Committee.  For them it’s an easy decision.  I’m old and not likely to produce many more interesting fights.  Since I have served them well they would even save me from the final killing orgy.

A quick explanation of “killing orgy day” —  my name for it, not theirs.  They link these with some kind of “national” holiday.

The purpose is twofold. 

First, it is used to cull old and considered useless females from the fighter line-ups; or those who have lost their owners and no one placing bets on them or paying for their basic maintenance.  Other types earmarked for the killings are the ‘dikfols’(slang; woman gone crazy from blows to head, grief or other pathological cause) held in chains in the back cages specifically for this day; hopeless cases of young trainees; female law-breakers not yet executed; unclaimed “wild” captured females; any “extra” contingent of sex-slaves or workers deemed expendable or purchased from their owners by the Arena Fighter Committee for this purpose. 

These are all lined up for certain death on that particular day and should any women somehow manage to survive the killings they are mowed down with laser rifles by guards or police forces brought in for the occasion.  Point: not a single woman earmarked for a killing orgy can survive it. It is her day of death.  

Second, it is the number one entertainment for the masses.  On that day access to the arena is free.  Each fan is given a number that gives him access to an arena seat.  It is also a ticket for a random number selection which if called, gives him the coveted right to enter the arena proper as an official challenger, provided with a free weapon he may keep as a personal trophy if he survives his fight.

It is a day of the ugliest, most disgusting displays that pseudo-humans are capable of.  The fans are loaded with chakr and carry plastic pouches of home brew.  Drugged and drunk, they crowd the railings, hoping to elude guards and jump into the arena to rape and kill a female. 

The highlight for individuals in these orgies is having their number drawn and receiving official entry into the arena to challenge a female opponent.  It must be said that many of these idiots manage to get themselves slaughtered by the fighters before they too succumb to physical exhaustion and blood loss from never-ending challenges.  I have experienced many of those days, having to stand at the various gates to support guards and trainers in preventing a drugged and boozed-up maddened crowd from breaking through the accesses to the female compounds.  Armed guards, or local police units, are not permitted to intervene in these cases simply because opening fire in such crowded conditions could result in a mass slaughter of men, an unacceptable compromise and there is no guarantee that the guards themselves would not join in the madness and use their weapons on the females!  There is a very precarious balance of power here that can easily shift – always to the detriment of the female slave class.

As for using special forces from the military who are ostensibly better disciplined, that is a no-go mostly because the owners of the female fighters are not willing to spend to money necessary for this extra security.  So they use us, knowing we have a very real incentive in preventing the men from rushing into our compounds: our own life, and the lives of our lovers and friends.  Also our weapons do not normally cause havoc yet still provide a powerful deterrent to the unarmed males.  I must note here that we do not have the least compunction about killing these males.  It’s our way to avenge the victims of the arena. 

They hold at least two of these killing orgy “holidays” a year.  The crowds are mostly made up of the gutter types I encountered when I first came into the city what seems now ages ago.  Most of these “fans” can never afford to attend regular meets where the real fighting and heavy gambling takes place. 

When the women are all killed the “fights” are officially terminated.  Now the killers rampage through the bodies, cutting off appendages until only trunks or torsos of the women victims lie in the bloody sand.  Scavenged appendages are removed as trophies which, I’ve heard from handlers, are carefully preserved by taxidermy and hung in hovels or carried in pouches as longevity charms.  These macabre items are very marketable, though such trafficking is officially banned.  The practice is actually on the increase and has become a serious security problem for owners or renters of worker females who are stolen (they are not considered kidnapped since they are not legally human) from their working stations and slaughtered for their parts. 

I hope that short explanation helps you to understand a bit more about the mindset that rules this planet.  Elbre from what I understand is not an exception but the rule for all of T’Sing Tarleyn.  It is the way of it.

The auto-medic upgrade arrives the day after my long, productive session with the Cydroid YBA5, whom I now refer to as “Yoba Five” with her permission, which she granted when I asked,  “Can I call you YoBa?”

“YoBa?”  She smiles again.  “Why yes, I’d like that very much.  YoBa makes my name more human.  Thank you!  But if you wish to speak only to me, don’t forget to add ‘five’ to the name so my twins won’t listen in automatically.  So, I am Yoba Five to you.”  

And speaking of five, five days remain before my death sentence is carried out.  And I see no way I can ever return to the training and fighting compounds in such a short time.

Two male Cydroids, disguised as guard and trainer, bring the equipment in and after stripping from their regular uniforms to don skin tight suits more suitable to the work, proceed to remove and replace.  I am allowed to watch and even participate in an advisory capacity in the upgrade and my remembered skills,  however rudimentary, as a techie of Old Earth and on Supremacy ships, are useful.  The Melkiar wars provided all of us with an intimate knowledge of the workings of auto-meds on our ships.  They saw much use then.

Wall panels come off carefully, are marked with numbers and stacked.  Wire harnesses peeled off, disconnected, coiled and stored in sealed opaque lead-lined bags.  New harnesses are re-routed and connected to new modules.  Main and auxiliary com boards are installed, plugged in and tested.  New banks of warning lights replace the old.  New arms, sensors, probes mounted on pre-fab flanges are secured, plugged in and also tested for mobility and reach.  Finally comes the re-install of the panels, all but the one which contained the old arms and probes.  The Cydroids have had a new cover made for that section.

The five hours allocated for the change-over are shaved down to less than three.  The unit is tested briefly on XBA4 who is in need of a transplant in the  knee.  There are no flaws.  The unit performs perfectly and now it’s my turn.  Time is of the essence.

I am put on the retractable table and must, regrettably, forego the little “party” of celebration being planned as soon as the doctor returns.  I was going to ask Yoba Five not to forget the info-vid on Warmo, then remembered that Cydroids cannot forget!  I am taken inside the auto-medic and the replacement of my broken and damaged parts begins. 

There is not much to say of an experience like that.  The anaesthetic is local so I remain fully conscious.  I have been fitted with a receiver in my ear and a special pair of “glasses” allow me to view a screen that is otherwise opaque.  I’m treated to acts and verbalized “thoughts” of Warmo.  However much I would rather just shut it off and go to sleep I know I have to remain alert and learn this man’s mind.  It is indeed that of a demon.  There is little here that would resemble even the lowliest mind of a pseudo-human.  He does things to his victims that I cannot describe here – there is a limit to my bluntness after all.  I force myself to study this creature, not because I need more horror in my already overloaded heart, but because I need this information when I meet him in the arena.  Yoba Five has convinced me that the “sting” that will bring a death conviction will succeed and that the rest is inevitable.  The Cydroids have linked minds to “re-create” a tiny slice of my future that will bring me face to face with the monster I must conquer and defeat utterly. 

In many ways, this monster, this Warmo, is but a ghost that has followed me across the barriers, over time, and waited to re-possess me on Malefactus.  He is, indeed, one of those men I remember from my female life on Earth, World War II in Paris, France, when I was tortured and killed at the age of twenty-eight for allegedly belonging to the local underground force that fought the Nazis in the streets of Paris.  A living ghost from those SS cement dungeons I still remember as vividly as if it happened yesterday.  I cannot, here, go into the details of that particularly crucial Earthian life. 

Finally and thankfully, the info-vid terminates and I’m lulled to sleep by some sort of ultra-sound that relaxes every part of my body, so much that every muscle relaxes and I realize I am incontinent – but that too was taken into consideration.  Removal of bodily wastes, even of sweat, is part of the treatment.  When I leave the auto-medic after the final treatment every pore, every hair, every follicle, will be free of anything that does not naturally belong to it.  I will be physically clean.  And my mind will be clear and certain of purpose.

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]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you respond?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am not lost.  I will pass this test.

[end blog post #50]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #49

{Continuing with the manuscript. }
…“We have a similar “identical twin” bond humans sometimes experience from the womb state when two come from a single fertilized ovum.  All YBA’s – we are five and I’m the “youngest” at this point –  are my identical “twins” in every sense.  Though we each train in individual specialties, we can convert one-another’s knowledge and skills and function so that even the adoptive parent is not aware if we’ve made a switch.  For us, life does not get better, as you would put it.  All we need do is protect our own “investment” in Dr. Echinoza to ensure continuity.”

[end blog post #48]


[begin blog post #49]

Chapter 23 – A Dangerous Plan; a Confession

“I have so many questions.  But of practical use right now, what happens to me while I’m convalescing?  Why wasn’t I killed when it was found I could not train or fight and was disabled, possibly permanently?  What do I “do” now?

“You do nothing at all.  You rest, you talk or ask questions and I answer.  No one except Warmo and us knows of your debilitated state at this moment.  Warmo won’t talk, he cannot for obvious reasons.  The doctor is securing your protection from the King as we speak.  Of course (by the way this place is safe from eavesdropping bugs) the King understands fully the situation you are in.

We need you back among the women, Antierra.  Your turn of duty there is far from over.  You will have to return to that mindset soon and get ready for that reality that wants to make you sick right now.  And suffer more of the indecencies of this world you will, much more than you already have, I’m deeply sorry to have to remind you.  I also, as your healer, must remind you that this is just the continuation of your personal choices; the ones you know you cannot change or run from.

I realize what she is saying and I nod in acquiescence.  No wonder, I recall now, my Altarian friends told me they would not be needed here with me.  That I would manifest all the friendship and all the help I needed to accomplish my goals.  Still though, some doubts persist.  I am, after all, facing some serious handicaps here.

“But what about my crushed wrists? My broken ankle?  How can I function if I cannot hold anything, or even walk?”

“You will be repaired soon.  We are waiting for a new module to upgrade our old auto-medic.  The new module will implant artificial “bones” and “sinews” to replace your damaged parts.  You will essentially have artificial wrists and left ankle.  You will begin your transition to bionic form.  That famous kick of yours will likely become even more deadly.”

She has such a pretty smile.  Not sexual, but full of child-like innocence.  Not something you’d want to kiss, but something you’d want to paint on a huge mural for an entire world to look at; something that would scream, “Here, look at this!  It’s marvellous!”

“We have the technology.  We can rebuild her.” I cannot help but recite.

“Pardon?”

“Old Earth joke.  A story about a woman who was mangled in a motorized vehicle accident.  The military powers that be decided to rebuild her body into that of a bionic woman, so they could use her, of course.  Not a terribly inspired story.  Now I find it ironic I’m partly living it here.  Coincidence?  No, inevitable, because the concept intrigued me and I remember projecting myself into that role.  We create our reality from whatever bits and pieces our mind latches on to.”

“That is correct.  The only reason we bandaged you is to prevent infection and further damage while we wait, not in the hope you would heal.  They made sure when they crushed your wrists that you could never use them again; that they could never heal normally and you could never fight.  But, hmmm, “they” can be wrong about some things, can’t they.  That Warmo character will know something is going on with you and the doctor and will send spies to discover why you healed, and so quickly, from the effects of his hellish machine.  That is assuming he hasn’t already figured out what is going on.  So we must do something about that.

“Did you know that the “straps” that wrap around wrists and ankles do more than hold you there?  When the arms are extending, the “straps” correspondingly shrink in small bands pulled in opposite direction, thus destroying bone and muscle beyond recovery.  That was the impossible pain you were being subjected to.  They had activated only the wrists ones, either by oversight or deliberately to fit in with some other diabolical refinements on the torture.  Your ankle was not crushed, just dislocated.  But we won’t take any chances there.  The natural healing takes too long and could leave a weakness that would manifest in the arena, leaving you defenceless.  We will replace the bone and the sinews as well.  Then you will learn to put your greatest trust in that ankle.  Yes, you will learn.  You are needed for some time yet, while we perform other, but related, tasks.

“We, that is Dr. Echinoza and his trusty Cydroid crew, of which yours truly is the fifteenth and youngest member – we are five females and ten males total — hope to set a trap for Warmo and catch him in a definite illegal activity – and as you know, all illegal activities are capital offences here.  We have a plan that may mean one of us dies of torture but it will be worth it.  We have already decided who returns to Koron for the re-cloning and who must become Warmo’s victim.”

She bends her head to my face,

“No, I was not chosen for the victim role.  I’m your “nurse” for the duration.  XBA9 chose himself for the ordeal.  He feels he needs the experience.  He’s young.  He’ll be fine.”

Such matter-of-fact statements from these Cydroids, I find it difficult to understand them, perhaps because I approach them with normal human feelings.  How can someone who chooses to enter into excruciating torture and die from it be fine?  Do they possess neural-blocks?  As in the opposite of the neural inductor?  Have they found a way to manipulate the effects of  “Hansen’s Disease” in creating anaesthesia of body parts while having them torn from them?  Fine?  I just come from a short term of Warmo’s brand of finesse.

She is smiling at me but not probing.  Just as well for the time being.  I’m thinking.

“Tell me,”  she adds with a mischievous smile,  “how would it feel to find yourself fighting that Warmo in the arena?  We are hoping to arrange that.  It would be justice, hm?  It’s also a fact that you are the only “champion” we possess who could beat him.  I sense that you need this challenge, Antierra, that you and Warmo have much unfinished business.”

My heart skips several beats at the suggestion.  Eagerness and horror ride side by side.  Revenge and compassion vie for first place in my mind.  How must I respond to this idea?  I motion to the healer Cydroid to touch my head.

“Can you feel me there YBA?”  I shorten her name, dropping the number for simplicity while only the two of us are present.  “Can you tell the turmoil your question has put in my mind?  I cannot answer you right now.  How could I?  I have made so many mistakes here already it seems, nothing but mistakes.  I’ve violated my own beliefs about myself, my own, even private codes of conduct.  I’ve broken every promise I made before I came here.  Crossed every boundary I’d painstakingly set so I would not fail. 

“I’ve killed often out of hate and mocked my opponents before killing them.  Yes.  And I’ve fallen in love twice already, the second time incredibly painful and utterly confusing.  I’ve bitched at my charges even knowing they were going to die the next day; given utterly lewd sexual “performances” publicly.  I’ve despaired, doubted, recanted, thought my Altarian life a total fake; hated Old Earth for inveighing me into coming here.  I forgot why I came here and at times just became a mad, frantic killer, an animal fighting for her life not caring about anything else. 

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

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

[end blog post #49]

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #47

… That was a warning to get myself together, and quickly.  More effort, when all I want to do is lie here, be taken care of and let the world go on without me.  Oh, to just wallow in self pity and pure wonderful misery.  To be a bitch.  To be dead!

He walks out of his office looking pensive and the automatic door swishes closed.  I got a glimpse of the sky, still cloudy and windy but not raining.  A cold draft finds my back and I shiver.  It’s not just the cold I am reacting to.

[end blog post #46
______________________
[begin blog post #47]

Don’t they say that when one door closes, another opens?  I turn to YBA5.  I feel the flesh on her bare arm with my finger tips extending beyond the bandages.  It feels normal, human.  She covers me and rubs a heavier wrap over my goose-pimpled flesh.  I smell of lavender or something.  I smell human.  No, better, I smell like a woman.  I wonder what my hair looks like.  I must be alive.

All this while the Cydroid has her hand on my forehead with a finger pressed against my temple.

“Your hair is fine Antierra.  And I’m holding back some of your pain so you can feel normal.  No drugs, I know.  But your young friend left you a priceless gift: a box of stim cubes.  Let me know if your pain becomes unbearable and I’ll split a cube in half, give you just enough to ease your pain.”

“You can mind read?  Mind meld?  What kind of AI are you?”

“Ah, one question at a time.  I’m a Cydroid, as you’ve been told, a clone of human genetic material with artificial intelligence – not human.  I do not possess human feelings, only mimic them from mind-touch – we do not like the term “mind meld” as it presents a form of invasion.  AI’s are particularly wary of mind invasion probes.  Despite the many safeguards we build within ourselves, we are more susceptible to mind probe attack than full humans for we do not carry the confusion your egos create in interaction between mind and brain, nor can we so easily fabricate “mindless” or irrational verbal expressions such as your use of swear words. 

We only mind touch when the human or the other AI has given its permission for us to proceed.  I can sense your thoughts because I feel you wish it.  I know when it is not desired.  Nothing happens then, just what you call white noise.”

“White noise… hah, yes.  That’s what I mostly pick up from the fighters in the cages.  Only in the training can I pick up disconnected segments of thoughts.  White noise is caused when the mind blocks probes…

And having caught a thread of thought I wish to share with this person I continue:

“Or as on most pseudo-human worlds where genetic deformities and pathological diseases are the norm and where telepathy is rare or non-existent, the telepath encounters white noise from minds completely scrambled, full of true madness or autistic.  A dysfunctional mind does not create logically sequenced thinking.  The binary code necessary to form the thoughts for verbal communication has empty sockets; is missing parts of itself; is gapped. 

“Hence we have deduced why some autistics can accomplish amazing feats with their minds with certain numbers, or “observations” that do not translate into a life equation.  They can “count” but they cannot really “add.”   Their simplified view jumps across the normal logical and logistical connecting details (missing from their wiring), merrily skipping across the board from number to number – without being able to make a logical connection that gives the reason or purpose as to why they should be “counting” for example. 

“A bit like this: if someone is “doing it” for example, with a purpose, four marbles plus four marbles will equal eight marbles.  To the one with the missing detail (the marble) it narrows down to four plus four equals eight.  The equation has the same value, results derived much quicker because the ‘non-essential detail’ has been removed but translated into life, it becomes, not so much meaningless as useless. Just numbers in space, not connected to reality.  To communicate you need to connect the “necessary detail” to the number. 

“This falls in the same category as information versus knowledge.  You can access tons of information and remember a tiny percentage of it for some  useful purpose if you happen to have that kind of brain but if you access only that information you really need, apply it to experience, then you have knowledge.  You never get knowledge without experience.”

“Yes, interesting observations.  I have ‘such a mind’ – she adds smiling – I have stored that for future research and comments, should I function on such a world.  Thank you.”

She bows to me.  She stands beside me and I gauge her size.  Slim, just slightly taller than the people of Malefactus, slightly darker of skin – looks like she does tan – and of finer build – like expensive china, her skin softer even than mine. 

“Do you always look like this, or are you able to shape-shift to match any human form on any world?  Can you explain the cloning process used to “make” Cydroids;  how you function within a human society or what your real purpose is?”

“No, I don’t shape shift.  It’s too hard for us.  We’d have to re-enter the cloning tanks and go through a painful and expensive process.  I use disguises, that’s all.  I can change my voice and have a working command of any language I wish to use.  We are telepaths and we simply make sure, as when on a world like this one, that we are never together in the same place.  Everyone of us is the same person to those who are not acquainted with our type of life.  We are all clones of the original who is cloned from generic, if carefully chosen, genetic stock. 

The originals, purchased by Doctor Echinoza are vat-stamped YBA (Y for the female chromosome and BA for the initials in the name of the purchaser, in this case, Balomo instead of Echinoza – there were other “EC” entities being processed) and XBA (X chromosome for the male, etc.).  A woman or a man of means who wishes to own a Cydroid has to legally adopt one before the cloning process can begin.  Illegal Cydroids are unknown.  If they were found they’d be terminated and anyone involved would be jailed for life without parole.  The reasoning behind this law is sound.

“The first Cydroid cloned for Dr. Echinoza was male stamped XBA1.  If the person is truly wealthy, or involved in civilian or military off-world “research” (you can just imagine what “military research” can mean!) the cloning process for more can begin but only after the first is fully integrated in our society.  First, the legal documents must be procured, approval granted and costs met up front.  Koron’s economy does not allow for monetary debt.  Others there are of course, but must be hidden, or as I find in your mind, the term is “laundered” – that’s funny.” 

She smiles like a child with a new toy.  I think she is falling in love with my mind or perhaps the outlandish terminology and images there! 

“So Bal, I mean Dr. Echinoza is a research scientist attached to the civilian side of government on Koron?  Is there a cross-over here, on this world, between civilian and military goals?”

“Absolutely not.  Dr. Echinoza hates all things relating to military and para-military activity.  He would sooner abandon his own research and the notoriety and profit of it if he had to share his results with military minds.  Of course he realizes and so do we, that he does not have complete control over what is done with his notes and discoveries from his research.  Militaries, in any society, spy on everyone, but particularly on the very society they are supposed to be protecting.  They are always pushing for more “state security measures” which, when translated means more surveillance of, and control over, their own people.  As far as Dr. Echinoza and other influential people like him are concerned, all militaries, wherever encountered, should automatically be disbanded. 

“It has never been proven that on the long run any military benefited any society it purported to protect.  All military forces are there but for the ease of extracting power from those who trust them, or must endure them.  Fear, through lies, is their modus operandi.  But I digress and I apologize.”

“No, it’s OK.  I did ask and I appreciate your candid answer.  I have similar feelings in that regard and my own experiences on Old Earth support Dr. Echinoza’s assessment of the military.  Please continue to explain what it is like to be a cloned Cydroid.  The subject fascinates me.”

[end blog post #47]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #46

… “Another eternity and the doctor comes over and releases the mechanism that holds my wrists and ankles and keeps me from falling as I try to put my weight on my feet.  I cannot walk at all.  So he throws my limp form over his broad shoulders and carries me out through tunnels that seem to go on forever; that in my mind I want to go on forever. 

It feels so good to be dead; to be in a place where no one can ever hurt you; to be carried to your final rest by someone who cares for you.  Death by torture has a way of changing your perspective on life.  I think it has made me soft.” …
[end blog post # 45]


[begin blog post #46]

Chapter 22 – Conversation with a Cydroid

I am not dead, I’m in a place where death is always the best choice if it is given. 

Bal and a female I recognize as a Cydroid assistant sedate me and proceed to do their difficult and painful work.  They explain what they have found: two crushed wrists and an ankle dislocated that must be re-set.  More pain.  Another deposit in the bank of love.

When I come to I’m bathed in my own sweat and stink. I’ve been bandaged up tight.  I guess dislocated joints are best taken care of by human hands than the auto-medic?  I’m rambling incoherent in my head. 

I had hoped I could go through it again and be rejuvenated, I mean, as long as I’m still alive, why not?  Think of all the fun I can have, with men taking me for their sexual pleasures as they please, beating me to an inch of my life for any reason, trying to kill me in their pleasure arenas while ogling and mocking my nakedness and finally taking me into their dungeons to torture me to death, sharing this fun with hundreds, thousands of spectators. 

We girls do know how to have fun on Malefactus.  Even better than Old Earth at times. 

I don’t do so well under partial sedation or under the influence of any other drug.  The Cydroid assistant has removed the cool sheet that covered me and is washing my body gently and carefully as I lie on that same “gurney” I recognize from before.  I remember Deirdre holding me up and I feel my heart breaking into pieces again.  Deirdre…

Don’t go there stupid.  Let her go.  That was another time, another life.

“Bal?”  I ask weakly from my prostrate state.  I can’t even move my head to look at him.  He comes over and leans over me taking my pulse from inside my thigh.

“Ah, our patient is awake again.”

“Introductions?  I want to thank you,” and turning my eyes to the Cydroid, “and my healers for saving my life…”

I extend my bandaged hands only to have them flop down again.  I have no strength in my arms.

“Don’t be alarmed.  It’s the effect of the drug we gave you.  You’ll be fine, Antierra.  Meet YBA5.”

“Please to meet you, YBA5”  I continue in a hoarse whisper, still not my voice.  “What does that name mean?”

The Cydroid answers this time, with a beautiful lilting voice, singsong in quality, unlike anything I’ve heard.

“It means that I am a legally adopted member of Doctor Balomo’s Cydroid clan.  I’m number five.  The Y indicates female, X male.  I’m the fifth female Cydroid to be added to his family.  It was a proud day for me when I graduated and he accepted  me.  Dr. Balomo is not only a renowned medical healer but famous anthropologist as well.”  I notice she beams at him as she praises him and he turns away. 

She continues, “My particular specialty apart from being a spy (something to entertain you with later) is human anatomy.  I like your body – very well made.  I would like to congratulate the creator of such a wonderful unit.”

“I guess that would be me. Thank you, but I was aiming for an external effect I could project on the people here, not a near-perfect body.  I’ve had quite a bit of practice using different types of human bodies and I can tell when one will suit my needs or fulfill my requirements.  I just wish I’d made it out of whip-steel, not flesh.”

The weak attempt at a joke is not lost on her.  She smiles warmly, her small perfectly shaped mouth opening wide as if to include all of what I wish to convey that has no words.  And she pays me the highest compliment from a Cydroid point of view:

“That body, hah, you should be Cydroid, not human.”

As my head clears and the drug still holds the pain at bay, I realize I have a thousand questions for the Cydroid.  Bal notices I wish to speak with her and excuses himself.

“You have things to discuss.  I have work to do.  I must contact the King and bring myself up to date on developments.  I have to ensure the people I forcefully released from Warmo’s dens have been dutifully returned and that any wound has been properly treated.  Hhhhh.”  He turns to leave with that deep sigh.

“Bal?”

“Yes?”

“I’m scared to tell you this, but I love you.  I don’t know yet what kind of love I have for you, but I know what I feel.”

“We will talk of this later.  You are under the influence of a powerful sedative and if you remember, you yourself told me your body cannot handle drugs.  Do not speak of feelings now.  Wait.  Remember, you just lost your lover, or had you forgotten?”

“No doctor.  Not forgotten – trying to forget.  Deirdre is no longer a part of my life here.  She is gone, forever.  I will never see her again.”

“I’m disappointed in your analysis of the situation, Altarian.  Let’s just say it’s the drug talking.  Enjoy your time with YBA5.  She is a wonder healer and a font of knowledge.  She’ll keep you amazed.  Take care.”

“When will I see you again, Bal, please?”

“When you see me again, Antierra please.  Don’t cling to your temporary good things.  Let others have their space also.  We all need to breathe.”   

That was a warning to get myself together, and quickly.  More effort, when all I want to do is lie here, be taken care of and let the world go on without me.  Oh, to just wallow in self pity and pure wonderful misery.  To be a bitch.  To be dead!

He walks out of his office looking pensive and the automatic door swishes closed.  I got a glimpse of the sky, still cloudy and windy but not raining.  A cold draft finds my back and I shiver.  It’s not just the cold I am reacting to.

[end blog post #46

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #44

(I must be tired… forgot to post the title of this blog post…)

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”
[end blog post #43]


[begin blog post #44]

Chapter 20 –  Goodbye until the End of Time

The day drags on, yet the moments fly.  I strain to hear sounds from the kitchens that indicate Deirdre is there, working and in her inimitable way, amusing the other workers without seeming to do so, right under the eyes of their guards. 

Why am I torturing myself so?  I act as if I were a pubescent girl in love for the first time with a man who pays no attention to her.  Damn.  What a predicament.  Now I can understand what those poor Earthians went through with their own personal love affairs I thought were so stupid.  Now I certainly could empathize.  Now I’m living their pain.  What a terrible thing this inloveness is!  And the worse is yet to come.

I dread the time of evening meal.  She will come out, unaware, innocent, and will give me my bowl with her beautiful hands, the long fingers shamelessly running over my skin, her hair brushing my bare shoulders.  She will lean against me for a few moments before moving on and returning into the kitchens.  And I will never see her again.

The sun has gone behind the battlements and Albaral has not risen yet.  We end our training for the day; put away the wooden and rough or worn out fibresteel weapons we train with.  Wash and get in line for count, inspection and finally our evening meal.

Two of our own have not returned from the arena.  I should feel something for them, I know, compassion and a real sense of personal loss, not necessarily in that order.  But what I feel is envy.  I’m jealous of their new found freedom.  Death means it’s over, all the pain and suffering we are made to endure; that so many endure all over this world.  Death means we find peace finally.  We can fly away free for as long as we wish it.  Death is our blessed realm.

Of course that is an incomplete picture, but my mind is not into completing images right now.  I feel torn and shattered.  The count and inspection complete we line up at the tables and sit, waiting silently for our meal.  The clattering in the kitchens stops and silent young servant women file out, each with two bowls in hand, passing them out.  Deirdre is not among them.  Again I’m paralyzed by fear that something happened, that our plan was discovered, that they’ve taken her to kill her.  I can barely eat, yet I must so as not to arouse suspicion.   

The meal over we wash our faces quickly as we pass the washing troughs, then file into the cage compound, each to our own.  In the gloom I see a young woman in my cage, and for a moment I think it’s Deirdre but it is not.  She could pass for Deirdre in size and no guard recognizes the subterfuge.  I don’t know where they found her or how they got her into my cage but it satisfies the official count.  I sit next to her and she moves against me, crawling between my legs as the young ones often do, like young animals seeking a mother’s warmth and protection.  I hold her lightly and wait.  More lights go out and there is the usual noise of the changing of the guard outside, only with much less volume than usual.  Many less men out there.  Then as the automatic alarm systems fully set themselves, no one remains in the yards to accidentally trigger the sensors. 

Rising Albaral is hidden behind phosphorescent-edged clouds above the keep.

With night comes the expected storm.  I can hear the thunder far away and soon the wind comes up.  Heavy drops of rain spatter far above on the tiled roofs, sparsely at first, then increasing to a true downpour. Distant lightning flashes and my heart beats as loud as the thunder.  After a time a trainer comes to my cage and opens it.  The young woman, startled begins to stand.  She is ordered to lie down in the straw and to not make a move: she won’t.  Guided by the Cydroid-trainer’s extended arm I step out and follow.  In the gloom I see two guards carrying the body of a woman towards one of the southern portals.  Deirdre?  It has to be!  It opens and I want to run out to her and at the very least, whisper goodbye.  The false trainer grabs me and whispers my task again. 

“You have twenty minutes now to lay the marks.  I will wait for you inside the wall and return you to your cell.  Your friend is fine.”

I run out as if I were making for the crossing, then turn sharply, digging in the muddy sand to leave impressions, run down to the water and go in silently, gliding through the deep waters.  For a moment I can even enjoy the sensation of swimming, even though the water is icy.  Reaching the far side, I run up the bank far enough for my footprints to get lost in the shifting sands.  I steal one moment to stand and stretch in the breeze, outside the keep, giving myself a momentary illusion of freedom. 

I carefully retrace the steps, backward over the first set until I’m in the water, turn and, as silently as before swim back across the moat.  I take a different path along hard ground and rock, back to the portal that immediately hisses shut.  The false trainer leads me back to my cage.  It’s now empty.  I understand the simplicity of that part of the plan here:  I go in with Deirdre; a trainer orders me out of my cage in the night and makes me walk outside the walls and back.  When I return Deirdre is gone.  Meanwhile in reality my false companion is returned wherever she came from and cannot be found to be interrogated.  In any case, she would have no story to tell except she was put in the wrong cage, in the wrong line-up.  She could not know why the mistake was made.  My lies and her innocence almost guarantee a dead-end.

I spend the night transfixed in thorough angst, ice running through my veins – feeling more alone than I remember ever having felt.

I look up through the only opening visible where sometimes you can see a star or two, or where Albaral crosses.  It’s still dark and raining so if they reach the craft in time, assuming they have a reliable carrier that won’t be grounded by lightning, it will have gone through the clouds and become invisible quickly. I can see and imagine the shuttle craft streaking across the skies picking up speed to vanish on its way to Koron, a trip that should take the small craft just a bit over six months shunting time.  How I long at this moment, to be aboard that craft!

Goodbye until the end of time! 

“Don’t look back when you reach the new shore,
Don’t forget what you’re leaving me for,
Don’t forget when you’re missing me so,
Love must never hold,
Never hold tight but let go.

Oh the nights will be long,
When I’m not in your arms,
But I’ll be in your song,

That you sing to me, across the sea.
Somehow, someday, you will be far away,
So far from me and maybe one day,
I will follow you,
‘Til then, send me a song.”

(excerpt from “Send me a Song” by Celtic Woman)

And I cry for us, for her, for me. 

Not all of it is sad. 

I take comfort in the Cydroid’s words of certainty.  She is safe.  What else matters? 

For now I must try to find some sleep.  Tomorrow we will be subjected to the inevitable investigation.  Escapes, even attempted ones, are taken most seriously here as I’ve seen.  If the investigators cannot arrive at logical conclusions regarding the events, they will arrest individuals at random and send them to be interrogated by the inquisitors.  Most will never return.  They will be made to endure the most extreme sophistication of torture ever devised by pseudo-humans, either to extract information (the lesser reason) or satisfy the torturer’s lusts. 

Since Deirdre is my friend and known as my lover, I will certainly be one of those chosen for the inquisition.  Ah well, it’s the price you pay for loving, for caring, for standing out in some way and for upsetting the status quo which I’ve already done much of.  I know in my heart that even if I had nothing to do with Deirdre they would come for me.  I’ve been on their list of suspected subversives for some years now, whomever ‘They’ be.

This I must share here: my experiences on Old Earth taught me well as regards those we are forced to call ‘They’ in referring to ‘Powers’ we know exist but cannot identify because they are chameleonic in nature and use humans to camouflage their evil works.  We’ve always known ‘They’ exist and have power of life and death over us, never mind how many legal ‘rights’ or safeguards we are given under the law.  Whenever we choose right over wrong in their viewpoint and according to their arbitrary rules we are targeted as the enemy; terrorists, subversives, spies and in many cases we forfeit our lives to them.  So, let me emphasize that ‘They’ are very real to me. 

I must sleep now.
[end blog post #44]