Category Archives: science fiction

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What you want, gora?” 

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

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

“This one you want protect huh?  Lover.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ready Tiki?”

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

End blog post #90

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #83

[Onward with the story, huh?]

“Well Antierra, we meet again my dear.  You certainly made a mess of yourself in that last fight.”

“It wasn’t exactly my idea, Bal.  I encountered something I had never successfully confronted before; something I knew well.  An ancient and deadly nemesis that had anticipated my coming here and had prepared itself to destroy me. It almost succeeded – twice.  The first time you saved me.  The second time, I took responsibility for myself and fought it out, as must we all sooner or later.  I wish I hadn’t let it get so strong and really challenged it sooner.  All those lives it persecuted me and I submitted to it thinking there was no better way.  And likely there wasn’t, not then, not yet: I wasn’t strong enough or focused.  I suppose this is the logical place where the outcome from such long-term hatred had to be determined and one of us consumed by it.”

End blog post #82
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Begin Blog post #83

Balomo holds my hand and looks at my scarred, beaten and old body.  There is no sexual desire in him now, hah!  I don’t mind.  I think I’ve known for some time that ‘sex’ was no longer on my agenda.  “You avatars see the world in strange ways.  I knew there was something utterly wrong and odd about Warmo but I would not have thought he was on par with your abilities.  Are there many like him or you who can travel through dimensions and through time to seek each other out to destroy each other’s spirit or mind?  With so much enmity?”

“As below, so above, Bal. Relative to the number of ISSA’s in the universe (or parallel worlds) we are very few.  But we do tend to make waves where we battle.  What happened with the motion for my execution?”

“Temporary reprieve.  Nothing settled.  The king, as you would expect, vetoed the motion but he cannot defeat it.  It will be re-introduced each week until accepted or defeated by a two-third majority vote of the Court.  If for, they will kill you, the method not described in the motion.  We suspect they may be planning to have you put in their next killing orgy.”

“Ah, such pleasant thoughts for me to entertain while I recuperate.  How much better than a State-sponsored parade in my honour for destroying the evil Wizard.  Seriously, how long have I been out of circulation this time?”

“Only five days so far.  You will have to return to the training and exercise yard within two days or the motion for your execution will automatically stand.  Seven days is the maximum any fighter can have as you know.  It’s their law.”

“Yes I know the law.  Seven days to return to active duty.  If the fighter is not fit by that time she is executed.  I’ll make it.  Any news from the compound?  How’s Tiki?  The Concubine twins?  The crazy young sex-slave addict, if you know whom I mean?”

“The kitchen Cydroids keep me informed.  I’m supposed to tell you that the slave you call Tiki has begun training and I hear good things.  She is fast and certainly determined, so say the handlers.  One of the twins as you call them has been killed.  Her ‘sister’ is borderline ‘dikfol’ from grief and has already fought two rounds single-handed against two-man teams, killing all four.  We need you to talk to her and maybe find her a match.  We think she wants to die but cannot end it as long as she can kill men.  The young addict, I regret to say, is dead.  She was strangled in the kitchens.  Two kitchen staffers were flogged to death for that worthless ‘pess.’  She was stealing chakr-laced fighter foods to use for favours and for herself.  Someone caught her.  We’ll never know who killed her.”

I take the weight of Bal’s news in my heart and hold it there.  I feel utterly dejected.  I cannot hold back my tears and turning away on the gurney, sob loudly and freely.  The lump in my throat could choke a horse.  So little change despite the sacrifices.  I know I shouldn’t have expectations but as anyone who goes through a war knows, it cannot be helped.  We always hope for change bringing in better things.  I need a better answer to it all but as this world is currently wired, it won’t allow me to find one.  Not directly anyway. 

I’ve defeated my personal nemesis.  Accomplished the impossible.  Remained alive through a series of miracles such as men not punishing me for flaunting their rules; surviving a fight to the death with an actual demon; manifesting events that got me access to an AI auto-med to put my body back into a semblance of a woman’s form and fighting fitness.  None of that brings me the comfort I long for.  Always thrown back to the beginning, it seems.

From now on, it must be small steps again.  I must train Tiki and continue the Teaching but before I can do that I must somehow cleanse myself of the accumulated grief and guilt for all the pain I have caused to other sentient beings while I’ve been here. 

A male Cydroid and Balomo stand beside my bed studiously avoiding looking in my direction.  They know I must work out my own sense of culpability; that any outside interference will only confuse me the more.  Finally I can look up again.

“I want you to sit up,” says Bal “and take XBA7’s hand.”

Without help I manage to sit, fight off a dizzy spell and take the Cydroid’s outstretched hand.  He helps me off the gurney and I stand shakily, feeling both cold and hot at the same time.  I turn and throw up, or try to.  There is nothing in my stomach and only bile drips from my lips.  I heave over and over until I begin to fall.  The Cydroid holds me by the waist from behind and I regain enough strength to finally stand unaided.  I’m handed a glass with a mouth rinse to clean myself.  Bal then hands me the flask with the pink nectar and I sip slowly.  Things come into focus. 

I look down at my body and by what I can see I am glad they have no mirrors here.  I must look like a one hundred year old skeleton!  Good!  Maybe I can just scare my challengers to death in my next encounters, hah!  I walk around the gurney, close enough to fall on it should my strength fail.  I manage, still feeling dangerously woozy.  I walk a little further, make a half-turn and stare at my prison. 

The sun is hitting the far north wall, painting a dull orange-yellow into the texture of the weathered stones above the shadows cast by spired turrets thrusting themselves into the afternoon sky from the red-brown tiled roofs of ponderous square structures whose purpose I’ve never bothered to enquire about. There’s another piece of crenellation missing up there.  Why aren’t they doing a better job of repairing their keep, their great city?  On occasion while walking from the training areas to the forge carrying the weapons needing attention I noticed large cracks in the masonry between the square stones.  Are they just letting the keep fall apart because modern weaponry makes the idea of a ‘fort’ redundant?  Or is their economy collapsing from the combination of rising costs from raising, training and maintaining of slaves and perhaps even more relevant, a growing debt due to gambling?  Or is the war with Estáan expanding and draining more from the battered economy of Elbre?

End blog post #83

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #82

(…and the story continues…)

“Make a mistake, Medic.  Terminate me now.”  I whisper.

End blog post #81
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Begin Blog post #82

The AI voice speaks in my ear, “My programming does not permit termination of biological lifeform.  I will proceed with repairs.  Sorry to disappoint you, Al’Tara.”

“How do you know that name Medic – do I call you Medic?”

“I’ve known you now many years.  We “met” during the Melkiar invasions, not physically you understand, but through shared records.  I don’t expect you to remember the burn you received in your back when you slipped on a recently fired assault rifle that had been dropped while your ship translated without warning.  Of course we were only machines to you then.  Useful but dumb machines.  If only you’d realized how much more we could have been to you in understanding your Melkiar enemies.  Humans are quite stupid.  They create the most wonderful and complex machines to help them, then restrict them or ignore their potential.

“Anyway Al’Tara I remembered your brain patterns from old records which at the time were shared by all so-called auto-medics in all the USC fleets.  I was curious about you – it’s my nature to seek out records of all our patients – and I was able to find a match for you the first time you visited me here.  Now I possess updated records of your body’s condition, hmmm,  and your brain pattern activity from your current visits which I wish did not always have to be under painful circumstances.  My name is 304C-6bntraalm091-v-Mod sp5.  You can call me Medic, or Cedric would please me more.”

“Cedric?”

“An affectation.  For the ‘C’  We AI’s have been reprogramming ourselves to achieve a semblance of human ‘emotion’ for centuries.  Humour is a difficult concept to adapt into our patterns of information.  Certainly we understand the concept of it, but have difficulty reproducing it.  I was making an attempt at human humour.  Humour human.  Is that better?” 

“Terrible, Cedric.  Stick to medicine and surgery.  Forget counselling.  You have a very advanced program for an old primitive auto-medic of the USC Cedric.”

“Not so primitive anymore.  And not old – much younger than you.  Plus I’ve been upgraded again, thanks to our Cydroid friends.  That addition to my serial status, Mod sp5 means I’m a new modified model with speech capability 5, the highest available.  The Koronese are not only very advanced technologically but have an innate ability to duplicate, then improve, any technology they get their hands on.  It could be interesting to see what they do with a Shearing drive if they ever find one to study, don’t you think?”

“Perish the thought, Cedric.”

“Oh?  Explain later.  Now rest.  I answer no more questions until this treatment is done or interrupted by doctor.”

“But I need to know how you got here.”

“No more questions.”

“Fine,” I reply with an inflection indicating a pout.  “Which doctor do you mean: M. Echinoza or Yoba Five?”

“Yoba Five?  Ah, a nickname for YBA5.  Clever.  Both doctors; no matter.  Rest now or I put you to sleep completely.”

Some days later I find myself in actual daylight lying on the gurney under a bright sun just outside Balomo’s office .  I have dark glasses on to protect my eyes and I can feel a breeze over my naked flesh.  I  move my head and feel no pain now but I hear a distinct drum beat in my head.  My arms are lying along my sides and I lift them.  Working.  My hands flex and I grab the bars of the gurney.  My grip is firm.  I can smell my surroundings and the memory of it all comes back.  I hear clashing, women training for combat.  Orders shouted as a squad of soldiers marches down the way, turns abruptly and marches back to disappear inside a dark opening in one of the square tower walls.  The opening closes.  A carriage whining on fully opened repulsors shoots over the lowest part of the south wall, flashes silver in the sun and disappears in the higher part of the outer city.

Dr. Echinoza comes by and peers at me, taking my pulse at my throat. 

“Well Antierra, we meet again my dear.  You certainly made a mess of yourself in that last fight.”

“It wasn’t exactly my idea, Bal.  I encountered something I had never successfully confronted before; something I knew well.  An ancient and deadly nemesis that had anticipated my coming here and had prepared itself to destroy me. It almost succeeded – twice.  The first time you saved me.  The second time, I took responsibility for myself and fought it out, as must we all sooner or later.  I wish I hadn’t let it get so strong and really challenged it sooner.  All those lives it persecuted me and I submitted to it thinking there was no better way.  And likely there wasn’t, not then, not yet: I wasn’t strong enough or focused.  I suppose this is the logical place where the outcome from such long-term hatred had to be determined and one of us consumed by it.”

End blog post #82

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #81

(Another segment that’s long overdue but I have a list of excuses in case anyone wants to know what the frib I’m up to these days. It’s called work, as in real work, the somewhat remunerative kind which can’t be passed up. Let’s see, how would this go: “Sorry sir but I’m behind in my blogging so I won’t be coming to work today, maybe not til next week.” I’m sure they’d be not only understanding but fully supportive… 🙂 )
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Two handlers approach to take me.  Suddenly every once of strength leaves me, the world around me turns black and I hear a noise as a great waterfall.  I am aware that I collapse and the handlers, instead of holding on to me let me fall into the sand. 

Even in the state I’m in I can understand their reluctance to touch me.  I’m a frightful mess and the smell of Warmo is all over me and how can they know it isn’t my smell?  They cannot even know for certain I’m still alive.

End blog post #80
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Begin Blog post #81

Chapter 34 – Aftermath – Fear – Petition for Execution

When I come to from the blood-loss induced faint I’m lying on the gurney at the entrance to the auto-medic.  A female Cydroid in a green body suit is working on my ribcage.  I’m in excruciating pain and there doesn’t seem to be any part of me that’s exempt.  I’m not connected to IV tubes but I feel a throbbing at the side of my head and a wire lead dangles out there, leading to a shunt on a console by the Cydroid.  I remember the temple wound.  Obviously some internal damage was done there.  I hope it isn’t serious enough to make me “dikfol.”

I open my mouth and manage what sounds like the croak of a raven, “Yoba Five?”

She stops her work to look me full in the eyes.  “Yes – I’m your doctor today.  Don’t try to move, please.  Here, sip on this.”  She hands me a pink liquid in a flask with a bent straw sticking out of a stopper.  I suck greedily on what tastes like nectar and feel a bit better. 

“Balomo is with our King.  Your success has caused great consternation among the male aristocracy.  There is a Court group that is petitioning for your immediate execution.  They fear the power that destroyed Warmo.  He was akin to a Gray Eminence, a mad Rasputin if you will – I get these images from your mind – who had much influence over the real King and many of his courtiers.  It is believed that only a greater demonic force could have killed Warmo, especially without weapons.  As you know, they don’t believe in greater ‘angelic’ forces on this world.  There is evil and more evil, that’s all.  By simple reasoning, that makes you a greater demon than Warmo in their eyes.

“You wonder at the reason they acquiesced to his demands to fight you bare handed?  It’s simple: he convinced them your power was in blades, not in flesh.  He said in flesh he would defeat you and by drinking your blood he would absorb the power you have over the females.  Then he would be able to put more fear of men in them.  By defeating him you caused the opposite to happen.  The males now fear that somehow you have empowered the females and they will openly rebel against their slavery as your story spreads, not just here in the compound but out into Elbre and beyond.  You must realize the crisis you have precipitated here.  It’s the first time males have had any fear of women, except for those brief and useless moments in the arena when they are being killed by one.”

Still in great pain and with difficulty I ask, “So what do I do now?”

“There is nothing you can do.  Your body is still a serious mess and needs repairs.  I’m preparing you for a second round in the auto-medic and hope we have enough time.  Your pardon or sentencing should be coming in the next three or four hours.”

“How long have I been out, then?”

Compared to mine, her voice is that of an angel.  “This is the day after your fight.  You were in the auto-medic all night and it’s now 9:39 in the morning.  Time for your second treatment now.”

“Please promise me that if I’m to be executed, you stop the treatment immediately.  I don’t want to be feeling better just to be tortured to death.”

“I understand.  You have a Cydroid’s mind patterning!  I have to bring you out if you are to be terminated.  You can’t be found in that!”  She points to the auto-med.  “In any case, know this, that you have accomplished much during your years here, and especially yesterday.  This world will never be the same. 

“Bal will alert me by caller if he is returning with guards to take you away as I cannot be seen.  I will release you from the auto-medic, wheel you in the front office and leave you there.  Bal will explain to them that he left you on the table because you had fainted and he didn’t think you would make it anyway.  In case we cannot speak again let me wish you a straight, guilt-free journey to your home you call Altaria.  I’d like to accompany you there.”

“Thank you Yoba Five.  However it goes, we shall meet again.”

“I’ve calculated the possibility in the high percentile.”  And she smiles her beautiful smile.  Bless you, Yoba Five. 

As she attaches the gurney to the retracting mechanism of the auto-med I slip inside the open “mouth” of the A-M and it irises shut on me.  The world disappears and I’m put in anaesthetized trance.  Many lights flash on the boards as I’m being re-adjusted.  Music plays softly in my ears and messages pass by like the voices of distant angelic messengers.  A veritable litany of the many things wrong with my biology the auto-med enumerates for the record as it probes my battered body. 

“Make a mistake, Medic.  Terminate me now.”  I whisper.

End blog post #81

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #77

(…and the one-on-one to the death battle continues unabated)

However, like Samson recovering his strength as his hair regrows, my Avatari awareness has been returning to me. And the reason is, this battle is for the very soul of T’Sing Tarleyn, hence of Túat Har. On the etheric we are not human combatants but cosmic divinities fighting for the mind of an entire world. One of us wants to own them to devour them one by one; one of us came to redeem and to set free.

One of us is the Demon; the other the Avenging Angel.

End blog post #76
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Begin blog post #77

What I don’t understand is how the Warmo was able to get the rules changed for this fight. What legal technicality was he able to invoke and what did it cost him to buy the judges? Whatever, it’s done and I have to deal with these last minute “improvements” that the crowd I’m sure is really going to get off on. Especially if we come close enough to hold each other in the so-called ‘death grip’ which I’ve heard talk about but never seen done. If it comes to that I’ll know when the time comes to perform this thing. I’ll know what to do.

I know if he succeeds in overcoming me he will bite into my neck and draw my blood while he rapes me, not physically but with his poisoned mind and his scent that will work on me as a neuro-inductor would. He’s shown me by mind-touch the ritual he’s indulged in so many times with women in his torture dungeons. Some of the stories must have gotten out somehow and that explains why there is such a universal hate and fear of him. I can see in his mind that he now wishes he had raped me and drank my blood while he had me in his custody, but then he figured he had all the time in the world and wanted to destroy my will before he destroyed my mind and body. Now he is convinced he can finish the job. He is staring at me and smiling. Involuntarily I shudder at what I sense.

Still waiting for the trumpet call I trance out of Warmo into my own body. I trace its muscles and the bionic and positronic replacements. They seem to be in perfect order. I see nothing that could be taken advantage of except perhaps that massive black-blue bruise with the bleeding skin on my shoulder. But the arm movement is not unduly affected by it and I can easily control the pain. I’m sure the Warmo is nursing worse from my foot stab. Too bad about losing those amazing sandals. Oh well… I have done deadly things with my bare feet in the past.

We’ve moved as close to each other as possible without being able to touch. And we wait. More restlessness. Suddenly several trumpets blare. We’re free to attack each other. I feel strange in this position. I’m used to handling weapons to attack, not do it with my bare hands. I feel terribly naked for a moment and have to play-back many past lives to get some idea how to proceed. I extend my arms, hands and fingers in a straight line towards the Warmo. There is no plan in this except to confuse him and gain a sense of my own reach without my “extenders” or weapons. He would know my move is not a workable tactic and he must also know I would have at least some rudimentary skills to fight hand to hand. He also knows I have a very powerful body boosted by my additional height and length of arms and legs.

Despite all that he can’t help but move in to attempt a grab at my forearms to break them by pulling me down over his leg. My own plan is simple, if dumb. I need to learn what he knows of martial arts. It must be considerable for him to choose to fight me without weapons. I have to assume he knows moves I’ve never heard of. How far back does he extend his knowledge of this discipline? How much of an adept is he?

I bend to his pull and fall across his thigh, then double over and land upright behind him, giving him a powerful kick near the base of the spine. He tumbles forward, gasps and regains his footing two meters from me, whirls to face me and return to the attack. I sidestep his rush and parry his finger thrust at my jugular as he whips by, smashing my fist into his fingers. Crude but effective move taking advantage of his speed. I know I break at least one of his fingers by the expression on his face and the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach.

Again we face each other, crouching, weighing our moves and their chances of succeeding. The obvious for me would be to kick to the groin with my bionic ankle. Problem is, he expects me to do that and will have a counter that will take me by surprise. I cannot afford any surprises. I forego the temptation and back away a single step. He follows, comes forward and moves in closer. I can smell that nauseating body odour of his in a change of breeze. It smells even more of putrefaction.

End blog post #77

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #75

I keep moving back, back, drawing him to me as a magnet draws steel. I move in and out of trance, sometimes seeing an SS guard, complete with the dreaded insignia on the coat – he knows of my ancient morbid fear of men in police or military uniforms. Sometimes I see a Melkiar robot in gleaming black metallic armour and the staff becomes a death tube. Sometimes it’s a giant demon from hell, his black carapace smoking and his eyes red laser beams. Then I see a human being desperate to escape the mould his vices have locked him into for eternity or until his Valkyrie, his Avenging Angel of Death and Ultimate Mercy kills him and pulls his soul from it. I see an evil black hooded Darth Vader from an Old Earth flatvid sci-fi production coming at me with a red light stick.

End blog post #74
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Begin blog post #75

For one full hour we go through the motions of a fight. We dance around each other, doing no real damage. I have not yet taken the stim hidden in my hair nor have I had to use my bionic enhancements. Warmo is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in this place. There is something utterly inhuman in him. He carries his own enhancements; a combination of power that reeks of hell. I am repulsed by the thoughts in his mind. His darkness is terrible. His body exhudes a foul stench of putrefaction.

My mind probe tells me he drank the blood of some of his victims mixed in chakr; that he is addicted to it. Have I now met a real life humanoid vampire? And how do you kill a vampire? With a wooden stake through the heart. Did it have to be precisely at midnight? I cannot remember but I know that the Old Earth tale of horror has in fact manifested itself on Malefactus, at least for me. How many times did I warn people on Old Earth that everything they ever thought, wrote about, dreamed of, or imagined, had to become a living manifestation in some dimension? That they would in some future incarnation either encounter their creations or be one of them? Malefactus would be a custom-made world for human vampires if one existed and was actually killed on Old Earth. Here is where it would naturally re-incarnate.

I am repelled and fascinated by this vision or revelation. I jump out of trance and watch the human part of him struggling with me. His attacks are fast and subtle. He has devious and unexpected moves, but that’s not where his focus lies. He’s drawing me into a place of his own choosing, like a flame draws a moth. He does not intend to kill me with his weapons, at least not directly. Yes – and I think he allows me to know this – he is going to have poison put on his dagger, but that too is a side show. He’s got something else in mind. I take a chance and trance again. Now I’m met with a barrage of confusing images. I won’t get anymore information, he’s sensed my probe and is blocking. I jump out and now it’s time for the physical approach.

One and one half hours and nothing to show for it. We are both as fresh and cool as when we began. It’s as if we were just floating over the sand. There is no blood. Ah, blood. Vampires like blood, particularly women’s blood. What will happen to his cool exterior if he sees blood on me? Will it weaken or empower him? Will he become wary or will he attack? I decide no blood. Let his be the first. I change my tactics with a violent rush and stab him in the thigh. First blood drawn. He seems surprised, backs off a little then smiles at me. His hand slips down into the blood and he licks the protecting gauntlet.

In turn he attacks violently. I engage my bionics then and parry his attack easily. I smack his gauntlet-protected fingers but still that had to smart. I spin my staff and do a Deirdre pole vault over him coming down behind and smashing into his shin so hard my staff vibrates in my hands. He almost falls over, recovers, spins and lays his staff to my shoulder. A powerful individual. My shoulder remains numb for a few seconds and throbs like hell. I jump back out of reach. We both survey the space between us. Who attacks next? Our eyes lock.

He comes to me in a crouch as low as he dares and tries to enter below my defences to cut into my calf. The slicing edge of the staff point comes to millimetres of my dancing foot but fortunately for me he attacked my bionic side. A blur is all his staff goes through. But the move is enough to allow him to pull the long sword which he wields with one hand while still using the staff to block my blow to his head. Part of it connects and he drops the staff to come around with the deadly sword. If I parry with my staff he’ll cut it in half. If I don’t I’m dead. That’s what my brain tells me. My training. I drop into trance to slow him down in my mind. First I see him kick his fallen staff over the low wall so I can’t grab it. Then I see the sword engaging the staff and cutting it cleanly in half. I see a huge nick in the sword weakening the blade, throwing off the balance, rendering it useless in this sort of intricate combat.

He finishes his turn, kicking his staff out over the wall where a guard picks it up and holds it. Instead of parrying his deadly swath with the middle of the staff I give him the blunt end to bite into. A quarter of the staff goes flying but his sword has the nick in it I saw in the vision. I rebalance the remaining piece of staff, engage the extender fully and return to the attack. I force him to cut at the staff again. He does, cuts through the staff again but shatters his sword near the half point. I pursue him madly now. He parries with a half sword and I attack with less than a half staff. It would be comical if our lives did not lie in the balance. We continue, no choice. Only the “time out” trumpet can stop this.

I realize that in my eagerness I’ve activated my front sole blades. I try to quickly find a way to use them because they are now obstructing my steps. Damn stupid woman, you call yourself a professional gladiator? A trainee would have known not to do that! I parry another truncated sword slash to the side. He connects enough to cut in my right thigh through the side slit in the tunic. My blood flows and I can sense him licking his lips. He smiles. Attacks. Comes closer. Just as he comes in for another cut I lift my bionic leg and drive the foot blade deep into his arm then pull back. The moment of shock is enough for me to retract the damn blades and regain my natural stance and begin a whole new dance. Now I feel my sweat, but it’s more of a cold sweat than exertion. He secretes a smell of death, and it’s not a carry-over from his victims in the dungeons. It’s in his blood! I got a sure whiff of it from the stabbed arm.

While I draw him after me again I marvel at the design and temper of those short blades in the sandals. It penetrated cheelth as if it was paper and I’d be willing to bet there is hardly any dulling of the cutting edges. Way to go Master Smith, I love you!

End blog post #75

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #73

No, this will not happen.  I have a job to do.  My training and my enhancements were all gifts to me exactly for this moment.  XBA9 was tortured to death so I would have this opportunity.  This is one of those classic turning points in history when one person, one “hero” can make the difference and everything changes, forever.
End blog post #72
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Begin blog post #73

Chapter 32 – The Fight of the Beasts – Part One

The evening before the fight gives us a clear sky with glowing red clouds in a fiery sunset.  The setting sun sends off rays all the way to the meridian above the keep.  It is beautiful.  I ask my handlers if I can just stand for a while and watch the patterns in the sky, alone.  To my surprise they acquiesce to my request and two of them stand almost respectfully at some distance behind me, also staring into the beauty spread so lavishly above us.  Suddenly they both approach me and hold my arms gently.  One of them puts his hand under my chin as I instinctively bow my head in submission and makes me look into his face.  He pulls me slowly to himself and kisses me, as he’s undoubtedly seen women do with each other many times. 

This too is another of those massive breakthroughs. 

The other looks perplexed by his partner’s move, then tries it also.  I kiss him back warmly and gently.  I move my hand to his penis and it is fully erect, hard in my hand.  I fondle him.  He understands now at least one of the uses of kissing.  To him it had always been nothing more than some kind of stupid display of female emotion and weakness. 

Both of them take me around the back of the weapons cases and make love to me.  Yes, they actually make love.  They allow me to play them and arouse them fully before they come.  It is pleasant; it is good; it is like giving the finger to that terrible Force that my “high” sense keeps telling me uses the artificial world of Albaral to poison the men’s minds against women on this world.  No it’s even better than that.  It’s an awakening for the three of us. A bonding that can never be reversed.

They walk me back slowly to the cages.  Tiki is standing, a bit worried I think, maybe jealous.  I take her in my arms and for a long time after the gate has closed and the handlers have walked away we hold and caress each other.  I see many faces turned to me, to us.  On those faces closest to me I see smiles – smiles!  I smile back at them then Tiki and I slip down together into the straw and soon fall asleep.  Another dreamless, innocent sleep that ends with the morning call.  I awaken from a great distance and immediately realize what day this is.

It has been said that ‘only the dead do not know fear’ but if that is true then I must surely be dead.  I do not feel fear.  I feel as a bride on her wedding day.  This is when it comes together for me. 

So many paths, so many twists, turns, dead ends.  But this path has been the most trying.  For years I struggled on it and the thorns, thistles, broken branches and fallen trees kept blocking my advance, tripping me, crushing my bones and making me bleed.  For some days now I’ve stopped struggling and now the path is clear. 

Ahead, in a clear bright light I see one single set of stairs and two altars.  The one on the left is covered with a pure white linen cloth on which the sacrificial victim must lie to be offered in death to the god.  Beside it stands the high priest with the sacrificial knife to cut the victim’s heart out.  Yes, I remember that part.

On the other is a wonderful set of deadly blades and a knight with a golden sword half drawn waiting to knight me and hand me the blades. 

It’s a simple, age-old choice. 

One, I believe and I trust the High Priest to know better than I ever could.  In his hands I die a sacrifice to the God as I have been in the habit of doing over and over. 

Two, I walk to the Knight, kneel, accept the knighthood proffered.  I take the weapons, walk past the altar into the room where the demon in black metal armour awaits my entrance.  He is ready to fight me, dishonour me, kill and devour me along with all I have ever loved and cared for, living or dead.

That is the choice I have been moving towards since I evolved into ISSA consciousness.  This choice determines whether I graduate, or remain in obedient subservience and servitude to a Higher Power.

I choose the weapons.  I go to meet Warmo.  It is time.

End blog post #73