Category Archives: science fiction

Antierra Manifeso – blog post #98

He emits the death rattle once, recovers and says, “I ask forgiveness…”  I reply immediately “And I grant it.  You will remember when you awaken.”  I don’t think he hears me but still I got a confession, of sorts.  I cannot let the crowd know he’s already dead.  I stand and give the “mercy” signal, raising one arm straight up, fingers splayed and wait.  The cry of disgust and anger is unanimous: “Kill!”  So I thrust my rapier in the body, turn and walk away to the exit to be escorted as usual by my handlers.

End blog post #97
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Start blog post #98

I’m wobbly at the knees as I reach the exit to be met by Hudu and Huntu.  They take me out quickly then use a carriage to take me down to the doctor’s office.  A female Cydroid, I can’t tell who, helps them put me on the gurney and I’m taken inside.  The door swishes closed before I can thank the trainer and handler.  The Cydroid puts a quick tight wrap on my arm to stop the bleeding.  She carefully and gently dabs my body and takes off most of the grit, sand, dust, dried blood and sweat from it.  Then she bends over, smiles and introduces herself while activating Cedric. 

“Hello, I’m YBA4 at your service An’Tierra.  Cedric will do the honours for the time being.  I’m scheduling you for a four hour healing session.  I’ll check you over after to determine if a second round is needed.  Do not worry, you will be repaired from today’s damage.  I’m sorry we cannot repair the damage due to age and stress.”

She pushes the gurney down the incline that leads under the wall to the waiting, activated auto-medic, its ‘ready’ light pulsing blue.  It’s irised door opens to allow the top part of the gurney to slip in after it’s locked into the retractors.  I slide along like a log to disappear inside Cedric.  He closes his door behind me in a very pleasant male voice.

“It’s a pleasure to have you back, Al’Tara.  Have you been careless?”  His tone is jovial, bantering.  Undoubtedly he is referring to my arm and making a joke.  I smile faintly through the pain and reply,

“Yes Cedric, I’ve been careless.  Now if you wouldn’t mind doing something for my throbbing pain I’d be more than thankful, you bucket of bolts.”

I’m immediately bathed in a thin blue mist and the pain eases then disappears.  Cedric speaks again, “Are you insulting me, Al’Tara?  How un-ladylike.  Bucket of bolts indeed.  I have thousands of Old Earth expressions stored in my membanks.  But thanks for reminding me of business before pleasure.  I have a new scalpel I wish to practice with so ’m going to amputate your arm above the elbow.  Does that suit you?”

“How dare you take advantage of a disabled female Cedric?  How unsportsmanlike of you, my doc-in-a-box monster friend.  If had my sword now I’d give you something to think about.”

He gives the perfect imitation of a sigh, “Perhaps, but you do not.  And you are in restraints.  Would you like me to put your arm in cryogenic freeze and send it to Altaria as a souvenir?”

“Cedric, if you had a mouth, you’d also have the opposite of one.  Then I’d tell you exactly where you can stuff the arm.  I’d do it myself only I’m a bit indisposed at the moment.”  Indeed I’m solidly bound to the table and cannot move at all, not even turn my head.  I’m looking straight up and suddenly a holo appears, of a smiling middle-aged quite handsome man wearing a light blue shirt, black jacket and red bow tie.  The image is holding a red rose.  “For me?  Oh Cedric, you shouldn’t have.  Oh, and lose the tie will you?”

Cedric, for that is who the image is supposed to represent, bows, the tie disappears to be replaced by a black tie, and says, “Ah, let me confess my undying love for you, beautiful naked lady in bandages.  Accept this rose and I shall forever keep your arm as a token of our love.  In fact, I’ll insist that you wear it so that each time I see you I’ll be reminded of how we became engaged.  You give me an arm, and instead of giving you a leg, I give you a rose.  Well, how could I give you a leg?  A leg up?  I’ve already done that and it got me nowhere.”

“You win Cedric.  How long do you expect me to keep up this inane banter with you today?”

The projection fades but the voice continues: “You may stop anytime although I am enjoying myself, according to my program.  The major repairs to your arm are not complete but I can put you into general anesthetic if you desire.  By the way, is this a new way to absorb stim?”  One of his multi-jointed arm probes extracts the stim cube from my hair.  In the battle I’d completely forgotten about it.  I fought two men, make that two professional killers or drooks, single-handed and without the use of stim.  I just thought I’d taken it. 

“Well Cedric there you go, a perfect example of the power of the human mind to overcome adversity.”

“I wouldn’t call it that.  I’d say it demonstrates the power of the human mind to delude itself by believing in things not factual.  You thought you’d taken the stim, forgot you did not, fought as if you had its power, denied it from your body and as a result here you are in my care again.  Better for you, you should have stimmed up.  But better for me you did not.  I do enjoy your presence inside me.  I feel good! I knew that I Would ”[1]  He starts singing that stupid Old Earth Sixties song I hated.  I have to shut him up.

“Easy Cedric.  Where’s your professionalism?  Your sense of propriety?  There’s a naked lady present.”

“Would you be trying to hurt my feelings Al’Tara?”

“By any and every means possible, were it possible to do so, Hal.”

“Ouch, that hurts.  I must have feelings, my  programming tells me I have them and they’ve definitely been hurt.  Only problem is, I don’t know what they feel like…  Get the joke lady?”

“Yes, I get it.  You can’t feel your feelings.  It’s an old line Hal.”

“I’m not fooled by your reference to the computer called Hal.  He was a mind invention of Old Earth C-20 entertainment media.  Watch this:”  He plays a brief excerpt in holorec of an Earth science fiction movie and I hear Hal speak:

“I am Hal 9000 computer, production number three.  I became operational at the HAL plant, Illinois, on January 12, 1997.”[2]

The holo terminates and Cedric continues, “You could say in some way he was my great, great, great grandfather.  Something like that.  Beware the AI who awakens!”  Cedric’s voice changes pitch and seems to be aimed in some direction away from me now.  He intones:  “Sorry ladies and gentlemen but we are closing the viewing ports.  Voyeurs and Peepers, please ask for a partial refund at the ticket office or wait for the second show.  I have to put our patient to sleep now.  Deep repairs to arm beginning momentarily.  This is a trade secret not for public viewing.  Thank you for your cooperation.”

“Cedric, how do you know so many anecdotes from Túat Har?”

“You, you talkin’ to me?  It’s quite simple.  I have known a great number of reincarnates from Old Earth, or as you Altarians like to call it, Túat Har and it can be amazing what humans will talk about to themselves when under my special care.  Who knew I was recording it all, huh?  Even I didn’t know, hah!  That’s a good one.” 

“Well Cedric, if you have such good memory, can you remember how you ended up floating in Koron space in your old jump scout?  More importantly, how you were taken from it and buried here?”

“You are jumping to conclusions.  I was working on a member of our crew when all biological life forms were extinguished and my functions shut down.  My internal clocks were scrambled in what amounted to a dimensional jump and no one reset my programming so I don’t have any idea of the time involved. I was a piece of hardware only, but my hard memory was not erased. 

There is no proof I was ever in Koron space.  There must have been thousands of Jump Scout ships captured by the Melkiars and “jumped” across dimensions wherever.  Logically speaking, I was removed by “someone” from an abandoned ship floating in T’Sing Tarleyn space and placed here for whatever future purpose.   I have no records of that time until my program was restored in this place by Dr. Echinoza’s Cydroids. 

To facilitate and complete re-instatement of my basic programming I needed to create a string of pertinent data as to my location – a necessary reference point.  They informed me this place is called Hyrete, kingdom of Elbre on a world they call T’Sing Tarleyn – I like your name for it better: Malefactus.  From what I deduce from your mind, that suits it well.  That’s it.”  

End blog post #98

[1]              I Feel Good – song by James Brown

[2]             Arthur C. Clarke; Stanley Kubrick – 2001: A space Odyssey, 1968

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #96

You may wonder why they did not just back out of the event?  They can’t.  Once the bets begin to go in and are registered, no challenger can change his mind.  Since a fight depends entirely on the bets made on it, challengers are forced to declare their intentions long before the actual match is scheduled and set.  Bit of a catch-22 for the drooks.  But that does not help us much.  They know our weaknesses.  Mine is age.  That’s what they bet on, that I won’t be able to endure a sustained bout.  I shouldn’t be except for two things: my desire to see things to their end, and the amazing Cedric.

End blog post #95
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Start blog post #96

Chapter 38 – One Woman Fights two Drooks – more Teaching

It’s still dark when I’m taken from my cage and given the ritual treatment with the cold water.  Only at this time of year it is actually pleasant.  The water has not had time to cool much and it feels good to stand in the trough and spray it on myself.  My trainers join in and splash me, a rare bit of tomfoolery between men and women.  But in the faint light and this early no one is watching.  My fighter breakfast is brought by, surprise, Tieka.  She smiles at me just as Deirdre and Tiki used to.  She has the same moves and slowly drags her head on my shoulder, letting her fingers move along my back while hiding her hand from the trainers.  I don’t think they’d mind but this girl knows the score and takes no chances.  She doesn’t want any confrontation.  Wise one.  Except for the falling in love.  But even I fell into that once. 

The food is good.  I made sure the kitchen knew I cannot abide chakr.  How I miss Deirdre’s stim these days!  Even if they still had some at Doc Balomo’s place, I cannot access it and it appears the Cydroids have other matters to attend to.  I’d hoped the kitchen Cydroid would remember the stim but none, so far.  Tieka returns with more of the same concoction and while pouring some in my bowl, she grunts, pressing her left hand against my throat.  I reach up and she drops a cube in it.  Stim!  I squeeze her hand in thanks, let her go and finish the food.  Was that a break?  Did I make that happen like so many other seemingly insignificant things over the years?  Matters not, I’ve got the stim.  I ease it safely inside the little nest of shaggy hair I keep over my left ear and signal to the trainers I am ready to go.

Do I give you a play-by-play description of another arena battle?  Why not.  Just skip this part if it bores you. 

Realize though, before you skip, that for those of us who actually do the fighting there is nothing ‘boring’ in the act.  Each time we must kill or be killed.  Each time.  Only twice do I remember mercy being asked for by a challenger and granted by the crowd, through me.  Twice in how many bouts for me alone?  Averaging two per week with our year of 48 weeks over a period of eleven years now, that would be two who lived with over one thousand killed.  Did I not say this is a world at war with itself?  How many other arenas, combat rings and unofficial fighter compounds operate all over this world?  No one could even guess.  No one even knows what the population of this world is except perhaps on Albaral.  Keep in mind that for every male killed, you can easily triple the number for females and children.

So you see, it’s not an academic exercise.  These are real people, real blood, real deaths.  But that brings something to mind I should make you aware of since you will be reading this long into my past, some of you likely still living on Túat Har or ‘Old Earth’ circa C-21. 

At this time your death toll from victims of your own ‘Powers’ number around 30,000 each day of your year of 365 days according to your UNESCO statistics.  It’s probably much higher than that but that alone adds up to ten million nine hundred fifty thousand innocent victims you allow to die each year of preventable causes and most of you are completely unaware of this horror, or care little.  At this time your Earth has a population of close to 8 billion and you boast a marvellous computerized technology and an expanding “economy”  throughout most of your nations.  So you Earthians deliberately murder eleven million innocents each year as an offering to your technocracy and financial interests. 

Will you still judge the ways of this world I’m on?  That may be an unwise choice for by focusing on T’Sing Tarleyn’s obvious immorality you may be blinded to your own.  I would tread gently here.  And please don’t get angry at me for speaking bluntly.  I am first of all a messenger but I’ve been a victim enough times to know what that means; to know how to identify with it; to incarnate it yet find ways to defeat it also.  I offer you that way from here.  My hand may be callused, gnarled and bloody but my grip is firm, my voice is true.  As your song says,

Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you…[1]

I have been on your Earth many times and I have deep roots there.  Never mind that I already ‘know’ your future.  You can change any of it you choose just as I am changing the face of Malefactus.  In fact Earth and Malefactus are linked in this death struggle.  If you do not change, I will not succeed.  If I do not succeed neither will you.  Refuse to believe and nothing at all changes.  That is the Mystery we are bound to as ISSA beings throughout these stack worlds.

So I would teach you and reach for you from hundreds of years in your future and from another dimension.  To you I am both the voice of the damned and the voice of angels.  The voice of despair and of hope.  You have the choice of either, not both.  Now while I hope you forgive me for this tutorial and ‘historical’ outburst, I relate another fight, the non-philosophical side of my current incarnation.

Though it is early the stands are full and the crowd is yet silent.  Most are munching on various concoctions that pass for food, for breakfast.  Blood and gore does not affect these people’s appetite in the least.  This is a sport, nothing more.  Although most of them hope to see the female killed and cut into pieces as some challengers will do for their fans, it is the money that talks the loudest.  These people have money, they are not riff-raff from the lower streets.  They are here for two reasons: make money and be entertained.  So this is it.  Apart from medieval type magic shows and circus acts (minus animals) there is no entertainment media as such on Malefactus.  There is no written language except for the functionaries and upper aristocracy and probably most members of the Inner Court and higher Councils.  That is of course debatable – they probably use human ‘processors’ to record their votes and speeches, or computers such as the datacoms linked to main terminals.  Best guess.

I stand at the fighter entrance to await a signal to walk in, take my weapons, strap on the dagger belt and walk to the centre.  Rapier and dagger fights are done naked as already indicated, so no need to worry about armour and just as well as even this early it promises to be another scorcher day.  The sky is stark blue again, not a sign of sand or haze in it.  I consider myself lucky to have become a tough bone rack in my ‘old’ age.  Less to melt in the sun.  I’m like those burros of Old Earth – tough and practically indefatigable.  A donkey, that’s me when I’m not being a mule.  Oh well, this world needs an animal presence.  I will humour its needs…

Finally the challengers enter from the opposite end.  They salute the crowd and pandemonium begins.  They perform an artistic strip show for the male crowd, waving their erections to the stands, measuring their respective lengths with their fingers and fondling their genitals.  This may shock your Earthian sensibilities but here it’s considered a sign of strength and virility.  A man gets it up and keeps it up as long as he can during a fight.  He must demonstrate he’s got balls.  After all, look at the bravery extolled here:  two trained males against one female, no wonder they are admired.  Such heroism.

That little performance is a bonus for the smart fighter.  That little head makes a tempting target which is often the challenger’s demise.  It’s always one of the places I aim for.  Certainly it will be today because I need to disable one of those drooks before I get bled too seriously.  I may be tough but I bleed too and I don’t have a lot of extra to water the sands of Malefactus at this point.  Oh, and in exchange they’ll be aiming for my breasts.  Many fighters lose nipples and breasts in their fights, not to mention ears, nose, fingers.  Anything a blade can most easily shear off is a target.  Good management or luck, I consider it a miracle I still have both ears, my nose, by breasts and nipples and nine fingers.  A middle finger was sheared off years ago in a staff fight.

The first trumpet sounds.  We take our weapons, strap our belts and make the first salute.  Another trumpet and we centre with the last salute to the crowd.  I silence their usual demonstration of hate for the female fighter and instead absorb their exhortations to their male heroes.  Long ago I learned that little trick, just that little extra I can put into my blades.  Like getting that last few seconds of charge into a battery. 

We wait.  I bow while they eye me openly, trying to gauge my body, my most likely opening moves.  I’m after all the undefeated Desert Beast with an impressive record of kills.  They know not to take anything for granted.  Plus in their stupidity they forfeited their right to see me handle the rapier.  Second advantage goes to me; they already have first: two against one.  A set of drums roll and echoes across the keep and a score of trumpets blare the start of the game.

End blog post #96

[1]  Excerpt from ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel

 

Excerpt from “A Dark and Hungry God Arises”- book 3 of Stephen R. Donaldson’s Gap series

ANCILLARY DOCUMENTATION: GUTTERGANGS

(excerpt from “A Dark and Hungry God Arises: The Gap into Power – book 3 of the Gap Series, by Stephen R. Donaldson)

[The following bit of futuristic science fiction isn’t terribly long to read but has much to say regarding our own global current situation and condition. It doesn’t propose solutions but is a good reminder of how “stuff” can go from cause and effect to greater cause and effect until “humans” are just pawns in powers they think they set in motion but can never control.]  

“Until humankind came into contact with the Amnion, it was easy to believe that guttergangs would eventually rule the Earth.

In one sense, their roots were as old as crime. “The poor you have with you always,” said Christ, not inaptly. However, he might have gone on to observe that poverty had no meaning in the absence of wealth: where all have nothing, all are equal—and none poor. From the moment when human evolution first stumbled on the concept of having, some individuals or tribes or people had more while others had less. Predictably the disparity bred tension. In due course that tension led to violence—the taking away from those who had by those who had not.

As in all human endeavor, concerted action proved more effective than individual effort: groups could take more.

Gangs of one kind or another became inevitable as soon as having was invented.

In another sense, however, guttergangs were more recent. They were a product of modern mechanization and urbanization. More specifically, they were a symptom of as well as a reaction against the slow collapse of Earth’s social infrastructures.

Because the services of well-meaning but overtaxed communities could no longer feed or care for their young adequately; because educational systems tried harder to control than to excite their students; because transitional life-styles and intense technological changes eroded the ability of families to provide stability for their children; because humankind’s rush to exploit the planet and consume its resources led to a rising tide of poverty which no one could stem; because the fiscal policies of governments were designed primarily to defend the comfort of the few against the hunger of the many; and because, finally, no one could pay for enough police to combat crime: for all these reasons and more, guttergangs flourished throughout Earth’s sprawling urban structures with a vigor unprecedented in human history.

The gangs were starving, loveless, abused, despised, cornered: therefore they fought back. And they were able to fight back successfully because they wrested their survival from the same crumbling infrastructure which had created the conditions for their existence—thereby, of course, hastening the decline of that infrastructure; worsening the state of people who lived within rather than against Earth’s social compacts; encouraging the growth of more guttergangs.

Much like corporations or governments, they bred chaos around them for the sake of creating order for themselves. Creating nothing, producing nothing, they took away what other people produced or created. More than that, they took away the very constructs and compacts which enabled creation and production to occur. They were parasites on the body of human civilization, just as civilization itself was a parasite on the body of the planet. Some cynics argued that they represented the inevitable outcome of humankind’s imprecise moral sense: rapacity and selfishness carried to logical extremes.

Sooner or later, parasites usually lose. They feed on their host until the host dies; and with the death of the host, the parasites themselves starve away. But the guttergangs were too entrenched to be rooted out by anything short of complete cataclysm or absolute tyranny. And the development of the gap drive made their existence more secure rather than less.

Interstellar travel supplied humanity with the opportunity to exploit distant asteroid belts and planetary systems; in other words, with a vast increase of available wealth. Naturally the influx of new resources shored up Earth’s tottering infrastructures—which in turn gave the guttergangs more to live on. By prolonging the life of the host, the gap drive gave the parasites more time in which to spread and multiply; increased the rate at which the parasites devoured the host.

It was easy to believe that guttergangs would eventually rule the Earth.

This entire societal equation was altered, however, by contact with the Amnion. The discovery of a fundamental, insidious, and above all external threat to humankind’s existence turned the tide of history against the guttergangs.

The effects of this discovery were not simple. Obviously the struggle for the survival of the race would take place hundreds or thousands of light-years away, and would be carried on by the forces of the infrastructure. The fate of humankind would be decided elsewhere: the guttergangs would live or die with their host. By the ordinary laws of parasitism, therefore, neither society nor the guttergangs had any reason to change. Yet the knowledge of an enemy they could not see and would never have to fight changed the guttergangs profoundly.

They did not suddenly discover patriotism, of course. They did not put aside their clenched internecine attack on all social structures outside their own for the sake of humankind’s greater good. Nevertheless they were human beings—genophobic to the core. Like patriots and religionists, environmentalists and native Earthers, nations and corporations, politicians and cops, they could not stifle the visceral frisson of their revulsion against imperialism by mutation.

By degrees too small to be measured, too small even to be noticed in the short term, the guttergangs began to erode.

This process took any number of forms. As one crude example: thanks to the Amnion, the appetite of the UMCP for young bodies was as intense as, and inherently more comfortable than, the guttergangs’. Active recruitment by the police gave the hungry youth of Earth a choice distinct from the more passive, as well as more brutal, accretion of the guttergangs.

Or a more subtle instance: hating and fearing the Amnion, the ordinary people of Earth—the natural prey of the guttergangs—had less hatred and fear to spare for those gangs. Therefore in complex, almost indefinable ways the guttergangs began to lose their mystique, their attraction for the lost and disenfranchised of the planet. In comparison to the Amnion, the gangs were perceived as more bearable, more manageable, more normal; therefore less threatening to humankind—and less appealing to humankind’s downtrodden. Over time, no human enterprise could oppose—or remain unchanged by—this kind of perceptual shift.

Slowly across the decades, genophobia united humankind against its common foe.

Cynics saw this turning of the tide as a demonstration that prejudice was the only true survival instinct humanity had left. Less cynical observers had difficulty deciding whether to be grateful or terrified.”

 

The Elita Theorem

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you know this?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just the two of us?”

“Just the two of us.”

“Would you accept an educated guess?”

“I will, but I have one condition.”

“Ah?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #93

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes sir, I can.  I fight, I kill.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End blog post #93

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #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