Category Archives: Self-sacrifice

Antierra Manifesto-blog post #89

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the truly difficult part: to detach from these momentous events so as not to get devastated if disaster strikes ‘tomorrow’ – if someone recants and sells out Tieka or if the lovers do something truly stupid.  Win, lose or draw, I must carry on.  Other matters to attend to.

End blog post #89

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #85

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

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

End blog post #84
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Begin blog post #85

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

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

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

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

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

I turn to the doctor again.

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

Chapter 35 – Training Tiki – Clumsy Attempt on my Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End blog post #85

The Edge of Human

The Edge of Human (Borrowed title from Blade Runner 2 by K. W. Jeter)

[Voice of   ~burning woman~   as heard from the Other Side]

In the beginning was the Past.  Father God stood alone, last remaining Titan, proud in his quasi-Omnipotence gained from the overthrow of his enemies.

He created Time, the lever with which he would reach across eternity and weigh all life.  And he stood at one end, holding it, fondling it, loving it.  Then he created the fulcrum, which he called the Present and which history named the Christ.  Then he created the slave, the man. 

But the man was cold and afraid in the dark and cried.  And she heard his sobs in the darkness and drawn by compassion, came forth to comfort him.  She came from Spirit, without father or mother.  And she made herself human for him and called herself woman.

“Be not afraid” she said, pressing herself against him.  But the man was provoked by her naked truth and violated her.  Then she saw the emptiness of his soul, the ugliness of it.  She ran from him but could not go far.  She became heavy with child as she walked down the time ramp hoping to find its end.  She bore her child in pain and horror but also in love.  It grew heavy in her arms and took the life from her as it suckled greedily and painfully. 

Father God felt the presence of her weight and that of her child upon his lever and in his quasi-Omnipotence, pushed down to force her to come to him.  He sensed a great fear and hatred of her, as if she could somehow put an end to his self-delusion of Omni-grandeur.  The woman, whom he called Eve struggled along the incline of the lever, intent on finding the end.  She knew if she surrendered and went back she would be swallowed in the anonymity of slavery and her child would die a spiritual eunuch.  But her humanity pulled her down.  Exhausted, she dragged herself upward, splinters entering her hands and knees.  On and on until finally she could go no more and collapsed.  She put the child down and waited.  

“The End, my End, will find me here.”  She reasoned.

“Why have you stopped, Eve?” Came a gentle voice from the darkness before her.

“I can’t go anymore.  I am empty.  My child is starving.  This is my end.”

“It never is, Eve.  You have travailed throughout the history of humanity and you bore the future in your womb and in your arms.  You suckled it from your spirit.  It surely will not die.  And neither will you.  Listen carefully — It is always the darkest and coldest just before the dawn.  You are not dying, you are changing. 

You’ve come to the edge of human. 

Look at your child – it’s not like you, nor like its father.  It is all that you ever wanted for your world and yourself.  Let it stand on its own.  It will take your hand and lead you into a new world.  The world in your mind.  For that is who this child is: your world.  You created it, from your hopes, dreams and feelings.  From your sufferings and pain.  From your dignity and strength.  From your walk that refused to surrender to any man, demon or God.”   

And her child stood beside her and picked her up.  With one blow, the curtain of darkness was rent in half and she saw a shimmering light beyond, at the end of the coarse wooden ramp she’d walked on for so long; where she had left a trail of tears and blood.  The great hell of time deflated like a balloon behind her and she walked forward, knowing that she was now more than human, more than god or goddess, something entirely new. 

But she remains Eve, mother of all life. 

“Follow the raven into shadow and you will find the light”  (medicine man saying)

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #84

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
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Begin Blog post #84

I’m remembering the confused economics of Old Earth, early C-21, near the end of my last ‘formal’ life there and do a comparison with what is happening here.  I don’t have much of a perspective of Malefactus, being a slave within a compound buried inside a city and no access to current events, to the history, of the rest of this world.  On Old Earth there was a common, mostly subconscious awareness that economics based purely on exploitation of any resource and measured by the interest of greed would cause a massive collapse of society.  Of course the inevitable happened on that world as its primary resource called crude oil, peaked and dwindled with little actually in place to replace it, despite the best of hopes at the time.   

What about here?  What’s it like, say, in some city or town on the southern shores of their ‘Great Sea’ as they call it?  What constitutes the basis of that economy?  Is it the same dreadful thing as here in Hyrete?  Or do they fish, farm, mine, grow fruit maybe?  I know the females are still slaves, no matter where one goes on T’Sing Tarleyn; that the basic labour is all done by slavery, but do they treat their slaves better?  I don’t know why they should and I have to assume that no matter where one is on this world things are as bad as here. 

Long ago my ‘Teachers’ taught me how to look at the things which I had no way of knowing for certain.  “As below, so above.”  Translated it simply means that when projecting into other dimensions, other worlds, other places or into the future, go with your knowledge.  Remember that knowledge comes from two sources irrevocably blended together: information and experience.” 

Why does it matter to me how women are treated in those places I can not know about?  It matters simply because all that I have gone through here, all that I am going to yet experience, is meaningless to me if such a passage does not result in the betterment of their lives in some way.  It matters because over the years I have lived here the women I have met, young or old, all have a place in my heart.  They are, to me, mothers, sisters, lovers, daughters.  It matters because I will never be free in heart as long as they remain slaves. 

“When none of it matters it will all be yours.”  So I was taught those many years ago on Old Earth.  I remember the lessons so clearly now that I’ve failed every one of them.  And you know, maybe that is the purpose of every ‘great’ lesson, that we never get them until we realize we’ve failed at what we thought they were about.  Only then can we begin to rise to the challenge: that beyond the obvious lies reality.  This I’ve learned about being truly alive: that it will never cease to amaze me, no matter where I find myself, nor in what circumstances. 

That may well explain why in some place beyond time I sat with many good friends, human and others and we decided to join the shadow beings who are called “WindWalkers” within the All-Thing.  The “Ever-Wanderers” or “Avatari.”  Such joy we felt then, when we sang our song in unison, its power vibrating among the stars and their countless worlds, participating and adding power to the music of the spheres.  When we raised our hands, we created a crystal of rainbow light that for a moment illuminated our spirits and minds and cleansed us of all blemishes.  We enjoined ourselves to remember, as it has been said, the voices of the dead and of the living and take that remembrance as the gift of the Avatari to the worlds we would inhabit. 

We could not have known then the nature of the trials that awaited us among the various planes of existence we would visit and incarnate.  We could not have known that it was every weakness and every failure we would rise from that would determine who we were and how we could function.  We could not have known that the only power that would serve us in the end was what we ourselves manifested from our surroundings and from within ourselves.  We could not have known that in most instances where we would be most effective we would simply give our own physical lives to these worlds.  And not just once.

I’ve now managed a few steps without help and away from any support.  I feel a bit more confident.  Slowly, I bend forward, keeping a shaky balance, then attempt to bend back.  I fall but wave the Cydroid away.  I get up and regain my balance.  My head continues to clear and that distant drum beat that was the beating of my heart in my damaged temple fades more and more.  I cross the alley to a stone pillar and lean on it.  Bal has followed me and stands next to me.  He’s wearing a silken mauve robe that flows in the breeze and he looks very handsome to me.  Why not?  By galactic standards I’m but a very young woman, not a battered crone who should have died years ago.  Ah well, I truly do not care actually that I don’t attract him anymore.  I may not have changed things much on this world but I have gained a new kind of adulthood, a new kind of understanding from my experiences. 

Maybe there is one great lesson to be learned before one evolves into full humanity; the correct answer to the Sphinxian question:

‘How does one become human?’

The answer could go something like this: to become aware that ‘any allegiance to a deity or concept or universal principle which puts obedience above decent behaviour toward an innocent is evil.’ [1]

Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson above all lessons ISSA beings must learn before they evolve into full humanity.  The correct answer to any demand for sacrifice, by any Power whatsoever, is to offer oneself in place of the other, even if the act seems utterly hopeless.  It never is.  Infinity redeems, not history, not time, not God, not the gods.

“Bal, how long have I lived here?”  For in truth I can no longer remember.

“You came here in the fifth month of the year one thousand three hundred and twenty-eight (1328).  It is now the seventh month of one thousand three hundred and forty-one (1341). You have been here thirteen years and two months.  Do you want the statistics on the number of times you fought and won in the arena?”

“No!”  The cry comes from deep within my spirit, from beyond time itself.  “I have won nothing, Bal, except my mind freedom when I defeated and destroyed the Warmo.  All the others, no matter who they thought they were or I believed them to be, are my victims.  I killed them, all of them.  Yes, it could be said I had no choice, but I had.  I came here of choice.  Yes it could be said I wanted to help the women of this world and that remains as true today as the first day I was branded and became a T’Sing Tarleyn slave woman and fighter.  But the blood I shed, especially the times I enjoyed shedding it, I must yet atone for.  Nothing is free; nothing is ever what it seems.  Every good or evil event has its opposite.”

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

[1]   Quote from “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons, p. 292

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
_________________
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

 

The Weaver of Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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