(In which Tiki’s training demonstrates a flaw in the use of emotion when engaged in one-on-one to the death fight – or, when things are not what they appear to be.)
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.
“Yes. I drink, I feel strong. Ready. More sword?”
End blog post #90
Begin blog post #91
“Not today but tomorrow morning again. The sword.” I take it as she hands it to me to file – as trainer I’m also weapons master – and I pick the rapier and dagger combo. I hand her the set to strap her belt on and I do the same. We both test our weapons, stepping on the blade of the rapier and bending to find weaknesses, cracks or to test if the steel has lost its resilience and remains bent. We check the daggers for bad edges or broken points. These of course have all of those faults but this is the proper thing to do with new weapons before any fight and I insist the training includes every aspect of the official arena fight protocol. In the arena, if a weapon shows defective and the weapons judge agrees it must be replaced with a new one. A quick test can save your life.
We take our stances and begin. You move much faster with the rapier. It’s not meant to slash but only to stab. It’s all body work, placing the body out of reach, parrying a thrust, jumping forward, backward, dancing, one arm out to maintain balance or to create a feint. On Old Earth they called this ‘fencing’ though the term always amused me. There is nothing amusing here, as these deadly blades keep thrusting at your naked flesh. There is no place on the body you cannot stab. All is fair game. The extended arm, unlike in fencing, is there also to make that sudden grab for the dagger, in a killing move inside the challenger’s defence or to throw at a vulnerable spot to disable or kill.
Tiki has obviously trained on this set because her skills are superior to mine and her speed almost on par. My bionic ankle allows me to take chances on balance which she cannot. I can see her wondering how I do certain moves and trying to mimic them. That’s what I want – to see her push herself beyond her set limits and discover new abilities. Faster we move, parrying and stabbing with lightning strokes. She scores on my thigh and I get her on the arm. Gasping for breath and having drawn blood, I signal a break. She pulls back and refuses to let me see she is tired and thirsty. She holds the sword poised, ready to start again.
I motion break again and gingerly put my sword down. She jumps at me and if I hadn’t been expecting it and drawn my dagger to parry she would have had me in the heart. I don’t think she would have gone through with the move this time, but in the arena nothing would have stopped her. As it is I barely escape the thrust by sliding sideways and catching her just slightly off-balance, send her flying to the stones. Then I pick up my rapier again to lunge but she’s already flying out of reach and ready to fight again.
Now she needs a serious lesson on obedience to a command. I heft the rapier in my left hand, my dagger in the right and crossing them advance on her. She attacks below the cross as I expected her to do. Flipping the light dagger down and turning the rapier forward I trap her move and put the tip of my sword to her throat and push in just enough to draw blood. She cannot move at all and does not know what to do.
“Drop your weapon, gora!” I order her in a deep throaty voice. “Drop or die!” She glares at me and drops it. I pull back. “Why did you not stop when I signal for break, Tiki?”
“I could finish fight. I could kill challenger. He drop sword. I move in to finish…”
“You were caught in an evil fighter trance Tiki and I could have killed you. You made a very big mistake. Never do that again. If there is a next time, you die for sure. I won’t play these stupid games. Death is always on the line and challengers never play games.”
She lowers her face and holds her hands open and out to indicate her total acceptance and subservience. “Yes master. I very sorry. Never, never do that again. Too much into fight. Trapped by desire to win. Not play game.”
“You understand then. Good. I have news for you: arena fight next week. Weapons choice made three days before the fight – you are very lucky to be given three days to train with chosen fight weapon. You are a very lucky woman, understand?”
This episode has strained our relationship somewhat and made me think. Time for her to find another mate in the cages. I approach the remaining “Concubine” – she calls herself ‘Satka’ and ask her if she would like to have another partner to train and fight with. She looks at me with that strange look some women get when addicted to killing. Dangerous, borderline dikfol even, but the kind I believe Tiki needs to associate with to learn the difference between her deadly inbred professional killer mind and that of an emotional killer.
I ask as a favour to me, “Would you take my slave Tiki as your slave and partner?”
She makes a gesture and gives me a thin, crooked smile. “Cannot refuse, Anti. I take. I watch her train. She very good, hard fighter. Together we kill men, many men. I avenge my sister lover now, sure. I take her.” She hesitates then in a moment of daring, whispers to me, “She come to me for night too?”
“Yes, No longer mine. All for you. Hope you and she good together. Watch over each other. Take care each other. I not interfere in personal life of you and her, promise. Yes?”
“Yes sir. I do this. I pleased; great gift to me.” And for the first time since her arrival in Hyrete, Satka is smiling.
So yes, I’ve become a manipulator. But in my heart I know I’m motivated by compassion, there being no hope here of personal gain. It is not easy to give Tiki up. She has been my companion for some years now and I have motherly feelings for her. I’m sending her into a new life, a dangerous unknown. It seems a truism that whenever you want to help others improve their lives you will suffer loss and pain. This has been true for me in hundreds of remembered incarnations. If I wanted to break that pattern I should certainly have avoided this little trip through the crushing labyrinthine pressures within the confines of Malefactus… and specifically within the stone walls of Hyrete.
End blog post #91