Category Archives: Women

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #97

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
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Start blog post #97

First order of business is to discover their moves.  I back out of their instant trap which I expected and parry two thrusts at my midriff.  Back more, parry again, back, parry and turn to slash at an exposed arm.  Blood.  Good, first cut is mine.  I get a third advantage now.  Back again, circle slowly, warily, drawing them in to see when they combine for a killing stroke or to throw a dagger.  I have to move so neither of them can get behind me.  And I have to plan my own disabling blow against either of them.  Nothing for it but to continue backing away, thus angering the crowd. 

Time for my ‘sand dance’ as I call it.  I move my feet rhythmically, sliding them through the warm sand, feeling it, feeling the firmer stone under it, finding footing for a deadly crouch.  Using the bionic ankle I shovel sand into piles while keeping them distracted with rapid slashes of the rapier, not meant to cut but to sting when contacting bare skin.  I land several such and I get a couple also.  It hurts, no doubt of that but I remember the floggings I watched and this I need to experience, for those victims who died in front of my eyes.  I continue to make a space for later footing then step away from my little constructs.  It works.  One of them steps on one of the piles of sand and staggers.  I was already on the move and thrust the rapier in his groin deep enough to send him doubling over.  He’ll be out of commission long enough for me to tire the other.  Maybe even permanently.

So to the other one.  No more erection.  Too bad, lost my target.  I am on the move now, attacking with all my power, forcing him to give ground away from my cleared space.  Push, push, watching to see if he’s going to go for the dagger throw.  He knows better, too soon.  He knows I’m still much too fast to give him the split second needed to draw and throw.  He continues to give ground to my relentless assault.  I prick him several times and watch him wince each time.  He feels my sting now and he’s sweating profusely.  I am making him work to save his drook hide.  Push, push, until my feet are on the firmer spot I worked for earlier.  Now I hold my position and mock him with several meaningless rapier whirls.  His eyes follow the blade thinking I’ve got some hidden killer move in those motions.  That’s what I want, to create confusion.  Let him imagine non-existent killer moves: worth it to me, even if it wastes precious energy. 

‘Yes drook, use that stunted imagination to see the Desert Beast ready to set her fangs in your soft flesh.’  I use the mind touch on him just enough to goad his rising fear.  I can feel it and can almost hear him pleading to his partner to return to the fight.  It’s of little consequence now because even if he does he’ll only get killed.  I can see from the corner of my eye that the groin stab was totally disabling.  It was deep enough to accomplish what I desired. 

A great calm comes over me as the noise of the crowd recedes behind my head again.  I’m back in the Warmo fight, at the end, when his defeat is inevitable. What are these drooks but left-overs from that black day?  Remnants, rags, of a once proud entity.  Dregs of male humanity lost in a world created from their own uncontrolled lusts.  Lost in their own evil and still falling, unable to check their velocity, like a ship without its drive burning through the atmosphere to crash in flames, all aboard fried with it. 

And I’m here to remind them of this fact, not to kill them.  I have to talk to them, or at least one of them before it’s all over.  Dangerous but something I sense critically necessary.  I must disable, not kill.  That means playing cat to the mice I’ve cornered in the granary.  This is not my idea, so who’s in my mind?  The Avatari, Al’Tara.  I sense her, know her.  But they said they’d not help me here, what’s going on?  Ah, of course.  I’m incarnating her, them.  I’ve reached another level of understanding and can talk to my higher self.  Can give myself advice.  Not so alone anymore.

The disabled challenger has returned.  He’s holding his fist to his side and his pallor is terrible to behold.  I can feel sorry for him even in this.  He holds his rapier steady enough and is trying to cover for his friend.  He knows he’s facing his death now and all trace of mockery or bravado is gone.  He lunges at me, hoping to give me a jab or cut that will slow me down.  I easily parry even as I handle his partner.  I draw my dagger with my right hand.  What these poor drooks don’t know is I’m fairly ambidextrous but my right hand is my strong arm when it comes to throwing while the left is the strongest gripping hand. 

With rapier in left, dagger in right, bionics fully functional I go on the attack again.  Left to parry, right to feint.  I force the weaker one to come at me again, leaving a tantalizing opening.  He takes it, no choice in the matter as he’s weakening.  I block, stabbing in his right arm this time, the rapier cutting clean through the muscle then out in one move.  That’s it for that one.  He collapses in the sand and I kick his sword away from him, sand in his face and move on to the other one who is now pressing me in a desperate attempt to take advantage of his friend’s last efforts.

The fight is not over, not by a long shot.  Actually it is now swinging in his favour since he realizes he has no support while I’m certainly tiring.  We’re one on one, as it is supposed to be and he becomes more self-reliant.  He’s got his dagger out too now and the question in our minds is who throws first?  Who commits?  We move slowly around, facing each other, looking for that one opening the professional knows will inevitably come.  I back away from him to test him.  He does not take the bait and backs away from me in turn.  Tit for tat.  I turn my body sideways, keeping the rapier pointed in his direction, weighing my chances for a dagger throw.  Not good, he’s still too fast and would block it, taking away my back up weapon.  I walk backward through the sand, feeling its warmth between my toes.  I smell male sweat in the air coming from the stands and realize the crowd is almost silent.  They sense the tension between the challenger and I.  While we measure each other again they wait.  The disabling of the other one put a serious dent in their exuberance.

My challenger turns slowly to keep his eyes on me as I continue to walk backward around him.  I don’t want to press him yet – his dagger makes me nervous.  It looks very deadly in his hand.  I am fully aware that he knows when and how to throw, that’s what I read in his mind.  I have to come up with a feint to get him to commit himself.  I move slowly back to the place where I’d created the sand pile and cleared some stone for footing.  I repeat the process to regain the firm surface.  Now what?  I pretend to stagger on the piled up sand and that does the trick.  In one lightning move he has thrown his dagger.  The only way to block the direct throw is with my right arm.  I take the dagger through the lower arm and deflect it just as it penetrates through.  Gritting my teeth I set my mind above the agony, jump back, throw my dagger back in its sheath and rip his out of my arm.  The blood is pouring out now, not fast enough to cause immediate death but still a dangerous cut.

I pretend to be seriously disabled, holding his dagger under my upper arm and bringing the rapier into play slowly.  He commits himself to the death blow too soon.  I drop the rapier in the sand, grab the dagger with my left and whip it in a sharp throwing arc, letting go just as it enters his lung.  Tearing the other dagger out of its sheath I jump in the sudden opening he makes and drive it in his heart.  I retrieve my rapier and go to inspect the other challenger who has rolled on his side and is moaning pitifully.  Before I beseech the crowd for mercy I bend down and speak to him.

“Listen, I did not want to kill you.  I don’t want to kill you.  Most of us are not men killers but you force us to do this.  Why?  You must ask why.  You are going to die now even if the crowd gives mercy because that cut in your groin cannot be repaired and you know it, being a trained fighter.  Before you die, I want you to realize this: we women are intelligent people.  We know what you are doing to us.  We know things are supposed to be different.  We also know that we have a great friend in the goddess who has awakened and is going to help us get out of this horror you have put us in.  Understand this drook.  We do not want to hate you, hurt you or kill you.  We defend ourselves.  Ask then, why must you hate us, hurt us and kill us?  Wouldn’t you rather be lying down somewhere soft with a young woman’s arms wrapped around you after making love instead of lying here bleeding to death from a woman’s weapon?  Ask the goddess to forgive you and ask me the same thing, now.”

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

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

 

Antierra Manifesto-blog post #95

NOTE: I have been truly derelict in posting segments of the Manifesto this month. So much happening and so much to talk about, and one has to wonder, in retrospect, what all that talk accomplishes. But be that as it may be, I intend to be much more disciplined in posting the rest of this story. I’ll give it 3-4 days in between each post, no more. So here goes with blog post 95. I hope you can re-connect with what was going on. Thanks!]

“Now hold your weapons high and salute life.  Salute victory.  Salute the goddess who slowly awakens to you as you awaken to her.  Our days are coming, as surely as the seasons change.  Hail to the weapons!”

Each time we go through this ritual the women barely restrain themselves from cheering.  These are the moments that inexorably change the face of Malefactus. 

End blog post #94
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Begin blog post #95

I am beginning to sense what the Teaching is accomplishing.  Without making any significant change to the external conditions of things here, since we do not have the power to do so, and if we attempted it the suffering would bring unimaginable terror upon us all, it is causing changes within.  It is making these helpless individuals aware there are some forms of power no amount of repression can take away.  Repression has its limits whereas personal power does not know the meaning of limit!  

What are Avatari Teachings but methods to make an individual mind aware of this power within itself?  They are that which defines us, as individual ISSA beings, and collectively as humans.  What the Melkiars attempted to do; what they may well be involved in doing here, the force of mind-life is always stronger, always survives and eventually always overcomes. The Teaching does not have to be pure, complete, ‘right’ or perfect.  It is a can opener, a ram, a hammer, a simple ice pick, a fly in the ointment; “un sabot dans l’engrenage,” anything that breaks the carapace of an oppressive force and drains it of power so life can express itself again, however much it may have changed in nature during the times of oppression.   What these women are feeling; what they want to cheer to, is the latent force that oppression has so tightly bottled inside their minds with the power of fear.  And this I now demonstrate for them.

Again, using a low voice pitched for us alone, I call their attention before we begin our training for the day.  “Now listen to this again and learn it, it is a powerful magic force hidden in words.  The following words change life:

I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me. When it has gone, I will look with the inner eye at its passage and nothing will remain.  Only I will be standing there.”[1]

“I will continue to repeat those words to you as often as you need to hear them to learn, know and understand their meaning.  The way men control you here is through fear.  The way they are controlled is also through fear.  Men do not own the power they use.  It is given to them only to hurt us.  They fear if they stop hurting women they will lose that power.  So we all need to kill the fear that feeds the power.  That is much harder to do than fight in the arena.  Fear is our greatest challenger and we must all defeat it, leave it dead in the sand until there is no longer any blood flowing into that sand, understand? 

All the Teaching does is create the individual weapon a woman uses to kill fear.  When the fear is gone, the woman will experience no more suffering, even in pain.  Remember this, fighters of the goddess:  the fear you fight, it is not your fear.  It is your challenger; your enemy.  Fear is that which hurts you before you are actually hurt.  It seeks to kill you by disempowering you.  You defeat it by facing it and letting it pass through you so you can see what lies behind it; what it is hiding.  Always fear hides the power that can defeat it.  Fear drags its own defeat, always.  Let the first wave of hurt pass so you may see you have not been hurt.  Then the physical aspect of pain is of little consequence.”

I repeat the mantra for them, explaining the word ‘obliteration’ which they fail to grasp at first.  They are quick to understand because all of us know fear everyday.

“If we banish fear from our lives, who can hurt us before they hurt us?  Our disempowerment does not come from the physical mistreatment we must endure and eventually succumb to, but from our fear of such treatment; from the fear of what they can do to those we love.  Do you think they give us lovers because the care about us?  No!  They give us lovers so they can frighten us, cause us to snitch on one-another and do many servile things so our lover isn’t hurt.  Is that not so?”  There is much agreement and awakening to this truth. 

I have decided not to use their pidgin in some cases when applying the Teaching.  Force them to listen to new words and insert them in their vocabulary.  Add to their sense of self-esteem.  I know they hate sex-slaves because many have better education.  Perhaps if they feel they can speak as well, there will be less hate, greater acceptance?

It’s back to our training and the difference is palpable.  A victory of sorts was scored here today.  A victory over collective darkness.  Now back to some personal details involving promises of help.

I work my way to the one I nickname Zel, Huntu’s lover.  She knows I want to talk to her and switches position, still working her long sword without missing a beat.  Finally we face each other and I signal a pretend point jab where she scores a hit and gets to stand over me as I kneel on the stones.  I say to her,

“I call you ‘Zel’ so keep secret name.  You, Tieka, have plan yet?”

“No sir, cannot make.  Not know how.  Need to run away but many troubles.  Gates, doors, alarms.  Guards with guns.  With carriages.  What we do?”

“Nothing I know now.  Plan.  Think.  Think, not how to escape.  Think what you do when in desert far away.  No food.  No water.  No shelter from sand storm or hiding from evil eye.  No man to give drink, food, care.  How you survive, huh?  Think that.  Maybe other problems not so big, eh?  Think power, Zel.  Think love for man.  That be miracle already.  That already be escape from hate.  Understand?  Already I speak to Hudu and Huntu.  They thinking too.  Find escape plan.”

“Yes sir.  Understand.  Thank you.”  

The day does get oppressively hot again but no breaks are called.  We fight fiercely in sweat and dust, drinking tepid water to stay on our feet.  Guards, handlers and trainers drink cool home-made brew in the shade under awnings and ogle us.  Today they are not keen on taking the young ones to rape in their huts.  I see the overseer cabin is open and empty.  No one has replaced Achnarr yet.  I’m sure the judge I spoke to yesterday will see to it that the next overseer is a stickler for rules.  That will make the men tense and angry.  They will be more inclined to find fault and to carry out ‘official’ punishments.  It will be more difficult to curry favours with any of them.  Hudu and Huntu sit together at a small trainer table and watch Zel go through her routines.  I assume Tieka is working in the kitchens. 

I feel it before I can turn to look.  A woman has fallen down from heat stroke.  Fortunately for us, Hudu jumps quickly to be the one to investigate.  As he approaches, two women have revived the other and she is sitting, then with surreptitious help manages to stand, leaning on a staff she was quietly handed.  Hudu goes through the motion of warning us about slacking off. 

“Know rules: anyone falls, stays down, flogged.  Good for nothing goras!  Cannot stand little heat?  How stand fight in arena?  Lazy!  Lazy!  Now continue training, now!”  He yells but wants us to know his heart is not in it.  It does save the girl’s life though.  She recovers enough to walk to the water trough with two others who throw water on her and help her drink.  Then she goes back to the training, her partner taking care not to force her to move fast.  It’s ridiculous to keep us in the heat and cause heat stroke.  This doesn’t make us tougher or better at fighting, just weaker.  We need food and shade.  I signal for attention and motion for a general subtle slow down of movement to save our strength.  In the heat waves it’s unlikely the men will notice our subterfuge.

And that is the thing about becoming a real leader.  From the ordinary you make it appear as if you create the extraordinary.  You make ‘stuff’ happen because you care.  You forget yourself in the drama and crises around you and incarnate it all.  Of necessity.  You don’t resent any of it.  You just do it.  Sometimes I feel I’ve been graduated to that rather unenviable position. 

True to his word, judge Algomo rescheduled the fight and as he warned, he was unable to rescind the plan to have me fight two trained challengers.  The two men choose late afternoon to come and let me see their choice of weapon.  They deliberate, then ask a handler if they could watch me work with each one.  It’s late, I’m tired and the heat is beyond oppressive now.  Would I get a reprieve from the handlers?

“Slave, you show challenger skill in weapons.  Start with staff.”  So much for that.  A male trainer is assigned to be my sparring partner.  If I play dumb this time, I’ll get thrashed.  So I must ‘demonstrate’ my abilities on the poor trainer.  He’s good but not in league with bionic implants.  I lay the staff on him twice and he quits.  I guess they won’t choose the staff now.  Another trainer is sent forth for the sword routine.  The sweat is pouring off him and no wonder.  There he sat, through the heat of the day, drinking cooled beverages and in the shade while I was in the sun and by now my bony frame is practically dry of sweat, just covered with dust streaks.  I fear he’ll drop from heat stroke himself before I can lay a hand on him.

He takes his stance and does his best, I’ll grant him that.  A few well-chosen thrusts and while he parries one I lay into him and drop him with a hilt blow to the shoulder.  I put my foot on his belly and lift my sword.  It’s comical to see the look on their faces when I do that.  He cannot know I won’t follow through.  What if I’m dikfol?  There’s real terror there.  My challengers are frowning.  Good.  Got them a bit confused as to their choice.  I lift my foot from the trainer’s belly and help him up, patting him on the back as he turns to leave, adding insult to injury but this one had it coming.  He mistreats the young ones. 

The sword still lies on the stones.  In a moment of stupid bravado, I pick it up, walk within two meters of the challengers and offer either of them the sword.

Any other slave had done that she would have been instantly dragged to the flogging post by handlers.  But I know their thinking, and their limits.  They’ve got money riding on me and the more I intimidate the challengers, the greater the chance they’ll lose.  Also, I’m running out of time and they know this.  The day of their retribution will come.  I cannot win, according to their view.  I can never win.

The challengers at first look nonplussed by my offer.  Then they gather their thoughts and sneer, turning to the handlers and motioning for them to set me straight.  The handlers don’t care, just snort and laugh.  We have to settle it then.  I pull the sword back, turn submissively and return to the rack where I file both weapons and take out two axes.  I wait where I am supposed to stand, one axe in hand, the other’s pointed handle set in a crack between the pavers.  Finally another trainer reluctantly takes his position.  He has put on the required armour and looks as miserable as anyone can.  I remain naked, not having enough strength left to handle both the axe and the weight and friction heat of the cheelth skin.  In the last four years they haven’t had a trainer who could come even close to matching my strokes and they all know it.  I’m not worried on that score.  I recognize the trainer as he moves close to me before he picks up the axe to ask in low tones,

“Please no hurt, I not hate you.  Only do what must, see?  Make you look good, I do, then let me go?”

“I no hurt you Tarnat.  You good man.  We fight fake, I win, go back to shade.  Now loud, you curse me.  Look angry.  Fight crazy Desert Beast.  Be brave.”

Always the necessity to make those men look good in their peers’ eyes.  He curses me loudly, spits, yells ‘krosspeeg’ and attacks.  I take several steps back deliberately for our little play, parry each stroke, then go on the attack in turn.  Several swings, neither intended to connect fly around cleverly.  Finally he lays the side of his axe against my side.  I flinch and go to one knee.  He charges and I throw him off balance with a hook in his armour skirt, spinning him and laying him flat down.  I throw my right foot on his chest, raise my axe… then lower it.  I move off him and offer to help him up.  He refuses, stands up, throws the axe apparently in disgust and walks away.  There’s one relieved trainer.

I have to rack the weapons again.  I take the last in the acceptable series.  Rapier and dagger combination.  I put on my belt with the dagger and again I wait.  But the challengers have seen enough.  They choose the one weapon they have not seen me handle.  Perhaps they want to keep an illusion that in a two on one competition four blades to my two is a greater advantage.  I’ll grant them that: it is.  A wise choice, not so good for me.  I wonder if the Cedric is available tomorrow and if I have a date? 

That’s no way to think, girl.  You can beat those anal-retentive drooks.  After all, it is the drooks who more often than not refuse to acknowledge our superior speed and skill with any type of weapon cleared for use in the arena.  They are the ones who are the most likely to sneer when our skills are mentioned.  However many we kill, they keep coming.  And why not?  Over all they do kill more women than we get of them simply because in fixed fights, as most of their fights are,  they get the young or the weaker ones.  Some of these drooks take months to investigate a group of fighters and pick the ones they will fight.  Of course the law as written does not allow challengers to choose their fighters, only the Fighter Council judges can do that.  But then laws are made to be broken and law enforcers are equally made to be bought.  All a part of the game.  Had Achnarr been in charge the game would have gone much more in their favour and that’s what they had counted on.

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

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #94

“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
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Begin blog post #94

What just happened here are the kinds of things that get you both loved and hated.  When people who have no power see others in similar circumstances apparently without real effort wielding external power, there is jealousy.  When such power brokerage benefits some, they will love you until you fail.  They never expect you to fail.  When you do they turn against you. 

So here’s my thought on the matter.  Methinks heroes should always die young, just after they have accomplished the one thing, whatever it was they set out to do and they should only set out to do one thing.  Then everybody is happy and there are, hopefully, no more expectations – unless they believe their hero is some sort of avatar.  Then the hero’s reputation will both rise and plummet as followers and detractors face off.  It’s foolish, it’s wasteful, it’s so human. 

The women in the cages will love me more than ever, that cannot be helped.  Friends of the overseer will hate me with a passion.  That cannot be helped either.  In the end I will fail those who love me and give satisfaction to those who hate me.  I will die a violent death.  The ones will feel abandoned, the others vindicated.  So I have learned.  So it must be.  Unless I am wrong about this, as wrong as I’ve been about so many other things since I came here.  I wouldn’t mind being wrong in this case!

I turn to Swala.  She seems happy to be with me, but I must ask.  “You want me with you, Swala?”

“I be happy with you, yes Anti.  Always, I like you.  Copy fighting and training ways.  Listen to Teaching.  You tell stories from stars, I always listen.  I believe all from you.  Trust, I do.  I be friend with you.”

There is a quiet, sensible kind of gentler energy to be with an older woman.  Older by our standards.  Swala is twenty years old and has already survived many fights in the arena, few of them fair.  Strong, muscular, heavier than most fighters, she is a favourite for the gamblers and for that has paid a heavy price already.  She carries many scars and ugly welts on her back – result of some ‘unofficial’ flogging probably received in some drunken sex orgy.  Doesn’t matter.  I move against her and we begin to doze off together, nothing left to say that isn’t better left unsaid.  As with Tiegli, this is the closest thing to what the Cydroids would call mind touch. 

You wonder I did not say, “Deirdre”?  Ah but with her the mind touch was always cancelling out by our carnal feelings for one-another, our “need” of each other.  Every time we got close to the knowing it was like poking your finger in a mirror surface of a small pond.  Any reflected image there is broken up.  No, our mind touch, such as it was, could never be pure, no matter how good a thing I thought we had or I wanted to believe we had.  It was always spoiled by the ‘shattering’ energy of hormonal action.

It’s good to just be with a friend during the night.  Especially when your feelings won’t let you decide whether to be happy or sad with your situation.  I enter the Teaching: from sorrow, of which I have plenty here, comes joy, always.  I embrace that joy tonight.  Once embraced it more than suffices.  That’s the thing about joy, you know?  It is self-fulfilling.  If you experience joy in that moment it is impossible to know less or more of it.  It manifests only in completion.  That too is part of the Teaching.

Morning comes, clear, beautiful, clean.  The purple glory of early morning sky has faded, giving way to reveal a deep turquoise blue painted from battlement to roof to battlement across the top of the old keep.  This means no desert storm blowing sand in the sky.  It also means we should enjoy the morning freshness for the rest of the day will bring on oppressive heat.  After our meal we wash and begin our training ritual.  No fights scheduled for today since the fixed one was cancelled.  Our male trainers are less truculent than usual and I wonder if my judge friend has had a meeting with them and laid the law down.  That has happened at times in the past. 

As weapons master, even though the title must remain unofficial, I oversee the distribution of the weapons and how they are handled by each fighter even before they are used.  I insist on the ritual of awareness to be practiced by every trainee.  It took me years to have the male trainers and handlers turn a deaf ear to my exhortations to the women; to ignore the silence rule in this instance.  They are not so stupid they can’t see the results of my teaching on weapons handling.

Thus I address the women each time I am the unofficial overseer (nor do I address them in their pidgin but in proper language):

“Every weapon you hold becomes your friend and it seeks to accomplish three basic tasks: to protect and defend you and to defeat your enemy.  That is the energy it carries; the purpose for which it is made.  It knows this.  That is no different than how a fighter is bred and becomes a member of the female ‘fighter elite’ that you are.  As your bodies are bred for a specific purpose which allows you to fight men who are stronger and heavier than you and to defeat them time and again, so your weapons are ‘bred’ to defend and to attack.  You have no other purpose, neither have they.  So know your weapon well before every fight.  Handle it with pride and use it only with the best of skill you possess.  Never get sloppy with a weapon for if it loses respect for your grip, stance, methods, it will fail you.  It will not let you down if you do not let it down.  This is a great teaching that goes beyond weapons to everything in the land and the sky.  It is the teaching on balance of energies. 

You know of scales?”  They nod affirmatively.  “Good, when you see scales tip one way, you have two choices: either you step on the heavy side and cause the tipping to complete swiftly, or you jump on the lighter side and cause the balance to be restored.  The master must know beforehand which step to take then take it without hesitation.  This you must understand as fighters: whether to join the heavier force and cause it to fall, or oppose it and cause it to hold.”

This too I consider part of the Teaching.  Making the women aware that everything possesses its own spirit; its own force through awareness of purpose and surroundings.  That inanimate “objects” so-called have energy.  That energy fields, or forces, contain sentience causing them to hold together.  When we enter these forces or manipulate them we join with them and become a part of them.  This is life.

“As with human partners, if you have a special and precious weapon, say a sword that you treasure and with which you have won many battles, you do not, at the end of the fight, throw it in a pile with other weapons of various kinds to be handled or even taken by anyone.  I could tell you stories of very ancient times when knights (they were a special class of fighter) kept their swords in scabbards that were worth more than the sword itself, in terms of money.  They inlaid precious stones in the scabbards, the holding belts and even in the hilts of their blades.  It was their way of telling their sword friend how much they appreciated them.  And know this, that if the knight was ever in dire straights and became poor, he may sell his horse, his armour, the very scabbard and belt that held the sword, but he would never sell the sword.  If he could not carry it openly, he would find a place for it, wrap it carefully in oiled rags and hide it with the hope that in better days, or at great need, he would find it again.  Thus many old swords were found again by new fighters and new tales of heroes born from difficult times.

“Now hold your weapons high and salute life.  Salute victory.  Salute the goddess who slowly awakens to you as you awaken to her.  Our days are coming, as surely as the seasons change.  Hail to the weapons!”

Each time we go through this ritual the women barely restrain themselves from cheering.  These are the moments that inexorably change the face of Malefactus. 

End blog post #94

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 #92

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


Begin blog post #92

Chapter 37 – Tiki’s First Arena Contest – Love Speaks

There was no scene when Tiki found out I’d let her go to be with the Concubine.  If anything it was a relief for her because she was under the impression I was angry at her.  She understood intuitively that my decision was for her benefit, not because I was angry.  She had grown up and needed a real partner and lover now, not a mother, which mostly I had been to her.  She had enough of the Teaching also to develop her own mindset regarding what is right and what is wrong.  There was time for that.  With the Concubine she would be able to hone her professional fighting sense.  She would be better matched with a peer and teach even as she learned more.  This venture should even them out a bit, taking the more dangerous edge from both of them.

She smiles more now and treats me as more of an equal.  This is good, although I worry about her still.  Especially today: it’s her first match and she’s already been taken from the cages to eat the traditional chakr-laden food of the fighter, alone.  Her opponent challenger I’m not too concerned about.  He is no professional fighter and to prove it, chose the obvious: the two-handed sword, thinking as is their wont that it would give him the advantage as a physically stronger male.  When he came to observe Tiki fight with the various weapons I made sure that she was doing it with me and demonstrated a very poor understanding of the long sword.  I made her look even worse by forcing it out of her hands and sending it flying, then tripping her with my sword pointed directly at her heart.  Even Tiki was fooled by the move and thought I was getting my revenge for that week-ago fighter trance idiocy.  I did not explain.  Just withdrew the sword and let her stand to retrieve her lost weapon, her face deeply flushed.

It was enough to convince the male challenger he had found her weakness and jump at the chance to choose the sword.  Well, it would be his last mistake, no doubt of that.

Two other fighters were prepared for the arena when we were let out of our cages to relieve ourselves, wash and eat, ready for the routine of training.  An hour or so later Tiki returned escorted by two handlers.  She was neither smiling nor scowling, just her usual plainly serious self.  I saw not one scratch on her as she drank, ate a light ‘lunch’ alone that all returning fighters not badly wounded earn.  After which she joined the training line-up, finding her partner.  Then she smiled – no, she beamed!  They certainly have something going those two and it’s good for as long as it lasts.

Near the end of our session I begin to inspect the cleaning and storing of the ‘weapons’ – I’ve instituted the unbreakable rule that all weapons, however poor, old or worn-out, be treated as if they were the best ever made and fresh from the forge.  I inspect them for dirt, blood, sweat.  Blades must shine with oil.  Handles must be clean.  If they show signs of handle wrapping unravelling they must be re-wound, tightened and knotted.  Only if tools are required for the repairs do I put them aside for kitchen staff to sew or forge to repair. 

While I’m doing this two young men approach me and make as if they want sex with me.  Surprised surely, but having no choice I follow them to an empty hut.  Once inside, one of the men, a trainer, puts his hand out and takes mine very gently. 

“I be Tieka man Hudu…” he begins with understandable hesitation.  The handler takes my other hand and says,

“I too be loving woman fighter and I friend of Hudu.  I be Huntu.  We be needing to escape from Hyrete soon.  Tieka no fight.  Say love stop her hurting man.  I afraid for Hudu and girl woman.  Need to help, maybe I too escape, take woman.  Go south, deep desert there, hide in storms from great eye.”

I shudder when he mentions the ‘great eye’ and ask, “What is great eye?”  He points into the sky,

“Albaral.  It sees.  It knows when things not right.  If people run, reports to Council.  When your lover escape, news come from Albaral.  No alarms given, yes, but they know.  They see something strange in desert, like fire shooting into sky – maybe sky boat.  We told by leader; cannot chase sky boat.  Need terrible storm to block great eye.  Not just cloud, need Desert Beast Fire in sky.”

I gather he means the kind of lightning generated by great sand storms.  Ah well, didn’t I know that about Albaral!  It is an observation post, an active satellite – but who really controls it?  No matter now.  I have to digest this new information and see how many more astral rabbits I can pull out of my hat and have hidden up my non-existent sleeves.

“You right to tell me.  But what I do?  I slave woman, old, tired.  Die soon maybe.  How I help?”

“Not know, we do.  But know you very wise.  Have many tricks.  Have friends.  You they say daughter of Great Desert Beast.  You they say is Teacher.  You they say will know.  We just ask.  We trust you as man.”

Well, that is quite an admission and confession.  The words, ‘We trust you as man’ coming from a man to a woman slave may not have been uttered on this world for hundreds of years.  Am I making an impression here?  No time to explore this further as I must return to the line-ups or we become suspicious.  I wave my hand, “I think.  Speak to trusting women.  Pray to goddess.  Find way, always we find way, friends of goddess.  What be Huntu woman name?”

Huntu replies, “I not know name.  She say secret woman name, for goddess only.  She be 1336-14-09.”

“Listen Huntu.  I call her ‘Zel’ so she has name to call, yes?”

“Zel is name, yes.  Thank you sir.”

Before we emerge I insist they make fun of me as if they’d had a good old time with the crone.  I look angry to convince handlers that I did not enjoy myself.  They are pleased at the cruelty and indicate so with lewd finger gestures at the two young men who must pretend they enjoyed themselves too.  While I eat I ponder my role in this new drama and certain crisis.  I can’t always go running to the doctor and Cydroids with every problem.  How do we, women, tackle this with any possibility of success if I do not involve my friends?  But what right do I have to compromise their work here?  None.  That I will not do.  If we are to ever succeed we must find it within ourselves.  If others choose to become involved later, that will be their choice.  Maybe I’m being stubborn; maybe, who knows, I’m becoming senile.  But I see much farther than I did when I came here.  Not so far that these people cannot share my vision, just farther than they yet realize they can see.

Well first I must identify the slave 1336-14-09 I call ‘Zel.’  She is three years older than Tiki (1339-32-19) so around eighteen to twenty.  A fighter in her prime.  Tieka is a thirteen year old kitchen gorok, just arrived this year in Hyrete.  Her brand would read, line one #1328-04 – born 1328, class 4 – bred fighter; line two 1341-15-07 for admission year, batch, number in batch. 

I better explain this strange record keeping of female slaves.  It’s quite simple actually.  The important brand dates refer to admission to Hyrete keep and batch numbers.  That is how females are auctioned off, not by birth date.  This could seem confusing to some.  Batch numbers are important to buyers as they are used to trace the crèche where the slave was raised and the kind of ‘product’ it is reputed to contain.  Every ‘batch’ comes from a particular crèche in Elbre and sometimes even beyond.  They are all official birth places. 

“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

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #91

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

End blog post #90
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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