Category Archives: Women

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What you want, gora?” 

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

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

“This one you want protect huh?  Lover.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ready Tiki?”

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

End blog post #90

Antierra Manifesto-blog post #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 #87

There be no new method.  Train or be punished.  You – you,”  they point at me and Tiki, “continue.  You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners.  Stop again, we flog.”  And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather.  We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.
End blog post #86
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Begin blog post #87

Ah, new trainers.  Stupid, dense, closed minded.  Always the same with new ones. 

“OK Tiki, get ready, I your challenger now.  I nod head, you attack.”

As soon as I nod she charges into my guard and I barely have time to block her.  She swings wide to the left – a perfectly executed and masterful feint.  Spinning and dropping below my block she comes in and lays her staff solidly on my hip.  I feel that!  But I’m proud of her then.  She has the talent and the will.  Able to overcome the reticence of hitting a friend, that is good.

“Good Tiki.  That hurt for real.  Now I be more careful with you, mongoose.  I am enraged cobra now.  If I get near, I have poison in fangs, hah!”

And we continue to spar.  She scores several painful hits on me.  I know I haven’t yet put in all my power in this fight and I’ve pulled back my own blows because I don’t want her to become discouraged, but I’m not far from my limit.  This creature is a natural fighter, bred for the work.  She will do as well as any has ever done.  She won’t get angry, she’ll get even.  Her vengeance will not be personal and won’t eat at her as it did with the Concubines and so many I’ve seen pass through here.  She’ll lay them down neatly and professionally.  Tomorrow I plan to test her on the swords, then on the axe.  I will have to introduce a bit of creativity in that professionalism, for the entertainment value and the surprises.  That’s my specialty: the surprise effect.

‘Tomorrow is promised to no one.’  Yes, I know.  But for all of us here, beside perhaps enough food to sate our hunger later, some loving tonight in our cages, what is there but tomorrow?  Don’t call it a promise then, just call it hope.  Some won’t even make it.  Bodies will be taken out of the cages this coming morning, I know.

During our break and partner switch the late day heat rises even more.  The breeze has died out completely and it is oppressive.  Our drinking and washing water is almost hot.  The stones would burn the feet if we weren’t walking on thick calluses.  This has to herald another thunder storm; nature’s impromptu performance to give us a little bit of entertainment and brief excitement in the night.  I’m reminded of the last night I spent with Deirdre.  So many storms since that night yet so little precipitation even through the winter that was unseasonably cold and we suffered much from exposure in it.

My new sparring partner is an older fighter I’d seen before.  She smiles at me and gestures for a quick talk. 

“We remember, Anti.  Remember Teaching of Great Desert Beast.  We pray like you say and the Warmo was killed.  We know in heart he now dead.  Not even ghost remain.  We need learn more of Teaching.  Tonight, you speak, yes?  Give more power to woman.”

This is such a terrible responsibility, to teach people the very concepts they need to free themselves but which will cause them so much more pain in the beginning.  You get used to a situation and settle into it, getting the most of it you can.  Comfort is relative.  Suddenly you are given a new idea and your relative comfort rug is pulled from under you.  This new idea is naked and vulnerable so you protect it with your body and mind.  Now you become vulnerable.  Certain you must be that it is worth protecting and even dying for.  Or else, why do it?  So if I teach these women, it has to be about becoming free from the horrors men are imposing on them. 

How do we approach this concept of freedom?  It cannot, ever, be with violence.  Slaves throughout the histories of the worlds of humanity have attempted violent rebellions time and again.  In each case they were slaughtered and the conditions of survivors made worse.  This the Teaching makes very clear.  Most women of Malefactus have no means of turning to violence against the men.  They are untrained, unarmed slaves.  Even us with our weapons’ skills – what are those good for but to entertain?  They are useless against the real weapons of the police and military.  In any confrontation the laser weapons would turn our bodies into piles of smoking meat in seconds.

I spar with the woman, demonstrating as many new tricks to her as I can.  As do most of the fighters she learns quickly.  We are using the long double edged, double-handed sword lately, for whatever reason, becoming the new fad in the arena.  Most challengers go for it now and this has meant we’ve had to spend much more time boning up on our skills with it.  The smaller women have a difficult time with this weapon.  It is too long and it slows their movements down.  Consequently our losses have increased incrementally.  That probably explains why the ‘brave’ men of Malefactus choose this weapon: it gives them an automatic advantage over the shorter, lighter females. 

But I must say this: the women are game.  Not only because they have no choice, but because they continue to improve themselves in many ways.  They now understand that any weapon can be mastered with skill if it is understood.  A small woman can move her body as she wields the long sword, thus not having to move the whole weight of it.  Kind of a hammer-throw concept: if you understand the lever concept, the centering balance point of your body does not have to be the fulcrum all the time.  You can create a hypothetical point for your fulcrum, your body at one end of the lever and the point of the sword at the other.  Now you can ‘orbit’ around your imaginary centre point. This requires great agility of feet and complete focus.

You use the weight of the weapon to propel you to a different location, removing the target – you – and placing the sword in an unexpected position relative to the challenger.  When he goes for you, neither you nor your sword are there – just your imaginary fulcrum point – and you can take him by surprise from an endless possibility of unexpected angles.  Those of us who are larger of body have less use of this concept and I find it difficult to teach.  So I have trained and assigned other fighters to do this part for me. 

“Can I ask you to teach my slave this sword technique you have developed, please?”  I ask her.  “And can I have your woman power name also?”

She beams to be asked a favour by such a one as I.  To be able to teach the Desert Beast Woman’s slave, that is truly an honour for her.

“In prayer, I be Swala.  Yes, and please, I do this for you.  I teach good.  The slave… ‘Tiki’?… she is very good with weapons already.  She very lucky to be slave to you and learn by touching much with you.”

“Your number for the trainers, Swala?”  She turns and I read 1334-02-28.

The women here believe it is possible to absorb another’s skills and strength as much by being physically close as by training with you.  I have noticed lately that many of the women find ways to get close to me to let their hands linger on me.  They want to absorb, to share the fighter part of me that has survived so long in the arena fights.  This is especially true now that I have killed the Warmo.  I have become a sort of inamorata to them.  They truly believe I am the reincarnation of their Great Desert Beast.  I have reawakened the old myth and they are putting fuel on the fire.

For better or worse it is a truism that avatar change agents have consistently used existing mythology to propel themselves upon the stage of whatever ISSA world they felt called to make change in.  We take on the persona of their favourite idol, myth, deity, or claim we are a child, brother, sister or other relative of that deity.  Again, it’s that compromised morality problem.  For us time is ever of the essence.  We rarely have the luxury to begin from scratch to build ourselves up to their expectations.  We are coming on stage so to speak somewhere in the middle of the action, or more often near the end of it.  We have to fit ourselves in someone else’s story – believably so or we don’t get to speak our lines – it’s that simple.

Thus Antierra or “Anti” is now the daughter of the Desert Beast and has become, in the eyes and hearts of the women fighters of T’Sing Tarleyn  the legitimate Desert Beast Woman, symbol of freedom for all T’Sing Tarleyn womanhood.  Well, as my good doctor said, I’ve brought all of them to a very dangerous crossroads.  How many avatars have brought those who believed in them to such a place then been martyred or killed to disappear following promises to return soon but never did?  How many worlds were thus politically changed on the surface but the basic problems that originally called the avatar’s attention remained unchanged? 

Earth was, or remains, one of those places.  Promises were made that were not kept and each time the people’s hopes were raised only to be dashed.  They were abandoned to their own devices and continued to perish despite Herculean efforts to maintain the reality of their disappeared avatars.  Powerful movements became powerful religions or powerful political factions  that claimed to exist as stewards for the avatar but refused to take on the responsibility such a claim entailed.  If anything can be said of those institutions it would be that they ended up demonstrating the exact opposite of what the “Master” taught so clearly.

I am on Malefactus fully aware of this problem and determined not to repeat this terrible mistake. 

And how do I propose to do this? 

First by beginning the process of self-empowerment among these female fighters.  They must ultimately believe in themselves as possessors of the power deriving from ‘the Teaching’ of their avatar.

Second, by understanding that my redemptive work achieved through deliberate submission to the lowest form of degradation in human slavery will only have begun when I leave here. 

Third, by programming myself to ‘return’ immediately after I die here.  No break, no hiatus, no seeking advice, no rest and relaxation on beautiful Altaria or other hidden world.  I belong to Malefactus until such time as it recognizes me, that is, its female population.

Fourth, by exercising my rights and powers as a WindWalker – to live and die by my own choices.  My fate and that of the people I choose to share myself with is entirely in my hands. 

Five, by empowering myself to reject any and all temptations put forth during my ‘in-between’ times by those who would buy me out or destroy me.  For it is true that all of us are constantly being watched by the forces we come upon and challenge.  Every battle we fight in the flesh is a battle we have already fought, are fighting, must continue to fight, in spirit.

End blog post #87

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #86

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
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Begin blog post #86

“Antierra, you be good?” She pitches her voice craftily to be heard only by me.

“Yes Tiki” I say in a low voice also.  “I be better now, ready to train you as promised.”

“I train already.  I good with staff.”

“I hear you good.  Pleased I be with you and for you.  Now we see if true, huh?  Can you attack me as if I man?  If you do not I hurt you.  Is what must be, Tiki.  Here must hate me.  I enemy for you.  I killer of you.  You be killer of me.  Never forget basic rule.”

“I not stupid Anti.  I know.  You be careful, I be true fighter!”

Let’s just say I was warned and should have listened to the changed pitch of voice: that was a moment of revelation a fighter or challenger should always be attuned to. 

I choose two worn but serviceable staves whose extender ends have been disabled for basic training.  We move away from the others and I make her hold herself ready, staff raised.  When I nod my head it means the same as the trumpet in the arena.  She attacks and I parry easily.  Too easily.  Again and again she comes at me and each time I parry even faster.  My skills are ingrained now and I want her to realize what it feels like to attack a professional fighter.  She finds no opening and soon her white body is slick with sweat while mine is still cool.  Fifteen minutes by my count and I call a break to explain.

“You see the problem, Tiki?”

“I too slow for you.  No good.”

“No, you good but I too fast for you.  Experience, Tiki.  I cannot teach experience, so you must copy all I do until you better than me.  Try remember every move if can.  Every move.  Measure moves by sweep, distance.  Use foot stones, walls, archways, posts, to measure reach of staff.  Know where it be before it go there.  Know where it not be – attack there.  I say, you be best fighter ever, Tiki, if want to.  Just want it.  Only that.  Now drink and we begin again.”

While she goes to the drinking trough I watch the women training next to me on the right.  I know one but the other is new.  Slightly older, not a trainee.  Three lines of branding on her.  Been sold twice already.  Unusual.  I must watch this development.  Something about her I find disquieting.  She doesn’t look at me but I know she is fully aware of my presence and the exact distance between us.  She could be an attacker sent to kill me.  But by whom now?  I know I have many enemies since I killed the Prince and the Warmo.  I must be on my guard.  Tiki returns and flashes her dark eyes at me and smiles thinly.  She’s into her fighting spirit now so I change my approach.

“Now I attack you and you block.”  I strike at her block making the staff vibrate in her hands.  She is surprised at the power of the blow and almost drops it.  I stop again to explain.

“This special trick.  Not straight blow, see?”  I demonstrate by hitting her staff while rolling mine to create the vibration.  She drops it this time and winces even though I did not hit her hands, just the staff.  “See?  Roll staff while hitting target.  If arm or leg this blow hits, stuns, paralyzes, not just hurt.  Can bring man down on knees or make drop weapon, helpless.  Then can kill challenger.  Finish quick.  Is how woman win fight.  Trick.  We be not strong of muscle like man but we be knowing things Tiki.  We be mind talkers.  Talk to weapons, gain friendship, they fight with you and for you.  Some masters Tiki, they can call weapon to hand after dropping, yes.  Pull things to you, you can.  I teach basics, you practice.”

The general break is called but the two women next to us continue to fight as Tiki and I must since we began late.  Now I know.  I feel the cold shivers up my spine, as if I were fighting two challengers at once.

“Now Tiki, guard.”  She stances and parries with relative skill.  I refrain from breaking through that time and jump back, forcing her to come forward.  I go down on the stones, flip and trip her.  Just then the woman next to me, thinking I just gave her a chance to smash my head comes at me with her staff which I easily parry and send flying.  She stands there, shocked, waiting for me to jump up and kill her.  Her partner stands still also wondering what is going on. 

“You pess!”  I say to her.  “You think you kill Desert Beast in training compound?  Stupid woman, stupid.  Now I kill you, huh, yes?  You think good time to die?”

Tiki is still sitting on the ground wide-eyed at this turn of events.  I want to teach them all a new lesson.

“I no kill you woman.”  I say to my attacker.  “Here, you take my hand, help me up.”  She reaches and pulls me up.  I tower a full head and a half over her and keep a grip on her hand.  I begin to squeeze, the bionics working well.  Her face contorts in pain as she keeps her eyes in mine.  I bring her body against mine and I smell her fear.  She moves her other hand against me to push away but I grab it too, squeezing that one also.  Terror fills her face now.

“Who want me dead, pess?  Who make you kill me?  You tell, you live.”

“Court man, red robe judge, friend of Warmo.  He promise make me concubine if I kill you.  If not, he kill me.  I dead now.  You kill me, better.  You do quick, please.  He tell me how I die if no kill you.  Ahhhh, please!”  She drops to her knees and I know she had no choice in the matter, none at all.  It wasn’t something personal, just a means of surviving a bit longer.  Now I have to figure a way to save her life from the “court man.”  I know of one way.

“I Desert Beast Woman, understand?  Very old.  Very strong.  Very wise.  Know many things no one know.  Now I say to you, talk to all women you can, tell them remember Teaching.  Tell them that and I protect you from court man.  I maybe save your life, or get order to kill you myself – quick, no pain to you.  I do what can be done.  You talk to women, yes?”

“Oh, please, I talk to women, yes.” And she bows down and puts her face on my foot.  I take her arm and stand her up.  “Now I give you power.  New name, woman name, for you to know who you be.  Name you ‘Victa’ – mean many things, but for you mean from victim to victory.  This name you get from Desert Beast Woman.  Never forget.”

“I don’t forget.  Great gift I have.  Now I be person, I be someone.  Even when I killed, I remain someone real.”  When she turns I note her Hyrete brand for reference, 1341-29-03

When people don’t believe they have any worth and are shown kindness or given any bit of empowerment they can switch their subservience to the giver and this is dangerous to both.  But in this case she is old enough to realize I gave her power for her own use; that I would not make any claim against that power for it was a free gift.  She has deep intelligence if it could be developed through ideas.  Maybe the women will help her when she reminds them of the Teaching, for after all she knows nothing of it and should be eager to find out what that is all about.  Thus we are trained on Altaria and find our natural place of leadership when it is needed.   

Trainers come on the scene to find out what is the hold-up and as usual I give my made-up-on-the-spot spiel about new methods of fighting. 

“I be trying to make sound without voice to focus blows against challenger.  But it not working.  They not understand.”

I have to maintain that pidgin so the men don’t get suspicious of our ability to learn.  I have been hinting for many months now that I want to introduce ‘toning’ to our arsenal of defensive methods.  I have demonstrated its effects to them but the men are wary of my methods now – having witnessed how well they work and how much the women’s fighting skills and daring has improved.  They are hesitant to grant me new freedoms that make a mockery of their rules by demonstrating their utter stupidity.  But to allow female fighters, women, to make any kind of sound, however low, is against the law.  Screams brought on by inflicted pain, of course, are quite another matter.  That is considered a fun thing here.

“There be no new method.  Train or be punished.  You – you,”  they point at me and Tiki, “continue.  You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners.  Stop again, we flog.”  And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather.  We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.

End blog post #86

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
_________________
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