Tag Archives: Antierra Manifesto

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #39

The second fight has lasted over three hours.  Later the doctor tells me it was the longest one-on-one combat fights ever recorded.  Even as Torlat still twitches on the ground the King rises, ends the tournament and dismisses the unruly crowd with a show of force from several hundred black-clad uniformed and armoured Hyrete police held in readiness.  As the police units file down the aisles in the stands all outbursts cease.  The fans file out to consider their staggering losses and a few to rejoice over their winnings.  Despite the mounting evidence that female fighters will overcome their male challengers on an average of three to one, these sick men cannot believe the evidence, going with their feelings of revulsion and hate; believing women are weaker than men and continuing to place their bets on the male challengers.   

I live another day, and to what end?  For the moment, there is but one end: to save Deirdre.

[end blog post #38]
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[begin blog post #39]

Chapter 17 – If One Woman Escapes

In the weeks following the fight I am employed, or better said, occupied, strictly as trainer of new recruits.  It is a time of reflection and observation.  I think about my performance, not in the physical realm – there is not much I could change or improve on that – but in my heart and in my mind.  I think about what I thought I would do here, and what I have done instead.  In deep and constant retrospection, I analyze my feelings.  The killings are now beginning to haunt my thoughts.  I feel like a murderer of innocents.  Innocents because I realize they are pushed to be what they are.  Something drives them, something they have no defence against.  I encounter that same feeling of helplessness and frustration I knew so well on Túat Har when I encountered injustice and the various levels of oppression constant in all her societies.

Balomo Echinoza, medical doctor and anthropologist, citizen of the world of Koron, intelligent, educated, aware; an interstellar traveler renowned for his research and writings, after fifteen years on this world is succumbing to the same misogynist force that controls all the men of T’Sing Tarleyn.  He falls into moods of uncontrollable rage against a woman if he feels she has slighted him in some way and strikes her without any qualms until the madness recedes and he realizes his act.  Then he plunges into deep despair.

How much longer before I too become like other gladiator females and fight simply because I want to live and I have no other choice, or worse, because I want to kill men?  I realize now that both the men and women of this world are victims of some Power beyond their will to overcome.  Even the rare Cholradil, the natural born empaths, do not see the problem of Malefactus.  They see themselves as the problem for being unable to become normal members of their society.

I thought at first the problem was in the local natural stimulant drug made from the chakr root.  A simplistic conclusion that was quickly proved wrong.  Neither Bal nor I use it and the few times I did, it only made me sick.  And why do the Cholradil – both female and male – remain immune to the sickness? 

Yes, I did learn that there are male Cholradil on this world.  The males never live past the rite of puberty.  When confronted by the female he must kill, she invariably kills him, end of story.  So, according to Deirdre, Cholradil males absorb large quantities of chakr in desperate attempts to overcome their dreaded affliction – all to no avail.  They cannot hurt another, no matter what is done to them and no matter what they do to themselves.

So, does one have to be born a natural empath to be immune to misogyny or can one develop that sense somehow?  I have no answer.  The only side issue I find from this line of questioning is that I would never want to become a natural empath.  To be driven to whatever end by a feeling you have absolutely no control over is a terrible thing.  It’s too much like an addiction.  On Altaria we are empaths by choice.  We choose how we respond to our feelings. 

I remember a time when I was going through particular angst over my visions of this world.  I entered into an extended fast without food or water.  To do this I walked up the green hills of my Altarian home near the valley of the Great Rift we call Shaliant.  I got to the top after three days of steady walking, not stopping of day or night – there is seldom any real darkness there because of our binary sun system.   I remember my feet being guided to my destination by the very soil and stone of the planet herself during my ascent, for she too is an empath. 

At the highest point I sat on a smooth red mound of sun-baked clay, now abandoned, made by travelling swarms of long reddish coloured architect beetles.  These creatures build their mounds over long years of endless work, going through a full cycle, then suddenly swarming and taking flight to the very last, travelling hundreds of miles before they must descend again, lay their eggs in the ground and die.  The emerging larva then begin their task of building a new mound.

Long I stayed awake through the days and the nights, sitting motionless, thus becoming more aware of life’s movements all around.  I knew the fundamental impressions I was taking from my world would keep me sane enough to know when it was time to return, whatever happened to me as a result of my choices.  They were the trigger I would use to cause the remembrance of my true self, whatever the dangers, the temptations or seductions put before me.

Allow me to describe this small aspect of Altaria.  Mists filled Shaliant in the mornings and gently lift, or fade throughout the day as one of our two suns fill the deep canyons to reveal the sinewy bed of the river Fallouin, longest water course on Altaria.  I could hear the dragged-out cries from the majestic osoleys, or sea birds, below the promontory outcropping where I sat and sometimes could see them soaring slowly and gracefully on the thermals far below my vantage point, their grey-blue wingspans up to five times the length of my body.  They come in from the sea during their breeding periods that last approximately two years.  Their time at sea we measure at seventeen to twenty-one years depending on the species.  There are tales on our world of the old sea people (still known as the Mer-people on Túat Har) talking to the osoleys and of their children riding them.  I believe these tales have more than a little truth to them.

But I hadn’t climbed to the top of Shaliant to enjoy the beauty of this totally unspoiled natural space, nor to guarantee my return in some future.  I had come to rediscover another aspect of myself… and to cry alone.  There is an odd flow of intelligent “mind” energy over Shaliant that has the power to block all telepathic connections.  It is so strong that you cannot take any flying object over it, but must circumnavigate it.  It blocks all flow of information from artificial computers.  Only natural life can penetrate the mystery of Shaliant, or survive in it unscathed. 

I wanted to block out the protective, empathic love of Altaria that flows naturally through all of us.  I wanted to re-experience loneliness, as I had known it on Earth and knew I’d know even more on Malefactus.  I remained on Shaliant for over a month.  I relearned how to cry within a brokenness of heart.  I relearned to allow all my feelings to jumble in and out of mind and heart and throw me in utter confusion.  I relearned how to live within the mad cacophony considered normal on non-empath worlds.

It was from these heights that I chose to fade out of my Altarian body, allowing myself to fall over the edge of the Great Rift, plummeting into the maze to re-awaken and manifest physically transformed, on Malefactus. 

Speaking of Malefactus, there is more to this world that makes me wonder.  I cannot see much of it from the confines of our sleeping and training compound, but in this micro environment some things are obvious.  You never hear anyone sing.  It is prohibited.  Why?  There are no visible birds except for the vultures that appear without fail at every killing.  There are no animals, wild or domesticated, except for whatever makes that lugubrious call on our walls in the night.  You rarely see a blade of grass growing along the base of the great stone walls or in fissures and cracks, though there should be.  If one does grow and is found, we are supposed to pull it out and bring it to a trainer to be disposed of… as if a freely growing thing was a sign of disease, or weakness.  Of course no one does that.  Any green thing we find, that being rare enough, we eat!

No flowers, wild or domestic, are ever seen.  No leaf ever blows in from outside, so my guess is there are no tall trees, at least in this part of the world.  Tiegli mentioned trees that made tents in the deep south.

Where do the vegetables we eat come from?  And the straw we put in our cages?  No answer.

I’ve been here several years now and the only thing that has changed is in the amount of sand blowing in and spreading in the yards, in the washing troughs and on the tables and seats.  We have to clean it out and sweep constantly.  I notice less rain also and on rare occasions our water has been rationed.  When I first came here I was aware of a salty sea smell on certain days when the winds blew strong and steady from the north-east, bringing in clouds and rain.  Now the smell is brackish and of rotting sea vegetation as on hot days when the tide goes way out in a collector bay.  I’m guessing the level of the water is dropping.  Is this a natural cycle or an environmental anomaly?  Is the entire planet experiencing desertification?  I have no answer.

Well no, that is not quite exact.  I do have the beginning of vision dreams now.  For years I wondered why my ability to dream was gone.  I think the same force that causes the misogynist imbalance is also responsible for preventing people from dreaming.  I know the women don’t dream, though some have reported seeing things at night akin to nightmares but they “see” their dreams as something happening outside of themselves.  They see ghosts wandering around the cages and walking through the walls.  They have little sense of creativity and most dismiss “brain images” as nonsense that will get you killed in the arena.

On recurrent dream is an image of the planet imploding, with all of her natural life force simply flowing out of her, leaving her, as if she were dying and sending off seeds of herself to re-grow herself somewhere else.  If this is the case, it may come to pass that the sun will also die and all that will remain to light this doomed place will be the cursed Albaral, assuming of course that it is indeed self-powered and its light isn’t just a reflection of the natural sun.

Each time I verbalize the name of Albaral I find myself entering a psychic trance and “seeing” ideas as well as images connected to this artificial sun.  This time I see the image of “Melkiar,” not as invading AI’s in spaceships, but as a gigantic artificial life form frozen within an ancient shiny black metallic carapace housing some kind of mind once an ISSA life, now drained of every aspect of its original self.  A monstrous entity capable of programming AI’s to destroy all that it once was, as if doing so could erase the memory of what it had been before greed for longevity corrupted it. 

Where do you exist now, in space/time, Melkiar?  Where are you?  What are your plans?  Is Albaral one of your observation posts? 

Could there be some connection between this world and the invaders of the United Treaty Worlds?  For example the doctor’s old auto-medic cannibalized from one of the UTW jump scout ships that was sunk beneath the massive stone walls of Hyrete: how was that embedded under a fifty meter thick foundation supporting a twenty metre stone wall without being damaged?  Melkiars could morph from thousands of small armed robots to giant inorganic brains encased in elephantine carapaces that could withstand the most powerful fusion weaponry.  The only way we learned to destroy these monstrosities were with tripleheaded singularity grenades which create multi-level fusion bursts that “ate” their intended target then “died” before they could expand into an uncontrolled melt-down.  

These Melkiar constructs could travel unaided through short distances in deep vacuum space.  They could hack their way through the hardest stone, causing havoc in mining communities of asteroid fields.  Certainly, if they did penetrate the Malefactus stack world dimension along with the jump scouts, they could have easily taken an auto-medic and placed it here.  The question foremost in my mind remains, ‘Why?’  What use would they have for an auto-medic designed to repair biological life forms, namely human bodies when their entire drive was to destroy all biologicals?

What else could they do we know nothing about?  Much research into their particular type of life ended with the wars.  No one wanted more to do with them.  Probably another big mistake.  But logically, if there is any logic to this place, why would they hide an auto-medic here in Hyrete?  Is it possible there are AI rebels even among the Melkiar who sought to save human lives?  Is there a relationship between the Melkiar, perhaps in some of their early penetrations in this Galaxy and the black metal men who defeated the green Desert Beast by blowing her ship out of the sky and subsequently enslaving the women and children of T’Sing Tarleyn?  What about the chronology of these events?  What happens to “linear time” when crossing dimensions?  Could the Melkiars have wandered in this dimension thousands of years ago while at the same non-linear “time” invading our dimension of the Galaxy?

Obviously I’m not yet asking the right questions but I’ll get there.

[end blog post #39]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #38

[note: Spring has sprung, the grass is riz… leaving me with much restricted time for blogging.  Fortunately the ‘Manifesto’ is already written, requiring only the usual scan for missed typos, misplaced modifiers and such like.  Continuing on…]

“Yes I do Bal,” saying the name thus almost makes me choke with fear, “I will remember.  I know I cannot survive Malefactus but what’s in my mind I will keep.  I won’t let anyone have it.  No force will take it.  I’ve been under torture before, though not by neuro-inductor but we have a way on Altaria to shift our knowledge into parts of our minds that even we cannot access during times of stress or under duress.  It may be the memory of this power will come to me should I need it and I won’t be lying when I say, “Je ne sais rien.”  I do understand that strange ability to lock information possessed by the Cholradil on this world.”

[end blog post #37
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[begin blog post #38]

He opens the door and I walk out into the sunshine.  Deirdre is sitting on the flagstones just outside the door with the new axe.  She jumps up when she sees me and her eyes light up but there is no smile, only concern.  I let it go, it’s her problem, not mine and nothing I can do about it.  The doctor calls the handlers and the same ones return, in the blue uniforms with the gold braids.  Bal whispers, “They are the King’s aides, not regular handlers or trainers.  Pay attention to anything they may say to you.  They may have information that will save your life.  I know they invested a year’s wages in bond notes on the events of this day, betting that you would overcome the Prince, which you have, and you would also kill his fellow conspirator.  They have already doubled their money but they want to double that also.  They will help you win any way they can.  Be careful, these be men, not Cydroids; I do not control them.”

I heft the new axe and in spinning it I notice a slight discrepancy in one of the curved blades.  I examine it closely in the light of the sun and smile inwardly.  My blacksmith friend has put tiny serrations, like teeth of a fine hacksaw blade on one side of the weapon and has heat-coloured the metal to a dark blue hue on that side so I will recognize it .  Now it truly is a deadly weapon.  I can hack as well as slice through armour with this.  I thank him in my heart and walk back to the arena with the two aides.

“The Torlat means to kill you quickly,” one of them says to me with an unusually soft voice for that of a man.  “He has poisoned his weapons, including his boot blades.  You cannot let him draw blood at all.  We tried to expose it but he, or the Prince, had bought the weapons judge today.  The poison is allowed.  You must take precaution.  Beware if he crouches low – we suspect that the boot blades may be designed to be sprung free and thrown.  That is all we can do to help you.  May the Spirit of the Great Desert Beast be with you and may you win.”

It may have been spoken from greed and not out of any concern for my welfare yet the words warm me greatly.  In such situations even the smallest kind offer becomes a great gift.  Again, in my heart, I thank them, not being allowed to do so audibly.  I nod a brief acknowledgment.

And with the customary fanfare and trumpet blare the fight is on: time to completely change tactics.  I cannot let Torlat know I am aware of his poisoned cutting blades but I can pretend I am afraid of his skills.  To create this impression I circle him backward, wider than the tight circle I normally use to draw in my opponent and strike, usually allowing him to get in and do some damage.  It’s a dangerous game no matter whom you meet.  Always expect the unexpected.

I circle ever wider, dancing around his attempts at stabbing or cutting, following the movement of his feet by staring in his eyes.  Most opponents do not realize how much they tell by where and how they focus their eyes, even those who pretend.  A quick but deliberate look to the left means a sharp thrust on the right; up means down.  There is more psychology in a fight than actual stabbing and slashing.  You have to get inside the mind – that’s where the outcome is determined.  In the mind is where you win or lose.  I look into his mind.  There is no bravado there, just pure concentration and determination.  And that too can be taken advantage of.  Too much concentration and you break if it leads to an expected move that does not manifest.

The crowd grows restless.  Cries of “Kill her, kill her now, now, now!” bounce from the walls and over into Malefactus’ mad and twisted bones and sinews.  After so many battles, my body hears the calls as music to dance to.  I move with greater alacrity, giving him no chance to come at me, and for many of my improved dancing moves I silently thank Deirdre.  How much she has taught me about my body and my perception of the fluidity within the material world!  I wonder, at times, who trained whom the most!

He is sweating profusely now, unaccustomed to having to do so much walking, running and jumping to try to position himself safely within my defence.  And all I give him is a defensive posture.  I make no move to attack him, just keep drawing him to me and moving away. 

“Kill her now!  Kill her now!  Kill her now!”  They stand and chant until a dozen trumpets near the King’s pavilion call for silence.  The last trumpet calls die and you could hear a fly buzz if there were one.  The silence of fear; fear of that which is in authority over you and can get you killed in most unpleasant ways – strange expression, I know of no pleasant way to be killed.  The King, you see (must maintain the image!) wants to hear the blows ring, not a bunch of crazies yelling.  This would be a truly stimulating time for those who study the art of one-on-one combat.  The Torlat and I are as professional a set of fighters as this place has ever witnessed.  Unfortunately only a few of the minds in the stands can grasp and appreciate the deadly art form in our moves and the terrible beauty of our semi-nude muscular and sweating bodies gleaming in the reflections of the afternoon sun and plasma lighting.  Few can feel respect for the terrible discipline that has created this dance between deadly opposites.

Obviously the King knows why I’m not attacking.  Is he enjoying my performance from up there, observing the fight from his holo imager?  Does he care that in the silence he has imposed, I may or may not prevail against the persistent, now crouching Torlat? 

The crouch! 

Watch his right hand drop to his foot, yes, now!  He’s given me the one chance I so desperately needed.  I jump past his guard and complete the serrated edge swing into his arm, cutting through the cheelth super-skin and severing it even as he draws his blade.  I swing the axe end to end, upend him and spear him just below the rib cage, driving the weapon and the body into the ground.  Leaving the axe embedded, I walk slowly back, refusing to stagger, not letting that all-male crowd have as much as one moment to gloat. 

They will not see I’m tired unto death and weak from loss of blood in the earlier fight.  They will see me walk straight and tall out of the bloody arena once more.  And they will go away nursing their hatred and if possible, take it out on some unfortunate female servant.  Compromised morality… what a price I’m paying and causing others to pay.  The trumpets announce the end of the day’s fighting, unleashing a veritable storm of protests, boos and spitting against the ‘unfair’ results of the battle. 

Where’s the light?  Two “suns” and Malefactus remains the darkest world I have ever encountered.

The second fight has lasted over three hours.  Later the doctor tells me it was the longest one-on-one combat fights ever recorded.  Even as Torlat still twitches on the ground the King rises, ends the tournament and dismisses the unruly crowd with a show of force from several hundred black-clad uniformed and armoured Hyrete police held in readiness.  As the police units file down the aisles in the stands all outbursts cease.  The fans file out to consider their staggering losses and a few to rejoice over their winnings.  Despite the mounting evidence that female fighters will overcome their male challengers on an average of three to one, these sick men cannot believe the evidence, going with their feelings of revulsion and hate; believing women are weaker than men and continuing to place their bets on the male challengers.   

I live another day, and to what end?  For the moment, there is but one end: to save Deirdre.

[end blog post #38]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #37

(from the last post: )His entreaty is genuine.  I reply, “You’ve given me two reasons to come out alive sir.  Deirdre and you.  To be cared for as a slave woman in this place is truly the ultimate gift.  To be cared for by a man?  If I did not honestly believe that all things are possible I’d say to myself, ‘this is impossible; it’s a trick.’  But I believe you.  I want to believe you doctor.  I need to believe you.”

[end blog post #36]


[begin blog post #37]

Chapter 16 – To Save Deirdre

“Let me introduce myself properly to you.  My name is Balomo Echinoza.  My close friends call me Bal for short.  Can you find it in your heart to call me what my friends call me, without fear of reprisal?”

“Doctor Echinoza: that is a beautiful name sir.  It is difficult for me to call a man by a first name.  But I will do it, even if it brings up your anger against me later.”  My words cut him, I know, and I wish I hadn’t said them but the pain of being struck so viciously across the face, and by someone you thought you could trust, a medical doctor, is not so easily dismissed, even now.

“Doctor Echinoza, I have a question I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind for years now.  Why, when I entered my first fight those years ago, did you say to me, ‘We want you to kill him,’ of the pompous dandy who made the challenge?  Can you now tell me who he was and who ‘we’ were, or are supposed to be?  I know that in my own small way I’m part of a subversive process in this society which I understand, but what else am I involved in with you I have no idea what it’s all about?”

He consults his chrono wrist-com.  “We still have a bit of time before the end of your rest break; yes, I can answer your question.  It was discovered by my Cydroids, and related to the King by me that the man was a spy working with his brother to overthrow the legitimate King and install the brother in his place.  This was, of course, before we made the royal switch at the castle.

“This was an opportune time to get rid of the spy without letting the brother know we were onto his intrigues and conspiracy.  You served us well, without knowing.  It was of course not possible for the King to even think in such terms since to them you can only be a fighting animal of high calibre; a wise investment perhaps, but one which he would have soon tired, not having the brother to contend with.  In the course of time you would have been re-sold,  certainly as soon as you showed any signs of slowing down.  The high ones like their fighters not only powerful and agile, but also sexually attractive.  Your efforts to put some entertainment value in your fights have paid off for you and we are grateful.

“Things have changed somewhat now.  Nevertheless “our” king must demonstrate similar traits to the original, and you mustn’t take anything for granted.  I already said the Cydroids can be literal.  Despite their training and understanding of life, they can be as ruthless as any other man here, circumstances demanding.  The pattern to keep for the cloned King is that he readily tires of his concubines and fighters.  He could order your death should that serve his ends.  Now that you have accepted to join us in our attempts to resolve some of the problems of T’Sing Tarleyn, you are part of the “we” I mentioned at the beginning.” 

He frowns as he turns away from me to add, “You may have to die for us yet.  What of that, Antierra?”

My own reply comes instantly, as if I’d though about this much.  “I have known of this likelihood from before the time I arrived on this world and became a slave in Hyrete.  I will die here of a violent death.  I would not be here if I had any doubts about this.  But I did not come here just to die.  I came here as a change agent, a catalyst.  I came to introduce an idea that may grow and change how the women view themselves in relation to men.  You see, I think the sickness you know of does not affect the women.  They are free to change once they understand they are not the ones who are cursed.

“As for you and your people then, it is my understanding that you came here to probe this planet’s energies to discover why this world is apparently “imploding” upon itself, both socially and physically?”

He looks at me in a new way.  He realizes I am two people, a simple slave woman or gora, as caught in the gears of Malefactus as any other woman of this world, and the inscrutable dimension-hopping avatar called Al’Tara and considered by a few of the fighter women to be the reincarnation of their Desert Beast of T’Sing Tarleyn’s ancient lore.  He knows also I am as trustworthy as any member of his Cydroid family or the Cholradil.  But he also knows I possess no superhuman physical abilities apart from the changes he made to my anatomy, that my body and brain functions can be twisted, destroyed. 

He concludes, “Your conclusions about our purpose are quite correct, as I touched on before.  We are concerned and we do want to prevent a total collapse of this world.  I will endeavour to find a way to discuss this with you at length at some future time.  Now remember I have told you these things in complete confidence.  I must trust you now to keep them to yourself, whatever happens between us, whatever is done to you to make you reveal our discussions if my work here is discovered.  You understand?”

“Yes I do Bal,” saying the name thus almost makes me choke with fear, “I will remember.  I know I cannot survive Malefactus but what’s in my mind I will keep.  I won’t let anyone have it.  No force will take it.  I’ve been under torture before, though not by neuro-inductor but we have a way on Altaria to shift our knowledge into parts of our minds that even we cannot access during times of stress or under duress.  It may be the memory of this power will come to me should I need it and I won’t be lying when I say, “Je ne sais rien.”  I do understand that strange ability to lock information possessed by the Cholradil on this world.”

[end blog post #37]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #36

End of last post: … His face turns into a snarl and he lunges.  I parry and slash.  The blade does its work and cuts between the slit in his coat.  Blood gushes from his thigh and he winces, jumps back and prepares for another assault.  He’ll be more careful and more dangerous now. [end blog post #35]

[begin blog post #36

He’s angry more than hurt.  The cut was not life-threatening and did not slow down his movements.  He manages to slice into my forearm but I pull out of his slash in time, replying with another long wide swing that takes him on the shoulder.  To my surprise, the light axe bites through his protective armour and cuts deep into the arm.  He reels back but recovers before I can jump him and administer the slash across the throat I had anticipated.  I get a double cut on the calf of my left leg and now my blood is pouring out.  Were it not for Deirdre’s gift of stim and the cheelth coating in the laces the fight would have ended there – a sobering realization.

Risking it all I pull within his swing and turning as if to drive my pike in his stomach, I balance on my good leg and let the other rise impossibly high – doing those splits everyday may yet pay off – and having activated the hidden sole blade, I bring my leg down again, the tip of my sandal aimed straight at his heart.  This was beyond anything he could have anticipated or any information he may have purchased because I have never used this move since the day I killed that “careless” trainer, and that was pure accident.  As for the blade in the shoe, I can only guess he thought such a weapon too silly to be of any value, the extra weight on the feet not worth the effort and dismissed the concept. Remember what I said earlier about difference? A weapon does not have to be superior if it can help create the unexpected.

He cannot parry the kick in time and doubles over, the look of contempt for me frozen on his face.  I pull my foot back, regain my balance, swing the good edge of my axe and slash swiftly with my remaining strength.  His head is almost completely severed from the neck and I watch the corpse twitch to its death, the bloodied mustache hiding the rictus smile.  I practically eject myself from the fighter trance I’d hypnotized myself into to make myself aware of my surroundings and the sad shape my body is in. The stim is still working and I haven’t begun to feel my pain yet.

Instead of the usual spitting and cries of “Death!  Death!  Death”  there is no sound coming from the stands.  My trainers come and take me down through the tunnel.  Is it over?  I survived and I’m alive?  Same question each time.  You never get used to this even though you tell yourself each time you will return.

After roughly stripping me of my armour they take me to the shower stall and dump cold water on me.  I almost collapse from the shock and pain from my cuts.  I barely hang on to the edge of the trough, bent over, one hand in my mouth to keep from screaming.  Then I’m walked to the doctor’s clinic and again Deirdre is there, having somehow managed to get herself released from the cage.  She is allowed to follow behind, doing so in an uncharacteristically meek way.  Once inside the doctor’s office and the door closed, he helps me on his working table and quickly goes to work cleaning the cuts to cauterize them with a laser pen and sew up the worst ones. 

Deirdre holds me down but nothing is given to ease the pain.  I want to scream with the added pain but I understand the need of it: I have to return to the arena for round two, so they cannot give me pain killers or any other drug that would slow me down, confuse my thinking or knock me out altogether.  I must be able to feel my body, pain and all.  Also speed is of the essence so no luxury of time for another treatment by the auto-med.

“The slave will wait for you outside; I must speak to you alone,” says the doctor.  I sense another of those moods in him and say nothing.  He continues to examine me carefully.  I feel his emotions.  I must be exuding an extra measure of those pheromones.  I sense a kind of admiration mixed with loathing and hate towards me.  He would have taken me, even in my condition, I can easily tell he wants to, but some greater force prevents him.

After taking several deep breaths and running his fingers through his hair he says, “You are the only fighter on the roster today, I must warn you.  The reason is simple.  You belong to House Tassard.  No, you belong specifically to the King.  When you first arrived here in Hyrete and were put up for auction by the freelance slave hunters who found you, his aides came to look you over and when they reported what they saw, the King decided to buy you.”  

So that’s what the brother meant when he said he’d kill the King’s favourite animal.  I am the King’s fighter.  All the years I’d wondered who owned me until finally I gave up trying to find out and learned to concentrate on my purpose.  Interesting.  That explains a lot, especially the gradual ‘perks’ I’ve been granted with training and in weapons design, choices and handling.  I wasn’t alone.

“Wonder not I know these things.  I am assistant to the King on a regular basis.  He it is who orders me to take care of you…  but I cannot be here all the time.  I spend much time in the castle with the King, dealing mostly with the more serious state matters for politically, things are not well in Elbre.  Because I cannot always be here when you need me, I arranged for the Cholradil to be given to you.  We have taught her many new medical skills so she can take care of you when I cannot be here, or when I’m otherwise busy.  She has not spoken to you of these things because we bonded her into silence.  Once so bonded Cholradils cannot violate the trust put into them, however impossibly they be tortured or put through truth probes.  They cannot unlock their information to divulge it outside of their own minds.

“So I must warn you again that today is a special day.  It is adoption day for the King.  He has chosen a son from a specially raised group of boys bred for leadership among the aristocracy.  That is how they get their heirs here.  As a sign of goodwill he has opened the arena seats free to all propertied and moneyed interests who wished to attend and has decreed no taxes would be levied – today only – on any profits made from the gambling.  The King of course, hopes you will win.  He has promised to put his personal winnings in a special account for his son.  Believe me, if you do win, that money will be considerable.

“So it’s a great celebration but on the downside, it became known that his brother has been seeking to kill the King to take the throne.  There was much hate between these brothers – who were boys from different crèches.    It was the brother who contrived to have you fight the drook.  Your death was to cost the King a fortune and was meant to weaken him financially.  When you defeated the drook, the brother lost a fortune to gambling debts and legal claimants to the drook’s wages.  He went into a terrible rage and made a vow to kill you himself – a vow eternally binding upon the person who takes it if taken before three reliable witnesses, which was done.

“So he had you watched and also came to see you fight himself.  He took special training in the axe because, as you said, it is a most difficult weapon for a female to handle.  But he failed to recognize the value of your new designs.  He also underestimated both your strength and endurance though it was your speed that cost him his life.  Now his hireling and aide has, by contract and previous arrangement, to avenge the death.  Your next encounter is against Torlat whom I am told, you have already briefly met?”

“Well doctor, I only saw him.  He did not speak to me, nor did he come near me.  The Tassard did all the talking.”

“That is how it is.  Another warning: he is taciturn, yes, but highly intelligent and thoroughly into hand-to-hand weaponry.  Likely he will prove to be even more formidable and dangerous than the King’s brother.  With this one, I suggest you take your time for the obvious reason: it is easier to outlast a known opponent once you know his basic moves than to take on a new one.  Well, I don’t need to tell you that, it’s just a reminder. Also, since you are the only defender for the day, it’s all a matter of lasting out the time.  The King will terminate the sport once you kill this Torlat if you make it last long enough.  Otherwise the rule is that you must face a third contender to satisfy the requirements of gambling.  Third contender, triple winnings.

If the King leaves, the fighting ends.  So make it last, for your own sake.  They won’t give you any reprieve in terms of time, not after killing the Prince.” 

He suddenly reaches for me, pulls me up so I am sitting and we are face to face.  He puts his arms around me and holds me tightly.  There are tears in his eyes and even in my pain I feel a moving of my heart for him. 

He takes my hand in his, squeezes it.  “I care for you, Antierra.  I have lived here fifteen classic years and I am cursed with this planet’s madness, ‘tis true, but I know in my clear moments that I care much for you.  Please be careful in this next fight.  One at a time; just one at a time.  Remember no one can do what you do.  No one can fight like you and certainly no one knows weapons like you do.  You can win this next fight.  You must win it and you will win it.”   

His entreaty is genuine.  I reply, “You’ve given me two reasons to come out alive sir.  Deirdre and you.  To be cared for as a slave woman in this place is truly the ultimate gift.  To be cared for by a man?  If I did not honestly believe that all things are possible I’d say to myself, ‘this is impossible; it’s a trick.’  But I believe you.  I want to believe you doctor.  I need to believe you.”

[end blog post #36]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #35

[begin blog post #3

Chapter 15 – Royal Politics – a Princely Challenge

Several fights were scheduled for that one week and there was an aura of unusual excitement among handlers and trainers.  Two “fancies” in a decorated carriage come to watch me fight a trainer, and another female gladiator.  They sit on folding chairs they had brought in their “carriage” and their driver waits, standing patiently by the vehicle.  From clear bottles they pull out of a sack on their shoulder, they drink a dark liquid that smells like strong liquor.  When I topple the trainer, one of them holds his bottle to me, laughing. 

Momentarily confused, I freeze and wait for the trainer to regain his feet, all the while staring at the man with the bottle.

“A gift.  You must take.” says the trainer.  So I walk two steps to this stranger and reach for the bottle.  I expect him to do something ignorant, like pulling it away and maybe pulling me off balance, so I stay with my legs apart.  Or he may decide to throw it at me, or hit me with it, but instead he just holds it until I take it.  Not knowing what kind of drink it is, I put it carefully to my lips and taste it.  He smiles thinly at my hesitation, the smile becoming broader when he sees I definitely enjoy the taste of it.  It’s at least as good tasting as the best liquors I have ever had.  I drink slowly, swallowing once and offer it back.  He motions for me to have another swallow.  Then he takes it back.

He stands up then, comes close and touches me on the shoulders, feeling my muscles.  He lifts my arms and raises them over my head then runs his hands over my neck, sides and thighs, feeling here and there.  He bends down and examines my legs and even my feet.  Then he stands up once more to look me in the face.  He put his fingers through my short hair, lifting it and examines my head.

“It’s well made,” he says, addressing the four trainers who had gathered to prevent me from doing anything dumb, like reacting to the prodding.  They had not expected me to remain docile during that examination.  “It’s strong and dangerous.  I’m going to enjoy this one.  Maybe it will give me the satisfaction of lasting longer than the others, eh, Torlat?”  He looks at his dark-faced partner who frowns and sips thoughtfully from his bottle.  “What do you say I fight it with that new axe design, the double-sided one?  Seems like just the thing to cut down a wild beast doesn’t it?” 

Looking at the trainers and throwing them some flashy metallic coins that bounce on the flagstones, he disparagingly adds, “Don’t tire it out.  I want it in the best of shape and fresh tomorrow.  I’ll be the first one on – and my dear brother the King will be there to watch me kill his favourite animal.”

As soon as they hear this is one of the Royal Tassards the trainers all get down on one knee and bow to the fancy.  I just lower my head, not knowing what is expected of me this time.  He grabs my hair and pulls me down.  I could have resisted and gotten flogged.  I go down under his pull and drop to my knees, lowering my head.  He releases my hair and backs away, then flicks a whip from his coat and lashes me viciously across the back, but only once.  I bite my lips to stifle an involuntary cry.  Their boots crunch in the sand, they mount their vehicle and it whooshes off with a powerful whine, describing a sharp banked lift and from the corner of my eye I watch it disappear over the high walls to the east, not towards the King’s castle.  The trainers order me to stand and order me to raise my arms, adding four more lashes to my back to ensure I get the message. 

So, gentlemen, what happened to the Royal’s injunction to not tire me out?  Even such a ‘mild’ flogging will affect my performance.  I shed tears, from pain, from anger close to the edge of rage; from despair.  How can I ever win here?  Bastards.  But there is tomorrow.

Punished for failing in protocol when confronted with royalty.  Now I have bloody welts and will carry new scars as reminders that you unquestioningly and instantly kneel in full obeisance when “royalty” announces itself.  I should have known who he was by the shoes – that he was no ordinary challenger – stupid!  But how would I have known I was supposed to kneel?  How can they expect a “wild beast” to know how to behave before royal men?  Well, this one certainly will from now on.  And that explains the excitement: the King himself, the Royal Tassard, is going to attend the festivities.  And his brother is challenging the most dangerous fighter in Hyrete. 

What did that one mean when he said, ‘my dear brother the King will be there to watch me kill his favourite animal.’  That the king has invested money on the outcome of this fight – against his own brother? 

Deirdre takes care of my cut back with her usual skills, washing the blood with clean cold water.  The water bites into the cuts and I wince with the pain, as does Deirdre.  She manages to “beg” a salve from the medics and for the rest of the day I feel fine but once in the cage when I try to lie down, straw sticks poke the wounds and that hurts more than the actual flogging.  But over the years of experiencing so much physical pain within my body and so much mental torment from the suffering all around me, this is a small thing.  I offer this small additional pain as a gift to myself, using this reminder as a means of scanning the sleeping women’s compound and drawing into myself as much of their pain as I can.  Sorrow is my companion this night.

The biggest problem is my clumsy attempts to hide my pain from the Cholradil.  I should know by now it cannot be done and I have to let her share it, distracting her with loving and with my stories from Old Earth, gentle Altaria and my experiences as a fighter pilot in the Melkiar wars which is not so painful to her because I explain we were fighting machines with no feelings, we were not killing sentient creatures.  She accepts it, but still with great distaste.  I change the subject to a past life when I had my own child, a daughter, whom I raised while living on the banks of a beautiful river of green waters that reflected banks covered in trees.  I tell her of the birds and animals that called from the forests, and of the seals that came to the shore to sun themselves.  I can feel her mood changing and a lifting of her heart.  She falls asleep finally and I hope she is dreaming of a better life than this.   

Too early the next morning three handlers I have not seen before, these wearing blue body-fitting uniforms with gold piping at the shoulders, also never seen in this compound, come for me and order me out of the cage wordlessly, with only hand gestures.  I have a moment of panic when Deirdre is ordered to stay in the cage and about to be locked in but she rapidly opens her hand and there is a stim cube in it.  I quickly palm it and the gate slides shut and locks.  She stands near the gate shivering and biting her hand, her eyes wider than usual, a picture of abject misery.  Quickly using the hand language we have developed to use between ourselves and some of the other fighters in the cages, I motion her to desist and lie down quietly and obediently; that her concern is hurting me and distracting me.  She obeys and I feel better. 

Outside I get the usual cold water treatment, food at the cold, wet table and my first opportunity I get to put the stim cube in my mouth.  A member of the blacksmith group brings my new double-bladed axe and as the light increases I inspect it carefully, swinging it as much to test its balance as to try to warm up and stop shaking.  I roll it in my hands, hold it up and gingerly balance the tip of the spike in my calloused hand to truly gauge its weight.  It is a marvel of engineering and design.  The handle becomes a part of me and I can tell without having to look exactly where the cutting edges are. 

A trumpet sounds and I’m led, still drenched and shivering with the cold, through the tunnel.  There is no sexual advance this time, probably out of fear that the fancy would smell it and feel ripped off.  Such would result in certain punishment.  Or perhaps these new handlers have other, more exotic ways of satisfying their desires; a sex-slave hidden in their barracks, likely. 

Once in the arena, amidst the traditional booing and catcalls I pick up my armour and put it on, involuntarily wincing as it rubs against my fresh welts.  Two trainers adjust my straps and help me with the helmet.  The Royal is already wearing his and I can see it’s of much higher quality than mine – and in violation of their own laws, he wears more protection overall.  My armour consists of a short sleeveless coat (without shoulder protectors) of the super strong and light material they call “cheelth” (pronounced “sheel”) that covers me halfway down my thighs with open side slits for leg movement, an innovation I had to insist upon at great risk of “punishment,” and a helmet with no neck mail protection. 

His armour covers from shoulders all the way past his knees and he wears shoulder, arm and shin protectors as well as boots!  His helmet is equipped with the neck chain mail protector also.

My heart sinks within as I watch him move and easily cover the few exposed parts where I could land a killing blow.  I feel totally exposed and again I experience that edge of wild rage rising within my breast.  I subdue it with a closed eye mantra.  The trainer hands me my own designed “fighter sandals” which I eagerly inspect for the requested retractable blades. I’m thrilled to find them mounted and functioning properly. I slip them on, lacing them up, criss-crossing the thongs all the way up my calves.  Then I notice the top of the sandals and thongs or wide laces, are cleverly made to disguise the very same cheelth material used in the coat.  My confidence returns just as I bite through the stim I’d been casually just sucking on.  Its effects are instantaneous and for a brief moment I feel as if I could take on the entire arena.

As I prepare to meet the Royal Tassard brother, I wonder what happens to the female gladiator who has the mischance to kill a Royal?  Will they ignore her and let her live to fight another day, or will they hound her to death the rest of the day?  Who are the other fighters in the arena that day, I wonder?  I haven’t seen any other gladiator being prepared but me.  Me?  All day?  Best to concentrate on this encounter.  One battle at a time.

The trumpet blares the call to “center” and we walk to center ring to stand opposite each other.  Gone is the pretend camaraderie of sharing a drink yesterday.  He looks me over and says in a low voice – another violation: we are not allowed to speak to one-another –  “You’re as good as dead, pess.  Don’t disappoint me by dying too soon.  I want to have some fun and entertain my dear brother.  Fight well, it will do you no good, krosspeeg.”  The term is used commonly by the women in the compound and I recognize a deformed term from Old Earth English: ‘gross pig.’  A new idea has just been planted in my mind, something to work on later.  There is no doubt in my mind I will have a “later” following this encounter.  I am not so easy to kill as they should all know by now.  There is a depth of strength and resilience in this old girl’s body, especially when the old girl remembers to keep her mind on the work at hand.

I think of Deirdre.  I think of her as if she were the one who was going to be killed and I was the one who could defend her.  So this is for her, not for me.  I have to return to her, no matter what I must do for it – I must live through this fight and through this day. 

We raise our weapons.  The next trumpet announces the start of the match and we are at each other.  He knows how to fight and is expert at handling the long handled axe, but then I knew as much.  We circle each other warily, feinting, jumping and slashing.  The axes ring against each other and I notice that his is heavier than mine, of a different design and make.  The handle is longer by several thumbs, another violation of strict arena rules.  Why not, I think bitterly, you don’t become a member of the elites by obeying rules and laws – that is for the despised sheep.

The discrepancies in weaponry and armour do not matter that much.  To a professional fighter a difference is often an advantage if noticed in time.  Now I can evaluate him and gage his abilities. He is not much stronger than me, so we are even there.  I’m much faster, as well as taller and longer-limbed, so I have the advantage there.  The weight of his axe will help him only if he strikes when I’m off-balance or tiring but it will slow him down.  I weigh my options as we perform our death dance.  I have to bring him down quickly, before he tires me out.  I will bring him down, I have given myself no other choice: I do not die today.  And that, psychologically, is a powerful place to be: to have no choice but to perform to the uttermost of all your skills and abilities.  To strip yourself of everything else in the moment and become all that your “cornered beast” self must do to overcome: total focus of energy, not an iota of waste.

‘Sorry guy,’ I say to myself, ‘but I may have to lessen some of your fun here.  After all, this is my place, not yours, you know, home turf advantage and all that.  These idiots in the stands, they don’t know it, but they are cheering for me, not you.  You are Royals and deep down they hate you and your effete, inbred ways which they support through endless thievery and oppression.’  I decide to rile him by smiling at him as we come close enough to be face to face for a fleeting moment.  His face turns into a snarl and he lunges.  I parry and slash.  The blade does its work and cuts between the slit in his coat.  Blood gushes from his thigh and he winces, jumps back and prepares for another assault.  He’ll be more careful and more dangerous now.

[end blog post #35]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #33

(Another excerpt, this one gives some insight into Antierra’s not so subtle exhortation to the women fighters, but also into the background of weapons design and construction. Words are fine but what will speak the loudest to the fighters is “new and improved” weaponry, and this is Antierra’s discovered forte.)

[begin blog post #33]

Chapter 14 – The Forge

On the surface life resumes its pace in cages, compound and arena.  The auto-medic has done a great job of repairing my body while leaving all the obvious scars received previously.  With renewed hope that I will be able to work out a scheme to rescue Deirdre from the arena, I work out with increased strength and vigour.  I am able to continue my unofficial training of new fighters while Deirdre is left to attend kitchens and tables, as well as the cleaning of the stalls.  Although she must still take her turn in the line-ups for training, all of it takes place with me and I know not to press her.  She does her amazing moves, to the continuing delight of the male watchers and I pretend they are part of the weapons handling.  No doubt the male trainers and handlers would not mind if all the young trainees performed as does Deirdre the trained entertainer.  She is very popular with the men, naturally and certainly doesn’t mind it.  She is also happier than I’ve ever seen her.

Long ago I had wondered why these nubile young women did not get pregnant from constant sexual intercourse.  I was told we are given contraceptives in our food, it is that simple.  Only rarely does this not work and a woman becomes pregnant.  If she cannot quickly abort in the cages and is discovered, it means death.  She cannot report her condition to a medic to be given a proper abortifact.  Any female who has the constitution to overcome the effect of the contraceptives is considered a danger to the system and must be disposed of.

A gora cannot, by statute, give birth.  This is the sole preserve of the birthers.  No ‘wild’ children legally permitted on any part of Malefactus, so I’m told.  Again you see how legalism is twisted to fit the needs or wants of those in power.  A woman who gives birth to a wild child is killed along with her child.  She has no recourse in this matter.  However if the child survives and is captured at an age where it can be sold into some sort of usefulness it is automatically entered in the system in some capacity as a slave.  As on Túat Har, it appears some stack worlds are also infected by the power of money to control ruling forces, even when such control makes absolutely no sense.  Money is here exposed for the destructive and corrosive virus that it is and if people made the effort to see this, it would lose its power to destroy. But greed causes spiritual blindness and none are so blind as those who will not see but by their faith in the system convince themselves they have the greater sight by simply purchasing their claim to the greater right.

Whether training or fighting, I find it ever more difficult to keep my mind from Deirdre.  Part of it is pure carnal “love” and it’s easy to recognize that weakness, but there is more.  A part of me is with her all the time.  My work; my long-time process towards becoming a compassionate being, though severely curtailed here, has somehow attached itself to her empathic nature and we’ve become a “one” of sorts.  This pleases me, yet annoys me also.  She has too much power over me, made the worse because she is neither aware of it, nor would she want it if she knew of it. Despite the pain of loss I will feel, I will only become whole again when (not ‘if’ – I never allow myself to think ‘if’) she leaves this planet.

More weeks pass.  I’ve decided it is in my best interest, and Deirdre’s, to add some entertaining aspects into my fighting.  I need to prolong the days I am considered a good bet in the arena.  Now would be a bad time to be earmarked for termination in a killing orgy.  I know I can outlast any contender since I have access to the stim which I get from Deirdre and which she procures by whatever means.  I suspect she has seen the doctor and has made arrangements that are seen to by the Cydroids.  Likely the stuff comes from some channel through the court.  There is an understanding between us that we do not speak of certain things.  Quite naturally I do not dwell on the fights in the arena and she does not tell me what she must do to procure the drug I need.  Nor do we touch on our sexual encounters with men, hers being on the increase, mine, well, quite obviously going the other way!

My body feels like its old self without the pain and the stiffness.  I can couple the speed and suppleness of youth with nine years of grueling experience in arena fighting.  I feel more confident also in the fact I’ve been given more autonomy in weapons maintenance and re-design.  Nothing major but enough to upset contenders.  And I’ve trained on that horrible axe with the knowledge that myself, or one of us, would be forced to use it in a fight.  I push the women to become more proficient in handling their weapons.  Become one with your weapon, I continually remind them; love your weapon.  I wait for the doubts to be expressed by trainees and fighters alike and demonstrate while teaching this ancient art. 

“As you would not normally drop your arm, or your leg, in a fight, so you cannot drop the weapon that is a part of your body, an extension of the physical you.  To accomplish this feat you have to learn that you, the fighter, are not a physical being.  You, the fighter, cannot be killed since you are an immortal mind.  Once you accept this, you will know the truth of it and be forever aware that your whole body and whatever appendages it possesses, is a weapon. 

“Your brain extends to the end of your sword blade, or the pike on the end of your staff.  You can feel the life of it throughout every part of you.  Now your ego self, your energy interpreter, is able to tell your extended body exactly what your mind is directing it to do.  You, the etheric, the shadow fighter, the immortal mind, directs the fighting from a place that is totally inaccessible to the challenger.  He, or they, cannot see you at all.  They can only see your weapons.  The same is true for those spectators in the arena.  Ignore them all, they have nothing to do with the purpose for which you fight. 

“I assure you that if you cannot reach this state of mind you are not a fighter, just another arena victim to be overcome, wounded and gloated over; to be raped and finally tortured to death for the gratuitous entertainment of the spectators. It is time, fighters of Hyrete, that we move beyond this lowly animal status and reclaimed our true selves.  We are not goras, we are ahyas! If we do not move ourselves forward, we are dead.” 

Thus do I continuously exhort them to excel, and to reach beyond anything they believe themselves able to accomplish.     

We have our own “blacksmith” in the compound; not so much in an individual as in a crew committed to producing the highest quality hand to hand combat weapons as well as experimenting with new ideas.  They keep their forge in a far corner of the training compound where some highly combustible odourless, colourless gas is piped in to fuel the forge fires; another interesting piece of technology in this otherwise backward and medieval world.

I am permitted to go there without asking permission now, and can enter the enclosure of the forge itself if one of the men inside escorts me in, reporting to the handlers’ office that he’s got me in hand.  Yes, they have voice communicators they use over short distances, but they do not have datacoms.  Those seem reserved for the elites and security forces.

The blacksmith group enjoys the challenges I give them, always eager to learn more about weaponry.  Even I wonder sometimes where my exotic tastes and natural skills in such a barbaric art form come from.  If I did not have a good working knowledge of information drawn from past lives I’d be confused.  For now, I credit my creativity in weaponry to my many incarnations on Túat Har; Old Earth, the center of the greatest “generic” and mindless violence I’ve ever experienced as a wandering Avatari.  Take pride in that, Earthians! You remain unchallenged masters of gratuitous violence expressed as psychopathy!  

I begin my work with the blacksmiths by trying to describe a proper axe handle.  They even allow me to draw an outline of one in the sand – after I query the danger of breaking the taboo on drawing or writing.  They look at one-another and smile.  The one I take to be the chief smith, a barrel-chested older man with a chest as woolly as a sheep, says:

“We follow somewhat different rules here, slave.  We be not as brain dead as your trainers and we not be slaves to dead gods and dead laws.  There be no danger for you here, you try no tricks.  You do, we beat you, maybe make you taste the red hot steel on pretty lips.  You savvy?” 

I understand their language is not motivated by hate or even a sense of superiority.  It’s just the way of it.  Cover your ass by explaining what goes, what does not.  For them what else could I be but a nameless gora?

As to my axe handle design, it’s a no go.  It leaves them utterly perplexed and perhaps just as well.  I have thought of a better idea. 

“Forget it,” I say.  “Here, put a hand stopper on the handle, like about here.”  I hold it three quarters of the way back from the blade end.  “Make  that longer,” I demonstrate by holding the straight handle vertically against my body, holding it to my elbow with my arm down.  “Now can you affix a short, sharp pike with a cutting edge on the end?” 

“That we can do, and a pleasure that is.  You truly have the Beast in you.  With our weapons you kill – we get credit.  More money for good steel and fuel for the forge, that is good.  What more you need?” 

[end blog post #33]

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #32

(Looks like I missed a day… oh well, can’t always be at the grindstone.  Sorry it’s taken so long to get through this dialogue between the Fighter and the Doctor, but this should be the last post on that… for now.  Going back to the fighters’ compound next.)

[begin blog post #32]

‘Indeed doctor’, I think to myself as I release Deirdre so he can remove my gown to inspect the auto-medic’s work.  He is pleased at how well my internal wounds have been repaired. 

As I wrap myself up again I ask, “What about King Tassard, doctor?  Who is he, really?  Another member of your network masquerading as King of Elbre?”

He smiles broadly at my words, obviously pleased with something.  “Perceptive!  He’s a pure clone, not combined artificial intelligence.  We made the switch very recently, at great risk.  His brother suspected the existence of our network and was suspicious of my close relationship with the king.  He worked for years to expose me before his brother only to be foiled by my spies.  Even had an assassination attempt done on me, foiled by XBA6, my best guard in disguise.  The assassin was quietly dispatched, the blame foisted upon the city’s riff-raff.  Investigations came to nothing.” 

“Where is the real king now?”

“Having the time of his life learning to be human on Koron.  I am joking, of course.  He’s not happy at all, so I’m told, but doesn’t remember much of his previous life as king.  I’m afraid we had to do some drastic re-programming on that one, or our women would have made short shrift of his priapic leanings and unwanted attentions.  Our world is heavily defined by intellect and gender has little to do with how power is shared on it.  I would say that men and women are by and large on par in our social interactions; definitely so in our laws which make no exceptions for gender, or gender preferences.  Lesbian relationships as you have here among the fighters and homosexual companions are common and completely recognized, accepted and legal, even in our religious institutions.  By the way Antierra, do you have any idea how many Cydroids we have here?”  he adds with a sly smile.

“Well sir, I’ve only seen two.  Why?”

“It’s important that you realize you’ve seen much more than two!  They keep changing.  All the males look the same, as do all the females, except when they are in disguise.  Naked it is impossible to tell them apart.  Some of your handlers and trainers can be Cydroids.  They program themselves to fit into the Malefactus mindset as per instructions.  One of them was involved in the death flogging of that poor girl you witnessed so long ago.  He did not perform the flogging, but he observed it.  Thus they avoid detection and serve me (and the group I’m connected to on Koron) as spies.  There is always at least one watching you – and your little lover friend.  We have female Cydroids in key positions, but because women do not wear clothes, we cannot have more than one in any place at any one time.  There is one in the kitchen.  She rotates with another every two days or when safe to do so.”

“Quite an organization.  To what end, doctor?”

“I believe basically the same as yours from what you’ve told me.  We feel Malefactus is in trouble internally.  Maybe a mini-black hole at the core, like a cancer, beginning to eat the planet.  Or something else.  Weather patterns indicate all is not well.  The seas are withdrawing, as if sucked into a bottomless crack.  The desert is expanding exponentially to the north and the south is cooling.  Snow, a complete anomaly on this world, has been reported at the south pole.  Much loss of indigenous life noted as well as increasing planetary changes that have no natural explanation and to our minds, threaten the life of this world, not just that of its denizens.  If it involved only the people themselves, we could possibly ignore the problem.  In the end, even if the people destroyed themselves the planet would remain to provide balance in the system.  Our research indicates that may not be all.  We fear the planet itself is disintegrating from within as from a malignant tumour and we are no closer to discovering the cause of it.”

“So Koron’s concern is that the death of Malefactus would cause a serious problem in what you call your constellation of twelve worlds?”

“It’s a matter of balance, isn’t it?”

He stabs me with a deep probing look.  I stare back, overcoming my natural fear of him.

“Yes sir, it is a matter of balance, always.  But balance is more than physical, I can attest to that.  It is also of mind and of spirit.  Without balance of mind doctor, no other type of balance can be achieved.  But there is another thing that is threatening the balance of these worlds, and that is Koron’s ability to travel through space now.  Do you know if any other of my so-called stack worlds also possess space travel, or may be in the process of developing space programs?”

“We have not investigated any other world but this one.  Our probes indicate we are currently the only world in this sector with space flight capability.  This could change at a moment’s notice, since our technology was plucked from our space, so could any world who developed basic space travel to reach, say, a moon, encounter a lost jump scout ship or perhaps even an x-ram drive, huh? 

Assuming his questions are not rhetorical, but that he is seeking answers, I reply as candidly as I know how.  “All very good questions to which there is no answer as yet.  As Antierra, I feel such a possibility is not only likely, but imminent.  However as an Avatari I say that the Supremacy is not going to discover this dimension under its current agenda.  There are greater forces than stack worlds, Supremacies and Melkiars or United Space Commands overseeing the greater movements of worlds and their lifeforms.  Earth is important in the greater scheme of things and she needs her stack worlds to maintain a sense of purpose and directions as regards her evolving pseudo-humans.

“Despite the efforts of the many residents of these worlds, Earth and adjunct “stacks” are being protected from outside interference and remain hidden, at least for the time being.  As Avatari we do not constitute “outside” influence since we are bona fide residents of these worlds and our full intent is to protect them by teaching and example to help them evolve beyond their crass selfish understanding.  Our purpose is to demonstrate to them the necessity of seeing life beyond simply the bagging of cheap resources and energy by preying upon the natural environment, including the defenceless elements of society to provide instant gratification.  Our purposes on these worlds is primarily to move them from their current predator-prey conditioned reflex action to an increasing awareness of the sacredness of life.  Ultimately doctor, changing the mindset of a stack world changes the mindset of the primary world. That is why I’m here.   

“The greater need for balance is in the transfer of mind and spirit energies.  Stacked worlds provide support for a base world’s developing ISSA population.  The people who die on base worlds need a place to go, a proper home.  They cannot be let loose upon open space for two very good reasons.  One, they’d be enslaved or destroyed by alien forces their minds would encounter and not be able to deal with.  Two, if they found a settled human world and were able to be re-born there in a child, they would be carriers of all the evils they have experienced and for many, quite enjoyed, while living on Earth.  Billions of entities would be let loose upon unsuspecting galactic worlds and beyond.  So the stack worlds were developed to house these Earthian minds, according to their belief systems and their basic nature.  Every inhabitant of a stack world bar none was once an Earthian and most, if not evolved enough mentally will be one again.  With mind unchanged, there is but one way out of a stack world, doctor, and that is to return to your base world. On Earth they call it karma. There you are once more given freedom of choice, something not so easily found in the stacks; in these absolutist worlds. 

“I hope that my explanations, though unacceptable to you, do make some sense?”

“You have given me much to think about Antierra.  I can see why we have crossed paths here.  A part of me wants to accept what you say because there is a kind of strange logic to it all my mind can appreciate.  Overall, however, your understanding of this part of the universe is, to me, quite off the wall if you know what I mean.  You are saying that even I, however long I may live, must ultimately leave everything I’ve done on Koron and here on T’Sing Tarleyn and “return” to a world I come from which I don’t remember at all; which according to our probes does not exist; and there be born a child, not remembering any of this past?  I fail to see the point of all that.”

“I know it sounds fantastic and not just a little ridiculous, but that’s the set-up we are all a part of, for better or worse.  The part about not remembering, doctor, is not quite true.  Anyone can remember, it’s but a matter of overcoming the old programming and get past the reticence to engage the “unthinkable” and opening oneself to the greater forces at play in our cosmos.  We are all so much more than we allow ourselves to believe, doctor.

“There is also this to consider when you think about all of this: that all of us ISSA’s in the making are potential Avatari.  Any spirit-mind involved in the betterment of life for others gravitates, or better said, evolves both spiritually and mentally to that place of greater knowing.  I can tell you this, that some who have been of the Avatari long eons of time are now ready to move into the next higher dimension of living expression.  While I have only an inkling of an idea what that means, or what it entails, it is there for all of us.  We are, as living entities, in a fascinating event, doctor.  We are not stuck in some questionable concept of life to just make the best of it.  Every place where we land is but a launching pad to another.”

“Ah, you make it sound so simple… uh, Altarian!  I wish I had the propensity to just draw a line across all that I believe and accept your words at face value.  But I cannot.  Maybe in time.  As you said earlier, believe all things, believe in nothing.”

“Yes, in time and beyond time.  You will remember this conversation and you will know.” 

[end blog post #32