(Sorry, a bit late on posting this next segment. Enjoy anyway!)
It is the way of it.
And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us. How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people? They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.
[end blog post #42]
[begin blog post #43]
Chapter 19 – “Ich diene”
The training session and meal over we are returned to our cages. Later, Deirdre is let in. I realize that it is going to be during that interim tomorrow night I’m to be let out of my cage by a Cydroid disguised as a trainer or handler and Deirdre will be carried out into the desert; that I won’t see her after tomorrow. Even more painful, I’m sworn to silence and cannot tell her that as of tomorrow we won’t be together and may well never see each other again in the flux of space/time.
Long ago I swore to myself I would learn of detachment. On Altaria I went on many long walks, quests for peace of mind and steadiness of heart. As I surveyed the beauty of my world I practiced the art of detachment. Altarians number in the billions all over many worlds. Only a relative few ever remain on Altaria, for it is not a permanent place for us, just our port in the galactic oceans. It is a place of rest between assignments we give ourselves. Some of us, particularly those who are called ‘WindWalkers’ or ‘Avatari’ can be gone for millions of years, even more, before we find our way back home. We are galactic wanderers, sailors of space. Yet when we come home we can get attached to its gentleness, softness, peace, tranquility, but mostly it’s the complete lack of pain or suffering or sense of loss we get attached to. It can become difficult to leave again. So we are taught detachment by the few ancients who remain there to care for those who return, to heal the minds and encourage those who must leave again.
I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion. I think the ancients know this too, but allow us to discover it on our own. They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested. A truly detached ISSA, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron.
Now I’m losing the love of my life; of this particular life. I’ve done all I could to see her leave, knowing she has no future here. And tomorrow evening I’ll watch her go and never see her again. My heart is already tearing apart as I feel her against me and smell her breath and skin; listen to her soft breathing and the rustling of her toes in the dry straw as is her habit to grasp straws in her toes and twirl them.
“Practicing dexterity and flexibility.” she explained to me long ago. “They taught us never to stop pushing our abilities to do things with our bodies, impossible moves are not impossible.” She can tie knots with her toes; stand straight up with only one hand on the ground. Do at least ten back flips without missing a beat, even jumping over obstacles while doing it; casually throw a leg over her head and turn her head back almost a full one hundred and eighty degrees. She makes incredible faces to make the saddest person laugh – if it were permitted here.
“What’s wrong Antierra?” She breaks into my train of thought, sensing my disquiet and inner pain.
I reply instantly, without hesitation, according to the advice I’ve received from the Cydroid. ‘Feign anger.’
“I’m angry from today’s sessions. I think some fighters are getting lazy or stupid and won’t fight properly. As if they want to die. I’m upset at the twins for what they have become. I blame the chakr. Maybe they get too much.”
“It’s not the drug and you know it. They can’t help themselves, Antierra. Once they taste the killer juice inside their heart and find they like it, they are killers. You should be thankful that you trained them well enough to survive their instinctive drives, no? And that you were able to change the rules to let them fight as a team? What more did you hope to accomplish? They survived their first fight and they were so intensely proud. They saw they had power too, a power that had been denied them as concubines. It is the price we all must pay if we would reach a new level of understanding. All of us, even you, must be prepared to pay a price.”
I want to scream at her when she utters those words. Indeed, even I must be prepared to pay a price to reach my next level of understanding. Indeed! Ha, young one, the things you have yet to learn. I bite my lip to refrain from saying anything at all. After I regain some of my composure I say,
“Let’s not talk anymore. Just be with each other and let this day slip away and the new one come. Let me hold you.”
We hold each other and eventually fall asleep to be awakened by the handlers as if today was to be just another day.
There is unusual activity in the training compound. Liveried King’s men come and commandeer a whole squad of guards and they walk off. Handlers and trainers watch, as dumbfounded as the rest of the fighters and trainees. Only I (and whatever Cydroids are among us) know what is going on and I try to concentrate on my work. I drive my charges ruthlessly. I especially seek out the one I had talked to the day before and take her on.
She whispers to me,
“I think about what you say. You be correct. I fight, I live. I find secret place. I be best you ever train. I be no coward.”
“Good.” That is all I can say. I’m a welter of scattered emotions projected by feelings I have no control over. I press the girl a few times, motion for a male trainer to take over and walk to the long line of water-tight cabinets where the real fighting weapons are kept locked. They have been unlocked for my inspection for I have the eye for damage or imperfection on blades of all sorts. A gift from some dark past life? More than likely. I pretend to be absorbed in inspecting each one but really, I feel sick. I’m afraid. Truly afraid. More afraid even than I’d ever experienced back when I was a child on my last natural incarnation on Old Earth in C-20. Fear: a familiar feeling I never thought I’d encounter again after the horror of the Melkiar wars.
Suddenly I long for one of those days during the end of those wars when we chased them across parsecs of space, sometimes being chased by them and more often cornering them and destroying them. My crewmates called me cold then. I spent all my waking time – considerable because of the Altarian training which can keep the body awake and fully functioning for days on end without food, stims or drugs of any kind – sweeping the deceptive emptiness of space, always searching for our invisible enemy hiding in his energy shielding cloaking devices.
Speaking of enemy I do not mean only the external enemy. The great enemy of any ISSA is always beside you; walking with you, shadowing you or chattering in your ear. I’d lay in my restraining harness in zero-g of a jump scout, feeling the vibrations of the drive through the infrastructure of the machine and ‘it’ would be there with its constant suggestions to give in to personal desires and search for additional comforts or credits for ‘work well done’ as it was wont to repeat. It would have been easy to fall asleep, not only in the harness, I mean really fall asleep. To let my mind return to the accepted ways of Old Earth, to the drugs of endless deceptions that lead nowhere; to promises, to trust, to hope, to love, to faith, to anything but hard self-empowerment.
Some of the male crew at first sought me out for sex and romance… or both; female crew numbered in the minority on most ships and men will be men. I ignored them. Those who insisted, I bathed in a frigid aura of Vaxdali polar ice. What can I say? I may have looked like an angel to some of those males, but angels have their own personalities and mine missed out when they handed out the “nice, sweet and warm” programming during that reincarnation. I overdosed on ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ instead.
I brought it up, so let me explain a bit about ‘Vaxdali.’
Vaxdal (as recorded in the database documents of the Supremacy) is a great ice world at least six times the size of Old Earth and orbits a distant sun beyond the far reaches of Orion. It’s g-force is a crushing 1.8 times that of Earth. It is inhabited by ice wraiths, mammoth-sized white to brown, thick-haired humanoid creatures that burrow and live miles under Vaxdal’s ice cover and feed on mineral deposit, so it is believed according to bits of unreliable data picked up from remote sensors. It has been impossible to record the number of Vaxdali who inhabit that world. Anywhere from a few thousands to possibly a billion or even more. Again, all computer-generated data not backed by any real solid research.
Despite the terrible dangers of flying low in Vaxdal’s atmosphere and getting trapped and pulled down by its g-force and immense magnetic storms, small groups of human sightseers with more money than brains irregularly charter trips to that place just for a computer-enhanced chance glimpse at a surfaced herd of wraiths, or Vaxdalis. The Supremacy does not permit landing on this world and no method has yet been devised to safely set down investigators, archaeologists or anthropologists. It is believed in the non-scientific circles of FreeNet jabber that the Vaxdalis are pseudo-human cannibals. Who would know? ‘Final Frontier’ legends, most likely. But you’d laugh to see the corny and idiotic holorec and infovid F/X they’ve done on that one world alone. Old Earth is not the only place where people seek mindless entertainment just for a chance to forget their current reality and not have to deal with it.
Back to my story.
I had no desire then for sexual contact with anyone, male, female or other – yes we get ‘other’ in many forms, especially androids who can be very persuasive and seductive. I had no desire to get close to anyone. I had a purity of desire to accomplish something. The wars were dragging on and holding me back and I wanted to end them. But it wasn’t the Melkiars I sought. I had something deeper in mind. I wanted to drink and eat detachment; to be able to function among a close-knit body of humans without being affected by their lower emotions. I had a vision of the cosmos waiting for me to explore. Of moving through dimensions without a body, incarnating here and there as needed: unattached yet able to feel, but in a non-personal way. Seeking knowledge and adding to the great store of it. Being “me” everywhere and anywhere – always free from any attachment beyond my own quest; my own thirst for knowledge.
I dreaded the idea of having someone, a mate, a child, in tow. Love? No thank you. Been there, done that; don’t work as we used to say! What I dreaded more than anything was the inescapable, constant drag of human emotional baggage.
In a way I got my wish. We were scouting a round in a complex field of tumbling asteroids and debris caused by the destruction of a moon, I and my android partner A. Kale at the controls of a Class B destroyer when we came under blitzkrieg attack. Two Melkiars dove at us literally from within a hollowed out asteroid where our sensors had, for a quantum moment, been blinded. Taking us in a pincer move they jointly blasted us just as we returned a barrage of fire-power that blew up both of the Melkiars and the asteroid to cosmic dust.
But we had received a killing blow. Com was dead. Life support non-functional and the aft section where the suits are kept in readiness had been sliced off along with our drive, not that those suits would have done much good without a ship or contact with fleet.
All twenty of our crew complement died within minutes from shock and exposure as what remained of our ship careened out of control and pulverized itself in the maze of the asteroid field, along with our three androids who otherwise would have shut themselves down and could have been recovered by the inevitable search that would follow. Ah, bitter moment to sweet oblivion.
I reincarnated on Altaria as I had pre-planned. I felt no loss, no remorse. For me the wars were over. I would not be tempted to return. I planned my next adventure based on some promises I’d made to a world and a people that had given me so much and deserved better than what it was getting from fate.
Fate, yes. Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma. Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again. The people would never know but she would know. She would be grateful. “Ich diene.”
[end blog post #43]