Tag Archives: Fiction

Antierra Manifesto-Blog post #70

(from blog post #69…)
I have resolved this moral question in my mind thus.  If I perform an evil act against another to prevent a greater evil, that is acceptable providing such an act, if successful, does not in any way benefit me personally.  Ideally such an act would bring about the desired effect while I, like the Phoenix, would be sacrificed in its fiery wake.  It is important to understand this when faced with all such moral dilemmas.  If I survive the ‘doing right by wrong’ act, I must atone for my part in it.  If it benefits me, I must divest myself entirely of any and all such gain. 

Having reminded myself of this process in my mind, I continue explaining these difficult concepts.
End blog post #69
___________________________
Begin blog post #70

“This I know Tiki.  I not do it to please me.  I not do it to hurt man.  I not do it to show me is better fighter.  I do it to teach.  I do it for all women.  I know, after I kill Warmo, I die soon.  Is my way to say I sorry for killing.  I not take pleasure of killing in my heart or mind when I leave.  I be free of all killing suffering.  And I be free of sorrow.”

“Sorrow mean pain, suffering?”

“No.  Sorrow mean you feel all pain and suffering other feel, not you.  You take to you what other feel, like Cholradil, only you do because you choose to do, not because your heart make you.  Sorrow is great secret power.  You know good feeling?  Pleasure?”

“Yes, like you give to me.  Good feeling.  I happy with you.”

“There is greater good than this feeling Tiki.  There is what great spirits call ‘joy.’  Is happy in all things, all time, no matter feel good or bad, still always happy.  Now I teach you something only great spirits know.  If you accept sorrow in heart, other suffering, other pain, take to you like hurt child, then when it settles down to nipple to suckle milk, it change.  It become joy to you, see?  Child change hurt to happy inside you.  No need for outside change.  This happen inside.  Joy always inside, never outside.”

“Huhmmm…?”  She taps my arm again, indicating she does not understand.

“I explain this way.  You outside in cold rain naked.  Feel bad.  Many other women outside in cold rain also.  All feel bad.  You say, ‘Tiki, you forget your feel bad, take all other feel bad from other people, put inside your heart to make all feel better.’  Now you feel terrible pain; now all the people pain inside Tiki heart.  Now you hold pain there, like baby in stomach.  Feel sorry for all the pain.  What happen is soon you feel warm, even in cold rain.  No longer is cold rain hurting Tiki.  Soon other people they not feel cold rain so much.  Tiki make miracle; take cold rain, change to better.  This called ‘compassion’ and this all great spirits have for healing all hurt and suffering.  So great spirits they not hurt or suffer but they have deep sorrow and this turn to joy in great spirit heart.  Secret power; greatest power in the All World.

“This power where I come from long, long ago; where also much suffering; we call true love.  Not many great spirits in worlds.  Not many understand.  Right name for true love is compassion.  You understand this?”

“Com – pash – shon.  True love.  I not feel sorry for Tiki, only for other have pain.  Have to be very strong woman to have com… pashon.  If all pain is because people do evil, still have compashon, still love people?  Still take people pain in heart to heal and find happy joy?”  

“Tiki very intelligent and understand.  That is how it supposed to work.  Yes, take very, very strong woman to do real love.  Not many strong people like that.  Not many are compassionate people.” 

“Compashonat?  Compashon is name thing; is have thing.  Compashonat is being thing, yes?” 

‘Amazing,’ I think to myself.

All the while we are talking low; while the storm is slowly abating and we are wrapped in the warm fresh straw and the warmth of our bodies I can visualize her eyes shining in the dark with each input of new information, each new idea, each new concept.  I can feel her surging with the anticipation that these teachings will change her life and her world.  It is as if I had introduced her to a new magic weapon to train on and take with her in the arena to defeat her opponents. 

In Tiki’s mind there is yet no place for personal defeat.  All she knows of life comes down to this:  being abused and hurt, fighting back, rolling with the punches, overcoming every odd by whatever means and rising to the surface to breathe fresh air.  Push her under and like a balloon she will surface between your arms, or somewhere else but she will surface. 

Yes, this one is the Gift.  Now a great part of my quest on T’Sing Tarleyn, land of man; T’Sing Taleya, land of woman; T’Sing Tallala, land of Freedom and Hope,  is accomplished.  I’m reaching the bottom of my personal ledger for my own fulfillment of promises. 

In the dark while Tiki slides off my body to lay beside me to cradle her head in the comfortable hollow of my shoulder and sleep, I bow silently and offer my own sacred prayer.  ‘To whomever may hear, or care, help me to not fail in my last steps.  Help me to climb that steep stone stairway where the priest waits with the ritual knife of holy sacrifice.  Let my offering be pure.’

The wind moans and a tear in the clouds reveals the wan light of Albaral for a brief moment.  Another portent?  A warning, yes.  A deadly warning.  Something, someone, knows of my intent for this world and for Earth and is doing everything it knows how to defeat me in my intent.  Ah well, I’m sure that on some etheric plane, as we battle for the souls of worlds, we are evenly matched.  As evenly matched as I with Warmo on this plane. 

Thus I close my thoughts and slip into gentle, dreamless sleep.  I have finally found a moment of peace on Malefactus, thanks to these two extremes: the Warmo on one end of the see-saw, I on the other end, and Tiki and all the women of Malefactus as fulcrum in the middle. 

End blog post #70

We the People: a Grim Fairytale

[a short story by  ~ burning woman~ ]

Once upon a time (well, that is the usual opening for a fairy tale, is it not?) there was an empire that covered an entire world. It was not a peaceful empire, in fact it was terribly dysfunctional. However, the kings and other rulers of the various kingdoms, duchies and quaint inventions called “nations” liked it that way.

There were endless wars which greatly benefited the elites and allowed the peasants and serfs or citizens to pretend at being “somebodies” by fighting and killing each other on a regular basis. For that world such behaviour was considered entirely normal. People who thought otherwise and who refused to fight and kill their neighbours were classed as traitors and in some periods, were executed, in others simply jailed. One thing for sure, at all times they were mocked and called cowards.

Such conditions are conducive to bringing forth cowardly and corrupt leadership and at times some group of people would overthrow such leaders and change the status of their land from, say, a kingdom or a colony to, say, a democracy. None of them actually understood what a democracy was since there had never been any to learn from, but they made it up as they went along and lo and behold, before they knew what had happened, their “democracy” had become a totalitarian regime quite identical to what their history books told them of the times before their revolution.

But, they cried, how can this be when it is “We the People” who decide how things should be run? So they talked, loud and vociferously about the role that “We the People” played in this drama and why things had turned on them. They blamed one-another for failing to vote, or for supporting the wrong party and those who were blamed, blamed right back. They blamed the politicians, well, of course! They blamed their elites, just as their forebears did. The problem was that now the elites operated with impunity within the democracy that “We the People” had presumably set up precisely to prevent such a thing from happening.

As things heated up, there even began talk of another revolution. It was a lot of angry talk and no one really knew how to bring about a revolution. It seemed that would require much organization and really, no one was up to jump starting such an irrevocable step. They needed the support of “We the People.”

In keeping with the propaganda relating to the previous revolution, it seemed logical that once again it would be “We the People” who would have to rise up, overthrow the entire corrupt system of religion, government and finance/business, and establish a new system. That made sense, so those with the loudest voices decided to bring “We the People” together.

And children, that is when those who wanted a revolution discovered that “We the People” was a complete chimera. There was no such thing as “We the People.” The idea that a majority core group held the real power of the democracy had always been pure propaganda by the two-party system of government so that the people would continue to believe that at the heart of it a legitimate, patriotic, educated, aware watchdog group of citizens kept tab on its government and had a tight leash on its politicians.

It was a terrible blow to the ego of those who would stop the corruption to discover that there had never been a “We the People” force in the land but exactly the opposite: a ragtag collection of people who distrusted one-another and often hated one-another for being of the wrong skin colour, or from the wrong ethnic background, economic level or religion. Instead of unity, they saw mass shootings and mass incarcerations of innocent individuals. They saw greed, hubris, abuse, violations of every known human rights and widespread destruction of the environment. They also saw that the masses, those who should have been “We the People,” identified with these destructive ways and participated in them, often with gusto while supporting and defending their blatantly corrupt leadership.

“Sadly children, they did not live happily ever after.”

“What happened to that world teacher?” asked a small boy.

“As to be expected, it destroyed itself and all the people on it died.”

“Oh!” echoed the children in horror.

“But it’s only a fairy tale, isn’t it?” Ventured an older girl in the back row.

“Well… no, it’s not really a fairy tale at all.”

Gimpy

(A short story, by Sha’Tara)

I was starting my third grade year when I got to know a scrawny first grade little kid with large beautiful brown eyes everyone called “Gimp” or “Gimpy.” I just want to quickly write up how it was we actually met, I mean to talk to each other.

It was lunch time and most of the kids who didn’t go home for lunch gathered in one large room of multi-purpose usage. There were tables and benches and the odd older desk too for those who liked to sit alone and perhaps read, or draw. Remember that was a while ago, even transistor radios didn’t exist then!

I had picked one of the old desks because I wanted to continue reading a book I’d just got my hands on: Treasure Island. It promised well right from the beginning and I was eager to find out if Jim would get to go sailing.

I had opened my lunch kit and was inspecting my food when there was a bit of a commotion. A scrawny kid was being called names and laughed at. One of those at the ‘bully’ table called the kid over, dangled a chocolate bar in a wrapper in front of him, then threw it down the aisle. The kid raced after it, got it, tore open the wrapper to find that it had been stuffed with dirt.

Amidst the jeers and laughter, I looked at that kid’s sad, confused and disappointed face. He saw me looking at him and realized I wasn’t of those making fun of him. He carefully put the chocolate wrapper still filled with dirt into the garbage can and limped over to my desk. He stood there and I saw his eyes grow even bigger as he eyed my lunch.

I may have been only eight years old but I came from a large family and I knew a hungry look on a kid’s face when I saw one. I asked him to come over and sit beside me, then I offered him half of everything I had packed for myself. The kid ate every crumb and I realized that he was starving. So I gave him more and kept less. I felt, I dunno, something warm and good and powerful rising inside me as I watched him devour my lunch. I didn’t even feel hungry anymore.

We became friends, and I think he sort of adopted me as a big sister. So I decided to help him with his school work as well. He was, from my point of view, terribly slow. Obviously he’d never been shown how to read, write or even do simple arithmetic at home before coming to school. In fact, when I asked him his age, he reluctantly admitted he was also eight years old. He looked no more than five.

“How come you didn’t come to school when you were six like the rest of us then?”

“My mom said it was too much bother and she couldn’t afford to buy me new clothes, that school was useless anyway. So I stayed home and on the street until a lady called a social worker came to see my mom and after she got some clothes for me, I came to school. Is school really useless, Deena?”

“No it isn’t, Gimpy. School is like being on a holiday where you get to practice your imagination, you get to learn things only adults would normally know, and when you know how to read, oh boy, all those books, all those amazing stories you can make your own, like you can accompany those people in the stories, become one of them, play along, have endless adventures.”

“Why doesn’t my mom know this?”

I had no answer but to admit I didn’t know. My own parents loved reading all sorts of stuff and they made sure we would not be kept in the dark. I had learned about measurements from reading labels on cans and bottles. I had already tried some recipes printed on the back of cereal boxes. I knew how to tell the difference between several ‘medicines’ stored in the bathroom medicine cabinet, as well as those stored in the milk house to be used for the cows, pigs or chickens.

A couple of weeks after I had gotten to know Gimpy I had to miss a day of school. After school Gimpy came to my house crying, his jacket torn and with a terrible black eye and split lip. My heart raced when I saw that. Even more so when he told me that the bullies had assaulted him at afternoon recess and beaten him severely.

“What about Sister Blanche? Didn’t she see what was going on, or heard anything?”

“I dunno. She watched, didn’t do nothin’.”

“Did nothing… Oh, never mind, let me fix you up as best we can and we’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

As I remember that day, so many years ago now, it wasn’t one of my best days. I wanted to be a truly good person. I never wanted to get into any kind of trouble and certainly did not want to get involved in a fight with other kids, particularly bullies. But I knew I still had to confront them. After all they had assaulted my ‘little brother’ and this was a blood thing from my point of view.

I kind of started it wrong the next morning when I waylaid the chief trouble maker who had assaulted Gimpy with, “Hey chicken shit, are you so scared to take on someone your own size you gotta beat up a little kid?” And I walked right up to him, sticking my face practically in his. “That’s unfinished business you left yesterday and I’m here to make sure it is finished so you’ll know not to mess with us.”

That was the trigger. He threw down his books and came at me. Now I may have been a girl but my dad had taught me a few fighting tricks of his own, some of which he had warned me never to talk about or brag about. He taught me about men’s particular weakness down there between their legs and I saw my chance to test that particular move. Needless to say it worked like a charm. When the others saw their leader down on the ground moaning and crying, they not only backed off, they ran.

I suppose that would have been that except a sister of those bullies went to tattle to Sister Blanche who immediately stepped over to us, grabbed me by the arm, pinching as hard as she could and made me stand by the blackboard in front of the whole class. When all were settled she ordered me to bend over her desk and she certainly didn’t hold back on the strap. When I yelled that “they” had started it, I got more, so much I couldn’t sit straight the rest of that day.

I didn’t cry and swore I’d get even, not on the bullies, I knew they’d stay away from me and Gimpy from now on, oh no, my aim was Sister Blanche. Whatever was her problem I’d make her pay. And I did, though not in any way I had thought possible if quite impractical. What I needed was something practical, and that’s what I got, from a very practical source: my mother.

After school (and after I managed to give the evil eye to Sister Blanche) I took Gimpy home so I could do a bit of sewing on his clothes, and put more salve on his shiner – that left eye was almost shut by then. It happened that mom had come in from the fields and of course wanted to know the story behind the black eye. So I told her, and Gimpy haltingly told his own version, without embellishments, including my punishment at school.

I should tell you, my mom has a fiery temper. She doesn’t “take any shit” as dad would often, and proudly say and she’d tell him to “shush George.” She didn’t say anything but I knew that she was brewing something up; I heard her and dad talking later that night.

Chores done, lunches made and time to head for school and here’s mom, in her Sunday best outfit, holding the door open, then walking with me to school.

“What’s going on, mom?” I asked and got the predictable answer,

“You’ll see.” And that was it. She went in with me and stood at the back of the room until the kids were settled at their desks then walked up to Sister Blanche and stated, loudly and clearly, “I want to have a talk with you, Sister. Now, and no excuses. Either right here in front of your class, or find us an office to talk in. Just know that I’m in no mood for games, savvy?”

I liked that “savvy” the way she said it. It was like reading a novel. I was so proud of her at that moment I swore to myself that I would become just like that some day. Anyway, Sister gave the class a reading assignment, put an older girl in charge and she and my mom left the room.

Sister Blanche came back a while later and let me tell you that if looks could kill, I’d have been six feet under and Sister Blanche in prison for life! I didn’t feel uncomfortable though. I gave her the same look right back, you know the kind when you feel that palpitation in your eyelids? The danger look full of hate and anger? It was at that moment that I realized Sister Blanche was just as much of a bully as those who had beaten up Gimpy. I grew up a lot that day!

That had been a Thursday and when Saturday morning was well engaged mom told me to get dressed, that we were going to see Gimpy’s mom. I was surprised but not terribly. Mom did things like that. If she had her mind on doing something it got done, (case closed as I liked to add for myself). That was mom.

When we got there, we had to bang heavily on the door to get an answer. Gimpy’s mom (who seemed too young to be a mom by my standards) stood there, holding on to the door, bleary eyed and her hair a total mess. She didn’t smell clean either.

“Where’s Gimpy?” asked mom.

“I dunno. It’s Saturday, innit? He’s probably roaming the streets looking for stuff.”

“You mean looking for something to eat, don’t you Violet?”

“I feed him. I got food here.”

“Yeah? Let’s see what you have that your kid could eat and live off of then.”

“Not today, I just cleaned out the fridge yesterday. I was going to go shopping today.”

“But you spent the money on booze, didn’t you, Violet? Look Vi, it’s none of my business what you do with your own life, OK? But the whole village is talking – not that those hypocrites are any better – but you’re going to lose your boy sooner than later. My daughter here has been seeing to getting Gimpy food at school, but that’s not enough. We could do more, but where would be your responsibility? By the way, I need to know your kid’s real name, Vi. What is it?”

“It’s Vidal. Don’t say I told you, and please, oh please, don’t call him that, he just hates it.”

“I don’t blame him. OK, at least I know. Now is not the time but later this afternoon I want you to come over to our house for tea, and I want for you and me to have a very, very serious talk, OK? You were a good girl not so long ago Vi. You babysat my kids and did a great job. It’s never too late to get back on track. If you don’t, Gimpy will be taken away from you and there won’t be anything any of us can do. Deena and Gimpy are very good friends and I’d hate to see them separated. Promise you’ll come?”

“I promise I’ll come Mrs. Bennett, I promise.”

“Good. I have a few dollars here for you to buy some decent groceries. Do something good for your boy, it’s high time to make him proud of you just as my kids are proud of me, if that makes any sense. Go shopping, hold your head high and ignore the snotty noses. Right now you have one thing in your favour as far as I’m concerned: you’re not a pew warming hypocrite. Not much but it’s something to go on. See you later.”

We walked home together, mom and I, and I held her hand as if she’d been royalty and I’d just been adopted. That kind of pride. And she taught me a new word. She said, “there’s a name for people like Sister Blanche and that’s a bigot. She thinks Gimpy’s mom is a bad sinner because she doesn’t go to church and she ‘entertains’ on her own. That’s why she didn’t help Gimp. You don’t ever want to be like that Sister Blanche.”

That was my mom. That was the shining light of humanity I swore to myself I would learn from, and I did. My mom didn’t actually die, she just moved inside me where I had left a big part of my heart for her to live in. She is there still.

I need to finish this, so here goes. Violet, that is, Mrs. Atkinson did choose to become responsible and raised her boy properly from there on. Gimpy became Doctor Vidal Atkinson, now retired. Sister Blanche was transferred halfway through that school year – she was not regretted by anyone, and isn’t it sad to not realize when one’s character is faulty and needs changing? The ‘bullies’ grew up and did change their characters… I even dated a couple of them and we had some pretty wild times. When my dad was dying, his last words were, “Don’t take any shit, Jane” as mom sat by his bedside crying and saying, “It’s so hard all of a sudden Todd. You were my life, my whole life. What will I do now?” But he passed on without an answer for her, or me.

And me? Well I’m still Deena Bennett and I’ve been sort of a writer of stories and tales and of the stuff that any observing person can see. Some of us just know how to put it in words so that others can also remember. Have I been successful? That depends. I was there for Gimpy and how many lives did he save as a good doctor? I grew a heart big enough to accommodate my mom and I and quite a few Violet type strays over the years. I never had to beg for anything.

 

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 #19

[begin blog post #19]

The doctor is not seeing me anymore and when I receive a particularly large wound, she pinches it closed with her long skinny fingers or her mouth in turn, doing so for hours at a time, refusing to let me stir.  I’m sure she saves my life on a couple of occasions by stemming flowing blood from cut arteries.  She always has her braided straw ropes which she makes during the night and hides in the straw bedding, ready to use as tourniquets. 

She is a totally amazing creature, yet seemingly unaware of her special skills, talents and gifts.  She is human, I know, yet she is more, something intangible that motivates her, pushing her to be what she is.   

It is during those long, quiet times when I’m recovering and she sits by me that I tell her stories and build alternate and future lives in her mind.  I speak to her of other worlds where people are not like they are on T’Sing Tarleyn.  I try to explain space travel that allows one to jump instantly between worlds so far apart that it would take several lifetimes of one person to reach, even if he were travelling as fast as a beam of light.  I relate some aspects of my remembered past lives in order to broaden the field of her understanding for I have learned by attempts to interact with most of the people here that beyond their immediate concern for this life, awareness drops into a void.  For them there is nothing beyond death. 

She puzzles deeply over the confusing quality of the lives of the people of Túat Har, of the simplicity of life in the silence of Parnako where the people there communicate exclusively by telepathy; and the fullness of the joy experienced by those who spend time on my “home world” of Altaria.  She asks many questions for which there are no answers, simply because in the living of the questions, she, and only she, can find the answers.  Just as I have to find mine.  I also attempt to explain that aspect of life to her.

How incredibly receptive – and consequently dangerous to herself – she is!  She wants to believe everything I tell her and this frightens me so for I am helpless to protect her from the unknowns her new-found knowledge may bring upon her.  Yet there is no fear at all in her, although she has exposed so much of it in me! 

I fear her utter, totally unconditional love for me, following the dreadful emptiness of her previous life may have made her a bit mad.  And again, I’m probably as wrong as can be in that respect.  The quality of her is such that whenever I think I’ve got her pegged to a certain understanding, or pattern of thought, she moves beyond it, out of my mind’s grasp.

For a while as I got to know her I thought it was simple innocence that made her at the same time utterly one with me and inscrutably fluid to escape any template I made of her mind.  But there are no innocents on Malefactus.  These children raised in crèches know all that is to befall them when they are taken from their questionable childhood safety and sold “into the trade” as slaves.  They are told everything, often even elaborated upon deliberately to frighten them. 

Sometimes in the telling, their bleak future is made even worse than what I’ve described so far.  The viciousness and malice of this society possesses few bounds.  The weak, in whatever form found, have but one purpose: to be exploited and oppressed to the utmost; the very marrow of their lives sucked from them.  So far I have found no redeemable moral values here.  Everything is set up to be cut and dry.  Those who have power will do whatever it takes to keep it, or augment it.  Those who have none, even the little they may think they have will be ripped from their minds, their hearts, their bodies by the most shameless, heartless and cruel ways that can be devised by minds sold into the concept of evil.  Along with her strange nature my young friend shows many signs of having been thus mentally and physically abused.  There is a dark, despairing side to her I can feel in her unguarded moments. 

So I love her all the more.  Weeks somehow stretch into months, months become the dreadful year taking her closer to the arena. 

Basically there seem to be little discernable change of seasons in this part of T’Sing Tarleyn.  Yearly temperatures vary little, except by changes in the weather.  Because it is a dry and sandy world it loses much of its heat during the night and the mornings are always cold.  The days are hot and dry, evenings cool, if the sky is cloudless. 

If it is the rainy season, the mornings are not as cold – but the wet and humidity on our bare skins makes it more miserable to bear while we eat (always in the open, regardless of the weather), train or repair our weapons and armour.  The only times we are permitted indoors apart from our sleeping and holding cages is when we are being used for sex and occasionally when we are being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries from the fights.  If the injury is life-threatening is it cheaper for our owners to buy a replacement fighter and let us die than attempt “repairs.”  More often than not a badly injured fighter, even if she has killed her opponent, is killed by her handlers in the arena, thus giving the crowd a moment of temporary satisfaction. 

During this strange and very emotional time I watch her grow.  She has a full growth of pubic hair now and her breasts are filling out.  I notice the men looking her over more and more.  I try to warn her about what they are about to do to her.  She smiles at me as if I’d lost my mind.  “I know that!” she whispers.  “Are you jealous?” 

“No sweet one, I’m not jealous – yes, I am jealous, damn you!”  She smiles mischievously, “Mostly I’m scared for you that you may do something unacceptable and be punished.  I want you to be everything they want you to be, to fit in, no matter what they say or do.  Whatever you and I are together, we are not when separated.  Keep those lives separate and never forget you are a fighter slave and not my child-lover.”

“Am I really your child-lover?”  Her tone is reproachful and I’m stung to the quick by it.  “You’ve never made love to me.  I watch the others and I’ve been waiting.  Is there something wrong with me?  Don’t you love me?”

Oh the pain those words carry!  Oh please, I don’t want to hear that!  Again I realize I’ve thoroughly messed up with another when I was so convinced I was being kind and understanding.  Is there no way to “do the right thing” on this stupid world?  Or am I such a fool?

“Sweet, I love you more than I can tell or show.  I just thought you should be the one to, you know, make the first move.  You give me so much all the time, I was afraid to take something from you, you may not have been ready or willing to share with me.”

She leans over to me, puts her head on my shoulder and whispers, “You crazy old woman!  If you love me and you’re the oldest, you take me.  That’s how it’s done.  I cannot do it first – that would be wrong and punishable.  When I was put in your cage, I became your bond slave for as long as either one of us lives or you reject me for another.  But you would have known that, wouldn’t you?”

Old woman she calls me.  Old?  I’m maybe seven years older than when I arrived here!  Thirty two classic (Old Earth) years?  Or is this world so twisted that even time moves in some terribly debilitating way, aging some and not others?  No, it’s not time, it’s the way we are treated.  We are all old women the moment we enter the arena.  When youth is forced to kill to defend or avenge; when it is forced to die, it is no longer youth.  It becomes a ghost that wears an aging death mask.

Professional gladiators are at the prime of their lives on their first fight, usually at around sixteen years of age.  From then on, they age quickly, if they live to age at all.  I’m well past my prime now…  Even the trainers are no longer that interested in taking me for sex in their barracks.  Younger ones have taken my place. 

“Make love to me!” she says, “before the men take me.  I want you first.  Here.”  She digs into the straw and pulls up an implement that could pass, in shape and size, for an erect penis.  “Break my skin, please.  I don’t want them to have it.  It’s what we do where I come from but they took me before it was done.  So I have been waiting for my lover; for you to do it.”

What can I say?  I’m beyond amazed at her candour and offer of herself to me.  then I have an idea.  “Sweet, if I be the one to break your skin, I want to take your blood, mix it with mine – I’ll open that fresh wound on my left arm here,” (she knows exactly which one it is and winces) “and I will mix our blood in my hands and baptize you as I promised I would.”

Her large eyes light up with a glow.  “Yes, do it!”

And so we mix our blood together and with the few drops that I can keep in my hand, I sprinkle her forehead as she holds her head reverently backward as I had instructed her to do – a ritual so she could have something to remember later.  I smear the rest of the blood in her hair and hold on to her tightly.  We both cry.

[end blog post #19]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #17

[begin blog post #17]

‘And what’s your name fellah?  I’ll call you Blacky.  That will do.’  He does not read thoughts at all so I don’t have to do the ‘white noise’ thing with him.  The centering trumpet blows.  I move across from where he should be but he does not move.  The handlers have to come back and push him to stance.  Could they not have taught him that much?  We wait, my sword raised up, his he holds tight across his midriff with one hand, the blade over his left shoulder.  He’s mocking proceedings, that’s it.  Showing he despises not just me but all of Hyrete, all of Elbre.  A roll of drums is followed by three trumpets announcing the beginning.  My heart gives a loud thump and I get ready to… do what?

He does not move.  I have to attack him but I know it’s the play dumb trap.  He wants to decapitate me at the first move.  ‘Good luck Blacky and take this.’  I lunge at him only to be parried with a lighting move.  Ahah, now we fight?  I whirl and lunge again, a bit higher and to his left.  He has a little more difficulty but also parries my blade easily.  Now comes the really tough part.  I have to make him chase me.  But he knows that game and won’t move.  Damn.  I have to buzz him like a fly then.  Jab, thrust, jump back, turn, move in.  I may as well be fighting our wooden man in the compound for all the reaction I get for my efforts – except that the wooden man doesn’t have a lightning fast reaction to my thrusts. 

The only way I can get him to move is to make him angry.  For that I must cut him, make him bellow, shame him.  I know some tricks.  I come at him full front as if I’m going to throw myself in his arms.  His sword is still across his chest.  I feint a stab at his throat, he parries but neither I nor my sword are there.  I dive under his blade and sliding my sword down in rapid motion cut a slash down his thigh then jump back on a low crouch while his blade passes over me with an angry vibrating whine.  I feel the displacement of air.  That was too close.

The mosquito has drawn blood and now he’s going to try to swat me.  Of course, being a female mosquito I can’t leave now.  I need a full belly of blood to reproduce.  I stare at his face and when he finally looks at me I smile, then laugh softly.  I have to anger him and get him to move or I’ll be so tired I will become a sitting duck for him.  ‘Come on big boy, chase me.  Think of that juicy female meat you want to cook and eat.  Did they promise you could barbecue me in your snake pit wherever they be keeping you?’  He knows I’m teasing him but can’t understand.  But at least I’ve got him moving.  His sword is slashing through the air as he comes for me.  I stand still until he commits himself to aim for my neck and duck, spin and cut him across the back before he can turn. 

Now comes the bellow!  He literally charges at me, flailing the sword, throwing up sand.  I dance in front of him, my breasts bouncing slightly.  That seems to enrage him even more.  I raise my arms above my head, holding the sword as if it were a dagger, pointing at his chest and continue to dance back, watching.  This is dangerous: I don’t know his moves yet, or if he has any more to display.  He sees this slim female body completely exposed and lunges low.  I hadn’t expected that and barely escape the heart jab followed by a cutting swath.  I jump as high as I can – and damn that soft sand to hell – turning and throwing myself down and just out of reach.  I’m still fresh and not cut.  His own cuts are superficial but I can tell he is becoming truly enraged, dangerous now.

Seems all he knows of fighting hand to hand is with killing blows.  No feints, no skill, no finessing around.  He approaches me as if I were no more of a challenge than a fence post.  I’ll have to trust my intuition on that and offer him more tantalizing openings and feints.  I continue to tease, following through after his predictable jab and swing, and cutting him a little each time.  So much like a bull, I feel I’m a toreador, as much as I despise that particular “sport” of Túat Har. 

I’m totally into the fighting now, dancing, enjoying the feel of breeze and sweat on my skin, feeling the sword in my hands as it becomes more a part of me with each stroke, the carefully crafted handle absorbing the sweat from my hands, keeping them dry and the grip firm.  At this moment you’d think I was the one bred to be a fighter.  Well maybe I was, in some distant other life?

Yes, I remember that one.  In what was called Nippon, later Japan, C-14 Old Earth, I learned how to use the famous Samurai sword then, and what a deadly weapon that was.  I was a woman then too, a Geisha in training, and what I did was considered immoral.  When they discovered my secret I was forced to commit seppuku with the very sword I’d used to fight men and kill men while defending a women’s compound from slavers and head hunters.  If remembrances are good for anything, this is as good a time as any to incarnate my ancient skills.  May they serve as well today as they did then.  I was able to save the lives of a dozen women that night so long ago, but not my own.  Now I can even that score and save my own life.

From mosquito I’ve become the wasp.  I buzz around him, seeking to sting, for the wasp is not bound to one sting.  She can bite over and over and my sword sings when it connects with his.  I pull back, draw him out, swing to draw his eyes away from mine, then whirl, pulling the sword tight against my body to present hardly any target.  When he lunges I use his great weight against him, going with the thrust, letting him believe he’s got me only to roll around and cut again.  This time deep in the right thigh, a real cut.  The blood pours out freely.  He turns to look at the damage and I get him across the forehead, bringing blood into the eyes.  He raises his arm to wipe his eyes and I swing with all my strength at the exposed wrist, cutting off the left hand. 

From then its just finishing strokes.  When he is finally down I raise my sword to the crowd to ask for mercy for their fallen champion.  He could still live.  No mercy is forthcoming and I kill him, turn and walk to the end of the ring to be escorted back to the compound. 

As is customary and absolutely necessary, I inventory the damage done to my body.  In these fights the adrenaline runs so high we often overlook many severe cuts or other damage.  My damage?  A blister and broken toenail that’s bleeding.  ‘Well Blacky, wherever you go I hope for your sake you don’t ever underestimate a woman again.  It’s not healthy.  Size, speed and the ability to roar does not a fighter make.’ 

[end blog post #17]

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #12

[begin blog post #12]

Chapter 7 – In for the Long Haul

“If a path to the better there be it begins with a full look at the worst.”  (Thomas Hardy)

It’s a truism of war: short lives engender fast promotion.  I’ve been promoted to unofficial trainer of new trainees.  My unorthodox ways with hand weapons, especially blades has earned me some recognition. 

The next few months bring little change except I am fitted with a couple of different sets of armour.  One is just a basic skirt made of that same light alloy I realize now is not made of anything familiar to me.  I am fitted with forearm and shinbone protectors as well and have to train with these things on.  They are quite stiff and take some getting used to.  I fail to understand their purpose until I begin to train with the staff.  Ah, I discover that smashing the staff against bones of arms and legs is the preferred method of bringing one’s opponent down.  It can break a forearm or cause such numbing pain on the shin that you simply collapse.  The armour takes some of the blow allowing one to move out of range and recover.  The skirt is used to protect one’s loins from a sudden thrust by the opponent.  That leaves one’s thighs, ribs, hands and face exposed.  But these areas are the easiest to protect.

I’m fast on this particular weapon.  It’s as if I’d used it many a time before.  I have.  I remember reading up on this fighting method and practicing while preparing for my incarnation.  Yes, I know this weapon, but I did not know it could be so deadly.  These staves have pressure points in them that allow the user to shorten or extend them by as much as twelve “thumbs” (akin to inch on Old Earth) thus keeping the opponent always guessing at the distance to pull back, swing or thrust.  They also have one pointed end with which to spear, unlike the ones I am familiar with. 

“Can spear point of staff be poisoned, drugged as with the dagger, sir?” I ask my handler while studying the weapon.

“Yes.  Done all time.” he replies. 

No fighter would ever be permitted such a trick, even if such things were available to us, but for the male contenders there is no dishonour in trickery, however he brings down his opponent slave.  In fact dirty, deadly tricks provide additional entertainment for a paying and braying public that always demands something new and more exciting.  It is the nature of those who participate as spectators of organized sport in any society.  Lust for blood and varying levels of violence dominates their minds.  Deceit is always a part of the game, in sports and war.

I also train with a type of wide battle axe, by far the heaviest weapon used by female gladiators and not very popular.  But we do not make the choices so we have to train and ready ourselves to handle all the officially approved weapons.  With this weapon comes the other type of armour – a robe thing covering the upper body to halfway down the thighs and a helmet equipped with a chin strap.  I feel encased in this contraption, quickly chafing and sweating profusely.  It doesn’t have suitable slits to let me open my long legs wide enough for proper balance.  Bad design, or someone forgot my stature. 

I have difficulties handling the heavy weapon with sufficient speed.  My cut arm gives me trouble and my ambidextrous abilities are of no use.  I can only wield this thing one way, my right hand forward on the handle, my left holding back to guide the stroke.  I cannot switch sides without losing connection with my brain.  To make matters worse, the handle is round, straight and smooth all the way.  As soon as it is coated with sweat or blood it becomes all but impossible to hang on to, never mind use it effectively against an opponent. What I wouldn’t give now for one of those real axe handles of Old Earth.  I must find a way to re-design this ugly contraption if I’m to use it in combat.  Ugh!

I hate this method of fighting and would forego it if weapons’ choices fell upon us.  So I train the harder on this thing because I know that sooner or later someone, some spy, some paid trainer or even a female gladiator, out of spite or for some “favour” will reveal my weakness to an informant and I will pay with my life.  I won’t let that happen.  Too many questions left unanswered and too little accomplished in terms of touching upon the private thoughts of other gladiators.  I’m not even “at bat” yet as to sharing any kind of philosophy with the other women.  I’m still an outcast although the young ones’ faces light up when they train with me.  With our signals and low-pitched voice I tell them stories they find fascinating.  It doesn’t matter to me whether they believe me or not, enough that they consider me not only the best fight teacher but a great story-teller.

Day after numbing day, while women continue to be sent to the arena, some  returning cut and bruised, some never, I train.  For the time being at the very least I’ve managed to close my heart and mind to pain and the ever-present sense of fear.  I turn my attention to local details, studying the small but solid hierarchy of the compounds, overseers, handlers, trainers, medics and fighters, looking for answers to my many questions about the social fabric underlying T’Sing Tarleyn.  I search quietly, surreptitiously, for potential leaders, rebels, among the women, even among the men or for weaknesses in the stratified set-up.  I find little to go on.  I try to tap into the women’s minds and receive nothing but white noise – meaningless thought jargon in answer to my probe.  Is this a trick of the mind they play, or are they so brain-dead, confused, mad?  I can’t believe that.  They must have some natural, instinctive method for blocking their thoughts from probes and scanners, both of which I have become aware, are in use around the compound, in our cage areas and in the arena. 

That strange, advanced, inscrutable, esoteric technology that continues to haunt my mind and my dreams.  Where does that come from?  Who really rules this world?

From the other side of the spectrum, I’ve had sex with several of the handlers, trainers and male “nurses” or medics by now.  A couple of them are quite taken by me and I’ve become their “favourite” of sorts.  A dangerous play.  One of them comes to me now and announces that I’ve got a turn in the arena tomorrow.  I pay close attention because there has been no warning of such before.  This has to be something different, unusual.

“Your challengers come soon to watch displays.  You demonstrate skills with sword and dagger, staff and axe.  Word of advice, demonstrate greatest ability with axe, they don’t choose.  Demonstrate least with staff, they chose.  Simple.  That how you make success; turn things around to you, to owner advantage.  So you get to choose weapons after all, huh?” and he pats me on the butt, then casually puts his hand on my breast, fondling the nipple.  Reluctantly he removes his hand before he is noticed. 

However flaunted, the law remains in place: no male may have intercourse with, or demonstrate affection for, any female – under pain of death.  And everyone jealously watches everyone else for any advantage they may derive from blowing the whistle. 

Honour, indeed, hah!  I spit the word out in my head.  And I remember Tiegli.  I miss her terribly at night.  I miss her simple wisdom and her love for me, however brief that was.  And I wonder where she is now.  ‘Shut up – concentrate on here and now.  You are a gladiator.  A fighter, nothing else.’  So I tell myself and return to my work.

Two men, simply, almost poorly dressed, appearing anxious or nervous arrive through one of the stone portals I didn’t even know existed so perfectly does it blend with the surrounding wall.  They are directed to my exercise space and watch me make my moves with the weapons.  I survey them through my lashes.  Both shorter than I by a head – that’s normal.  No unusual musculature that I can see.  They do not seem to have that cat-like walk preferred by those who frequent the arena just for a chance to bet on a fight they are getting into.  Yes, there are professional fighters, killers, out there who make a living by killing us for those who employ them.  They are frowned upon but like bounty hunters, tolerated, as they take chances and cause the stakes to rise.  The women call them drooks.  These two are definitely not drooks, that much I know.

As instructed, I first use the axe and go through some rather esoteric moves, actually impossible in a real confrontation with a living opponent.  I make it look real by letting the heavy weapon slip through my hand and embed itself in a wooden sparring post cut and roughly carved to the size of a man.  They seem suitably impressed.  I then take off my armour and naked, go through my sword routine.  Again I demonstrate undeniable speed and skills with these, suddenly diving on my back and pulling the dagger, sliding it upward and stabbing the wood “man” in what would be his loins or stomach.  

Putting on the light skirt and protector pads, I then heft the staff.  I look at it suspiciously and thrust viciously but wildly at the wood post, missing it.  I pirouette, pretending to regain my composure and aim the side of the staff at the dummy but instead of hitting high enough to break an arm, or low enough to numb a leg, I hit it straight in the middle, the most easily defended part of the body.

My trainer stops me and upbraids me loudly, bemoaning I’ve made him look ridiculous as trainer.  He pulls the staff from my hands, orders me to remove the armour and sends me to wash.  The ploy seems to have worked.  I observe the two “contenders” choosing the staff.

[end blog post #12]