Tag Archives: hand to hand combat

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #90

In which Antierra plays the game of “plans within plans” and trains Tiki for her first arena fight.
___________________________________

Now the truly difficult part: to detach from these momentous events so as not to get devastated if disaster strikes ‘tomorrow’ – if someone recants and sells out Tieka or if the lovers do something truly stupid.  Win, lose or draw, I must carry on.  Other equally weighty matters demand to be attended to.
End blog post #89
_____________________________
Begin blog post #90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What you want, gora?” 

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

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

“This one you want protect huh?  Lover.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ready Tiki?”

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

End blog post #90

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #87

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how do I propose to do this? 

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

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

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

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

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

End blog post #87

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #86

If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate.  This is nothing to get twisted about.  A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next.  I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki.  Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.
End blog post #85
___________________________
Begin blog post #86

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

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

“I train already.  I good with staff.”

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

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

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

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

“You see the problem, Tiki?”

“I too slow for you.  No good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End blog post #86

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #85

Late again… resuming blog posting of the “Manifesto”… 

“You are too hard on yourself, almost to the point of blindness.  If you refuse to see the good you have brought here by your sacrifices how will you ever succeed?  Antierra – you will die in that arena, perhaps soon.  The auto-med reports many failures in setting things to right in your body.  The Warmo did things to you we cannot repair.  Your heart is damaged but not all of your damage is physical, do you understand?  You must regain control of yourself for this world still desperately needs you.

End blog post #84
_________________________________

Begin blog post #85

“By the standards of Hyrete fighters you are the longest surviving ever.  Granted you began your fighting at an approximate age of twenty-five compared to the usual age of sixteen for regularly bred fighters.  But that only means you had much less training and experience when you were pitted against some of the best challengers in the realm.  Still, no fighter has ever lived past thirty in the official records.  You are approximately thirty seven.  Just a reminder to you that you held on in hope of accomplishing more.  And you may yet. 

“I’ve heard of your ‘Teaching’ among the women.  The slave you call Tiki tried to explain it to YBA4 in the kitchens.  I understand it not at all – seems foolishness to me, but I won’t be caught underestimating you again.  Just be careful with that line of ‘work’ because the men are nervous and it would take but a spark to ignite a pogrom against all the females of this realm, perhaps in the entire world.  You have brought all of us to a critical point.  We are not all as certain of what lies beyond death as you are, you know.  However short, however terrible its circumstances, life remains precious to us all.”

I know what he is saying.  He looks so sad and I feel self-conscious and stupid for being the cause of so much upset.  One of my Altarian elder teachers had given me the following proposition to work through: 

  1. a) Prepare yourself with all the knowledge you can, train yourself in manifestation and self-regeneration, go to this world you speak of and cause the change you believe will help the people there and save your other world you call Earth, if that is what you know you must do.
  2. b) Follow the path of Ultimate Logic and close off the parts of your life that had anything to do with Earth and her stack worlds as you know them to exist. Take the rest cure you earned, change yourself and return to us for re-assignment when you feel ready for something else, perhaps somewhat less daunting?  There are a number of worlds assigned to us now being terra-formed and populated.  They could use your expertise.

“Know this, then: there is nothing anywhere that can be used to measure or determine which of your choices will cause the greatest ‘good’ in the aeons to follow.  The good you choose to do today may be the great evil of tomorrow.  The world you save today may become your nemesis of tomorrow.  The evil you pursue to destroy may yet claim you also.  Conversely if you do nothing, the results may still be the same.  The question is for your mind alone.  We can neither agree nor disagree with your choices.  For at the avatar level of mind all choices you make are entirely your own and you live by them until you change them.”

I turn to the doctor again.

“I understand only too well Bal.  Don’t you realize how much I wish I could do it all myself without involving others in the additional sacrifices demanded by planned change?  That cannot be.  As I chose then, they too must choose now.  And so must the men.  When a world succumbs to a particular evil, Bal, the people on that world must wake up to it and decide eventually to fight it or be destroyed by it.  This is as true of individuals as it is of worlds.  This I have seen in my travels.  That was the fate of Old Earth: that her people refused to see the obvious evil that was destroying the fabric of their societies and continued in it long after there was even any point to it.  Result?  Billions died Bal.  Billions!  For nothing.  It did not have to play out that way.  There are always two paths for every ISSA.  Always choice, always.”     

Chapter 35 – Training Tiki – Clumsy Attempt on my Life

I am sad to leave the comfort of Bal’s place and the peace of mind given me by the Cydroids’ presence.  But if I’m to remain here longer I have to return to the training compound; to my world.  I walk slowly back unescorted as is now my unofficial ‘right’ to do.  It’s the third day of the week, early morning and the sun is already beating down into the courtyards.  Some passages are stifling hot.

Not much has changed, I notice as I re-enter the training areas.  There has been some rain and the stones were swept clean and washed.  The smell is a bit more tolerable and there’s a steady breeze blowing, cooling the space of reflected heat from the midday sun.  The women are lined up, sparring savagely against each other, their white bodies shining with sweat.  Some already have bloody cuts and black bruises.  I may not have mentioned it before but many women die in these training sessions.  Often the training is used as an excuse to kill a rival who may have ‘stolen’ a lover or to get rid of a suspected snitch.  The hated woman will be fighting her opponent when set upon from behind by another trainee in league with her own opponent.

Training kills are superficially investigated and seldom punished.  It is considered as maintenance costs.  The male thinking is that any trainee who lets herself get killed in training wouldn’t be worth putting in the arena.

I introduce myself to the new trainers and am escorted to Delton’s office, the overseer.  I bow to him and wait to be addressed.   

“Hah, our killer slave return from dead.  You look disgusting.  I hear they be discussing your execution huh?  Good.  You past prime now.  Die soon.  Killing orgy, I be thinking.  Good to watch.  I get ticket, yeah.  You be wanting?”

“I be wanting to train slave was in my cage, slave #1339-32-19?”

“Ah, that young one, she be good sex.  I enjoy her much.  Wiry bitch.  Deek?”  He yells out the door of the office to an assistant sitting at one of the tables playing cards.  “Off your lazy ass.  Get the ‘teela’ from kitchen, now!”

Within a couple of minutes he returns with Tiki in tow, dragging her roughly.  She sees me and her face for a moment lights up then she also bows, hiding her face in her hair.  Delton eyes her and is thinking to take her in front of me just for the malice of it.  He senses I wouldn’t care and says:  “Take the teela.  Train good and I fight it myself, beat it down and fuck it for you.  You watch.”

If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate.  This is nothing to get twisted about.  A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next.  I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki.  Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.

End blog post #85

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #83

[Onward with the story, huh?]

“Well Antierra, we meet again my dear.  You certainly made a mess of yourself in that last fight.”

“It wasn’t exactly my idea, Bal.  I encountered something I had never successfully confronted before; something I knew well.  An ancient and deadly nemesis that had anticipated my coming here and had prepared itself to destroy me. It almost succeeded – twice.  The first time you saved me.  The second time, I took responsibility for myself and fought it out, as must we all sooner or later.  I wish I hadn’t let it get so strong and really challenged it sooner.  All those lives it persecuted me and I submitted to it thinking there was no better way.  And likely there wasn’t, not then, not yet: I wasn’t strong enough or focused.  I suppose this is the logical place where the outcome from such long-term hatred had to be determined and one of us consumed by it.”

End blog post #82
_________________
Begin Blog post #83

Balomo holds my hand and looks at my scarred, beaten and old body.  There is no sexual desire in him now, hah!  I don’t mind.  I think I’ve known for some time that ‘sex’ was no longer on my agenda.  “You avatars see the world in strange ways.  I knew there was something utterly wrong and odd about Warmo but I would not have thought he was on par with your abilities.  Are there many like him or you who can travel through dimensions and through time to seek each other out to destroy each other’s spirit or mind?  With so much enmity?”

“As below, so above, Bal. Relative to the number of ISSA’s in the universe (or parallel worlds) we are very few.  But we do tend to make waves where we battle.  What happened with the motion for my execution?”

“Temporary reprieve.  Nothing settled.  The king, as you would expect, vetoed the motion but he cannot defeat it.  It will be re-introduced each week until accepted or defeated by a two-third majority vote of the Court.  If for, they will kill you, the method not described in the motion.  We suspect they may be planning to have you put in their next killing orgy.”

“Ah, such pleasant thoughts for me to entertain while I recuperate.  How much better than a State-sponsored parade in my honour for destroying the evil Wizard.  Seriously, how long have I been out of circulation this time?”

“Only five days so far.  You will have to return to the training and exercise yard within two days or the motion for your execution will automatically stand.  Seven days is the maximum any fighter can have as you know.  It’s their law.”

“Yes I know the law.  Seven days to return to active duty.  If the fighter is not fit by that time she is executed.  I’ll make it.  Any news from the compound?  How’s Tiki?  The Concubine twins?  The crazy young sex-slave addict, if you know whom I mean?”

“The kitchen Cydroids keep me informed.  I’m supposed to tell you that the slave you call Tiki has begun training and I hear good things.  She is fast and certainly determined, so say the handlers.  One of the twins as you call them has been killed.  Her ‘sister’ is borderline ‘dikfol’ from grief and has already fought two rounds single-handed against two-man teams, killing all four.  We need you to talk to her and maybe find her a match.  We think she wants to die but cannot end it as long as she can kill men.  The young addict, I regret to say, is dead.  She was strangled in the kitchens.  Two kitchen staffers were flogged to death for that worthless ‘pess.’  She was stealing chakr-laced fighter foods to use for favours and for herself.  Someone caught her.  We’ll never know who killed her.”

I take the weight of Bal’s news in my heart and hold it there.  I feel utterly dejected.  I cannot hold back my tears and turning away on the gurney, sob loudly and freely.  The lump in my throat could choke a horse.  So little change despite the sacrifices.  I know I shouldn’t have expectations but as anyone who goes through a war knows, it cannot be helped.  We always hope for change bringing in better things.  I need a better answer to it all but as this world is currently wired, it won’t allow me to find one.  Not directly anyway. 

I’ve defeated my personal nemesis.  Accomplished the impossible.  Remained alive through a series of miracles such as men not punishing me for flaunting their rules; surviving a fight to the death with an actual demon; manifesting events that got me access to an AI auto-med to put my body back into a semblance of a woman’s form and fighting fitness.  None of that brings me the comfort I long for.  Always thrown back to the beginning, it seems.

From now on, it must be small steps again.  I must train Tiki and continue the Teaching but before I can do that I must somehow cleanse myself of the accumulated grief and guilt for all the pain I have caused to other sentient beings while I’ve been here. 

A male Cydroid and Balomo stand beside my bed studiously avoiding looking in my direction.  They know I must work out my own sense of culpability; that any outside interference will only confuse me the more.  Finally I can look up again.

“I want you to sit up,” says Bal “and take XBA7’s hand.”

Without help I manage to sit, fight off a dizzy spell and take the Cydroid’s outstretched hand.  He helps me off the gurney and I stand shakily, feeling both cold and hot at the same time.  I turn and throw up, or try to.  There is nothing in my stomach and only bile drips from my lips.  I heave over and over until I begin to fall.  The Cydroid holds me by the waist from behind and I regain enough strength to finally stand unaided.  I’m handed a glass with a mouth rinse to clean myself.  Bal then hands me the flask with the pink nectar and I sip slowly.  Things come into focus. 

I look down at my body and by what I can see I am glad they have no mirrors here.  I must look like a one hundred year old skeleton!  Good!  Maybe I can just scare my challengers to death in my next encounters, hah!  I walk around the gurney, close enough to fall on it should my strength fail.  I manage, still feeling dangerously woozy.  I walk a little further, make a half-turn and stare at my prison. 

The sun is hitting the far north wall, painting a dull orange-yellow into the texture of the weathered stones above the shadows cast by spired turrets thrusting themselves into the afternoon sky from the red-brown tiled roofs of ponderous square structures whose purpose I’ve never bothered to enquire about. There’s another piece of crenellation missing up there.  Why aren’t they doing a better job of repairing their keep, their great city?  On occasion while walking from the training areas to the forge carrying the weapons needing attention I noticed large cracks in the masonry between the square stones.  Are they just letting the keep fall apart because modern weaponry makes the idea of a ‘fort’ redundant?  Or is their economy collapsing from the combination of rising costs from raising, training and maintaining of slaves and perhaps even more relevant, a growing debt due to gambling?  Or is the war with Estáan expanding and draining more from the battered economy of Elbre?

End blog post #83

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #80

(A very short blog post, the end of the “fight of the beasts” and after a pain-filled recovery, Antierra will enter a new phase in the fighter compound. Although on the surface nothing seems to have changed, yet everything has with Antierra’s win over Warmo.)
____________________________________________________________________

Meanwhile I’m still pulling down to break his other wrist.  Another pull and another snap.  What his hellish cross did to my wrists in his dungeon I have returned to him.  I know I have won.  Bit by bit I tear away at him, breaking bone, tearing into muscle.  I stomp on his feet with the bionic-equipped foot and break his arches, making him collapse on the sand.  I continue to beat his body to a pulp.  I aim a kick at his genitals and rip one of them off.  A few more blows and kicks and I ease off slowly, watching him convulse and bleed to death at my feet.

I stand utterly alone.  There is no crowd.  No arena, nothing.  Just empty space with colours floating around me as if I were experiencing the Shearing drive effect. 

End blog post #79
_________________

Begin Blog post #80

What have I done?  From his own mind is see.  I did what he has done to thousands of innocent victims over the years he was master of the Inquisition and all the other lives he lived to oppress and destroy: I ripped his body apart bit by bit.  As he did to the males and boys he received for the torture, I ripped his balls out.  I could have done much more to him but I made my point to the crowd above me.

I put one foot on the mangled mess that had been Warmo and raising my bloody hands above my head I let out one final shriek, loud enough to be heard by the women into the compound.  I had told Tiki to listen for my cry of victory over Warmo.  I had instructed her to let as many of the women know of it, and to pass it around to those who couldn’t hear it.  I had warned her it could mean my flogging to death later but that I was willing to chance that for the power we had gained together.

Let them flog me to death – I have won.

Two handlers approach to take me.  Suddenly every once of strength leaves me, the world around me turns black and I hear a noise as a great waterfall.  I am aware that I collapse and the handlers, instead of holding on to me let me fall into the sand.

Even in the state I’m in I can understand their reluctance to touch me.  I’m a frightful mess and the smell of Warmo is all over me and how can they know it isn’t my smell?  They cannot even know for certain I’m still alive.

End blog post #80

Antierra Manifesto – Blog post #78

(Oh, where does the time go! – this blog post was supposed to be posted 5 days ago!  Sorry about that. Antierra is fully involved in a fight not only for her life – all fights in the arena are to the death – but one that, should she lose, will have terrible consequences for the women of Hyrete and the secret work of Dr. Balomo and his Cydroids. If she loses her entire effort at making changes for the betterment of the women of Malefactus will essentially be for nought. So she fights on…)
______________________________________________________________

Again we face each other, crouching, weighing our moves and their chances of succeeding.  The obvious for me would be to kick to the groin with my bionic ankle.  Problem is, he expects me to do that and will have a counter that will take me by surprise.  I cannot afford any surprises.  I forego the temptation and back away a single step.  He follows, comes forward and moves in closer.  I can smell that nauseating body odour of his in a change of breeze.  It smells even more of putrefaction.

End blog post #77
_________________

Begin blog post #78

I must find a psychological advantage, not a physical one: I don’t have one.  I move back another step and stand up straight, lifting my arms over my head as if I were giving him my body.  He goes for the bait and I lower my hands just in front of his face and after smashing my elbows on top of his muscular shoulders I grab his neck.  Before he can twist out of my grip I roll him to the side while dodging a kick aimed between my legs. 

When his leg comes up I release his neck and grab it, pulling it the rest of the way until he’s down in the sand.  I kick sand in his face and let him have the bionic kick in the ribs.  I feel the cracking and hear his harsh intake of breath and gasp of pain.  He recovers and attacks by grabbing my arm and twisting with all his strength.  I have no choice but to roll with the twist and in turn I’m in the sand.  I see his kick and close my eyes and mouth as a volley of sand hits me in the face.  I turn my back to him to pull him down on top of me while I raise myself on all fours.  He collapses on my back and I “buck” him off, jumping out of reach as he delivers another masterful kick that would have felled a horse and certainly broken my leg had I used it to block.  I dodge with a back flip that takes me momentarily out of his considerably slowed reach.

I wipe sand from my face and wiping my hands on my breasts and front, prepare for another attack.  He’s in terrible pain now, an angry, desperate wild boar cornered by dogs.  This is truly the most dangerous part of the fight.  He backs away, drawing me to himself instead of attacking.  I move in, crouching low, my hands almost touching the ground.  I expect him to kick at my face and he does.  I move my head just a fraction to clear his arc and when his foot goes past I grab his ankle, going with the lift.  He was expecting that and as he goes back he puts all his available weight on my holding arm and brings his other leg up and connects with my side.  A jab of searing pain tells me one of my ribs is either broken, cracked or severely bruised. 

I clench my teeth and move in again, as if I no longer cared, swift and deadly of intent.  I seek to grab any part of him and break it.  I duck under a jab and put a full fist in his face, breaking his nose, lips and a couple of teeth.  The skin in my fingers splits and my hand is covered in blood.  I chop at his arm with my wrist instead of hand then use the other hand to grab his left upper arm.  I fully engage the bionics and crush through muscle and tissue to the bone.  He screams and swings at me wildly, connecting my head and I have to release my grip as I feel I’m going to faint.  I jump back, seeing black and feeling dizzy.  He put a hole in my temple and blood is coming out.  I press my hand to it, pull the skin over the hole and scream in turn.  Scream in anger.  Scream to release what’s left of the fighting animal in me.

I regain my sight in time to block another deadly kick.  Now the crowd is standing up and cheering, jeering, booing, clapping, going wild.  The aristocrats are showing they are no better than the rest when it comes to admiring bloodshed and mindless violence.

I must disable his legs.  His kicks are the most dangerous part of his attack and defence.  I attack again, being a little more careful but still acting out my instinctive wild beast persona.  I snarl at him as I charge straight in.  He readies to finish me only to discover it was a feint.  I pirouette to my left and as I fly past him, deliver my own kick with the bionic ankle, connecting just inside the thigh, making him drop to one knee.  I spin again, and deliver another kick to his back and he goes down, rolls to jump up and I’m there waiting.  I grab him by the arms from behind and squeeze until my fingers feel like they are going to explode from the pressure.  I use my chin to dig inside his shoulders and see his face as a mask of pain.  He tries to bring his head down to bite but I’ve damaged that part of his anatomy enough he can’t use it properly.

Putting all his remaining strength in it, he pulls himself forward and sends me flying as I release his arms and somersault away from him, turn and stand.  I don’t feel right, as if one side of my body was dead.  I feel I’m going to stagger and fall.  But somewhere deep within I find a new force, a power to overcome the weakening flesh.  I take hold of the body that doesn’t want to work and move it as if it were on strings, a puppet.  I urge it to stand properly, to move its appendages and consider the next move.

Warmo is in at least as bad a shape as I am by now.  Still on one knee, his face a tangle of hair, mass of bruises, cuts, blood and sand, dragging a foot, he manages to stand.  This is going to decide the issue.  Will he find his own demonic power to pit against my new-found power?  I can sense him searching, trying to tap into my power now.  Focusing hate to me, and that deep and old  fear of men with authority and power that has managed to find me again so long after my lives on Old Earth. 

This is his power over me, he knows.  He pictures himself to me thus:  I see the spy who took over the leadership of the people I had come to love so long ago in Galilee and Judea, the serpent who destroyed the work begun by the man I’d hoped would change things forever.  I see the Christian judge in C-16 who had me tortured and hanged as a witch in England.  I see the father who rejected the blind daughter and condemned her to a short life in the wilds of Scotland in C-19.  I see the husband who beat me regularly in the barn on that farm in eastern France.  I see the SS Obersturmführer in Paris who personally directed the torture of female prisoners connected to the French underground and at whose hands I died.  I see Warmo himself, master of the T’Sing Tarleyn official Inquisition and my recent escape from his clutches.  He shows me that not only is he going to finish the job, but he’s going to get every woman still alive who was released from his torture that day. 

End blog post #78