Tag Archives: life lessons

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #105

I scan the skies and I’m happy to see the great cyclones of sand continuing to partially block the sun’s rays and the sky’s normally sharp blue is of a tan colour. The ‘goddess’ continues to bless our efforts, it would seem. ‘I thank you Mother’ I whisper quietly and in my heart I feel a flutter of a response. She is awakening, I know.

End blog post #104
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Start blog post #105

Chapter 41 – An Execution Order is Signed – A Killing Orgy Scheduled

Several days after the escape two men in dark blue uniforms wearing the red epaulets of those who work with the Fighter Council approach me as I spar with a couple of trainees.

“You gora, you come here now.” Peremptorily and angry. I quickly drop my weapons and approach the men with the mandatory bowed head.

The one on the right intones, “You be condemned by official statute. Must die. Prepare now.” The other flashes a sheet of ‘official’ yellow paper before my face and assuming I can’t read anyway, just rolls it up in a holder and files it in a shoulder bag. Of course it’s the long expected execution order that has finally been approved and signed. So this is it… and I don’t know what to feel here for a moment. I hadn’t been expecting this. I wonder why now? Time to apply the Teaching to myself: “When nothing matters, it will all be yours.” I return to the sparring line, pick up my weapons and continue with the training. How does a ‘gora’ prepare to be killed?

Turns out there is a very simple answer to that question. After the training session, even before the ritual washing and meal I’m taken to the cages by two handlers never seen in the compound. They practically drag me all the way to the back to be chained by the wrists to bars with the ‘dikfols’ who just stare at me. The stench in this part of the cages is almost unbearable, second only to what I remember of the Warmo’s death chamber. The chains are so short I can’t bring my hands to my neck or face.

Of course this is their way to prevent me from committing suicide and also add to my ‘punishment’ before they can fully taste their revenge. They, whomever ‘they’ be, have hated me for a long time, for the fortunes I cost them and the “great” men I killed, such as their prince and his aide; the many aristocrats on whom they bet huge sums of money; for the hundreds of very expensive drooks I also killed and especially for their dearly departed Warmo.

They have hated me for the alien fighting techniques I taught the women, enabling them to kill more challengers and live longer. They have hated me not only because I am a gora but because they know I’m some kind of alien and realize they should have killed me the day I came to Hyrete. Now they are about to get their revenge. I suppose the most likely method will be for “they” to take turns flogging me to death in a public arena show. It is the way of it. I’ll be chained here until the day of the execution, and whatever method they choose, they are not about to tell me. They want me to sweat it. They already know that I know it will be as pain-filled as they know how to make it.

So here I am finally at the end of the run. I’m still not sure of my feelings. Angry? Afraid? Eager to get it over with? I suppose all of that. I have to sort myself out and decide who I am not. Certainly I’m no longer the fighter. I’m no longer the Teacher. Am I then just another dikfol waiting to die in some cruel fashion designed and applied by misogynist males who fear life?

But you see there is justice in the ‘law of attraction’ as it is still called. It is not a law, of course, but some strange force that forms like an aura around those who focus upon the future. I wanted to taste Malefactus to its very dregs, to experience its horrors so as to truly know what it is like to be a woman on such a world. I wanted to be reminded what it has been like, what it continues to be like, for millions of women on Túat Har also for as long as the system there remains under a male-dominated hegemony. I’m tasting it indeed, just as I chose to. This is no accident; no miscarriage of justice. This is what the child finds under the tree on Christmas morning. “I want that!” she had said, pointing at a toy in a store window. Mom tells dad and the toy manifests under the tree with her name on it. A so simple aspect of the Force.

Some used to say to me, “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.” I can vouch for this: I have been very careful and mindful of everything I’ve asked for. Through commitment and dedication; through honesty and compassion – even if that latter was stretched thin at times – I got what I asked for. Will it bear the fruit I long for? Who knows. I’m just planting the seed in the ground. For the tree to grow strong and tall and bear good fruit much depends now on others, on others’ labour in the orchard. All that remains for me to do here is to water that seed. For that it needs my blood and it shall get it, but it is still my hope it will be properly mixed with my sweat as well. We shall see.

The chains do not prevent us from lying down; they are short so we can’t deliberately strangle ourselves in them but they are on rings that slide around specially made upside down L-shaped bars so we can stand, even walk a bit along the horizontal part, then slide back and down to sleep. Ingenious these men, really. Imagine if they spent even half the effort they put into inventing ways to restrain, constrain, torture and kill into other pursuits like finding ways to better the lives of their poor and oppressed? Oh well, that will happen when it happens if it happens but not by talking about it. I’m hungry and I don’t know if I’ll be fed tonight but I need rest and that I can do for myself.

I hear the rest of the fighters and trainees return to the cages for count and lock down for the night. Nothing for it but go to sleep. The poor dikfols around me aren’t fed or cleaned after either. We share our misery. I slide down into old and thin straw that does not protect my skin from the cold and damp stones. Fine and never mind. This too I need to experience again. When I came here I spent my second night chained naked to the steel execution post outside in the compound. I thought then I’d die of exposure but survived to live as a fighter for thirteen years, from 1328 to 1341. The record says I racked up the greatest number of kills for one individual, and have been the longest lasting fighter. Well, as you know, I had help. I wasn’t after such records in any case but they helped establish my reputation among the women as they became more inclined to listen to some of my mad stories which I dub the Teaching.

The clanking of steel gates opening announces morning. I’m stiff but otherwise feel quite refreshed and ready to face whatever the day brings. A half dozen young women, some practically overwhelmed by the stench in our section, bring us food and feed us as our hands cannot reach our faces. Then they proceed to rake the straw, bring buckets of cold water, wash down the stones, even wash down the bodies of those of us who let them, and later carry in fresh straw on large wooden forks. One of the girls approaches me and whispers a memorized message in my ear: “We are aware of your condition. The doctor has gone to the King to see what can be done. The execution order stands but he hopes to change it from a public flogging to a killing orgy that you may have a chance to once more fight for the women of Malefactus alongside the others condemned to death with you. The killing orgy is in two days. Be brave and remember we all thank you and will remember you here.”

Undoubtedly the message came from the YBA Cydroid in the kitchen. I’m heartened by her message. We are never alone. After the girls have left I lay down in the fresh straw to ponder my life some more. Mostly about things I feel I could have done better and want to remember. I sleep, wake, sleep some more. The girls left us a bucket of water and by stretching we can pass it along from woman to woman. We all drink from it as the heat intensifies through the day. There is no circulation this far back in the dungeon and we sweat like pigs. Late in the afternoon, before the fighters and trainees are returned to the cages the servant women come with the evening meal.

That same one comes to me and whispers another memorized message: “The doctor has returned. He can get you out of Hyrete tonight and two Cydroids will take you to Koron if you wish it. Make the gorok memorize your reply if you can give it now.” This girl seems to possess an amazing aspect of plastic memory, something the Cydroids did to her, more than likely.

After an initial surge of hope from the Cydroid’s message I look around at my ‘family’; at the poor dikfols who can’t even speak or make themselves understood and are about to be butchered in the arena in less than two days. What sort of example would I give by sneaking off to save my own hide and leaving them to face the madness alone? I remember telling doctor Echinoza that I would die a violent death here. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, but certainly it is one I can not now avoid.

However difficult the choice my answer is predictable. I say to the gorok, “Listen carefully and memorize this: ‘My answer is no. I stay with my people. Thank you again for all your efforts on my behalf. I have one question: Do you have news of Deirdre my friend on Koron.’ Can you repeat that girl? She repeats it word for word and I send her away. I great wave of relief comes over me now. It feels good to be able to determine your own fate.

In the dark, after everyone is more or less settled for the night I hear a rustle in the cages. The sound comes nearer and nearer to where I sit, shackled to the bars.

“Sir! Can you hear me?” The voice is of an older fighter.

“Yes,” I reply in the darkness facing the general direction of the question. “What you be wanting?”

“We know of the killing orgy. We all know you have chance to leave tonight but choose to stay with us, the gorok tell. Fight all the way with us. We certain now you be true. We all say we now listen to Teaching, remember Teaching, pass on to new ones each time they come. We continue Teaching until goddess rise again for us. We now say thank you for coming to us and we think, is difficult to know how, but think maybe we see you again soon. You come and bring back more Teaching, more power for goras.”

“Not goras!” I exclaim, not caring who hears it and takes exception. Nothing to lose here.

“Never again we be goras. Now we be ahya! Always! Forever! Together we be ahya! Say it low together. This is my last mantra, my last Teaching. Remember you all be ahya! Let men say ‘gora’ but you must translate that as ahya in your mind each time to break the evil spell. Practice self-empowerment, always. That is our greatest weapon, ahyas.”

End blog post #105

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #94

“I’d like to have friend #1334-02-28 if it pleases.”  He enters the numbers and motions me to head for the cages where the guards wait for further orders.  He walks to another hut and two handlers walk to the cages behind me.  I am let in to my space and soon the ‘transfers’ are done.  I move into Swala’s cage; Tieka is moved to Zel’s cage.

End blog post #93
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Begin blog post #94

What just happened here are the kinds of things that get you both loved and hated.  When people who have no power see others in similar circumstances apparently without real effort wielding external power, there is jealousy.  When such power brokerage benefits some, they will love you until you fail.  They never expect you to fail.  When you do they turn against you. 

So here’s my thought on the matter.  Methinks heroes should always die young, just after they have accomplished the one thing, whatever it was they set out to do and they should only set out to do one thing.  Then everybody is happy and there are, hopefully, no more expectations – unless they believe their hero is some sort of avatar.  Then the hero’s reputation will both rise and plummet as followers and detractors face off.  It’s foolish, it’s wasteful, it’s so human. 

The women in the cages will love me more than ever, that cannot be helped.  Friends of the overseer will hate me with a passion.  That cannot be helped either.  In the end I will fail those who love me and give satisfaction to those who hate me.  I will die a violent death.  The ones will feel abandoned, the others vindicated.  So I have learned.  So it must be.  Unless I am wrong about this, as wrong as I’ve been about so many other things since I came here.  I wouldn’t mind being wrong in this case!

I turn to Swala.  She seems happy to be with me, but I must ask.  “You want me with you, Swala?”

“I be happy with you, yes Anti.  Always, I like you.  Copy fighting and training ways.  Listen to Teaching.  You tell stories from stars, I always listen.  I believe all from you.  Trust, I do.  I be friend with you.”

There is a quiet, sensible kind of gentler energy to be with an older woman.  Older by our standards.  Swala is twenty years old and has already survived many fights in the arena, few of them fair.  Strong, muscular, heavier than most fighters, she is a favourite for the gamblers and for that has paid a heavy price already.  She carries many scars and ugly welts on her back – result of some ‘unofficial’ flogging probably received in some drunken sex orgy.  Doesn’t matter.  I move against her and we begin to doze off together, nothing left to say that isn’t better left unsaid.  As with Tiegli, this is the closest thing to what the Cydroids would call mind touch. 

You wonder I did not say, “Deirdre”?  Ah but with her the mind touch was always cancelling out by our carnal feelings for one-another, our “need” of each other.  Every time we got close to the knowing it was like poking your finger in a mirror surface of a small pond.  Any reflected image there is broken up.  No, our mind touch, such as it was, could never be pure, no matter how good a thing I thought we had or I wanted to believe we had.  It was always spoiled by the ‘shattering’ energy of hormonal action.

It’s good to just be with a friend during the night.  Especially when your feelings won’t let you decide whether to be happy or sad with your situation.  I enter the Teaching: from sorrow, of which I have plenty here, comes joy, always.  I embrace that joy tonight.  Once embraced it more than suffices.  That’s the thing about joy, you know?  It is self-fulfilling.  If you experience joy in that moment it is impossible to know less or more of it.  It manifests only in completion.  That too is part of the Teaching.

Morning comes, clear, beautiful, clean.  The purple glory of early morning sky has faded, giving way to reveal a deep turquoise blue painted from battlement to roof to battlement across the top of the old keep.  This means no desert storm blowing sand in the sky.  It also means we should enjoy the morning freshness for the rest of the day will bring on oppressive heat.  After our meal we wash and begin our training ritual.  No fights scheduled for today since the fixed one was cancelled.  Our male trainers are less truculent than usual and I wonder if my judge friend has had a meeting with them and laid the law down.  That has happened at times in the past. 

As weapons master, even though the title must remain unofficial, I oversee the distribution of the weapons and how they are handled by each fighter even before they are used.  I insist on the ritual of awareness to be practiced by every trainee.  It took me years to have the male trainers and handlers turn a deaf ear to my exhortations to the women; to ignore the silence rule in this instance.  They are not so stupid they can’t see the results of my teaching on weapons handling.

Thus I address the women each time I am the unofficial overseer (nor do I address them in their pidgin but in proper language):

“Every weapon you hold becomes your friend and it seeks to accomplish three basic tasks: to protect and defend you and to defeat your enemy.  That is the energy it carries; the purpose for which it is made.  It knows this.  That is no different than how a fighter is bred and becomes a member of the female ‘fighter elite’ that you are.  As your bodies are bred for a specific purpose which allows you to fight men who are stronger and heavier than you and to defeat them time and again, so your weapons are ‘bred’ to defend and to attack.  You have no other purpose, neither have they.  So know your weapon well before every fight.  Handle it with pride and use it only with the best of skill you possess.  Never get sloppy with a weapon for if it loses respect for your grip, stance, methods, it will fail you.  It will not let you down if you do not let it down.  This is a great teaching that goes beyond weapons to everything in the land and the sky.  It is the teaching on balance of energies. 

You know of scales?”  They nod affirmatively.  “Good, when you see scales tip one way, you have two choices: either you step on the heavy side and cause the tipping to complete swiftly, or you jump on the lighter side and cause the balance to be restored.  The master must know beforehand which step to take then take it without hesitation.  This you must understand as fighters: whether to join the heavier force and cause it to fall, or oppose it and cause it to hold.”

This too I consider part of the Teaching.  Making the women aware that everything possesses its own spirit; its own force through awareness of purpose and surroundings.  That inanimate “objects” so-called have energy.  That energy fields, or forces, contain sentience causing them to hold together.  When we enter these forces or manipulate them we join with them and become a part of them.  This is life.

“As with human partners, if you have a special and precious weapon, say a sword that you treasure and with which you have won many battles, you do not, at the end of the fight, throw it in a pile with other weapons of various kinds to be handled or even taken by anyone.  I could tell you stories of very ancient times when knights (they were a special class of fighter) kept their swords in scabbards that were worth more than the sword itself, in terms of money.  They inlaid precious stones in the scabbards, the holding belts and even in the hilts of their blades.  It was their way of telling their sword friend how much they appreciated them.  And know this, that if the knight was ever in dire straights and became poor, he may sell his horse, his armour, the very scabbard and belt that held the sword, but he would never sell the sword.  If he could not carry it openly, he would find a place for it, wrap it carefully in oiled rags and hide it with the hope that in better days, or at great need, he would find it again.  Thus many old swords were found again by new fighters and new tales of heroes born from difficult times.

“Now hold your weapons high and salute life.  Salute victory.  Salute the goddess who slowly awakens to you as you awaken to her.  Our days are coming, as surely as the seasons change.  Hail to the weapons!”

Each time we go through this ritual the women barely restrain themselves from cheering.  These are the moments that inexorably change the face of Malefactus. 

End blog post #94

“Life Aboard Ship”

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

Star date: 190623-I haven’t spent as much time on this as I would have liked to but I am choosing to post now rather than wait two weeks when I return from an “Island” job. There is no internet where I’ll be working, though I will be doing some limited blogging on my cell phone. “Enjoy” this bleak story – it is what my heart is showing me these days.
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“Maybe what I really need is sleep, he said to himself. A sort of twilight of living, with only the background sound of Beethoven audible. All the rest a blur.

No, he decided; I want to be! I want to act and accomplish something. And every year it becomes more necessary. Every year, too, it slips further and further away.” (A Maze of Death – Philip K. Dick)

I awoke, as does everyone sooner or later, aboard a strange craft, a ship that sailed through emptiness, bound for nowhere; a ship that would never find a port of call or ever crash on any shore. I knew this long ago, although no one ever spoke of it. In the daytime, the closest non-ship entity one could see was, of course, the sun. At night, if one happened to be on deck, one could see the stars out there, forever out of reach, the ship never getting any closer to any one of them. Sometimes one could see the moon, and although much closer than any star, or sun, it too remained aloof, at an unreachable distance.

One did not board the Ship, one was born on it and was automatically made a member of the crew. Everyone on board was crew, no exceptions. What you did as crew was determined by others and their perceived, claimed or stated needs.

Since Ship itself was quite automated, there really was nothing to do as far as sailing it. So crew served crew until that was the only thing that anyone knew how to do. The more people were born on Ship, the more it all became self-serving, with those who became leaders demanding more from their underlings. Of course the underlings had to find ways to please their masters so they learned to delve down into Ship to find resources that could be made into objects that would please or titillate the masters. Most of us became resource extractors, all to stay alive, some to seek promotions.

I don’t know the exact day, but an idea came to me: what was the point of all that? Who were we all, why were we on Ship and where were we going? I stopped my drilling, much to the annoyance of my partner, and sat down to think about this.

Where did I come from? Nowhere. Where was I going? Nowhere. What was then the point of my existence? There was none. Even if I found the strength and motivation to fulfill and surpass my quota of diamonds; even if I finally got a promotion, I would be old and near death by then. What could I expect then? Nothing. I would cease and my body would be thrown overboard, as all were except for the Captains and other rich and powerful who had themselves encased in crystal caskets and buried with much pomp and ceremony down the empty shafts of what had been our most productive mines. The shafts were then sealed and commemorative plaques put on the entrances. I leave the question with you: how much better off were these rich dead than the dead flung overboard?

Although I would become one of the outcasts, I left the mine and went up on deck to feel the noonday sun and the wind; to hear the waves beat against the hull and listen to the endless sounds of people everywhere talking, laughing, crying, cursing, praying, cheering and some even singing. These people were, in a sense, alive, but what is life without purpose except to satisfy the immediate, to seek a bit more pleasure or to avoid punishment for any and all reasons? It seemed to me that they were simply going through the motions of something they believed in, not as happening now, but as some sort of hope that it would happen by and by.

I do not need to tell you that there were many varieties of official and quasi-official beliefs aboard Ship that most people adhered to. The gist of those beliefs was that one’s soul would go to another ship once separated from one’s dead body and life would be vastly improved in that new place. The new masters would be benign and merciful… of course.

I asked myself why people believed such things when no one could furnish any evidence of their truthfulness? There was a simple enough answer: why not, when life on Ship was general misery and pointlessness and there was nothing better to believe in? If nothing came of it after one’s death, one would be none the wiser. Meantime this bit of hope made life’s tenuousness, fear and misery a bit easier to bear. It was a simple mechanism grossly exploited, of course, by those who pretended to know about life after death. 

Without dependents being an outcast is not as bad as it sounds. You can use your skills to help others and be paid back in food, clothes and temporary shelter. Survival is not difficult when one has been toughened in mining for diamonds deep in the lower bowels of Ship. On deck at least there is a pretense of freedom; there is fresh air, water can be skimmed from water barrels, left-overs and discards can be looked through before they are incinerated or recycled.

Thus I lived the later years of my life and thus I discovered a new ‘connection’ to Ship. It came to me gradually that Ship was talking to me, had always been talking to me but the people noise had blocked Ship’s communications from my mind. Now that I had more freedom I could, and did, move away from people whenever possible and in relative quiet I heard Ship.

I hadn’t known that Ship was aware of what the people were doing on board and in particular, how they were damaging Ship by their greedy delving for ever more esoteric ‘resources’ below deck and down, down, into its deepest accessible bowels. Ship’s voice was sad.

‘You are killing me,’ she said to me in an old woman’s voice, ‘and when I die, you will all die too. That should be obvious to as intelligent a race as yours but somehow your lack of purpose has deadened your understanding of cause and effect. Where are your logicians? Where you philosophers? Where is your empathy? When those things die, you die. No intelligent, sentient and self aware species can guide itself without logic, philosophy and empathy.’

What happens now, Ship?’

‘Like you I am going to die. My lifeless hulk will continue to haunt this orbit for millions of your years. Perhaps, in time beyond time I will return and bring it back to life again so I can be another ark. Perhaps.’

‘Everything, everyone, on board will die then?’

‘Yes, everything.’