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Antierra Manifesto – blog post #39

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

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

[end blog post #38]
____________________

[begin blog post #39]

Chapter 17 – If One Woman Escapes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #39]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #37

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

[end blog post #36]


[begin blog post #37]

Chapter 16 – To Save Deirdre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #37]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #36

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

[begin blog post #36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[end blog post #36]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #30

[begin blog post #30]

“May I continue with this story Doctor?”

The Doctor’s response is affirmative, even eager:  “I am certainly intrigued, Antierra.  Do continue.”

“According to Altarian research in the matter, and something I can vouch to be true from personal experience, when an ISSA dies, it vanishes, disappears, and there is no contact with those who remain in the vacated dimension.  Death is the process that separates the mind from the body and sends it automatically and without recourse into another dimension.  Few have ever been able to cross that barrier and contact the “dearly departed” and even when that has been claimed, the likelihood of the contactee being in fact the real “dead” person sought is astronomically small – perhaps nonexistent.  As an incarnate on Túat Har I have experimented with the process of contact with the so-called spirit of the dead.   I have made myself available to this experience but never have I been successfully contacted though I have been aware of such attempts being made by “someone” or “something” not of the current dimension I was in.

“To give an example. The psychic mind probe on astral travel seeking dear aunt Julie is wide open to spirit entities who sense the expectations found in the probe and can easily mimic the images.  Aunt Julie shows up, looks right, and says all the right things to the psychic who in turn relays them to the paying client.  But there is no Aunt Julie.  No secrets are shared.  The hidden cache of bonds or gold is not revealed.  Platitudes are exchanged.  Nothing more than expensive and time-wasting navel lint gathering, in my opinion.

“The only thing that is likely to happen is the essentially evil entity attaches itself to the psychic probe and, as a jump scout shuttle attached to a destroyer being “sheared” across a dimensional barrier makes the jump with it, the spirit entity jumps back into the psychic’s dimension and joins the growing host of ghosts, demons, spirits and other disembodied entities who haunt these worlds and seek bodies to inhabit and control.  These are not Avatari who can manifest material bodies from thought; these are failed lives driven by selfish and depraved desires.  Some of the more powerful of these failed lives manage to inveigle themselves into the minds of leaders, teachers, philosophers and engineers on various worlds…”

The doctor interrupts at that point to set me back on track.  “You were going to explain the small space ships we found free-floating in our space.”

“I am sorry to take such a round-about way to get there but yes doctor, I haven’t forgotten your initial question. 

“During the Melkiar invasions (there were a series of them) the USC lost thousands of their ‘jump scout’ crafts which they sent in convoy formations to attack the Melkiar ships.  When the Melkiars broke up a convoy and disabled some of the ships, they “fumigated” (killed all biological life on board) the captured ships and propelled these across various dimensions, not destroying them but saving them for some future and still unknown reason, perhaps simply because they were no longer a threat to them and they considered these crafts as having been liberated from their biological controllers and could now go on their merry way through infinite space, as relatives of the Melkiars, or as their children?

“Obviously some of those crafts were “pushed” into this dimension, where you found some free-floating in deep space and which Koron eventually appropriated to its own purposes to further its development of interplanetary space flight abilities, I presume?”

He nods affirmatively and smiles. 

“To make this part of the story more understandable, I’d like to explain about the USC’s propulsion system that can take physical objects across dimensional barriers.  The future of human survival, even on these stack or relative worlds, may depend on greater awareness of this process and consequences of its growing usage.”

“I’m much interested in that.  Please continue.”

“In one of those sorties, a wolf pack of thirty USC war craft engaged a Melkiar main ship who had just translated.  After a violent battle that claimed twelve USC crafts and all aboard, the remaining attackers were able to penetrate the Melkiar force-fields and disable their craft.  In a coup that will likely remain as the great heroic deeds of those wars, the USC troopers boarded the main ship destroying the Melkiars who became helpless when the central computer was blasted with controlled charges of singularity grenades.  The captured ship was taken back to a Federation space port and USC’s finest engineers were put to work on it to discover its drive properties, particularly their ability to just appear and disappear in colourful displays of lights resembling aurora borealis.  The question had always been: “Where do they come from and how do they just disappear without trace?”

“There were those who were convinced that Melkiar ships were able to “fold space.”  The now-famous Paul Shearing, a Leptan physicist who lived his entire life doing research and experimentation in low or zero-g space stations, was called in to study the Melkiar ship.

“Shearing, whose mind it is said functions more like an AI than a human, was able to identify the drive mechanism that caused these ships to vanish and reappear at will.  He experimented with smaller versions of that drive on a UTW craft, using insects and small animals to test his theory that no biological life would survive the “dimensional warping” effect of the drive.  He was correct.  All biology aboard the craft terminated.  After much additional research and re-design he was able to create a new drive as effective as that of the Melkiars but whose effects did not kill the biological occupants of the craft.

Pieta Olnava, a researcher-engineer in parallel worlds theory, a reincarnate who had been a political/religious prisoner killed in a prison camp in Túat Har’s North-East Coalition and partner in a triune marriage with Shearing, offered to take a test drive of the redesigned drive.  She successfully crossed a dimensional barrier in her small craft and returned it to its exact departure point. 

“The Shearing drive was perfected by the Shearing team, Paul, Olnava and Associates.   At first it was installed only on the larger UTW ships.  Great ovoid vessels called space arks were built and designed to accommodate a single gigantic Shearing drive mounted on their underside.  The vessels were sized to house tens of thousands of humans and entire cross-sections of lifeforms from worlds under attack, these remnants to be scattered throughout the then unknown space, hoping that some would escape the Melkiar devastation.

“Behemoth class warships of the USC were equipped with dual Shearing drives and auxiliary standard fusion drives and sent through dimensional barriers to intercept Melkiar ships, blowing them to smithereens when they announced their arrival with their typical light show.

“But that was still not enough to turn the tide.  The huge attached drives were cumbersome and useless in combat.  When not actually active, they were a drag upon auxiliary power systems.  Also they required maintenance which these ships’ crews could not perform under almost constant battle conditions.  If they were damaged in combat, the ships became sitting ducks to Melkiar attacks.

“Then came the revolution that would change the course of the greater galactic human movement.  The Shearing group invented a detachable drive with an x-ram configuration that would engage the ship and boost it into required velocity for the “shear effect” to take place.  Once the shear accomplished the ram pulled away to await the return of its ship, or any vessel equipped to accommodate the detachable x-ram drive.  These automated drives were also equipped with a devastating auto-defense system that would vaporize any unauthorized traffic, including unmanned missiles, entering its scanning field in over a hundred thousand kilometer radius.  Detached, the drives settled into preordained tight orbits around space station, moon, asteroid or whatever world to which it arrived, thus adding their awesome fire-power to the defense perimeter.  Once a ship had been propelled across the barrier it used its dual rear mounted standard fusion auxiliaries to function in physical (normal) space.  These are the same basic drives your “desert ship” is likely using.

“X-ram Shearing drives were installed and controlled by the USC in critical positions within any dimension the USC and UTW federations had ships, ready to propel crippled, retreating or returning ships to their home worlds or send new waves of destroyers and the behemoth planet crushers against the invaders.  Thus were the Melkiars defeated and the wars ended.

“That the Melkiars never caught on to what had happened says much about their computer mindset.  They were incapable of meeting new threats with instant decision-making.  They needed home-based direction.  They could not evolve or adapt to meet changing circumstances.  They could only increase their current efficiency linearly, as any computer does.  They could not alter the basic programming, could not evolve.  When the humans developed a superior drive, the Melkiars were defeated.  Another aspect of their faulty programming: it did not make allowances for retreat or surrender.  Once outmaneuvered or outmatched they could only stand, fight and be destroyed.

[end blog post #30]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #29

[begin blog post #29

Chapter 13 – Galactic History – The Melkiar Wars

The doctor steeples his hands with his elbows resting on the table; there is a hardness on his face warning me I’m treading on thin ice with him at the moment. 

He says, “I am not at all satisfied with your explanation, and I certainly reject your claim that you can manifest a physical body on any world you choose to “visit” or interact in.  For the purpose of this interview I will take your story at face value because I need other information from you and I certainly need to think through what you have just told me.  I know I can, and will, destroy your story and discover what you are hiding from us.  I’m not a fool, Antierra.  If what you claim were true, why would we not have encountered the likes of you before?”

“Please Doctor, please do not get angry at me because I tell you things difficult to accept.  Every event has a first in it.  My position in the Galaxy makes it inevitable that I should be a first in many people’s lives.  Although I know that once you break through the veil of programming in your own mind you will realize that you have encountered others much like myself in your past-future time.  So, speaking of time, may I suggest you give this information enough time to fit in with other events you will remember, and some you will observe here, on this world, probably soon?”

“Very well, you make a good point.  For now I’d like you to explain the ancient crafts we found free-floating in Koron’s deep space, all completely shut down with no signs of any biological life having ever touched them?”

“I am certain I can doctor, but that involves an extensive period of galactic history that is not quite over yet if one were to believe the pundits on the matter.  What I am going to reveal to you is going to stretch your belief regarding the worlds outside your known space.  I will tell this exactly as I remember it and will let you decide when you have heard enough.  Remember our motto: believe all things, believe in nothing.  

“I will use classic Earth time to describe these events as stack world years do not coincide with those of Earth and my historical chronology of events will be meaningless to you.  To satisfy my own curiosity before I go into my tale, do Malefactus years coincide with those of Koron?”

“No, they do not.  Koron has a much longer year than Malefactus as you call it.  Our days are also longer.  Nor do we use the same count in years.  On Koron, this is year 51006 since the beginning of our calendar and of our accounting in years whereas it is year 1337 here, accounted since the overthrow and break-up of the planetary oligarchy that ruled all of T’Sing Tarleyn.  The empire of Estáan is what remains of the old oligarchy.  It has been attempting to re-unite Elbre for about a hundred years now, by various methods, sometimes using trade sanctions but mostly by direct military attack upon Hyrete, the plan being to overthrow the supreme monarchy.”

I continue with my story about the ships found by the Koronese.  “Thank you doctor, I wondered much about the ruling forces on this world.  Now a bit about the events behind the lost craft in Koron space since that was our original question. 

“About a century and a half ago in our (classic) time, this sector (but in the greater galactic dimension, not interacting with this one nor directly affecting it) was invaded by a non-biological robotic life-form whose sole purpose it seemed was eradication of all biology in the galaxy.  Millions of humans were vaporized, entire worlds pulverized and all biology destroyed to the last cell.  It was a genocide beyond anything imaginable.  There was no rhyme nor reason to their depredations and they could not be approached through any communication channels or methods used by human mediators.  They made no attempts to reply to any overture and all efforts aimed at mediating a cease-fire were a complete failure.  All human ambassadors were killed in attempts to make direct contact with the invaders.

“The United Treaty Worlds (UTW) were then loose federations of human worlds in their infancy, far from the power of the current Supremacy it has declared itself to be.  Space travel was slow and cumbersome, most of it still below the speed of light.  Space was still being measured in linear distance then!

“Human defenders were no match for the invaders and kept pulling back, evacuating worlds with humans and whatever could be salvaged of indigenous biological life by whatever means.  A United Space Command (USC) was hastily cobbled together from various space police and peace-keeping units and sent against the invaders in the hope of finding a weakness in their method of attack.

“The fighting units of the USC were known as United Defence Units (UDU – now derogatorily referred to as “you do’s”) which at the beginning of the retaliations were composed of hardened space ‘troopers’ made up of private security patrols, freebooters or pardoned space pirates, planetary defence units and even revolutionary groups who had rebelled against the UTW and wished to join the battle against a common enemy it was belatedly realized was bent upon the complete extermination of humanity.  These were sent out in tens of thousands of small space crafts to engage and hopefully destroy the invaders which by then had been dubbed “Melkiars.” 

“Who were the Melkiars?  From a private collection of reports I remember studying on the blue world of Parnako, a water world where the people have adapted themselves to life almost exclusively spent in underwater communities, I will now attempt to recall the gist of what I learned with my Al’Tara memory.  I must resort to trancing again, doctor, if you don’t mind?”

His smile appears quite genuine as he encourages me to continue.  “I’m getting used to your rather esoteric ways Antierra.  Please continue, I’m quite taken by these revelations.”

As I had grown used to in my many appearances on Túat Har I did not expect him to accept I could be more than one personality with more than one name.  For him to accept me and give some credence to anything I may have to say, I have to be Antierra, the female slave fighter.  He cannot make the leap in his mind that would allow him the full freedom to interact with a full-fledged Avatari who calls herself Al’Tara.  Therefore, as is always the case, much of what I share with him will be lost to his immediate memory and of no use to him until such time as he allows himself to break out of his self-imposed limitations.  So it is!

Melkiar invasionsThe Parnako Reports

The invading robotic AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) we called Melkiars brought us the only means we know to physically cross dimensional barriers.  It is called the Shearing Drive, after engineer Paul Shearing, the man who first broke the mystery of Melkiar invasions on our worlds and perfected their device for use by the United Treaty Worlds.

Crossing dimensions, of course, is done all the time by billions of entities from all over.  But they do not use “drives” or “ships” – they cross through with their minds.  The process as we know it is, simply put, physical death.  An adept such as an Avatari can use this process to travel to any chosen location by simply leaving a body on one side of a dimension and re-manifesting a new and suitable one on the “other side” wherever that be.  This process should never be confused with another called resurrection in which a new body is given to an entity, but not through self-empowerment.  In the resurrection process as we understand it now, the resurrected entity is blocked from further mind evolution until it chooses to die, reject the offer of new life through resurrection and instead re-manifests by its own choices. 

 We now believe the Melkiars are descendants, clones, creations or inventions of an ancient and powerful group of Time Lords who once traveled freely between dimensions because they were mind, never existing as physical beings.  They “fell” from their pure mind state and incarnated to taste the pleasures of their (physical) creations.  Once in physical form they could no longer escape the pull of their created worlds.  They became the gods of time.  Aeon after aeon passed and they became ever more locked into the matter worlds.  They continued to de-evolve mentally and to rely more upon the physical and technological aspect of life for their continuity. 

 But they remembered the time before time when they had full freedom to come and go as they pleased.  These memories ate at them and they became dark lords who, though certain they could never die,  condemned their worlds to experience death – not that those who died would find their freedom thereby, but that they would lose all consciousness by being physically disconnected from one another.  Death of the gods’ devising was intended to be an end to awareness and enslavement of all developing ISSA consciousness.  What they could no longer have, the freedom to traverse cosmic infinity, they wanted to ensure their creations would never find.  They realized the possibility that in time their creations would supplant, even outlive them and this they vowed to prevent.

 Eventually these dark lords became aware of the process we so take for granted: aging.  This had been an unknown factor to them and it frightened them.  Filled with hate against the very fate they had set up, they re-worked themselves to give their physical forms immortality.  They made themselves into Cyborgs replacing their weakening biological functions to positronic and mechanical constructs.  They finally removed their biological brains to store them in a central containment field as a back-up should their next change fail.  They re-designed each other’s brains into basic silicon circuitry.  Once the switch completed and they knew it worked, they removed the containment field from their original brains and killed them.  Thus they became artificial intelligence – in essence mere computerized machines.  They did not think of themselves as artificial intelligence though, but as absolute intelligence, as gods who would rule the physical order forever.

Having broken completely from their high spirit estate, down into physical/biological life, then further down into the silicon life worlds, they proceeded to embark on a plan to destroy all biological life on their worlds and create nothing but mechanical/computer brains in robots to replace it.  They then programmed these robots to seek out and invade all biological worlds with the single directive: destroy all biological life everywhere.  To them biology had become a poisonous substance that translated as death.

 The invaders of the human worlds called “Melkiars” are their AI robotic “spawns.”  The precursor to the Shearing drive was the dark lords’ invention to cheat the dimensional blockade that forbids matter from crossing from one dimension into another. 

 [end of the Parnako report]

[end blog post #29]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #23

(Sorry, missed one scheduled posting day!)

begin blog post #23]

So now what?  Unless I make some terrible mistake in the arena, I am certain to outlive her.  She will never survive a first encounter.  How am I going to save her life? 

And at that moment the true purpose of my chosen experience on this world returned to me.  I did not incarnate on Malefactus to save her life.  Or any other individual’s life.  I came to uncover a particularly insidious deviation and discover the source of it.  I came to introduce the “anti-virus” that would break its hold on the male population by spreading the Teaching among the women. 

Tiegli, Deirdre, even the doctor; all those others I’ve met, known; those who help me and those I help are points of reference I create so I am reminded to distinguish between the various interplays of forces vying for the life of this world.  So I don’t get lost and become just another woman fighting to stay alive against impossible odds.  I must remember the difference between compassion and love… yes, and hate.  I must remember exactly why I am here and beware the feelings I’ve allowed to dominate my mind lately.

Compassion certainly carries heavy responsibility and often seemingly impossible choices.  I know the above to be true according to my lessons.  I also know it is impossible for me to not attempt to save Deirdre, not only because I love her in every possible sense, but because I know I can make that process fit in with my stated purpose.  Now I must find someone willing to help me but before I do that, I must have some kind of plan as to where she should go.  One thing is certain, she must leave Hyrete, perhaps Elbre, but to where?  Her branding will always bring her back unless she can completely disappear.  The only process available to a female to disappear on Malefactus is death.

Can I talk to the doctor about this?  Would I dare?  I must find a way that will bring us together again.  I know I failed to demonstrate the proper degree of subservience to him in our last encounter.  I know he is dangerous but I sense he is intrigued by me and wants more information from me.  The only way I know of to meet with him again is to be severely, possibly mortally, wounded in an arena fight.  The most difficult part of such an obviously dumb plan is to prevent Deirdre from intervening. 

My next fight is scheduled in two days.  This may be the most serious encounter I’ve ever had.  The opponent is a “drook” as the fighters call all mercenaries who fight for money.  I’ve fought some before but this one has an unbroken record of kills in over thirty fights, most of them against female gladiators in public matches, some involving several female attackers at the same time.  A mercenary, as the name implies, is paid by certain people to represent them in a fight.  A match between the Desert Beast and such a one would certainly give rise to unusual gambling fever.  This is going to be more than a spectacular fight – it’s going to be a high-end money maker.  One of us, of course, will die, must die.

Before I enter the fight I explain to Deirdre that I must see the doctor afterwards and if I’m badly wounded to let the trainers take me to him.  “Do not interfere or offer to help me.  Pretend to be angry at me, or to be sick, whatever it takes, but you must not interfere, understand?  I cannot tell you my reasons now so you must trust me.”

She displays an uncharacteristic flash of Malefactian female jealous anger, something I have never seen in her, controls it quickly and agrees.  I know it’s the slave to master controlling force that brings her to agree, not a personally motivated choice.  Nevertheless I have a commitment.  Then she extends her hand to me and in it is a small orange cube the size of a sugar cube.  I take the gel-like item and roll it in my fingers.  I hold it to my nose – there is no smell from it. 

“Take it and bite through it then swallow it slowly.”  So matter of fact, so cold; I shudder at the change in her.

“What is it Deirdre?”

“A stim cube, a completely synthetic hyper-stim sex-slaves often share with their partners, especially in orgies.  It will give you the energy the chakr normally gives without the side effects.  You will need this.”

How did she get that?  I won’t ask her, certainly not now.  I sincerely and warmly thank her and bite through the substance.  It tastes bland but as I swallow it in bits I can feel its effects almost immediately.  I feel a degree of confidence rising in me.  The world looks different, the day promising.

“Why don’t they give us this all the time, Deirdre?”  I ask, trying to sound light-hearted.

“It is not made here, she replies sullenly, meaning what, I wonder.  On Malefactus?  Or in the kingdom of Tassard?  She explains briefly, “It must be imported and costs a great deal of money.  They trade a female slave for a small box of those,” she points to the piece still in my hand with her long beautiful fingers that carry so much soothing power.  I want to reach out to her.

She has withdrawn within herself and looks at the ground as we part without kiss or hug.  Her sense of helplessness is palpable and my sadness as great as any I’ve yet known.  Not an auspicious way to enter a life and death struggle in the arena.  I clear my mind and begin the focusing breath as we walk through the now too familiar tunnel with its dampness and muted lighting.  One of the trainers fondles me as we walk.  I have to stop to let him do his thing then accommodate the other as well.  I put no energy at all in it and carry on as soon as they are done.  At least this much is good: they had no other expectations either.  They just wanted to be able to say they were the last to have the Desert Beast if I died in the arena, the chances of it being bandied at ten to one against me they gloat to my face, also telling me they put their money on the drook.  Are they trying to cheer me up?  These men, you gotta love ‘em.  Some of them are lower than dungut.

This time the arena is full to capacity and the noise from the crowd is deafening.  Sun and plasma tube lights contribute to the excitement in the atmosphere.  The usual garish display of dress is almost oppressive.  Flags of House Tassard are flying everywhere, flapping in a stiff breeze from some ocean I can sometimes smell but will never see.  Trumpets and drums blare and boom some harsh military type “music” that assaults the ears. 

All of that fanfare and ostentatious display just to watch two humans fight to the death.

High in the sky vultures circle.  Always the vultures are there.  So now I understand.  This is what they do with our female bodies, or what remains of them, when they truck them off from the compounds.  They toss them out into the open desert for the vultures to pick clean and the bones to crumble into the sand or be eroded by the sand-filled winds.  That is why the vultures circle over us.  Conditioning: a fight means they will eat at the end of the day.  They have learned that we are part of their food chain.

The fight is done with the rapier-dagger combination.  We wear only the short skirt armour and smooth light helmet held on with a chin strap.  We engage without words and without mercy.  Hours that seem like days go by.  We are allowed a few breaks to drink and throw water on ourselves to wash some of the blood off, then return to our center place to continue.  After several hours both of us are covered in clotted blood, dirt and sand but still no disabling cut has been received or given.  We hear each other’s panting breath, like animals that have been pursued by a predator too long.  We are tiring.

By now we know each-other’s every move.  We are as evenly matched a pair as could be found.   Only a mistake can give one or the other the advantage.  We look for them, or attempt to create them. I want this to end because I can feel that my energy will run out before his does.  I take a deadly gamble by pulling out my dagger and deliberately fumbling it.  A look of triumph comes on his face as he thrusts at me, pulling his own dagger out for the killing throw.  I take his sword thrust in my right side, absorbing the pain of a certain death blow while completing the full-force counter slash I had begun to execute, cutting off his dagger arm just below the shoulder and embedding my sword in his torso.  

We both collapse in the bloody sand and before I pass out I see a couple of trainers run on the field to drag my body away and medics in their typical white tunics carrying a stretcher to pick up the fallen drook who will no longer fight even if he survives this day.  For me it’s welcome blackness.

[end blog post #23]

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]