Tag Archives: Relationships

Antierra Manifesto -blog post #58

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]
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[begin blog post #58]

That night Tiki is angry.  Not at me, she knows nothing of my intercession to get her to work kitchen duty, but at the men. 

“Damn them, damn them, damn them!” she mutters in that hoarse whisper all females learn to speak in from the time they utter their first words.  “I be fighter, not gorok!  I train with weapon, not clean dirty bowl and sweep floor for dirty cooks.  Damn them!”  

A ‘gorok’ is a particular class of female worker slave who does the most menial type of kitchen work.  She doesn’t cook, or even serve.  She peels, grinds, husks and cleans, cleans, cleans, endlessly.  Her “shifts” have no set times.  She is up hours before anyone else, warming up ovens, washing utensils and cleaning counters and floors.  She sleeps, when permitted, during the middle hours of the day and of the night.  She is up late into the night cleaning, locked inside the kitchens with sensors ready to set off alarms if she walks outside her perimeter.  A slave of slaves.  There is usually a round the clock complement of eight of these goroks in our kitchens.

Because Tiki is my slave, she is allowed out of the kitchens at nightfall to spend the night with me.  I had hoped otherwise, but I can redeem this time, I think.  I fully enjoy her outburst.  There is fire in this one.  Not hate, not pride, just pure fire.  She has a dream, a vision, however short: to be the best fighter ever to grace the arena.  To beat my record.  I can tell.  Now to blend patience and humility into that fire so it can never be doused, whatever happens to the body of this woman. This one is going to develop into a true mind being, I can sense that already.  I have three years to prepare her to become a hero to the women of her world.  That’s sufficient when one has good material to work with.  It is my turn to do my hoarse communication.

“Come Tiki,”  she rolls between my legs and cuddles against my body.  “You be fine.  You no gorok.  You be fine fighter, best fighter.  Say you this every day.  Pick up broom, it ‘staff’ for you.  Sweep husks and peelings from floor like opponents in arena – just dust to Tiki.  Strong is Tiki.  Mongoose shaking cobra to death.”  She nudges deeper into me, her hair tickling my throat and begins unselfconsciously sucking her thumb.  I take her hand gently and pull the thumb out of her mouth and offer her my nipple instead.  She takes it greedily and smiles at me.  Haven’t I been here before?  Beware Antierra, the snakes aren’t all outside in the coarse grasses at the edge of the desert!  They be hissing from the very walls that contain you.

Wars aren’t won in a day.  They take planning, patience, courage and finally just the sheer gut of the fighters to win them.  Tiki does not take kindly to her new life.  From kitchen duty she is shifted to cleaning the straw in the cages and then to sweeping the yards and washing the blood on the flagstones where some of the women have been “punished” for certain infractions.  In this past week we were made to witness two “punishments” to the death, one of an older fighter whose owner cancelled his contract and condemned her to the next killing orgy.  She was put into a private killing orgy for the trainers, a bit of fun approved by the overseer.  She was led to the centre of the yard and  armed with nothing but a standard training staff, was viciously set upon by six trainers until they had managed to break several ribs and one arm.  When she could no longer defend herself they crushed her skull.  When she died they cheered and toasted their victory.  Old king Jestor would have been truly proud of these men.

The other, a trainee who had a nightmare and did not shut up in time when one of the women tried to awaken her, was flogged to death for breaking the rule of silence.  We watched, listened to her screams and pleas for mercy, her dying moans.  We heard the standard warning, returned to life as usual.  What I would give, had I anything to give, to enter the auto-medic and be given the heart of an android, or better, a heart of stone.  To not feel.  To not have to endure this suffering planet.

It is the way of it… and I cannot help feeling.  To cry?  To curse?  I glance at the bloody, pulpy mess hanging from that steel torture pole I know intimately.  I wonder why it is not I who is hanging there.  I imagine the life that was there, that is no more.  I sat next to her yesterday at morning meal and she smiled sadly at me under her eyelashes.  Well, maybe it is me there because I realize I cannot curse.  If I cannot curse, then I have incarnated all of it.  Each time another dies, I die two deaths: hers and mine.  Malefactus is a neuro-inductor and I am attached to its probes all the time.  

Under the wan light of Albaral coming through the openings in the high black stone walls Tiki and I talk in our cage as we nestle against each other enjoying the mutual warmth of our bodies.  Menial labour brings anger and shame from Tiki.  She is afraid they want to demote her to the rank of goronda, the general purpose female worker drone.  “Damn them!” – her favourite expression towards men in general.  That fire is burning dangerously bright.  The wick needs trimming or the flame will smoke up the glass and obscure the vision. 

I study my feelings for her as a hawk watches his prey moving unawares, feeding peacefully in the grasses below his perch.  I must let her take all of me she needs yet refuse to ever let her possess any of me.  I know how to do this, I know I can do it, but do I have the willpower?  How does an older woman not lose herself in those black pools of sadness that pass for eyes in such children who have never experienced childhood?  Creatures destined to die before they experience adulthood?  What does that make them?

I try my best logic on her.  “Tiki, listen me.  I good fighter, yes?”

“Yes sir, you best fighter.  All women say you best.”

“You trust me, Tiki?”

She replies with a hoarse grunt.  “Huh?”

“Trust.  Believe me.  You think me true to you?”

“Oh yes!  You say, I believe.”

This is extremely dangerous ground.  Who in their right mind wants to be believed by someone who will put her life at stake for what you tell her?  I speak slowly, pitching my voice so she can get every word, every inflection – the tone of voice to them being much more meaningful than the words used to convey it. 

“Good you believe.  But careful you be not believe everything I say.”  She tries to speak and I put my hand on her mouth.  “Wait, I finish, I explain.  I know things you not know.  Things good for me.  Maybe not good for you.  You, me, different.  You listen – I say – you try.  If work for you, is good for you, yes?  If not work for you, is not good for you.  I not know if good for you.  I guess.  I have vision.  Like you but is my vision.  You have vision to be best fighter.  Good vision.  I have different vision.  To be best woman; to be good woman.  I not good woman Tiki.  Good fighter only.  But man can be good fighter too, better than best woman.  But man cannot be good woman.  I have what called “exclusive” vision – be special. 

“You woman now.  What you want be?  I not understand you.”

“I want be more than what I be, Tiki.  Better.  In good ways, not evil ways.  I tired of killing.  Tired of blood and screams.  Tired all over.  Old now Tiki, very, very old.  But cannot go yet, cannot leave, cannot die.  I first find me, better me.  Good woman me.  I first do something good for another person.  If you not understand, no matter.  You remember I say this and put my words in your head.  They grow there.  Ideas.  You say to me woman thinks is stupid.  Is not stupid Tiki.  I think always.  Think, think.  I watch men, learn.  Design new weapons, train in new way for women to fight so live longer; so you live longer.  I stay here, not die because I want help women be stronger, live longer.  Is nothing else for me.”  

[end blog post #58]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #57

(Continuing with the saga, now back in the slave quarters with their usual, unchanging conundrums – or are they really unchanging, or dare I say, unchangeable?)

As already mentioned I fought and died near the end of the Melkiar invasions.  I spent some years on Altaria, found some of the information on Malefactus I had hoped to locate, and re-incarnated (manifested physically) on ‘Stack World minus four’ (SW-4) of the lower set of the six dark worlds where I am now living, or to put it in a more accurate sense, existing and surviving day to day, always under the shadow of imminent death, as are all of the women in this compound.’

This concludes the Michele Dellman article.
[end blog post #56]

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[begin blog post #57]

Chapter 26 – Tiki Tells a Story and An’Tierra Remembers

As the daily treatments of ice-cold water on bare flesh in pre-dawn light causes shock and exhilaration at the same time, so I put my mind through this process.  I do my mantras against fear and for total detachment.  Each morning I push Tiki away from my body and close my heart to her sounds and scent.  She is doing everything in her child-woman power to seduce me to be mother and lover to her.  I am doing everything in my power to give her all she really needs that I can give without falling into the temptation of ownership.  Quasi-legally, because the men decree it so, she is my slave until they (or I) decide otherwise, or until either of us is killed.  I could kill her myself and nothing much would come of it, except maybe I’d have to reimburse her owner (if she has one yet, there is no way of knowing) by taking an extra turn in the arena. 

The lives of females are the cheapest commodity on Malefactus until the betting starts on a fight.  A young trainee without reputation and without an owner has no value at all.  She may earn some points through sexual performance but that’s shaky.  Most of these men, the trainers, handlers, blacksmiths and male nurses or medics aren’t that interested in “performance.”  They just take you when they feel a need and discard you, often with a slap or a kick.  Romance is not their strong point.

Tiki has already been gang-raped twice during her voyage to Hyrete from her segregated crèche in a fortified village in an independent principality east of the kingdom of Elbre and south of the Union of Estáan where she was raised from an infant.  The trip by foot, using male slaves as baggage carriers, took over four weeks of difficult walking through soft and shifting dunes.  There were twenty-four young females when the trek began.  Twenty three arrived in various degrees of exhaustion from starvation, dehydration and physical abuse at the compound in Hyrete.

The soldiers who accompanied the trek to guard against raiders decided that each night they would have a sex orgy.  So each night a couple of the girls were forced to perform erotic dances for which they had not been trained and were then raped repeatedly.  Some were otherwise abused.  One cried out under torture and was killed after they finished with her.  According to Tiki, the soldier guards were drinking heavily and mixing chakr in their brew.  Under the influence of the drink, they mixed the forbidden drink using the dying girl’s blood and chakr.  Then they took pieces of her body and cooked themselves a “sacred” meal.  I’d heard a similar story from Tiegli so I have no reason to doubt Tiki’s account of that ghoulish march.  For these girls the slave compound in the great keep of Hyrete would seem a reprieve, a place of safety… until they find out otherwise. 

There is yet no such place on T’Sing Tarleyn for any woman.  What, you may ask, constitutes a “safe” place for a woman, in any society, on any world?  I would say from personal experience it’s a place where a woman is safe without having to rely on anyone else, especially on a male, to protect her.  Ideally, wherever a woman happens to be, that is automatically her sacred, inalienable and inviolable sanctuary.  In any situation, any role, a woman is approached only by her permission.  Only when she clearly indicates her sanctuary is open can another walk in to “touch” her.  That is how I see it now.

Yes I know Tiki desperately needs a mother figure in her life.  She desperately needs love and protection, however tenuous, from an elder.  I know I can provide some of it for her, but I want her to find it on her own, within herself.  The only place of comfort and safety here is within one’s heart and mind.  There is nothing that can help you outside of yourself.  Nothing.  That is, I realize belatedly, the true “lesson” of the stack worlds, regardless whether they are on the “light” or the “dark” side of the balance equation.

I brought this knowledge with me here, of course.  It’s something all Altarians know, a basic natural awareness.  Tiegli discovered this before she died.  The “Concubines” or twins already know this.  Perhaps the Cydroids also, although their minds do not function like ours so I still do not know how they perceive their reality in relation to natural humans. 

Now Tiki must learn it for herself.  I must allow her close to me while keeping my anti-emotion shields up when we are in contact.  I begin by approaching my handlers and complaining that Tiki is too much of a distraction.  She needs to be occupied.  I address Delton, overseer of handlers.

“Speak sir?”

His gaze sweeps over me with a rather neutral and tired look as I stand with head bowed.  “Speak gora.”  It’s the ritual opening.  A reminder that has lost much of its meaning over the years I’ve heard it, as do all rituals, yet deadly dangerous to take for granted.  Rituals are noticed, not in being performed but in being ignored.  I speak without looking at his face, focusing on a purple blotch above his left knee.

“Young slave 1339-32-19 which shares sleep with me need better employ sir.  She has use, perhaps kitchen?  Perhaps clean the straw?  Too weak for weapons training yet sir.  Too young, waste of time – me.  Need time for older fighters to make better.  Maybe train to help nurse?” 

I display the most abject and humble stance I can muster, using the kind of pidgin they prefer to hear, in the hope he will even listen.  He sneers – another ritual – and motions me away.  I’ve been “heard” whatever comes of it.  I know after so many years that they are good at listening and pretending they don’t.  Females know nothing so they cannot accept any suggestions directly.  They discuss any point I raise privately in their strategy and meeting sessions, taking full credit for any idea they think has merit. 

Later that day Tiki, or should I say slave #1339-32-19 is taken from our cage and escorted into the kitchens.  The number I quote is the last line of numbers branded on her backside.  It refers to year, batch number and number in batch when she was admitted into the training compound in Hyrete.  For example, year #1339 is admission to Hyrete arena compound as trainee at age 13.  #32 is thirty-second batch to arrive that year.  #19 is order of branding as number nineteen in batch.  She has another brand line above that stating the year of birth and class of breeding.  Hers is #1326-04.  Born year 1326 local time; class 4 female fighter.  She is permanently branded as a gladiator.  Any man can thus know instantly what she is – not whom – women have no status as human beings.

Thus do I begin the training of a slave girl to come to a place of self-awareness and understanding.  Small steps, all to be taken within the system.  Step outside, even once and your chances of being flogged to death are almost one hundred percent sure.  You can bend rules as long as you are willing and able to unbend them immediately, but woe to you if you break them.

[end blog post #57]

The House at the Crossroads of the World

[a short story by    ~burning woman~    as told by Sha’Tara]

As I sat by the River one day and pondered the state of the world I had a thought: I will build myself a home at the crossroads of the world. So I did.

My home had a good roof but it had no walls, just posts holding it up. I planted ivy, honeysuckle, clematis and sweetpeas by each post and they grew swiftly and beautifully. I was very pleased.

First a family of refugees passed by and they came in to rest, drink of the cool, clean water and eat from the garden I had planted. Sated and after a good sleep their children ran out and played in the fields. Their laughter filled the air and more birds sang.

A couple of starving, ragged men came by and asked if they could stay for a while. I smiled and said, ‘Look, no walls, anyone is welcome here.’ They were gays who had been persecuted and escaped with only their lives and the clothes on their backs. Soon they were playing with the children and entertaining them with tales and magic tricks.

A group of migrant workers heading north came by and also partook of this unexpected hospitality. They were earth people and soon they had my garden cleaned and explained about plant symbiosis. I could grow much more food if I did it right. I learned much from them in that too short a time.

Some young girls came running, crying, and stopped at the house. I invited them in and they shyly came, sat down and explained they had escaped from a van filled with sex slaves bound for the black market. They got washed in the creek, ate and slept together in a corner of the house.

The honeysuckle was in full bloom and its sweet smell filled the house. In the dark we sat in the house and sang, each her or his own songs and everyone listened in awe. It was so good to find each other here and not worry about any difference.

It was too good, actually. They had watched the comings and goings to and from the house and in that country the government and its propaganda press declared that it was a terrorist training center. So they sent the drones.

We are all dead now. I am dead too but since I am mind and not matter I am made of memories. This story is a memory, and it is real.

There is no longer a house at the crossroads of the world though there are walls everywhere and for that reason the world is dying.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #53

(…that goes on, this goes on… another short episode from Antierra’s life – and I did not forget to add a title to the blog post this time. Gets confusing when I don’t number them and if I don’t get better at blogging from a cell phone, I’d better remember to drag my combination laptop/tablet Asus computer wherever I go! The problem with that is, it only works where there’s WIFI whereas the cell phone works anywhere there’s phone coverage. Decisions, decisions…)
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Two days before the deadline, the doctor calls the handler office for two escorts to return me to my normal life.  As a sign that I’m just another female gladiator slave the doctor pushes me out his door to stand naked and await my escorts.  As I expected, they examine me, then take me to the wash troughs where they dump cold water on me.  Then the feeding and since it’s late in the day, I’m led into a cage.  To my shock and surprise I see a young trainee there.

“Deirdre!”  I almost shout.  I bite my lip to keep from crying out with the double pain of thinking they found her and brought her back to certain death,  then realizing it isn’t Deirdre, of course – Cydroids never lie – but another young woman likely recently arrived into our killing fields.

[end blog post #52]
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[begin blog post #53]

She is a typical T’Sing Tarleynan, small, stocky, with short fingers and stubby toes.  Her hair is almost black, cut rough and short.  She has a thin-lipped smile that reveals pointy, gapped teeth.  She makes no move towards me as I lie down on one side of the cage.  She just watches, her black eyes glinting in the pale light, as if waiting for a signal from me as to what I want from her.  I motion for her to move beside me and she does quickly and quietly.  Waits again. 

I whisper, “Can you talk?”

“Yes master, I talk good.”

“Here in the cage I’d rather you don’t call me that.” 

“Yes m… yes.  I call you something?”

“Call me Anti.”

“What it means, Anti?”

“It means I fighter and now family for you.”  And for some reason not yet clear to me, I suddenly decide to imitate the paucity of words in her language – to make myself more like her and the others in the compound.  I get the impression that I need to lower my standards even more to be accepted, if not understood.  Better late than never. 

“Ah good.  And what I be called by you, please?”

“You Tiki.  Little mongoose.”

“What be… mongoose?”

“Little animal from an old world.  It kills snakes.  You know snakes?”

“Oh yes, in desert and in grass prairies?  Many snakes.  Dangerous.  The black people, they tell stories of big snakes to take a man, crush and eat whole.  Is mongoose so strong?”

“Yes Tiki.  Mongoose is small but fast and strong. Kills poison snake called cobra that has big head with marks and small body.”

“There are those here…”

“Yes and they be called men…”  I do not hide the bitterness of my statement from her but this is not Deirdre.  Such subtleties are lost to her, as to most women I have met.

“Oh!  You mean I mongoose, kill cobra men?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.  When you are trained you kill men, many men.  They fear you then.  Fear your power of woman.”

“I like you telling of my power Anti.  I come here three days and they burn my number under old one, see?” She shows me her fresh brand and I remember the pain of it in my own buttock, and the shame to go with it too.  “And I feel so scared and small.  No friends.  No one to care.  The men, they have sex with me, many men.  They hurt me so much, aiiee!  They, you say, torture me, make me cry down there in a room behind great stone doors.” 

She points in some vague direction I locate as north-east.  “They put metal string inside me and make me burn – terrible pain, terrible.  Now they give me to you.  Say you lose your lover – she dead they say, yes?  Maybe I be her now for you?”  She touches me lightly on the thigh and I feel her shaking remembering her pain.

“Yes Tiki, she dead.  She run away and not come back.  I too now all alone and very sad.  Like you.  Like you they take me in torture room under walls, deep under the ground.”  And I point down to make her understand my meaning of ‘down.’  “They hurt me and make me scream – so much pain, Tiki.  All of us here, so much pain we endure.  What you think, we should all have so much pain always, from men, huh?”

As a true T’Sing Tarleynan female would answer she replies, “What I think no matter.  Men, they decide.  Woman think?  That is waste.  Eat, sleep, make love, train to fight and kill.  That is fighter woman do.  Think waste energy; mix up in head.  Make weak, stupid.  I be strong soon, strong and fast.  I train good.  I live long.  Maybe you like me, you take me.  Hold me, make love.  Be lover, be friend.  Be family to me.  I train with you, huh?”  She pinches my muscles on my tight stomach.  “You like old skin, strongest of fighter woman they say.  Desert Beast, huh?  Proud I be slave to you.  Teach me strength you do.  I fight for you.”

[end blog post #53]

Reaching for Awareness

[short story by   ~burning woman~  written by Sha’Tara]

“If it is true that we only live a small part of the life that is within us, what happens to the rest?

What could, what should be done with all the time that lies ahead of us?

Is it a wish, dreamlike and nostalgic, to stand once again at that point in life; to be able to take a completely different direction from the one which has made us who we are?

The fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one planned to be.” (quotes from the movie, Night Train to Lisbon)

It was, he figured, around the middle of the night. He’d crawled out of the warm sleeping bag to stand outside and look at the night sky. The stars were slowly revolving overhead, only he knew it wasn’t the stars that were moving, but himself riding his wild planet through space and time. The thought made him feel vulnerable, fragile. Who am I to be standing here alone to witness this incredible sight? A couple of dozen years have gone by already since I was born and what do I know? I don’t even know why I was born. Happenstance? That’s it? I’m here, feeling this incredible surge of life just because, and no reason for any of it?

He thought about that as he began to shiver and long to crawl back into his little tent and the sleeping bag with its residual warmth. “I think therefore I am” he said out loud. “Well, that’s not good enough anymore because really that is meaningless. What I need to establish for myself is not the realization that “I am” which is pretty obvious and need not be stated, but “Why Am I? That’s the point!”

It was early Summer and the river level was still rising. There was the smell of fresh leaves and muddy waters flowing over mud banks and through thick grasses. You could hear the waters hissing as they flowed by the little island he’d chosen for his stay: it had just enough room to pitch the tent and bring the kayak safely out of the water. He knew “his” river, that the little island would not wash away. For the time being it was his own little private world surrounded by water. He’d chosen it as his sanctuary, a place to be alone and away from people. A place to think in ways not possible among others.

He had given himself this gift. He already knew that from here his life would take another path, go on another tangent, new ideas coalescing in his mind to foster yet another nature even if his body chose to remain essentially the same, ageing and eventually dying. That, he understood, was the way of things on Earth, “but not for me” he would say and watch friends and family walk away from him, afraid that his madness might be contagious.

“I’m sorry, Nadia” he’d told his young wife as she berated him for leaving on his “crazy” kayak outing on the river. She of course wanted nothing to do with his water ways and had done her utmost after their wedding to dissuade him and get him to sell his kayak even though she had promised she would never interfere with the part of his life that involved the river. “It’s my time of year to go on the river and partake of her awakening. I know you cannot understand this but there is no need to fear, or be jealous. This is whom you married and I kept no secrets or surprises to spring upon you. I will be back when I have done what I must do. If you do not wish to share this with me you are free to leave. I would be pleased to find you here when I return but I will not be expecting it. Take care o’ you, my lady.”

That had been his way, to set the people around him free of bonding to himself. The freedom he sought, he gave to everyone. He had never told his wife that he loved her – he did not believe in love because, as he so often said, love has proven it’s weakness in unreliability. Respect and honour, that I can offer, but not love.  This included his concept of bonding.  Stay or leave, as you choose.

Ignoring the night’s cold he let his mind wander this strange new world he had decided to enter into: detachment. Is detachment simply a coward’s way of dealing with a violent, cruel and unpredictable world? Is it a morbid fear of losing someone close, another that one has fallen in love with or developed a special bond to? Is that why I’m here, to work this out for myself?

The stars continued their uninterrupted journey over his head and he realized once again and logically that what he was observing was his own journey through the cosmos, one tiny fraction at a time.

‘I’m traveling through the cosmos but not only that, I am fully aware of this fact, right here, right now. But where am I going? Do I get to choose that or am I a piece of flotsam on the river of space-time? No, that will not be. This new nature of mine I will dedicate to discovering my destination and the next one I will use to figure out how I am supposed to get there.’

It was some time before he could calm his mind and resume his sleep.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #43

(Sorry, a bit late on posting this next segment.  Enjoy anyway!)

It is the way of it. 

And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us.  How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people?  They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.
[end blog post #42]


[begin blog post #43]

Chapter 19 – “Ich diene”

The training session and meal over we are returned to our cages.  Later, Deirdre is let in.  I realize that it is going to be during that interim tomorrow night I’m to be let out of my cage by a Cydroid disguised as a trainer or handler and Deirdre will be carried out into the desert; that I won’t see her after tomorrow.  Even more painful, I’m sworn to silence and cannot tell her that as of tomorrow we won’t be together and may well never see each other again in the flux of space/time.

Long ago I swore to myself I would learn of detachment.  On Altaria I went on many long walks, quests for peace of mind and steadiness of heart.  As I surveyed the beauty of my world I practiced the art of detachment.  Altarians number in the billions all over many worlds.  Only a relative few ever remain on Altaria, for it is not a permanent place for us, just our port in the galactic oceans.  It is a place of rest between assignments we give ourselves.  Some of us, particularly those who are called ‘WindWalkers’ or ‘Avatari’ can be gone for millions of years, even more, before we find our way back home.  We are galactic wanderers, sailors of space.  Yet when we come home we can get attached to its gentleness, softness, peace, tranquility, but mostly it’s the complete lack of pain or suffering or sense of loss we get attached to.  It can become difficult to leave again.  So we are taught detachment by the few ancients who remain there to care for those who return, to heal the minds and encourage those who must leave again. 

I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but allow us to discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron. 

Now I’m losing the love of my life; of this particular life.  I’ve done all I could to see her leave, knowing she has no future here.  And tomorrow evening I’ll watch her go and never see her again.  My heart is already tearing apart as I feel her against me and smell her breath and skin; listen to her soft breathing and the rustling of her toes in the dry straw as is her habit to grasp straws in her toes and twirl them. 

“Practicing dexterity and flexibility.” she explained to me long ago.  “They taught us never to stop pushing our abilities to do things with our bodies, impossible moves are not impossible.”  She can tie knots with her toes; stand straight up with only one hand on the ground.  Do at least ten back flips without missing a beat, even jumping over obstacles while doing it; casually throw a leg over her head and turn her head back almost a full one hundred and eighty degrees.  She makes incredible faces to make the saddest person laugh – if it were permitted here.

“What’s wrong Antierra?”  She breaks into my train of thought, sensing my disquiet and inner pain.

I reply instantly, without hesitation, according to the advice I’ve received from the Cydroid.  ‘Feign anger.’

“I’m angry from today’s sessions.  I think some fighters are getting lazy or stupid and won’t fight properly.  As if they want to die.  I’m upset at the twins for what they have become.  I blame the chakr.  Maybe they get too much.”

“It’s not the drug and you know it.  They can’t help themselves, Antierra.  Once they taste the killer juice inside their heart and find they like it, they are killers.  You should be thankful that you trained them well enough to survive their instinctive drives, no?  And that you were able to change the rules to let them fight as a team?  What more did you hope to accomplish?  They survived their first fight and they were so intensely proud.  They saw they had power too, a power that had been denied them as concubines.  It is the price we all must pay if we would reach a new level of understanding.  All of us, even you, must be prepared to pay a price.”

I want to scream at her when she utters those words.  Indeed, even I must be prepared to pay a price to reach my next level of understanding.  Indeed!  Ha, young one, the things you have yet to learn.  I bite my lip to refrain from saying anything at all.  After I regain some of my composure I say,

“Let’s not talk anymore.  Just be with each other and let this day slip away and the new one come.  Let me hold you.”

We hold each other and eventually fall asleep to be awakened by the handlers as if today was to be just another day.

There is unusual activity in the training compound.  Liveried King’s men come and commandeer a whole squad of guards and they walk off.  Handlers and trainers watch, as dumbfounded as the rest of the fighters and trainees.  Only I (and whatever Cydroids are among us) know what is going on and I try to concentrate on my work.  I drive my charges ruthlessly.  I especially seek out the one I had talked to the day before and take her on.

She whispers to me,

“I think about what you say.  You be correct.  I fight, I live.  I find secret place.  I be best you ever train.  I be no coward.”

“Good.”  That is all I can say.  I’m a welter of scattered emotions projected by feelings I have no control over.  I press the girl a few times, motion for a male trainer to take over and walk to the long line of water-tight cabinets where the real fighting weapons are kept locked.  They have been unlocked for my inspection for I have the eye for damage or imperfection on blades of all sorts.  A gift from some dark past life? More than likely.  I pretend to be absorbed in inspecting each one but really, I feel sick.  I’m afraid.  Truly afraid.  More afraid even than I’d ever experienced back when I was a child on my last natural incarnation on Old Earth in C-20.  Fear: a familiar feeling I never thought I’d encounter again after the horror of the Melkiar wars. 

Suddenly I long for one of those days during the end of those wars when we chased them across parsecs of space, sometimes being chased by them and more often cornering them and destroying them.  My crewmates called me cold then.  I spent all my waking time – considerable because of the Altarian training which can keep the body awake and fully functioning for days on end without food, stims or drugs of any kind – sweeping the deceptive emptiness of space, always searching for our invisible enemy hiding in his energy shielding cloaking devices. 

Speaking of enemy I do not mean only the external enemy.  The great enemy of any ISSA is always beside you; walking with you, shadowing you or chattering in your ear.  I’d lay in my restraining harness in zero-g of a jump scout, feeling the vibrations of the drive through the infrastructure of the machine and ‘it’ would be there with its constant suggestions to give in to personal desires and search for additional comforts or credits for ‘work well done’ as it was wont to repeat.  It would have been easy to fall asleep, not only in the harness, I mean really fall asleep.  To let my mind return to the accepted ways of Old Earth, to the drugs of endless deceptions that lead nowhere; to promises, to trust, to hope, to love, to faith, to anything but hard self-empowerment. 

Some of the male crew at first sought me out for sex and romance… or both; female crew numbered in the minority on most ships and men will be men.  I ignored them.  Those who insisted, I bathed in a frigid aura of Vaxdali polar ice.  What can I say?  I may have looked like an angel to some of those males, but angels have their own personalities and mine missed out when they handed out the “nice, sweet and warm” programming during that reincarnation.  I overdosed on ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ instead. 

I brought it up, so let me explain a bit about ‘Vaxdali.’

Vaxdal (as recorded in the database documents of the Supremacy) is a great ice world at least six times the size of Old Earth and orbits a distant sun beyond the far reaches of Orion.  It’s g-force is a crushing 1.8 times that of Earth.  It is inhabited by ice wraiths, mammoth-sized white to brown, thick-haired humanoid creatures that burrow and live miles under Vaxdal’s ice cover and feed on mineral deposit, so it is believed according to bits of unreliable data picked up from remote sensors. It has been impossible to record the number of Vaxdali who inhabit that world.  Anywhere from a few thousands to possibly a billion or even more.  Again, all computer-generated data not backed by any real solid research.

Despite the terrible dangers of flying low in Vaxdal’s atmosphere and getting trapped and pulled down by its g-force and immense magnetic storms, small groups of human sightseers with more money than brains irregularly charter trips to that place just for a computer-enhanced chance glimpse at a surfaced herd of wraiths, or Vaxdalis.  The Supremacy does not permit landing on this world and no method has yet been devised to safely set down investigators, archaeologists or anthropologists.  It is believed in the non-scientific circles of FreeNet jabber that the Vaxdalis are pseudo-human cannibals.  Who would know?  ‘Final Frontier’ legends, most likely.  But you’d laugh to see the corny and idiotic holorec and infovid F/X they’ve done on that one world alone.  Old Earth is not the only place where people seek mindless entertainment just for a chance to forget their current reality and not have to deal with it.

Back to my story.

I had no desire then for sexual contact with anyone, male, female or other – yes we get ‘other’ in many forms, especially androids who can be very persuasive and seductive.  I had no desire to get close to anyone.  I had a purity of desire to accomplish something.  The wars were dragging on and holding me back and I wanted to end them.  But it wasn’t the Melkiars I sought.  I had something deeper in mind.  I wanted to drink and eat detachment; to be able to function among a close-knit body of humans without being affected by their lower emotions.  I had a vision of the cosmos waiting for me to explore.  Of moving through dimensions without a body, incarnating here and there as needed: unattached yet able to feel, but in a non-personal way.  Seeking knowledge and adding to the great store of it.  Being “me” everywhere and anywhere – always free from any attachment beyond my own quest; my own thirst for knowledge. 

I dreaded the idea of having someone, a mate, a child, in tow.  Love?  No thank you.  Been there, done that; don’t work as we used to say!  What I dreaded more than anything was the inescapable, constant drag of human emotional baggage. 

In a way I got my wish.  We were scouting a round in a complex field of tumbling asteroids and debris caused by the destruction of a moon, I and my android partner A. Kale at the controls of a Class B destroyer when we came under blitzkrieg attack.  Two Melkiars dove at us literally from within a hollowed out asteroid where our sensors had, for a quantum moment, been blinded.  Taking us in a pincer move they jointly blasted us just as we returned a barrage of fire-power that blew up both of the Melkiars and the asteroid to cosmic dust. 

But we had received a killing blow.  Com was dead.  Life support non-functional and the aft section where the suits are kept in readiness had been sliced off along with our drive, not that those suits would have done much good without a ship or contact with fleet. 

All twenty of our crew complement died within minutes from shock and exposure as what remained of our ship careened out of control and pulverized itself in the maze of the asteroid field, along with our three androids who otherwise would have shut themselves down and could have been recovered by the inevitable search that would follow.  Ah, bitter moment to sweet oblivion. 

I reincarnated on Altaria as I had pre-planned.  I felt no loss, no remorse.  For me the wars were over.  I would not be tempted to return.  I planned my next adventure based on some promises I’d made to a world and a people that had given me so much and deserved better than what it was getting from fate. 

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”

[end blog post #43]

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #41

(Busy times and I realize I’ve fallen behind in posting… sorry!)

By her branding she is now fifteen years old.  She has maybe one more year before she must enter the arena and I still have no idea what criteria they use to decide when a new trainee makes her debut in the arena as an official fighter.  The way it looks, unless someone notices her and buys her out of this place into concubinage or the sex trade – not much of an improvement from what I’ve heard from the two “demoted” concubines I’m in the process of training for the arena – Deirdre is doomed to die within the year. 

I cannot let that happen.

[end blog post #40
__________________________________________________
[begin blog post #41]

Chapter 18 – Trainer, warrior and worrier

I’m leaving the physical aspects relating to this world’s malaise to the Koronese and their Cydroids for the time being.  I’ve been involved in too many physical “rescues” in other lives, other worlds, to hold much hope that we can help this world in such a way.  What is needed here is sentience probing.  Deep exploration of mind pathways. 

Logically, it begins with a withdrawal, or better put, a removal.  One woman escapes in physical form and without trace.  Thus we create a crack in this stultified structure.

Now have your laugh at me: if that isn’t a physical rescue! Life is fascinating, not because of how much in it ‘fits’ somehow, but in endless contradictions!  So, let us proceed in contradictions up to our proverbial armpits, vowing to do thus, doing that instead, to arrive at this!

Deirdre is the one who makes it possible for me to communicate with the ever-changing kitchen slave Cydroid.  She takes our messages back and forth, fully aware the discussion is about her.  She understands I want her to leave Malefactus and why.  She sees the need of it, yet does not want to entertain the thought of leaving me.  Nor does she want to hope such a miraculous avenue of escape could be possible.  No one escapes Malefactus, she would say.  ‘It is the way of it.’

One of the female Cydroids answers my questions with much detail and demonstrates definite concern for the empath, coupled with professional interest.  According to Deirdre, she wants to be the one to bring the Cholradil to her home world and perform the preliminary studies of Deirdre’s strange characteristics.  She even cancels the two-day shift change to remain in the kitchens in order to probe Deirdre’s mind.  On Koron this Cydroid holds degrees in psychology and philosophy. 

Convincing others is more difficult.  Time, I insist, is of the essence.  How long will they procrastinate?  Until she is killed?  She cannot survive even one encounter in the arena, that we all agree on.

Bal is concerned, certainly.  But Koron is a problem.  They don’t want another denizen of Malefactus on their world.  Their laws currently forbid entry of off-world refugees for whatever reason.  My hopes for Deirdre are heading into bureaucratic red tape.  I want to get angry; steal the stealth craft and take Deirdre with me — anywhere.  Certainly I can find the memory in my mind from our wild days at the controls of jump scouts and crewing on attack ships.

Certainly I remember. 

A mad adrenalin rush comes to my head as I consider that kind of move. 

The pure ‘shamelessly physical’ engagement as your right hand grips and pushes the thrusters stick; hair literally standing on end and spine tingling from the effects of the electro-magnetic containment force-field of the fusion drive as it now comes out of “hibernation” into a roaring full-blown mini sun-flare blasting  the ship forth from its holding surface. 

The breathless rush into free space, the stomach-churning pull of multi-g force sensed even through the containment fields, pushing the body into the padding; the rumbling and shaking as the drive kicks into max while on screen the world you’ve just launched from dwindles to a speck, then to nothing in darkened skies. 

Left hand poised, tense, fingers splayed, hovering over the weapons’ console waiting for the tell-tale orange or red blip of an enemy ship appearing on screen; for the chase to begin long before your ship has a chance to engage its cloaking mirror and deflector shields.  Lifetimes lived in endless moments.

Oh yes, let’s do it!’

I’m not rational.  Love, what a terrible and stupid thing to be involved in. 

I try to move out of it.

When none of it matters, it will all be yours.’  Ah yes, truth that I don’t want to hear at this moment, yet is the only comfort I can receive.  I must cling to these remnants, these shreds that kept me reasonably sane in other incarnations.  I know so much, too much, I think.  Else, I’ve gotten messed up in my feelings.  The tail is wagging the dog these days, no doubt of this. 

Meanwhile life continues, Malefactus style.  We train to kill, we kill.  We get killed.  We are replaced, train some more and kill more.  Each day, more bodies of dead women are carried out to the hearse as I call it now.  Many die in their cages, finding ways to terminate their hopeless lives.  Owners get upset at their losses in entertainment and money.  We are driven to perform more.  New recruits arrive to replace the dead.  I see more blood each day.  I smell more of the piss and sweat at night even though I should be used to it by now.

It’s war with the only difference that the losers can never be allowed to win. 

I want it to end and it doesn’t.  It’s the way of it. 

I’ve finished the training of the two concubines.  They are passable fighters.  Angry and bitter but not careless.  They know the score of the survival game.  but they possess an insatiable need to avenge themselves on men.  I know they can kill.  They work well together.  That’s how we mostly trained – two on one.  I am trying something new: team work.  Like the two men I fought long ago, but that wasn’t team work.  This is.  They fight as one, each covering the other, aware of every aspect of their moves, how one affects the other.  They came from the same crèche and I wonder if they are twins.  They don’t understand what I mean, so I can only assume they are.  They are not empathic – I’m grateful for that! – but they possess an instinctive awareness of each other’s presence even under stress conditions and rapid movement.  This could work to their advantage, prolong their lives, if I can get the concept approved.

More bureaucratic delays.  My ‘girls’ are ready for the arena, but only as a team.  I explain the concept to a couple of handlers.  They shrug, then reluctantly take the idea to their overseer.  For two weeks, the answer is no.  Then it changes to “maybe” when I involve another group of trainers.  Competition between trainer teams I learned to use long ago.  If they approve my idea and it pays off, those who do the approval get the tips and bribe money.  Finally the concept is approved.  The “Concubines” will fight as a team, never as one, at least not until one of them is killed. 

A new style of fighting, guaranteed to up the antes, is carefully leaked out of the training compound into the streets of Hyrete.  Those who possess ‘the secret’ can sell it.  

We train in earnest now, knowing to concentrate on the team work.  I introduce another “revolutionary” idea: let it be different weapons for each member of the team.  It is approved.  We still cannot choose our weapons – that’s another thing I am working on slowly – but the challenger (if only one) must indicate which two weapons or set of weapons he wishes to engage the “Concubines” (now their official handle and fighting title) with.  If two challengers, each picks a different weapon and we match the choice.

The day before the fight, as late as they could leave it, two challengers come to the training ground and after watching the twins as I refer to them, decide on their weapons.  One is the regular two-handed long blade sword and the other, the axe.  It doesn’t surprise me they would choose such unwieldy weapons for themselves.  The “Concubines” are of slight build and short even for people of this world.  I ask the girls how they feel about the choice.  “We fight” they say in a low, throaty tone aimed for my ears only.  They say it in unison and with deadly intent.   

That’s it.  “We fight” which means, “we kill.”  Whatever they lack in size I know they’ll more than make up in speed, skill and focused hatred.  These two are driven to kill men.  Whatever was done to them, and only they and their abusers can know for they’ll never tell, they are going to make someone pay.  I almost pity their challengers.  Despite the many injunctions against demonstrating open affection I approach my charges to salute them, then hug them quickly.  The trainers frown but let it pass.  I’m still the Wild Desert Beast after all, approaching an all-time record for kills and survival in the arena.  They don’t know about the auto-medic and the stim, of course.  Ah well, as I was taught long ago, “What the eyes don’t see the heart doesn’t grieve.”  This can be the very last place in the universe where any of us would worry about decorum or honour.  Stealth, trickery, lies, deception, hate, greed – these are the values of this society.

I bring out the weapons and hold them for the twins to choose.  They decide which one will use the sword and which one the axe.  I place them in the special bundles to be taken to the arena in the morning where they are usually, not always, inspected by two officials from the Arena Fighter Council.  The twins turn for their cages, only this time I’ve managed to get them assigned to the same one.  They are thankful, I know.  And it is then, while I have time to think before I eat my own evening meal, that my heart constricts terribly for the two women.  I always assume it is easier for me to fight than for any of the others; the dangers to them are always magnified in my mind.  I cry those “illegal” tears and this time I don’t care who sees or who questions.  I’m ready to punch out or drop kick the first trainer who objects to my current mood.  I’m furious and to make matters worse, Deirdre comes to serve me the food.  And she knows.  She can see it all.  There are tears in her eyes too.  She leans on my shoulder as she hands me my bowl.   

Tonight we will not share our usual pleasure.  We will not exchange our exclusive type of loving.  We will sit side by side and let our hearts move with our sorrows.  It will be a night of vigil and searching.  We will let our minds work through their inexhaustible problems.  Tonight we will take in the entire compound of women and bring them all within our empathy and compassion.  We will cry for them and with them.  We will take the twins’ hatred and accept it as part of the gift of life here.  Tonight, through self-denial we will practice being “avatars” as I understand the concept and have taught it to Deirdre. 

Morning comes and I have not slept, using a technique learned on Altaria for remaining awake without effort.  Deirdre has succumbed and is leaning into my lap.  I wake her in time to see the twins being taken out.  We make no sound, no move. 

It is the way of it.

By mid-morning the twins return.  One has a long slash on her left arm which she holds as blood drips from the fingers of the limp hand hanging down.  The other woman is limping, but they have returned from their first fight and there is a look of triumph on their faces.  They have done what they swore to do and thought they’d never get the chance.  Two men died to pay for whatever horror other men did to these women.  They will survive their wounds and will go on to kill many more.  Their hate will never abate, that I know.  They have become killers of men.  They will never be anything less or more than that, until they are killed in turn.  By permission now long granted I escort and turn them in to the medics’ rooms for patching up and brief observation, the costs of such medical treatments having been paid by their owners.  Deirdre accompanies me and is permitted to attend to their wounds, thus leaving the medics to just sit and watch, doing nothing.

Expensive fighting animals taken to the vet after the fight: it is the way of it.

[end blog post #41]