Tag Archives: Relationships

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #90

In which Antierra plays the game of “plans within plans” and trains Tiki for her first arena fight.
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Now the truly difficult part: to detach from these momentous events so as not to get devastated if disaster strikes ‘tomorrow’ – if someone recants and sells out Tieka or if the lovers do something truly stupid.  Win, lose or draw, I must carry on.  Other equally weighty matters demand to be attended to.
End blog post #89
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Begin blog post #90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What you want, gora?” 

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

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

“This one you want protect huh?  Lover.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ready Tiki?”

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

End blog post #90

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #88

… Five, by empowering myself to reject any and all temptations put forth during my ‘in-between’ times by those who would buy me out or destroy me.  For it is true that all of us are constantly being watched by the forces we come upon and challenge.  Every battle we fight in the flesh is a battle we have already fought, are fighting, must continue to fight in spirit.
End blog post #87
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Begin blog post #88

Chapter 36 – “Stupid Speak” in the Cages – More of ‘The Teaching’

Due to the oppressive heat we are ordered to close the training earlier than usual and allowed to spend more time at the wash troughs.  The women eagerly wash each other and would be laughing happily were it allowed.  Tiki and Swala are playing with each other in the water until a couple of guards walk by and take them inside a small hut constructed of plain grey plasglas – a typical movable guard station.  They return a while later and I can just imagine how hot it must have been in there with those men.  It’s time to eat and I am starving.

The food, whatever it is, tastes as great as any I’ve ever eaten.  I quietly thank the young girl who brings it and ask her to pass my thanks to all kitchen staff.  She smiles shyly and as is their habit, rubs her head against my shoulder, letting it linger there a few precious seconds.  “Absorbing” my strength, I know.  I let my inner energy flow into her and can feel the difference as she takes it in.  They do know this trick, it’s not just a belief of theirs.  I wonder if it’s because they cannot speak freely they developed this power?  It’s the same concept as using hands and movements of the head to communicate when words are too dangerous to use.  Also, as I mentioned before, they use a quick rhythmic tapping upon the arm to indicate they do not understand something.

The meal over we are quickly and quietly ordered to our cages.  We lay on the straw, sweating, waiting.  The storm has moved in now and we hear the first distant rumblings of thunder.  It suddenly gets darker so we know the black roiling clouds have reached over to cover the sun.  The thunder gets closer and louder and now we can see reflections from flashes of lightning.  A hot breeze flows through the cages – our handlers having had the decency to leave the heavy doors open to create drafts.  We remain quiet and expectant as the thunder continues to rumble.  A bright flash immediately followed by a rumble and concussion tells us another part of the keep has been hit.  Soon there is the cry of men running and we hear carriages whining by.  I worry about Balomo and the Cydroids while most of the women are hoping the lightning destroyed the inquisition’s dungeons.

More lightning strikes and rumbles of falling stones tell us major damage is being done to parts of the keep.  It reminds me of bombardments during my brief years in the Melkiar invasions.  You crouch and hope you’re not the target.  Unlike then, I cannot run.  I cannot take my troops to safer grounds here.  We are prisoners in an old castle whose walls could topple upon us if the heavenly bombardment followed by its concussive blasts repeats much longer.  I’ve seen the cracks and done mind sweeps of this place.  The entire structure is weakening with each passing season.

One good thing about all this commotion, we can freely talk as the men are busy saving their hides or digging each other out of rubble and the noise covers our voices.  I call the women closest to Tiki and I and we ‘introduce’ ourselves formally, using our women names.

Suddenly unsure as how to proceed, I sense so much expectation from them, I begin thus,  “What women of T’Sing Tarleyn want more than anything?”

“Want alla! (freedom, pron. ‘aya’).  Want no more beatings, killings.  Want children.  Want family.  Want safe place.  Want home.”  These were the main “wants” I identified among the many, all of which were legitimate.  At least they had some idea that what they were experiencing was not normal; not what they were supposed to experience.  They had thought about it and knew life was supposed to give them better things than what they were given.  I ask,

“How women get good things, you think?”

They had ideas on that too.

“If men all gone, we free.  If goddess kill all men, this our land then.  We no more kill.  Have children by river, be happy.  Grow food as did long, long ago.  Build houses, be safe.  If men come, we kill.  No more they take us, no more.”

They raise their voices in anger and I ask the few near me to quieten them just in case.  Then I pose the obvious devil’s advocate question:

“If no men, how make babies?  How have children?  Babies, children, they come from man seed, yes?”

“Goddess make seed, make babies for us.  We not need men; not have evil babies from evil men.”

I reply, “Goddess not make seed.  Goddess make love.  Goddess, she fight against evil men long ago, they win, see?  Goddess not evil warrior, not fighter.  You think maybe problem not from men but from other very evil beast?  Twist, destroy men heart so they no feel woman pain, woman love?”

A woman hidden in the dark behind me says, “This hard to know.  We know men evil.  Kill women, always.  No woman free here.  Is women free other place, Anti?”

“Some place, yes, women free like men.  No difference.  No hate, no fighting, no killing.  Not many place yet.  But problem here, not other place.  Must fix problem here.  Like broken thing.  Cannot leave broken thing here to find good one other place.  Must fix here, now.  Cannot go to other place to live.  Cannot leave here, see?  This your world.  If men no fix, then women, they fix.  How women fix this world?”

“Women no can fix.  No power.  Goddess must fix for women.  She good.  She strong, powerful in sky boat…”

I stop that line of reasoning sharply:  “You forget.  She be beaten in sky boat.  Gone down in desert long ago.  Evil machine men, they enslave all women and children then.  Goddess no help then.  Be no help without all women with her; all women.  This very important.”

“How we with her?  If she dead, we be dead too?”

“She not dead,”  I reply, “she in bad dream.  All women together, they awake her from bad dream.  Take long, long time.  But first women must awake from same bad dream.  This men do here, is bad dream.  Not real.  Is evil, evil never real, not like dirt, straw, cloud, food or love.  Evil only real if women think it real.  Evil power is in weak thinking.

“Evil not grow here.  Always from other place it come.  From skies, from stars far away.  This evil, it eat good part of men heart, make evil.  If evil beaten, men awake too, no longer evil.  No longer hurt women.  This women must understand.

“Listen: is evil, not man-evil must fight.  Fight real challenger, not shadow.  Women, they fight shadow of evil in men, kill men, evil not die, just shadow die.  Evil go into other men.  Always make more evil.”

“Good, we know now.  How we fight evil, not shadow-evil?”

“Very hard.  Take very strong woman to do.  First, must have no man-evil in woman heart.  No man-hate.  No man-fear.  Must have only knowing.  Un-der-standing.  A-ware-ness.  Must know woman heart.  True.  Clean, like wash.  No evil in woman heart.  That be first thing.  Is possible this?”

“Is not possible, Anti.  If we no hate men, no kill men, we killed.  If we no work when men say ‘work’ we killed.  If we refuse men sex, we forced, gang-raped, flogged, killed.  Soon, no woman, no children alive on T’Sing Tarleyn.  Only stupid men.  If we not do bad to men, this they hate more than if we do bad.  How you say?  Men, they want women hurt them too.  They like hurt.  They crazy.  How you fix crazy?  Must kill crazy.”

How to explain my particular conundrum of ‘compromised morality’ or doing good by wrong concept to these simple minds?  I must be really dense not to see the obvious here.  They are innocents.  They would understand me if I could bring my knowledge to their experience.

And suddenly, in this dark cage surrounded by so much despair blended in so much newly awakened hope I understand the failure of so many Teachers in so many incarnations on so many human worlds.  It is their inability to climb to the top of this mountain and face the real scaffold: that we have less awareness than they have.

The difference between I and them is obvious to me in this moment.  They are more intelligent than I, being in their own element.  They are better equipped to understand.  They are more aware of the obvious.  And certainly they have more experience.  So what do they need of me?  They need the catalyst, that which forces change.  That’s all I am.  I have to put myself in the center of this latent force to create the explosion.  I am the mine that causes the avalanche; the detonator that causes the charge to blow.

End blog post #88

A Rhetorical Question

Short story by Sha’Tara

“Don’t mean to pry but that’s three buses you let go by. You look at them, stare inside then you sit down again.”

“Yes, you’re right. I wanted to ride around town but I really have no clue about these buses. I don’t even know how to pay to ride.”

“Oh! My name is Amelia. How come you know nothing about city bus transit?”

“My name is Ben, pleased to meet you. I just came in on a train down from Slago.”

“Slago? What’s a Slago?”

“It’s actually a place no one’s heard of unless they live in Slago, with the possible exception of some lowly clerk in the revenue service.”

“Slago… that’s some name for a town.”

“Slago’s not a town Mel. It’s an abandoned gopher hole in the middle of a forest, half of which is dead due to a wild fire two summers ago.”

“You called me Mel. Why is it that everybody when they hear my name, they have to call me Mel?”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t give a damn, really. It was a rhetorical question. You do know about those?”

“Rhetorical question? I’ll ask you one: can you introduce me to these labyrinthine buses if I buy you dinner, or are you working today, or otherwise engaged?”

“That is not a rhetorical question; it begs a few answers.”

“So I don’t know what a rhetorical question is. Do you have any answers for me?”
“Sure, OK. No, I’m not working today, I was going to do some shopping. I can explain some bus basics, get you started. It’s not rocket science. Think: if the bozos you bump into on the sidewalks can do it, hey! And yes, I’ll accept your dinner invitation. Do I get to pick the restaurant?”

“You’ll have to, I don’t know anything about this city.”

How was I to know that a simple conversation in a bus stop would deliver a fun day, a great dinner, a whirlwind romance, two children, a house with an unaffordable mortgage, a philandering, abusive drinking husband and a bitter divorce eleven years later? How’s that for a rhetorical question.

Is it worth it?

 [a short story by Sha’Tara]
(I’ve probably posted this story in the past but I feel like it’s time to run it again since I’m having some discussions on the subject of empathy…)
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        Lanky Andy, Andrew Larkin, walked into “The Odyssey” restaurant at exactly 1800 hours.  He allowed his transitioning photochromic lenses to clear enough so he could scan the seats.  Eddie, Edward Aberhart, his friend, was seated in a booth halfway down the window aisle, facing the entrance door.  He waved at Andy.

        “Jees… Jesus Eddie, you look like shit. What’s up?  What’s with the ‘I need to see you right away, like today!’ call?”

        “It’s like this Andy.  I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve been thinking about things for years now and it’s turned into a bloody nightmare.  I keep asking myself, ‘Is is worth it?  What am I doing here?  What’s the point of anything, anything at all.’ and nothing seems right, feels right, tastes right.”

        “What does Linda have to say about your, um, nightmare?”
        “Linda’s gone.  She packed up, went back to her family down south.  I haven’t spoken to her since she left, that’d be about two months ago.  Just packed up while I went uptown, loaded up the car, took Jessie with her and left me a note on the kitchen table: ‘I’m going to stay with mom for a bit until I can get a job at the hospital down there.  I know a doctor, I’ve got excellent references as an ER nurse, I’ll get a job.  Please, don’t call me, don’t call mom, just vanish from our lives.  If you follow, I’ll get an injunction based on emotional abuse.  I don’t care what you do Eddie, just disappear from my life; from our lives.  You’ve become creepy, sick, but not something I can do anything about.  I won’t let you drag us into your nightmare.  Goodbye Eddie.’ and that’s it.”
        “Well, nothing like a cheery get together to get things rolling.”
        A busty, dark “Greek” looking waitress came by, took their orders and said their drinks would be right up. 
        ‘I sure hope so’ thought Andy.  ‘I need a drink, the kind that helps you put your thoughts together, then wipes them out so you can enjoy life again, if only for a day.’
        Although the place was three quarters full, it being Saturday evening after all, the drinks miraculously showed up within three minutes.  Eddie fingered the cold condensation on the outside of his glass.  He didn’t pick it up, didn’t drink, just stared as if he was reading a message.  Andy sipped on his, smacked his lips then swallowed the entire glass, waving at a waitress for a refill.
        “All right, goddamn it Eddie, you got me here.  Don’t tell me you’re just going through another of your emotional bullshit phases.  I had enough of that shit with you in college.  Let’s cut to the chase, what’s eating you?”
        “I’m really sorry Andy but my life sucks.  I hate teaching and I don’t believe anything the curriculum makes me teach the kids so I can’t really motivate them.  Well, how could I?  I can’t motivate myself any longer.
        “You know I used to attend the Pentecostal church.  I thought I had some sort of relationship with God.  It felt good, right, proper and my life made sense.  I joined the Lions’ Club to be of service in the community and that reinforced my belief that life had purpose.  I married Linda and I was sure I really loved her.  Jessie’s birth, now that was some celebration after all the scare that she would be abnormal – nothing wrong with that kid.  I had it all and then it all went away.  I mean it, Andy: it just evaporated.  Like I fell in some big black bottomless hole.  That’s where I’m talking to you from: a black pit of despair, falling with nothing to hang on to.  Can you accept that?  I’m not asking you to understand, just accept this is how it is.”
        “Do you want me to lie to you?”
        “No.”
        “OK then, I can’t – no, let me put it more clearly for you: I won’t accept it.  I’m a rational person, Eddie.  If something fucks up upstairs, it’s up to me to go up there and straighten it up.  There’s no Chimera up there that’s going to take over and fuck up my life – not before now, not now, and not ever in the future.  I wouldn’t let it happen.  That’s my answer to your asking me to accept your current state of mind: I don’t because if I did, then I’d have to try to understand it next – and I’m simply not going there.  I don’t play mind games Eddie.  My own life is controlled; some people say I’m as hard as a rock, well fine, that to me is high praise.  That’s why you stuck with me through college too, you needed that hardness to put grit into your own mush, Eddie.
        “What the fuck, man.  You are the one who got Linda, you whiny wimp of an excuse for a man.  She went for you because she felt sorry for you most of the time.  But I was the one who loved her Eddie.  How often I imagined what we could have done as a couple, as a team.  A doctor and a nurse, and I would have pushed her to get her medical degree too.  We would have been all over the world, helping people, I mean really helping.  A team on fire.  Fuck you Eddie, you miserable excuse for a human being.  I feel so sorry for you right now I want to punch in that baby face of yours.  Goddam it, I don’t believe this.”
        “Why have you never told me of your feelings for Linda until now?  I didn’t know, honest.”
        “Of course you didn’t know, you self-absorbed little shit.  All that’s ever really mattered to you was you and your precious feelings.  ‘I joined the Lions’ club to be of service to the community.’  Such a crock.  You joined to find support for your insecurities – tell me honestly that isn’t true.”
        “Ah hell Andy, I didn’t call you here for you to beat up on me.  I’m down, Andy.  I can’t take this.  Is this fun for you, crushing what’s left of a total loser?”
        “OK, OK, I’ll back off if you’ll level with me and tell me what’s really the problem.  What’s the cause of your black pit of despair, Eddie?  What’s this Gremlin you’ve got on your back that you can’t shake off this time?”
        “The honest truth, Andy: the world, and my life in it.  Have you followed the news lately?  With all the crap that’s going on and that keeps arising all over, is it really worth it?  Is there some point to it?  The world’s in a shambles, what am I supposed to do?  Ignore it?  Carry on like what’s her name, Pollyanna?
        “I wake up in the middle of the night and I have visions, terrible visions, of things happening to thousands of people, horrible things.  And I feel guilty about it all, I can’t help myself, and the guilt won’t go away.  It’s like everything bad that happens is my fault.  I’m responsible somehow, as if I were a puppet and I was being played, forced to watch; forced to link my lifestyle to the problems of other people.  If I enjoy something, they go without.  If I eat, they starve.  If I have a house to live in, they are homeless.  If I have rights, they are enslaved.  If I’m free, they are in prison.  I’m cursed, Andy; I’m the other side of the coin.”
        As their food was being served, Andy didn’t answer.  He moved some plates around, ordered another drink, looked up at Eddie and said, “Ed, drink your fucking drink, right now.”
        The waitress looked up, a shocked look on her face.  “Sorry, that’s between my friend and I here.  Please bring him another drink, he’s going to need it.”
        The waitress almost scampered away.  Andy started eating and felt ravenous.  He swallowed, then started to laugh.  Not so loud as to cause embarrassment but so Eddie would hear it and stare at him.
        “You find something amusing, Andy?” Eddie put his empty glass down, looked into Andy’s eyes.
        “Yeah, you.”
        “My problems are amusing to you?  I thought doctors were supposed to be empathetic.”
        “Some are but it’s definitely not a trade requirement.  If it was most of us would be out of work tomorrow.  But this has nothing to do with me being a doctor, or you a high school teacher.  We’ve been dancing around a much more serious business called life.  You asked me, is it worth it?  Before I answer that, give me a rational alternative to what you call life.”
     “That’s a nuts question.  How can there be a rational alternative to life?”
        “Ah, got you there haven’t I?”
        “I don’t have any answer for you.  Are you talking about an alternative to life?  How can there be such a thing?”
        “Have you heard of NDE’s or near death experiences that some people claim to have had?”
        “Vaguely.  Here and there.  There’s no proof of such a thing actually happening. Just the brain reacting in a crisis when life is on the line.”
        “Exactly!”  Andy drank some more and it seemed his drinks were tasting better each time.  So did the food.  “Got to congratulate you, Eddie, this is one hell of a fine restaurant.  Not fancy, but you can’t beat this food, or the drinks either.  Don’t know when I’ve enjoyed myself more at a meal.  Go ahead, dig in, dig in.  This is fantastic!”
        “What do you mean, ‘Exactly’?”
        “Mmmm… what?”
        “I said there was no proof that NDE’s are real experiences and you said, ‘Exactly.'”
        “And I meant every word!”  Andy laughed at the puzzled expression in his friend’s face and noticed that outside, the world had gone dark except for street lights and the lampshades over the booths made new shadows.
        “Ease up on the drinks, Andy, you’re losing it.”
        “Actually I’m getting it, Eddie.”
        “Care to explain?”  He took a serious drink and suddenly felt himself unwind.  As if something good was going to happen.  Imagine that: nothing good had seemed to happen for ages.  He knew it wasn’t the drink, nor the food.  Anticipation. He actually felt it.
        “I never realized it until now,” said Andy.  “About you, I mean.  I always thought you were somewhat of a sissy, a wimp you know, going around feeling sorry for yourself, bringing people into your circle to empathize with you.  But that wasn’t it at all.  You were just confused, selling yourself short, unaware of your own nature, thus unable to take advantage of it.”  He seemed to look at Eddie with some sort of awe.  “I never knew; never suspected even.”
        “Would you tell me what you’re going on about, Andy?  You’re confusing me and I think you’ve had too much to drink.”
        “Oh just wait.  I haven’t had half enough.  I’ve been a fool, Eddie, a complete idiot.  I’m the one who’s been totally self-centered and blind.  You know what you are, buddy?”
        “Hey, this is getting scary.  What am I?  Some sort of Reptilian alien?”  Eddie smiled, ate some, enjoyed it.  “You going to keep me in suspense?”
        “No.  I’ve got it.  You, my very dear friend and pain in the ass, are an empath.  A real, honest to God empath.  That’s what explains your angst, you visions, your despair; your deep questioning of the purpose of life. You feel it man, you feel it all and you have never learned how to deal with it.  You’re supposed the “channel” this stuff, not keep it bottled up.  It’s not about you, it’s about this world, and how life evolves or adapts itself within.  That life needs to communicate; to give itself messages and in human terms, those messages are carried by empaths.
        “When I said, “exactly” I meant it: it’s all based on empathy.  There’s no need of proof once you pass a certain point, or reach a certain level of evolution – it just is.  I’m a surgeon and I know a bit about NDE’s.  I’ve had talks with quite a few patients who, after thanking me for saving their life, went on to describe their experiences under anaesthesia when they experienced clinical death.  I was interested but never convinced beyond what you said: brain reaction.
        “But it wasn’t that, don’t you see?  These NDE people are empaths!  They crossed over and came back because their nature provided the bridge between the physical world of their body and the spirit, or mental, world inhabited by their consciousness.  I remember talking about this with Linda.  She didn’t make the connection between NDE’ers and empathy, but she accepted the experience as very real.  Goddam Eddie, she was right!  I just needed to see the connecting thread and you just showed it to me.  Your angst is your connection to others, Eddie.  You’re not cursed, you are blessed, old friend.”
        “If that’s the case, shouldn’t it have made me selfless and compassionate instead of the loser wimp you see before you?”
        “No, I see it now, that’s not how it works.  You needed teachers and you didn’t get them – luck of the draw I suppose.  You needed to be taught self-empowerment and self-reliance.  That’s where the rubber hits the road I bet.  That’s where it comes together and changes you completely.  Think about it, Eddie.  Think about it long and seriously.  While you’re on top of that, teach yourself about channelling – pass it on, don’t keep it in.  You’re watching the movie, you’re not in the story being chased by those demons, though they are real.  You can sense them but they don’t know you exist.  That’s your key and your power.  You can exert influence upon the stories in your mind if you learn how to transmute the information then upload it in its changed form.  I read about this stuff; it’s amazing I never got it until now.  You: you’re the key.  You’re the Avatar.  You’re the one making it happen now, right now, while you’re outside of yourself.
        “Is that my alternative to life?”
        “Yes.  You see, there isn’t just one form of life, there are infinite types of life.  People like yourself, well, they can slip in and out of any form they choose.  You have the power to do that and that’s how you survive in worlds given over to violence like this one.  You don’t stay in the line of fire, you duck, you live to fight another day.  But you’re always on the front lines regardless of where you go in your mind.”
        “You missed your calling, you should have been a preacher.  I’m sold.  Just hoping it isn’t the drinks talking, or feeling.”
        “It isn’t the drinks.  This is like a revelation.  I’m sold too.  I’m no empath, I know that, but you know who else is?”
        “Linda!”
        “You bet, Linda.  And I’m going after her.  I love her; I’ve always loved her and I’m going to make it up to her for not pushing my way between the two of you.  Got that?”
        “Yes, I got that.  It’s how it’s got to be.”  He hesitated for a moment, then added,   “I know you’ll be good for her, and you’ll take good care of Jessie.  Let me know when you guys are married, or settled.  I’d like to visit.”
        “I’ll do that.  No, I mean we’ll do that.”

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #74

It’s a simple, age-old choice.

One, I believe and I trust the High Priest to know better than I ever could. In his hands I die a sacrifice to the God as I have been in the habit of doing over and over.

Two, I walk to the Knight, kneel, accept the knighthood proffered. I take the weapons, walk past the altar into the room where the demon in black metal armour awaits my entrance. He is ready to fight me, dishonour me, kill and devour me along with all I have ever loved and cared for, living or dead.

That is the choice I have been moving towards since I evolved into ISSA consciousness. This choice determines whether I graduate, or remain in obedient subservience and servitude to a Higher Power.

I choose the weapons. I go to meet Warmo. It is time.

End blog post #73
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Begin blog post #74

I am given a light early meal and in another upset, I am dressed in a sleeveless short white cotton shift. Even my trainers give a slight bow of the head to me. I feel like sobbing out loud, this is such an emotional affair. I am overwhelmed and embarrassed by it all. The kitchen staff is allowed to come out and wave to me. The overseer comes over and touches my shoulder and whispers a typical T’Sing Tarleynan good luck saying that translates roughly as “keep the sun shining” and pats me on the head. I needed that little bit of ‘enlightenment’ to bring me back to ground level.

I thank the old overseer from the heart and let him see my face covered in grateful tears while I smile openly, freely. I silently wish them all well.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you wonderful people who are demonstrating your real humanity today. I bless you all…’

But their inane law prevents me from saying the words to them aloud. So I carry them in my heart, for now. And in my mind I plant them in the soil of this place, under the paving stones. In time, perhaps they will emerge and fill all the cracks in these structures.

And I’m led into the arena to meet my arch rival, my nemesis who has hounded me through so many lives and given me so many nightmares. Yet were it not for him I would never have found my way here, to this transition point.

When the crowd sees the female fighter in the white dress come forth to the armour and weapons table, they fall into dead silence. This has never been seen. Of course there is no riff-raff in this crowd, the prices of admission being astronomical. This is the day for the aristocracy to enjoy itself. Still, the silence prior to any fight is unnerving. I strip my dress off, stand naked as per protocol, do a few bending exercises to demonstrate my fitness and with some help, don my armour for the first fight involving the staff.

I have studiously avoided looking in Warmo’s direction. I want to use my so-called sixth sense and feel his presence rather than study him with my physical senses. It’s his mind/heart I must penetrate and remain vigilant over. To him I must project, send, nothing but white noise. I must block any thought aimed at me while attempting to read his. Remains to be seen how much of an adept he is at this game. Concentrate, focus, collect, withdraw, analyze, discard and repeat until nothing of value can be gained from the exercise.

An eternity and the centering trumpet sounds. I walk to the center, still looking down, not at him. I sense a slight discomfort from him. He is probing me with his eyes, ears and nose. To a much lesser extent I feel his mind probe but it is weak. I lift my head just enough to see his weapon and the arc it’s going to describe on the very first swing. I turn to the King’s dais and although I cannot see him, I know he’s watching his holo and has me on close-up. I salute with my staff held high at a slight upward tilt and bow. Then I wait without fear or tremor for the second trumpet.

As soon as it sounds I literally jump out of my trance and begin the dance with him. I already knew he would swing left and I parry, jumping back, not yet engaging my bionic ankle. I must ‘study’ his moves for he knows much more of mine than I of his. And I take careful note of the long sword in the scabbard on his back. I try to see if it is lashed with thongs I could cut with the cutting point of the staff – very unlikely.

I keep moving back, back, drawing him to me as a magnet draws steel. I move in and out of trance, sometimes seeing an SS guard, complete with the dreaded insignia on the coat – he knows of my ancient morbid fear of men in police or military uniforms. Sometimes I see a Melkiar robot in gleaming black metallic armour and the staff becomes a death tube. Sometimes it’s a giant demon from hell, his black carapace smoking and his eyes red laser beams. Then I see a human being desperate to escape the mould his vices have locked him into for eternity or until his Valkyrie, his Avenging Angel of Death and Ultimate Mercy kills him and pulls his soul from it. I see an evil black hooded Darth Vader from an Old Earth flatvid sci-fi production coming at me with a red light stick.

End blog post #74

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #73

No, this will not happen.  I have a job to do.  My training and my enhancements were all gifts to me exactly for this moment.  XBA9 was tortured to death so I would have this opportunity.  This is one of those classic turning points in history when one person, one “hero” can make the difference and everything changes, forever.
End blog post #72
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Begin blog post #73

Chapter 32 – The Fight of the Beasts – Part One

The evening before the fight gives us a clear sky with glowing red clouds in a fiery sunset.  The setting sun sends off rays all the way to the meridian above the keep.  It is beautiful.  I ask my handlers if I can just stand for a while and watch the patterns in the sky, alone.  To my surprise they acquiesce to my request and two of them stand almost respectfully at some distance behind me, also staring into the beauty spread so lavishly above us.  Suddenly they both approach me and hold my arms gently.  One of them puts his hand under my chin as I instinctively bow my head in submission and makes me look into his face.  He pulls me slowly to himself and kisses me, as he’s undoubtedly seen women do with each other many times. 

This too is another of those massive breakthroughs. 

The other looks perplexed by his partner’s move, then tries it also.  I kiss him back warmly and gently.  I move my hand to his penis and it is fully erect, hard in my hand.  I fondle him.  He understands now at least one of the uses of kissing.  To him it had always been nothing more than some kind of stupid display of female emotion and weakness. 

Both of them take me around the back of the weapons cases and make love to me.  Yes, they actually make love.  They allow me to play them and arouse them fully before they come.  It is pleasant; it is good; it is like giving the finger to that terrible Force that my “high” sense keeps telling me uses the artificial world of Albaral to poison the men’s minds against women on this world.  No it’s even better than that.  It’s an awakening for the three of us. A bonding that can never be reversed.

They walk me back slowly to the cages.  Tiki is standing, a bit worried I think, maybe jealous.  I take her in my arms and for a long time after the gate has closed and the handlers have walked away we hold and caress each other.  I see many faces turned to me, to us.  On those faces closest to me I see smiles – smiles!  I smile back at them then Tiki and I slip down together into the straw and soon fall asleep.  Another dreamless, innocent sleep that ends with the morning call.  I awaken from a great distance and immediately realize what day this is.

It has been said that ‘only the dead do not know fear’ but if that is true then I must surely be dead.  I do not feel fear.  I feel as a bride on her wedding day.  This is when it comes together for me. 

So many paths, so many twists, turns, dead ends.  But this path has been the most trying.  For years I struggled on it and the thorns, thistles, broken branches and fallen trees kept blocking my advance, tripping me, crushing my bones and making me bleed.  For some days now I’ve stopped struggling and now the path is clear. 

Ahead, in a clear bright light I see one single set of stairs and two altars.  The one on the left is covered with a pure white linen cloth on which the sacrificial victim must lie to be offered in death to the god.  Beside it stands the high priest with the sacrificial knife to cut the victim’s heart out.  Yes, I remember that part.

On the other is a wonderful set of deadly blades and a knight with a golden sword half drawn waiting to knight me and hand me the blades. 

It’s a simple, age-old choice. 

One, I believe and I trust the High Priest to know better than I ever could.  In his hands I die a sacrifice to the God as I have been in the habit of doing over and over. 

Two, I walk to the Knight, kneel, accept the knighthood proffered.  I take the weapons, walk past the altar into the room where the demon in black metal armour awaits my entrance.  He is ready to fight me, dishonour me, kill and devour me along with all I have ever loved and cared for, living or dead.

That is the choice I have been moving towards since I evolved into ISSA consciousness.  This choice determines whether I graduate, or remain in obedient subservience and servitude to a Higher Power.

I choose the weapons.  I go to meet Warmo.  It is time.

End blog post #73

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #71

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

End blog post #70
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Begin blog post #71

Chapter 31 – The Forever Change

It’s the last week before the great fight of the century as it is being billed and advertised.  The fight of the Beasts.  There is excitement in the air of Hyrete and it trickles into our compound.  I can’t help but notice a change of attitude toward me by most of the men.  I am being treated as a human being.  The trainers, usually the slobs, the lowliest of male types in the compounds, are asking me questions about my strategy; what I know of Warmo; and about my preference for weapons.

I’m no fool.  I know that many of those questions are motivated by greed.  They are paid informants for Warmo’s spies.  So I spend a great deal of time giving them elaborate dis-information on just about everything.  All they can know for sure is what they observe and even in that I have fun playing with their limited understanding.  I extol the virtues of this or that weapon, this or that move and demonstrate impossible moves.  I tell them, confidentially that I intend to attack Warmo right from the start of the fight to kill him instantly.  I hint I may have access to poison for my sole blades.  I brag that Warmo is a slug and won’t use the two-handed sword or battle axe because he thinks a woman can’t handle it properly and would make him look weak. 

I throw in some tall tales to confuse and amuse them so they lose their concentration.  I tell them I have a secret word that I am going to curse him with and he will go blind from light that I will make come out of my green eyes.  I watch them look at one-another and frown at my words.  This one to one exchange with a female is unexplored domain for them.  They simply don’t know how to talk to a female.  They only know to give orders and enforce absolute obedience and silence with curses and vicious punishment.

I carry on with my tale.  “I will re-grow my scales the night before the fight.  I will be twice as tall as I am now and I will make fire come out of my mouth.  I will fry Warmo in his armour and eat him.  When in the arena my people in the sky boat will fly over and drop poison on him and it will destroy his armour and his weapons.  I will make the evil in his heart turn to molten lava and he will burn and scream like a young girl being flogged.  I will re-awaken the ghosts of all the people he has tortured in his dungeons and they will come by and each take a piece of his poisonous flesh and eat it in front of his eyes…”

They laugh but it isn’t heartfelt.  There is a hollowness to their merriment.  I think they suspect that in part I have certain powers they have yet to see.  And they fear I may know about their prying into my secrets to sell to Warmo.  They fear that if I defeat him I may come after them.  This is a new and terrifying concept for these men.  Never before have they considered the possibility that a woman would not automatically fear men or be subservient.  Well, in a very real sense, I do have ‘powers’ they know nothing about.  I have bionic parts and I intend to make full and free use of them in this encounter.

I have been offered a second and newly arrived trainee if I want one.  I accept the gift and give her to an older woman who has been alone for two months since her mate was killed.  I am being given better food and beginning to put a little fat on my rib cage.  My hair has been attended to by one of the sex-slave trainee who, according to her story, is not here for any punishment incurred but simply because she brought her owners a higher price as a fighter than a sex-slave.  My hair looks passably good.  Not the girl’s fault, she is an impeccable hairdresser, but my hair is long past hope.  It is stiff and greying.  So she cut it quite short and I’ve adjusted my various helmets to match.  I leave nothing to chance or to the last day. 

I’ve been down to the forge many times, discussing weapons with the old pirate.  I’ve openly made love to him too, offering myself to him freely just to prove to them that an older woman can be very erotic and desirable.  He was convinced and I know he has done everything in his power to provide me with the best grade of steel for my blades.  All the blades have been re-forged and extensively tested.  There won’t be any flaws in my weapons. 

They have improved the sandals and as a precaution have designed a sand-proof mechanism that not only pushes the blade out and locks it, but that allows me to manually remove the blade from the sandal and use it as a knife in close combat.  They have also added another blade at the back of the sole, shorter but broader and deadly.  That one could be my last resort weapon.  I won’t use it in training but already I know exactly what use I’ll make of it, if given the chance.       

When I mention the name of Warmo in the forge, most of the men spit on the floor.  And they have put all the money they could muster on me to win.  Well, I take that as being at least as good as a dozen roses and a “good luck” card!  I don’t feel like a fighter going into the arena to fight to the death.  Rather I feel like an actress going to receive an award for best role.  I’m careful to keep my mind in that light and shallow place until this fight is over.  I’m a fighter!  I’m not a spiritual being, not a philosopher, not a logician, not an avatar.  I’m a fighting machine with a purpose: to kill its opponent.  I’m riding high, higher than at any other time in my years on Malefactus.  And I intend to remain in this space, whatever happens in the meantime.

Since I received my implants I haven’t used the stim but I know it’s still available.  I use Tiki to speak to the Cydroid in the kitchens and between them they manage to smuggle some to me.  Tiki has never heard of this concoction but the sex-slave who did my hair somehow finds out I have some.  She begs and begs me to share it with her.  An addict!  So she lied about the reason she was demoted to fighter.  Instead of killing her outright they sold her for what money the now worthless creature could bring them.   

I warn her this is a fighter training place and I can have her flogged to death if she importunes me this way.  I lie to her and explain it’s false stim.  Just an energy cube that looks like stim but is made from fruit gel.  She lifts her nose and smells in an animal sort of way and I almost expect her to snort loudly.  Matter-of-fact and coarsely she says in an ugly low voice full of hate, “Fuck you lying bitch.  You have stim, you share.”

Well, that cannot be allowed to pass, nor can I report her to the handlers or she will spill the beans, start an all-out investigation and search for other possible illegal substances in our sleeping compounds.  The results could be disastrous for our simple lifestyle and our shaky but deep relationships.  Plus the extra work of forking all the straw out of the cages for inspection or burning in the yard, then the possibility for all of us to being left to sleep naked on the paving stones without straw for who knows how long until the point is made.

I make Tiki return the stim cube I’d hidden in my hair to the Cydroid and silently enroll some fighters to deal with the new slave.  She is taken to the wash troughs and I call to the overseer that I suspect she has lice and must be given a thorough washing.  He laughs and says, “Give it to her before we deal with her ourselves, that krosspeeg.”

She gets a thorough washing, complete with soap in the mouth and other very unpleasant treatments involving bodily cavities.  Then a quiet but deadly talking-to that sobers her up.  When she realizes no one in the compound will side with her and all agree she is a liar and trouble maker, she remains silent and paler even than her normally white skin would show.  She is taken to the flogging pole and a full description of our last witnessed death flogging is given to her by some of the fighters.  That brings her down a few more notches. 

Finally the meanest looking, most scarred fighter in the compound takes her by the neck and shaking her says, “Me they call Girl-Flesh Eater.  Hate sex-slave pampered little fucking teela krosspeeg like you.  Soon day come I permitted to eat one again.  I eat you, yessss!  Two, maybe three day from today.  Tender, juicy.  I like.  I make kitchen prepare you good, medium rare, make me strong to fight.  Maybe you good for something then, uh-uh!”  She extends her hand and squeezes the girl’s face until her eyes are almost popping out, probably more from raw fear than the squeeze.  I swear that grip would have frightened even me, if temporarily. 

That was the first and last addict I encountered in the compounds.  She lost her appetite for stim, at least around me.  I could have left my cube lying in her cage and she would not have touched it.  Maybe it was cruel; maybe it wasn’t funny but Tiki and I and a few other women laughed much over this unusual episode.  That it should happen at a time when I was flying so high was also of note.  The air of celebration continued until the day of the fight. 

End blog post #71