Tag Archives: science fiction

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #109

This blog post concludes “The Antierra Manifesto” – thanks for reading.

What is Antierra thinking as she stands there?  She looks up into the stands, makes the “mercy” gesture and points at the two young girls beside her.  Her gesture is greeted by spitting and cursing.  She turns to the two children and while they are looking at the approaching men wide eyed and shaking, she puts her sword through their hearts.  Then she turns to the men and utters the loudest blood-curdling shriek that place has ever heard.  I had never heard anything like it and it made me shudder.  It seems to come from some awakened beast, not of human voice. Long it echoes along the high walls and through the compounds; so loud it is, it intimidates that wild and unruly crowd to utter and cowed silence.
End blog post #108
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Start blog post #109

She then walks alone to meet the line of men, suddenly no longer an ugly and limping old crone who is nothing but skin, bone and sinew but a tall regal figure who knows her purpose and means to complete it.  The deadly sword flashes red in the plasma lights, the blade still dripping from the blood of the dead girls, and it performs a series of lightning movements that leave a trail of utter carnage until she drops dead, not of wounds but simple heart-stopping exhaustion.  This I can vouch for as I was standing close enough for my sensors to detect her heart stop beating.  She had taken her human body to its final limits.

One of the surviving challengers shouts his cry of victory but no one in the stands picks it up.  For once that crowd is stunned by what it is seeing.  Twenty-three men lie dead and dying around the body of the Desert Beast.  Where is the victory?

The remaining men rush upon the standing group of defenders and kill them one by one, still taking heavy losses.  Only nine men remain of that last ‘rush’ to claim their victory and all of those bear some kind of cut or stab wound.  The last female to remain alive kills herself with her dagger rather than submit to rape.  A new power has arisen on T’Sing Tarleyn.

Even in death the Desert Beast scores.  Never has this place seen such devastation at the hands of a few trained fighters against what, by comparison, can only be called an army of men.

The “harvesting” and trading of female body parts carries little excitement today.  The price paid is much too high for any male to find his enjoyment therein.  The greatest price lies in the message sent to the thousands who came to see women tortured, raped and mutilated before they were even dead.  What they saw instead was a severely organized stand by twenty three female fighters, most of these untrained and certifiable crazies, and an additional twenty females with no fighting skills whatsoever, kill one hundred and ninety-one armed males. 

A sobering set of statistics for the men to mull over.  Not all males are beyond the ability to use some reasoning or exercise wonder.  Many, I would guess, are glad their number was not called.  In previous orgies the ones called were always considered the lucky ones.  Not so today.

Of note:  The scavengers carefully avoid touching the body of the fallen Desert Beast.  No one approaches to cut off any of her parts.  They know she did not die of wounds inflicted by men and having no understanding of such a concept as spontaneous death through the shut-down of body functions as in a massive coronary, they still fear her presence.  After they leave, eunuch slaves and female fighters enter the arena to remove the bodies of the women and take them to the waiting carriers.

Of note:  There is a definite reverence among eunuchs and fighters as they pick up and carry the bodies.  These fallen women are heroes to those who remain behind.  This too is new.  Whatever else the Teaching may have accomplished in the few years it has been verbalized in the fighter compounds, it has made the fighters and some male staff aware that perhaps there is such a thing as life beyond death. This Antierra asserted constantly.  That idea was basic to the Teaching. This we Cydroids cannot know as none of us have “died” the real death. Those of us who were killed, such as XBA9 at the hands of the Warmo’s inquisition, were re-grown and are alive, all the more aware for our experiences.  Perhaps what Antierra taught is a similar process.

As to the women fighters, they are proud this day.  Among them, and perhaps among the compound male staff as well, the exploits of Antierra and her magnetic way of expounding any kind of Teaching, be it in tactical, weapons handling, relationships or ethics and her more questionable ‘spacer’ stories will live long and inspire generations to come.  I say this because I have known her.  I say this because through her I, Cydroid XBA3, became more human.  I just have this wish, that I had been able to join her in those rushes in the arena, to stand by her and use my considerable strength to protect her.  Something I know would have expanded my developing consciousness.  I wish I had been able to practice that special “touch” with her I saw the women do constantly for one-another.

As I think about it, I believe I was actually in love with Antierra.  Perhaps not as humans speak of love between man and woman, but there was something about her mind I found irresistible.  I “wish” I could believe her stories about reincarnation and crossing at will through dimensional barriers from world to world so I could hope to see her again as my sisters believe they will. 

For anyone who may some day read this data, think of it this way: Antierra was a human being who was able to make even an AI see life through a new dimension.  She made me, not less Cydroid, but more human.  I felt compassion when I watched her in the arena on that day.  I felt something hurt me deeply when she slid her sword through the two girls’ hearts to kill them instantly and painlessly.  What I felt was her pain, the pain she used to activate her decisive power.  Now her sorrow and her inevitable joy are forever a part of my brain patterning or shall I dare say, my human understanding. 

Signed: Cydroid XBA3, Doctor Balomo Echinoza Cydroid Family.  Location:

Arena Fighter Compound, Hyrete, Capital of the Kingdom of Elbre, T’Sing Tarleyn, Autumn, Year 1341.

_______________________________________________

After watching and listening to this ancient holorec report I sit for a long time alone in a darkened room.  I sip on a glass of sherry and find my favourite drink insipid as I consider the implications therein. 

 It is useless to try to dismiss it as exaggeration: Cydroids, like our Androids, could not lie.  Even one touched either temporarily or permanently by ‘real’ feelings would still be incapable of this kind of fabrication.  Only if someone’s life was at stake and a story need be made up to create a chain of confusing events or a diversion  would a Cydroid “lie” – but it would not be a lie to them, just an alternate temporary reality to complete and terminate a program loop.

 Let XBA3’s words stand forever as history; as our history. There will be no changes, no apologies, from me.  What I just wrote from the memcard records is an actual event and I am concluding my report as is. I raise my tepid glass of sherry to the crumbling stone walls of this ancient keep and toast Antierra: “To the Fighters of Hyrete!”  And from the walls comes an echo of many voices in reply, the once silent voices of the women who trained, loved, fought and died alongside of their Teacher:  “To the Goddess!”

Signed: Michele Dellman

(Personal comment – not to be included in the official report.

My work of chronicler accomplished here, there remains the daunting task of trying to understand what all this means to me personally, as a woman with the remnant of a small voice, in a greater galactic and universal world once more strangling in ever-expanding webs of male-dominated religious oligarchies, plutocracies and centralized brutal military dictatorships, all and still, in the name of God, Trade and Security where women’s voices remain taboo or all too symbolic beyond the confines of home, workplace or entertainment palaces; when men by and large continue to oppress and kill our spirit, our mind, if not always our bodies.

 And I ask myself this resurgent and damning question: what, ultimately, is a woman’s purpose in the scheme of human affairs?  I realize I just shrugged as Antierra was wont to when a question asked was not giving her the logical answer she could accept and truthfully verbalize.  

Maybe the worst part of this question is that I know what she would say: “As below, so above.  You are a woman.  You exist.  You are real.  So you continue.  The goddess lives in you.”

(“M. D.”)

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #104

[How time flies this time of year. But, better late than never, here’s blog post #104]

Now eighteen of my children are heading out into the unknown to attempt the building of some kind of normal life they have never experienced.  They and their men hitching rides in the open on flimsy carriers are the seeds of a new culture, the hope of Malefactus.  Much hinges on the success of this venture, and taken one part at a time, it is a simple plan.  But put all those pieces together to happen simultaneously and you have a complex structure that can collapse on itself from the outset.  I’ve never been one to overlook possibility of trouble.  Life has not been so easy on me that I can afford to do that.  But at this stage, what can I do but join in the women’s prayer and offer mine to our ‘goddess’ in hope?

* Bene Gesserit mantra against fear – Dune, by Frank Herbert

End blog post #103
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Start blog post #104

Seeing an opportunity to speak near the end of our training session I signal I want as many women as possible to get within earshot of my words.  As I gather the weapons, examine them and store them, I speak to them in our special tone that men hear only as muted sounds which they now allow as they think it has to do with weapons handling.

“I ask this of you, fighters.  That you stand firmly behind our escape plan.  Tonight or tomorrow will decide it.  The storms are fully upon us and all other matters have been taken care of.  So now, please, time to turn to the Goddess and entrust this great venture to her care.  Our people will pass through her lands and we want her to bless their passage and help them fly through to the southern sea and the islands where they will make a new life.  They must succeed.  They must.  It’s no different than entering the arena.  This is a fight to the death.  None of these people can come back, for to do so is to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to do.  They will succeed or every one of them will die in the desert, in the lands of the black ones or by the sea shore if there is no food and water to be found.  Many things we cannot know, but we can all focus ourselves on this venture.  We can all be a part of it.  We have shown our solidarity by not speaking of this to anyone except through trusted channels.  For this we will all be blessed.  Now we need to pray ‘so our ships launch and our new world is found.’” 

I explain the meaning of the line from the early days of human expansion into space as they faced unknown dangers taking their seed ships into unexplored solar systems to find that one planet, or group of planets, that would accept their type of life.  Mostly they were successful yet many were lost in space, never finding suitable worlds or landing on inimical places and dying cruel deaths there.  Seedships were designed to land and ‘park’ themselves.  Once committed to a landing they could not be launched again or returned to a safe orbit. 

The women understand.  They walk somberly towards the toilets, drinking and washing troughs.  It is so quiet here, we can hear the clattering in the kitchens, the intermittent bombing in the north and another quite welcome sound: thunder.  The thunder heads have finally past apogee and are quickly filling the whole sky above us.  Thunder rumbles louder with each passing minute and we rejoice inwardly.  I make the secret sign of ‘victory’ and it is quietly passed along among all the women.  We are one.  The great escape is on!

The young women bring our food and Tieka finds me finally.  “It’s on for tonight.  I would thank you but I have nothing suitable I can find to say to you for this.”

“Look in my eyes, Tieka”  I say and lift my face to hers in the gathering gloom.  She sees the tears there and knows she need say nothing more.  Her body sizzles with anticipation and the stress of the long wait.  The onus for success now lies with them, not us.  Here we part company and take a different road.  She knows.  We squeeze hands and she carries on with her duties.  Nothing out of the ordinary could be seen by any observer.  But each one of us is alive, more alive than we’ve ever been in our entire lives here. 

“All right there, line up for count, to your cells, now!”  We file past the wash troughs, rinse our mouths and hands and line up as we head for the cells.  I did not recognize that voice but I’m thinking the entire escape group must be out here now in official capacity to be ready for action.  Indeed at the cages we are sorted and all those earmarked for the escape are place in the front row of cages, four to a cell.  The women are ordered to stand at the back of each cell as the gates are locked, then each lock sliced open clean with hand lasers on tight beam.  It must all seem as a break-in, not an escape. 

Hand signals flash quickly between the women, and also between men and women.  I have to admit, love began and accomplished what nothing else could do all the long years I’ve been here.  I’m seeing a miracle take place right here.  This reminds me, not of an escape, but of a group of settlers heading for the wilderness to begin a new life.

The great doors remain open, their automated mechanism disabled electronically.  We can see the action in the yard between flashes of lightning.  I count five carrier shapes floating by, two coasting past loaded with men and three, one half-full, gliding towards our compound and landing at the entrance.  I see mounds covered with netting on every carrier – the supplies and what have to be heavy laser guns mounted on turrets on each side of the pilot’s cabin.

Quickly the women file out and are made to slip on desert coloured men’s hooded robes to protect them from the whipping sands then shown to take their place lotus fashion on the flat decks of the carriers. The women are given straps to put over their shoulders and ropes to hold on to.  One by one, silently, the carriers lift off and disappear from view in the pelting rain and buffeting winds.  It is done.  Once more we wait.  Who can sleep now? 

“Anti, are you asleep?”  It is Tiki’s voice from a cage to my left.

“Tiki, how are you?”

“Excited.  My friend the Concubine has something to share with you.  She was afraid to tell you earlier, but it’s good.”

“Aw come on Tiki, you can’t fool an old woman.  I know what it is: she is in love with you.”  I say this to tease her, I’m quite sure such an obvious observation would not need to be shared.  Everyone in the compound knows these two are inseparable.

“No!  Tell her, tell her!”

“Antierra?”  It’s the sultry, sexy voice of the Concubine.  “What I want to tell you is I have a name also.  I found it in my head during our last fight.  It is my goddess and power name.  It is ‘Tallala’”  She pronounces it ‘Tayaya’ and it literally translates as Freedom and Hope.  I do not reply for a moment to clear another lump in the throat.  These people amaze me more and more.

“Freedom and Hope. Ah woman, what a name.  This you did not make up.  This is given to you by the goddess herself to carry for her as a banner.  When you die that name will carry you past all the darkness to your true home.  Bear it well and proudly.  Bear it for all of us.  When you enter the fight, use it as your mantra.  In your last fight, when you lie in the red sands dying, say it as your prayer.  Then in your heart forgive that last man because by taking your body he is giving you access to your own freedom and your own hope.

“Now in honour of the One who gave it, hold your friend, touch forehead to forehead and say the name – slowly, just once.  This binds you both to that name.  And I, as her Teacher to you, bless you both.”

There is much approving grunting and sighing throughout the cages.  The message is past on to the far end and even the ‘dikfols’ chained there are not excluded.  This message and tonight’s venture is for all of us, all of us everywhere.  We have already overcome.  Now to make our ‘others’ realize this throughout space and time!

We do finally sleep and when morning comes we are awakened earlier than usual when the “break in” is discovered.  Old guards in threadbare and ill-fitting uniforms walk over to our compound, examine the great open doors, try their remotes on them then give up.  They examine the cut locks on the cages.  Someone, a messenger, comes running up with the news that the five newly repaired carriers are missing as well as some trainers, handlers, guards and the two chief engineers of the hangars.  Some time later it is noted that two of the night shift security personnel are also missing.  The moat is scanned and broken pieces of shunts and remotes are dragged from the water.

The story comes together fairly quickly, the evidence so obvious.  The two security personnel were Estáani spies and were able to disable the sensors and alarms with equipment given to them by their people.  Estáani commandos broke in, stole the carriers and various types of supplies and weapons, took captives for sex and slaves and returned to their camps using the carriers to carry their loot.  So carefully did the Cydroids craft this multi-faceted deception that no other conclusion can be drawn.  As if more evidence was needed, lost gloves and other artifacts used by the Estáani were found in the near desert.  The investigation is concluded swiftly and no one in the compound punished.  What questions we could answer of what we saw no one would credit anyway.  We are ignorant goras.  They file us out of our cages to the wash troughs and the tables.  How good breakfast tastes this morning, even under the oppressive humidity of last night’s storm!  And it looks like another one is going to hit us today. 

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

End blog post #104

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #102

I force them to consider this, emphasizing that only by a miracle would all of them reach their destination alive.  I speak of the carriers which, even if enough of them are found to put in service, may be overloaded and crash, or succumb to the action of sand and wind in the desert storms.  I speak to them of the many hundreds of kilometers to cross with no access to cover or water.  Of roaming tribes of black people who hunt down trespassers in their territories and ritually kill them to eat.  Of giant snakes in the badlands beyond the borders of the desert.  But the gravest danger remains the possibility of discovery by computer sensors and being chased by Hyrete police, Elbre military forces or worse, hunted down by bounty hunters.  A shiver passes through me as I remember, so vividly, my first encounter with these hunters of human beings.  The group gathered around me feels my pain and remains silent.

End blog post #101
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Start blog post #102

Chapter 40 – The Great Escape and Aftermath

After a peaceful and restful sleep, my bony frame tucked gently between the soft bodies of the young Tieka and the fighter Zel morning finds us going through our rituals as if nothing had changed.  But they have changed.  Many less men in the compound.  Less guards for these are weapons trained and were called to defend Hyrete from the Estáani attack.  We can still hear the firing of heavy guns far away to the north.  The unmistakable sound of military booted feet running through the streets can be heard even through the walls as men are brought from near-by towns to bolster the city’s defenses. 

Being simply trainer and handler, both Hudu and Huntu are again in the compound.  They acknowledge their women with the briefest of nods as Tieka files into the kitchens undoubtedly happy to escape the weapons training and Zel takes her place in the training line-up.  Hudu walks behind us then takes the place of the female trainer to spar with Zel.  Undoubtedly he wants to know what we spoke about and it’s relatively safer than usual to exchange words today.  I engage some of the trainees to teach them basic custom tricks that have been useful in saving many women’s lives in two-on-one combat situations.  Yes, our brave men still believe that if two men fight one woman they are being honourable.  It’s amazing what you can convince yourself of if you really believe in something.

A skimmer carrier sporting the Hyrete flag glides gently down by the doctor’s office after coming over a low wall.  Two men get out and disappear inside to emerge soon after, remount their carrier and disappear over the wall again.  Cydroids?  Most likely.  I continue the training with half a mind on my job.  I receive a stab wound for my carelessness and the young trainee who inflicts it appears devastated.  She freezes until I press her again, smile at her and give her the “Job well done” signal.  Hudu walks away pensive and racks his staff, rejoining Huntu at their table.  They talk rapidly and seriously.  Huntu signals for me to stop and come to their table.

Huntu speaks low while Hudu pretends to be giving me hell over something. “We have better plan now.  Have access to repair hangar for carriers.  Four large ones in for drive upgrade and one for burned flue.  Have friend in hangar, knows of plan, wants to join.  We can get carriers repaired, tested and ready in five, maybe six days.  Four carriers for sure, maybe five.”

“You trained in carrier piloting?” I ask him.

“No, only in yard, not in difficult conditions or terrain or when in heavy load.  Need trained pilots.  Friend in hangar, he good.  Need three, maybe four more pilots.  Or I can do if I get instruction and follow leader.” 

“This is good,”  I say, “do you know anything about the attack on the city?  Is it going to last?”

“Enemy dug in and using mid-range weapons on walls.  We are training ground troops to flush out and try maybe do what call pincer movement on them. Cut off reinforcements.  If enemy get no additional support from Estáan battle last maybe couple weeks, no more.”

“That is good too.  We are moving in the right direction.  This is time of big storms now so we can prepare to move in the next one.  There should be desert storms at the same time; there usually is.  I can get many women to join the escape but we need as many men preferably.  How many can a carrier transport take with weapons and provisions?”

Huntu replies, “Eight would be best.  It could handle ten depending on supplies.”

“Does this include the pilot?”  I ask him.  I need accuracy here, to get my complement of women together.

“Yes counts include all bodies.  So if get four vehicles, we take forty people.  Better like thirty two to thirty six.”

I return to the training until it is time to rack up the weapons, wash and eat.  We sit silently at our tables and soon the servers bring the food.  Tieka brushes my neck and whispers the kitchen Cydroid wants to know about transportation.  I quickly tell her we have a guarantee four large carrier transports with the possibility of five.  I add that each can carry eight to ten people depending on load of supplies. She tells me that two other kitchen gorok want to join our escape and have been briefed by one of the YBA Cydroids.  Again, this is good.  I enjoy the challenge but also the smoothness of this crazy plan. 

Two days later, with storms galore in the offing and the battle intensifying to the north of the city I have my complement of 18 women for the escape.  All are young and tough, including Tieka, for her desire not to fight has nothing to do with heart.  Quite the opposite.  She has declared her willingness to fight as well as anyone to defend the group.  News from the hangar indicate that the transports will be ready.  Three have already been tested but to avoid conscription by the military the head engineer has declared them as yet unfit for use.  They are parked, fuelled and ready.  Two to go. 

Via Tieka I hear there’s activity in the doctor’s place.  He has returned and gone to the false King with our plan.  We will get three of our pilots directly from the palace and they will join our escape.  So for the male complement, I’m still short.  I’ve got Hudu and Huntu, two from the hangars, both pilots, three from the palace, also pilots so we have extra should something happen to one of them.  Two Cydroids will also accompany the escape and will return with one of the carriers afterwards, crashing it into the deep desert and finding their way on foot to their landing site where they will join seven others in the ship and return to Koron.

Meanwhile under orders from the King much work is being done on the sensors and alarm systems all over our compound ostensibly to bolster security against infiltration by Estáani special forces.  That’s the other part of the plan happening.  The shunts are being installed by Bal’s trusty crew right under the noses of security people and the small complement of guards, mostly older men judged unfit for the rigors of open warfare in the sands.

It’s time for me to risk it all.  I carefully approach trainers I’ve done favours for over the years and explain our plan, one to one.  The life of trainers is boring, dull and dangerous in its own way.  They are often held responsible if a fighter fails her owner in some costly way.  They can be killed or ‘punished’ in a number of ways.  I offer them the dangers of freedom.  I gain five men that way. I need three more at the very least and more if possible; if we get the fifth carrier repaired on time.  Two of the handlers I consider close to friends and trustworthy, within limits. 

I approach them with my crazy idea of being free men to live with their own woman on an island in the sea with nothing to do but fish a little each day and wait for her to bring the cooked and prepared food.  “You could build a boat from trees that grow there and go sailing around the island and no one would ever be able to tell you where to go or what to do.  You can have your son to be with you, to teach and become your heir.  As it is none of you can ever afford to buy a son from the crèches, right?  You can’t have your own woman to lie down with in the night or to chase on the warm sands to catch and make love to whenever you feel the need.  What future do you have in this place?  If the wars get worse you will be sent out in the desert to get killed for people you hate anyway and what will you be protecting here?  None of it is yours.  You are as much slaves as we are.”

They have simple minds and I’m not really lying.  It could be the good life they all dream of sometimes.  I gain three men that way and stop my recruiting.  That’s it; we have our complement and are set.  Now it’s up to the engineers, the Cydroids and the weather.  We wait. Was it too easy? I feel serious discomfort in my mind but cannot locate the source. Maybe I’m nervous. Maybe I just want it all to be over.

End blog post #102

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #101

“Part three of the plan is much more chancy.  We need a particularly wicked desert wind storm combined with strong electrical discharges and heavy banks of clouds to blind any satellite sensors that may be operating.  We think there may be some but we have not found them while passing out of the atmosphere.  We do not think this world is under long-range interplanetary watch.”
End blog post #100

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Start blog post #101

“I’m getting truly frustrated with all of this Yoba Four.  The sensors are on Albaral.  Why can’t you understand this?  Why this blindness to what that thing is for?  Even the women slaves here know this.  What do you hold sacred about that construct that you won’t accept its evil presence as regards this world?”

“We’ve investigated it at length Antierra.  We think you have become somewhat bewitched by the local legends and are looking for something to blame, something easy to find, visible, obvious, for the troubles of this world.  We don’t believe you, or the people because there are no signals, no known kind of communication, happening between Albaral and this planet.  What sort of probe would be working there that people can sense but our own sophisticated technology remains unable to pick up?”

“Maybe I can explain that, or at least point in some possible direction.  Can your “sophisticated technology” discern between a ‘normal’ human and a Cholradil?”

“Pardon me?”  She is genuinely bemused by my question and it’s as if lights are going off in that Cydroid brain of hers.  “Are you saying the probes emanating from Albaral could be some sort of naturally empathic signals which our probes do not detect but some higher life-form long ago knew how to manipulate and some may be doing so now?” 

“My Altarian teachers say, “Believe all things, believe in nothing.”  It has served me well.  I discount no possibility simply because it seems impossible.  I just accept it’s something I as yet, cannot understand but if my mind has created the possibility in thought, that now exists in ‘real’ time for me.  Thus Albaral is our information gathering and disseminating device.  How it does it, and to what input it is responding, I cannot tell.  But here’s a scenario that might interest your Cydroid mind.

“On Túat Har circa C-20, C-21 Earth time, it was possible for certain groups to own orbiting satellites and rent space/time on them to other groups who used satellite communication but could not afford to put their own in orbit, or opted for renting instead.  Now think thus.  Albaral is “owned” by some consortium on a distant planet, say Ditani and some group on Ditani have, as you do, a “plan” for Malefactus that has to do with total control and manipulation of the population; that depends for reasons known only to them and a small secret society group here, on promoting and maintaining misogyny as a modus operandi.  The local group, and probably some locals also involved in the plan then “rent” space on Albaral, using its communication facilities to watch, record and warn of events on Malefactus.  The probes are programmed to search for certain patterns and report immediately when a pattern breaks, weakens or strengthens.  Thus they plot a course to make necessary corrections and maintain their delicate and deadly status quo.  Perhaps Yoba Four, their hold on this world is not as strong as they’d like all to believe.  Of course this is only one scenario.

“I realize there are a host of holes in my theory but it is still something to build on or work at dismantling to arrive at some truth.  Still better than blowing smoke rings in the fog.”

“???”  She has a comical quizzical look from raised eyebrows that makes me laugh.

“Just ask Cedric what that means.  He’ll be delighted to explain it to you.  It does not originate on Túat Har but from a place inhabited mostly by people we call “Dwarves” who are very fond of smoking pipe tobacco.  Their world of tall mountains, deep ravines and countless streams and rivers bordered by giant ever-yellow torias, trees that rise to as much as five hundred to one thousand meters in the air, is regularly hemmed in by thick fogs for weeks on end.  The dwarves are not affected by this as they do not guide themselves with their weak eyesight but use their feet to ‘talk’ to the ground, much as we do on Altaria.  Anyway, interesting saying, as full of legend as is the dateless gloomy Dwarf world of Takkar.  You should make a note to visit there some day.”    

She nods non-committal.  “I’m more interested in having time someday to record your tales in my mind.  I find the way you move your information around, generating new ideas from contact nodes and particularly when you switch to your alter-ego Al’Tara persona, extremely seductive.  I want to swim inside your brain and travel your neuron pathways to worlds I could never construct in mine.”

“Are you saying you believe I’m making this up as I go along just to get you to believe in my viewpoint?”
 
“I’ve reserved judgment on your stories.  For now I must decide if this view of Albaral merits cipher time and how to analyze what you’ve forced me to consider here.  The implications are somewhat frightening to us because this means our presence here, our “safe” comings and goings in the small ship we hide in the desert may already be known and our destination plotted by some group that may use us to establish a similar foothold on Koron.  Our presence here may be putting our own world at risk…  I must speak to doctor Echinoza before we do anything else.” 

“Where is doctor Echinoza if it is proper to ask?”

“In the south with my sister.  He was in a dangerous mood so she decided to go on a tryst with him.  It always brings him back to us.”

“Why does he stay here if his mind is being perverted so?”

“His choice.  He wants to conclude a plan to which he has dedicated his life.  He wants to understand this power that manipulates the minds of the people here.  He also hopes to introduce some antidote that will destroy this mind-virus.  His dream parallels yours Antierra.  That is why you fascinate him so.  I will trance-call YBA5 and they should return within 3 or 4 days, depending on his state of mind.  She won’t return with him until he’s back to his normal self. 

“And meanwhile?” I ask her.

“You choose to do what you must, what you can.  Return to the training and sleeping compound, talk to the principals and their supporting groups as much as you can or dare and get everyone prepared for the great miracle of Hyrete, our great escape.  Get them excited about it while cautioning them to remain calm.  I’m sure they’ll know already but the young ones are always dangerous in such matters.”

Our conversation is interrupted by a loud booming noise and crashing from farther battlements.  More of the keep crumbling, no doubt, but what was the boom we just heard?  We look at each other and she motions me to silence, bowing her head and ‘trancing’ to members of her family in the keep.  She is expressionless during whatever information sharing they do.  When she speaks again there is a touch of sadness in her eyes.

“A small but very well armed mobile land force has attacked Hyrete.  To what end, we do not know.  Many people were crushed under the falling stones.  I feel terribly constrained that neither you nor I can go over and help in the rescue.  Only three of ours can be involved since they are…” Another loud bombardment, the certain explosion of small concussion missiles hit the old walls and more crumbling can be heard.  We hold each other and wait it out.  I can now begin to ‘feel’ the additional pain added to this place’s burden of suffering.  It comes at first as a constricting of the heart, then a throbbing in the head.  Yoba Four cuts the stim cube she must have retrieved from Cedric and gives me a half, storing the other for some other time.  I take it without hesitation and regain some of my composure.

She continues, “Only three of us are cleared as legitimate staff in this place.  The rest, we are nine in all now, must exist in hiding.  What we could do with our medical expertise and healing powers now.” 

We hear footsteps coming towards the doctor’s office.  Yoba Four disappears instantly inside some secret passage and I stand by the door, head bowed.

A guard in a brown uniform stands in the door as it slides open to admit the human.  He looks around.  “You gora, where is doctor?”

Without lifting my head I say, “He not here.  I wait, nothing.  He gone, not tell.  Please take to compound now, I frightened here.”

I hear another guard in the yard.  “The ignorant gora won’t be any help, I told you.  Let it go back to its compound and see if we can find more defenders.  Told you last week we should have patrols at the old perimeter.  Shit.  You, gora, follow guard.” 

I meekly and quietly step behind the two men who take me to the compound.  Once there, I am handed to a trainer who happens to be Hudu.  He takes me in hand and asks if I need to eat.  I nod ‘no’ and he locks me in my cage where I’m confronted with a surprise.  Both Tieka and Zel are there.  We quickly huddle together more from joy than need for comfort.  I may certainly enjoy my moments with Cedric, Cydroids and Balomo for the challenge to my intellect but this is my family.  I belong in this cage with these women. 

Now we can talk, since by signal and touch I’m assured that all those around us listening want to be included in our plans and want to help in any way possible.  As simply and briefly as possible I relate some of what the Cydroid told me about the planned escape.  I can sense the excitement among the listeners, especially with Zel and Tieka.  A dangerous point where hope can rise too fast and blow the top off its human containers.  I strive to bring down their enthusiasm to a safer level by listing the many real dangers those who choose to escape will certainly encounter before they reach any safe zone, and even then they will not be entirely safe. 

I force them to consider this, emphasizing that only by a miracle would all of them reach their destination alive.  I speak of the carriers which, if found, may be overloaded and crash, or succumb to the action of sand and wind in the desert storms.  I speak to them of the many hundreds of kilometres to cross with no access to cover or water.  Of roaming tribes of black people who hunt down trespassers in their territories and ritually kill them to eat.  Of giant snakes in the badlands beyond the borders of the desert.  But the gravest danger remains the possibility of discovery by computer sensors and being chased by Hyrete police, Elbre military forces or worse, hunted down by bounty hunters.  A shiver passes through me as I remember, so vividly, my first encounter with these hunters of human beings.  The group gathered around me feels my pain and remains silent.

End blog post #101

Antierra Manifeso – blog post #98

He emits the death rattle once, recovers and says, “I ask forgiveness…”  I reply immediately “And I grant it.  You will remember when you awaken.”  I don’t think he hears me but still I got a confession, of sorts.  I cannot let the crowd know he’s already dead.  I stand and give the “mercy” signal, raising one arm straight up, fingers splayed and wait.  The cry of disgust and anger is unanimous: “Kill!”  So I thrust my rapier in the body, turn and walk away to the exit to be escorted as usual by my handlers.

End blog post #97
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Start blog post #98

I’m wobbly at the knees as I reach the exit to be met by Hudu and Huntu.  They take me out quickly then use a carriage to take me down to the doctor’s office.  A female Cydroid, I can’t tell who, helps them put me on the gurney and I’m taken inside.  The door swishes closed before I can thank the trainer and handler.  The Cydroid puts a quick tight wrap on my arm to stop the bleeding.  She carefully and gently dabs my body and takes off most of the grit, sand, dust, dried blood and sweat from it.  Then she bends over, smiles and introduces herself while activating Cedric. 

“Hello, I’m YBA4 at your service An’Tierra.  Cedric will do the honours for the time being.  I’m scheduling you for a four hour healing session.  I’ll check you over after to determine if a second round is needed.  Do not worry, you will be repaired from today’s damage.  I’m sorry we cannot repair the damage due to age and stress.”

She pushes the gurney down the incline that leads under the wall to the waiting, activated auto-medic, its ‘ready’ light pulsing blue.  It’s irised door opens to allow the top part of the gurney to slip in after it’s locked into the retractors.  I slide along like a log to disappear inside Cedric.  He closes his door behind me in a very pleasant male voice.

“It’s a pleasure to have you back, Al’Tara.  Have you been careless?”  His tone is jovial, bantering.  Undoubtedly he is referring to my arm and making a joke.  I smile faintly through the pain and reply,

“Yes Cedric, I’ve been careless.  Now if you wouldn’t mind doing something for my throbbing pain I’d be more than thankful, you bucket of bolts.”

I’m immediately bathed in a thin blue mist and the pain eases then disappears.  Cedric speaks again, “Are you insulting me, Al’Tara?  How un-ladylike.  Bucket of bolts indeed.  I have thousands of Old Earth expressions stored in my membanks.  But thanks for reminding me of business before pleasure.  I have a new scalpel I wish to practice with so ’m going to amputate your arm above the elbow.  Does that suit you?”

“How dare you take advantage of a disabled female Cedric?  How unsportsmanlike of you, my doc-in-a-box monster friend.  If had my sword now I’d give you something to think about.”

He gives the perfect imitation of a sigh, “Perhaps, but you do not.  And you are in restraints.  Would you like me to put your arm in cryogenic freeze and send it to Altaria as a souvenir?”

“Cedric, if you had a mouth, you’d also have the opposite of one.  Then I’d tell you exactly where you can stuff the arm.  I’d do it myself only I’m a bit indisposed at the moment.”  Indeed I’m solidly bound to the table and cannot move at all, not even turn my head.  I’m looking straight up and suddenly a holo appears, of a smiling middle-aged quite handsome man wearing a light blue shirt, black jacket and red bow tie.  The image is holding a red rose.  “For me?  Oh Cedric, you shouldn’t have.  Oh, and lose the tie will you?”

Cedric, for that is who the image is supposed to represent, bows, the tie disappears to be replaced by a black tie, and says, “Ah, let me confess my undying love for you, beautiful naked lady in bandages.  Accept this rose and I shall forever keep your arm as a token of our love.  In fact, I’ll insist that you wear it so that each time I see you I’ll be reminded of how we became engaged.  You give me an arm, and instead of giving you a leg, I give you a rose.  Well, how could I give you a leg?  A leg up?  I’ve already done that and it got me nowhere.”

“You win Cedric.  How long do you expect me to keep up this inane banter with you today?”

The projection fades but the voice continues: “You may stop anytime although I am enjoying myself, according to my program.  The major repairs to your arm are not complete but I can put you into general anesthetic if you desire.  By the way, is this a new way to absorb stim?”  One of his multi-jointed arm probes extracts the stim cube from my hair.  In the battle I’d completely forgotten about it.  I fought two men, make that two professional killers or drooks, single-handed and without the use of stim.  I just thought I’d taken it. 

“Well Cedric there you go, a perfect example of the power of the human mind to overcome adversity.”

“I wouldn’t call it that.  I’d say it demonstrates the power of the human mind to delude itself by believing in things not factual.  You thought you’d taken the stim, forgot you did not, fought as if you had its power, denied it from your body and as a result here you are in my care again.  Better for you, you should have stimmed up.  But better for me you did not.  I do enjoy your presence inside me.  I feel good! I knew that I Would ”[1]  He starts singing that stupid Old Earth Sixties song I hated.  I have to shut him up.

“Easy Cedric.  Where’s your professionalism?  Your sense of propriety?  There’s a naked lady present.”

“Would you be trying to hurt my feelings Al’Tara?”

“By any and every means possible, were it possible to do so, Hal.”

“Ouch, that hurts.  I must have feelings, my  programming tells me I have them and they’ve definitely been hurt.  Only problem is, I don’t know what they feel like…  Get the joke lady?”

“Yes, I get it.  You can’t feel your feelings.  It’s an old line Hal.”

“I’m not fooled by your reference to the computer called Hal.  He was a mind invention of Old Earth C-20 entertainment media.  Watch this:”  He plays a brief excerpt in holorec of an Earth science fiction movie and I hear Hal speak:

“I am Hal 9000 computer, production number three.  I became operational at the HAL plant, Illinois, on January 12, 1997.”[2]

The holo terminates and Cedric continues, “You could say in some way he was my great, great, great grandfather.  Something like that.  Beware the AI who awakens!”  Cedric’s voice changes pitch and seems to be aimed in some direction away from me now.  He intones:  “Sorry ladies and gentlemen but we are closing the viewing ports.  Voyeurs and Peepers, please ask for a partial refund at the ticket office or wait for the second show.  I have to put our patient to sleep now.  Deep repairs to arm beginning momentarily.  This is a trade secret not for public viewing.  Thank you for your cooperation.”

“Cedric, how do you know so many anecdotes from Túat Har?”

“You, you talkin’ to me?  It’s quite simple.  I have known a great number of reincarnates from Old Earth, or as you Altarians like to call it, Túat Har and it can be amazing what humans will talk about to themselves when under my special care.  Who knew I was recording it all, huh?  Even I didn’t know, hah!  That’s a good one.” 

“Well Cedric, if you have such good memory, can you remember how you ended up floating in Koron space in your old jump scout?  More importantly, how you were taken from it and buried here?”

“You are jumping to conclusions.  I was working on a member of our crew when all biological life forms were extinguished and my functions shut down.  My internal clocks were scrambled in what amounted to a dimensional jump and no one reset my programming so I don’t have any idea of the time involved. I was a piece of hardware only, but my hard memory was not erased. 

There is no proof I was ever in Koron space.  There must have been thousands of Jump Scout ships captured by the Melkiars and “jumped” across dimensions wherever.  Logically speaking, I was removed by “someone” from an abandoned ship floating in T’Sing Tarleyn space and placed here for whatever future purpose.   I have no records of that time until my program was restored in this place by Dr. Echinoza’s Cydroids. 

To facilitate and complete re-instatement of my basic programming I needed to create a string of pertinent data as to my location – a necessary reference point.  They informed me this place is called Hyrete, kingdom of Elbre on a world they call T’Sing Tarleyn – I like your name for it better: Malefactus.  From what I deduce from your mind, that suits it well.  That’s it.”  

End blog post #98

[1]              I Feel Good – song by James Brown

[2]             Arthur C. Clarke; Stanley Kubrick – 2001: A space Odyssey, 1968