Tag Archives: Slavery

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #106

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

End blog post #105
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Start blog post #106

Throughout the cages hundreds of voices in turn repeat that last Teaching.  Then there is silence.  They sense I wish to be left alone now to think and sleep.  It’s not so different than facing a fight to the death in the arena.  The part about not being able to win doesn’t quite become real after so many fights ‘won’ during those long, long years that seem at least four times their physical number: a mere thirteen years. 

Yes, only thirteen years to go from a beautiful twenty five year old female to one who feels seventy-five and looks it.  My hair is short and almost completely white at thirty-eight.  My body is covered in scars and lumps.  One leg is bent outward from a badly set fracture when I was not able to get proper medical attention after a particularly vicious fight.  I’m missing my middle finger on the right hand.  A deep cut across my left breast left a thick ugly brown welt there.  The top half of my left ear was lopped off long ago and half my teeth are missing from blows to the face, not all from the arena.  It’s no wonder they learned long ago to feed us with gruel, broths and stews.  Many of us could never chew solid foods and would starve to death.

The clanking of the cage gates awaken us in the morning.  A shaft of sunlight bathes our space for a few moments and it is glorious to see the dust motes floating in its gold and silver rays.  I can sense how much nature would like to speak to all of us and teach us simpler, better ways.  I have sensed the same things on Altaria… and back on Túat Har.  For a few moments I let myself bask in the comfort of those memories.  One more day, and however long I can last in the arena tomorrow and I’ll be going home should I choose to do that. 

I try once more to communicate simple words with some of the dikfols – we are twenty-three, including myself, shackled to the sliding rings – and this time meet with some success.  A few are not so far gone that they cannot speak but their minds are all darkened.  They spit at me, or in my direction and call me every low slang curse word they can dredge up.  I let it pass as a storm and say nothing in return.  They had expected me to react in the same way; my silence takes them by surprise.

“Why you hate me, goras?”  ( I have to use that term or they will get even angrier.)

One of the women snarls at me.  “You turn men against us, evil you be.  We know.  Men, they beat us and say because you hate them.  We know.  Now you die in orgy too krosspeeg.  Maybe I kill you myself.  Hate you.  Haaaate you!” She screams it at me.

“Stupid you be goras.” I reply in the fighter’s low throaty power voice.  “Stupid to listen lying men.  Is why you are here, because you stupid.  I help women, many years.  You be knowing this.  I get lovers together.  I send hurt goras to doctor to save life.  I take on bad drooks and fight myself for some I know cannot fight good.  I teach many good weapons trick, yes? 

“I say this to you goras.  Yes, you kill me tomorrow, instead of men who be killing all us.  Is smart?  I be best fighter ever.  Tomorrow, if we together, kill many, many evil men.  Maybe so many they no have killing orgy again.  Maybe young lovers not have to be killed that way no more.  Try understand!  Tomorrow  we all die.  We be friends to fight men? Or we be stupid and kill one-other to believe lying men?  You try kill me tomorrow, I promise I kill you first.  I better than you, any weapon I use.  Weapons my magic.  I be daughter of Great Desert Beast.  Ask others tonight.  They be knowing.  But maybe I just let men, let you, kill me because I tired living with stupid goras.  Maybe I just die, go home, never return to help more.  Maybe I just spit on T’Sing Tarleyn and let women and children continue die.  My world, it good place.  Everyone happy there.” 

And I turn my head away from them and say again the one word they understand better than anything else: “Stupid!”

There is silence for a time then one of them says hesitantly, “I think.  I too be good fighter.  I think I fight with you, be partner?”

I reply slowly, “Yes.  Is good thinking.  I like.”

“How you know when dead you go home?  When dead, I dead.  Not have home.”

“Listen to me.  First I give you name, Tomia.  You like?”

“Yes, very good, I like much.  I be Tomia.  It mean?”

“It mean quick understanding.  It mean now you have person.  Now you have name, no stay dead.  They kill, you move from dead body, you fly to home.  Not hard.  You find quick.  Friends there, they help.  All fine.  Is how it is.  This big ahya secret, men not know this.  Men not find Tomia home.  Safe there.”

“Other dikfols here, how they go home?  No name, cannot speak.  Brain broken.”

“They be your family now, Tomia.  You think name, give name to each one.  That name, it go inside broken brain and follow spirit after body dead.  Very powerful is secret name.  When awake from dead body, they find name.  They too be free.  You, Tomia, set ahya friends free.”

I watch her working her mind to find names for the other women.  She frowns deeply and certainly works hard to find fitting names.  She knows these women, a couple of whom are just small girls barely thirteen I’d wager, someone having faked their brands to expedite their sale and make a quick buck.  They likely went over the edge from sexual and other physical abuse, torture, overdosing on chakr or from having witnessed horrors their young minds could no longer absorb.  It could be all of the above.  The most dangerous part of any young fighter’s life is the trip from the crèche to the fighter arena.  I try not to imagine watching these children being set upon by males to be dismembered while still alive and their parts thrown over the walls into the crazed crowd, but the image remains nevertheless.  This is one more horror I must remember, in case the temptation to forget becomes too seductive.

End blog post #106

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 #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

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #87

There be no new method.  Train or be punished.  You – you,”  they point at me and Tiki, “continue.  You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners.  Stop again, we flog.”  And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather.  We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.
End blog post #86
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Begin blog post #87

Ah, new trainers.  Stupid, dense, closed minded.  Always the same with new ones. 

“OK Tiki, get ready, I your challenger now.  I nod head, you attack.”

As soon as I nod she charges into my guard and I barely have time to block her.  She swings wide to the left – a perfectly executed and masterful feint.  Spinning and dropping below my block she comes in and lays her staff solidly on my hip.  I feel that!  But I’m proud of her then.  She has the talent and the will.  Able to overcome the reticence of hitting a friend, that is good.

“Good Tiki.  That hurt for real.  Now I be more careful with you, mongoose.  I am enraged cobra now.  If I get near, I have poison in fangs, hah!”

And we continue to spar.  She scores several painful hits on me.  I know I haven’t yet put in all my power in this fight and I’ve pulled back my own blows because I don’t want her to become discouraged, but I’m not far from my limit.  This creature is a natural fighter, bred for the work.  She will do as well as any has ever done.  She won’t get angry, she’ll get even.  Her vengeance will not be personal and won’t eat at her as it did with the Concubines and so many I’ve seen pass through here.  She’ll lay them down neatly and professionally.  Tomorrow I plan to test her on the swords, then on the axe.  I will have to introduce a bit of creativity in that professionalism, for the entertainment value and the surprises.  That’s my specialty: the surprise effect.

‘Tomorrow is promised to no one.’  Yes, I know.  But for all of us here, beside perhaps enough food to sate our hunger later, some loving tonight in our cages, what is there but tomorrow?  Don’t call it a promise then, just call it hope.  Some won’t even make it.  Bodies will be taken out of the cages this coming morning, I know.

During our break and partner switch the late day heat rises even more.  The breeze has died out completely and it is oppressive.  Our drinking and washing water is almost hot.  The stones would burn the feet if we weren’t walking on thick calluses.  This has to herald another thunder storm; nature’s impromptu performance to give us a little bit of entertainment and brief excitement in the night.  I’m reminded of the last night I spent with Deirdre.  So many storms since that night yet so little precipitation even through the winter that was unseasonably cold and we suffered much from exposure in it.

My new sparring partner is an older fighter I’d seen before.  She smiles at me and gestures for a quick talk. 

“We remember, Anti.  Remember Teaching of Great Desert Beast.  We pray like you say and the Warmo was killed.  We know in heart he now dead.  Not even ghost remain.  We need learn more of Teaching.  Tonight, you speak, yes?  Give more power to woman.”

This is such a terrible responsibility, to teach people the very concepts they need to free themselves but which will cause them so much more pain in the beginning.  You get used to a situation and settle into it, getting the most of it you can.  Comfort is relative.  Suddenly you are given a new idea and your relative comfort rug is pulled from under you.  This new idea is naked and vulnerable so you protect it with your body and mind.  Now you become vulnerable.  Certain you must be that it is worth protecting and even dying for.  Or else, why do it?  So if I teach these women, it has to be about becoming free from the horrors men are imposing on them. 

How do we approach this concept of freedom?  It cannot, ever, be with violence.  Slaves throughout the histories of the worlds of humanity have attempted violent rebellions time and again.  In each case they were slaughtered and the conditions of survivors made worse.  This the Teaching makes very clear.  Most women of Malefactus have no means of turning to violence against the men.  They are untrained, unarmed slaves.  Even us with our weapons’ skills – what are those good for but to entertain?  They are useless against the real weapons of the police and military.  In any confrontation the laser weapons would turn our bodies into piles of smoking meat in seconds.

I spar with the woman, demonstrating as many new tricks to her as I can.  As do most of the fighters she learns quickly.  We are using the long double edged, double-handed sword lately, for whatever reason, becoming the new fad in the arena.  Most challengers go for it now and this has meant we’ve had to spend much more time boning up on our skills with it.  The smaller women have a difficult time with this weapon.  It is too long and it slows their movements down.  Consequently our losses have increased incrementally.  That probably explains why the ‘brave’ men of Malefactus choose this weapon: it gives them an automatic advantage over the shorter, lighter females. 

But I must say this: the women are game.  Not only because they have no choice, but because they continue to improve themselves in many ways.  They now understand that any weapon can be mastered with skill if it is understood.  A small woman can move her body as she wields the long sword, thus not having to move the whole weight of it.  Kind of a hammer-throw concept: if you understand the lever concept, the centering balance point of your body does not have to be the fulcrum all the time.  You can create a hypothetical point for your fulcrum, your body at one end of the lever and the point of the sword at the other.  Now you can ‘orbit’ around your imaginary centre point. This requires great agility of feet and complete focus.

You use the weight of the weapon to propel you to a different location, removing the target – you – and placing the sword in an unexpected position relative to the challenger.  When he goes for you, neither you nor your sword are there – just your imaginary fulcrum point – and you can take him by surprise from an endless possibility of unexpected angles.  Those of us who are larger of body have less use of this concept and I find it difficult to teach.  So I have trained and assigned other fighters to do this part for me. 

“Can I ask you to teach my slave this sword technique you have developed, please?”  I ask her.  “And can I have your woman power name also?”

She beams to be asked a favour by such a one as I.  To be able to teach the Desert Beast Woman’s slave, that is truly an honour for her.

“In prayer, I be Swala.  Yes, and please, I do this for you.  I teach good.  The slave… ‘Tiki’?… she is very good with weapons already.  She very lucky to be slave to you and learn by touching much with you.”

“Your number for the trainers, Swala?”  She turns and I read 1334-02-28.

The women here believe it is possible to absorb another’s skills and strength as much by being physically close as by training with you.  I have noticed lately that many of the women find ways to get close to me to let their hands linger on me.  They want to absorb, to share the fighter part of me that has survived so long in the arena fights.  This is especially true now that I have killed the Warmo.  I have become a sort of inamorata to them.  They truly believe I am the reincarnation of their Great Desert Beast.  I have reawakened the old myth and they are putting fuel on the fire.

For better or worse it is a truism that avatar change agents have consistently used existing mythology to propel themselves upon the stage of whatever ISSA world they felt called to make change in.  We take on the persona of their favourite idol, myth, deity, or claim we are a child, brother, sister or other relative of that deity.  Again, it’s that compromised morality problem.  For us time is ever of the essence.  We rarely have the luxury to begin from scratch to build ourselves up to their expectations.  We are coming on stage so to speak somewhere in the middle of the action, or more often near the end of it.  We have to fit ourselves in someone else’s story – believably so or we don’t get to speak our lines – it’s that simple.

Thus Antierra or “Anti” is now the daughter of the Desert Beast and has become, in the eyes and hearts of the women fighters of T’Sing Tarleyn  the legitimate Desert Beast Woman, symbol of freedom for all T’Sing Tarleyn womanhood.  Well, as my good doctor said, I’ve brought all of them to a very dangerous crossroads.  How many avatars have brought those who believed in them to such a place then been martyred or killed to disappear following promises to return soon but never did?  How many worlds were thus politically changed on the surface but the basic problems that originally called the avatar’s attention remained unchanged? 

Earth was, or remains, one of those places.  Promises were made that were not kept and each time the people’s hopes were raised only to be dashed.  They were abandoned to their own devices and continued to perish despite Herculean efforts to maintain the reality of their disappeared avatars.  Powerful movements became powerful religions or powerful political factions  that claimed to exist as stewards for the avatar but refused to take on the responsibility such a claim entailed.  If anything can be said of those institutions it would be that they ended up demonstrating the exact opposite of what the “Master” taught so clearly.

I am on Malefactus fully aware of this problem and determined not to repeat this terrible mistake. 

And how do I propose to do this? 

First by beginning the process of self-empowerment among these female fighters.  They must ultimately believe in themselves as possessors of the power deriving from ‘the Teaching’ of their avatar.

Second, by understanding that my redemptive work achieved through deliberate submission to the lowest form of degradation in human slavery will only have begun when I leave here. 

Third, by programming myself to ‘return’ immediately after I die here.  No break, no hiatus, no seeking advice, no rest and relaxation on beautiful Altaria or other hidden world.  I belong to Malefactus until such time as it recognizes me, that is, its female population.

Fourth, by exercising my rights and powers as a WindWalker – to live and die by my own choices.  My fate and that of the people I choose to share myself with is entirely in my hands. 

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

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #86

If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate.  This is nothing to get twisted about.  A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next.  I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki.  Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.
End blog post #85
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Begin blog post #86

“Antierra, you be good?” She pitches her voice craftily to be heard only by me.

“Yes Tiki” I say in a low voice also.  “I be better now, ready to train you as promised.”

“I train already.  I good with staff.”

“I hear you good.  Pleased I be with you and for you.  Now we see if true, huh?  Can you attack me as if I man?  If you do not I hurt you.  Is what must be, Tiki.  Here must hate me.  I enemy for you.  I killer of you.  You be killer of me.  Never forget basic rule.”

“I not stupid Anti.  I know.  You be careful, I be true fighter!”

Let’s just say I was warned and should have listened to the changed pitch of voice: that was a moment of revelation a fighter or challenger should always be attuned to. 

I choose two worn but serviceable staves whose extender ends have been disabled for basic training.  We move away from the others and I make her hold herself ready, staff raised.  When I nod my head it means the same as the trumpet in the arena.  She attacks and I parry easily.  Too easily.  Again and again she comes at me and each time I parry even faster.  My skills are ingrained now and I want her to realize what it feels like to attack a professional fighter.  She finds no opening and soon her white body is slick with sweat while mine is still cool.  Fifteen minutes by my count and I call a break to explain.

“You see the problem, Tiki?”

“I too slow for you.  No good.”

“No, you good but I too fast for you.  Experience, Tiki.  I cannot teach experience, so you must copy all I do until you better than me.  Try remember every move if can.  Every move.  Measure moves by sweep, distance.  Use foot stones, walls, archways, posts, to measure reach of staff.  Know where it be before it go there.  Know where it not be – attack there.  I say, you be best fighter ever, Tiki, if want to.  Just want it.  Only that.  Now drink and we begin again.”

While she goes to the drinking trough I watch the women training next to me on the right.  I know one but the other is new.  Slightly older, not a trainee.  Three lines of branding on her.  Been sold twice already.  Unusual.  I must watch this development.  Something about her I find disquieting.  She doesn’t look at me but I know she is fully aware of my presence and the exact distance between us.  She could be an attacker sent to kill me.  But by whom now?  I know I have many enemies since I killed the Prince and the Warmo.  I must be on my guard.  Tiki returns and flashes her dark eyes at me and smiles thinly.  She’s into her fighting spirit now so I change my approach.

“Now I attack you and you block.”  I strike at her block making the staff vibrate in her hands.  She is surprised at the power of the blow and almost drops it.  I stop again to explain.

“This special trick.  Not straight blow, see?”  I demonstrate by hitting her staff while rolling mine to create the vibration.  She drops it this time and winces even though I did not hit her hands, just the staff.  “See?  Roll staff while hitting target.  If arm or leg this blow hits, stuns, paralyzes, not just hurt.  Can bring man down on knees or make drop weapon, helpless.  Then can kill challenger.  Finish quick.  Is how woman win fight.  Trick.  We be not strong of muscle like man but we be knowing things Tiki.  We be mind talkers.  Talk to weapons, gain friendship, they fight with you and for you.  Some masters Tiki, they can call weapon to hand after dropping, yes.  Pull things to you, you can.  I teach basics, you practice.”

The general break is called but the two women next to us continue to fight as Tiki and I must since we began late.  Now I know.  I feel the cold shivers up my spine, as if I were fighting two challengers at once.

“Now Tiki, guard.”  She stances and parries with relative skill.  I refrain from breaking through that time and jump back, forcing her to come forward.  I go down on the stones, flip and trip her.  Just then the woman next to me, thinking I just gave her a chance to smash my head comes at me with her staff which I easily parry and send flying.  She stands there, shocked, waiting for me to jump up and kill her.  Her partner stands still also wondering what is going on. 

“You pess!”  I say to her.  “You think you kill Desert Beast in training compound?  Stupid woman, stupid.  Now I kill you, huh, yes?  You think good time to die?”

Tiki is still sitting on the ground wide-eyed at this turn of events.  I want to teach them all a new lesson.

“I no kill you woman.”  I say to my attacker.  “Here, you take my hand, help me up.”  She reaches and pulls me up.  I tower a full head and a half over her and keep a grip on her hand.  I begin to squeeze, the bionics working well.  Her face contorts in pain as she keeps her eyes in mine.  I bring her body against mine and I smell her fear.  She moves her other hand against me to push away but I grab it too, squeezing that one also.  Terror fills her face now.

“Who want me dead, pess?  Who make you kill me?  You tell, you live.”

“Court man, red robe judge, friend of Warmo.  He promise make me concubine if I kill you.  If not, he kill me.  I dead now.  You kill me, better.  You do quick, please.  He tell me how I die if no kill you.  Ahhhh, please!”  She drops to her knees and I know she had no choice in the matter, none at all.  It wasn’t something personal, just a means of surviving a bit longer.  Now I have to figure a way to save her life from the “court man.”  I know of one way.

“I Desert Beast Woman, understand?  Very old.  Very strong.  Very wise.  Know many things no one know.  Now I say to you, talk to all women you can, tell them remember Teaching.  Tell them that and I protect you from court man.  I maybe save your life, or get order to kill you myself – quick, no pain to you.  I do what can be done.  You talk to women, yes?”

“Oh, please, I talk to women, yes.” And she bows down and puts her face on my foot.  I take her arm and stand her up.  “Now I give you power.  New name, woman name, for you to know who you be.  Name you ‘Victa’ – mean many things, but for you mean from victim to victory.  This name you get from Desert Beast Woman.  Never forget.”

“I don’t forget.  Great gift I have.  Now I be person, I be someone.  Even when I killed, I remain someone real.”  When she turns I note her Hyrete brand for reference, 1341-29-03

When people don’t believe they have any worth and are shown kindness or given any bit of empowerment they can switch their subservience to the giver and this is dangerous to both.  But in this case she is old enough to realize I gave her power for her own use; that I would not make any claim against that power for it was a free gift.  She has deep intelligence if it could be developed through ideas.  Maybe the women will help her when she reminds them of the Teaching, for after all she knows nothing of it and should be eager to find out what that is all about.  Thus we are trained on Altaria and find our natural place of leadership when it is needed.   

Trainers come on the scene to find out what is the hold-up and as usual I give my made-up-on-the-spot spiel about new methods of fighting. 

“I be trying to make sound without voice to focus blows against challenger.  But it not working.  They not understand.”

I have to maintain that pidgin so the men don’t get suspicious of our ability to learn.  I have been hinting for many months now that I want to introduce ‘toning’ to our arsenal of defensive methods.  I have demonstrated its effects to them but the men are wary of my methods now – having witnessed how well they work and how much the women’s fighting skills and daring has improved.  They are hesitant to grant me new freedoms that make a mockery of their rules by demonstrating their utter stupidity.  But to allow female fighters, women, to make any kind of sound, however low, is against the law.  Screams brought on by inflicted pain, of course, are quite another matter.  That is considered a fun thing here.

“There be no new method.  Train or be punished.  You – you,”  they point at me and Tiki, “continue.  You-you,” they point to the two other women, “wash, drink, change partners.  Stop again, we flog.”  And to make their point they pull out their fibre-steel whips, making the “tails” vibrate and sing like tight wires in cold weather.  We bow to them in full submission mode – enough to convince them, not enough to forget it is all a pretense.

End blog post #86

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #85

Late again… resuming blog posting of the “Manifesto”… 

“You are too hard on yourself, almost to the point of blindness.  If you refuse to see the good you have brought here by your sacrifices how will you ever succeed?  Antierra – you will die in that arena, perhaps soon.  The auto-med reports many failures in setting things to right in your body.  The Warmo did things to you we cannot repair.  Your heart is damaged but not all of your damage is physical, do you understand?  You must regain control of yourself for this world still desperately needs you.

End blog post #84
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Begin blog post #85

“By the standards of Hyrete fighters you are the longest surviving ever.  Granted you began your fighting at an approximate age of twenty-five compared to the usual age of sixteen for regularly bred fighters.  But that only means you had much less training and experience when you were pitted against some of the best challengers in the realm.  Still, no fighter has ever lived past thirty in the official records.  You are approximately thirty seven.  Just a reminder to you that you held on in hope of accomplishing more.  And you may yet. 

“I’ve heard of your ‘Teaching’ among the women.  The slave you call Tiki tried to explain it to YBA4 in the kitchens.  I understand it not at all – seems foolishness to me, but I won’t be caught underestimating you again.  Just be careful with that line of ‘work’ because the men are nervous and it would take but a spark to ignite a pogrom against all the females of this realm, perhaps in the entire world.  You have brought all of us to a critical point.  We are not all as certain of what lies beyond death as you are, you know.  However short, however terrible its circumstances, life remains precious to us all.”

I know what he is saying.  He looks so sad and I feel self-conscious and stupid for being the cause of so much upset.  One of my Altarian elder teachers had given me the following proposition to work through: 

  1. a) Prepare yourself with all the knowledge you can, train yourself in manifestation and self-regeneration, go to this world you speak of and cause the change you believe will help the people there and save your other world you call Earth, if that is what you know you must do.
  2. b) Follow the path of Ultimate Logic and close off the parts of your life that had anything to do with Earth and her stack worlds as you know them to exist. Take the rest cure you earned, change yourself and return to us for re-assignment when you feel ready for something else, perhaps somewhat less daunting?  There are a number of worlds assigned to us now being terra-formed and populated.  They could use your expertise.

“Know this, then: there is nothing anywhere that can be used to measure or determine which of your choices will cause the greatest ‘good’ in the aeons to follow.  The good you choose to do today may be the great evil of tomorrow.  The world you save today may become your nemesis of tomorrow.  The evil you pursue to destroy may yet claim you also.  Conversely if you do nothing, the results may still be the same.  The question is for your mind alone.  We can neither agree nor disagree with your choices.  For at the avatar level of mind all choices you make are entirely your own and you live by them until you change them.”

I turn to the doctor again.

“I understand only too well Bal.  Don’t you realize how much I wish I could do it all myself without involving others in the additional sacrifices demanded by planned change?  That cannot be.  As I chose then, they too must choose now.  And so must the men.  When a world succumbs to a particular evil, Bal, the people on that world must wake up to it and decide eventually to fight it or be destroyed by it.  This is as true of individuals as it is of worlds.  This I have seen in my travels.  That was the fate of Old Earth: that her people refused to see the obvious evil that was destroying the fabric of their societies and continued in it long after there was even any point to it.  Result?  Billions died Bal.  Billions!  For nothing.  It did not have to play out that way.  There are always two paths for every ISSA.  Always choice, always.”     

Chapter 35 – Training Tiki – Clumsy Attempt on my Life

I am sad to leave the comfort of Bal’s place and the peace of mind given me by the Cydroids’ presence.  But if I’m to remain here longer I have to return to the training compound; to my world.  I walk slowly back unescorted as is now my unofficial ‘right’ to do.  It’s the third day of the week, early morning and the sun is already beating down into the courtyards.  Some passages are stifling hot.

Not much has changed, I notice as I re-enter the training areas.  There has been some rain and the stones were swept clean and washed.  The smell is a bit more tolerable and there’s a steady breeze blowing, cooling the space of reflected heat from the midday sun.  The women are lined up, sparring savagely against each other, their white bodies shining with sweat.  Some already have bloody cuts and black bruises.  I may not have mentioned it before but many women die in these training sessions.  Often the training is used as an excuse to kill a rival who may have ‘stolen’ a lover or to get rid of a suspected snitch.  The hated woman will be fighting her opponent when set upon from behind by another trainee in league with her own opponent.

Training kills are superficially investigated and seldom punished.  It is considered as maintenance costs.  The male thinking is that any trainee who lets herself get killed in training wouldn’t be worth putting in the arena.

I introduce myself to the new trainers and am escorted to Delton’s office, the overseer.  I bow to him and wait to be addressed.   

“Hah, our killer slave return from dead.  You look disgusting.  I hear they be discussing your execution huh?  Good.  You past prime now.  Die soon.  Killing orgy, I be thinking.  Good to watch.  I get ticket, yeah.  You be wanting?”

“I be wanting to train slave was in my cage, slave #1339-32-19?”

“Ah, that young one, she be good sex.  I enjoy her much.  Wiry bitch.  Deek?”  He yells out the door of the office to an assistant sitting at one of the tables playing cards.  “Off your lazy ass.  Get the ‘teela’ from kitchen, now!”

Within a couple of minutes he returns with Tiki in tow, dragging her roughly.  She sees me and her face for a moment lights up then she also bows, hiding her face in her hair.  Delton eyes her and is thinking to take her in front of me just for the malice of it.  He senses I wouldn’t care and says:  “Take the teela.  Train good and I fight it myself, beat it down and fuck it for you.  You watch.”

If I did not understand the ‘moods’ of Malefactus I would have been horrified at his whole attitude, indecency, crassness and hate.  This is nothing to get twisted about.  A man may be kind and considerate to you one day and treat you as filth the next.  I take three ‘reverent’ steps backward, as does Tiki.  Then we turn and walk to the end of the training line.

End blog post #85

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #83

[Onward with the story, huh?]

“Well Antierra, we meet again my dear.  You certainly made a mess of yourself in that last fight.”

“It wasn’t exactly my idea, Bal.  I encountered something I had never successfully confronted before; something I knew well.  An ancient and deadly nemesis that had anticipated my coming here and had prepared itself to destroy me. It almost succeeded – twice.  The first time you saved me.  The second time, I took responsibility for myself and fought it out, as must we all sooner or later.  I wish I hadn’t let it get so strong and really challenged it sooner.  All those lives it persecuted me and I submitted to it thinking there was no better way.  And likely there wasn’t, not then, not yet: I wasn’t strong enough or focused.  I suppose this is the logical place where the outcome from such long-term hatred had to be determined and one of us consumed by it.”

End blog post #82
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Begin Blog post #83

Balomo holds my hand and looks at my scarred, beaten and old body.  There is no sexual desire in him now, hah!  I don’t mind.  I think I’ve known for some time that ‘sex’ was no longer on my agenda.  “You avatars see the world in strange ways.  I knew there was something utterly wrong and odd about Warmo but I would not have thought he was on par with your abilities.  Are there many like him or you who can travel through dimensions and through time to seek each other out to destroy each other’s spirit or mind?  With so much enmity?”

“As below, so above, Bal. Relative to the number of ISSA’s in the universe (or parallel worlds) we are very few.  But we do tend to make waves where we battle.  What happened with the motion for my execution?”

“Temporary reprieve.  Nothing settled.  The king, as you would expect, vetoed the motion but he cannot defeat it.  It will be re-introduced each week until accepted or defeated by a two-third majority vote of the Court.  If for, they will kill you, the method not described in the motion.  We suspect they may be planning to have you put in their next killing orgy.”

“Ah, such pleasant thoughts for me to entertain while I recuperate.  How much better than a State-sponsored parade in my honour for destroying the evil Wizard.  Seriously, how long have I been out of circulation this time?”

“Only five days so far.  You will have to return to the training and exercise yard within two days or the motion for your execution will automatically stand.  Seven days is the maximum any fighter can have as you know.  It’s their law.”

“Yes I know the law.  Seven days to return to active duty.  If the fighter is not fit by that time she is executed.  I’ll make it.  Any news from the compound?  How’s Tiki?  The Concubine twins?  The crazy young sex-slave addict, if you know whom I mean?”

“The kitchen Cydroids keep me informed.  I’m supposed to tell you that the slave you call Tiki has begun training and I hear good things.  She is fast and certainly determined, so say the handlers.  One of the twins as you call them has been killed.  Her ‘sister’ is borderline ‘dikfol’ from grief and has already fought two rounds single-handed against two-man teams, killing all four.  We need you to talk to her and maybe find her a match.  We think she wants to die but cannot end it as long as she can kill men.  The young addict, I regret to say, is dead.  She was strangled in the kitchens.  Two kitchen staffers were flogged to death for that worthless ‘pess.’  She was stealing chakr-laced fighter foods to use for favours and for herself.  Someone caught her.  We’ll never know who killed her.”

I take the weight of Bal’s news in my heart and hold it there.  I feel utterly dejected.  I cannot hold back my tears and turning away on the gurney, sob loudly and freely.  The lump in my throat could choke a horse.  So little change despite the sacrifices.  I know I shouldn’t have expectations but as anyone who goes through a war knows, it cannot be helped.  We always hope for change bringing in better things.  I need a better answer to it all but as this world is currently wired, it won’t allow me to find one.  Not directly anyway. 

I’ve defeated my personal nemesis.  Accomplished the impossible.  Remained alive through a series of miracles such as men not punishing me for flaunting their rules; surviving a fight to the death with an actual demon; manifesting events that got me access to an AI auto-med to put my body back into a semblance of a woman’s form and fighting fitness.  None of that brings me the comfort I long for.  Always thrown back to the beginning, it seems.

From now on, it must be small steps again.  I must train Tiki and continue the Teaching but before I can do that I must somehow cleanse myself of the accumulated grief and guilt for all the pain I have caused to other sentient beings while I’ve been here. 

A male Cydroid and Balomo stand beside my bed studiously avoiding looking in my direction.  They know I must work out my own sense of culpability; that any outside interference will only confuse me the more.  Finally I can look up again.

“I want you to sit up,” says Bal “and take XBA7’s hand.”

Without help I manage to sit, fight off a dizzy spell and take the Cydroid’s outstretched hand.  He helps me off the gurney and I stand shakily, feeling both cold and hot at the same time.  I turn and throw up, or try to.  There is nothing in my stomach and only bile drips from my lips.  I heave over and over until I begin to fall.  The Cydroid holds me by the waist from behind and I regain enough strength to finally stand unaided.  I’m handed a glass with a mouth rinse to clean myself.  Bal then hands me the flask with the pink nectar and I sip slowly.  Things come into focus. 

I look down at my body and by what I can see I am glad they have no mirrors here.  I must look like a one hundred year old skeleton!  Good!  Maybe I can just scare my challengers to death in my next encounters, hah!  I walk around the gurney, close enough to fall on it should my strength fail.  I manage, still feeling dangerously woozy.  I walk a little further, make a half-turn and stare at my prison. 

The sun is hitting the far north wall, painting a dull orange-yellow into the texture of the weathered stones above the shadows cast by spired turrets thrusting themselves into the afternoon sky from the red-brown tiled roofs of ponderous square structures whose purpose I’ve never bothered to enquire about. There’s another piece of crenellation missing up there.  Why aren’t they doing a better job of repairing their keep, their great city?  On occasion while walking from the training areas to the forge carrying the weapons needing attention I noticed large cracks in the masonry between the square stones.  Are they just letting the keep fall apart because modern weaponry makes the idea of a ‘fort’ redundant?  Or is their economy collapsing from the combination of rising costs from raising, training and maintaining of slaves and perhaps even more relevant, a growing debt due to gambling?  Or is the war with Estáan expanding and draining more from the battered economy of Elbre?

End blog post #83