You may wonder why they did not just back out of the event? They can’t. Once the bets begin to go in and are registered, no challenger can change his mind. Since a fight depends entirely on the bets made on it, challengers are forced to declare their intentions long before the actual match is scheduled and set. Bit of a catch-22 for the drooks. But that does not help us much. They know our weaknesses. Mine is age. That’s what they bet on, that I won’t be able to endure a sustained bout. I shouldn’t be except for two things: my desire to see things to their end, and the amazing Cedric.
End blog post #95
Start blog post #96
Chapter 38 – One Woman Fights two Drooks – more Teaching
It’s still dark when I’m taken from my cage and given the ritual treatment with the cold water. Only at this time of year it is actually pleasant. The water has not had time to cool much and it feels good to stand in the trough and spray it on myself. My trainers join in and splash me, a rare bit of tomfoolery between men and women. But in the faint light and this early no one is watching. My fighter breakfast is brought by, surprise, Tieka. She smiles at me just as Deirdre and Tiki used to. She has the same moves and slowly drags her head on my shoulder, letting her fingers move along my back while hiding her hand from the trainers. I don’t think they’d mind but this girl knows the score and takes no chances. She doesn’t want any confrontation. Wise one. Except for the falling in love. But even I fell into that once.
The food is good. I made sure the kitchen knew I cannot abide chakr. How I miss Deirdre’s stim these days! Even if they still had some at Doc Balomo’s place, I cannot access it and it appears the Cydroids have other matters to attend to. I’d hoped the kitchen Cydroid would remember the stim but none, so far. Tieka returns with more of the same concoction and while pouring some in my bowl, she grunts, pressing her left hand against my throat. I reach up and she drops a cube in it. Stim! I squeeze her hand in thanks, let her go and finish the food. Was that a break? Did I make that happen like so many other seemingly insignificant things over the years? Matters not, I’ve got the stim. I ease it safely inside the little nest of shaggy hair I keep over my left ear and signal to the trainers I am ready to go.
Do I give you a play-by-play description of another arena battle? Why not. Just skip this part if it bores you.
Realize though, before you skip, that for those of us who actually do the fighting there is nothing ‘boring’ in the act. Each time we must kill or be killed. Each time. Only twice do I remember mercy being asked for by a challenger and granted by the crowd, through me. Twice in how many bouts for me alone? Averaging two per week with our year of 48 weeks over a period of eleven years now, that would be two who lived with over one thousand killed. Did I not say this is a world at war with itself? How many other arenas, combat rings and unofficial fighter compounds operate all over this world? No one could even guess. No one even knows what the population of this world is except perhaps on Albaral. Keep in mind that for every male killed, you can easily triple the number for females and children.
So you see, it’s not an academic exercise. These are real people, real blood, real deaths. But that brings something to mind I should make you aware of since you will be reading this long into my past, some of you likely still living on Túat Har or ‘Old Earth’ circa C-21.
At this time your death toll from victims of your own ‘Powers’ number around 30,000 each day of your year of 365 days according to your UNESCO statistics. It’s probably much higher than that but that alone adds up to ten million nine hundred fifty thousand innocent victims you allow to die each year of preventable causes and most of you are completely unaware of this horror, or care little. At this time your Earth has a population of close to 8 billion and you boast a marvellous computerized technology and an expanding “economy” throughout most of your nations. So you Earthians deliberately murder eleven million innocents each year as an offering to your technocracy and financial interests.
Will you still judge the ways of this world I’m on? That may be an unwise choice for by focusing on T’Sing Tarleyn’s obvious immorality you may be blinded to your own. I would tread gently here. And please don’t get angry at me for speaking bluntly. I am first of all a messenger but I’ve been a victim enough times to know what that means; to know how to identify with it; to incarnate it yet find ways to defeat it also. I offer you that way from here. My hand may be callused, gnarled and bloody but my grip is firm, my voice is true. As your song says,
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you…
I have been on your Earth many times and I have deep roots there. Never mind that I already ‘know’ your future. You can change any of it you choose just as I am changing the face of Malefactus. In fact Earth and Malefactus are linked in this death struggle. If you do not change, I will not succeed. If I do not succeed neither will you. Refuse to believe and nothing at all changes. That is the Mystery we are bound to as ISSA beings throughout these stack worlds.
So I would teach you and reach for you from hundreds of years in your future and from another dimension. To you I am both the voice of the damned and the voice of angels. The voice of despair and of hope. You have the choice of either, not both. Now while I hope you forgive me for this tutorial and ‘historical’ outburst, I relate another fight, the non-philosophical side of my current incarnation.
Though it is early the stands are full and the crowd is yet silent. Most are munching on various concoctions that pass for food, for breakfast. Blood and gore does not affect these people’s appetite in the least. This is a sport, nothing more. Although most of them hope to see the female killed and cut into pieces as some challengers will do for their fans, it is the money that talks the loudest. These people have money, they are not riff-raff from the lower streets. They are here for two reasons: make money and be entertained. So this is it. Apart from medieval type magic shows and circus acts (minus animals) there is no entertainment media as such on Malefactus. There is no written language except for the functionaries and upper aristocracy and probably most members of the Inner Court and higher Councils. That is of course debatable – they probably use human ‘processors’ to record their votes and speeches, or computers such as the datacoms linked to main terminals. Best guess.
I stand at the fighter entrance to await a signal to walk in, take my weapons, strap on the dagger belt and walk to the centre. Rapier and dagger fights are done naked as already indicated, so no need to worry about armour and just as well as even this early it promises to be another scorcher day. The sky is stark blue again, not a sign of sand or haze in it. I consider myself lucky to have become a tough bone rack in my ‘old’ age. Less to melt in the sun. I’m like those burros of Old Earth – tough and practically indefatigable. A donkey, that’s me when I’m not being a mule. Oh well, this world needs an animal presence. I will humour its needs…
Finally the challengers enter from the opposite end. They salute the crowd and pandemonium begins. They perform an artistic strip show for the male crowd, waving their erections to the stands, measuring their respective lengths with their fingers and fondling their genitals. This may shock your Earthian sensibilities but here it’s considered a sign of strength and virility. A man gets it up and keeps it up as long as he can during a fight. He must demonstrate he’s got balls. After all, look at the bravery extolled here: two trained males against one female, no wonder they are admired. Such heroism.
That little performance is a bonus for the smart fighter. That little head makes a tempting target which is often the challenger’s demise. It’s always one of the places I aim for. Certainly it will be today because I need to disable one of those drooks before I get bled too seriously. I may be tough but I bleed too and I don’t have a lot of extra to water the sands of Malefactus at this point. Oh, and in exchange they’ll be aiming for my breasts. Many fighters lose nipples and breasts in their fights, not to mention ears, nose, fingers. Anything a blade can most easily shear off is a target. Good management or luck, I consider it a miracle I still have both ears, my nose, by breasts and nipples and nine fingers. A middle finger was sheared off years ago in a staff fight.
The first trumpet sounds. We take our weapons, strap our belts and make the first salute. Another trumpet and we centre with the last salute to the crowd. I silence their usual demonstration of hate for the female fighter and instead absorb their exhortations to their male heroes. Long ago I learned that little trick, just that little extra I can put into my blades. Like getting that last few seconds of charge into a battery.
We wait. I bow while they eye me openly, trying to gauge my body, my most likely opening moves. I’m after all the undefeated Desert Beast with an impressive record of kills. They know not to take anything for granted. Plus in their stupidity they forfeited their right to see me handle the rapier. Second advantage goes to me; they already have first: two against one. A set of drums roll and echoes across the keep and a score of trumpets blare the start of the game.
End blog post #96
 Excerpt from ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel