Category Archives: novel

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #11

[start blog post #11]

“This be warning”  one of them intones, “You know rule: No wailing. No disturbance permitted.  All of you we flog too, happy to do.  But owners, they say too much cost, so you lucky today.  Proceed with training and maintenance of weapons.  Any talk; any whisper, you flogged same as that gorok.  He spits in the direction of the dead girl.

The message is delivered without inflection or passion.  It would appear these men do not feel the least amount of the pain, fear or any other feelings they cause others to experience.  No empathy.  To them we are less than animals, although I believe the expression here is quite meaningless.  There are no domesticated animals that I am aware of in this society.  The food we eat contains no meat.  But again, I’ve been wrong so many times about so many things in the few days I’ve been here!  Days?  No, not days.  I’ve been here an eternity that will never end.  I’ve fallen in hell and there is no doorway out of it.

Three handlers walk among us as we exercise or work, pick a half dozen of the youngest trainees and escort them through one of the stone doors.  One by one they shortly return.  One of them had been a virgin by the blood that runs between her legs.  She is ordered to wash and continue with training and work.  For the handlers, the flogging death they observed had given them a powerful sexual desire they needed to sate and that is also what we are for.

The day wears on, oppressive, endless, silent.  When the sun passes beyond the battlements, painting the eastern sky a lurid reddish brown fired through thin stratus type clouds, a reminder of drying blood, we are fed and returned to our cages.  The body of the flogged child, for she had been no more than twelve or thirteen years of age, now covered with some sort of black fly I hadn’t seen before, is removed from the post by two gladiators.  She is stiff and cold.  They carry her to the same door used to remove the body of her friend and is dumped in a similar conveyance.

And out of the blue my mind is asking, “What do they do with our bodies?”  I know that the dead men are taken to a hill outside the city and buried with much pomp and ceremony, but what about the bodies of the gladiators?  Or women in general?  In the field they leave them to wild beasts.  Do they take ours from here and from the arena to be eaten out there?  Or do they perform some kind of hellish rituals upon them?  

A cold chill goes through me and I try to change the subject in my mind.  Is there something else, something beautiful, I can think about?  Well, why not engage myself on my reason for coming here, instead of bemoaning a fate I deliberately chose or engaging in bouts of self-pity and self-doubt? 

Come on, woman.  Where is all that courage and bravery you were so quick to talk about once, far from here?  Where is your compassion now that you are living in hell?  Don’t both victims and oppressors need to find their freedom?  Think.  Why is this world, a place that could be so beautiful, such a horror?  What feeds the misogynist males and their killing instinct?  Why can they not sexually engage a female except by doing her violence?  Why is the beating of a woman such an erotic event for all of them?  Or is it all of them?  Could there be exceptions among the male population, and if so, how can I find them?

When the doctor had sex with me he did not use force or violence on me.  Well, yes, some force because he knew I could not refuse, but no overt violence.  In fact his handling of my wound was uncharacteristically gentle.  Who is he?  He is taller than other men I’ve seen, and his face is broader, flatter.  Could it be that he’s from another place?  That he’s not a true Tassardi?  Push this a bit further, could he be an alien like me?  If so, why is he in this place?  What is he to this place?  Why did he whisper to me “we want him dead” of my first engagement in the arena?  Who are these “we”?  And his friend in the white uniform.  I sensed a mantle of authority over him.  Authority from whom, where?  When he looked at me, it wasn’t out of lust; in fact I’d swear he was not sexually interested in me at all.  Who or what, is he?  What are they planning and how do I fit into that plan if at all?

Many questions.  Good questions engender good answers and keep my feverish mind occupied.  I will find out.  I will know.  I’m glad that tonight I’m alone in my cage.  My thoughts are so loud I’d be afraid to think them if another was lying with me and after Tiegli I’m not ready to “make love” to accommodate another.  I have no passion, no feelings.  My heart is numbed from so much violence and loss in so short a time.  I listen to the rustling of moving bodies in the fresh straw.  I hear muted sobbing. 

Later, a scream, quickly stifled, then silence – the silence of death.  A large bird or some nocturnal creature ululates a macabre call outside, the sound coming in from one of the square openings high in the smooth stone walls to echo as the voice of the dead throughout the compound.  Water drips outside.  It must be raining.  Yes, let it rain, hard and long.  Wash all the blood out of the courtyard.  Wash all the blood from this world until no world is left.

Rain – the tears of the goddess, she whom I must re-awaken in the hearts of these women.  And I too begin to cry and my own tears become an endless river of sorrow.  Tiegli’s hoarse whisper comes to my mind: “We be strong; we be courageous; not tough like stone; not fearless.  We be only women, not robots or evil beasts.  We have heart… feeling.” 

In that on-going nightmare I am finding my own power, not the power I dragged in with me as from my other self, the Avatari Al’Tara, but a power I have created from the mix of love and terror I have experienced here.  From the blood soaked stones and sand of the arena.  From the many fights I have already entered and “won” if one can call that winning; survived is a more accurate term.

I dream again, but it’s a no-dream.  A “locator” to help me find my mind’s feet on T’Sing Tarleyn, my chosen and adoptive world.  Yes, after all, what I dream of is loving, caring and giving.  I am; I am here; I am real.  And because I exist here, in this time and this place, everything will change.  I know this.  I am all the women I have been in every life as far back through time as I can remember.  Each with some memory of power gained from some great personal loss and deep sorrow and each willing to give her share of it to Antierra.  Together we will discover the true pulse of T’Sing Tarleyn and change its name to T’Sing Tallala (pronounced sing tayala); the land of freedom and hope.  All I have to do is survive the years ahead and not give in to fear but in particular, to hate.  Anger is permissible to me I think, as long as it isn’t based on fear and isn’t allowed to develop into hate.  I need to express anger as a psychological release mechanism.  If I do not I will break or become a complete hypocrite.

[end blog post #11]

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The Antierra Manifesto – Blog post #10

[begin blog post #10]

Chapter 6 – Life in the Cages

“We cannot conquer fate and necessity, yet we can yield to them in such a  manner as to be greater than if we could.” (Walter S. Landor) 

I feel the most terrible ache in my heart.  I remember a time in a past life when I was taken from my home, accused of witchcraft.  My twelve year old son was taken from me and I was kept in a dungeon and I knew I’d never see him again.  I would never leave that place until, after an endless series of indignities were performed upon me, I was formally condemned for practising witchcraft by using herbs considered to have Satanic properties and I was hanged, my executors claiming compassion in my case by deciding not to burn me alive as was the current practice.  They said my healing arts had been of value to the village before I began consorting with demons and performing the black arts.  Men have never been short of excuses for “punishing” women, even in so-called modern, civilized societies.  But the greatest pain they cause women is not physical, it’s psychological.  The continual put-down of her knowledge, natural skills and abilities; of her intuition and innate compassion. 

That sort of pain is what I’m speaking of: emptiness of heart and an atavistic fear rolled together like some choking fog that will never lift until perhaps after you are dead.  And even then… who really knows?  Now imagine my temporary despair, that I, Antierra, who promised a better life to Tiegli, would lower herself to doubt her own knowing?  Who better than I can know of the future of a certainty?  But shock does strange and terrible things to one’s thought pattern.  I feel as if my mind is unravelling as it feeds from the poisoned mind sewers of Malefactus.

Tiegli is gone and I haven’t seen the doctor in many days.  My arm still does not feel right but the tingling of the wound tells me it is healing.  There will be an ugly white welt there, but that seems a small thing now.  I wonder how I can get near the other women who all seem to be avoiding me.  Something about me frightens them.  It could be any number of things.  The superstition about my status as the reincarnation of their Desert Beast and my ‘natural’ skill with their basic weapons.  My size.  The colour of my eyes.  But mostly, I think, the way I talk.  Can I ever learn to speak in their pidgin?  Would that make a difference?

This morning I wake up to a low cry followed by a steady wailing in a cage close to mine.  In the early light I see a young girl sitting up holding the body of another and rocking it.  Soon all the women are keening along and to my surprise I am too.  The heavy blanket of death touches us all.  The one they called “The Brute” – the dark-skinned woman Tiegli pointed out to me who’d been captured in the deep south beyond the desert has killed herself in the night and her cage-mate has awakened to her cold body against her.  The dead woman had managed to find, hide and bring a sharp piece of broken flagstone into her cage.  She inserted it in her own jugular and bled to death.

The wailing brings several handlers, trainers and a dozen guards armed with lasguns.  A shrill whistle silences the women and the first row of twenty cages are opened and we are led outside to stand in the cold dawn.  The Brute’s mate and another nearby are made to carry the body outside to a door in the far wall.  A carrier awaits and the body is dumped in the open back.  It leaves and the door is locked.

Perhaps I should describe these strange conveyances they call carriages (if equipped to carry people or carriers if for handling supplies.  Basically they could be compared to cars or pickup trucks of Old Earth except they use a directional anti-grav force field instead of wheels, are totally silent and are usually, not always, operated by remote control or pre-programmed to run a set course.  I cannot get near enough to one to study it and tell but I sense they are, again using Old Earth observations, of a very light alloy material that appears to be metallic.  They do not carry as much of a load as did the old polluters of Earth.  They also appear to be quite slow, at least the ones I’ve seen.  Maybe there are great roads somewhere and they move faster, or maybe they have some that can rise much higher above the landscape and run “as the crow flies.” 

So much I do not know, and so much I thought would be of no consequence to me may turn out to contain crucial knowledge in the future.  Expect the unexpected!  I must approach the other women, or perhaps if I see him again, seduce the doctor to talk to me and tell me of things beyond the obvious here.  A tall order that can get me killed and nothing gained, maybe, but I need to know more.  Despite the fear of the moment, my mind reels with thoughts around Malefactus’ strange mix of technology.  They seem to be a very primitive people, social mores and practices resembling those of medieval Old Earth. 

Yet their “castles” are equipped with auto-lifts and automatic doors, and draw-bridges weighing tens of tons operate on hydraulic energy run by computerized remotes.  They have laser weapons and sophisticated fabrics.  Also they seem to have endless time and energy to engage their depraved ways, apparently having no need to concern themselves with provision of food stuffs or materials for armour or weaponry, even though, technically they are a world constantly at war with the enemy, the Estáani.  I know that much of the labour is provided by a great river of slaves, not all of them women as my research had so emphatically indicated.  Many males slave as beasts of burden and castrated ones (eunuchs) look after young males and females in crèches and sorting wards.  Where do these male slaves come from?  How do they become slaves?

A light but painful flick of a whip on my buttocks shocks me out of my reverie.  We are told to return to our cages and clean them out.  We grab wooden pitchforks stacked in a barrel against the wall by our entrance and begin the task of raking and piling the old straw bedding which we roll into sheaves and carry to a rock pit where it is burned.  A fresh pile of straw is brought in, also by carrier, and we make fresh bedding in our cages.  After we wash and eat we are returned to our cages, locked in and the next row goes through the same procedure.  No one makes a sound and I have a deep sense of foreboding while this apparently normal effort proceeds.

After these chores are complete we are once more taken out, all of us together, and made to stand in a large circle around the steel post I’d spent a night chained to.  The young trainee who had wailed at the discovery of her friend’s death is dragged out from the group and chained to the post, her hands raised above her head and the wrist chain affixed to a hook.  She appears beyond petrified, wild eyed and mouth agape, beyond the power even to scream.  Two trainers throw ice cold water on her and two handlers proceed to flog her.  She is allowed the freedom of her legs, probably to make the flogging more interesting for the men. 

As she brings her legs up for instinctive protection the long whips wrap around them and as the handlers pull their whips free, her body slams against the post over and over, leaving their bloody marks on the thin white-skinned legs.  Now she screams and her cries are non-stop and beyond heart-rending.  Her blood splatters everywhere.  The terrible whips tear into her skin and rip it into shreds and finally she stops screaming, then stops moaning.  Only then do they quit.  When they see she no longer moves they leave her hanging there, her body shredded beyond recognition, her blood still dripping down onto the paving stones. 

Some dark energy beast inside me wants to pounce on these men and tear them apart as if I had fangs and claws.  I throw up and immediately two trainers come over to me and look me over.  Something stops them from administering the same treatment to me – what?  What protects me at that moment when they know my feelings towards them?  All I see beyond the totally irrational hate is an even deeper fear.  What kind of Power drives these men?

[end blog post #10]

The Antierra Manifesto, Blog post #9

(Tiegli’s story, part 2)

[begin blog post #9]

“And the honour?” I refrain from asking about the evil juice – no time.  I find out later however that the “evil juice” is a concoction made from dried and powdered chakr (pronounced shoak) root – an indigenous herb that grows profusely at the edge of the desert, readily available and cheap – that is mixed with the blood of one’s kill after a killing orgy.  The drink is usually shared with several males.  It is a bonding which, they believe, makes them invulnerable and immortal, despite all evidence to the contrary, I might add.   

Tiegli continues with her story:

“Returning from fight or hunt alive, telling of dangers and wounds received, and saying “I do this again!”  Showing off skins,  part of animals and people too; dead bodies; captive slaves and scars on body – all good for male pride.”

“Is any woman ever recognized for her endurance or courage or the money she brings her owners?”

“That be outrage.  If man ever praise woman for deed he be disgrace and treat like female.  If not rich to buy out, he castrate and flog like woman in arena.  Or he given for special fun to bad, vicious fighters in compound for trainer fun and kill.  How you not know? Everybody know this.”

She tucks her body against mine and I feel her desire for sexual comforts which I give her freely.  She will die having known a moment of gentleness and companionship and will know that she is more than an animal.  I wish I could kill her as she rests against me but that is not what she would want.  She needs to return to her arena and maybe discover the additional courage to yell when she makes her kill.  Maybe she will scream that she is just as human as the men who came to watch her die, or to kill her.  Maybe she will upset a tiny bit of the status quo, enough for me to find the match I need to light the fire I came here to light.  Yes, what this place needs is a cleansing fire; nothing less will do.

I say, more to her mind than ear: “Tomorrow you must scream at them that you are human.  You must yell your own taunts over your kill.  Strike hard and die with courage and make them see your pride.  I am not really Spirit of the Desert Beast.  Just let those superstitious males believe that for now.  I am, indeed, from the stars, that I remember now.  I am here to share your pain for it is known from far away.  I am here to find out everything there is to know about this world.  This means I will die just like you, probably soon.  I will return to my world and find ways to help your people.  And I will return again as a fighter.  I will speak to the women and give them new ideas – dangerous, illegal, bold ideas.  They will have to decide whether to listen to me and trust I’m speaking truth or remain in their condition.  Would you like to see me again when I return home?”

“Hah…”  She hesitates then whispers hoarsely, “You speak strange; like sex slaves train concubine.  Good speak, many words you have.  You say I allowed to decide for me?”

“Yes, you are allowed to decide.  Tomorrow they may kill your body but you will find out that you are still very much alive – more than you’ve ever been.  When your people come for you and if you want to see me again, ask them to direct you to a world called Altaria.  It’s a very difficult world to reach, hidden in folds of space from prying evil eyes like Albaral.  But you can find it if you remember some basic words from me.

“Tell them you are the friend of Antierra from T’Sing Tarleyn.  If they do not understand, tell them you are the friend of Al’Tara whom you met on Malefactus.  They will contact people from my world and will be able to send you there.  Using my name as code-word for access you will be allowed to enter.  There you can wait for me if you wish.  Or you can learn what you want to, then leave and go anywhere you want.  Anywhere.

“Remember to keep your name, Tiegli.  You will not look as you do now and no one will recognize you, not even me.  So I shall ask for you by name – and it will be a famous name for everyone will know who you are and where you are from; how you lived and how you died.  You will be loved there.  All my friends will be your friends and they will show you many wonders.  That is my gift to you, Tiegli.”

“Your words, sweet; touch like lover – I had one, I know ; she  killed maybe one, two year? I never have again.  Much losing pain.  Almost killed too, I so tired from losing pain that time.  I know you be as say.  I die bravely, oh yes sure.  I die most happy, tomorrow.  I go to your world and wait for you, yes?  But you come back here, I no promise come with you.  I not crazy woman like you.  Can I go from you, die, no promise I return and your people they still keep me, not kill me?”

“Yes.”  I manage to whisper with the lump in my throat and full, free tears flowing.  “There are no conditions bearing upon you when you live on my world except you learn new things and accept that you will be happy.  You can live there free, happy, as long as you wish.  Then you can go anywhere you wish, choice is always yours alone.  No one kills on my world.  No one dies.”

She nudges against me, her small face tucked between my breasts.  I feel the moisture of her tears.  “Your world is beautiful place, Antierra.”

“No more so than yours can be – and will be in time.  All worlds have, within themselves the power of choice to be ugly or beautiful.  It is the intelligent, sentient and self-aware life on those worlds that determines which choice they will make.  For you see, as women are slaves of men on your world, so is every world a slave of its ISSA life forms.”

“You have strange words; speak strange things.  Much power.  You be the Desert Beast giving passing dream of power to dying woman.  I content.  Sleep now.”

Too tired myself to ask any more questions, I let her sleep cradled between my thighs and breasts.  But I cannot sleep.  I feel her rhythmic breathing and the beating of her strong heart.  I try to imagine her in a different environment.  This wreck of a woman is no older than I, yet looks to be fifty.  I move my hands slowly and deliberately over her body.  I feel the many scars, some badly healed from lack of medical care.  She would not have been a favourite of the medical attendants this one, so she suffered the more.

I gently massage a swollen deformity on her back, probably from a blow of that stick weapon I described earlier.  Again, I feel the urge to just break her neck and save her from her final ordeal; it would be so easy, and seemingly so compassionate.  But see, I can let her live to die and allow her to have another kind of happiness: a flicker of hope that I am as true as she wishes to believe and she has a future where she can be human. 

I start that damning circular thinking again, trying to sort out my feelings, the old and the new.  If I give in to bouts of compassion, or to the weakness of love, will I fail in my purpose?  Or is it the other way around: if I do not allow any compassion to flow through me, and if I do not allow the pain of loving, either this friend I am about to lose or that enigmatic doctor whom I insist on believing knows more than he shared with me of love for a woman, will I become spiritually dead and lose myself in this maelstrom of mindless violence?  Surely then I will have failed.

Ah, Tiegli, old child woman, how beautiful you are.  I remember what possessions meant to me and so many others on Old Earth in what now seems like a never-never time.  Yet here you are, naked, bereft of family or friends, scarred, abused, battered, ignorant of most things taken for granted elsewhere, living in pain and your entire wealth lies but in your name.  Yet it is a wealth beyond any imagined by those who have made fortunes betting on your skills, your sweat, your blood and your life.  How did your leader baptize you?  In whom, or what?  Did they use their own blood?  Was it in the name of some goddess of long ago through whom they keep in touch for a tiny bit of humanity, of sanity? Was it in the name of their unborn and dead children and equally dead dreams?  Who will teach me about that goddess?  How will I find her?  How will I bring her back to empower your lives before everything is destroyed?  ‘All in good time’ I hear my mind intoning.  And my immediate reply is, ‘How will I find “good time” on this world, in this place?’

Finally I fall into a fitful sleep troubled by a dream in which a pack of hairy red demons chase white angels whom, upon being caught, vanish as mist.  The demons gather together on a high dune with their empty hands raised and howl like wolves at the false sun that shines only darkness upon the desert.  Blood drips from their mouths and their hate consumes them.   They fall upon the red sand, writhing as if flames were devouring them from the inside.  Vultures swoop down and proceed to tear at their still twitching bodies.  Then only the dunes remain but the real sun does not rise above them – there is no morning.  Eternal darkness reigns. 

When I awake I am alone in the cage.  Soon the gates open and guards and handlers watch as we file out to relieve ourselves, wash and eat.  Tiegli the Undaunted; “The Crone” no longer exists for us, though by muted sounds from the arena we know the fighting is still taking place – and will probably until late in the day or for as long as the complement of female victims they have allocated lasts.  And we will hear the screams of delight from the packed crowd when the last gladiator falls.  But I know that these women never think of a fallen gladiator as dead.  Only if you kill yourself are you considered dead.

No gladiator is ever dead as long as another takes her place in a line-up, and  on this world that seems to stretch to the end of time itself. 

[end blog post # 9]

Antierra Manifesto-Blog post #8 – Tiegli

[begin blog post #8]

Chapter 5 –  “Tiegli”

 “One must be poor to know the luxury of giving” (George Eliot)

He knows nothing of love, just fucking and that’s fine by me under the circumstances.  He responds to his lust stirred by my overwhelming desire for sexual release and finds his satisfaction.  When it’s over for him, it’s over and I’m left with an incredible ache of in-completion.  ‘Damn you!’ I think.  Hiding my shaking hands by pressing them hard into my stomach I wait as he slips his white robe on and directs me outside.  He calls to another man sitting perfectly still on a stone bench against the wall to my right.  He is wearing a white tunic uniform and apparently reading on a slate.  To me he appears as an extremely handsome man, taller than the doctor when he stands up from his reading to acknowledge the doctor with a quick wave of his hand, an unusual greeting or signal, the arm bent at the elbow, the forearm extended forward and the hand, facing down, moved stiffly and rapidly across the body and back.

They speak low, the uniformed one casting probing looks in my direction.  I am the intense subject of their discussion.  Leaving me standing there they walk across the yard and through a heavy stone door that opens and shuts automatically and silently.  I am left confused and utterly exhausted with my slashed arm throbbing horribly despite the doctor’s assurances that everything is fine; that it’s only a flesh wound.

With nothing better to do, knowing I can’t walk anywhere without some male escort, I focus on that new character, the white tunic.  What role does that one play, I wonder?  It surprises me that in such a black-white, cartoon-like world that so much still happens behind the scenes – so much that all the research I did on this world and my painstaking efforts to duplicate my future experiences here come to practically nothing in actuality.  You can study a thing until you go blind and still, until you experience it, you really know nothing about it.  I realize it’s fear that makes my mind wander thus but I cannot help it.  I have to “grow” into this place or it is going to rob me of my sanity.

Forget all that you know, or think you know.  Such is my life now: a blank followed by a question mark!  I wonder at the value of past life memories.  How can they help one when thrust into an alien power structure?  Yet, what else have I got here?  I was warned I would get no “off-world” help while I remained here.  I’m the only source of all my thoughts and all the decisions I make.  The right and wrong of it all, it belongs to me alone.  I can agree with what I do, or I can judge and condemn myself.  Still, I must live or die by my own choices. 

Ah, choices!  I remember my long-ago discussions with friends on the subject of free choice; how I insisted there is no such thing.  Indeed, if nothing else, Malefactus is proving that I was unfortunately correct on that point.

My handlers (guards or trainers, I still can’t quite sort them out) finally remember to come for me.  I am ordered to wash in a wash trough then I am served a meal, alone, by a kitchen slave girl.  I realize I am famished and the food tastes good to me.  After I eat I’m taken inside the cage area and shoved into one of the cages where a woman is sitting.  She is typically broad shouldered with a thick, short neck and her pale, almost white flesh is covered with scars.  She is bald; one eye almost shut and her left ear is missing entirely.  Her right breast has a deep scar from a cut through it and the nipple is missing.  She looks up at me and smiles a crooked, gap-toothed smile.  She reaches over and touches me with her right hand. She is missing two fingers there also.

Female gladiators do not have names, just physical descriptions and fighting titles.  She is “The Crone” being the oldest surviving female in the line-ups.  No point asking how long she has been here, the brands tell that story accurately enough.  Hers tell me when she was born (1303, bred fighter class 04)  The next line indicates she’s been in this compound since 1316 and according to my brand it’s now 1328.  That’s twelve years of surviving hundreds of encounters; of fights to the death. 

When they turn off the lights we lie down side by side, holding each other and although I desperately want to sleep she insists on telling me her story. 

“Why did they put me with you?”  I whisper to her.

“For me, a favour by guard, one night.  Accept?  I speak with you,” she whispers back, “tell something very important for us.” She grabs my wrist as if to impress her thoughts through my flesh, “You know we have no name?  Fighters have no names?  But I have name, real name!”  Proud she sounds even in her whispering.  She points at herself.  “Tiegli – and it has meaning too.  Undaunted.  No Man hears this name, but all fighters here have, and they have much envy my luck.  Some they fight with this name – very strong name.  Also mean fearless.  I live this name, many years. 

“Listen: there is big fight tomorrow and die with four women escape to desert and bring back – you know this.  Tomorrow is killing orgy.  No fighter live after this no matter how many of men we kill.  They just come more and more.  We weaken with losing blood and so tired we can not hold weapon or stand.  Then they kill.  Sometimes give rape if we still have enough life, much hurt they give before we die – revenge for men we kill – ritual.  Vengeance ritual.”

Her story is short.  At age of ten she has already been sent off from her crèche to be trained as a fighter and is being held for auction in a female child compound.  There is a raid that turns into a blood letting until the besieged make peace by offering their attackers the “contents” of their female compound.  Now both sides fall upon the hapless females.  Tiegli is taken by a couple of young brothers and hidden.  They hope to keep her alive long enough to sell her on the black market that flourishes in certain parts.  They stuff her in a pack bag and from a tear in the side she is able to observe everything that takes place as the young girls are raped and killed, some tortured viciously.  She sees her best friend gang raped then cut open across the stomach.  She throws up inside the bag and forces herself to pass out.

As a bag of grain stuffed in a pack, making no sound and no demands for food or water, surviving the heat in her vomit and excrement, she is bounced along for two days strapped to a harness carried by male slaves.  She is taken out during a violent storm in between suns twilight, staked out in the rain to wash where she is inspected, haggled over and sold to buyers from Hyrete – the fortified city we are in now.  Hyrete is a major center of commerce and entertainment in Elbre, but also distinguished by being the capital city of the kingdom of the royal house Tassard. 

So the people of Elbre are called the Tassardi.   The only other major “kingdom,” actually a so-called unified republic ruled by an oligarchy of merchant houses, is Estáan.  The people there are known as Estáani.  While complete enmity officially exists between these empires and dependencies, there is much slave trade between them.  As elsewhere, business knows how to take advantage of enemies as well as friends.  The bottom line remains the bottom line.  Trade is good.  War is even better.  First and foremost, profit.  Then whatever.

During her training in Hyrete there is an uprising while a multi-event killing orgy is taking place.  She is taken by the group of rebels and with male help and the use of two stolen “carriers” they flee into the desert.  The rebel leader baptizes her and gives her the name of Tiegli.  When they are captured, as inevitably happens, the ring-leaders are executed by torture and she is returned to the compound.  They cut off her ear and shave her head.  She would never be allowed to grow her hair again.  She is entered in her first fight much too young and almost killed.  Fortunately her opponent is a young foolish buck with little experience.  She barely manages to bring him down and the fight is terminated before she has to kill him.  After this, it’s just fight after fight, kill after kill.  From training/holding compound to the arena and back.

“Why do they do this?” I ask.  “Why do they fight you if they know they will get killed?” 

She chuckles in the dark and pinches me, “They say honour but mostly is money.” 

“Honour?”  I ask.  “How can there be honour in killing a woman, or being killed by one?”

Another chuckle, “You not know these things?  Some, we say you from the land, the rock of T’Sing Tarleyn.  Some, we say you Desert Beast rise from desert sand, come to help women.  Some, we say you from other world.  We know only this world.  Are people up there?”  She grabs my wrist tighter and lifts my hand upward so I understand what she means.  You tell, not lie to Tiegli, please.”

“No, not lie.  I will tell you but you must answer my question first.  About honour.”

“Everybody is enemy; someone is enemy of someone.  Women most dangerous enemies because men attracted to woman sex and lose fighting power.  So young boy must kill female as proof he free of female weakness.  Boy is given young girl – sometime older woman no good no more – to kill.  Rite of passage to be man.  Necessary or boy killed too.  They always must … hmmm… show power to hate and do by shouting and killing.  Also must kill enemy.   Boys go to great hunts in big desert” (I note she points to the south) “and where high mountains live.  After big desert and mountains there is green land of grass and short trees that make tent” (I cannot make her explain further – canopied tops of leaves that deflect water or sunlight?) “In that away far land they kill wild beasts or take wild black people for slaves if they find,” and she points to the only dark-skinned woman I’ve seen, a young woman whom they nickname “The Brute” sitting and rocking herself in a near-by cage.  “She harvested when very young.  They train, she good killer.  Dangerous.  Something wrong in head.”

She continues with her story and I try not to interrupt her. 

“Sometime, yes?  They make large group, many weapons (I gather she means armies) attack other group, city.  Much die in what called raids.  Sometime fight group join enemy group in wild celebration after battle.  Compounds full of females they raid to rape and kill and if “evil juice” is found men become like Warris (which she describes to be wild peoples of the south lands who practice cannibalism) and cook female bodies to eat. I, Tiegli, know.  Saw, smelled the flesh, even I get hungry from smell.  This I see when taken.” 

[end blog post #8]

 

The Antierra Manifesto: chapter headings

For those who are keeping a file of Antierra Manifesto novel blog posts, I thought it proper to include a list of the entire novel’s chapter headings. This will prove highly useful in navigating through the files later and if some get mixed up (something computers love to do) you can quickly determine where each blog post numerically belongs.  Of course each one should be properly numbered but still, it’s good to keep it tight until the entire novel is assembled.  

(Hint: if you file by date, don’t trust the computer, use this format: yrmody (year-month-date) for example, today:  190113 (no hyphens, no dashes, nothing between the numbers)  This ensures that files will always be in the correct numerical order.  Put the number at the front when creating the filename.)

For example, today’s file will be   190113-Antierra Manifesto-chap headings
If I wanted it to file itself at the top of my blog post list which began on 181229, I would write 181228-Antierra, etc. (For what it’s worth, hey?)


T’Sing Tarleyn – Chapter Headings

Prologue  –    Terms, Usage
Chapter 1 –    Incarnation

Chapter 2 –    Stacked Worlds – An Introduction to Malefactus
Chapter 3 –    First Step – Survival
Chapter 4 –    First Fight
Chapter 5 –    “Tiegli”
Chapter 6 –    Life in the Cages
Chapter 7 –    Established
Chapter 8 –    Questions Without Answers
Chapter 9 –   The Young Trainee
Chapter 10 –  Deirdre of the Sorrows
Chapter 11 –  The Mercenary
Chapter 12 –  Some Questions that have Answers
Chapter 13 –  Galactic History – The Melkiar Wars
Chapter 14 –  The Forge
Chapter 15 –  Politics or How a Woman Gladiator Exercises
                         her Voting Privileges on Malefactus
Chapter 16 – To Save Deirdre
Chapter 17 –  If One Woman Escapes
Chapter 18 –  Trainer, warrior and worrier
Chapter 19 –  “Ich Dien”
Chapter 20 –  Goodbye until the End of Time
Chapter 21 –  The Inquisition: Warmo’s Dungeon
Chapter 22 –  Conversation with an Android
Chapter 23 –  A Very Dangerous Plan and a Confession
Chapter 24 –  ‘Bionic Woman’ faces Malefactus
Chapter 25 –  Measuring time by Losses
Chapter 26 –  Tiki Tells a Story and Antierra Remembers
Chapter 27 –  The ‘Teaching’ Begins
Chapter 28 –  Vengeance as a Redemptive Act
Chapter 29 –  The Teaching Continues: Power in Simplicity
Chapter 30 –  The Gift: Doing ‘Right by Wrong’ (Compromised Morality)
Chapter 31 –  The Forever Change
Chapter 32 –  The Fight of the Beasts – Part One
Chapter 33 –  The Fight of the Beasts – Part Two
Chapter 34 –  Aftermath – Fear – Petition for Execution
Chapter 35 –  Training Tiki: Clumsy Attempt on my Life
Chapter 36 –  “Stupid Speak” in the Cages: More of ‘The Teaching’
Chapter 37 –  Tiki’s First Arena Contest: Love Speaks
Chapter 38 –  One Woman Fights two Drooks; more Teaching
Chapter 39 –  A Daring Escape Plan Revealed; more Troubles
Chapter 40 –  The Great Escape and Aftermath
Chapter 41 –  An Execution Order is Signed; a Killing Orgy Schedule
Epilogue —  A report from researcher and chronicler for the Supremacy,                                 Michele Dellman

 

The Antierra Manifesto – [Blog post #7]

[Begin blog post #7]

Chapter 4 – First Fight

You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.    (Unknown)

I wish I could say I walk to the arena without trepidation, in full confidence of my ability to defend myself against a single male opponent.  But I cannot.  I am afraid.  I can hear the cheers as two handlers lead me down a dark, damp underground tunnel.  My opponent – challenger- must already be down there, showing off for his friends and perhaps family, such as family can mean on this world.  Father?  Brothers?  Other male relatives?  Oh, the sadness of it; the utter hopelessness of this.  Why would I choose such a place to work with?

Again I repeat my mantra against fear, less successfully, and we pass through an automatic door to emerge in a brightly lit area.  I become embarrassingly aware of my nakedness and the chains that bind my wrists behind my back.  I have been told my weapons would be waiting for me but how can I trust these people?  What if I’m being led there just to be slaughtered helplessly by that malevolent fop who tried to crush my jaws with his vicious grip?  To be subdued and raped publicly, as I know they do in some of their killing rituals?  Surely they are capable of anything, any sort of treachery.  Would it be treacherous in their minds to trick a slave?  Of course not.

My two handlers open a steel grated gate also by remote control and I step into the low arena floor proper.  I’m temporarily blinded by bright light, not only that of the sun at high noon, but by brightly lit plasma lighting tubes surrounding the entire small walled and fenced yard.  Tiered seats, what we called bleachers or stands on Old Earth, are filled almost to capacity by men in wildly coloured attires, resembling that worn by my challenger yesterday. 

I am brought to the center of the ring to be greeted with jeers, catcalls, whistles and lewd shouts and gestures.  The fop pretends not to notice me, but continues his prancing and playing with his swords, making them flash in the lights to the delight of at least one vocal section of this crowd.  His supporters?  Where are mine?  Right!

I’m finally unchained, after a stern warning and being shown where guards stand with lasguns trained on me with orders to kill should I make any unauthorized move.  To my surprise, the “doctor” appears and carefully checks me over.  He takes my pulse and heart rate, entering these on his wrist com unit.  Again he looks me in the eyes and I react to his gaze: he wants me.  He hands me a supple piece of leather thong and indicates I should tie up my hair so I am not blinded while fighting or so as not to give the challenger an opportunity to topple me by grabbing my hair – and whispering in my left ear he says, “He was going to use your hair against you and also his dagger is drugged.  Be careful.  I will see you after the fight and patch you up if needed.  Take care.  Don’t let us down,” and nodding towards the challenger he adds, “it’s your mandate to kill him – we want him dead.”

Who are “we” and why do they want this particular individual killed?  Another aspect of my status of slave I have to learn.  I can be given any sort of order by anyone in authority over me (which translates as any male, basically, except my officially sanctioned opponent) and I must do my utmost to deliver.  I do not need to know any of the reasons why I should do whatever it is I am asked to do.  My function is to obey without ever questioning any of it.  Silence and obedience. In this case, not obeying means death so not much choice there.

Now a man in a red robe which I was to learn is called a weapons judge leads me to a small stand at the opposite end of the squarish yard from which I entered.  There I’m told to buckle on my dagger belt.  I tie up my hair as tight to my head as I can.  I heft the rapier but without any obvious theatrics.  I must appear totally humbled and look as if I’m here to die, not to kill.  No sound must I make and no shout will I utter if I kill the challenger.  All I will feel will be the unified surge of hatred and lust for revenge from every spectator, bar none.  I am the alien, the enemy, the one to be defeated, humiliated and killed.  Were it not for the gambling, and the simple fact that we are worth much to our owners, no gladiator would ever leave these arenas alive.  The crowd would rush through the defences and tear her to pieces if she won.  Such is the way of their mindless, programmed hate. 

A single trumpet blows.  As instructed, I take my position at the marked center of the ring.  I face my opponent now.  He’s removed all his clothes as well, since he must match the slave’s attire and weaponry.  He has an enormous erection and I’m surprised at the amazing musculature his ridiculous attire had hid.  I feel another shaft of fear go through me – even though I’m not at all afraid to die.  It’s something else, something dark, ancient, atavistic, some raw memory that tries to take over my mind.  I fight off a moment of vertigo and regain some of my composure.  The yells and shrieks of the crowd seem to fade into the background until I can hear my opponent breathe and my heart beat.  I’m finding a center of balance, certainly, but it isn’t really mine.  I’m being controlled by a force I did not expect and cannot push away.

Another, shriller trumpet blows.  I feel his rapier slash through the air rather than see it and easily bend out of its way, thrusting with mine toward his loins.  This takes him by surprise, just enough that I nick his thigh.  First blood drawn.  The crowd is standing, enraged.  Kill her!  Kill her!  Kill her!  Deafening chant of pronounced judgment.  He moves like a cat, stealthily and sure.  This man is certainly not here to die today.  He fully intends to bring me down slowly, tiring me by giving me false openings.  I realize he had let me cut him.  Let me feel the elation of first blood to create over-confidence and to draw the favour of the crowd to himself and rise on the power of their killing chant.  Blood: there must always be blood.  These men are raised upon the shedding of female blood and trained in feeding that ever-flowing river.

I begin to give way to him, backing around in a tight circle, parrying his thrusts, none of which are intended to kill outright.  He cuts me on my right arm as I lift it to balance my sword – clumsy.  Fortunately he does not know I’m fully ambidextrous and I switch sword hands – again surprising him.  He glares -likely visualizing the informer he has handsomely paid to supply him with crucial details of any surprise fighting tricks.  Someone’s in deep shit, I think and find myself smiling inwardly at the old Earthian saying.  At that moment everything changes.

I’m no longer a simple woman who would rather be sitting in a small home rocking her sleeping child.  I’m no longer the wandering Avatari seeking answers to existential question, or the philosopher she embodies.  I’m no longer an Altarian logician balancing equations to extract answers nor am I a slave fighting for her life in an alien arena confronted by a trained killer. 

I’m the green-eyed Desert Beast whose turn it is to challenge and taunt her prey.  No longer is the naked man attacking me a danger to me.  He’s a gift to me.  And I to him.  I will kill him and because I’m the Beast he will die honourably, according to their belief system.  And my task with the women will begin.  So I think.  So I must believe.

I project thoughts of my Desert Beast nature over to him and watch his face.  I see a subtle change on it and the not-so subtle effect of losing his erection.  He pales,  noticeable even on the white skin.  I see a profusion of sweat running down his torso and I smell his fear.  There is nothing for it now but to press my attack, parrying and moving in.  He jumps back, now on the defensive, and I know it’s no longer a ruse on his part.  He knows I do not fear him; that I’ve entered in a terrible, dark high that can only result in his death if he doesn’t kill me first.

For him the impossible has happened: he realizes (by force of the many superstitions that under-gird this society) that I have somehow incarnated that evil female Spirit, the green-eyed Beast of the Desert men somehow fear here.  He realizes, too late, he should not have challenged me.  He’d hoped that my clumsy attempts at avoiding my trainers’ thrusts and jabs in the training yard were proof of my total ineptitude in handling weapons.  He’d chosen the swords because they require the longest training and the most skill and dexterity.  And he’d made the most costly and last mistake of his short and pointless life. 

The power of the truth as he understands it makes him lose control.  In a desperate moment, knowing his rapier thrusts are outmatched, he reaches for his dagger.  At that moment I thrust my sword into his exposed throat, almost exactly as I had visualized the day before. 

It’s over.  There is a stunned moment of complete silence.  Seeing their  challenger is not going to stand, the crowd erupts in angry utterances.  Many spit in my direction as they leave.  I was to learn their hate did not come only from the killing of a man, but from loss of money in betting.  The odds in favour of their challenger winning had been astronomically high.  What does a just harvested ‘wild’ female know of sword play?  She should have provided the expected sport, been brought down in blood, raped, then while still alive, her extremities and limbs severed and thrown to the exuberant crowd.  I was to experience many such reactions in the months and years to follow.

I am led back down the same tunnel to our compound, only I am allowed to bear my weapons and am not chained.  In our section the “doctor” takes me in hand.  I remove my belt and hair thong.  He orders me to wash and has me brought to his office where we are left alone.  He puts a bandage on my arm, then undresses himself and makes love to me, as I expected he would.  I don’t want to feel what I feel but I am helpless.  After the fight, after seeing that naked man flaunting his erection at me then killing him, a new force has come over me; something to my mind horribly depraved, evil, yet utterly enjoyable.  Something of the preying mantis has awakened in my loins.  Now I enjoy it – him.  And I want it to continue… forever.  To forget everything and lose myself in this man. 

At this moment I realize what that fear was I felt just before the fight.  I feared most of all that I would enjoy myself, that I would find, in fighting for my life, defending myself and killing my opponent, a kind of mind soporific, a drug, which I would then use each time I entered the arena.  I could kill without feeling anything beyond the simple effects of receiving cuts and bruises in the flesh.  I would become a killer without compassion or sense of empathy.  I remembered I had passed through that stage before and it was still a part of me.  My sexual release with the doctor amplified this feeling: it was my “due” as the one who conquered to enjoy the ensuing pleasures of sex or drunkenness or both.  I did not want to remember that, but I did.  And he was there, conveniently, to ensure I did remember.

[end blog post #7]

The Antierra Manifesto – Blog post #6

(Continuing with the novel – thank you all for the likes, and the comments!)

[Begin blog post 6]

I begin training.  As I said, I top their tallest man by as much or more than a head and that annoys them because they have failed, on first contact, to intimidate me.  Well, I would have been properly intimidated if I’d known how, and how important it was to their ego that I be!

Now they have to cow me into submission before they put me on display in the arena.  Fighter slaves cannot display any air of pride or superiority.  They fight only because that is their purpose, and to survive another round; their sole reason to exist.  But I refuse to be intimidated.  I am clumsy with the weapons and receive many welts and light cuts. I am tricked into bad moves and tripped to guttural laughter but each time I come back up with increased resolve to get the hang of this hand-to-hand combat idiocy. 

I observe their moves and learn to parry quickly. After a while I go on the attack – and wished I’d been able to tie my hair back – it keeps getting in my face and obstructing my vision. 

An important looking type I take to be an overseer yells a command and three trainers attack me on every side.  I become exasperated by their relentless, persistent rushes and jabs.  One of them keeps jabbing at my still raw branding, laughing every time I wince.  He comes in with his head low and I lay him flat with a sudden and angry side-kick to the head – and where did that come from?  He drops and lays still, face down to the stones.  Weapons drop from his hands.  The other two stop in surprise and outrage.  The overseer yells another command and a man in a white robe runs out and officially terminates the training.  I watch as they roll him over to see a slackened jaw and no sign of life in the body. 

Not even allowed to clean myself up of sweat and blood or take a drink, my wrists are chained behind my back and I’m shackled to a steel post in the center of the yard.  I wait and finally slip down to sit on the cold flagstones whose edges are worn smooth by generations of bare feet running over and slipping on them. 

The usual line-ups for washing and eating take place but no one looks in my direction.  I am being studiously ignored.  No one brings me food or water.

There is a short period of darkness before the false sun, Albaral, rises above the stone battlements but all I hear is the occasional cry of a young woman’s nightmare in the cages.  In the wan light I look down and realize that what I’d thought earlier was some dark stain is dried blood, and it is not mine.

I feel my thirst and hunger; my bruises and cuts.  I feel the bite in the cooling night wind after the previous exertion.  My body shakes and my teeth chatter but I refuse to give in to self-pity.  These are not my feelings.  They belong to someone else.  I have no feelings.  I am not human.  I am a beast from the wilderness.  Think: you must survive this long enough to make some kind of impression upon these people.  Shock – you must shock them out of comfort, expectations and abject acceptance of the way things are.  You must shock yourself in what you can endure, learn and do.  Shock treatment in give and take.  You are a wild animal… I fall asleep to dream of teeth tearing into bare flesh – my teeth or my flesh?

Morning comes and two men come over to me, raise me, and unshackle me from the post.  I’m splashed with ice-cold water  – this seems to be some kind of ritual used to take away your last ounce of resistance.  Still in chains – so tight I cannot feel hands or arms, my hair dripping cold water down my back and front, I’m taken into another yard where a man wearing outlandish dress, a living expression of sartorial confusion, stands.  He turns to look at me.  I stand tall above him.  He reaches up and viciously pinches my face.  I jerk my face from his hand and get a flash of his eyes: they are filled with absolute malice.  He pokes at my goose-pimpled flesh and grunts then nods to some unseen other in a crude hover craft that floats over the ground.  I recognize an antiquated type of manually operated “skimmer” or repulsion-drive vehicle with covered seating for two.  He calls the vehicle over, “Bring the carriage!”  Carriage – what a wonderfully innovative language they have!

I’m taken away, back to the training yard, unchained and fed.  My hands are so numbed the servant girl has to feed me as I cannot hold anything.  There are no implements as normally we scoop whatever food is put in the light metallic bowls with our hands and use the bowls to drink liquids that remain.  So she just scoops the food into my mouth with her bare hand and holds the bowl up so I can drink.  When I’m done – we have a set time to eat – I look into her face to let her know I’m grateful.  She lowers her face to hide in her shoulder-length dark-brown hair and smiles sadly at me. 

The visions of brown-eyed, sad faced girls and young women of Malefactus, I think, will haunt my own visions forever. 

I stand and wait.  A handler in a skin-tight dark green uniform comes to me and tells me that because of my arrogance and my crime, I’m to enter the arena in two days, to die or claim my place in the line-ups.  For now it seems, my “training” is over.  It’s do or die.

“Speak?” I ask huskily.  Without express permission, speaking is considered an offense punishable by death.  He nods affirmatively.

“The man yesterday, what happened?”

“Remember never again ask questions.  He careless, now dead.  Kick broke neck.  Kick now permitted move on fighter list.  Good move, we like, not punished this time.”

“Thank you.”  I feel grateful so hungry do I find myself for any kind word; the irony of his claim that I would not be punished considering the night I just spent completely lost on me.  Much to learn, so much to learn.  To be grateful here is dangerous weakness.  What did he mean by “punished?”  Death by some kind of torture is my guess.  

I lower my eyes to the ground and sense they are pleased.  They have a new “secret weapon” which they hope will bring them fat tips and bribe money.  Yet I know that most of my “moves” were not based on trained skill but simple desperation, the advantage of size and speed and the unorthodox (totally unexpected – including by me!) quality of my fighting.  This could be detrimental should I tire myself out in real combat.  I must remember to maim and kill quickly and without any hesitation or qualm at the very first opportunity.  Can I do that?  Is this the woman who claimed compassion as her modus operandi?  How is it, I wonder, that humans that have gone through generations, centuries, countless lives, of civilizing, can so quickly return to their atavistic blood lust and do or die survival instincts?  Why is it so easy to move backward through time, so difficult to move forward?

In a way, the person I’d evolved into before this incarnation is quickly giving way to this new persona, this Antierra, female gladiator slave on Malefactus and that alters everything.  I know nothing of stack worlds theories or even of purpose at this moment.  I must bury any residual feeling of caring or compassion.  I am a killing machine, nothing else, until the day I am killed in turn.  I shall hold that day at bay for as long as possible, though it does not frighten me.  In my mind I repeat my old Earthian mantra against fear. 

Good! I say to myself in my silent dialogue, you have something to hold on to; you won’t get lost – not this day at least.  And for purpose and passion, let these come fresh to Antierra.   

The man who looked me over was to be my adversary, the “challenger.”  The next day he comes back to observe me again.  Before he can approach me, my wrists are again chained, so afraid are they I will charge him and maybe snap his neck or do some sort of damage.  They have to maintain my reputation for being “The Desert Beast” – and extremely dangerous: makes the pot go up.  I look at that adversary and pity him even though I feel no compassion for him – I cannot afford that at this stage of my game.  I watch as he chooses the swords as our weapons – such a choice being his prerogative.  Adversary and gladiator use the same kind of weapons in any given encounter, though I suspect, based on unasked for information from a trainer that the point on his short sword will have been poisoned or drugged.  I must be very sure never to give him the opportunity to pull it out of its sheath. 

As I watch him fondly handle the weapons, favouring the short sword, I already know how I will kill him.  He will switch his attention for a split second from the rapier to the dagger and I will spit him through the throat.  I feel so sure and so completely deadly — without passion – for beyond this first public kill lies everything I’ve planned to do in this place.   First step: survival. 

[End blog post #6]