Tag Archives: science fiction

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]

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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]

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #5

Continuing with the novel…

Begin blog post #5

Chapter 3 – Malefactus: The Basic Set-up – Learning to Survive

 “One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being. We make it up as we go, and we make it up by going. (Rebecca Solnit)

Malefactus (my name for this world, the people here call it “T’Sing Tarleyn” (pronounced sintarn) meaning Land of Man)  is a world whose main ruling force can only be referred to as misogyny.  Men rule absolutely and hold all women, without any exception, in total bondage and slavery.  No one escapes, not even those rare ones who are chosen as concubines by the various classes of rulers.  If, or more likely when, his concubine no longer pleases him, he tires of her, or buys a new one to play with, he either kills her himself or has her trained as a gladiator to watch her fight until she is killed, sometimes by a friend to whom he owes a favour.  Sometimes he even does the ‘honour’ and challenges his own concubine to the death.  The outcome is always the same, of course: the concubine is killed.

It is illegal and a crime punishable by death for any man to ‘fall in love’ with a female.  As for the female, her feelings in the matter are not relevant unless she becomes a nuisance, refusing to do what she is ordered or gets pregnant.  Then she is flogged to death.  There are stories of the cruelty of the judges exceeding all bounds: pitting the lovers against one-another in the arena forcing them to fight each other to the death.  They have inducements that leave no choice in the matter, trust me on that.

There are four basic classes of female slaves with few variations.  They are:

Class 01.  Those who bear the children – the birth mothers.  That is their only function.  They are normally artificially impregnated and they give birth.  If they have healthy babies, they get to continue.  One who gives birth to a defective child is killed along with the child.  When they are too old to be birth mothers, they are killed.  Sometimes they are sent to the arena to be disposed of as entertainment value.  In some cases, and in full violation of their own statutes, high members of the aristocracy and royalty will impregnate a birth mother in order to ensure a son of their own loins.  If the intercourse produces a female she may be killed outright or class branded and sold to a crèche.

Class 02.  These are the common labour slaves commonly referred to as goras although that term can be applied to any female anywhere.  This class comprises the vast majority of females and are found everywhere, doing all the menial tasks required and expected by men.  The law is very explicit on this, that these women may never be “used” for sex and if one is raped and it is discovered, or she becomes pregnant, she is killed, along with the rapist if found, indicted and condemned.  Such a thing does happen rather frequently, as one would expect under the circumstances.  “Free” sex is not permitted between men and any class of goras (female slaves).  The reason is simple: men need their energy for fighting, or so it is believed and so it is taught to the boys.  The ‘no sex’ rule is, of course, blatantly violated at every turn: who would enforce it?

Class 03.  The third class of female slaves are the exclusive group of “entertainers” or sex slaves.  These are bred specifically for their attractive bodies and trained in an endless array of sexual skills, including verbal skills, or skill in voice pitch, words, and even foreign languages should some be needed for trading to an enemy for certain considerations, or in exchange for hostages.  Their training is rigorous and if they fail or are not bid for in a certain period of time they are sold as fodder for the arena slaughters.  They are primarily bid upon by the rich and the nobility but also by the merchant class and foreign ambassadors as personal servants or concubines for themselves or their masters.  The few concubines seen are usually from this class.  The lives of these women are short.  Many of these, after they have served their purpose also end their lives in the arena.

Class 04.  The most sought-after and exclusive class are the female gladiators usually referred to as fighters.  These are carefully bred and trained for the single purpose of meeting men in an arena and fighting them, always to the death (but every rule has its exceptions).  It is considered an honour for a man to kill a female gladiator in public and huge sums of money change hands in the crazy gambling that takes place before and during these hand to hand combats.  The female fighters, of course, get no recognition for bravery or endurance, though their owners may get standing ovations when one proves to be a match for several male contenders in a single day.  The lives of these gladiator slaves are even shorter than those of the sex slaves.

 

This can be said: no woman dies of “old age” who has been slated to be a fighter in the arenas of Malefactus.  It can also be said that no woman dies of old age anywhere, in any class of female slave on Malefactus.  Fail at your work and you go to the arena to entertain male challengers and spectators by your bloody death.  Violent death, either by public flogging or in the arena is the only encouragement you get for sticking to your work.  It works.

Sub-classes of female slaves do exist as I discovered later (another hole in my research there!).  A few are bred as healers, for example, but generally lumped in with the sex-slaves.   Some specialize in numbers and are used as accountants or “Processors,” a type of human computer hardly considered to be a living being.  Though their lives may be somewhat safer than most others, they never see anything beyond the rooms where they work, eat and sleep.  

All “harvested” (captured) wild females are automatically branded as slaves in whatever class she seems to fit best, or has the most need of fresh bodies – if they survive the abuse they receive at the hands of their captors before they are auctioned off and bought.  Then they come under the protection of their owners, whatever that may entail.

Now to establish my personal reason for choosing to incarnate on such a world as Malefactus and specifically as a gladiator or as they call us, a fighter.

Having been purchased by a consortium that trains, fights and auctions off gladiators, I am now officially to become a fighter, my training, I understand, to begin immediately.  

A somewhat stocky man whom I take to be a doctor, wearing, it seems to me, nothing other than a white gown zippered down the front and dropping to just above the knees and a pair of sandals, goes over my body, inspecting every orifice.  He takes samples of my hair, skin, blood and vaginal excretions.  He makes me stand spread-eagle with my arms fully extended then proceeds to measure arms, hands, legs, feet, torso, shoulder width, head and neck.  Then I have to stand perfectly straight and he measures my height.  I can see him frowning and his lips move but he says nothing to me.  There is that taboo against “non-essential” verbal communication from men to women also. 

The “doctor” types notes on a small keypad Datacom unit on his left arm and consults briefly with a couple of men I take to be handlers.  They take a memcard from him with what I assume is a copy of his notes and disappear in a small side door while he takes another look at me.  Grabbing a handful of my hair, he pulls my face down and stares intently into my eyes for some moments, frowning even deeper.  He releases my hair, running his fingers through it, turns and walks away through an opening with an automatic door in one of the walls. 

What was he thinking apart from the obvious?  I did notice that unlike the men I’ve seen so far, he is the only one with blue eyes.  Also, his face is much broader and flatter than the others.  His skin is also of a darker hue, tending to olive.  And although I still stand higher than he, he is taller than any one else I’ve seen here.

Well, what else can I do but observe and try to fit in as quickly as possible to avoid further mistreatment or as they call it, ‘punishment’ for violation of rules?

These pleasantries over, I’m taken in hand by men I dub “trainers” and shown some of the various types of weapons gladiators are normally allowed to use.  A spear, or rather a lance, and round shield with a foot long thin spike in the center.  A staff made of some kind of metal alloy and what appears to be fiberglass on hardwood – flexible yet definitely a tough, effective weapon, slightly longer than my body length.  A set of swords, one rapier type with a long thin blade I test and find to be light, flexible and razor-sharp and the other stubby, more like a dagger but with a fiendish toothed point designed to tear chunks out of flesh.  A large, two handed double-edged “standard” sword that reminds me of those wielded by medieval knights on Earth but which I find incredibly light despite its size but still unwieldy if one were small of stature and short-limbed.  Finally I’m handed a battle axe with a straight handle and exaggerated wide cutting blade, the ends of the blade made into sharp points – obviously for cutting when pulling back or for spearing in throwing.  This is a truly ignorant weapon, suitable for trolls, not human females.  What small woman could wield such a clumsy thing?

I’m also shown some light armour but told I’ll be training and fighting naked -seeing as I’m being billed as “the wild one” already and no armour has yet been designed to fit my larger body. 

I accept all this.  In my memory I locate the images that remind me I chose this place and this position.  There are no real surprises here, except perhaps the degree to which this society has fallen into violence since the last records had been made – the ones I’d based many of my assumptions and hopes upon.  The apparent complete lack of empathy and the crass callousness exhibited in social interactions – these express serious and unnatural flaws .  These people may as well be computer-animated figures programmed by a very sick mind – but they are real enough to kill you at a moment’s notice.  

[end blog post #5]

Little Beaver

A short story, by Sha’Tara
(Part 2 – with last paragraph from part 1 to make the link)

They followed her until she came to the edge of a small lake. She made several signs in the water with her fingers, then stood facing the sun, not moving a muscle for a long time. It was as if she was asleep they said later. They approached stealthily, as trained hunters can do, two from one side, two from another and one from behind. When the one behind her was close enough to grab her, he stretched out his arm to put his hand around her throat. As he did so, she turned and let out a blood-curdling screech. Her right arm shot out and at the end, what seemed like huge talons, locked around the man’s neck and snapped it as if it was a dry twig. Still screeching, she unfolded huge wings and flew away to the west, over the trees.

The four men brought back the body of their dead comrade to the village and told their story.

At first no one believed them, but they saw the marks on the dead man’s neck and the story became more and more believable. I was confused. I thought I knew your mother quite well. I knew she was strong, but she was not a beast. I also knew she was a healer, not a killer. Your mother would not have killed the man, just beat him down and made sport of him, taunting him for being weaker than a mere woman. Then she would have challenged the other four men to try their skills against hers. She would have beaten them, as easily as an eagle takes a rabbit. I know this about your mother.

My son, sometimes people think they know the truth. Sometimes they believe that they saw what they say was there. I believe that there are others, like your mother, out there. Some are not like her in spirit. Perhaps these young fools thought they followed your mother, but I know she was a master at disappearing from any stalker. In fact that is the only time anyone was ever able to claim to have crept up on her unnoticed. I believe, to this day, that the creature they encountered was another one, perhaps a spirit which resembled her. I know it wasn’t your mother.

When she returned to the village after three suns she was smiling and happy. She showed unbelief when she heard the story, and would speak to no one. It was as if she was hurt by their willingness to believe such things of her. The story became a part of her legacy, nevertheless. She became restless again. You were three summers when she exuded that strange scent again, and I went with her to a hut in the forest. We made your sister that time. I will tell you about your sister, but for now, let me finish this part. I decided to return to the place where she had made the hut, after two suns had passed. There was no hut, not a single sign that anyone had ever been there. I know it was the right place. I had broken a twig to mark the place, and scuffed the earth in one spot. The broken twig was there, and the mark of my moccasin in the earth, but nothing else. No scent and no flowers. I was saddened and apprehensive.

When your mother began to show signs of being pregnant, I rejoiced. She had told me it was a girl child this time. It didn’t matter to me. You were so beautiful already, and slightly different than the other young children. You were already taller than all the others, and your eyes were of a yellow hue. Your hair, though thinner than mine, was longer and had the same strange waves in it. I knew by observing you that you would become a great hunter and chief in your time. I dreamt also of having a daughter who would be as strong and intelligent as your mother; a true Shaman, who would belong to the tribe, and not to the wilderness. We are too small a village to hire and keep our own Shaman. We need one born among us, one with the great powers of your mother, so the people from the other villages will respect us and come to us in their time of need. You see, as long as She-ya-neh, your mother, lived among us, we had no disease and we were never attacked or raided.

About four moons after we had been in the hut, your mother came to me at dusk. It was a beautiful evening after a sunset filled with the fire of the Great Spirit. It meant well for the fishing…

The man stopped here. He reached down and poked the embers of their small fire. The boy ran into the bushes then came back and wrapped a warm beaded blanket around his slim figure.

“Please continue, Father. When I am chief, I will need to know all about my mother, so I won’t have to listen to stories made up to make her look bad and discredit my place among the elders.”

“You are wise, my son, far beyond your summers. Your mother did not take her gifts away when she left. I believe that soon, you will find within your hands, great powers, my son. You will be the Shaman we have been asking for. Chief and Shaman. No one has had such honour among us before. Yet I know this is to be…

“So that evening, your mother knelt before me in our house. In her large eyes, I saw tears. She seldom showed tears. Her face was sad, yet I felt a deep excitement in her. She spoke into my mind as she always did when she expressed deep feelings.

“I am going away tonight. I will not be returning, ever. Our son is well. Nothing will happen to him now. Our daughter will be with me, and well taken care of. Some day, you will meet her. I cannot say more. Now let me go, and do not come after me, or even look at me as I go. Put your love in our son, and when I am gone, find him a suitable mother and wife to cook for you and to comfort you at night when it is cold. I must return to the place where I come from. Here, take this talisman I wore in my hair all these years, and when our son is old enough, put it on his head. It is a living thing, a gift of the Great Spirit for the great travelers. Do not forget. Yo nah la! Aheya noha!”

With these strange words, she crossed her arms in front of her face, closed her fingers gently then turned and walked away. I heard her footsteps for a short time, then nothing. I stepped outside our house, holding you in my arms. The night suddenly became very still. The coyotes quieted down and the owls stopped hooting. Even the frogs became still, and the breeze died down. After some time, I saw a great fire in the forest. It lit up the sky, even the underside of the clouds. Then I heard a great waterfall roaring, after which the fire rose up and soon there was just a thin trail in the sky, above the village. Then, like the shooting stars, it was gone. I never saw your mother again.

My son, look up there. See that small star village? Often your mother pointed there and sighed. She said she felt something being sent to her from those stars. She also said that the spirits who travel the trails of the stars must obey their own seasons. Stars wander all over, and sometimes they are close enough to each other to send visitors there. The visitor must then wait until the star returns at that same place to return to his own village. Your mother’s people travel the paths of the stars, my son. They come once, then are gone. Sometimes, they can return, and sometimes not. It takes much power to follow the paths of the stars, and you must also be a true friend of the Great Spirit if you do not want to lose yourself in that great blackness between the star villages.

Listen to me, my son, if one day a tall grey-eyed woman appears to you, or wanders into your village, or meets you on the shore of a far-away lake, do not look upon her as a man looks upon a woman. That woman will be your sister. Remember that. When you marry, you shall marry one of our kind, one born in a village within this valley. That is how it must be.”

“Thank you father.” The boy yawned and leaned against the man. Overhead, it seemed to the man that one star twinkled brighter and faster than any other. He pointed at it with his finger but the son had fallen asleep on his lap. The man rolled himself off the log and wrapped in their warm blankets, they both slept peacefully as the moon was hid by a bank of black clouds rolling in slowly from the far mountains.

Little Beaver

[a short story in two parts, by Sha’Tara]

(This short story is a bit long for a blog post so I split it in 2 parts.  Hope you find it enjoyable, at least as much as I found writing it!  Remembrances? Oh the wonderful mysteries and mystical ways of the mind as it wanders ‘the star paths’.)

(and, for Roger of Woebegone but Hopeful, if you read this, note the colours of the flowers mentioned here and see if they remind you of someone! 🙂 )

“My son, it is time to tell you about your mother.”

The man and his young son were sitting on a log by the river, as the moon rose over snow-covered peaks. The water made a lapping sound and somewhere across the little river, in the bushes, an owl called. It was followed by the evening ritual song of the coyotes.

“You were just past three Summers when your mother left us. You hear many strange stories about her, but I must tell you what I know, so you will be less confused.

They say your mother was a great Shaman — she was. They say she was crazy: she was not. Many Summers ago, a party of hunters from another village came upon a young girl wandering alone in the mountains along the big River. She could not speak our tongue, and she was different than anyone they had ever seen. She had very large eyes the colour of water in ice. Her hair was like the water when a small breeze moves it, and it resembled the bark of the cedar in colour. They kept the girl through the hunt. In one moon cycle, the girl had learned to speak our tongue perfectly. When asked where she came from, she explained, “From a cave full of fire. I was in an egg which was shot out of the flame and when it stopped rolling, it opened and I do not know anything else. I remember a name which in your language sounds like ‘She-ya-neh’ but I do not know what it means.”

The hunters came to our small village with their captive. My father, the chief, had the women clean the girl and inspect her. He decided to buy her, if she displayed a healthy bleeding. There was much feasting at that time. The hunters stayed in our village, enjoying the food and the girls were happy. Some babies were made at that time, yes. I was very young then, too young yet to enjoy the girls, but I made friends with the strange slave girl. She did not speak much, so we just sat together, or swam in the river. She was very strong and fast, faster than any boy. She won all the foot races, and could climb trees as if she had a squirrel’s claws. She became fascinated with our canoes and soon could paddle away so fast, only the strongest hunters in the bigger canoes, could catch her. She was forbidden to use the canoes then.

At her bleeding, my father decided to buy her. Again, there was much feasting. Then he made a ceremony in which she was set free from bondage, and could become my wife. After two more Summers, we were finally married. It had been expected that she would be very fertile, and give me many healthy sons. However, no child could she grow. Years passed and the women began to shun my wife. She became a loner, mysterious, sometimes disappearing in the hills for an entire moon cycle.

During these years, she demonstrated the ability to heal broken bones and to prevent disease from spreading. She talked to the animals, and even the spirits of the plants and the land, obeyed her. Yes, she was a great Shaman, my wonderful and barren She-ya-neh. She never seemed to miss not having children. She was full of curiosity and everything to her was a wonder. She was, hmmm, very promiscuous also — well — she went with many men, and they told stories of her ways which were strange to us. I was not jealous of this. One could not get jealous of your mother, unless one were a woman. Many women in the village came to hate her popularity, her crazy, wild ways, and especially her freedom among the men.

Your mother’s physical strength was known across many valleys. How she shamed the men in their hunts, their sports, their fights! She could outrun any man, outsmart and outfight anyone. She had skills with her hands and feet we had never seen. She was as fast as the lightning: when she struck a blow, it was impossible to see where it came from.

During the high water season, when the canoe races are held, she would taunt the men to best her. She was not, by law, permitted to compete with the men. So she would sit quietly in her canoe, behind the starting line, wait until the men were into their race, then push her own canoe in the race, soon overtaking even the fastest one and always finishing first. How my own heart swelled with pride to see her win that way, yet how puzzled I was, that such a woman could not bear a child for her man, or for any man.

Let me now speak of a time, many summers past our wedding. One day, just before the long shadows, she came to the shore where I was preparing my canoe for the fishing, and took my arm. Her eyes spoke a powerful thought and her body gave off a strange, pleasant and irresistible scent. I tried to explain that I was very busy and we could do that later, at night, but she spoke again, from within her mind, and I went with her. We walked for a long time, through places I had never been, until we came to a clearing. In the middle, there was a small hut, large enough to accommodate two adult people. All around were flowers, and even on the roof: red and blue flowers. They gave off the same scent she did. It was like a drug to me. I reached for her, as you have seen the young men and women do, but she stopped me. She undressed me, then herself, and together, we rolled our bodies among the strange flowers. Soon, my head was buzzing like a nest of wild bees, and my heart sounded like our drums at the great feasts by the ocean. She then took my hands, and pushed me inside the hut. I felt as if I were inside one of those great black clouds that give off lighting and thunder.

At that time, we made you. When she was pregnant with you, she became more normal. She was careful for you, and after you were born, she was a perfect mother. She took you everywhere, and you always slept next to her. She gave you her milk freely and you never went hungry and seldom cried. All her energies were spent on you. No more sports or men or wanderings in the forests. She stayed near the village and attended to her duties as healer and midwife with great diligence. She began to be liked by some of the women again.

But one day, she disappeared. She left you in the care of her best friend, and just walked away. This was bad luck, because in the village were five strangers, hunters, who had heard the stories about her sexual prowess, and her fighting abilities were now a legend. These young hot-blooded fools decided to track your mother to see where she would go, and perhaps to beat her down and have their way with her.

They followed her until she came to the edge of a small lake. She made several signs in the water with her fingers, then stood facing the sun, not moving a muscle for a long time. It was as if she was asleep they said later. They approached stealthily, as trained hunters can do, two from one side, two from another and one from behind. When the one behind her was close enough to grab her, he stretched out his arm to put his hand around her throat. As he did so, she turned and let out a blood-curdling screech. Her right arm shot out and at the end, what seemed like huge talons, locked around the man’s neck and snapped it as if it was a dry twig. Still screeching, she unfolded huge wings and flew away to the west, over the trees.

[End of Part 1 of 2]

The Mob Wars

The Mob Wars
[short story from   ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

What do you think, when you look upon a mob?  Or worse, you encounter one?  That had been the lesson of the day and the cadets in the class, all five of them, 3 girls and 2 boys, could barely restrain their yawns.  They really wanted to laugh at the instructor but there were rules at the Academy, and laughing at an instructor was bad business.  Punishments varied but they weren’t something you wanted to think about.

“A mob is dangerous.” droned on the talking head instructor, a short dark-skinned female who spoke the lingua franca as if she’d learned it from a computer.  Hardly surprising since she had learned it that way.  She wasn’t from the Clayborne worlds but from another galaxy altogether.  Still, she was human and you could relate to her as long as you remained totally mechanical, never betraying any emotion towards her, or her course material.  “A mob has no leader, that’s what makes it dangerous,” she carried on.  “If you see a mob coming towards you, purposefully march in another direction and as soon as you can, find a safe place to hide until it passes by.  Any grouping of ten or more individuals walking together and sharing information, or making loud statements constitute a mob by legal definition.  It is your sworn duty to the Imperium to report any observed mob activity, noting its coordinates and direction.  Anyone who observes a mob formation and does not report it is de-facto part of a conspiracy and liable to a charge of sedition.  The penalty, as you know, is ten years in the mines, the location of the punishment to be determined by the courts but always outside your home worlds.”  

We may be cadets but we weren’t born last night, or even the year before.  The Claybornes, a grouping of three planets orbiting their sun practically equidistantly, thus making each world almost a mirror image of the others climate-wise, were a relatively recent addition to an expanding Imperium.  “Space, the final frontier” boldly claimed a cartoon character from a series of funny little anecdotes that had been transcribed upon holos and would sometimes be available for viewing.  The quaint language and costumes and the posturing would bring out waves of rollicking laughter wherever they happen to be projected.  Final frontier indeed: the abysmal ignorance and hubris of our ancestors makes us wonder that we ever got off the ground of our original world at all. Too quirky.

I was writing about that line, the final frontier.  Even now with everything we’ve discovered and learned, most of it at great cost and unnecessary loss, we still cling to our ancient xenophobia and bigotry.  Once we “know” a thing, we believe that we’ve found the truth, or at the very least, some truth, something we can hang on and build upon.  Our awareness, our ideas, we believe, can be stacked up one upon another, like the modules we fabricate then build living units or space ships with.  It’s as if we choose to forget that no matter how long these modules fit together they must eventually disintegrate, starting with the oldest ones, but we don’t notice the rot and rust, and we keep on building on top.  There comes a point of attrition and entropy and whatever is, soon is no longer.  Simply put, the base collapses.  We accept that but we never see to apply the obvious lesson in it to our interaction with what can only be called the nature of things.

Which brings me back to my story about the mob.  Whatever the Cirillian teacher says about mobs, she really knows nothing at all about them.  But we Clayborners do know about mobs.  Our own societies were basically evolved from a mob mentality.  You see, the Claybornes were chosen by the Imperium as a dumping ground for all sorts of individuals who could not be coerced into the herd mentality, or group-think that serves the Imperium’s aims so well.  We are recent descendants of “deplorables” and “undesirables”  Our grand parents were those who could not be cured.  Many were anarchists.  Some were judged with criminal mentality because they openly defied and called down the Imperium.  And oh yes, we had more than a sprinkling of lower class criminals, the murderers, rapists, bank robbers, psychopaths.  As a fourth generation myself, I say good for them.  It’s here, on our own Clayborne world which we call Armistice, that you can really see the evil that is the Imperium. 

I discovered subsequently that the Imperium had hoped we would not only “break” open these worlds and extract every ounce of resources that could fuel their space economy and finance their Earth-based economy, bolstering ever-expanding wars of conquest, but that once the worlds were bled dry, that we would destroy ourselves, with a little destabilizing help from Imperial guards. Considering the make-up of our local civilization, it seemed inevitable that we would destroy each other when times got tough, a time when the resources ran dry and the Imperium ceased supporting us with the necessities of civilization that could not be manufactured locally.

Even early on in the colonization of the Clayborne worlds, that is exactly what happened.  Unwisely, to say the least, the Imperium representatives gave the game away too soon, when dreams of independence rode high in the minds and hearts of the colonizers.  Conflict ensued.  But at first it wasn’t against the Imperium.  That seemed too big a slice to tackle.  In anger and frustration, various groups, and towns led by gang lords, armed themselves by whatever means, mostly clubs, compound bows and arrows, long handled barbed spears and long knives or machetes, as well as agricultural implements which had reluctantly been allocated to them, and began to attack each other for control of the worlds.

That wasn’t according to plan since by now little or no effort was being made to mine the planets.  Everybody was too busy strengthening their defences and protecting their fields and other food supplies while attempting to lay waste to “the enemy’s” fields and food supplies, transports and storehouses and stealing resources and useful labour and women.

We could almost hear the screams of anger from stock market and “trading houses” all the way though space from an incensed earth, home base of the Imperium, as resources from the Claybornes’ came to a quasi-standstill.  Fortunes in speculation were being lost by the month, the week, even by the hour.  Action was demanded of Arch Imperator, Junes Kohlmadir.  She did what her kind do best: responded by massive force of arms against the wayward planets.

The Imperium intervened  with iron fist and jack boots.  Martial law and a general ban on every sort of weaponry was declared.  Walls around fortified towns were dismantled, sometimes with explosives, more often with slave labour from those arrested for disturbing Imperium-mandated peace; those that is who hadn’t been publicly executed in the first reactionary wave of the new military dictatorship.  They executed thousands of individuals, including women and young children – as an example.  As any thinking person would know and expect, more violence ensued, now directly aimed at the Imperium troopers and subsequent governors sent to negotiate and re-establish a working peace.  Adding insult to injury, the Imperium representatives decreed that any existing facility that could produce a space-faring vessel was to be utterly destroyed, not simply mothballed.  The Imperium set up its own space station to repair and upgrade its own ships.  All merchant ships had to have (and pay for) a complement of Imperium troopers on board, and an Imperium representative to accompany the captain at all times whenever it landed on one of our worlds.

This is the tipping point, where the Imperium, instead of subduing us, only succeeded in uniting the entire planet against the Imperium.

These people, my people, learned through bitter and bloody experience to hate the Imperium with passionate fury and vowed never to let the predators get their resources as cheaply as they had in the past.  We vowed to fight the Imperium to the last man, woman and child on our world.  There would be no free interference in our affairs.  Autonomy or death, was our slogan and war cry.  In the morning the call to arms and resistance would show up, painted on walls, fences, and even on the side of Imperial armoured personel carriers and tanks.  So the people began to organize; to create larger and larger political groups and legally challenge the Imperium’s manipulations.  We lived in wave after wave of bloody crackdowns and brutal repression but any talk of surrendering resulted in another body hanging from a pole, or tree, for the troopers to cut down and dispose of.  We would no longer be the Imperium’s “hewers of wood and drawers of water” forever, or until our worlds became unable to sustain life due to heavy extraction of natural resources and unchecked man-made pollution and we were abandoned to perish in the depths of space, with no hope of ever seeing rescue transportation off our dying rock.

Whenever the Imperium landed a detachment of Guard troopers, mobs formed and there was the inevitable bloodbath.  It is said that half of the population of Armistice died in the anti-Imperium “mob wars” that had already lasted two generations when, at sixteen, I found myself fighting for freedom.

So, ask me, do we know what to do if we encounter a mob?  Sure, if it’s from our side, join in.  If it’s from the enemy side, slink away and report its movements to our side, then form our own defensive counter-mob and attack.  To hesitate is to loose.  Now we are solidly united with our own spilled blood against the Imperium.  There would be no quarter from our side, for we are the legitimate people of this world.  

“Let me repeat:  a mob is a leaderless group of ten or more people bent on destruction and murder.  Report any mob to the nearest Guard post.”  Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am and why don’t you pack up your stupid course materials and return home by the first shuttle, with no due respect, ma’am?  Take some Star Trek holos back with you and base your next history course on them.  Maybe your students won’t turn into zombies on the first day. 

Meanwhile, what’s the real mob? There can be but one answer to that: it’s the Imperium.  The real Mob is always the largest, most powerful predatory group, for a mob takes what it wants because it has the power to do so.  Smaller groups, or “mobs” serve but to justify the real Mob’s oppression, or to do some of its dirtiest “wet” work.  Think “terrorists” as the vanguard of the Mob.  Oh yes, I have read quite a bit of the home world’s history to understand why here, on Armistice, we do what we do, and why we call our world by that meaningless term.  A mob, leaderless?  Never, no such thing.  The “leader” may not be a human being, it may be injustice, hunger, oppression, enslavement, but oh yes, a mob always has a leader.  In fact such a leader is the most powerful and motivational if it isn’t human, but an irresistible force, when choice is no longer choice.  Where, or when, anger and hate fill the collective vat of despair and feet begin to walk; hands grab sticks, stones, anything defensive or offensive, and charge down the street.

There came the inevitable bloody clash between Armisticians and troopers.  I was wounded in it and captured.  I was then seventeen earth years of age.  I am now an old but still strong woman from the hard labour I have performed my entire captive life.  I survived the mandatory torture and gang rapes, solitary confinement, sub-standard food fare and damp, cold, filthy accomodations.  Today, from my life imprisonment cell on Rebus, one of several Imperium prison planets, I write this for the “counselors” to read and ponder: “Down with the Imperium!  I still hope to see its final downfall.  How dare you call yourselves “civilized” and us “savages” and “terrorists.”   You are nothing but cowards who starve and kill women and children so your elites can wine and dine, get richer and brag.  Your lives are as hollow as the insides of our tiger reed.  I could almost pity you but will never: I vowed eternal hate and enmity between us and so it shall be.

Signed:  Selinia Armstrong of the free world of Armistice

There Are Times…

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

There are times when, as I read stuff, I wish I was an Android with a hard drive instead of a leaky human brain so I could store all the information and have it “there” at my fingertips (so to speak) when I think about something, or quote something I’ve read, with full ability to regain the context of it.  “Sigh!” – it doesn’t seem to be happening.  Oh well, at least I have learned to speed things up in collecting information; to turn my email program (that wonderful Microsoft Outlook 2002 which nothing can touch for clarity and efficiency) into a library of congress sort of filing system…

Here are a few “odds ‘n ends” from my eclectic collection of thoughts and ideas and word imagery.

CRONY CAPITALISM is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

THEREMIN:  electronic musical instrument played without touching, invented by a Russian physicist, Leon Theremin circa 1919 (patented in 1928).  Used in popular music of many movie soundtracks.

ANODYNE PHRASE is a weak statement intended to hide an ugly truth. Another name for that would be political correctness.

UTILITARIANISM: Doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number. (Imagine that!  The more you slave for your elites, the happier you will be!)

THE EASIEST WAY to solve a problem is to deny its existence (Isaac Asimov)

ELECTRICITY is NOT an energy SOURCE.

IF THE CIA ever told the truth, it would genetically implode (David Icke)

THE GREAT PYRAMID weighs 6 million tons; covers 13 acres; is 750’ per side; 481’ tall and contains over 2.5 million individual blocks of stone.  None of this answers my question: why was it built, and by whom?

AMERICAN EXEPTIONALISM:  the US’s power to make and break deals world-wide with no accountability to results.

I AM WRITING the book of human sins.  When I’m done I’ll cast it into the fire and all their sins will be gone. (The Island – Russian movie)

THE UNTIED NATIONS – once known as the United Nations…

BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, S. Africa.

IDIOCRACY:  It’s hard to be smart with so many dopamine-producing distractions and so much online approval for our uneducated opinions. (from a Joel Stein article in Times magazine)

DONALD TRUMP, proud President of Saudi America.

EGREGIOUS:  conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible (and didn’t I just mention Donald Trump?)

ECONOMICS is not a science, it’s a set of values pretending to be science.

IT’S DISCOURAGING to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit (Noel Coward)

IT IS MY OPINION, subject to change only under extreme duress, that mankind (Earthians as my Teachers call them) were genetically engineered and remain unnaturally so.  That tends to explain a few ridiculous things the species clings to as if its survival depended on them, like Religion, Politics and Money. 

SOME WORDS that need re-defining:  salacious means lust or moral looseness whereas pulchritude means a physically beautiful woman.  I would turn those definitions around.  Salacious sounds so much nicer than pulchritude, I mean, really…

PRECARIAT: the growing majority population whose lives are marked by precariousness, lack, anxiety and fear.

USSA, acronym for United Slave States of America.  Another acronym that needs no interpretation: UKKKA.

PSYCHIATRY is the science of lies. (Thomas Szaz)

FEDERAL RESERVES is a parasite.

THE SUREST SIGN that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. (Bill Waterson)

WHY THE MILITARY needs so much money to accomplish so little is explained by this military description of a screwdriver – “rotational torque-adjustable fastener applicator.” 

WHEN FACTS don’t fit preconceptions, deny the facts.

US DIPLOMACY can be fully explained in three words: Convert, Co-opt, Conquer.  

A FORTNIGHT is 14 consecutive days, or two weeks.  (Go figure that one out!)

DEMOCRACY is a chimera invented to keep the bottom dwellers in their place without having to resort to police state brutality or chancing violent revolutions.  Democracy and Capitalism are diametrical opposites, but who notices these little things?

PEOPLE in general have an innate need to find something larger than themselves to be a part of. (Matthew Quirk)

CANT: stock phrases become nonsense through endless repetition.

AD HOMINEM: appealing to personal considerations rather than to facts or reason.

TUGAREZ VRAS means “Thank you” in Breton.  (That should be my mother tongue but my parents didn’t use it so defaulted to French.  Life can be so unfair…)

… and finally, let’s give full credit to computerization when it is due.  In looking up the word “eclectic” in my Wordweb dictionary using the control-right click sequence, this was the result: word not found:  “Lrzlililfiwlectiifrzlfilnrs”  – I couldn’t make that up!  (Maybe I should re-think that android brain?)