September 28, 2009

Promotional Poster

by Kat Beyer

Did your daughter take on the school bully?
Did she lose?
Did she win?
Does she borrow your fabricators without asking?
Do you find yourself scanning the tops of trees with your binocs when it’s time to call her in for dinner?
Was her favorite birthday present a Helvetian army knife?
Does she overload the solar watching kung fu movies?
Has she already crashed her second bike?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Women’s Battle College needs your daughter. Send her without delay. Scholarships available.

Women’s Battle College, Dun Scaitha, Isle of Skye, UK. ::wbcuk::app

April 2, 2009

An Incident at the Mars Debates

by Kat Beyer

Captain Daneham met his wife in the following way.

He was at the House of Commons, watching the Mars debates; he’d gone alone, and the Shadow Minister for Space was wittering away about fuel sources, as if all that hadn't been sorted ages ago.

Two girls in moonsuits were standing nearby, and, unable to pay attention to the old windbag any longer, he watched them instead. They were whispering and laughing softly. The tall one was what he would call Junoesque, a regular Amazon, who wore her stars and bars as if born in a rocket, while her friend had close-cropped red curls, a naughty pixie face, and a shockingly careless way of wearing her uniform—sleeves rolled up and unpolished boots. When she turned his way he saw the Mechanics’ 101st patch on her chest pocket and understood. Posy bunch of know-it-alls, they were, but too good at their job by half.

He watched them, and they watched him, while down among the green leather seats of Parliament history was made.

Then came the quick, sturdy tap of boot heels, and a flash of brown leather, followed by the flick of a blue-black ponytail.

"Sorry we’re late—got held up," said the girl with the ponytail. "Miss anything?"

"Only old al-Rashid going on and on," said Juno, and the redhead laughed. "Where’s Sarah?"

"In the loo, she’ll be along in a minute. Literally, we got held up. Four lads and two guns in an alley."

"No!" Juno stared.

"Good heavens. Are they all right?" Asked the redhead.

Ponytail laughed; he could hear the adrenalin draining from her.

"One won't walk again, I'm afraid. The others are probably still up the station explaining things. You know what she's like."

Captain Daneham couldn't help but stare himself. And then she came around the corner, brown hair with a touch of red in it, checking her purse, looking up at her friends with the clearest blue eyes he had ever seen, as if she wondered what all the fuss was about.

He couldn't help himself. He stepped forward, saying, "I beg your pardon, but I couldn't help overhearing..."

The rest of his stumbling speech was drowned in the sound of shouts and roars from the benches below, the noise of history—but he did manage to get out for a drink with them afterwards, once colonization was decided upon.

March 2, 2009

Skye Makes a Bargain

by Kat Beyer

Cuhulain learnt the salmon’s leap from her; great Aife fought her. She pitched her camp on an island off of Alba, giving it her name: Skye. When the women came, crying, “Teach us!” she taught.

One evening she stood on the headland with her back to the School of Battles. She heard the wings behind her, then smelled the stink. She didn’t turn around. Even goddesses ought to have manners, not just show up.

“A bargain, Skye,” croaked the goddess, so she turned.

“Good evening, your Ladyship,” she said. The Lady of Battles engulfed the school behind her in shadow.

“A bargain, Skye.”

“I have already made our bargain, your Ruthlessness,” she said, “when first I stuck a sword in a gut. To you I go in the end, serving a life for each life taken. I know it.”

“Not that bargain. One for your students, each one who picks up a sword under your eye, and those that will call your name in times to come.”

Skye knew that the Lady of Battles had the Light of Foresight and often forgot whether she saw today, yesterday, or the hundred thousandth tomorrow.

“They’ll remember you, they will,” said the Lady of Battles. “And my hand guides your sword, my wing stretches over your students. A bargain, Skye!” she crowed.

‘Always bargains,’ thought Skye. ‘Gods can never say, here, have limitless power, or endless life, or a good poop, whatever, and leave it.’

“What bargain, your Stinkiness?”

“A girl dedicated to me every generation!”

‘No need to screech,’ thought Skye. ‘Screeching, always.’

“And if I don’t agree?”

“Your school to wither, your teachings to fail those taught!”

And that, thought Skye, was the heart of it—gods don’t really bargain at all. Give up teaching? Give up showing women the strength in their sword arm? She thought how always one girl stood fiercer, more ruthless than the rest, not afraid to summon the terrible carrion Lady by saying her real name three times.

The sun had set on Alba.

“I’ll make the bargain,” sighed Skye. “You’ll know her. In each generation taught on this land, one will go to you, your Ravenity.”

Nowadays the School has only one stone arch and a name, the Fortress of Shadows. They say a girl still finds herself there, sometimes. They say Joan of Arc came once, and Queen Elizabeth. They say many things, whatever.

February 17, 2009

Naginata and Jumble Sales

by Kat Beyer

"As for the whole question of women fightin’, Major, I told ‘em I wouldn’t have it in my regiment. Ridiculous bringin’ up the whole question in the first place. Take this new school on Skye—" said Captain Markby to Major Daneham.

"Old school, sir. Reopened after two thousand years, sir,” put in Lieutenant Jennings.

"Thank you, Jennings. I believe I was speaking to the Major?"

"Sorry, sir."

"No, do go on, Lieutenant. I hadn't heard that they had finally got funding," said Major Daneham.

"They didn't, sir."

"Beg pardon?"

"They didn't, sir. They raised it themselves."

"What, through jumble sales and coffee mornings?" joked the Major.

"Something like that, sir. Over fifteen hundred of them, in three years. They had bake sales, as well. Got rather famous for something called the Amazon Roll, actually."

"Good heavens. Organized bunch of—ladies, what?"

"Yes, sir. I believe they gave weapons demonstrations as well."

"Marksmanship, that sort of thing?"

"Yes, sir. And weapons of historical interest, such as the naginata, and the claymore, sir."

"Really?" said the Major, and wished he hadn't, because Lieutenant Jennings' eyes had lit up, and Major Daneham could tell he was about to start jabbering about weaponry. The Captain came to the rescue accidentally.

"Yes, yes, yes, but the point is, the point is!—I'm sure you'll call me an old-fashioned man, but whether you like the numbers or not, got to face ‘em. When some dashed starburst has done for the computers and you're out there in the field, face-to-face with the enemy and half your armor blown off, give me a man's superior strength any day. Women, bless ‘em, well—damme it, I'm a traditionalist. ‘Her Place is in Space’ and all that. I mean to say, when I want a colony on Mars, nobody better for it than a lady! Taught my own daughter how to shoot so she could go to the Moon and serve in the police, didn't I? And as for rocket design—! But when some dashed chap is telling me I can’t have Australia back, give me a regiment of men, thank you very much."

Major Daneham noticed with relief that it was five o'clock and high time for him to pick up his wife from tae kwon do. He walked the Lieutenant out with the coffee cups, saying, "Can't change old habits all in one go, you know."