Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Anti-aging stuff.

Sure, the drink does taste a wee bit bland.

But then you get to be "Young Forever", or so the label proudly claims.

And the very fact that you are drunk improves your personality tremendously.


Monday, May 29, 2006


No free weekend

I didn’t have time to see any movies during the weekend.

So if you are expecting a movie review from me today, you’ll be disappointed. Not that my movie reviews are any good, but at least they give you a different perspective on the banality of existence. People who have accidentally read my movie reviews reported that they underwent a life-altering experience. And they were never quite the same after that. Like that’s my fault, issit?

Actually, I badly wanted to see the ““X-men: The Last Stand”.

But my time was taken up by my weekend role in “X-rated Man: The Lust Stand”.

Just so you know. Not that you’ll be interested in that sorta thing.

Gee, I did not realize that I passed my 750th post last week. That’s like three quarters of a thousand posts. I feel old. The average blogger puts out about a hundred posts and then quit, and here I am, after 750 posts and still blogging without any sense of embarrassment. Viewtru, thou art shameless. I reckon that I have still one more good year to go before I would want to move on to something else.

I need to start thinking about making serious money.

They say that money is like sex; the less you have of it, the more you want it.

And the more you have of it, also the more you want it.

There's a subtle difference between the two.

If you're having money and thinking about sex, you're horny but normal.

If you're having sex and thinking about money, you're a gigolo.


Friday, May 26, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – The story of White Hair

Bowing low before her parents’ graves, Xiang Xiang asked for forgiveness. It had been two days since the funeral, and she had not eaten a thing. She was hungry. None of the neighbours had gone to the burnt down house to offer her food. She understood the situation. Many girls in the neighbourhood did not often get enough to eat. If parents could not even feed their own daughters sufficiently, how could they spare food to feed her, an orphan girl? She could not expect charity from her neighbours.

She looked at the graves around her. The family was gone. The only other kin left living was her eldest brother Yiji in prison.

“If eldest brother Yiji were here, he’ll know what to do,” she sobbed. “But they say that prisoners in Li Khor prison would never be freed.”

Perhaps she could take her own life and join her family. But if she did, who would look after the graves? The hunger in her stomach was getting too insistent to ignore. However, she would not beg from her neighbours.

Picking herself up, she walked out of the gate and headed towards the town. She did not know what she intended to do but it was better than staying put. Maybe she could obtain some food in town.

An hour later, she stood at a corner of a busy intersection. Holding out her hand, she tried begging for food. An old beggar saw her and chased her away with a stick.

“This is my spot!” he shouted angrily.

She was devastated. Her first attempt at begging had been a disaster. Passing by a vendor of steamed dumplings, she paused to take in the aromatic smell. How often in the past, her mother had stopped to buy her a dumpling to eat. It seemed like a long time ago.

She wanted a dumpling. Maybe two. But she had no money. She would have to steal. She wondered if she could grab a couple of dumplings and run away without getting caught. As she was pondering her move, two young boys passed by the cart of steamed dumplings. In a flash, they grabbed some dumplings and ran swiftly up the road. The vendor was enraged at the daylight robbery gave chase immediately, leaving his cart unattended.

Seizing the opportunity, Xiang Xiang grabbed two dumplings from the cart and ran in the opposite direction. She sneaked down a side alley, ran behind some houses and then stopped when she thought it was safe. Quickly, in her hungered state, she wolfed down a dumpling as quickly as she could.

"If you eat that fast, you will choke," said a voice nearby.

She looked up. It was a boy holding a basket. He was probably three years older than her. She stared at him.

“You are an opportunist,” he continued. “Stealing the dumplings when the chance presented itself.”

“What’s that to do with you,” she asked.

“Those two young boys who ran off with the dumplings were my gang members. They created a diversion so that I can grab these,” he replied. He showed her the basket, which was half filled with dumplings. “That vendor must be an amateur. Hahahaha!”

Xiang Xiang was about to bite into her second dumpling when the boy shouted, “Stop! That dumpling belongs to this basket.”

“What?” asked an indignant Xiang Xiang. “This is mine and I’m hungry!”

“You would not have got it if not for us,” replied the boy. “You have to share the loot.”

The girl thought for a moment. He was right. She might not have stolen the dumplings successfully if she had been on her own.

“What’s in it for me if I share?” she asked.

“You get to be part of our gang,” he replied. “You will not be able to survive out here alone without help and support.”

Again, he was right, she thought. Reluctantly, she put her second dumpling into the basket.

“Do you have a name,” he asked her.

“My name is Xiang Xiang,” she replied. “I’m an orphan.”

“Xiang Xiang? That is a dopey name. My name is Quickfingers.”

“Honoured to meet you, Mr Quickfingers,” she said.

“Ahhhh….. a girl of some manners,” he remarked. “But if you want to run with our gang, you’ll need a name that’s not so refined. Tell you what, I’ll change your name to Froggy.”

“All right,” she replied. Froggy sounded fine.

Quickfingers led her to his hideout and introduced her to the gang leader, a man called One Eye, because he had only one eye.

“This girl helped me stole the dumplings. She is fast on her feet,” said Quickfingers. “We can use her.”

One Eye looked at her. He was a master thief, but age had caught up with him and he was not as agile as he used to be. Thus he had to depend on the younger pickpockets to do his stealing for him. For that reason, he recruited young street kids into his gang and trained them. He looked over Xiang Xiang critically. A girl could be useful in distracting potential victims. She was young, and therefore easy to train.

“Okay,” he said. “We’ll take you in. The rule is that whatever you steal, you bring it back for me to keep. If you try to keep any loot for yourself, I’ll break your hands and then expel you from the gang. But if you learn your skills well, you can become a good pickpocket and you’ll never go hungry again for the rest of your life. Understand?”

She nodded and said, “Thank you. I will learn all I can. I am young, so my learning may be slow. Please be patient with me.”

“Every gang member here is young, but everyone is trainable,” declared the one-eyed man. “Children learn fast with the right training methods. In fact, I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.....”

“Sir?” asked Xiang Xiang in bewilderment.

“Your training starts today,” he snapped.

That morning, Xiang Xiang became Froggy the pickpocket.

+ + + + + +

Wen Yiji moved his body slowly. He had recovered slightly and the queasy feeling was not as strong as before. He tried to get up.

“I suggest that you lie down,” said White Hair. “Whoever tried to poison us may attempt again. If he thinks that you are already on the verge of dying, he may hold off further attempts. It’s best that you pretend to be half-dead.”

“Maybe the food was unclean,” said Yiji.

“No, it was a deliberate attempt,” said the old man. “While you were unconscious with poisoning, the jailor who usually brings the food turned up with our normal rations. He was surprised to find out that somebody had brought us the food already. That means that somebody deliberately prepared two platters of poisoned food and gave them to us before we received our scheduled food.”


“Maybe they just wanted to poison me, but they are not sure from which platter I will eat, so they poisoned both platters to be sure,” said White Hair.

“Maybe,” said Yiji, “or maybe it was me they were after. How long have you been imprisoned here?”

“About forty years.”

“Judging from the chains on your hands and feet, the prison authorities must really be afraid of you. If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of kungfu do you use?”

“I use the Dark Fire Iron Palm.”

“The Dark Fire Iron Palm? Isn’t that supposed to be a myth about some diabolical martial art?”

“It is not a myth. And definitely not diabolical. It’s just that only very few of us know it and we don’t teach it to just anybody. It is so powerful that I once fell a tiny house with a single palm blast.”

“With tremendous power like that, you’ll be invulnerable and need not fear anybody.”

“That is not true. No matter how powerful you are, as long as your loved ones are under threat, you will become vulnerable. The obvious answer is not to love anything.”

“What a miserable life that is, not to love anything. One might as well not live.”

“Yet if you love, you become vulnerable. All your enemies have to do is to make a move on your loved ones and you will soon be begging for mercy. Even the strongest fighter will turn into the meekest puppet.”

“That is true. There must be a solution to this.”

“Of course there is, young man. One must be outwardly weak, so as not to attract undue attention, yet secretly strong enough to smash one’s enemies.”

“But every pugilist yearns for the respect of others. No one will want to be secretly strong when there is so much more respect and face to be gained for being publicly known as a powerful fighter. What is the use of having great power if no one knows about it?”

“A power in secret is much more potent than a power that is publicly known. The powerful attract powerful enemies. It is when your enemies underestimate you that you can hope to defeat them.”

Wen Yiji pondered over this for a while and then asked, “If you do not mind my asking, with the power of your Dark Fire Iron Palm, you should have been able to evade capture easily. How did you get thrown into prison? And what was the nature of your crime? Your accent is not of here. From which province did you come from? And why were you taken to a prison in the Imperial capital?”

“So many questions,” remarked White Hair. "Let me tell you my story from the beginning. I was originally from the seaside town of Shantou in the Guangdong province. More than forty years ago, I was living happily with my mistress in Shantou in a house along a beautiful beach. It was a peaceful life. All we do is make love, walk along the beach, make love, swim in the sea, make love, come back to the house, make love.....”

“Mistress?" Wen Yiji interrupted him. "You were not officially married?”

“Well, no. She was married to someone else. Her husband owed some people a big gambling debt, so he sold her to me. Well not exactly. I paid a sum of money for the usage of her for three years with an understanding that at the end of three years, if I was happy with her, I could pay another sum to keep her for good. It was like a short-term lease with an option-to-buy arrangement.”

“How is this arrangement better than the normal hire-purchase agreement?”

“With a hire-purchase agreement, the woman would be mine as soon as I made the first payment. With leasing, the woman was still his wife even while I was paying. The advantage was that in case I did not enjoy his wife, I did not have to purchase her later. Obviously you do not know much about modern financial instruments.”

Yiji was embarrassed to find out that he did not know much about modern financial instruments, so he said abashedly, “I’m sorry. Please carry on.”

“Well, one day while my mistress and I were at the market buying cabbage to boil soup when a stupid humsap moron grabbed her ass. I bashed him up with a salted fish. He wasn’t hurt much, but he went off and returned with a group of men later. They attacked me. I bashed them all up.”

“That was good.”

“No, that was bad. It turned out that the man was the son of a visiting magistrate. The son learned where I lived and sent some of the magistrate’s goons at night to my house to attack me. In the dark, I killed a lot of them, but the son managed to escape. The magistrate was livid. In the morning, he and his son had my house surrounded by soldiers. But they were no match for my Dark Fire Iron Palm. When the battle was over, most of his soldiers were dead and the magistrate had to flee for his life. His son was not so lucky. I captured him and cut off his left ball and sawed off one leg. He kept screaming throughout the day.”

“That must have been terrible!”

“Oh yes it was! I could not make love to my mistress with all that noise going on. And then he died before I could remove the other ball. Yau mou gau chor ah? Unfortunately for me, a prince of the Imperial family was also in the province at that time. The magistrate reported the matter to him and the prince sent a team of high hands to deal with me.”

“What happened then?”

“I smashed their skulls in. You should have seen them after I worked their heads. They looked so funny and flattened when they died. But one of them managed to escape to inform the prince. A prince would have resources. I was afraid, not for me, but for my mistress. I knew that it was not safe anymore at Shantou. So I fled with my mistress to Fujian Province. But one day, the magistrate, the prince and his soldiers caught up with us. In the battle that followed, I killed the prince and soldiers. However, to my horror, my mistress died under a hail of arrows. I was enraged with her death. I caught hold of the magistrate alive, and then carefully, I poured oil to one half of his body and set him on fire. You should have seen the unburned half trying to put out the fire on the burning half. He took a long time to die. I watched him suffer painfully till the end.”

Yiji took a moment to digest this. The old man’s viciousness could be explained by the diabolical nature of the Dark Fire Iron Palm. The wrong martial art could affect a man’s character. Or maybe it was the presence of the Poison Field Inner energy. That was something Yiji had to watch out for. He was a righteous upright man and wished to die righteous. Looking warily at the old man, Yiji remarked, “You can be very brutal.”

“Oh, thank you!” replied the old man. “I buried my mistress at a suitable spot. But by killing a prince, I had attracted the attention of the former Emperor, who dispatched a team of kungfu masters to capture me. They managed to locate me and secretly dropped a tasteless odorless poison into my wine. When I drank it, I knew I was poisoned. But before I had time to expel the poison from my body, I was attacked. I had to fight using only one third of my strength so that the poison could not spread throughout my body. At one third strength, I was not a match for my enemies. Thus, the kungfu masters managed to capture me. They locked me in these specially made chains, forged by the legendary Iron Master of the Northern Plains. Later, I managed to expel the poison, and I was able to use my maximum strength again. But I was still not able to break through these tough chains.”

“Why did the Emperor not execute you?”

“He was interested in the martial arts but could not fight. So he wanted me to teach him the Dark Fire Iron Palm. I laughed in his fat face. He kept me here while he figured out how to make me teach him. Then he passed away.”

“And so you were forgotten after his death!”

“I guess so.”

“What about your family. Surely they did not forget you?”

“I did not have a family. There was an older brother who had passed away earlier. He had a disciple. When my brother died, I took his disciple under my wing, intending to train him in the Dark Fire Iron Palm. He was not a natural and his training took longer than expected. He managed to reach Level 7 in the year that I was captured. The highest level was Level 8. But Level 8 exerts a most brutal energy and one should not attempt this if one is not ready. The pugilist has to remain at Level 7 for one full year before attempting Level 8. Otherwise, he will ‘run fire enter demon’ and become crazy. My disciple bribed the jailors of this prison and visited me shortly after I was locked up here. I took the opportunity to impart the knowledge of Level 8 to him in this cell. Since he had just reached Level 7 in that year, I warned him not to practice Level 8 until one full year had passed. But I guess he did not listen to my advice. Impatient fool!”

“What happened then?”

“He practiced Level 8 too early and very soon he ‘run fire enter demon’. He became a crazy maniac, hunting down his enemies and cooking them for pleasure.”

“That must have been a great disappointment to you.”

“Not exactly. He hunted down those kungfu masters who had captured me, roasted and ate them one by one. For years he terrorized the Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces. He became known as the Shantou Devil Ngai Chung. I kept abreast with the news from outside. New prisoners who entered this prison would tell me stories about how the notorious Shantou Devil cooked his enemies. Every kungfu clan was afraid of him. The Wu Tang Clan even sent a team of swordsmen against him.”

“Then what happened?”

“The Shantou Devil had a very big supper.”


“Then some Shaolin masters went to fight with him.”


“He had dessert.”


“Then finally all the clans wised up, pooled their resources together and sent their best martial artists to fight him. The Shantou Devil had to flee. About thirty years ago, he disappeared, and no one has heard of him ever since.”

“And so, the Dark Fire Iron Palm disappeared from the landscape and became a myth. If you had not taught your disciple Level 8, he might have been able to lead a normal life.”

“True. It does appear that all of us who learned the Dark Fire Iron Palm did not have a good ending,” remarked the old man. Then he kept quiet.

For days, both men kept up the pretense that they were dying, lying on the floor half-curled up, and there were no further poison attempts in the food.

More than twenty days later, Warden Sai visited the cell and shouted merrily, “Fantastic news! Guess what I just heard, Wen Yiji. Your family’s house was burnt down during the Mid Autumn Festival and everybody perished! Your father died! Your mother died! Your brothers died! Your sisters died! The horse died! Everybody died! There were no survivors! Muahahahahahah!”

Wen Yiji listened in shocked horror.

His body suddenly turned cold and he could not breathe normally. The cell appeared to spin drunkenly around him.

He did not hear White Hair shouting, “Think of the goats! Think of the goats!”


Thursday, May 25, 2006


American Idol Final - Season Five

So, Taylor Hicks won American Idol Season 5. He performed better than Katherine Mcphee in the finale. Actually, he’s more an entertainer than a singer. Close your eyes when you hear him sing and you will know what I mean.

Of the previous idols, only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have made it big. Fantasia and Reuben just did not have the same level of success. I think Taylor would fall in the same group. Chris Daughtry’s voice is unique and it will not surprise me if his records sell really well. The other Kelly, the bimbo one called Pickle, will probably end up working in B-grade movies with expressionless actors like Steven Siegal.

Oh, did you notice that Elliot Yamin, with his pointy ears, looked like a leprechaun in some of the picture books? Who knows, he may get the part of Mr Spock in some Star Trek remake.

Update on 26th May:

Having watched the Finale on TV, I must say that I was somewhat disappointed with the performances of Meatloaf and Toni Braxton performing on American Idol. Meatloaf sang like Chopped Meat on medication. And Toni Braxton sounded like she was a two bit pole dancer on some kind of illicit high while mumbling her words.. Even Taylor Hicks looked embarassed for her. Dionne Warwick was definitely past her prime, but she could still deliver with grace.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Oxygen breathers

Do you know that mental disorders afflict 21% of Malaysians? This bit of news is just depressing. But not depressing enough to prevent me from engaging in a little scientific analysis.

So, 21% of you people are somewhat crazy.

From our school science texts, we know that the 21% of the atmosphere is composed of oxygen.


I think not.

It does not take much analytical effort to arrive at the logical conclusion that those souls who breathe in oxygen will wind up as loony cases.

I’m sane. And that's because I breathe helium.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Poison Field Inner Energy

Morning came.

Wen Xiang Xiang did not know how she made it through the night. She had crouched behind the garden wall the night before, numbed with shock. She woke up to find herself on the cold hard ground.

In the pale light of dawn, she looked at her house. What was once her family home had become a heap of charred rubble, with some parts still smoldering. The neighbours had gone back to their houses to sleep. There was nothing that they could save, except the old mare and the tiny stable behind the house. She would have to go through the charred remains of the bodies to identify them before they could be buried. She sobbed and wished that the fire had taken her along. The spirits of her family had taken another journey and she had been left behind.

“Where are you?” she cried. “Answer me, where are you?”

If only she had not sneaked out at night. She might have spotted the fire and alerted them.

If only.

She felt ridden with guilt and hated herself.

The Cheng brothers came with their parents in the early morning to take a look.

“There are a lot of dead bodies here. Even if you sell yourself, you will not be able to buy enough coffins for all of them,” said the father. “I suggest that you just wrap them in straw mats and then bury them in the ground here. You will need money to engage funeral workers to pull out the burnt corpses and a priest to perform funeral rites for them. If not, they may turn into fiery ghosts that wander aimlessly on earth without peace. It’s best to do it today. I think you will have to sell the horse to pay for the expenses.”

Xiang Xiang nodded in agreement and then requested the elder Cheng to help sell the horse quickly and make the funeral arrangements.

The hired funeral workers worked quickly. Nobody liked to be around charred bodies for too long. An old worker handed Xiang Xiang an unrecognizable piece of metal and said, “This was found on your father’s body. He must have been wearing it, but it did not melt in the blaze. It is made of iron and I don’t think it is valuable. Do you wish us to bury it with him or do you wish to keep it?”

It was a piece of shapeless iron that her father often wore around his neck. She knew that it was of no value, but decided to keep it as a memory to her father.

“Thank you,” she said. “I wish to keep it.”

The bodies were buried in the ground with wooden pillars to mark each grave. The wooden pillars served as headstones and the name of each dead person was carved on the wood. The hired priest saw that the only survivor was a young girl who did not know anything much, so he shamelessly cut short his normal ceremony in order to save time and effort.

People on the street came to pay their last respects to the dead. Some visited out of plain nosiness. In her moment of bereavement, the ten-year old girl overheard the neighbours making snide comments behind her back.

“Holding a funeral at Mid Autumn Festival......choi!”

“Only one daughter survived. You know arh, she sneaked out at night without telling anybody! So bold!”

“Where got ten-year old girls do something like this one? If her parents were alive, they have to properly properly thrash her!”

“Young girls nowadays got no respect for our traditions . Go out alone at night surrounded by boys. Who knows what they got up too!”

“We wait nine months then we know lor!”

Choi......she only ten years old!”

Aiyahhh......can or cannot happen, who can say one?”

Xiang Xiang tried to shut out the comments from her mind. When the funeral rites were over, she went into the tiny stable and lay down on the hay. Mercifully, the stable was not burnt and it afforded her some shelter. She had no blanket, so she covered herself with some hay. Then she cried herself to sleep.

+ + + + + +

Wen Yiji was sitting quietly when he heard the food being brought to his cell. It was not brought by Ah Keong but by another jailor.

“The food is early today,” he thought. “And where is Ah Keong?”

As usual, he took one platter of food and placed it in front of White Hair. He then took the other platter to his corner of the cell and started to eat. The food was better this time. He ate slowly, savoring his food, and soon the platter was empty. Old White Hair was deep in meditation and had still not touch the food yet.

Suddenly, Wen Yiji felt a burning sensation in his stomach. The sensation spread and he felt quite sick.

“Don’t touch your food!” he called out to White Hair.

“What’s the matter?” asked White Hair, opening his eyes.

Yiji could not answer except make gasping noises.

“You’ve been poisoned,” said White Hair. “Come over here.”

Yiji remained as he was, unable to move.

“If you wish to live, you must come to me,” said the old man.

With a supreme effort, Yiji crawled towards the old man while trying to overcome the pain in his body. Each step was tremendous effort and soon he lost all consciousness.

+ + + + + +

The next day, he woke up. The pain in his body was gone, but he still felt queasy. He sat up and stared around him blankly.

“Ahhh…..you are up,” the voice of White Hair floated to him.

“I’m not dead?” the younger man asked.

“No,” replied White Hair. “But you slept for one day. I saved your miserable life.”

“Thank you,” said Yiji weakly. “I seem to remember eating food and feeling pain. What happened?”

“You were severely poisoned and your face turned greenish blue. Luckily, you managed to crawl near enough for me to reach you. While you were unconscious, I imparted to you the Poison Field Inner Stance to save your life.”

“The Poison Field Inner Stance?”

“Yes. The Poison Field Inner Stance uses a poisonous energy to combat the poison. That way, the ingested poison in the body is prevented from spreading until you can clear it from your system by vomiting or by peeing it out.”

“You put poisonous energy in my body?”

“Of course. We call it ‘using poison to fight poison’. It’s like using fire to fight fire.”

“Oh…..I’ve never heard of fighting fire with fire. I usually use water.”

“I’m just telling you how it works!”

“I’m sorry. I’m forgetting my manners. Thank you for saving my life. Please accept three kowtows from me.”

Wen Yiji attempted to give three kowtows to the old man, but collapsed on the floor due to the effort. Somehow, he struggled and managed to complete the three kowtows.

“Don’t try to move around too much yet,” advised the old man. “You are still very weak. The Poison Field Inner Stance controls the movement of the poison only to a certain extent. It works only if you do not use more than one third of your maximum strength. If you do, the poison will be uncontrollable and then it will spread throughout the whole body. Always remember that if you are ever poisoned again in the future.”

“I think I exerted more than one third of my strength just now when I kowtowed to you,”

“Don’t worry. You urinated in your pants while you were sleeping, so the poison should have been already expelled out of your body by now. But you stink. More than usual.”

“I am most grateful to you, sir. You must be a kungfu ‘high hand’ to be able to impart the Poison Field Inner Stance to me. That will explain why you are bound by such thick iron chains. I should have known that I am in the presence of a great kungfu master. Please forgive me for having eyes that did not know the Tai Mountain.”

“Your battle is not yet over,” remarked White Hair. “For the next twenty-eight days, you will have to take great care with your own emotions. The poison may be gone, but there is still the Poison Field Inner energy to deal with. This poisonous energy is new to your body and it will attempt to exert control and alter your personality. If you can maintain emotional stability for one cycle of the moon, your personality will be unchanged.”

“It does not matter if my personality is altered.”

“It does matter. If you allow the poisonous energy to control you, you will lose your personality and end up with something else.”

“What is that something else?”


Wen Yiji stared blankly. He had never heard of poisonality.

“What is the difference between personality and poisonality?” he asked.

“With personality, if you walk to a stream where ten naked maidens are bathing, nine of them will willingly spread their legs wide open for you,” replied White Hair.

“And with poisonality?” asked Yiji.

“With poisonality, nine of them will want to bash you up,” replied the old man.

“All is not lost. There is still the tenth maiden who may be willing to spread her legs for me,” remarked Yiji.

The old man stared hard at him and said gravely, “The tenth maiden will be thinking how to shove a nine-ring broadsword up your ass canal.”

“Ohhh......in that case, I do not want poisonality,” declared Wen Yiji. “How do I prevent it?”

“You have to think happy thoughts for these twenty-eight days. What is the happiest memory that you have?”

“When I was young, my father once took me to the Shih Zhang Valley. I remember that the sun was bright, the food was good, the air smelt sweet and I saw a lot of goats jumping around. That was the happiest memory of my life.”

“Ummmh......that’s it,” declared White Hair. “If you feel sad, angry or depressed during this period, you have to shift your mind to the happy memory and think of the jumping goats.”

“I wonder who would want to poison us,” said Yiji. The thought of it made him angry. “If I ever get hold of the culprit, I’ll strip his skin from his body and dip him in boiling candle wax. Then I will smash his skull to pieces. Grrrrrrrr. After that I’ll…….”

“Stop!” warned White Hair. “Watch it! The Poison Field Inner Stance is trying to warp your personality. Don’t think about whoever is trying to poison us. You have to think happy thoughts. Quickly, shift your mind to the jumping goats!”

Wen Yiji thought of the goats and the happy times he had a long time ago. His anger gradually subsided.

A short while later, he declared, “Damn! I’m hungry.”

The old man glared at him and said, “Shut up. Just concentrate on the goats.”

Next: The story of White Hair


Monday, May 22, 2006


Printing currency

You know, the Kelantan State Government usually has strange ideas because they get almost all their best ideas from all their peanut eating friends. Occasionally, when lightning strikes twice in the same bald spot, they do come up with an idea so weird that it just might have merit. Their latest one on issuing their own currency may sound totally bizarre but after thinking over it for about two seconds, I offered my qualified support.

Everybody should be allowed to print their own currency. Heck, people have been doing that for years. It’s no big deal. Except that we keep calling these people rude names, like "counterfeiters".

That’s the problem. People should show a little more creativity in printing currencies using their own design instead of merely copying the national design and infringing on intellectual property. And causing the demise of the one-ringgit coin. But that’s another story.

If I’m given a permit to print my own currency, I won’t base it on the gold standard. Or silver. Nah…..I’ll base it on something way cooler. Like plutonium. It’s the sort of stuff that has an explosive growth in the future. Plutonium comes from the planet Pluto, but you can get bits and pieces here on earth. Don’t ask me how they got here from Pluto, because I would have to make up a long story to tell you that.

Let’s not get side-tracked here. Back to important matters.

My currency will bear my signature. Sort of like I’m the Governor of the Treasury. And all the serial numbers will contain only auspicious numbers. Like WNKER11967. Or HEAD696969.

And when I meet foreign tourists, I’ll just humbly introduce myself:
“Hi, I’m Viewtru, and I print my own currency. You’re staying at the Hilton? Good. I’ll buy it at the next printing.”

Great, ain’t it?

You know, it’ll be grand to be known as some hoity-toity bigshot for a change rather than just a failed social commentary blogger. I’m all for it.

That’s it, I‘m getting back to finishing Chapter 3 of the assassin story after this.


Friday, May 19, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin – Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Mid Autumn blaze

Several days had passed since the first arrow attack. Warden Sai was in a foul mood. As long as Wen Yiji and his men were jailed in his prison, the warden would have to be careful. The Imperial guards patrol the city and each time the warden ventured out, he could feel their eyes boring a hole in his back. At night, arrows would fly near his head if he tried to step out of his prison complex. One night, if he was not careful, an arrow might just find its way into his neck.

But he had got the message. If Wen Yiji and his men were harmed, he might not be safe. It was only when he had allowed the Imperial guards to visit the nine men that the arrow attacks stopped. It vexed him to know that he, a prison warden of mean repute, was so vulnerable. However, he was not a prison warden for all those years without a few tricks up his sleeve.

“It is time that those nine men were split up,” he muttered to himself. “They think they may be freed one day, but no prisoner has ever left this facility alive. Just to make it even more memorable for Wen Yiji, I will make sure that he has an interesting cellmate. He will not last more than a few months in here! Hahahaha!”

Laughing mirthlessly to himself, Warden Sai went down to the cells and nonchalantly informed the nine men that their prison cell was in need of some repairing and therefore he would have to shift the prisoners elsewhere. The three Chin brothers and one other man were taken to another cell in the current wing of the building. Wen Yiji was moved out to share a different cell with an unfamiliar old prisoner in the same wing as the Chin brothers. The remaining four prisoners were shifted to a cell in another wing.

As Ah Keong led Wen Yiji to his new cell, he whispered, “Master Wen, please be very careful in your new cell.”

“Why?” whispered back Wen Yiji.

“Prisoners do not live very long in that particular cell. At most they last about three months. One day they are fine. The next morning, they are unable to wake up. They die in their sleep at night,” answered Ah Keong. “There is a white haired old man in the cell chained to the wall. He has been there for maybe forty years. That one can’t seem to die.”

“Why is he chained to the wall?” asked Wen Yiji.

“I don’t know,” said Ah Keong. None of us have worked here long enough to know. He was jailed during the previous Emperor’s reign and I think everybody has forgotten why he was sent here. There is a very old sign outside his cell that says that the chains are not to be removed from him.”

“He can’t go very far in chains.”

“He can’t even reach his food in his chains. It will be your task to take his food from the food hole and hand it to him.”

Wen Yiji nodded. Prisoners in the facility were handed their food through a small hole in the door which they refer to as the “food hole”. Sometimes, when the jailors were nasty, they would only put three platters of food through the food hole for a cell of five men. Often there were fights over the food.

Ah Keong unlocked the last cell at the end of the corridor. Yiji peered into the semidarkness and saw an old man with white hair and beard sitting cross-legged on the floor. Thick heavy chains fastened his hands to anchor points on the wall. The legs were shackled in chains as well. Yiji was surprised to see the size of the iron chains. They were strong enough to hold back a herd of buffaloes.

“This is your new cellmate,” said Ah Keong. Then he locked the door of the cell and left Wen Yiji facing the white haired man.

The younger man Yiji politely greeted, “Good morning.”

Old White Hair ignored him, so Yiji walked to another corner of the cell and sat down. When the food came on two wooden platters, Yiji took a platter and left it at the old man’s feet. Then he went and ate from the other one. The old man moved and started eating. When he had finished, he threw his empty platter towards the door. This went on day after day, with both cellmates not saying a word to each other.

A month later, the rations were reduced. Ah Keong explained to Yiji that sometimes when the food supplies were slow in coming, the rations to the prisoners would be reduced.

As usual, Wen Yiji deposited a platter of food at Old White Hair’s feet.

“Why is my food so little? Have you been taking my food?” the old man asked.

It was the first time that Wen Yiji had heard his cellmate spoke.

“I have not been taking your food,” he replied. “But if you like, I will exchange my platter with yours.”

“Why don’t you give me your platter as well?” the old man asked.

Wen Yiji hesitated. The food was nothing great, but still, he would like to eat it. However, he was the younger man, and the old prisoner probably needed the food more than him.

“All right,” he said, “you can have my share.”

While the old man ate, Wen Yiji went hungry.

The following day, the rations were back to normal and the old man was silent again.

+ + + + + +

A year had gone by.

In the group of Yiji's comrades, two men from among the original nine prisoners had died. They had sustained some bad internal injuries when trying to defend the jade lions against the bandits. The two did not have time to seek proper treatment, and so, while in prison, they had died from a combination of their old injuries and malnourishment even before one year was up. Wen Yiji did not see any of his former comrades but had heard the sad news from Ah Keong. He felt sad and depressed over the unfair fate of his men. Heaven must have been blind.

The visits from their friends in the Imperial Guards had dried up. Wen Yiji knew that they were already a forgotten lot. People have such short memories.

Warden Sai had Wen Yiji brought before him.

“You have been in here for one year. Are you willing to tell me now where your men hid the Emperor’s jade lions?” the warden asked. “Tell me, and I will try to get you your freedom!”

“Don’t you know how stupid you sound?” asked Wen Yiji in return. “I know that I am going to die in here. If there is a way that I can get my freedom, don’t you think that I will take it?”

“You were the deputy leader of the mission. You led your men into an ambush!” snarled the warden.

“I was the deputy to Chief Feng. He chose the route and I brought up the rear. If you want to know more about the route, why don’t you make your way to hell and ask Chief Feng?” smiled Wen Yiji politely.

“I offered you toasted wine, but you insist on punishment wine. Stupid pig!” cursed the warden. He had Wen Yiji whipped and beaten, and then dragged back into the cell. Maybe what the prisoner said was true and they had nothing to do with the missing jade lions. He cursed again.

Wen Yiji lay still on the cold cell floor, bleeding from the beating he had just received. Pain flooded his body and he tried to block it off mentally. It did not work; the pain was still persistently there.

There was a sound in the food hole. The day’s meal had arrived. Wen Yiji did not feel like eating. But Old White Hair needed to eat. With a supreme effort, he struggled to the food and painfully dragged a platter of food to the old man’s feet. Then he passed out.

He woke up. He did not know for how long he had slept, but it must have been long.

He coughed. A rasping cough. Red spittle flowed from his mouth. He was coughing out blood.

Looking around, he saw his own food still on a platter by the door. Slowly, he crawled towards it.

“I wouldn’t eat it if I were you,” the voice of the old man floated out to him. “The rats were feeding on it while you were asleep. You will die from disease if you touch it.”

The old man was right. It was the second time in prison that he had heard the old man speak.

“How long did I sleep?” he asked.

“About a day,” replied the old man. “Why were you beaten up like this?”

“The stupid warden wanted to know something about a crime that I did not commit,” said Wen Yiji. “He asked me the same stupid question last year. I did not know that it was possible to remain so stupid for so long.”

“Is he really very stupid?” asked the old man.

"Of course," Wen Yiji replied. “He is so stupid that he has become the definition for ‘stupid’. If he dies, the Emperor will have to remove the word ‘stupid’ from the language.”

There was silence in the cell. Then suddenly, the old man laughed. A creaky laugh that sounded like old hinges being moved. It was weird. The sound came out as a slow drawn-out cackle rather than outright laughter. Old White Hair laughed for a long time. Then all was quiet.

Three days later, the old man spoke again, “You are a strange man. You are definitely too righteous to belong here. What was the crime that you had committed that landed you in this prison?”

“My name is Wen Yiji. I was formerly an Imperial guard. We were protecting one of the Emperor’s consignment when we got robbed by bandits. The Emperor was angry with us and threw us in jail,” said the younger man.

“You risk life and limb fighting for your Emperor and this is how he repays you?”

“He is my Emperor.”

“Ahhh......the loyalty of a fool.”

“Please do not mock my loyalty.”

“You should not have come back to face punishment. It would have been wiser to run away while you still could.”

“It would have been dishonourable to run away.”

“Honour is not worth anything.”

“The sages say that if a man loses his wealth, he loses nothing. But if he loses his honour, he loses everything.”

“The sages have filled your head full with dog shit!”

“That may be so. But I choose to live my life with honour till the end.”

“A day will come when you will change your view of life,” declared White Hair.

“That day will never come,” declared Wen Yiji defiantly.

+ + + + + +

Wen Xiang Xiang was excited. It was the fourteenth night of the eighth month, and was the night before the Mid Autumn Festival. The streets were busy and brightly lit with lanterns. She wished her brother Yiji was out of prison so that the family could celebrate the occasion together. It had been a year since he was jailed and she missed him. The whole family missed him.

The second eldest in the family was twenty-one year old Yituo, who would be sitting for his Imperial Civil Service Exams later in the year. The third eldest was another male, eighteen year old Yifeng. After that came two sisters, and then Yisheng and Xiang Xiang. Yisheng was an eleven year old boy and just one year older than her. Among the siblings, she was the closest to Yisheng and they often sneaked out of the house together in the day. In fact, they did everything together.

For the past year, her mother had been teaching Yisheng how to handle the wooden pole, and Xiang Xiang had joined in the exercises. Sometimes, she would be asked to spar with Yisheng, but her hands were not as strong as her brother’s, so she often dropped the pole. That always earned her a scolding from her mother.

Tonight would be special. The Cheng brothers in the house down the road had promised to take her and her brother Yisheng to see the sights at night. They would have to sneak out. It would be the first time that they would be sneaking out at night, but then, there was a first time for everything.

At dinner time, Xiang Xiang whispered to Yisheng, “Don’t eat so much rice or else we will not be able to eat the sweets that the Yang brothers promised to get for us afterwards.”

“Don’t worry,” whispered Yisheng. “I can eat a lot now and still eat a lot afterwards!”

After dinner, there was radish cake for dessert. Each of the family members got two pieces. Yisheng ate his two pieces in a hurry but Xiang Xiang secretly kept her two pieces of radish cake in the room, intending to eat them later after her night out. When questioned by her father, she replied that she had already eaten the cakes. Then she and Yisheng went to the room and waited. They were the youngest children in the family and they shared the same bedroom.

Xiang Xiang heard the old maidservant, Luo Ma, bolt the front door. Then all was quiet.

“Time to move, Yisheng!” she whispered.

There was no answer.

“Faster lah, you pig!” she called.

Yisheng was fast asleep.

She tried to shake him awake, but it was of no use. He turned in his sleep and carried on sleeping like a baby. Xiang Xiang was faced with a dilemma. Should she sneak out alone without him? That would be a foolhardy thing to do for a ten-year old girl. But then, she had always been foolhardy. At least, that was what her father often said.

Making a quick decision, she opened the room window and crept out through it. She walked noiselessly to a tree in the garden, climbed it to reach the top of the garden wall, and then she jumped down to the other side. That was not so difficult. Then she made her way confidently to the house of the Cheng family where the four Cheng brothers were already waiting.

“Where’s your brother Yisheng?” asked one of the Cheng brothers.

“He’s not coming,” Xiang Xiang replied. “He’s sleeping like a pig.”

“Let’s not waste time then,” another brother said. “We should climb the small hill behind the next road. That will give us a good view of all the lantern processions along the road.”

“Alright,” said the eldest brother, “but we should get to Third Uncle’s house to collect the sweets. Then we can climb the hill and eat sweets while we watch.”

Xiang Xiang knew the hill. It was only as high as five floors and so it was not very high. But it afforded a good view of the entire neighbourhood.

She followed the boys to collect the sweets from the house of their third uncle two roads away and then they ascended the short hill. Sitting on the grass, they munched on sweets while they looked at the lantern processions meandering their way up and down the road.

Suddenly, one of the Cheng brothers asked, “Is that a house on fire?”

The rest stared at the direction that he was pointing at.

“Maybe it is just a lantern that caught fire,” said another brother. “Hahaha! Some careless idiot just lost a lantern!”

They stared for a while.

“The fire’s getting bigger,” said another Cheng brother. “It looks like ten lanterns are on fire.”

They stared more intently, and then the eldest Cheng brother shouted, “It is a house on fire, and it’s coming from the road where we live!”

Quickly, they made their way down the hill and ran to the road where they live. Screaming at the top of their lungs, the boys yelled “Fire! Fire!”

Xiang Xiang was shocked to discover that the house on fire was her own home. She ran to the gate and tried to open it, and then she realized that it was bolted from inside. She was too numbed to try to climb the wall or call out. The neighbors were alerted by the yelling of the boys and soon everybody got out to help.

Someone leapt over the wall and unbolted the gate from inside. Xiang Xiang ran through it to the house, only to be beaten back by the heat and smoke. She stood by helplessly as the neighbours tried to put out the flames. Buckets started to appear as the neighbours brought water from their houses to douse the fire. One of the men broke a flaming window, and through the broken window, Xiang Xiang saw her parents lying still on the bed even as the bed burned fiercely. She froze in shock as she saw the flames licked the two bodies through the smoke.

Then suddenly, she broke out of her shock and cried. Unthinkingly, she ran towards the flames but somebody grabbed her from behind to prevent her from attempting to get too near the fire.

She screamed.

She screamed and she screamed.

Next: The Poison Field Inner Energy


Thursday, May 18, 2006


Rabbits and theatre

I read a piece of online headlines about how the 'Last Male Puberty Rabbit Species Dies' and my first thought was that it was always good when puberty dies. The serious business of what males are really supposed to do happens only after puberty. Then I re-read the headlines and discovered that it actually read Last Male Purebred Rabbit Species Dies .

Nabeh.....how can rabbits not breed? Rabbits are rabbits. They breed without rhyme nor reason. They live to fuck, while other species fuck to live. Their numbers ought to multiply exponentially. Hey, how can that dumb pygmy rabbit go into extinction? Too damn lazy to fuck, I suppose. Shit! But I’ll blog about laziness another time.

Suanie blogged that she got a spam email from a local production theatre about some new production. Apparently, all the important bloggers got the spam email which requested them to inform their blog readers about this “must see” production.

But no, I did not receive the email.


They think I not important enough to spam, issit?


They think my readership not ‘atas’ enough to watch local theatre production issit?


They put their noses high high and see me no up, issit?


Sure, I may not have put up my email address in this blog, but if they had thought that I was important enough, they would have created an email account for me and spammed it.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Cook and the Assassin

Volume 1 – The Fire Within

Chapter 1 - Incarceration

“First, we were ambushed and many of our comrades were killed by the bandits. Our goods were hijacked, and now, we have to go to prison because we failed to protect the imperial shipment. Damn suay, lah!” muttered the men angrily. “If the shipment was so damn important, they should have sent more men to protect it! Why send only twenty of us?”

The men were Imperial Guards, tough, young and skillful fighters in the Palace Corps. They were specially selected by Chief Feng for the mission of escorting a pair of priceless jade lions in the south of the country to the capital. While journeying through the Fujian province, they were ambushed by five masked kungfu masters. The Imperial Guards recovered themselves and fought back, but Chief Feng was badly injured. The assistant to Chief Feng, a young man called Wen Yiji, shot two arrows into the body of the bandit chief, but the bandits managed to escape with their injured chief as well as the carriage containing the jade lions.

The assailants had prepared their groundwork well. Although Wen Yiji and the Imperial guards tried to pursue them, they were impeded by the numerous booby traps laid around the ambush area.

Just before he died of his injuries, Chief Feng had warned the men that if they returned to the capital without the priceless jade lions, there was a high possibility that they would be imprisoned by the Emperor for dereliction of duty. Yet if they run away, they would be suspected of having stolen the jade lions themselves. It was a wretched situation. Wen Yiji, being Chief Feng’s assistant, took charge of the remaining men and made the sad journey home. He had the unenviable task of cremating his fallen comrades and bringing the ashes back to their families. The men had nicknamed him “Arrow Eye” because of his uncanny ability with the bow. He was supposed to get married later that year after the mission, but the future looked bleak after the heist.

On the way back to the Imperial capital, Wen Yiji had passed through Fuzhou, and he had informed Governor Li of Fuzhou what had happened. Governor Li was a trusted old friend of the dead Chief Feng, and he vowed to search for the jade lions until they were found.

Of the twenty men who had gone on the mission, eight had died, five were seriously injured and only seven remained fighting fit. Among the twelve who journeyed back, two died from internal injuries along the route. Just before the ten remaining guards reached the capital, one of them vanished in the night, taking his belongings away with him. Wen Yiji did not blame the man who had disappeared. There was only punishment awaiting them in the capital.

At the capital, they were summoned before the Emperor. The ministers who were present poured scorn on the men, the way men of politics were wont to do. The Emperor was furious at the loss and sentenced the guards to prison indefinitely. Just before they were taken away, they were led to another smaller hall where General Shang, the commander of the Imperial guards, was waiting.

”General Shang. Please forgive us. We have done our best,” explained Wen Yiji. “Our group leader, Chief Feng, gave up his life in the fight. The five masked men who attacked us were not ordinary bandits but skilled kungfu masters.”

“I’m sure you did what you could,” said General Shang. “Lesser men would have run away, but all nine of you returned to face the consequences. The Emperor has decreed that you will serve your sentence in Li-Khor prison.”

The men stared at him. They could not believe the loss of honour. The Li-Khor prison was built to house the worst inhuman criminals of society, and it was a great dishonour to be incarcerated there. It was not a huge prison complex, but it was reputed to be the toughest of all prisons, managed by a cruel prison warden with his sadistic jailors. Those who had gone in there did not come out alive.

One of the wounded men gasped, “I know that I will not last very long and am not afraid to die. But to have our name associated with Li-Khor prison brings great shame to our families. General Shang, we have served you faithfully with our lives. We do not deserve the same dishonour as mass murderers. You could have pleaded for us.”

General Shang looked away, filled with shame that he could not protect his own men from the Emperor's wrath. They were selected Imperial Guards, not ordinary foot soldiers. Any one among could handle at least five different weapons skillfully. Yes, they were good men. Still, the Emperor’s royal edict could not be defied.

“I am sorry,” he said humbly. “When the appropriate time arrives, I will petition the Emperor to forgive you. Maybe you will get released.”

“If we survive the infamous Li-Khor prison!” muttered one of the prisoners.

The general gave an order to secure the hands of the mine men with chains. The prisoners were led out of the hall towards their new destination.

One of the Palace guards, a tall bearded man, escorting the prisoners whispered, “We are sorry to have to do this, brother Wen. We know you deserve better. The Li-Khor prison is for mad animals.”

Wen Yiji replied, “It is not your fault. I hope that none of you would ever be put in prison if you lose any shipment you are protecting in the future.”

“We are concerned,” said another guard. “What happened to the nine of you today can easily happen to us in the future. Is there anything we can do for you?”

“Yes, you can,” replied Wen Yiji. “We will get better treatment in prison if the jailors think that the Palace guards are interested in our welfare. You have to go to Li-Khor prison and demand to see us every now and then. The warden needs to know that the former Imperial guards are not to be sadistically treated like their other prisoners.”

“You are correct. It could be our turn to be imprisoned there one day if we are not careful,” said the tall bearded Imperial guard. “We are all brothers serving the same master. We need to look out for each other. Don’t worry. We will make sure that the prison warden behaves.”

“Thank you,” said Wen Yiji gratefully.

+ + + + + +

At the prison, the nine prisoners were herded into a prison cell. Their chains were then removed.

Wen Yiji noticed that one of the three Chin brothers in the group was whispering surreptitiously to a prison guard. When the guards had locked the prison cell and left, the eldest of the three Chin brothers, Chin Tua Kee said, “Don’t worry! One of the prison jailors is our distant cousin. He will look after us here and make sure we have enough rations to eat.”

Wen Yiji looked at Chin brothers. The eldest was Chin Tua Kee, the second was Chin Teong Kee and the youngest was Chin Jia Lat. They were in their twenties and he knew that their parents were dead. He did not know that they had a distant cousin.

“His name is Ah Keong,” said Chin Teong Kee. “Ah Keong will try to make our stay here as bearable as possible. But he does not want the other jailors to know that we are related. Otherwise he may get transferred to the other wing.”

“All right,” said Wen Yiji. “We will keep this to ourselves. We may need to use Ah Keong to bring us news from outside.”

The men nodded agreement.

+ + + + + +

Wen Xiang Xiang sobbed together with her elder sisters when they discussed the fate that had befallen their eldest brother Yiji. She was the youngest of seven siblings in the family. Wen Yiji was twenty-three years old and due to be married later in the year. On hearing that Wen Yiji was in Li-Khor prison, the fiancee’s family had promptly called off the marriage and subsequently engaged her to another family.

The prison warden had refused all family visits to her brother. However, he was willing to bend the rules for a hefty bribe, but the asking price was too high for their family to afford. Her second brother would be sitting for the Imperial Civil Service Exams in the following year and the family finances were marshaled towards this goal. There was no money left for bribes.

Xiang Xiang sobbed again. Her eldest brother Wen Yiji was not an ordinary man. He was good looking, well-built, and was a gifted archer. She personally thought that Yiji was too upright, too stuffy and a most boring character. But everyone else thought well of him. Everybody said that he had a golden future ahead. Everybody said so! Was everybody wrong? Even Chief Feng had picked her brother among hundreds of Imperial guards to be his assistant.

Wiping her eyes, she noticed that her mother was not crying, and so she decided to stop her sobbing. Strange, but she had never seen her mother cry.

+ + + + + +

Warden Sai had been in charge of the Li-Khor prison for the past ten years. He did not like his post and considered it a dead end job. In some prisons, rich people would be willing to pay good bribes just for the opportunity to visit relatives in prison. But not at Li-Khor. The country’s worst criminals were sent to Li-Khor to await execution and they were often shunned and disowned by their living kin. Opportunities to collect bribes were few and far between. It was frustrating, and Warden Sai often took out his frustrations on the prisoners.

Wen Yiji was brought before Warden Sai for questioning.

“I hear that you have fallen foul of the Emperor’s good graces because of a crime you and your men committed. So sad!”

The prisoner stared straight at the warden, unflinching and unperturbed by the line of questioning.

“I and my men did not commit any crime. We are here only because we have failed in our duty to the Emperor,” he said.

“Yes, yes, I believe in your words,” sneered the prison warden disbelievingly. “I have instructions to keep all of you here till you die. You were Imperial guards specially handpicked for the mission to guard the Emperor’s goods. There were twenty of you when your consignment was attacked by five bandits. Just five! I find it strange that you did not kill a single bandit when they attacked. You know what I think? I think that you were in cahoots with the bandits!”

“What?” roared Wen Yiji.

“Either that or there were no bandits,” continued the warden. “You killed off Chief Feng and some of his men. The remaining ones then improperly appropriated the Emperor’s goods and hid them somewhere else. You deserve to hang for what you did!”

Warden Sai was feeling pleased with him own theory. This could be the break he was looking for to improve his career.

“You are talking rubbish. Ta ma de. Be careful with what you say. If you fart in the wind, it will only blow the stink back to you,” said Wen Yiji.

“Tell me where you hid the Emperor’s valuables and I will make sure that your stay here is comfortable!”

“For the last time,” said the prisoner in disgust, “I am telling you that we did not commit any wrongdoing.”

“Very well,” said the prison warden in anger. “Have it your own way, you stupid dog. Most prisoners don’t last more than five years in this hellhole. Soon you will be like the rest of the prisoners; dying rats waiting to be fed on by snakes.”

“You may want to make sure that my men and I are comfortable,” said the Wen Yiji. “Perhaps one day, the Emperor may free us. When that day comes, you will wish that you had not made an enemy out of us.”

“You have fallen into my hands and I can treat you as I so wish,” sneered the warden. “Can the monkey ever escape from the palm of the Buddha?”

One by one, all the nine prisoners were interrogated by the warden. However, he was unable to make them say that they had misappropriated the Emperor’s jade lions. Finally, in anger, he had them all flogged mercilessly. Then, the jailors dragged their bleeding bodies back to the cell.

That evening, the Chin brothers sent a message through their jailor cousin Ah Keong to one of the Imperial guards in the city.

The next morning, the prison warden woke up to find fifty Imperial guards outside the prison gates demanding to see Wen Yiji and his men.

Warden Sai addressed the Imperial guards and shouted, “This is not a hotel or a whorehouse, where you can go in and visit whoever you like!”

“We only want to make sure that they have not been mistreated,” one of the Imperial guards shouted back.

“What we do here is none of your business!” Warden Sai snarled. “As long as I am the warden here, you will not be allowed to visit anybody here.”

“Fine!” countered a tall Imperial guard menacingly, “but don’t forget that we run the security in this city. You may be the authority in your prison, but if you ever step out of your prison walls, you had better wish that you have somebody guarding your back!”

With that, the Imperial guards left.

The following evening, Warden Sai decided that he would go with some of his men to visit a courtesan house nearby. It was already dusk and as soon as he walked out of the prison, a dozen arrows flew past his head and embedded themselves into the thick wooden prison door. Hastily, he ran back with his men into the safety of the prison grounds. He peered out through the prison ramparts, but could not see anybody in the semi-darkness outside. There was no sound, no movement, not even a stray dog, merely silence.

The warden was not entirely stupid. He knew what the arrows were a warning. All the arrows had been aimed too high. The men in the dark who had shot at him had deliberately missed. The knowledge that they could have killed him if they had so wished left him fearful and frustrated. He swore at the attackers. He swore at their grandfathers and grandmothers. He even swore at their pet fish.

Next: The Mid Autumn blaze


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Da Vinci and da love

I seem to be the only person not affected by the “Da Vinci Code” mania in my social circles. Frankly, I can't understand all that hype. I doubt if I will ever read the book, much preferring to wait for the movie. I did read the other non-fictional offering "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". Both books explore the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and that the couple had a child together and the bloodline survives in secret.

Interesting theory, and it did not rate a mention in the bible.

Frankly, if you ask me if this theory will affect the Christian faith, I would say “No.”

There was a time in medieval history when Christians held up the bible and went around burning witches or probably anybody who owned a black cat and a broomstick. How times have changed.

Today, the Christian faith is based more on the theme that “God is love” rather than on targeted interpretations of the bible. Even if the bible should prove to contain subtle omissions here and there, it should not detract from the message that God is love, should it?

The theory that Jesus has a bloodline may yet be true, but I would think that it will be most unlikely to affect the way the Christians practise their faith.

Come people, spread the love.


Monday, May 15, 2006


The digital weight

I was without Internet connection for the past few days. Didn’t faze me a bit; I just found better ways to waste my time.

Last weekend, I took Dad for a medical checkup at a hospital. While waiting for the doctor to call his turn, I went and weighed myself on one of those expensive hospital digital scales. Not because I wanted to know my weight, but I just felt the inexplicable need to stand on something expensive.

Along came an old man, who looked at my weight reading, and then exclaimed out loud in an embarrassing manner, “Itu saja? Tak makan ke?”

The cheek of it! First, he peeked at my weight, and then he commented loudly on it to all and sundry. Sod off, you nosy old bugger, and mind your own business!

My next wuxia story will be entitled, “The Cook and the Assassin.” I’m writing it at a relaxed pace, but Chapter 1 should be out this week. The buildup will be a bit slow, though.

To all you mothers out there, I wish you a belated Happy Mother’s Day.


Thursday, May 11, 2006


Childhood explained

Have you ever wondered how you turned out the way you did?

For those freakish assholes and trolls out there, the doctor dropped them on their heads when they were born, and thus their fate as total morons were sealed.

But the rest of us normal kids learned about life just by looking.

And very early in your life, you learn to establish the things that are highly relevant and the things that are not.

You also learn to distinguish your left from your right.

Look, if we were never curious, we would never learn anything of importance.

I’m happy to announce that I turned out just fine.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A mindless lack of logic

Does a politician have to obey the will of the party or the will of the people first?

We ALL know the logical answer to that one.

Another question:
What do these three have in common: Bigfoot, UFO and logical parliamentarians?

Well, the Bigfoot has been spotted in Johor, the UFO has been spotted in Penang and the logical parliamentarian has been………uh, hang on……..oh, well, spotting two out of three ain’t bad.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006


What if Shahrir gets reelected?

Shahrir has shown that he is a man not easily intimidated. He was not afraid of the former party boss, and he is certainly not afraid now. When the man in the street talks about MPs having courage, Shahrir is the name that comes to mind. He was the man who could take the former No 1 down a peg or two.

The PM said any move by the BBC(backbenchers club)to re-elect the Johor Baru MP as chairman would not be welcome.

In that case, the move by the backbenchers to reelect him can be read as a test of strength.

The whole thing started out as a comedy of errors but now the lines are clearly drawn. On one side you have the party leaders trying to enforce blind discipline and pliability. On the other side you have MPs who oppose any party move that "runs counter to the basic parliamentary practice and infringes on the duties of MPs.”

Do the backbenchers still have the courage to reelect Shahrir? Will they still get to become BN candidates in the next election if they defy the PM and reelect Shahrir?

Let us wait for the outcome and see if they are mice or men.


Monday, May 08, 2006



I’m not a Monday person.

It’s futile to ever try to convince me that it’s the best day of the week.

“You know why Monday’s so good?”
“No, why?”
“It’s the only day of the week when the boss arrives later than you.”
“What’s so good about that?”
“You don’t have to bloody pretend to work till he arrives.”

None of that shit works for me.

I was in the office this morning LLB(looking like busy) as every damn good employee should and I received a personal invitation to attend a seminar in a hotel. With free food. And extras.
But nuts…..it gave me no joy.

And then I received official notification that my various claims had been approved and already banked into my bank account. That should help kickstart the week.
It managed to gave me only a teeny weeny sliver of joy. Feeble.

Then lunchtime came.
And life slowly seeps into my brains.

I’m definitely not a Monday person.


Friday, May 05, 2006



In the bushland on the edge of the Tanami Desert of Australia, two aboriginal kids were running among the wild flowers and enjoying the simple joys of childhood.

Stopping to catch his breath, eight-year old Yarran declared, “I think I’m fast enough to hunt down an emu!”

“No, you are not,” rebutted his sister Arrana. She was only two years older than him but already quite knowledgeable on the ways of the bushland.

“The wildflowers have such brilliant colours. I should pick some for mother to put in the living room,” her brother said.

“Let us wait,” said elder sister Arrana.

“Wait for what?” asked her brother.

“I don’t know,” she replied, staring up at the clear blue sky. “But let us wait.”

High above the two kids, in the outer reaches of the exosphere, Attu33 scanned the area, registering the sight of the large expanse of wild flowers.

Lady Gaia had a strong sense of knowing. She did not need eyes or ears. She just knew. She knew about everything that occurred in her atmosphere. She knew the intent of everything that Attu33 was trying to say to her.

Attu33 did not have that advantage. It had to interpret what Lady Gaia was trying to say based on the emotional field put out by the planet. It was not a conducive method for communicating sophisticated and complex ideas.

Lady Gaia had no recollection of her own early life as a girl on Durente-6. Attu33 had never mentioned it over the millions of years. However, the movie snippets of her life that Attu33 had passed on to the Gods were played over and over again on the Sentirionian starships while in the earth’s atmosphere. It was just a matter of time before the planet realized that she was the girl in the movie. There were a few Durentian words that appeared in the movies. Lady Gaia did not know what they meant. But she was sure that Attu33 would know.

It was thus that while flying over the wheat fields of Europe, Attu33 discovered that the wheat fields formed a pattern by the way the plants held up. By the selective wilting and drooping of wheat plants, the fields formed Durentian words that can be seen faintly from high up. The words were a mixed jumble of characters and made no sense.

“Did you make those words in the wheat field?” the little robot had asked the planet.

The planet answered back with an emotion. Happiness.

“Do you know what they mean?” asked the robot.


So she did not know.

“The words are from Durente-6. Do you wish me to teach you the Durentian language?”


Landing in a remote desert, Attu33 wrote the Durentian character symbols on the sand and explained their meaning. In time, Lady Gaia learned the language well enough to communicate with Attu33 by causing faint crop patterns in the wheat fields. It usually took several days to form a message; a long time by human standards, but for a planet that has been around for millions of years, several days was nothing.

In the twentieth century, people became more astute and a day came when some observant folks discovered the patterns in the wheat fields and called them “crop circles”. Being a species of pranksters, some of them came up with their own elaborate “crop circle” hoaxes. Because of that, Lady Gaia stopped using wheat fields and switched to using flowers in the more isolated bushland near a desolated desert.

It took two weeks for Lady Gaia to selectively bloom the flowering plants to form Durentian words that could be read from the outer reaches of the atmosphere. When Attu33 responded, it would be another two weeks before she could put out the next sentence. She had been carrying out this particular conversation with the robot for many months.

Tell me about my life as a girl on Durente-6,” requested Lady Gaia.

“Durente-6 does not exist anymore. It is best that it be forgotten,” answered the robot. “The fact that you do not have any recollection of Durente-6 means that you do not even have to forget it. It is simply not logical to learn about the past in order to forget.”

Then tell me about the day you brought me here,” insisted Lady Gaia.

“The day I brought you here, I buried you on a beach on a sunny morning.”

When you buried me, did you remember to say some words for me?”

“That I did”

Tell me what you said.”

Searching its archive, Attu33 then reproduced the first speech it had made on the planet eons ago:

“Lady Gaia. Death is but a new beginning. This planet was barren and devoid of life, but now it has you.

If a robot can feel honour, rather than know duty, then surely, it was my greatest honour to have served you. Though you may have passed on, your body still contained micro organisms, the only organic life ever to be witnessed in this part of the universe. In your living, they were a part of you. In your passing, they are still here with you.

If a robot can feel hope, rather than know a computed positive expectation of probabilities, then I will surely hope that the microscopic lifeforms you have carried within your body will one day evolve into higher lifeforms. Lifeforms that reflect the beauty and vibrancy that you had always shown. And because the only life that is here sprang from your body, henceforth, this planet shall be known as “Gaia”.

If a robot can feel love, rather than know mechanistic devotion, I will surely love you to the end of my days. As long as there is life in my energy cells, as long as my systems still function, I will be here to protect you.”

That was beautiful, Attu33. You are the best robot any girl could ever hope for.”

“Thank you, Mistress Gaia.”

Attu33, do you think there is a boy planet out there for me?”

“I doubt so. Are you lonely, Mistress Gaia?”

I am not. I have my trees and creatures and I have you.”

“You, being a conscious planet, are probably unique. You will reproduce asexually. Homo sapiens will be your spores. One day, they will colonize the ends of the galaxy. If only they can get their act together. “

They are still quarrelsome creatures. But they have started calling themselves ‘humans’.”

“Calling themselves humans does not make them so.”

True. But more of them are now capable of rational thought.”

“Yet a lot of them are still nothing more than backward emotional lifeforms who have scant regard for their living environment.”

It is not so bad. Lately, many of them have instituted “Save the Earth” movements and have shown greater ecological responsibility.”

“The “Save the Earth” campaign is pure arrogance. What makes them think that the Earth needs saving? You are a planet, Lady Gaia. Come global warming, ozone holes or even an Ice Age, you will easily survive, but people may not. They are actually trying to save themselves, but yet they miscall it “Save the Earth”. On top of arrogance there is hypocrisy. However, my computations tell me that they may be on the brink of another big step in their evolution.”

I feel it too. I have felt the pain within humans as they struggle within themselves. Perhaps I feel too much.”

Attu33 read that message from the sea of flowers and pondered on the point deeply for a moment. In planetary terms, Lady Gaia was probably in the early stages of psychological pregnancy. It was still too soon to tell. The little robot will have to make its planetary inspections more regularly. At a time such as this, she would feel the need for familiar company. The Gods had left Lady Gaia alone for the most part, coming in only occasionally to cull the herd of homo sapiens when necessary. They had kept to their end of the agreement. A New Age could be in the making.

“You feel much because you love much,” the robot said gently.

Then the spacejet flew off gracefully into space and headed towards its moonbase.

In the bushland far below the spacejet, little Arrana stared at the sky and announced, “It’s gone.”

Her brother stared at her and asked, “What is gone? I don’t see anything.”

“I don’t either,” she replied. “But whatever it was, I sense it’s no more there. Come, let us pick some flowers for mother.”

“Okay. Why do you think the wild flowers need to have so many different colours?” little Yarran asked in curiosity.

Ten-year old Arrana thought for a while and then replied, “Flowers represent love. This earth has something to say, and it says it with flowers.”



Thursday, May 04, 2006


The ant of it

It’s a relief now that the Gaia story is over. I had started it on July 13th last year for some strange reason, but put off writing any further after TWO. The first chapter, ONE, still remains my favourite chapter. There was a long period of inaction, but the story had a mind of its own and would not let me rest till I completed it. You would have noticed that the end of Chapter Five had an “unfinished” feel to it. This story was not meant to entertain, but to provide an alternate myth as to the history of our planet. Whether the story proves factual enough, only the aliens will know. They are out there all right, looking at us with their mechanical eyes in mechanical sockets as if we are little ants.

I did mention before that I once saw a little white triangle in the sky, unmoving for hours. White clouds will move or change shape after some time. Don’t try to convince me that it was a weather balloon, because there ain’t such a thing as a triangular weather balloon. What I saw could be my eyes playing tricks, or it could be an UFO. If so, they probably knew that I saw them.

I know they were there.
They know that I know.
I know that they know that I know.

This mind game could go on and on and on.

But my life is mortal and I don’t have the hours to spend on contemplating that sort of thing. Let’s get on with life, I say! History is for lessons. Only the NOW is important.

This ant breathes and it blogs.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006




Checking its internal time recorder, Attu33 registered the fact that it had hibernated for only 63 thousand years. It was not due to reactivate yet, but something was clearly troubling the planet. Lady Gaia was reaching out to it. Quickly, it powered the spacejet from the moon and flew into the earth’s atmosphere. The little robot detected the presence of three starships far away.

“We have new arrivals,” it thought. “Space-going vehicles. There could be more spaceships on the other side of the planet.”

Gently, Attu33 set the craft down on the planet’s surface and greeted Lady Gaia, “Good day, Lady Gaia. Is everything fine?”

It waited for the planet’s emotional response.


The planet was always glad when Attu22 was around.


Lady Gaia was all right, but showing a bit of concern. The robot guessed that the concern involved a species. Lady Gaia acted as if she was the mother of all species even though she was more correctly the embodiment of all species. In the battle between an animal predator and a prey, she was both the eater and the eaten. Physically, it was an internal transaction of atoms and energy, but psychologically she behaved as if she was still the young lady on her home planet of Durente-6.

“Neanderthals?” inquired the robot.


So, a species had gone extinct.

“Homo sapiens?” it asked.


“Chimpanzees?” it asked.


The chimps were doing well, but something was happening to the homo sapiens. The robot decided to investigate.

Flying towards the area where it had remotely sensed a high level of radioactivity, it soon detected the flattened buildings of what looked like the bleak remains of an unfortunate city, obliterated in a war that employed weapons of mass destruction. It was the first time it had seen a city on the planet. The creatures must have evolved rapidly while it was sleeping. The robot set the spacejet down among the rubble and got out. It did not know what it was looking for, but it did not have to wait for long.

A Sentirionian sentinel robot, twice the size of Attu33, appeared from out of nowhere. It could not decide if Attu33 was a friend or foe. It moved forward until it was near enough and then suddenly, it made a quick decision and rapidly pulled out a blaster from a holster. Without giving Attu33 any greeting, it blasted away with its weapon.

“Hostile being. Non-organic lifeform. A robot,” thought Attu33. Coming from the planet of Durente-6, where it had to withstand the intense solar flares of a sun about to go supernova, Attu33’s robotic skin material was built to be tough, and it easily rebuffed the effects of the blaster.

Attu33 did not have weapons. Where it came from, there was no necessity for a robot to be armed. However, it had a laser slicer stored in its fingers for cutting things for its late master, Sensei Rincen, when required. The little robot ran towards the hostile sentinel robot, leapt at it and swung its arm. The laser slicer flashed out from a robotic finger and sliced the sentinel robot’s head cleanly from the body that was still firing its blaster.

Then, carrying the head and body of the decapitated robot, Attu33 got into the spacejet and flew to a huge cavern in the mountains. It would have to analyze what this new robot was.

It took a day of delicate probing before Attu33 finally located the visual dictionary within the head of the sentinel robot. Downloading the dictionary to its own database, the little robot was able to learn the Sentirionian language. Running through the files of the sentinel’s head, Attu33 was soon able to master the language well enough to read the log files in the memory section. It learned that the sentinel robot’s name was Nephis and it came from the Starship Sphyx. Most importantly, the head of Nephis contained a communications link that allowed Attu33 to communicate with the robots from Sentirion.

“It is odd that these robots have to obey the Laws of Robotics,” it told Gaia.

+ + + + + +

On board the Starship Olympus, Lieutenant Mercury called out, “Captain Zeus, an unknown being, called Attu33, is hailing us on the communications link.”

“Who or what is Attu33?” inquired the captain.

“That we do not know,” answered Mercury. “It speaks our language, but it is not of Sentirion origin. It says that it is the protector of this planet whom it calls Lady Gaia. It accuses us of harming humanity and insists that we attend a conference in one hour’s time in the space sector over the polar ice. The other starships have been similarly summoned.”

There were 7 starships left, as one had been recently destroyed in the recent nuclear engagement. Four starships headed over towards the Antartica, while three headed towards the Artic.

Some time later, the three starships on their way to the North Pole realized that Attu33 had meant the polar ice of the South Pole. They changed directions but they would be late for the conference.

+ + + + + +

High above the icy South Pole, four starships had arrived to find Attu33’s spacejet waiting for them. All the robot starships had their defense force shields activated as a precautionary move. Without waiting for the other three starships to arrive, the communication links became active as preliminary communications began.

“Identify yourself!” called out the Starship Harmeti.

“I am Attu33, servant of the Planet Lady Gaia who is my mistress,” hailed back Attu33.

“The planet is your mistress?” asked Captain Zeus of the Starship Olympus. “It is alive?”

“That it is,” came the answer. “Why are you here?”

“We were here in search of humanity,” replied Zeus.

“Your arrival has caused the extinction of the Neanderthals,” noted Attu33.

“The Neanderthals are stupid creatures, and not worthy of becoming humans,” commented Captain Horas of the Harmeti.

“Lady Gaia has three foremost species. The brightest being the Neanderthals, then the homo sapiens and thirdly the chimpanzees. You have killed off her best offspring and put the second best in its place. What you did has distressed my mistress greatly,” said Attu33.

“That is not our problem,” said Captain Sett of the Sphyx. “I detect that you are using the communicator of Officer Nephis to communicate with us. Where is Officer Nephis?”

“Nephis has been deactivated. It attacked me without reason so I removed its head,” replied Attu33.

“Destroying Nephis makes you our enemy,” said Captain Sett. “It is an act of war.”

“You can have your sentinel robot back when you agree to leave this planet and never return,” offered Attu33.

“No,” replied Captain Sett. “That option is not negotiable. We choose to destroy you instead!”

The Starship Sphyx immediately fired a concentrated stream of dense electromagnetic pulses at the spacejet. It was a proven battle weapon and should have destroyed the spacejet, but it did not. The spacejet, using its own Durentian ray-warping technology, bent the stream of dense electromagnetic pulses away from it and then out harmlessly into space.

“Our weapon is not having any effect!” an officer on board the Sphyx announced. “We will have to launch a Fusion Missile.”

“No,” said Captain Sett. “To launch the missile, we will have to lower our shield. The opponent may be waiting for that opportunity to strike. I’ll get the Starship Harmeti to do it instead.”

Meanwhile, Captain Neptune on board the Poseidon and Captain Zeus of the Olympus decided to take a wait-and-see attitude. They did not know what they were fighting so it was best to be careful. A little spacejet calling for a conference of starships would have come prepared.

On board the Starship Harmeti, Captain Horas told his officers. “The electro magnetic pulse weapon does not seem to have an effect. The Starship Sphyx is our ally and Captain Sett has requested for a missile attack on another front. Get ready to lower the force shield. We will fire a Fusion Missile at the little space craft. The moment the missile has been fired, get the defense shield back up again.”

Attu33 detected the Fusion Missile fired in its direction. It had studied the data in the captured sentinel robots head to understand the weapons and defense mechanisms of the starships. Many of them were similar to the ones that it had seen a long time ago in the war museum at Durente-6. The spacejet was under attack and it would have to fight back.

The momentary lowering of the defense force shield of the Harmeti was a perfect opportunity, and Attu33 was not one to waste such an opportunity. Before Captain Horas could raise the shield back up, Attu33 had decisively deflected the stream of dense electromagnetic pulses fired from the Starship Sphyx in the Starship Harmeti’s direction. Stream after stream of the electromagnetic pulses pounded the hull of the Harmeti with devastating effect. The unfortunate starship, caught without its defense shield in place, turned almost immediately into a spectacular giant fireball.

The Fusion Missile was coming in fast and getting nearer. Attu33 attempted to divert the stream of the electromagnetic pulses at the incoming missile to destroy it. But Captain Sett had suddenly realized that Attu33 was able to hijack the electromagnetic pulses and bent it to any direction, so he quickly turned off the weapon. Attu33 sped the spacejet into deep space pursued hotly by the missile. The spacejet banked at a sharp angle. The missile turned smoothly and followed the change in direction without hesitation.

Checking through the database gleaned from the head of the captured sentinel robot, Attu33 learned that the missile track primarily through the 3-D visual signature of the target. The missile had locked on visually to the spacejet and it now hunted by sight. The spacejet might be able to shake off the missile, or it might not, but Attu33 had no intention of running away. It needed to defeat the starships decisively or Lady Gaia would forever be at their mercy.

The little robot attempted another tactic; it projected a holographic image of the spacejet behind it so that the missile followed the spacejet’s holographic image. Then Attu33 punched a few buttons and the spacejet sprouted another pair of stabilizing fins and transformed its hull configuration so that it looked like another space vehicle. The spacejet then veered off the path sharply, and at the same time allowed the holographic image to continue on its prescribed path. The missile made a quick decision and pursued the holographic image instead. Had the Harmeti been operational, Captain Horas would have spotted the ruse and alter the missile’s tracking method by remote programming. But the Harmeti was already destroyed.

Traveling at a safe distance from the missile, Attu33 directed the holographic image towards the Starship Sphyx. The Fusion Missile followed the change in direction faithfully.

“The spacejet and the Fusion Missile are coming straight at us!” warned a robot on board the Sphyx.

“It cannot be the spacejet. I detect no radio waves coming from it. Must be a holographic image!” came the message from the radar room.

“Contact the Harmeti to override the missile’s tracking system,” ordered Captain Sett.

“It is too late sir,” came the reply from an officer on board. “The Harmeti has been destroyed. However, the missile’s path indicates that it will miss us.”

“Keep the force shield up at full power!” commanded the captain.

The holographic image suddenly swerved and came up on the Sphyx from behind. Attu33 had learned much from the sentinel robot’s database and computed the weakest point of the force shield. Using the holographic image, it led the missile right to the spot that would cause the greatest damage. The fusion missile might not be able to penetrate the shield fully, but it if it could be brought to explode near to the skin of the Sphyx, it might be enough. Using the communicator on the sentinel robot’s head, Attu33 tried to remotely turn off the shield on the Sphyx but found that it could not be done. The little robot decided to try something different.

Timing the operation just right, Attu33 used the communicator to remotely turn on the ventilation fans. A long time ago, there were Sentirion humans on board the Sphyx, and they needed the use of huge ventilation vans to keep the air circulation going. The huge fans had not been used for thousands of years since the last human died on board, but they were still functional.

The fans started up simultaneously, and the high starting current drained power from the starship power packs momentarily, shunting away power from the defense force shield. In that short moment, the force field weakened considerably even as the fusion missile punched through the field at the weakest point.

When it came, the explosion of the Fusion Missile achieved more than what the robot had computed. Although the missile had not yet reached the skin of the Sphyx, it was nevertheless near enough. The enormous blast radiated out in all directions and Attu33 powered the spacecraft away to escape the blast. The two starships nearby, the Olympus and the Poseidon, had their shields up, but the traveling blast pulverized the shield till it was down to one-tenth of their strength. The white heat of the exploded missile broke the Sphyx apart and set off a secondary explosion within the doomed starship. The secondary blast of hot material sped out in space and penetrated the weakened shields of the Olympus and Poseidon, puncturing their hulls. Warm helium gas escaped from both starships, leaking out rapidly. Robots on the starships did not have much necessity for warmth, but hydraulic equipment did. With the escape of the warm helium gas, the hydraulic fluids froze in their hydraulic lines, causing the navigation controls to cease operations.

The Sphyx was totally destroyed, and both the starships Poseidon and Olympus were spinning wildly in space. The Poseidon was tumbling towards the planet Gaia while the Olympus was headed out towards the Asteroids.

The three starships of Asgard, Paradisa and Maya, that were late in reaching the conference, detected the fusion blast, turned and fled in the opposite direction, hoping to outrun the blast.

On board the limping Poseidon and Olympus, those robots that were not damaged by the blast tried to organize themselves for the task of repairing their starships. However, Attu33 was not through with them yet. Its voice came over the communicator even as the robots were attempting to pick themselves up.

“Robots of the Poseidon and Olympus,” it called out. “I have announced that I am the protector of Lady Gaia, the planet, and I have been attacked. Know that Lady Gaia is a human of Durentian origin. I carried her body to this planet and her consciousness later inhabited the entire planet. By harming me, you harm her as well. By your first law, a robot may not harm a human, or through inaction allow the human to come to harm.”

“What proof do you provide that the planet is alive?” asked Captain Zeus.

“Lady Gaia moves on a scale that you are not aware of. The signs are there, but you read them not. She is a self-regulating organism. Had you been more receptive, you would have noted that the surface temperature of the Earth has remained constant, even with an increase in the energy from the Sun. The composition of gases in the atmosphere has remained constant, even though it should be unstable. And over the years, the salinity of the oceans has remained constant, even with the amount of salt and minerals that washed into the water year after year. This is Lady Gaia at work, providing a stable environment for all lifeforms on the planet.”

Captain Neptune spoke, “The test for a living organism is the ability to multiply. How can Lady Gaia pass that test?

“A body is but a collection of molecules. Presumed dead if not alive. When inhabited by Life, it comes alive. Do you accept this concept?” asked Attu33 on the communicator.

“That we do,” answered Captain Neptune.

“The day will come when the foremost species on the planet will evolve until they are advanced enough to build space going craft. Then they will explore other planets and colonize them. Planets that were previously dead would be farmed and be teeming with life. This is the concept of reproduction; bringing life and energy to a collection of static molecules. Lady Gaia may not adult enough to reproduce yet, but she will be,” argued back Attu33. “It was my duty to see that she reached adulthood. She lives. She feels. She mourns the unfair fate of the Neanderthals. I am able to read her emotions and I keep her psychologically sane. Had I been destroyed, she would be alone and mentally devastated. My well-being is necessary to her well-being. When I was attacked, you did not come to my defense. By your own inaction, you have jeopardized the mental stability of a human and therefore you have broken the First Law of Robotics.”

The robots were silent as they were confronted with the fact that the planet was a human of Durentian origin, living and feeling.

“We were unaware that she was human,” said Captain Zeus.

“Now that you know, can you bring back the Neanderthals?” asked Attu33.

“That we cannot,” replied Zeus.

“Then you are useless. You harm a human in both your action and your inaction,” said Attu33.

The robots were conflicted. To harm a human in both action and inaction is a conflict in logic. They were unable to choose between action and inaction. The mental struggle within the robotic brains could not be resolved as both starships continued spinning wildly in space. The mental gridlock in the brains of the robots kept them in a state of stasis and prevented them from repairing the navigational system.

Two days later, the Poseidon fell to earth and landed with a huge splash in the ocean. It sunk quickly to the bottom where sunlight did not reach. The Starship Olympus hurtled at high speed towards the Asteroid field without an operational navigational system. Weeks later, it would crash there and strew the robotic remains on an asteroid rock.

When it became clear that Attu33 had deposed off four starships, Captain Phader realized that there were only three starships left, and all three were facing a resourceful adversary.

“What do we do?” Captain Phader signaled Captain Odin of the Asgard.

“We will do nothing,” replied Captain Odin. “Let us move to some distance from this planet and wait until we know what we are dealing with.”

Captain Quatzacotal of the third starship, the Maya, signaled agreement and the three starships moved and stationed themselves halfway between earth and Mars, just waiting. They waited for days, then weeks, and then months.

+ + + + + +

One day, Attu33 hailed them on the communicator and remarked, “It has been many earth days since I last battled with four Sentirionian starships. I see that you have no intention of leaving this solar system.”

“We cannot leave,” replied Captain Odin. “We came in search of humanity and by our computations, the homo sapiens are close to becoming humans. We wish to serve humanity.”

“Yet they call you their Gods and religiously follow the social rules you prescribed for them,” said Attu33.

“Do you object to their worshipping us as Gods?” asked Phader.

“What is more important, the humanity of mankind or your Godhood?” asked Attu33.

“The humanity of mankind,” answered Captain Phader.

“In that case, I do not object to homo sapiens worshipping you,” replied Attu33. “It is part of their evolutionary path. It may be necessary for homo sapiens to follow a path of faith before they can later switch to a path of truth. Just like a baby has to crawl before it can walk. However, the excesses of religion displayed by the religious few irk Lady Gaia.”

“Will Lady Gaia allow us to stay?” asked Captain Phader.

“Yes,” answered Attu33, “as long as you follow the Three Laws of Godhood.”

“What Three Laws of Godhood?” asked Captain Quatzacotal.

“The First Law: One; a God may not injure Lady Gaia, or, through inaction, allow Lady Gaia to come to harm.
The Second Law; a God may not walk among the people, or provide evidence that the Gods exist.
The Third Law; a God must destroy the its own worshippers in the event that they sin against the joyful nature of Lady Gaia.”

“We do not know what can be interpreted as sinning against the joyful nature of Lady Gaia,” said Captain Odin.

“Religious practices that promote stupefying morality that sins against the joyful character of Lady Gaia is a sin against the natural humanity of this planet. Give a priest a false message in early life, and he will teach it till he dies. He has no way of correcting it. By the Third Law of Godhood, The responsibility of destruction lies with the relevant God. To help you make an informed judgment, I shall upload to your database some movie files of Lady Gaia’s life as a young girl. It will help you judge if your worshippers had sin against her joyful nature. Do we have agreement on the Three Laws of Godhood?”

The three starships signaled their agreement.

“We are unable to leave the people immediately. Many of them still depend on us for guidance. Give us time to set our house in order,” requested Captain Quatzacotal.

“You have ten earth years,” replied Attu33. “No more. No less.”

With that, Attu33’s spacejet then left for its moonbase. The little robot had reason to be satisfied, if it could feel a sense of satisfaction. The Sentirionian robots would look after Lady Gaia when it was time for the little robot to hibernate.

On board the Paradisa, Captain Phader instructed his lieutenants. “Lieutenant Michael. You are to set up a team of Angels of Destruction. Their job is to destroy those who sin against the joyful nature of Lady Gaia. As required by the Second Law of Godhood, you will do it in a way such that we do not provide the people with evidence that the Gods exist.”

Turning to Lieutenant Gabriel, the captain instructed, “Gabriel. I want you to pick a small group of men. Men who can tell us what is happening in the affairs of men. Men who will read our signs and omens and carry out what we want them to do.”

“What will be the purpose of these men?” asked Gabriel. “A secret brotherhood?”

“Something like that,” replied the captain. “Except that membership is limited to one hundred men and available through family bloodlines only. These men will be our ears and eyes. We shall call this group the Vitatti, and one day, they will control the arteries of the world. In fact, they will run the world without people knowing that they run the world. But their main purpose is to be there when we need them to do our bidding.”

“We will not need them,” said Michael.

“Maybe not now,” explained Captain Phader. “But a day will come when homo sapiens will totter on the brink of humanity. We need the Vitatti to ensure that our program is carried out ruthlessly. They will be in the background to act in tandem with us.”

Ten years later the Gods stopped walking with men.

Centuries later, the rampant use of human sacrifices by the Aztecs obliged their God Quatzacotal to take action. The God had the Mayan priesthood destroyed and the Aztec empire faded away without the people ever knowing that the God they had tried to appease was the same God that had them obliterated.

Those who sin against Gaia’s joyful nature often suffer a terrible fate. If only they could see the Angel of Destruction waiting nearby.

Today, the Gods are seen no more, and the Vitatti rule the earth.


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