Come Together

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 05:53 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
Prompted by [personal profile] librarygeek as "degendering a ritual or rite of passage".  It's not exactly that as much as it is a rite of passage that was ALREADY degendered, but I thought you'd like it.


“We Come Together,” intoned the High Parsa of Kromer.

“We Come Together,” replied the congregation.

“We come together to Bear Witness.  For one of our Young Ones now reaches for Higher Things.  We come together to Celebrate.”

In the audience, I jotted down another note.  The Savvatrians were a complex people, and xenopological studies were already detail oriented.  I couldn’t afford to miss a single moment, especially as my partner was up on the stage, dressed in brightly colored strips of fabric, feathers, and leaves.

Paula had volunteered to partner me in our immersion study here on Savva after my former partner dropped out of the program to get married.  Well, not dropping out permanently, she just had to spend a year on hiatus while her family got her ready for her big week-long wedding.  Surbhi had sworn she was coming back.  I hoped so, xenopology was a career that was built to make the researcher lonely, a stranger in a land even stranger than them.

I blinked, letting my lenscam snap a picture of the stage.  Paula had been invited up to the front, where she was reciting her qualifications for Savvatrian Adulthood, in the form of interpretive dance.  Most of the Savvatrian rituals required dances, but only the rare rite of passage that moved a child into adulthood used an individually constructed dance.  It was why Paula had petitioned the High Parsa for the right to study and apply for adulthood, we hadn’t seen it yet, and with a race as slow-growing as Savvatrians, we’d be here another fifty years before we got to.  The High Parsa was glad to show Paula the steps to take in finding a mentor, but that mentor hadn’t let me in to see Paula’s lessons, and Paula herself hadn’t wanted to show me her practices.  I’d helped her sew the costume, though, since that would usually have gone to her family, and they weren’t here.  It was interesting watching her design it, the way the disparate parts could come together into a cohesive whole that mimicked the bright plumage of the avian-looking Savvartians.

The dance was amazing.  Paula’s limbs flowed like water, arcing through the air like a glider, one of her hobbies.  She couldn’t fly like the Savvatrians, but she came close.  Then her legs slid to either side, and she fell into a split that made my thighs hurt to watch.  Her back arched and her braids rattled with the sounds of beads, ones of metal, ones of glass, ones of bone, and some of the shiny corn-plastics we could make with our port-printer.  The port-printer was important, since it could replicate a full evidence kit in half a cycle, but that didn’t stop anyone from using it for small luxuries.  Paula snapped her legs together in front of her as she rose into a half-circle back-bend, then raised one leg vertical.  I watched in stunned amazement as she moved seamlessly into a handstand, seeming to defy several laws of physics and her own human biology.  Her dress began to shed of strips of color as she danced on her hands. I'd helped her plan for that, the dun and navy strips that looked like a juvenile designed to come free easily, but I'd thought she would pull them off with her hands, not trust to centrifugal force! I gaped at her whirlwind shape, legs spinning, body jumping, ending in a flip that landed her on one coiled leg, the other out low and her hands thrust behind her.  I didn’t know what I’d just seen, I wasn’t sure I would ever know, really know, what the Savvatrians had seen, but the audience around me was cheering loudly.  We were swept out into the square, where a feast waited, and Paula was congratulated.

I took as many notes as I could, snapped at least a hundred pictures, and interviewed seventeen people in between eating and dancing.  It was a rite of passage for Paula, but in many ways it was a passage for all of us, moving us further into the future, where Savvatrians and humans live and work together.  Where a researcher from Brazil can become a Savvatrian Flight Dancer and her partner can be themself.

That’s the thing about Savvatrians.  I wanted to study them because they, like me, have no gender.  Every rite that is celebrated is celebrated the same.  Those who reproduce are honored, but they don’t reproduce by mating, so they never developed a culture that divided by seed and soil, sun and moon.  There is none of that curious duality between ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’.  There is only the Congregation, and the rituals of life that draw them together, binding the society like the edges of fabric come together as the thread pulls taut between them.


Thursday, June 1st, 2017 04:48 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
Kasperov once had another name.  A name that belonged to the person thon's parents thought they had.  It didn't fit Kasperov, so thon left it behind, like thon left behind ill fitting clothing and toys, labels and expectations.  Thon broke all the carefully laid out rules that were meant to shape thon into the person thon's parent's wanted.

Kasperov had never been that good with rules anyway.

Which might have been a contributing factor to thon becoming an internationally acclaimed assassin.

Kasperov was good at getting into places that other assassins couldn't.  All thon had to do was change into a disguise and suddenly everyone thought thon was a woman.  A different disguise, and passersby would see a man.  Nobody ever saw thon for thonself, and that made casually building a life on bullets and blood easy.  Everyone looked for the pretty man in the sharp suit seen going into a side room with the deceased, and nobody paid attention to the handsome woman in the blood-red dress and evening gloves leaving the servant's exit an hour before the body was found.

The costumes were draining, though, and Kasperov started to train in sniping, killing from a distance from the comfort of snug combat pants and bulky sweaters that remained genderless, like thon.

The work was harder than before.  Finding a perch was as important as picking the costumes had been, and twice as risky.  Getting clients was easier, with the changes in how people talked to each other.  The Dark Web was a killer's Christmas, a hundred angry, bitter souls with money begging to be taken in exchange for an ounce of lead.  The internet was also a gift for people like thon, whose souls refused to line up neatly with boxes for 'Male' or 'Female' no matter how hard their parents tried.

And parents did try.

Kasperov gave steep discounts to people looking to get revenge for gender trauma.  Angry men who wanted payback after years of being told to 'be a good girl' and shoved in dresses and lectured on the importance of being lady like.  Weeping women who had scars from the abuse intended to make them grow into men, mean and hard and everything these ladies were not.  And people who shifted, sliding from man to woman and back again, who hated the people who tried to tether the mercurial winds of the human soul to one idea.  Kasperov still had a hard time convincing people thon was neither, but at least the people who knew thon now were willing to play along.

Slowly, Kasperov built a family on the dark recesses of the internet.  Sillisandra the poisoner, who hid her kit under the impressive false bosoms meant to fill in for what nature neglected to give her, and her lover Zephyr, a tom-boy of a girl who could play anywhere from sixteen to twenty seven with a touch of make up and a wig over her inch long hair.  Martin the bodyguard, who had scars from a back-alley surgeon removing his breasts and tattoos of his poetry along them in arching rows, painstakingly inked by Kyle, his husband under Martin's real name and Kyle's dead one.  Cyrano the hacker and his sprawling set of spouses.  Mouse the spy, with her shy guile that got her out of so many scrapes and capers.

And it was good for a while.

And then it was great.

And Kasperov fell in love, and her name was Mirana and she was everything thon wanted.  Beauty, brains, humor, and her own arsenal stocked from her family's gun business.  She gave thon grenades for their anniversary.  Thon gave her hessonite earrings, that sparkled like her eyes with a rich red brown like her skin.  She wore them every day, and thon was never happier than with Mirana.

Mirana did not force thon to be a man, simply because she was a woman.  She did not force thon to be a woman simply because thon was not a man.  They were just Kasperov and Mirana, and that... that was enough.

September 2017

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