Battle of Haibi Chapter 11

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Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 10: Tribulation

Chapter 11: Tailspin

"Well that sucks," Roku grunts as she lowers her computer's brass tag translation. The wing activates her phone, "Boss, the wall, like the Soul Cube before it, can only work with delta vector when it is not inside a living creature."

<Well, there's nothing we can do about that,> Kabocha responds, <Meet me in the four o'clock, it's been a busy night. The enemy's been probing us, and suddenly I'm glad you're not on a turret, so maybe they'll underestimate our Sector.>

"Yeah, let's meet. These tags are mostly about the private lives of haibane precursors, and dang, if I can recognize any of them. It might be possible if there were only like, twenty haibane in all Haibi." Roku flags a boat down, and rides it back to the suit room. The twelve people that she waits with in the tiny room don't include Kabocha, so they quietly wait the new one hour quarantine period. Finally, the hour up, they exit the suit room. Roku was reading up on the enemy demon roster on her little computer.

In the cafeteria, heavy hoods pulled back, Kabocha and she Roku start picking away at their ramen.

"She's named him Jabez," Kabocha says sadly.

"Oh?" Roku asks.

"Hebrew for Sorrow," Kabocha says, giving his next bite a moment's clemency.

"I don't have a name," Roku sighs, "so ... I hope you don't mind if I feel jealous."

"Samurai looks like shit," Kabocha says, using language that is only rarely ever heard inside the wall. He gestures to a corner booth, where Samurai nurses a cup of coffee.

Roku thinks there might have just been a splash in the cup from where a tear rolled off his cheek into the drink. She also notices that the whole cafeteria is much quieter than usual. "I ... think I know why," Roku says, "'scuse me." She rises and invites herself to Samurai's table.

"What do you want?" he grunts.

"I want Ruby back," Roku sighs.

"Taka," Samurai sobs, "First level Health and Well Being ... she was the closest thing we had to a mayor. It's so not the same without her." Samurai collapses onto the table, dumping the coffee onto the floor, "And the God-damned enemy..."

Roku cleans up the mess for him, eats her entire bowl of ramen, and buses the table before Samurai again raises his head.

"Every agenda, every report reminds me of her," he bawls, "I can see so much ... her friends trying to fill the gaps in the official record ... It only makes it hurt worse." He looks Roku in the eye, "Do you get reminders like that of Ruby all the time?"

"Yes," Roku says quietly, "even more often since I met her ... The only reason it doesn't hurt as bad for me is because I only met her that one time."

"At every meeting? Everytime you read a tag? Everytime you issue an-" he collapses again.

Roku sets her computer on the table, and hits a key.

<The decision to end custody and deploy was made on Soul Cube Deployment Zero Year, eleventh month, first day. It was a sad decision because of how we abandoned Jack and Devon Campbell without noti-> Roku cuts the video file.

"The Speaker?" Samurai asks.

"Ruby's voice," Roku explains, "was synthesized for the computers. It's from when she was about twenty years old physically."

"But more," she sobs, "before Ruby passed, there was peace ... No slashing assassinations or wraiths within the wall. Suddenly when she flew, and even more so when Taka died, it reminds me what a shitty world we live in."

"Deal with it," Samurai says. It is what he said to her the day after she emerged, when Roku was first coming to grips with her new life as a haibane.

Roku reaches for Samurai's hand, and grips it in both of her own. "We are not only mortal, but we are warriors. This really is our lot in life, Master. I know I've felt like this before ... many times. I was not the last in my Final War unit to die, so I must have been the object of such sorrow as well. I believe, the Saviour has a reward for our tears ... or at least a really good hankie." She pats him on the shoulder, than stands to return to work.

"Maybe," she turns around for a moment, "Take the rest of the shift off, a couple of hours to pour out your tears. I'm sure we can hold the fort for a few hours like we do while you're sleeping."

That gets a smile out of him, "Good idea," he says, "I can't function properly right now,. anyway."

Soon the cafeteria is empty except for him. Someone, he has no idea who, poured him another cup of coffee before closing the cafe.

"You're a natural," Hagane congratulates Shinzoo as he closes out his eighteenth successful simulated endoscopic heart surgery.

Shinzoo disengages his wings from the control rig, "These sure come in handy. Too bad you can't fly with them."

"Oh, but you can," Hagane says with a grin, "Only Defenders do, though."

After a chuckle, Shinzoo says "You're joking.".

"I'm serious," Hagane says, "The hikarinium suspended paraflyer. They hook the control lines to the wings and feet, leaving their hands free to hold a rifle. How do you think Kabocha got to Taka so fast?"

"Yeah, but you're using the wings to control an aircraft," Shinzoo argues, "It's not the same as using them to fly."

"Oh, now, you're just splitting barbs," Hagane says.

They laugh.

Shinzoo takes a sip of his water, then notices his mentor in a catatonic state. "Hagane, you okay?"

"No," Hagane admits, "Taka would have thought that was funny." Tears stream, "Yesterday, my boss got stabbed by the enemy right in front of me ... and gave me her proxy votes." He collapses onto the desk, wailing in grief.

Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 12: Precursors

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