Battle of Haibi Chapter 14

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Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 13: Air Strike

Chapter 14: Siege

"Hey, Yuki, how're you doing?" Roku asks.

The haibane lying on the hospital bed winces, touching the bandage over his head. On his back, his left wing is in a bulbous white cast with about half the chord of his intact left wing. To help it mend, all of the feathers have been pulled, making it smaller and thicker than normal.. "I'm alive," the young man says. "Good thing we had you up there, Roku-san ... I ... don't think Haibi can last without you."

"That was pretty gnarly," Roku confirms, "but I think they were trying to take out just our two turrets, or at least distract us enough for them to wipe out the Toga."

"We'll ... starve to death without them," Yuki says.

Roku takes his hand, "Don't worry about that right now. Concentrate on getting well."

Roku leaves the room. Outside, Shinzoo says, "That is quite the suit," he sighs, "It's like he fell only four metres."

"I don't know how it works," Roku says, "I just know that despite its quaint look, it is far more advanced than anything my precursor had."

"But," Shinzoo says, "He got blown off the wall, fell over a hundred metres into the Gate Square ... solid stoneforge, had half the turret land on him, and nine grays of delta radiation exposure"

"To the outside of the suit," Roku says.

"And, it's open underneath!" Shinzoo gasps.

"It'll take us about an hour to get this fixed up," Kabocha says as he pats the damaged armor draped over his arm, inside a thick padded bag.

Shinzoo can only shake his head in disbelief, "Haibi is in good hands. Thank you, Defenders." With that, he returns to caring for his patients.

Kabocha crawls into bed next to his wife, who's nursing her three week old son, "Hiya, Jabez," he whispers to the suckling baby.

"Say, hi," she whispers softly. Turning to Kabocha, she says, "I heard you got into a big fight yesterday."

Kabocha sighs, "Not me, it was in Sector Two. But one of mine was on a turret for the occasion."

"The Toga," she whispers, "We can't live without their grain and fuels. How long can we last without them?"

"The tower plasma generators will last about a hundred years if we don't have to shoot the guns too much, but ... Everyone would have to cram into the towers starting next winter. We're working on a plan to ship some sort of battery or heat fuel, piped water or something out of Central Tower to keep at least the downtown shops and apartments using the Toganese fuel from freezing ... We have until next winter though." Kabocha doesn't seem as successful at reassuring himself as his wife. "Deborah, I'll be honest. I'm scared ... if they can hit us like that in all the sectors at once, we're in trouble. Right now, there is only one Rok'hyaku Rokujuu Roku."

"Six hundred, sixty-six," Deborah echos, "The number of the beast." Looking at her husband intently, she asks, "Are you sure we can trust her?"

"Haibane are named after their cocoon dreams, sweetie," Kabocha explains, "I was wandering in a pumpkin garden. That's all I could remember when I was born, but four months later, I remembered the rest, how I died. Not like now, I had very dark skin in the dream, and I was scared. I wandered along, and collapsed, realizing that the people who were supposed to look after me ... poisoned me. I don't even know why." He clears his throat, then says, "Samurai speculates that my precursor may have lived in the southern United States about three hundred to three hundred fifty years before Deployment ... That I was a slave child descended from Africans and owned like property. I ... never felt like that, just betrayed. The people who were supposed to look after me ... instead they murdered me and to break out of my Sinbound condition, I had to forgive them."

"That obviously doesn't reflect who you are today, Kabocha," she says softly as she unlatches little Jabez from her breast and starts patting his back on her shoulder. "You're a good, responsible man, an excellent husband and father I know myself, and a superb soldier from what I hear." She sighs appreciatively, "I feel safe with you. I wish I could have your kids."

"No gametes, no kids," Kabocha sighs, "Part of the lot of a haibane."

"But it's a trait that allows you to marry divorced people while their spouses are still alive," she says with an appreciative smile.

Jabez tucks his head against her neck and lets out a satisfied little huff.

"At least I got one," she says as she brushes the side of his little head with her chin. She smiles, directing her eyes above her husband's head, "And have you seen how he stares at that halo?"

They both chuckle softly.

"Those turrets are nasty," Maledict snorts. The great batwing creature is perched on a rock spire.

Beside him floats a worm-like creature with a single, large glowing eye. Lilith says through her Seeker, "Hence the combined assault, my ground forces will pound the wall out from under them while they're too busy dealing with whatever flies. We have what?: Seven hundred batwings per sector. They can't handle that."

Two big two-and-a-half story humanoid creatures creatures sit cross-legged on picnic blankets made of tough trade-show flooring tiles that sag under their enormous weight. Both are muscular, but Saboath has a lighter complexion and more than a trace of obesity.

Erebus growls, "There are no wraiths left in there, and we made it a priority to identify this miracle gunner. We got close when a wraith snuck into their change room, where we think they dress up in those dog-ugly Communicator uniforms."

"Nearly invincible armor suits," Maledict snorts, "I blew the right hand turret to little pieces, and the body of the operator remained intact even after it hit the ground behind the wall."

"Well, at least we got one kill," Saboath grunts, "Obviously, the mission to assassinate their leader Taka was a failure, or they'd be falling apart. There is no way they could survive a siege for long without her organizational smarts."

"It pisses me off," snorts Erebus, "That only a month ago, we knew everything about the civilians, and we have births and obits for about two hundred thousand people. Now we got diddly squat."

"What does he have to say," Lilith grumbles.

"Go right ahead," Maledict snorts, "See where it gets you. His exact words."

"Anything else?" Saboath asks.

"No," Maledict says, "So we have official permission to destroy Haibi once and for all, and I can burn happy in hell knowing that those abhorrent humans have been wiped from the face of this wretched planet."

Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 15: Flying Lessons

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