Battle of Haibi Chapter 28
Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 27: Hightail
Chapter 28: Tailoring the Defense
"Speaker," she sobs, "have Kabocha recover these two rifles," she taps on the screen, "and combine them into a long range variant." Roku fades the screen to red. She's shedding enough tears without torturing her still-healing eyes with bright light.
Does Samurai have two long range rifles?
Roku zooms in on Samurai's position next to the western part of the wall. The two rifles are about nine metres apart, and Samurai is stationary with one of them. She calls up the datablocks to show their serial numbers. The other one is her own, moves slightly, and fires on its own, properly prosecuting an imp three hundred metres to the south.
"Who is that?" Roku asks, analyzing for unarmored friendlies. She spots a human wielding the rifle.
"Janice, Alpha-one-three-seven-one," Speaker responds. Humans have their own identification registry ... had their own registry, since it must have been burned, flooded, or buried by now. The defense analysis computers did not have any interaction with it, and so all it knows is the first name she gave when Roku gave her the rifle.
I thought she was dead!! Roku swallows.
"Friendly?" she asks.
"Janice is human, has only pointed her rifle at known friendlies after she has suffered harm from them, and has zero friendly fire attempts, and one hundred fourteen enemy kills."
Roku squeaks in disbelief.
"Defense analysis considers the probability of her being an enemy as zero," the Speaker explains.
"Of one hundred sixteen enemy kills at this time, one hundred nine were taken with your rifle kit, and seven in hand-to-hand combat," the computer outlines flatly.
"Are you kidding me!?" Roku squawks, rolling the recording back to their conversation. Roku chews on her fingers as three wraiths appear, attack her, and get thrown several metres from her, dying where they land. She remembers the desperate screams.
<Just a small sample, my child,> a voice says to her heart.
"Speaker," Roku says more decisively, "does she have any unusual characteristics, energy emissions?"
"Janice has an unknown means of protection which has proven effective against thirty-two projected attacks against her, and the seven hand-to-hand engagements," the computer quickly intones, "Each time, a consistent interference pattern has appeared in the foundation passive sensor system. It is not affecting operations, Haibane Roku."
Roku closes her eyes, deep in thought. She mutters something in a language neither English, nor Japanese.
"What?" Roku asks.
"I will never change," Nick signs. The crow is concerned that she misunderstood. "Six, you said, I will never change, in your tongue."
Roku orders, "Speaker, report if that interference pattern shows up in association with anyone else."
"Acknowledged," the computer answers as Roku ponders her next question.
"How much more powerful ... by what factor," Roku asks, "would that interference pattern need to increase before it affected operations of the foundation system, and by how much before it caused damage?"
"Passive reception would be overwhelmed without processing at an increase in the interference pattern of 20dB, however, an increase of at minimum, 140dB is required to defeat a single defense analysis processor, assuming the pattern remains consistent," the computer explains, "The pattern has no damaging effect on foundation systems, nor can I extrapolate when such a damaging effect may begin as the pattern increases in amplitude. It may even have the effect of repairing damaged foundation systems."
Roku smiles. She has heard all this before. The Saviour has already explained how it works.
"Speaker," Roku lowers her head and speaks slowly, "Janice wields the Saviour's Light. Name Saviour's Light according to their effects as you can discern them."
"The Saviour's Light of Defense," Speaker proposes.
"The Saviour's Light of War," Roku corrects. "More may appear after I leave the nest. Record who wields them as they appear, and prepare automatic records that highlight their use. They will always have the same foundation interference pattern, but may cause different physical effects. Automatically grant full command authority to anyone who emanates this pattern seven times or more. That includes Janice. Define them as wielders of the Saviour's Light."
"Acknowledged," the computer says, summarizing Roku's orders verbally while, in a massive belch of extension program code on the screen, explains the specifics of how the defense analysis system plans to implement her orders.
Roku smiles in admiration. Mars' ancients had some truly brilliant people working on this computer.
"Please identify all current wielders of the Saviour's Light," Roku requests softly.
"Haibane Roku, first you should know that a weak form of the Saviour's Light interference pattern appears from several minutes to several days prior to a haibane's Day of Flight," the computer drones as though it is nothing special, "A burst of the interference pattern occurs when a haibane disappears in a Day of Flight. Two hundred and fifty-four have occurred in the last week. There is one Wielder, Saviour's Light of War, Human Janice alpha-one-three-seven-one, and one continuous emitter, consistent with a pending Day of Flight, Ashfeather Six."
The dim room dims even more as Roku's halo flickers. "I know," she says.
<This is a general request to all Defenders,> Kabocha hears the Speaker say in his mask, <Open the main entrance doors to Defense Tower Four to allow the waters to drain from the structure as the local level drops.>
"Oh, goodie," Kabocha says, "Under twelve metres of water and a metre and twelve metres of adobe grade muck, punctuated by two tonne flakes of stoneforge." He puts his new rifle together.
<Shiden has volunteered,> the computer says, <and has issued a general request for fire cover.>
"Speaker, I'm on my way," he says as he closes his action and tries the heavy weapon on his shoulder, "This, I gotta see." Hovering over Defense Tower Four, at some considerable altitude, are shimmering blobs he is certain are Spectre-cloaked chompers.
"Why hasn't Roku sniped these yet?" he wonders.
<Error: Haibane Kabocha, you have identified no targets. Roku is unarmed, and her suit systems were destroyed by an electrical short. She is fused inside the structure of the Central Tower Level Six and is unable to attack any targets.>
"Well," Kabocha says as he chews on the strange statement given to him by the computer, "Who's wielding her rifle?" He rattles off the specifics
<A human, Janice alpha-one-three-seven-one,> the computer explains.
"I see," Kabocha says, realizing that it explains many things about Roku's surprisingly lackluster performance since the collapse of Tower Four's roof. He thinks of the Janice at the tailor shop in the North District where he got the suit for his wedding two months ago, the mild-mannered autumngrass-haired lady with a perpetual smile that made him forget the war. Couldn't be her. He starts heading south.
<Friendly contact identified, Janice Needham,> the computer signals.
Kabocha skips a step in his stride and nearly wipes out on the concrete path. It is her!
"Defender," she says with a soft nudge against the cloaked humanoid mass lying curled up between the slabs of fallen stoneforge. She uses the butt of her rifle.
"I'm getting really tired, and my arms aren't steady enough to shoot anymore," she says, "Mind if I take a nap?"
He decloaks and rises to his feet, refreshed. "Okay,"
Janice plops uncomfortably onto the grassy spot Samurai had occupied.
"I hope you don't mind my asking," Samurai says, "What's your name?"
"Janice Needham," she answers as she sets her rifle beside her. As she curls up, she says, "I just need a couple hours."
"Mine's-" Samurai realizes she's already asleep.
A rustle, he takes aim. Then he lowers his rifle.
On the slab, a wraith materializes from his special cloak, but before he can move, Samurai has run him through with his halo sword.
He turns just in time to see the one he had aimed at stab at Janice, but her mysterious light throws him five metres clear, breathlessly dying.
The lady doesn't even stir, snoozing with a blissful smile on her face.
Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 29: Light of Peace