Battle of Haibi Chapter 6
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Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 5: Council Meeting
Chapter 6: Trade Disruption
"So, to be Communicator, you need the Washi mask," Samurai hands her one, "and the Bolo wing covers."
As Roku starts dressing up as a Communicator, she asks, "Sir, wouldn't it help if I knew the Toganese sign language? If we're not allowed to talk in the Toga's presence, how do we communicate?"
"The mask microphone," Samurai says. "The whole point of all this is to remain anonymous. The Toga are paranoid that way, they don't want us to be able to identify individual Toga, and likewise, are more comfortable when we do the same."
"Why?" Roku asks as she pulls the top of the robe over her head.
"Probably because the enemy likes to kidnap and interrogate them," Samurai says, "I'm pretty sure life isn't being exactly easy on them, either."
Two turrets on top of the wall, flanking the big East Gate, have taken up task to try to eliminate the wraiths mines on the road leading up to the gate. A trundling cart explodes, and the convoy stops. Obviously, they haven't been entirely successful.
Kabocha relieves one of the turret operators. He's a little out of his jurisdiction, since this is Sector Two and he commands Sector Four, but Samurai made an exception for the second most knowledgeable about the wraith. Entering the turret, he keys his battle mask, "Roku, can you hear me? They've struck a mine, second cart in a column, looks like it had wheat grain on it."
<Command mines,> she says, <Try millimetric radar, adjust the frequency until you see little round or square patches, they may be quite faint. Make sure you're not looking at the convoy, but the path ahead.>
Roku is quite amazed at the mask's capabilities, with a tiny twitch of her wings, she can bring up the scope view of either gate turret, or her own perspective in the Communicator outfit. She watches as Kabocha scans the area ahead, and there's an explosion well ahead of the convoy.
"You've hit the command frequency," Roku says, "Narrow the sensor beam. Put a memory on that frequency and adjust it upward a bit."
A small circle appears, where Kabocha has narrowed the radar beam. Roku sees the frequency adjustment and he starts scanning around. "There," she says, "back up a bit. You see that eighteen centimetre square? Try to find a couple more like it ahead of the convoy. Once you have seen a couple, we'll know its safe to search under the convoy itself."
Following her instructions, Kabocha finds the mines ahead of and within the convoy. With a low intensity blast, he burns a Toga that is standing on one of the mines in the convoy, and needless to say, this freaks them right out. Once the Toga are clear of the spot, Kabocha sends the proper radar pulse to set off the mine. The Toga figure out what he's doing quite quickly, and get away from any spot where he sends one of his weak blue beams as a warning. Finally, he sets off all of the mines between the gate and the convoy, then retreats the turret along the track, making it disappear from the Toga's sight; this is the sign that they are still welcome.
Once the inner gate opens, it becomes apparent to Roku that the Toga are furious. Samurai waves his hands in Toganese as Roku listens to her mask. <Those mines were not set by us. Haibi welcomes the Toga, we have our covenant never to bring harm to you. This time, we couldn't help it.>
The Toga seem to believe him, but their spokesman is obviously still upset.
<We have our expert on the creatures we believe set those mines,> Samurai says in Roku ears as he signs. Without signing, he says, <Take a bow, please.>
Roku bows deeply for the Toga.
<The enemy would love to see us wiped out, but they are still dependent on us for computers and machinery, correct?> Samurai signs as he speaks in Roku's ear.
The Toga starts signing back, but it is Samurai, hastily at first, that Roku hears, <We do not share any information about our trade partners, Haibi-jin. You ought to know better than to ask.>
<My apologies,> Samurai signs, <We would like to give you everything we know about the invisible creature,> it takes Samurai a while to spell it out, <wraith.>
Samurai chuckles at the Toga response, then says, <Call it an 'invisible', easier on the hands. Oh, he says, "what price?">
Roku shakes her head.
Samurai signs, <As part of our covenant to bring you no harm, we insist that you receive it without charge.>
As Samurai begins to explain, Roku takes one step forward, her right foot not quite touching the ground, even though she seems to have weight on it.
Business moves past the briefing on the wraiths, and Samurai is discussing an onerous increase in the price of Toga grain when something blows up beside Roku, knocking her over.
Lying on her side, she repositions her mask. A scattering of hikarinium flakes are all that's left to mark the little explosion. "That's my second kill," she says as Samurai rushes to her aid. Samurai helps her up, "That was the only one I saw, it's obvious that they are not keeping the inner gate closed long enough for the ones that come in with them to be forced into decloaking. Tell them that they have to start doing that ... That covenant works both ways, doesn't it?"
<Yes,> Samurai whispers, <It will be done.>
Samurai returns to his conversation with the Toga while Roku regains her composure. <They're annoyed about it, but yes, it will be done.>
"Thank God," she whispers.
There is a yellow flash and a wraith appears running towards Samurai, jumping. Samurai draws his sword from a hidden scabbard. Roku is amazed at its appearance, much as a medieval two edged sword, except that its edges have been carefully machined and glow like the halos. Samurai first parries the wraith's attack, then slips the sword down onto its shoulder. The wraith recoils at the first touch, and as it backs along the blade, the glowing blade cuts the poor creature wide open. It falls onto its back and disintegrates into cinders, which in turn, slowly vaporize until only flakes of hikarinium remain.
Samurai puts away his amazing glowing sword, as Roku realizes that hikarinium, the halo metal, is what must be making it glow. She's still amazed at Samurai's lightning speed. The Toga seem a little taken aback that he could hide such a large weapon and its scabbard in a Washi robe.
<Oh, uh, where were we?> he says, <Oh, yeah, the price of grains.>
Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 7: Broken Wings