FHD Remix Chapter 18
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 17: Seven Weeks Without Toga; Transmission Received
Chapter 18: Not So Lucky; Bubba's New and Used; Power Failure
Tatakai sighs as she stops on the tiled street in the richer part of town. It's been a while, possibly hundreds of years, since she's heard someone describe her as "Sukoi" and "Kawaii" as though she wasn't really there.
She turns to greet the young wingless couple, "Hello,"
"So lucky," the lady says, "and she has the lightest and biggest wings I've ever seen. ... I wonder what her name is?"
Tatakai says, "Well if you knew that, there might be two problems. First, I'll be more of a real person, rather than a good luck charm ... and you might not think such a name would bring much luck."
The man says, "I, uh, don't know much about Haibane ... but I've seen them doing so much of those jobs humans don't like ... ones that require little skill and dedication."
"Two lifetimes of a job that I never really wanted," Tatakai says. "If the first of us hadn't reached for the wrong tree ... it's a job that would have never existed."
"Cheer up, haibane," he says, "Everybody's job is important." Regarding her curiously, he asks, "So what is your job?"
"I fight the enemy," Tatakai says simply.
The man laughs, "Are you missing some marbles, lass? There is no fighting. There is no enemy. Glie is a town of peace."
"It is because of me," she sighs. Then she asks with a gesture to the distant grey, "Do you know what the wall is for? What's on the other side? What does it protect us from?"
"Nobody knows," the lady says, "I was curious once, but not anymore."
The man explains, "It's run by those mysterious robed people, the Toga and the Renmei."
"Haibane Renmei," Tatakai says softly, stroking the first primary on her left wing to emphasize the point that it is her people. :I have forgotten more about what's on the outside than you'll ever learn. Unless you find the Saviour, you are better off not knowing."
"A Saviour-spawn!", the lady cries, "That is so cute!"
"That is lunatic," growls the man, "I can't believe anyone takes that seriously. Unless he can put on more than light shows and helpless haibane, no one deserves the title. Can he bring back our daughter?"
"Daughter?" Tatakai asks.
"Please don't," the lady begs her husband.
"Three years ago, she got tired of us ... tired of our rules, ran off and touched the wall, just to defy us. The community watch just let her die. The Renmei never even found out," the man laments.
"It isn't never, but your point is valid. What did she look like?" Tatakai asks.
"Her hair was short and red, lighter than that famous one of your kind ... What was her name?" The husband searches his mind.
"Rakka," Tatakai says.
"She was thirteen at the time," The lady says, "Please, I don't want to say any more."
"Her name?" Tatakai asks.
"No!" she bawls.
"I’m not the good luck charm you thought after all?" Tatakai says. "It's not the punishment of God that killed your daughter ... it's called delta radiation."
"How would you know?" the man huffs.
"I maintain the wall," Tatakai says, "It is part of fighting the enemy."
Sensing that the conversation is over, she walks away.
"Patricia!" the lady blurts out through her tears, "Her name is Patricia."
Tatakai turns about and bows, "Thank you very much, I'll see what I can do."
Later, she comes to Bubba's, the store she was looking for. Its sign says, "New and Used." It also has a pictographic "No haibane" sign: a pair of wings with a halo above, and the universal circle with a slash through it overlaid. Tatakai pauses with her hand on the door, then decides to try her luck.
About two steps inside, someone yells at her, "Haibane, can’t you see the sign? No wings or halos!" It is the chunky guy behind the counter.
Tatakai answers, "I can't take them off." Gracefully she bows and says, "Sorry to bother you," then turns around to walk away.
As Tatakai goes out the door, she hears the anger of one customer, then two, about to set their would-be purchases down where they stand.
"How dare you!" a lady says.
"She saved this city," says another customer, a man, "I watched it happen two months ago."
"That’s right, little feather!" says one in support of the owner, "Go and never come back!"
Tatakai stands outside the store, ashamed at what she has been called to defend. "Loving Saviour," she sighs as her tears gather in her eyes, "Your grace is truly astounding," as close as she can form to a fist while holding her official log book, "if you are willing to allow such ones as these to exist within it."
"I’m so sorry about that," the lady says to her as she comes out of the store. "I'm never coming to this store again, that's for sure."
The man who supported her came out and says, "I used to be this guy's main vendor ... until two months ago when the Toga quit coming." Indicating the sign where "and Used," has been recently added, making the whole sign seem unbalanced on the store front. He explains, "That's why he started dealing in used appliances." He puts his hand on her shoulder and says, "I stand there every week with you three ... well back according to the new rule, but I can still see you." He sighs, "I'm almost amazed you haven't already just leveled the store with the light you wield as a weapon."
"I could," Tatakai realizes with her fingers aglow that she has that choice. After reflecting, her glow fades. "He could still make the choice to repent, and accept the Saviour's love ... against that chance, though, should he decide not to, the longer he is alive in Glie, treating the Saviour's kin so badly ... the worse his eternity will be, if only by a little bit."
Yaiba wanders around the corner, then runs to Tatakai's side when she sees her. "Tatakai, this is a tough area."
"Not so bad," Tatakai smiles, "I found these two."
The four find a bench to sit down and have a conversation. Tatakai begins laying out Glie's situation.
"The Saviour will return and the war will end when the altar is full of the saints who are to be slain in that war. I don't know the exact number, but I do know that it is now very small," Tatakai explains.
The lady asks, "If you two had previous lives, and you were," indicating Yaiba, "executed by the enemy and," indicating Tatakai, "slain in battle," you must have already been there.
"Neither of us remembers our time under the altar," Yaiba explains.
"I wonder if it is like," Tatakai holds her hands in front of her, as though imagining a four liter jug hovering in front of her. "The ancient race on the red planet constructed a device for battling the enemy ... it was very strange: they needed to install themselves to get it to work. They let me use it ... use them in battle ... they needed me to kill five enemies, and once I had done that, I could call on them to attack one, and they would return to instantly heal my wounds ... they were almost as good at it as Yaiba," she smiles. "And I'm amazed at what they said to me before they left: Three hundred and forty one times you called upon us in battle … never once you failed to say 'Thank You,'"
Tatakai leans back and remembers, "At first, I thought all they wanted to do was fight ... but I came to know them better ... it would just sit on a night table and we'd chat all night ... for months I never slept as it would speak to me while I rested ... tell me stories for hours, and I would get up again, ready for another night in the war. I must have known hundreds of their names."
"What happened to it?" Yaiba asks.
"I don't know," Tatakai says.
"I can't believe you can remember so much from your previous life," the man gasps. "Anyway," he explains, "the businesses around here are generally interested in real money, no offense, they just don't appreciate the scrip of the Haibane Renmei."
"For two months, mine has been rather unique," Tatakai says. "After the death of the Renmei, I've been signing my own book." She flips it over and sighs, "Doesn't seem very honest, right? So I've been writing reports about my activities on these pages. I carbon copy them so that I have one to keep, but the originals I spend as scrip. I don't assign them a value like other employers. In this way, the knowledge that we are at war and of how Glie's defenses work is slowly spreading."
"My work," Yaiba says as she holds up her own logbook, "has the dedications of patients ... I've healed grievous terminal illnesses, mental illnesses ... cast out demons that were causing problems ... to minor things like cuts and scrapes ... even repairing old scars and restoring limbs to their proper length and shape after breaks healed years ago. My patients usually don't sign values because they want to sign values so high it would ruin our economy."
"Glie is starting, more and more," Tatakai holds up her hand, "To work like this." Her hand glows with an angry, slightly yellow white light.
"And this," Yaiba holds up her hand, and a slightly blue, steady, calm light shines from her hand.
Shimoni, apparently unnoticed from behind the bench, says, "and like this," from her palm emits a spray of water, which she uses to hose Tatakai down.
"Hey!" Tatakai sighs, then playfully bonks her halo in return.
"So, what did you come around here looking for?" the lady asks.
"Anything with wires, semiconductors, batteries ... anyone who knows their way around generators, transformers, electric motors," Tatakai explains.
"Menmo is looking after aerodynamics and composites," Shimoni explains.
Yaiba pulls out a sheet of paper, "We have quite the laundry list."
The vendor takes a look at it and gasps, "What in the blazes for??"
Shimoni sighs, "You know those wind turbines on the Hill of Winds? They supply the electricity for all of Glie."
"Not true," the man says, "There are some generator engines."
"Yes, but they burn fuel," Shimoni says, "and doubtless you know where that fuel came from. Were down to three weeks' supply, stretched by the new rules limiting the use of lights and appliances at night."
"So soon," the man sighs, "The wind turbines will be our only source of electricity."
"And they are all about to crap out for good because they've had no maintenance in about seventy years," Yaiba says, "If we don't figure out how they work and fix them soon, the lights will go out and we'll never get them back on."
Next: FHD Remix Chapter 19: Always Apart