FHD Remix Chapter 47
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 46: Market Square
Chapter 47: The True Clock; Origin of Glie
[The author recommends listening to BT's The Antikythera Mechanism, sixth track of their album, The Binary Universe while reading Chapters 47 and 48. The author discovered the original music video eight days after writing this chapter, while putting together the volume files for BookRix; the day after composing Volume 5's cover art. He was led to the video because a fan of Doom 3 posted a gameplay video to the song. The actress in the video is the spitting image of hatchling Yaiba in the author's imagination, except that Yaiba's outfit is one piece, and that coincidence is nothing compared to the other one!!]
A strong wind falls off the western wall of Glie, a warm one that blows the snow into banks, but is only a few degrees below freezing. It soon begins to sinter the icy dust on top of the deep drifts into a hard firn, especially the pack on the east side Hill of Grooves ... I mean, Hill of Winds, still frequented by Shimoni to make sure the windmills are okay.
The face of the clock in the centre of town, still reading fourteen minutes past three o'clock, sinks back with a clank. Sid, of the community watch, sees it, and yells at the building, "Everyone get out!!"
The watchmakers had already gotten the message from the banging of the pendulum on the stairwell and run outside. As the last one emerges, the entire clock face slides down, leaving an empty hole in the top floor. The racket grows and the tiled courtyard under their feet bucks when the clock's enormous weight, which was fully lifted in the last attempt to get the old clock working, hits the solid stone floor of the basement. The builders had found an ancient, solid stone ruin, recovered what they could, mostly stoneleaf books, and donated them to the library, before dusting off the floor and building the clock tower on top of it. The clock tower was by now, the oldest, and, it was thought, the most stable building in Glie, except for the Temple.
Onlookers dash out of the way as the top of the tower falls backwards over the east side and hits the ground with a dull thump felt more than heard. The wooden rafters had snapped on impact with the ground, as Sid expected, but it had landed in the snowbank in the building's lee, which muffled the noise.
Sid walks around it. The top of the building is still square, and the shell seems intact, even as debris pokes through the walls of the shops.
Shimoni arrives just as Sid thinks of summoning her. One glance at the structure and she gripes at the clockmaker, "I told you to take that weight down before the snow hit."
"Is the structure stable?" Sid asks.
After a walk around and a peek inside, Shimoni says, "The eastern shop and the tower are stable, but the southern shop is not. The first thing we need to do is push that crap," indicating the roof of the tower and the snowbank, "out of the way, so we can get a scaffold there. Then we carefully push the snow off the roof of the southern shop."
She gets a sudden uneasy feeling about the foundation, then says, "Stay here while I go check something. If anything else happens, get Yaiba and Kurai."
As she starts off, Sid asks, "What about Tatakai?"
"She's at work right now," Shimoni answers, turning around, "If it matters to her, she'll come on her own."
Shimoni gets to the tower and is surprised how much the huge clock has sunk into the basement, instantly realizing that it couldn't have done so unless it had gone through the basement floor. "Oh, crap," she mutters, "God, please don't let anything fall on me while I check this out." She slowly steps down the stairs and lets her eyes adjust to the darkness in the basement. The weight is gone, presumably through the floor, and the clockface is sitting in the hole, facing opposite the way it did in its proper position. A dim light seems to emerge from the previously unknown sublevel. Shimoni is reminded of a memory from her previous life: an accident she had not seen, but studied as a precedent setting energy disaster. She snaps as she finally remembers its name, Chernobyl. She stops, then gets back out.
She feels the cold wind on her face and immediately asks Sid, "Is it any colder than it was before I went in there."
Sid shakes his head, no. Shimoni feels colder though, but she is relieved. The first symptom of delta radiation poisoning is feeling warmer than you should. Sid is only wearing thin gloves, and blows into his hands to keep warm. Shimoni holds them to warm them up, and he thanks her.
A few hours later, after the snow and debris removal, Tatakai and Yaiba show up, curious about the change in the skyline.
"Tatakai, I'm glad you're here," Shimoni says, and then once close enough to Tatakai so the others can't hear, she says, "You know the tower was built on an ancient structure under the soil, right?"
She nods, "What's the matter?"
"The clock broke through the foundation floor into an open space," Shimoni says.
Tatakai shares her surprise, "A sublevel nobody knew about?"
"Yes," Shimoni confirms, "And something is glowing down there. Before I went any further down into the basement, I became concerned that there may be delta radiation, since the 'bedrock' seems like its made out of the same stuff as the wall. I wanted to play it safe."
"Good thinking." Tatakai then finds Yaiba and has Shimoni explain it to her, and the three go into the shop. Tatakai drops a green, low dose delta radiation patch into the basement. It stays green, indicating no delta radiation.
Tatakai alone ventures into the basement, and sees the floor of the sublevel near the wall of the widening structure. It appears to be the interior of a tapered square tower, like a tall pyramid. A radiation patch she drops on this floor also shows clear. She leaves herself a rope to get out, tying it to the trusted steel poles of the known basement. Then she gently lowers herself by it into the sublevel.
A dusty square structure glows. She wipes the dust off the face of what appears to be a computerized information kiosk. Her heart is pounding. She hasn't seen anything like this since her old life. It's a ticking clock, reading:
"SCD+1262yr Feb 03 11:23:45"
The last number increments soundlessly every second.
"Great," Tatakai mutters aloud, "Devon could probably understand this, but since I'm a haibane, I've forgotten that language."
Suddenly the screen changes, it displays, in Japanese, "Language Japanese preferred?"
"Hai!" she cheers. She freezes now that she can read the clock.
"Soul Cube Deployment 1262 years, second month, third day, eleventh hour, twenty fifth minute..."
"What's a Soul Cube?" she asks in a quivering voice.
The screen obediently displays a picture. Tatakai's eyes go wide. "Oh my," she cries, falls to her knees. "God, is this for real?" she bawls.
"Tatakai, what's wrong?" Shimoni asks, "What's the matter?"
"Get down here!" she screams.
Once all three haibane are in the room, Tatakai asks the system, "Do you know who I am?"
"Yes, ma'am," it is a female voice Tatakai finds familiar, but does not remember its name: Linda. the kiosk displays, showing a file. A picture of an older, wiser looking Tatakai. Side-by-side, the left hand column shows the original English, while the right hand column shows Japanese. The dates [omitted for brevity] count down to the Soul Cube Deployment.
DEVON GREENBOROUGH CAMPBELL FEATHERWING CODENAME: 闘 ASHFEATHER BATTLE RECORD: First Battle of Mars: Recovery of Soul Cube from Intermediate Dimension; Second Hero Custodian of Soul Cube, joint with Jack Campbell after sharing wings. Destruction of Hellgates: D4A, ID Main, D3A, D3B, D3C
Tatakai noticed her name in kanji on the English record, but her haibane name was rendered in English.
The record went on and on, Tatakai didn't even realize she was tapping a down arrow as she read of all the battles she dreamed of. She was shocked. Over this seven-year period, there were dozens she never dreamed of. Portal after portal fell at her hand with accellerating pace. She broke open prisons, rescued people, stole weapons, not just for her operation, but because of mass destructive capabilites. Devon went around forcibly decommissioning nuclear weapons in her spare time!! Yaiba curiously noted that she once tried to rescue Vanessa Bradford, but that she refused to be rescued, she thought that should be familiar to her for some reason. Shimoni had some deja vu when she read that Devon claimed a ruin called Pripyat as a sanctuary for the Saviour-spawn, who had actually lived in nearby Red Forest, rather than the collapsed city. The world thought they were mad because of an unstable nuclear reactor nearby that had been too hot to touch for a hundred and sixty years. The record held that, before claiming the ruin, Operation Tatakai, with the help of the Soul Cube, cleaned up this reactor and teleported its waste into the Earth's mantle.
Second Battle of Mars: Halt of enemy Ep6_12 spread from Earth to UEN 3 Task Force unsuccessful Destruction of Hellgate D2A
The pace from here accellerated. In its dry, starchy style, it told of a nasty exposure to delta radiation collected in a hellgate facility's basement, Operation Tatakai research into delta radiation herbal treatments had saved her life. The pace of battles accellerated. Tatakai was remembering. It said "Humanity Extermination Program," and days later, "Reinstated as UEG Marine Leiutenant, 17 Division, Jordan Valley." The Dead Sea was really dead by that point, she remembered, having turned to blood, stratified, and then turned to blood a second time, and by that second time, had a layer of delta vector gas upon it several metres thick, then dried up completely. The force she was in made their way north, based on the location names of the battles and her vague recollection of the geography. Just as she was expecting to recognize the battle where she attempted to rescue Yurushi, it says.
Soul Cube ended custody to select deployment site SCD-0yr Nov 01 (Soul Cube Deployment, zero years prior, eleventh month, first day) Reappeared as Ashfeather Battle, SCD+1259yr Dec 30 (Soul Cube Deployment, 1259 years, twelfth month, thirtieth day SCD+1260yr May 19 Repaired damage to Wall heading 252 and destroyed attacking force using Light of Saviour, War
From that point on it reads just like it could be an index to her log books, but in these SCD dates.
"Wow," Shimoni gasps, "Is it really that busy in there?"
"Yes," Tatakai sighs, "You can read my logbook carbons for the details."
"I know," she answers, "I just haven't had time. I guess I was mistaken to think I was busier than you were," she offers with an apologetic smile.
"Do you know me?" Yaiba asks.
A picture of her appears. "VANESSA LOUISE BRADFORD" and "ASHFEATHER BLADE" begins a short record, most entries of which are qualified with "Transmission Received." After a couple of screenfuls, it says:
Executed as part of the ratification of United Earth Government, Martian Ancient Peace Agreement, better and more accurately known by Deployment population as "Hellspawn Peace." SCD-3yr Nov 14 Reappeared as Ashfeather Blade, SCD+1260yr Dec 15 Manifests Light of Saviour, Healing, SCD+1260yr Dec 17
"Transmission received?" Yaiba gasps, "I knew those Site 2 artifacts could see me."
"Yeah," Tatakai says, "And it tells me how much Gordon Atlas knew when he made that stupid peace. You confirmed for him everything I had told him, and then he executed you."
"After I replaced his fingers," Yaiba smiles, "A little slower than I could today, but hey."
After Yaiba and Tatakai laugh about old times, Shimoni asks the computer, "Do you know me?"
No picture. "ASHFEATHER DOWNWARD" and went on to explain that she had no alternate meanings for her name, and included the date she had "gone white", as well as the date when she first demonstrated the, "Light of Saviour, Rain".
"Ashfeather Fluffy," Tatakai requests.
"Cancel!" Yaiba cries as it appears. The kiosk returns to its default display of the date and time. She turns to Tatakai and says, "If Menmo's alive as a Toga, it is not for us to know."
"You're right," Tatakai says, "Thank you."
"It does not know that I was Helen Ochreby," Shimoni sighs. A long pause. She closes her eyes, "Saviour, please give me a date for when they showed it to me, the Soul Cube." She turns to her friends and explains, "There was a fellow blind in one eye, who toured it around Mars, assured me it was harmless when I went to pick it up. It felt odd, like it was heavy and light at the same time. It felt almost like it couldn't make up its mind whether it wanted to be held in my hands."
"More specific information is required, Haibane Shimoni," it says.
"Anno Domini," Shimoni says slowly, "two thousand, one hundred, forty one years, tenth month, fourteenth day, tenth hour, zulu time. Thank you, Saviour."
"Identification matched," it says.
A video of her appears, in a red shirt, smiling, amazed, and labelled, "Unknown 1382." As it plays, the computer says, "Record corrected, Helen Ochreby," and it attaches her names to the video of the thrilled young woman, "Helen Ochreby; Ashfeather Downward".
Tatakai looks like she is about to say something, then decides not to, "It's not my place to know," she sighs. She was about to ask for Rakka's record. Finally she asks, "General information on Haibane, please."
Origin of Ashfeather:
The Soul Cube was inhabited by 144000 inhabitants total, 4512 of which had wings. Neither unitary, nor quantum teleporter technology had access to the dimension where the furled form of featherwings resided, and so it was known very early that the furlable wing system of the featherwing beings installed in the Soul Cube had been lost. (Picture of a featherwing being) The featherwing beings retained control and access to the featherwing dimension in a limited sense, and were able to form their wings, while deployed internally, into the blades the Soul Cube used as its primary weapons. The Saviour warned that the formation of the wings would not be complete in a Deployment, and that the alula claws being incomplete would disable the production of the substance known as scratch. He instructed us on the production of a new material, hikarinium to substitute the nutritional radiation of scratch. A halo was to be forged of the new material and given to the reconstructed featherwing as a hat (picture of deployed featherwing being with a haibane halo.) He warned that the halo had to be hot from the forging when mated, and that its performance would be affected in much the same way as the wings. This implied that the halo brightness and ability to sustain the wings on the reconstructed featherwing being, would follow the same principles as Featherwing Love. We concluded that the sharing of wings would not be possible, but what would occur instead is the sharing of halos, and that the burning of wings would not be instant, but the burning of a halo would be, with the failure of the wings expected after about two weeks.
"The failure of the wings after the halos are lost in the Fallen are consistent with Communicator records," Tatakai says.
The Deployment created a surprise: The quantum teleporter was not able to reproduce the featherwing being in his true deployed form, and instead the wings were mounted on the back between the shoulders, instead of on the sides where they should be. In all cases, they could be commanded to move and flap just like the original flying wings of feathers, but were far too small for flight and the barbules were in the natural direction, rather than the featherwing reverse. Also, the new creatures did not have the senses and metabolism of true featherwings. All feathers were either grey or white, and so came to be called ashfeathers, although snowfeathers were also proposed as a term for the new type of creature. The transformation of the featherwings into this new creature was regarded with great sadness, as it was thought that Earth featherwings were extinct at Deployment. As predicted, the wings could not be furled, but the surprises were just beginning. The ashfeathers had no reproductive or romantic interests or functionality, rendering the sharing and destruction of wings completely moot. The unfortunate creatures were therefore predicted to die out with the first generation. On SCD+5yr Mar 07, thirty-four of them were called into the Western Grove by the Saviour, and with no further elaboration, were taken up in a rapture-like event in a blazing light show we called the Day of Flight. We soon discovered that this was going to be how they left Deployment on a regular basis, almost always in groups of several dozen. They were always able to identify and exclude imposters, although how was never explained. Once an ashfeather was called to a Day of Flight, he spoke very little of the event before its occurrence. It was frightening at first (SCD+34yr Sept 19) when small plants started appearing in the quarters of departed ashfeathers, and these were removed to a memorial garden. The size to which they grew, always independent of light, watering, and soil conditions (one was discovered in a basement after it had become too large to move) was astounding. Ten months after they were found, they hatched, and what appeared to be grown humans emerged. Their wings emerged after about twenty-four hours, revealing them to be ashfeathers. They were given halos on the assumption that the wings would fail without them, and this was later discovered to be the case. The new ashfeathers apparently were resurrected from previous lives as either human or featherwing, apparently to be given another chance at maturing their souls and spirits in the process called "individuation" or "differentiation" and to accept the love of the Saviour. Always recollections were vague and contexts could rarely be placed; names were completely excluded, and it was revealed that, even though they emerged knowing the chosen Deployment language, it was clear that they often had different languages in their dreams. It was thought that they were resurrected from past lives from before, after, and even during First War and Deluge events, from the societies of both Mars and Earth. We were soon taken to naming them after their more vivid recollections, or "cocoon dreams." There were many who could not grow into compatibility with the wings, and were thus lost before their Day of Flight. These would wander either into or outside the walls and never be recognized again. There is speculation that they become Toga, the anonymous traders, but since we respect their privacy and anonymity, this has never been confirmed. The ashfeather being has become a normal part of Deployment's existence.
"Nothing about the multiple names or the Communicator?" Yaiba asks.
"It is possible that the system developed slowly," Tatakai says.
"Look," Shimoni says, "It is possible that is just a different file, huh?"
FILE NOTE: ASHFEATHER EYES ONLY Toga, Trade, and Communicators
Toga were the name given to the humans who suddenly appeared in the wall moat interspace, and at the gates, and there were soon hundreds of them. They would confide only in the ashfeathers, that they were hellspawn who had accepted the love of the Saviour and defected. The ashfeathers immediately made garmets and protocols to make them indistinguishable from each other and had started to develop a new sign language for them to share, when they revealed that the Saviour had already taught them one. It was also decided that this new language would be taught to a limited number of ashfeather "communicators" to further protect the origins and identities of the Toga. They were given designators in their new language, essentially serial numbers. They made contact successfully with the hellspawn in this form and began to trade with them. When the expected delta vector poisoning became too much for Deployment's inhabitants (it was found that humans were much more vulnerable than ashfeathers, who in turn, were slightly less vulnerable than featherwings.) The Toga were immune to delta radiation, along with a mysterious and highly intelligent species of crow. This is the only known species of fauna immune to delta radiation, but other than that significant fact, were deemed of little importance. After the automatic gates locked down when external delta radiation exceeded ten milliSieverts per hour, only the Toga could survive outside Deployment's wall, and we are expecting this to be the case indefinitely.
"A lot can change in a thousand years," Tatakai said.
"And a lot can stay the same," Yaiba sighs, "I bet if we could calibrate your little disks, they would measure in Sieverts per second."
"Why did they decide on Japanese?" Shimoni asks.
A new file appears
Japanese: The Official Language of Deployment
It was decided that one language was needed to operate Deployment, and there were many long, long arguments about what this language should be. It was nearly decided to make this language English, the most common language of Earth when the Final War began, but there was disagreement by reason that both the hellspawn and multitude of human traitors at the time these decisions were being made about Deployment could understand English, and we wanted a language that allowed more complete obfuscation and encryption of our internal communications, making it harder for the enemy to infiltrate Deployment. One thing we all agreed on, was that Devon and Jack Campbell were remarkable and empathetic warriors. Their codename "Tatakai" was in Japanese, and thus it was decided Japanese would be the official language of Deployment. After Deployment and the discovery of the ashfeather creature's strange way of perpetuation,...
Tatakai and Yaiba gasp as the former scrolls the file to the end. "Oh, crap, I gotta sit down," Tatakai mutters as Shimoni arrives at the section, obviously the last of the three.
...it was widely speculated that Devon and Jack were the two witnesses of the Earth Ancient Revelation, Chapter 11, verses 1 through 13, and that based on this, they would return as ashfeathers in the 1260th year of Deployment, after they had been killed by the enemy, and that their return would be heralded by a great worldwide earthquake. Finally, it was decided that the internal information terminals would provide basic map and time-of-day information in any language, but one needed to know Japanese to have any access to reference information files like this one.
Next: FHD Remix Chapter 48: The Deployment Story