FHD Remix Chapter 40
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 39: Return to Humanity
Chapter 40: Kurai's Bird
"Ayeee!" a girl's voice cries.
Victoria bolts upright in her bed, banging her head on the piece of wood above. She falls back onto the pillow, which is smaller and firmer than she remembers, and she's covered by a blanket that's made of canvas, if not sackcloth. She rubs her head, getting her bearings back.
"Honey, that felt good, do it again," her husband playfully demands from the top bunk.
"Maybe once I have a bandaid for this one," she says as she rises more carefully, more slowly, pulling her feet over the edge of the narrow bed. "East Tower, Old Home," she sobs. It's so bizarre that we go from the North District to living with the Haibane over an oil lamp." She looks at her husband after he drops down from the top bunk, her two young children as they stir in the rooms other bunk. "I heard Patricia scream," she says, "I mean really."
"That was one of the Haibane," Bob says, "Was it Noble One, Kurai?" he asks.
"Bob, listen to what you just said!" Victoria gasps.
"Oh, yeah," Bob remembers, "The tag on the board was Gloomy Kurai."
"Not that," Victoria blurts, "Remember how we named her, Patricia is Latin for Noble One."
A knock on the door.
"Who is it?" Victoria asks.
"Kurai," the haibane sobs.
Victoria answers the door.
The red-haired haibane jumps into her arms, wraps arms around her back. Her halo rubs softly upon the human lady's chin. "Mom," she cries, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I saw the whole thing in my dreams, running off, touching the wall, everything."
"Noble One," Victoria says as she returns the embrace under her wings, "It's all right now," she assures her, "It's all right. I'm glad you're safe."
Victoria notices her wings are changing. She lets go of her rediscovered daughter and gathers in her hand the last three primaries of Kurai's left wing. "What is that?" she gasps, watching the blackness recede to the tips of her grey feathers, and finally disappear from them altogether.
"What is what?" Kurai asks through her tears.
"Your wings, they're changing somehow," Victoria explains.
Bob grabs a mirror from the dresser, turns on the room's electric light. "Look," he says, holding the mirror for her to see.
Kurai sees her wings in the mirror, the blackness of the sin-bound is gone. "Oh, thank you," she cries, jumping on her mother, burying her face in Victoria's shoulder again.
"Hey, watch it with that thing," Victoria whines, pushing away the halo digging into her cheek.
After this tearful reunion, Tatakai arrives. A raven is perched on each of her wings.
"How was work today?" Kurai asks.
"Jack insisted on coming, and today, I found a crack in the wall," she says as though it's business as usual.
"Oh, no," Bob says.
"It was in the outer surface only, and I fixed it right away," she says, "But the wierd part is that the ticks - er - spider-like creatures, really. Jack somehow negotiated them out of the wall's interior. So I didn't have to kill them. They're smarter than I thought, I guess. Jack seems to know their language."
"Oh," Victoria says, "We wanted to discuss with you, changing Kurai's name. She really is our Patricia after all. I think discovering that has something to do with her wing disease. It seems to have gone away," she points out.
"Oh, she's been Kurai for over three years," Tatakai says, "I'm not even sure if-"
"Oh, no," Bob says, "It would be pronounced the same. There's a kanji for Kurai - Gloomy. We want to change it to Kurai - Noble," he says.
"Kurai, do you agree with this?" Tatakai asks.
"Absolutely," she answers, "Kinda wierd isn't it? Having a name with two meanings?"
The two ravens peep at each other. Jack is perched on Tatakai's right wing, Nancy on her left.
"Actually," Tatakai says, "Not too long ago, it was perfectly normal for Haibane to have two names like that. I only discovered it this morning. Jack was absolutely insistent that I look at these little wooden boxes." She hands her one. Engraved on the lid is the kanji for Gloomy.
Kurai takes the box as Tatakai explains. Tatakai doesn't know what to say about a tag in the northern sector that changed its Toganese reading from "Gloomy" to "Noble" since her previous round. Instead, she says, "The Communicator before me made that just for you; recognized you the day after you emerged from your cocoon. Remember getting your notebook?"
Kurai nods. It was a warm memory for her. The Communicator let her speak because her wings were still too sore to move, the right one for yes, left for no.
"Go ahead," Tatakai insists, "Open it."
Kurai slides open the box's lid and pulls out her new name tag. On each side, acid had been applied with a brush, etching her new name into the wood in graceful calligraphy. It was then painted over black, with her name painted in white on one side and red on the other, gently recessed into the wood. "It's beautiful," she sighs.
"Oh, and congratulations," Tatakai says, "You are the only haibane in known history with a precursor from Glie." He taps her shoulder gently, "You are one wierd haibane."
Kurai smiles, remembering how she described Tatakai on the day she emerged.
"Don't be too long," Tatakai says, "Yurushi needs your help with the garden, and you don't want to miss Yaiba's breakfast this morning."
"Oh?" Kurai asks.
"Come along," Tatakai beckons to the human family, "You're all invited. She also made carrot cake, but don't tell the Young Feathers what's in it. They can't stand carrots."
"I love this part," Yurushi sighs as he lies on his stomach in the grass at the edge of the garden. looking between the stones up one row along the brown soil. The young plants are just poking out of the soil, first leaves searching for the sun.
"These are all the Martian variants," Kurai reads from a printout, "since the sun dimmed by one-third, it is now of the same intensity as it was on Mars. These seeds have been specifically bred for the sunlight conditions that are now normal in Glie, and should produce more than the seeds within Glie, with a shorter growing season as well. Mars had a longer year, but it was normal to have two growing seasons in each year for most vegetables."
"The sun dimmed the day my precursor died," Yurushi says, "I didn't think it was still like that. I was very upset with God that day."
Kurai continues to read, "Unfortunately, they will need stout relief from Earth's gravity as they grow, and especially as the tomatoes and beans mature. They will to be tied to stakes with Conestoga wire. We are making arrangements to get you some soon. Jack Campbell. Nancy Vaughan."
She lowers the note gasping, "How do they do that?"
"The crows are pretty amazing these days," Yurushi says, "Whatever printed that is outside the wall, some kind of machine."
Tatakai follows the printed directions to a sector of the wall. <You really do appreciate that boat,> she says to herself inside as she trudges through the Western Woods in her temple robe. <Heavy and awkward as this thing might be, I am not going through that sickness again.>
"Jack?" she pants, "I'm here, where are you?"
She notices a thread secured to the branch of one of the gnarled snow trees. She recognizes the material, <Oh, crap, they better not be in here.> She looks up the tick-silk rope to the top of the wall. Small objects can be seen sliding down along the thread.
Tatakai backs away from the snow tree, hearing the sound of their approach.
Ziiiiip-clack, Ziiiip-clack. The coils of Conestoga wire arrive at the snow trees branch, a total of three two hundred metre coils.
"Wow!" she complements as Jack comes down and lands on the branch. She walks up and asks, "How do you get them off?"
Jack pecks at the branch.
Tatakai pulls out her folding knife and holds it next to the rope above the wire coils, "This okay?"
Jack flaps his right wing and squawks impatiently.
Tatakai cuts the rope and retrieves the three coils, putting them in her canvas bag.
Jack grabs the end of the little rope and lands on her hand with it in his feet. He extends his right wing and curls his feathers to a right angle, then pumps it up and down.
"Oh, you want me to pull it down?" she asks.
Jack extends his right wing and nods. Tatakai give the rope a stout yank with her gloved hands and hears the little iron fixture skip off the top of the wall almost six seconds before landing in the mud next to her.
"So that's how you stole the plasma cell off that wagon," Tatakai laughs. "Let's go, Kurai's probably going to crap herself when she sees this."
Next: FHD Remix Chapter 41: I'll Go Fill The Tub