FHD Remix Chapter 41
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 40: Kurai's Bird
Chapter 41: I'll Go Fill The Tub
[This chapter features Why by Nicole Nordemann, eleventh track on her album This Mystery (c) 2000 Sparrow Music. The painting by Reki is pure conjecture on the author's part.]
The burned fragments sitting on top of the piano were encased in a plastic sheet. Under the plastic, they are labeled "Trade HS Contraband SCD+2yr Dec 25 Treat With Care", but nobody could figure out what any of that meant, except for "Treat With Care", nor find the machine that printed the label or the old receiving record. Almost half of the original song, which was in the ancient language English, written in Latin script, is missing. Memno had filled in the gaps by copying what she heard "come down" while playing what she could translate. Her handwritten version sits on the piano's easel.
Many questions were asked about the old pieces, but the six adults had few answers, only the nagging conviction that the song had to be played for the children. Menmo puts her hands on the keys of the piano in the guest room with all of the Young Feathers, as well as the five displaced human children from the North District, gathered around her, a total of 18 kids, at long last quiet. She taps out a slow, somber melody and starts to sing her latest song.
"We rode into town the other day
Just me and my daddy
He said I had finally reached that age
And I could ride next to him on a horse
That of course was not quite as wide"
"Menmo," the Young Feather with his hand raised asks, "what's a horse?"
"I have no idea," Menmo answers, "Something you can ride, of course. This song is hundreds of years old, and it tells a story that's at least two thousand years older than the song."
Cows are also extinct, the taste of beef remembered only in the occasional dream. Glie instead raises goats, sheep, pigs, cats, dogs, and a strangely flightless brown "canned goose" with a black head and a white feather pattern on its cheeks that makes it look almost like it's wearing a bandana over its beak. If let out, will wander south until it bumps into the wall and dies. A couple of paintings appear in Glie, including one by Reki, that show birds flying at high altitude in a V-formation. Shijima is adamant that they are the same bird, flight taken away from them so that they stay in Glie and live. Nobody can figure out how it got the name "canned goose".
"We heard a croud of people shouting
And so we stopped to find out why
And there was that man that my dad said he loved
But today there was fear in his eyes
"So I said, 'Daddy, why are they screaming?
'Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
'Why is he dressed in that bright purple robe?
'I bet that crown hurts him more than he shows
"'Daddy please, can't you do something?
'He looks as though he's gonna cry
'You said he was stronger than all of those guys
'Daddy, please tell me why
'Why does everyone want him to die?'"
The kids continued to listen in silence. Tucked in the back of the room are Tatakai, Shimoni, Yaiba, Yurushi and Kurai.
"Later that day, the sky grew cloudy
And daddy said I should go inside
Somehow he knew things would get stormy
Boy was he right, but I could not keep from wondering
If there was something he had to hide
So after he left, I had to find out
I was not afraid of getting lost, so I followed the crowds
To a hill where I knew men had been killed"
Gibson's wife stifles a gasp. To her this seemed an awfully ghastly tale to be telling children.
"And I heard a voice come from the cross
That said, 'Father, why are they cheering?
'Why are the faces of some of them jeering?
'Why are they casting their lots for my robe?
'This crown of thorns hurts me more than it shows
'Father, please, can't you do something?
'I know that you must hear my cry
'I thought I could handle a cross of this size
'Father, remind me why
'Why does everyone want me to die?
'Oh, when will I understand why?'"
"How big-?" one of the kids starts to ask, spinning around at the sound of a sob, she sees Shimoni with an arm around Tatakai, who's wiping a tear, trying to hide her face behind her blonde hair.
"'My precious son, I hear them cheering
'I'm watching the face of the enemy jeering
'But soon I will clothe you in robes of my own
'Yesu, this hurts me much than you know
'But this dark hour, I must do nothing
'Though I've heard your unbearable cry
'The power in your blood destroys all of the lies
'Soon you'll see past their unmerciful eyes
'Look there below, see the child
'Trembling by her father's side
'Now I can tell you why
'She is why you must die.'"
"Aka, are you all right?" one of the haibane kids asks his red-haired friend. The girl just sobs uncontrollably. The boy reaches for her white wing and touches a feather, the wing recoils as though the touch stung her. The boy is stunned: Akanasu was known for having weak wings thought incapable of moving like that.
"Three?" Tatakai asks Yaiba with a sniffle.
Yaiba lifts up her hand and points at another pair of white wings. "Four," she cheers softly.
Turning to her friend, Akanasu says, "He loves us. The Saviour died so we could be free and clean, see?" That moment she spreads her wings to full span as though to show off her white feathers. "Oh," she cries, "I don't know how to explain it. We were born corrupted, and we needed him to ... long ago the first of us screwed up, made us need to, made us-"
"Responsible," Menmo says, "put us in charge of knowing right from wrong."
Akanasu cheerfully flaps her wings, swatting her friend by accident, "Yeah! Thanks, teacher." She concentrates hard, "So from that, we know right from wrong, and we weren't ready to ... they were wrong to learn that."
Gibson's wife chuckles, "It was wrong for us to learn right from wrong? That's rediculous."
"Absolutely," Yurushi snorts.
"The message of the cross is rediculous," sighs Yaiba, "to those who are dead in their sin," she says as she preens the seagull grey first primary on one of Yurushi's wings. "But to us who are being saved," she spreads her own white wings for Gibson's wife to see, "it is the power of God." She points at Akanasu and asks rhetorically, "Where are the smart, wise ones who debate the deep issues of our times?" Yaiba, the one thought sage by half of Glie turns to Tatakai and says, "God has made the wisdom of the rest of us useless, and through the paradox of this child, he smiles with her ... laughing at the rest of us who think we are so smart." [See I Corinthians 1:19-20]
"It was wrong for us to learn right from wrong," Akanasu sighs, "and in learning, we became ... responsible ... for that wrong. But we can't be responsible for that wrong, we were too dirty already. Someone who knew right from wrong, but had no sin-"
Tatakai remembers something the old Communicator had said, "The circle of sin is something you need help to escape."
"-someone pure and perfect," Akanasu continues, "Had to show us, had to pay the price. Had to die," she sighs. "There is more." The room remains quiet as Akanasu digests what God is telling her heart. "He had to rise from his death to show that we could do the same: rise from the death of our sin."
"His death erases the record!" another of the kids with the new white wings says. Menmo smiles, knowing that he refers to the little chalkboards that each kid has in the classroom. When one did something wrong, it was written on his "record", and he had to do something to make up for it before it could be erased. "But he rises again to show that we can be healed." He is looking directly at Yaiba when he says that, and smiles. He is one of the two kids she healed on her first day in Glie.
"We're supposed to go under the water!" one of the other new white feathers squeals, "it shows that we understand!"
"I'll go fill the tub," Shimoni says, then promptly disappears out the door.
"Oh, I hope it's not going to be cold," Akanasu whines, sounding like her usual self again.
"Helen, you've already been under the water," the youngest of the white feathers squeaks, she's about four years in physical age, "the Saviour told me."
"Really?" Helen asks, "'cus I don't remember."
"Oh, you've forgotten already?" the little girl squeals, "He told me it was Teacher Yaiba," she gives her a playful little wave and flaps her wings, "and that nobody was supposed to watch."
"Oh, that's-" Helen remembers her death and resurrection in the North District blaze.
Shimoni is standing behind Helen. "I dunk you in water," she chuckles, "but he dunked you in spirit and fire." She turns to the others and says, "bath's ready."
"Teacher Shimoni that was too fast," Akanasu criticizes in that way kids like to sound smart, "It takes Teacher Menmo over an hour."
"There's a trick to it," Shimoni says, then squirts a tiny stream of warm water from her finger at the little red-haired girl, reminding her who wields the Saviour's light of rain.
"Oh, yeah, silly me," she blushes, "thanks for making it warm."
Shimoni happily dunks the girls, while Gibson is summoned to dunk the boys. The two groups and leaders of like gender for modesty's sake. Towel wrapped, each wet kid is anxious to get back to his or her room to dry off and change out of wet underwear and back into dry clothes. There were many more white feathers when they started. A few went under with grey feathers and came up with white feathers. Only a couple still had grey feathers at the end.
That evening, Tatakai arrives at the tower for her shift. Jack is stubbornly adamant about going with her. In the suit room, Jack tries to be patient, standing on a robe hook sticking out of the room's wall. To Tatakai, it is obvious that he's anxious, he keeps shifting from foot to foot, flexing his toes. Tatakai notices that he's curled two toes at once and stops to watch, and Jack sighs as though to say, "Finally!" Paying attention, she realizes that he is using his three toed foot to spell out the first several letters of the Toganese alphabet, using two gestures for each letter.
"I get it," Tatakai says, signing the first seven letters of the Toganese alphabet to show him.
His right foot tired, he shifts to his left to sign for her, "They used to be..." It takes him such a long time to spell out the word in the awkward Toganese convention that he shifts again to his right foot, "...Ticks."
Tatakai gasps, "You're kidding!"
Next he spells out a tag address.
"That's the other side of town," Tatakai groans.
When she arrives, she finds twenty two-people, all standing on the outer edge of the moat, all wearing white robes. When she speaks, all they do is shake their heads. One of them crosses her arms and starts signing, "Please help us. We can't understand you."
They are all visibly relieved when the lady in the round boat with the raven, their friend, crosses her arms and signs, "I understand your new language. Please, show me how you got in."
They point up.
"Great," she mutters, then signs, "Did anyone follow?"
"No, we were ordered through," she signs, "Raven told us to surrender, or you would flash us. At the time we-" She stops. She doesn't know the Toganese phonetic convention and can't think of a description for the creature that she was before. The Toganese phonetic convention was something that the Communicators came up with to add to Toganese long ago, and not part of the original language that the Toga are born with.
"Ticks," Tatakai says aloud, then signs, "Raven told me what you were. Traitors to our enemy. Saved by-" Tatakai sighs, then says aloud, "Yesu," she continues to sign, "Saviour. Born again into this new form."
Jack squawks, making a series of strange chirping and tapping noises.
The lady frowns and shakes her head, then signs, "Raven, we can't understand you. Only this new language with our hands."
"I can only take four at a time," Tatakai signs, pats the railing of the boat, then continues "the limit of this thing. Who is most tired? They shall go first."
The first four included their spokesperson. Three women and one adolescent boy. Tatakai spends most of the night ferrying them, eight trips in total. On the last trip, she pushes the boat faster, tiring herself and panting wildly by the time she gets back to the temple.
All of them lounge in the suit room. She is awkward in the robe. As she returns to the door, she turns to them and signs, "I am battle." Aloud, she says, "Tatakai," then returns to the sign language. "Things got through, and now I must fight them." She taps on the handle of the outer door, then signs, "Do not open this. I will return."
Tatakai returns to where she found the newborn Toga, wields the Saviour's light of war upon the three Cacoe who expanded the crack into a proper opening they could get through. Jack struggles to lift a hikarinium container high enough for her to see the breach so that she can command the light to seal it.
Before she does, she tears off a page of her log book, stuffs it in one of the seed tubes that Jack had brought in, and tells him, "Take this to their commander." Jack nods, ties the tube to his foot, then flies out the opening. Behind him, the opening seals with a flash.
The seated, two tonne red monster Erebus lowers the binoculars and turns to Maledict, who stands next to him. "Relatively speaking, that was a success."
"I know," Betruger's voice grumbles from inside the batwing's skull, "Did any of the Cacodemons escape?"
"No," Erebus sighs, "but a raven flew out of the breach just before she closed it."
"That doesn't matter," Maledict growls, "How are we going to confirm that the arch-enemy Devon Campbell is really in there?"
Jack lands on Erebus' right horn and caws, freeing the the bullet case with the paper sticking out of it. It bounces off Erebus' bony eyebrow then into his hand. He pulls out the report and focuses on the Japanese script written on it. "Betrayed by a raven," Erebus snorts happily, tossing a piece of his raw goat jerky a few feet in front of him.
Campbell, Haibane of Old Home, Defender of Glie 67 days past spring equinox, 55 years after Rakka's return
Started work 6 hours, 4min past solar zenith.
An emormous fight in the North Sector today damaged four tags, and the boat. Killed 22 Ticks and 3 Cacoe. The breach is in the high space, and I'm expecting to find it shortly.
The rest of the page is blank, evidently stolen by the raven before she found the breach.
"Thanks, buddy," Erebus says to the raven as he flies away with the jerky. He holds the page for Maledict and says, "Here it is with the official seal of the Haibane Renmei. Does that leave any doubt, master?"
"Rot!" Maledict snorts.
"When I get her, I'm going to tear the wings from her back myself," Erebus pounds his fist into the ground beside him, "then I'm going to hold her down for you, master."
"I wonder," Maledict almost purrs, "where's the other half of Tatakai?"
"Don't worry about him," Erebus growls, lifting a small (to him) bag from his belt, "I still have his bones."
Jack shudders from the high branch of a nearby tree, <Pervert.>
Next: FHD Remix Chapter 42: Tears For The Toga