FHD Remix Chapter 51
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 50: A Desperate Dictator
Chapter 51: Bride of the Saviour
"You would never have come here if you knew what happened to Lilith," Tatakai says, "Perhaps you had already entered Glie when Lilith got erased."
The raven perched on the top of the kiosk speaks, "Do you know how much of a risk you two are taking? Do you have any idea what I could do with a raven?" The raven seems agitated, constantly beginning to extend its wings and having them calmly retract.
"If you don't have anything to say, then there isn't much point in keeping you in there, Maledict," she says, "Did you find our little Humpty Dumpty we sent back to you after you attacked?"
"Who's that?" The raven asks.
Shimoni's voice recites hauntingly from above:
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a Wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty together again."
On cue, the huge clock starts dragging as the crane lifts it from the hole. Maledict is startled out of its host. Jack pecks at it, pushing the yellow wisp further away, "Enough of that," he signs with his foot, then flies to a perch position on the clock.
"The light of the Saviour has quite a lot of ability," Tatakai says. Once the clock is clear from the hole, pendulum and weight cut loose and with parts falling out of it, Tatakai holds her right hand under the evil spirit. It sinks and presses against her palm, as though to inhabit her. Her fingers close around it and she stands.
"Hey Joe," she calls out of the hole, "can you toss me a glass jar, please."
"Sid here," the community watchman says, "Sure, Tatakai, you ready?" The jar drops from Sid's hand on the main floor, through the two holes in the floor and basement, and into Tatakai's left hand, a sure and simple catch. She flattens her palm of her right hand against the lid, and the yellow wisp passes through it into the jar.
"If the Saviour wants you to stay in there, Maledict," Tatakai says, "Then in there you will stay."
Sure enough, the evil spirit can't pass through the lid or glass body of the jar, and from this moment, is simply along for the ride. Tatakai smiles. It looks so much like a BFG cell. Jack would later huff in disgust. It might not be that much different from the last cell he loaded as a featherwing.
Erebus sits on the ground overlooking the Great Gate. His "new" Maksutov telescope is isn't going to meet the same fate as his binoculars. He enjoys one of the benefits of the Toga's restored relationship with Glie. He's gotten a corrective eyepiece for the powerful monocular, restoring its normally backwards astronomical view. Even better, he can get an Imp to look through it with one of her thermal eyes and track that featherwing in the snow. He was frustrated by one fact about this featherwing:
She is a woman.
No idea who. She bore no resemblance to anyone they had on record, triggered no deja vu in any of the elder spirits. She seemed to bear what must be the "Saviour's Light of Marksmanship." Whatever she aimed at, no matter how badly, was hit by the bullet she fired. Then she would struggle like a kid, first day at boot camp to get the bolt open. The accursed Devon Campbell could replace the plasma inducer, targeting software module, and projectile chip magazine of a BFG and have it back together faster than this phelp could reload this nineteenth century relic. <A nineteenth century relic that has claimed almost two hundred of my troops!> he fumes. It's not the numbers, since he's losing thousands each day from starvation and disease, but the insult that the Saviour would chose such a device, and such a soldier to break the latest siege of Glie.
She points the primitive device towards him and fires. She is seven kilometres away, and Erebus can't think of anything in between the featherwing and himself that she could be aiming at. The weapon doesn't have the ability to send a projectile anywhere near this far. As he's just starting to think that she finally once fired at nothing in particular, the objective lens of the only Maksutov telescope known to exist explodes.
Erebus rolls away from his position, over the ridge and behind cover. "Aarrrgghh!!"
<Thanks, Saviour,> Menmo smiles as she slides the five rounds off the charger clip into her rifle. <He's alright, I hope. I didn't want to kill him.>
<Oh, yeah, he's fine> the Saviour says, <That was Erebus, the enemy's commander these days. He wants a replacement telescope to observe you with. You can get a few dozen bushels for it. I'll show you the design while you're waiting for the inner gate. Chishio, Shijima, and Kurai will have lots of fun making it.>
Menmo smiles. She knows that the game the Saviour plays with the enemy is to show his children, even if they're "hellspawn", who is really in charge. Since the church is "the bride of Christ", his use of so many women in such powerful roles makes sense.
What to make of the eleventh chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians written by Paul of Silas? To Menmo, the notions in it certainly didn't come from the Saviour himself. She has vague memories of a husband using this chapter to bludgeon her in her first life. Did the greatest scribe to see the Saviour's face on Earth actually screw up in one of his letters later accepted as the very word of God? Well, Tatakai went off and touched the wall when she knew better than anybody in Glie. She didn't know who the author of the "First letter to the Toga" was, but instead of "man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man," he wrote, "It has not always been, nor shall it always be: Dress yourselves alike always, cover your heads and your faces so that when you are among others, no one can tell one from another, nor man from woman, nor woman from man, but assume that you are all men. To accomplish this, men must become more as women and women more as men. Men, be aware of the monthly cycle of the women about you, behave calmly when they are upset, and as upset when they are calm. Women, concentrate on your gait, so that you may walk as men. In this way, the enemy will assume only some of you are consistently upset, as it is with a population of men, and they will be confused that there are no women among you." The author had nothing to say about "men from God, women from men" concept, nor about the biological contradiction, that if God's name was Gaia instead of Yahweh, it is man who was made from woman. Even though this is not the case, Yahweh still made the biology of all created beings the way He did. <Hmm,> thinks Menmo, <With his last rib still in place, could Adam have become pregnant?>
The conversation she had with her friends between the gates about "Why should we all be men, and not women?" was far shorter and funnier. She was also concerned that while in her featherwing guise, that the enemy might observe the Toga around her and discern which ones were men, a big part of the reason why she wanted to deprive Erebus of his snazzy telescope.
The "war council" as it has become informally known, is meeting on a Wednesday this time. As usual, Shimoni called it together to keep all the important leaders up to date about the many situations she is keeping track of. Her latest project is to string up Glie with telegraph lines. Chishio knows how to make a very good cable for the purpose, which could sustain "hundreds of millions of variations per second" and his desire was that, even though we're only using a few variations per second at first, if the mysterious "Brooke's Law" set in again, you'd never have to rewire Glie. Already Shijima had produced a version of the Communicator radio, complete with rechargeable battery, small enough to be held in the hand and carried about. She was now struggling with a device that could convert sounds into signals that could be carried on Chishio's wires. It seems that by the following winter, people will be able to talk to each other across Glie with their own voices. The excitement was dampened by a sadness: they were remembering these inventions made fifteen hundred years ago on Earth, and six thousand years ago on Mars.
They also discussed housing, electricity, and the increasing production needs for the Toga. One of them had even ordered a telescope! While discussing these needs, Tatakai excused herself. The discussion had swung around to how to meet the needs of Tylus the "nail master", who made all of the screws and nails in Glie in his humble West District shop, when they began to hear the ringing of those little temple wing bells just outside.
Tatakai ushers in a Toga in the temple uniform, then closes all the window covers from outside while the Toga calmly waits. Joe, Yaiba, Shimoni, and Tsunami (Menmo's little successor) awkwardly wait while the 157cm tall Toga stands there. No one can tell what he's thinking.
Tatakai reenters the room and locks the door behind her, then starts pulling the drapes in the already darkened room. "I think I've found the right one," she says, "I'll be looking pretty silly if I didn't."
Tsunami, with all the subtlety of her namesake, says, "You're already looking pretty silly, Tatakai."
The Toga reaches up with his hands and flips his hood back, revealing long dark hair imprisoned by the scarf over his face, which he then unties and unwraps.
Tsunami runs over and jumps into the Toga's arms, making the bells ring loudly on his ornimental wings. She winces, backs off, examines the incipient rashes on her face and arms from an overcoat specifically designed to punish such behaviour. "Menmo, I thought I'd never see you again," she whispers.
Once her face is free, she smiles. Unlike most Toga, her face hasn't atrophied. She looks at Tatakai and signs, "My voice only works with delta radiation. I had no idea my Flight was going to be so short. The enemy probably calls me the flying Cossack or something when I'm out of uniform."
"You mean you're not just a straight-up Toga?" Tatakai gasps.
"As far as I know, I am a unique type of creature for such a time as this," Menmo signs, then she pulls off her scratchy overcoat. Tatakai instantly recognizes the ports in her two piece thermal outfit. "The only real difference is that I'm immune to delta radiation."
Joe asks, "What did she say?"
"I won't need to translate," Tatakai says with wide eyes, "Everyone sit down." She leads by example. She hasn't seen these in over a thousand years.
Menmo deploys her wings.
"What the-" Joe squeaks.
"Wowwwwww!", squeals Tsunami, "They're huuuge!"
Menmo's primaries are touching the floor, and her wings are bend slightly forward so that her alula claws are not against the ceiling.
"Do these work?" Tatakai stands and fearlessly reaches up under her alula feathers and pricks herself on the claw. Menmo, startled, pulls her wing back, leaving a long scratch on Tatakai's finger.
Menmo claps and extends her right wing as much as the limited room will allow. After a moment, she signs, "Sit down, so you don't hit your head when you pass out."
"You've noticed the damage to the central tower?" Tatakai asks as she takes her seat, cupping her other hand over the wound.
"Yes," Menmo signs, "someone told me it cracked the foundation, and now nobody's allowed in there."
"What we found under the foundation was amazing," Tatakai explains, no hint of distress from the scratch poison she stole from Menmo's wing, "The origin of Glie, and of the Haibane. I needed to confirm what we found out."
"How are you feeling, Tatakai?" Menmo asks in concern, "The poison in my wing should have knocked you out by now."
"Just fine, Menmo." Tatakai reaches up and grabs her halo with both hands, the blood from the wound on her finger sparkles when it touches the halo. She takes it from her head and sets it on her lap.
Menmo gasps, quite frightened, eyes wide. Everyone else, knowing the story from the kiosk in the tower, were surprised, but not alarmed.
"That's the first time I've had it off in over two years," Tatakai says. "The device that created Glie was unable to accurately reproduce the form of the featherwings, and instead created the haibane. Either type of wings need scratch radiation to survive, but without the scratch in the alula claw, another source of scratch radiation was needed." She holds up her halo, "The Saviour himself provided one."
Menmo furls her wings and sits down, she gasps, signing the name of the Saviour. After a minute she asks Tatakai, "So, you know everything? The origins of Glie, how old she is? Who created the wall?"
"Just us in this room," Tatakai answers, "But yes, we know everything," Tatakai affirms, putting her halo back over her head. "We are in unique and exciting times, Menmo," she explains, "Do your best to protect the Toga from enemy attack, and expect that their numbers will skyrocket. We are furiously producing uniforms, homes, rifles, everything that they need. We need only lose a couple dozen," she snaps her fingers, "And it is all over. Our Revelation 6:11 number is almost full, and we want to save as many hellspawn as we can." Tatakai explains everything, the milk jug sized object that created Deployment, her custody of it during the Final War, the wall, the big mudslide that erased the identity of Deployment and lead to Glie within the same wall, the strange quantum virus that the Soul Cube created to turn the oceans to blood. How she found out that Operation Tatakai, Jack and Devon Campbell were Revelation 11's two witnesses, and how the Soul Cube gave them command of every sort of plague, and that so much of Revelation, rather than being true miracles, were the ancient technology of the ancients living up to Clarke's Third Law. Of course, it isn't like they didn't have fair-and-square miracles, such as the wings that they flew about on, the Holy Spirit preparing the ground ahead of them as they went, the solution of the halo, and the Saviour's Light in Glie.
Menmo notices the resemblance of the Toga situation to the promises God gave through the ancient prophet of Joel. The hellspawn are not immune to delta radiation, but very highly resistant. After Maledict was killed, many ran west and jumped into the depression that was once Lake Baikal, where they died floating on the surface of the delta vector within. Those retreating to the east met a similar fate in the valley cut by the River Lena. "Afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people," she recites in her sign language, "sons and daughters will prophesy, your elders will dream, and your youths will see visions. Men and women, human and hellspawn, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Miracles in heavenly realms and on Earth," she embellishes, "inside the Wall and outside." She smiles.
"An old joke goes," Tatakai says, "That a general having suffered a great defeat sent out four patrols to the front, left, right, and rear of his army. The front patrol returned to report on the enemy forces arrayed ahead, and those sent left and right both returned, saying that their flanks were exposed. The patrol returns from the rear, distraught that they could not find the supply heads, reported that the enemy was behind them. The general grins and says, Good. They aren't going to get away from us this time."
[Thank you for reading FHD Remix: Three Worlds In One I hope you enjoyed it and that it gives you the ability to see the world in a new and different way. - Terry Wilson]
Next: FHD Remix: The Battle of Haibi