Freedom's Wings

 

 

 

 

   

Chapter Twenty-nine

 

 

Soon the group was in the room they had been in before.  This time, though, when their hosts left the room, the door was not locked and no guards remained to watch them.  Buck was taken to one of the small bedrooms and left in the care of Sky Mother, Leera and Wilma who hustled everyone else out of the room.  Sky Father was surprised to note that it was already late afternoon.  No wonder he felt so exhausted.  Soon there was a knock at the door and several Tane-rapanui came in with trays of food and drink.  

As they left, Hawk stopped one of them.  “Can you tell me where the girl, Miru, is?” he asked.  

“I do not know of whom you are speaking,” the birdman said.  

“She is the miru-moruku,” Hawk replied.  “She was at the Elder’s Council this morning.” 

Recognition dawned on the birdman’s face.  “I know who she is, but you will have to talk to one of the elders.  She could be anywhere.  The orphan crèche, the audience chamber, anywhere.” 

“Thank you,” Hawk said as the attendant picked up his tray and left.   He turned and saw Mara talking with the others.  

Walking up to her, he asked.  “Is there any way to communicate with various parts of your city?” 

She smiled.  “Most of the time we fly or go through the corridors.”  She paused.  “We have the technology and can use electronic communicators but we were afraid such signals would be picked up by orbiting ships.  Most of the time we use our devices to listen to orbiting ships.”  

Hawk nodded in understanding. 

“You have need to contact someone in the city?” Mara asked. 

“Yes, I am worried about Miru,” Hawk said.  “I should have checked on her before we left the council chamber, but I was also worried about Buck.” 

“Let me have one of the guards find her for you,” Mara told him, laying her hand on his arm to reassure him.  “I know she would probably like someone to talk to right now.  Someone she trusts.” 

“Thank you.”  Hawk ate only a little of what had been brought for them, even though it delicious to the taste.   He simply did not have an appetite.  What he had learned about these Tane-rapanui and his feelings about Miru and her treatment here, along with worry over Buck, gnawed at him.  He walked to the balcony and stood there watching the sun make its way to the top of the western mountain.  Flyers were out, catching the air currents, exercising their muscles in complicated patterns that almost resembled a sky dance.  It exhilarated him and made him feel sad at the same time. 

“They are beautiful,” a voice beside him stated softly.  It was Sky Mother. 

“I used to think that having what they possess would be the most wonderful gift imaginable,” Hawk said, without turning around.  

“But now?” she asked.  

“Now I wonder if it is really a curse.”  

“It is a wonderful gift, Star Warrior,” Sky Mother said.  “Like any gift, though, it is in the use that makes it truly wonderful.”  

He said nothing, only continued watching and thinking.  

“You have a visitor, Hawk,” Sky Mother said, breaking into his reverie.  

Hawk turned and found Miru standing in the middle of the room, looking shyly at him.  He smiled and beckoned to her.  Sky Mother left them and returned to Buck’s room.  For several minutes the pair stood on the balcony watching the flyers.  

“They are so beautiful.  I wish more than anything that I could have wings, just enough for one flight,” Miru said wistfully.  

“I used to feel the same way,” Hawk replied, realizing that Miru had not heard the conversation between he and Sky Mother. 

Miru gave him a sidelong glance.  “What changed that?” she asked and then wondered if it was something too personal.  “If I may ask, that is.” 

“Of course, you may,” Hawk replied.  “But you may not care for the answer.” 

She didn’t doubt that it had to do with Hawk’s visit to her people.  “There are many answers that I have not cared for in the past few years,” she murmured.   “I just did not know them until today.” 

“I suppose that is true,” he said softly.  He stood watching the flyers for a few more minutes before speaking again.  While this young birdwoman was very mature, she was still making the transition into full adulthood and he didn’t want to say anything beyond her understanding.   “What I have learned here disturbs me.  While not as bad as what I have experienced on Throm and other places, the treatment of the non-winged Tane-rapanui by the rest of your people has left me feeling . . . empty, depressed.” 

“I am sorry, Hawk,” she replied.  “There are many very good people here.  Really.” 

“Like the Elder Leader and his beloved?” 

“Yes.” 

“I know and that gives me hope that someday a reunification between our peoples can happen.” 

They were both silent for a few minutes.  

“The true essence of the Tane-rapanui is not in feathers and wings, it’s in the heart and soul,” he said to break the long silence.  He gazed steadily into her dark eyes.  “You are more Tane-rapanui than your mother and most who live here.”  He looked back out at the sky.  The sun was just sitting on the shoulders of far mountains.  “Sometimes I feel the countless voices of the ancestors inside me.” 

“Often, I fly in my dreams,” Miru said.   “Is that the ancestors?” 

“Maybe, but I think it may also be your own heart rejoicing in who you are.” 

Miru just stared at him.  

“You are one of the people—Tane-rapanui,” declared Hawk.  Again they watched the sky, seeing the sun slip behind the mountains.  Hawk heard voices inside and it surprised him into a few more moments of silent contemplation.  Finally, “Miru, would you like to leave here?  Would you like to learn from other Tane-rapanui?” 

Miru sucked in a deep breath; her shock was so great.  She was speechless for another minute. 

“You would be among humans part of the time,” Hawk said softly.  “But there is so much Sky Mother could teach you.”  

“Would the other humans be like Buck Rogers and his beloved?” she asked. 

Hawk couldn’t help it; he began to laugh.  “There is no other human like Buck Rogers,” he said.  “And Wilma Deering is not his beloved . . . yet.  But yes, there are many good humans, even while there are still bad ones.” 

“You said Sky Mother could teach me.  Could you not teach me?” 

Now it was Hawk’s turn to be surprised.  “Me?” 

Miru nodded.   

“Perhaps, Miru, but I am a lone Tane-rapanui among humans on a human ship.” 

“If I were there, you would not be alone,” Miru said brightly. 

“I do not even know if that would be allowed, but I will think about it.”  Hawk felt comfortable among those on the Searcher, but the idea that another of his own kind would be there with him was exciting, even as he thought it was a selfish wish.  

“It would be nice to have a brother,” Miru murmured.  

Hawk gazed out at the purplish and gold twilight and wondered if he was doing the right thing.  That the young birdwoman would be better off away from this environment of loneliness and repression, he didn’t doubt.  But to stay with him?  She would definitely be better with Sky Mother’s people. 

“There is so much you need to learn that only Sky Mother and her people can teach you,” Hawk ventured.  

Miru said nothing for a moment.  “That may be so,” she said hesitantly.  “But I can learn much from you, too.  After all, you are the one who has learned to live with humans and who has found groups of the people.” 

Hawk was about to tell her that Buck had made the actual first contact when she continued. 

“Even if it was your human friend, Buck Rogers, who found the Mendalis group of the people first, I believe that your influence, your presence made the events come about.” 

Hawk gazed at her sharply.  He couldn’t totally dispute the fact.  And besides how was anyone to know Make-Make’s methods.  He just smiled softly and then said, “Perhaps.” 

She smiled back and again Hawk was reminded of Koori. 

“I was going to ask you to take me when you left anyway,” she said, changing the subject.  “I had a dream last night.” 

“You did?” Hawk said.  “What about, if I may ask?” 

“Of course.  It was about you.”  Miru smiled at Hawk’s surprise.  “A very beautiful birdwoman came to me and we sat outside of the city, talking.”  Miru pointed to the mountain peak still bathed in soft gold.  “That one,” she said.  “And she told me that I was like her sister, young and exuberant, but still filled with doubts.  She said in a whole city of the people, I was still alone.”  

“She is right,” concurred Hawk, seriously wondering if the woman in Miru’s dream might have been Koori.  Somehow, he felt that might be the case. 

“She told me that you are among many human friends, but you, too, are alone.” 

Hawk sighed.  Yes, that was true, too.  And with Buck and Wilma so close now, even the relationship he had with Buck was going to change. 

“She said we belong together and that you could teach me much.” 

Hawk nodded.  The gold tinges on the mountains faded and the valley was bathed in darkness.  The flyers had left the skies shortly after the sun had set.  Stars twinkled in the gaps in the clouds.   “Did she say more?” 

“Yes, but it was just between her and I.  She said she would visit you soon.” 

“Koori,” he murmured.  

“Yes, that was her name,” Miru said.  

Koori, Hawk called out in his mind. 

“She must have been a very special miru-moruku,” Miru said softly, seeing the longing in Hawk’s eyes.  

“She was . . . is a very special Tane-rapanui,” Hawk corrected.  

 

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The long night became a long new day, then another night.  Wilma wondered if Buck was ever going to wake up.  Occasionally, he murmured something in his sleep, but it was unintelligible and more the object of dreams rather than nightmares.  She and Sky Mother were able to get him just awake enough to drink some water or broth; otherwise he slept.  Sky Mother also persuaded Wilma to periodically lie down and sleep, and with very little argument, she curled up next to Buck and dozed or slept lightly for a few hours at a time.  During those times of rest, she too, dreamed, vivid, but non-threatening visions of a tumultuous but otherwise wonderful past few years.  She dreamed of possible futures, sometimes harrowing, other times exciting.  Wilma would wake up with pieces of wispy dreams, little snippets that would make her wonder and then hope they were true.  She wondered also about this place that seemed to influence such dreams.  But then she had been dreaming much more vividly, even before they had left Earth this last time.  Then it dawned on her—it was the Tane-rapanui.  They were the influence.  She wondered if Hawk dreamed this vividly.  Apparently not always, or if he did, he wasn’t telling anyone.  

Shaking her head, Wilma slipped off the bed, trying not to disturb Buck, although she thought that would not be possible the way he was sleeping.  She gazed at him in the dimness of the single light on a tiny table on the other side of the room.  He was still sleeping peacefully.  She padded to the door, ready for a cup of coffee.  She noticed, with amusement that whenever she took time to sleep, Sky Mother and Leera left the room.   And when she left, at least one of them was awake to come in and check the sleeping man.  

This time it seemed that everyone was asleep; it was very quiet, only the sound of Buck’s breathing behind her and the soft sighing of a cool breeze through the open windows.  Quietly, Wilma pulled the door shut behind her, poured herself a cup of coffee and sat in a chair in the large room, contemplating all that had happened recently.  She was thoroughly amazed, astonished at all the twists and turns of which life seemed filled.  And then there was Buck.  Did he ever intend to propose?  He had professed his love for her.  Had that changed?  She sighed.  He had referred to her in the audience chamber as his beloved, but she knew that was only to save her from the judgment of these people here.  Maybe when they got away from here she needed to break this off.  Give both of them the freedom they might need to rethink this.  Except she didn’t feel she needed to.  But even so, maybe stepping back and taking some deep breaths would be the best thing.  Wilma didn’t want to lose him, but she couldn’t live with this not-knowing.  And until Buck knew his own mind and heart….   Wilma took another sip of her coffee.  It was cold.  Sighing again, Wilma set the cup aside, got up and padded back into the small bedroom, her mind in a turmoil, her heart sad.  

She looked at the bed, but saw nobody there.  Suddenly panicked, she gazed around the room, but saw no one. 

 

 

Chapter Thirty
Chapter One
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