Freedom's Wings

 

 

 

 

   

Chapter Thirty-two

 

 

Hawk, lying on his bed in the guest room that he shared with Sky Warrior, and the other single Tane-rapanui males, was tired but could not sleep.  He was back on board his home, but he was restless and not entirely happy.  He remembered Miru saying something about Koori back on Rrilling, but his beloved had remained absent from his dreams.  Not only was that disturbing to him, but also there was the fact that he was enjoying his time in the company of Miru.  Hawk kept telling himself that she was like the sister that had been so close to him back before he had married Koori, but somehow, he still felt guilty, as though he was being disloyal to his beloved.  Perhaps that was why she had not come to him recently.  

With a sigh, he got up, pulled on his armor of rank and softly padded out of the room.  Without bothering to put on his boots, he slipped out of the guest quarters and headed toward his own cabin.  He needed to be alone.  By now the Mendalis Tane-rapanui were adjusted to the Searcher and they could help the others if they woke up.  Hawk lay down on his own bed and then got up, still restless.  He looked at the picture of Koori that Buck had given him, touching the solid plexi cover and wishing he could touch the soft, warm flesh of her cheeks.  He sighed and returned to his bed. 

He didn’t remember her coming to his bed, but suddenly Koori was there with him, next to him, her caress warm, her lips full and sensuous.  She undressed him as she had in the past and then sat back and smiled.    “Koori,” he cried out happily and reached for her.  His hand seemed unable to get a hold of her and she seemed to alternate between seeming solid and real, and tenuous and ephemeral.  “Koori!”  He reached for her again.  Still, she eluded him, even as she sat by his side and he knew she could not come to him any more than she had before.  He wanted to cry, his frustration was so great.  He felt his body armor and knew her foreplay had only been part of a dream.  Her hand reached out and touched him.  He could feel her fingertips, and he reached up with his hand and touched her fingers.  This time they were warm and soft, at least for an instant and then they became ghostly once again.  Only in death in the other realm would they be able to stay together, touch and feel and love, he thought in frustration.  

“As it should be, my love,” she said, willing her fingers to become tangible again.  She rubbed them down his cheek.  She longed for him as much as he longed for her, but among the dead, time flowed at a different speed, perceptions were different and she knew that she did not feel the same kind and intensity of pain and pangs of separation as Hawk did.  Her love was in no way diminished; it was simply wedded with the sure knowledge that they would be together again- someday.  She did not have to wonder; she did not have the need of physical sensations anymore as the living did.  

But she hurt for her beloved.  She knew how lonely he was, but she also knew that he needed to remain among the realm of the living for a while longer.  His mission was not yet over.   “Someday, Hawk, my love, my strength—someday we will be together,” she said softly, her voice like a whisper in his ear.  

Hawk sighed.  

“But it is not good for you to be so alone,” she said. 

“I have my friends,” he murmured, happy for her presence if nothing else.  To hear, to feel her nearby was comforting and he relished any moment he had with her.  

“Yes, and they have been true friends.  But you are Tane-rapanui and even though your friends are truer than even some from our clan, you need the companionship of one of the people,” she told him.  

“But if I had stayed with Sky Mother’s people, we would never have….” 

Koori laughed.  “That is not what I mean.  You have opportunity now.” 

Hawk loved Koori’s laugh; it spoke of sunshine, wind and life, but he brought his mind back to what she had said.  “Opportunity?  You mean Miru?” 

“Yes, Hawk.  She felt the loneliness of having had no one in the midst of a people who did not care.   You have been around people who do care, who have taught you to enlarge your caring.  You have the opportunity to teach her the heart and soul of the Tane-rapanui.” 

“But she could learn that among the people of Mendalis,” Hawk protested, although mildly.  He could still feel the slight pangs of guilt over his enjoyment of Miru’s company.  

“She could, but there is something she can give to you, even as you give to her.” 

Hawk remembered how he felt around Miru.  It felt good being with one of the people, especially now that Buck and Wilma were going to marry.  But he wondered if his feelings were simply that of a teacher or brother or something else?   Then he realized that part of his guilt was because he felt the stirrings of something else. 

“Beloved, it does not matter what feeling you have or may, in the future, have for Miru,” Koori’s thoughts answered his.  “I will always be your beloved, your first and your eternal woman.  That will always be so, even though I invoke rights of succession.” 

Hawk gazed at her in shock.  “What are you saying?” he whispered, his voice almost tremulous in his surprise.

“I am saying that our people must continue.”  She gazed at him, her eyes serious.  “We, you and I, never had the chance to have children.  But we are mated forever.” 

“Never to be separated in the eternities,” Hawk continued the marriage litany.  

“Any children either of us have belong to both.  Miru will fill the empty space in your heart and be the means of continuing our family and our people.  And you will fill the great void that has existed in her soul for all the years of her life.” 

Hawk sat in stunned silence.  “But you are my beloved.  My only beloved,” he finally blurted out. 

“You do not believe that you have love enough for more than one person?” 

Hawk’s thoughts were in turmoil.  Never could he forget Koori, but if his feelings for Miru went fully beyond that of a “brother” as the young Tane-rapanui called him? 

“Hawk, I do not doubt your fidelity to my memory and to me, but it is not good for you to be celibate,” Koori said bluntly.  “I want you to be happy.  When it is time for you to come to this realm I will be waiting for you.  But I want you to come as one who has fulfilled all, not someone tired of living.”  

Hawk could only stare at her.  It had been centuries since someone had invoked the birthright/succession provision, that which would keep a line of the people alive.  But without it, the people of Throm would die out.  “I do not think they will allow Miru to stay on this ship,” he said, shying away from a total commitment as Koori suggested.  

“Make-Make has provided you with the means to live,” she said softly.  She seemed to be fading.  “He will continue to guide your life.” 

“Koori,” Hawk said plaintively.   

“I will always be near, Hawk,” she said, her voice like an eddying current.  “In your mind, in your heart and in your soul.”  She was almost gone from view.  “Your happiness is my happiness.” 

And she was gone. 

Even though he felt the sting of her departure, Hawk was also filled with a sense of wonder.  Koori did not feel betrayed by his attention to Miru, in fact she was encouraging even deeper attention.  He smiled.  Hardly conceivable right now, as Miru was not much more than a fledgling, for all of her maturity.  But if the admiral could be talked into letting Miru stay, she would be a good companion; someone to exchange lore, history, language and ideas with.  For all that Buck, Wilma and the others were understanding and kind—good and devoted friends--they could not totally understand his inner feelings and thoughts.  He would have to approach Miru first, although he already knew her feelings on the matter, then Sky Mother and then the admiral.  Hawk suspected it would not be easy. 

Several days later, he was no closer to a solution.  Miru, of course, was overjoyed, although Hawk made a great deal out of how tenuous the idea was.  Sky Mother seemed to be expecting it.  Finally when Hawk did ask the admiral, Asimov cited several military regulations against the idea.  While not totally surprised and at least partially understanding the admiral’s arguments, Hawk nevertheless was disappointed.  He considered asking Buck and Wilma’s advice, but decided against it, seeing how totally engrossed they were with each other.   Hawk found it somewhat amusing that while Buck had finally proposed to Wilma, she had not accepted yet.  Regardless, there seemed to be some kind of implied understanding between the two.   In the end, Hawk told Miru and hoped that something would come up to change the situation. 

 

 

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Miru could not eat, so great was her disappointment.  She had been warned that it would be very difficult to be able to stay on Hawk’s ship, but still she had hoped.  Now, all she could do was ask for Make-Make’s help.   Then she wondered if perhaps someone else could convince the admiral.  Another human?  Perhaps Colonel Deering?  Miru had been astonished to learn that the colonel was second in command of this huge ship that seemed larger than her city, but then she remembered that her city had Queen Arana.  Perhaps she could talk to Buck Rogers, who was just below Colonel Deering in rank.  Her hands suddenly felt clammy at the thought of going through these corridors alone.  She had become fairly adept in terra lingua, she thought, but still…. 

Maybe Hawk could go with her to see the humans, but Miru shook her head.  This was something she had to do herself.  She paced in the main area of the guest quarters, trying to muster up her courage.  

Sky Mother sat quietly watching Miru, and the young Tane-rapanui realized she could ask the healer to go with her.  But again, if she was going to even think of living on this ship….  Finally, Miru turned to the old birdwoman.  “I am going to see Colonel Deering,” she said. 

“You might also want to see Captain Rogers as well,” Sky Mother suggested.  At Miru’s questioning glance, she added.  “Because of his background, he has a somewhat more diverse way of thinking than most humans.” 

Miru had noticed that Buck Rogers was somewhat different than his colleagues, but while he was always friendly to her, that different-ness had made her a bit uncomfortable at times.  As though she didn’t know what to expect.   Mentally shrugging, Miru turned and looked in the mirror, straightening the deep green tunic she was wearing, a holdout from her days as Arana’s personal attendant.  The dark metallic strip, off center, down the front, as well as down the sleeves seemed to draw attention up to her head feathers, which were a soft creamy white, mottled brown at the tip of each feather.  Leera had told her how beautiful the coloration was and Miru believed her.  She tightened the matching metallic belt to accentuate her small waist and straightened the leggings that she wore under the thigh length tunic.  

There was nothing else she could do to be ready to leave the cabin, so Miru stepped out into the corridor and almost stepped back in again.  Several humans were walking in the metal encased hallway on various errands.  Miru dismissed the possibility that they could be coming just to check out the bird people.  “Excuse me,” she said to the nearest, a young human female.  

“Yes, ma’am,” the woman said deferentially.  

The human’s smile seemed genuine and her sky blue eyes interested in what Miru wanted.  That took Miru back a bit and she stammered her question.  “Could you tell me how to find Colonel Deering, please?” 

The woman nodded.  “I am going in that direction.  I will show you Captain Rogers’ quarters.”  At Miru’s hesitant look, she continued.  “They are most likely together.”  There was a knowing smile.  “I am Lieutenant Toni Walker, by the way.” 

Miru nodded and followed, almost instantly lost in the maze that was the Searcher.  And I want to be part of this? she asked herself.  Then she remembered her dreams and Hawk, and said, Yes!  

Finally, at a junction of several corridors, the woman stopped, pointed down one of the passageways and said, “The fourth door on the left is Captain Rogers’ cabin. If Colonel Deering is not there, keep going down the corridor, turn right and Colonel Deering’s cabin is the fifth on the right.”  She watched Miru concentrate.  “Or you can ask anyone you see for more directions.”   The woman smiled again.  “And don’t be surprised if, when you leave, a couple of the crewmen ask you what the colonel and captain were doing.” 

“Why?” Miru asked, puzzled, not sure if she understood everything the human had said.  “What they are doing is really just . . . for them, is it not?” 

 Lt. Walker laughed good-naturedly.  “Of course it is, but Lt. Dickerson has a betting pool going on as to when Captain Rogers is going to pop the question.” 

“Pop the question?” Miru was really confused now. 

“What I mean is . . . when he’s going to propose marriage to Colonel Deering,” the woman said. 

“Oh,” Miru said.  From what Sky Mother and Hawk had hinted plus the way the two humans were acting now, she thought he already had, but neither of her friends had said anything specific. 

“I have to go.  Duty calls,” Lt. Walker said.  “You will be fine.” 

“Thank you,” Miru said as the woman turned and walked down a different corridor.  Miru walked to the door indicated and looked for the little bell that announced a person’s arrival.  There was none, but she remembered someone pushing a little button on a door when they first came on board the Searcher.  The door had slid open then.  She didn’t want to just barge in on something most likely private, but she pushed the button anyway.  After a slight pause this door opened, too.  

She peered in and saw Wilma Deering sitting on a wide high back chair that would seat two.  Miru had no doubt that Buck Rogers usually filled the now empty spot.  

“Miru, come on in,” she said.  “Buck, we have company,” she called out as the girl entered.  The door slid shut behind her.  

Buck came into her view from a small place that appeared to be a tiny food preparation area.  He had two glasses in his hands.  “Hey, Miru,” he greeted her with a smile.  “You came here by yourself and didn’t get lost?” 

Miru smiled.  “I asked someone.”  She paused.  “I hope I am not . . . uh, interrupting anything important.” 

“Great going!” Buck said, motioning her to sit down in the empty space next to Wilma.   “And no, you weren’t.  We were just reading an old Earth book together.” 

“An old Earth book?” 

“Yeah, one from my time.” 

Miru had heard a few things about Captain Rogers from the others, but had not asked for details.  She had dismissed what she had heard as miscommunication.  Looking at the aged book on the seat, she thought that she might want to hear more details.  Wilma held the book out to her.  It was in the human language, which she did not know, but Miru carefully opened it up and gazed at the writing on the brittle pages.  “It must be wonderful to have something like this.” 

“Didn’t you have access to books?” Buck asked.  

“Only occasionally did I have time to read from the queen’s library.   Most of the time I was too busy.  I did not learn how to read well,” she said softly, her voice tinged with sadness.  “It must be wonderful to read the stories about the ancestors.” 

Wilma smiled.  “This isn’t exactly about the past.  It’s a fiction . . . a made up story.  But even those can tell you much about people.” 

“I think that it’ll be easy for you to learn to read well, whatever language it is,” Buck said, pulling over a footstool and sitting down.  He had also fixed Miru something to drink and offered it to her at the same time gesturing for her to sit down on the small couch.  

“Oh, that is your place, Captain Rogers,” she protested.  “I can sit on the stool.”

Buck waved off her protest.  “You are a guest in my humble house.   And the name is Buck.  Especially when everyone is off duty.”  He took a sip from his glass.  “Now what’s on your mind?” he asked sensing something was bothering the young birdwoman.  He pondered briefly why she hadn’t consulted with Hawk, since she liked him so much.  “Or are you here to talk to Wilma?”

 

 

 

Chapter Thirty-three
Chapter One
Buck Rogers Contents
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