Father was fine, of course. Once I got him to the clinic, he was struck by inspiration. It seems odd, but I don’t share his passion for engineering. I left him to it and transitioned back to Steelhead. I had been awake for going on thirty hours, and needed to rest. One last patrol before sleeping, since I was still too wound up to sleep properly.
Everything was fine until I got to Shanghai. Finding a shopkeeper on the roof was not normal, but it did not look like he was preparing to jump. Still, I circled his building, letting him know I was there, and landed near him, careful of loose tiles.
“I should be doing something,” he said by way of greeting. Speaking in Russian, it took me a little bit to find the right language centers in my head. Bits of half-memories of folk-tales told by a woman’s voice helped me make the connection.
“Do you get any feelings other than that?” My pronunciation was not quite right, mostly because I had to be careful not to filter in the Romanian with it. “Anything I can do to help?”
Mr Danielovich shook his head, “Nothing specific... not even a place I should go walking... only that it is nearing the time...”
Going carefully, I tried to read his emotional aura. You have to be careful with empathic work, because someone who was borderline sensitive might be startled by the brush of something not physical. You might not even know they were sensitive until they began to have hysterics. Sitting on the edge of a roof, that would be bad. “You generally get told to go out wandering with this feeling?” I asked under the cover of a calm reassurance projection.
He shrugged, staring off into some middle distance. “You get to know when you need to be somewhere, right? Take a turn into an alley maybe one block sooner than you usually do, or go see the sights across the bay.” His focus sharpened, briefly, staring at the spot where Father's lab had been. He shivered in the warm breeze, and I remembered that he had gotten Mr Antfarm out of the wreckage. I could not remember if anyone mentioned Mr Danielovich being injured at all. Now, when I tried to pin down recollections of that time, my mind slithered away to Mr Antfarm’s treatment, Rengerin’s investigation, and anything else that was happening at the time.
“Huh, neat trick, that - being able to be there, just in time.” He had some good shields, so he was not radiating his emotional state like most humans do. It’s not that odd, finding someone shielded. Some people just grow them out of need in times of extreme adversity, and that seems to be something a lot of immigrants to our city have in their past. The ones that don’t shield tend to go mad, or drug themselves into a stupor. That reminded me I needed to check up on Dr Beck. AFTER I talked Mr Danielovich off the roof. “Does coming up here make the feeling stronger?”
He seemed to struggle with words, even though we were still talking in Russian. “It is... up, but not here, and not... now, only.... there is still the urgency....”
More soothing projections, “Would you like to try a higher altitude? I can give you a lift up higher...”
“Yes, please - this itching in my spine is becoming stronger.” He stood up, and I pulled on my grip gloves, while he got into position.
I had not noticed he was in the exact correct position for a wrist-grip pickup, and said, “Right - let’s get you into the air, Xavael.” A simple slip of the tongue, with monumental consequences. I do not know why I decided to test my theory at that moment... and at the time, I had not realized I had said the other’s name.
He stopped, becoming very still, and whispered something I did not catch. While I was hovering, waiting for him to get back on his mark, he turned to me, and said quietly, “I Remember.”
There was a light kindled in his eyes, and it swiftly grew to encompass him, and he repeated, as the wings unfolded from his back, “I Remember!” in a clear voice, no louder than we had been speaking, but it seemed to echo back from the rest of the city. The radiance grew bright enough my irises closed completely to save my retinas, and then suddenly, he was gone.
I hadn’t expected him to transform in front of me. I shakily landed on the roof, wondering what had been loosed in the world, and where the angel had gone. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep for a while.
Back in the swing
6 months ago