Part Three: A Whale of Courage
By: Charles Mento
This story's typing is finally finished by me. This story's posting and finishing is in memory of my brother in law, John Vigiano, a fireman missing in the World Trade Center attack and to his brother Joe, a policeman also missing. Both are presumed passed on.
Hsui Tai, Mike behind her anxiously gripping her elbows, stared intently at the snow whale and its baby. Both telepathically heard this new message, "You should never have left him! He will try again! He will kill himself! Come back!"
The message was more clear than the first warning from her dream. It was the same mental voice and reception. Hsui Tai was sure it emanated from that whale by the old man's home.
Part Three: A Whale of Courage
Mike was extremely sore from all his trials. He was glad to be sitting, stripped of his AE suit, wearing a bathing suit in a hot spring across from Hsui Tai. It had been quite a feat getting her to lay in one but it relaxed her tense muscles. She was upset by the last message but even under normal circumstances Hsui Tai was too shy to dip into a hot spring. Yet her she was in a bathing suit sent by TIM. Good thing passer bys were having too much fun to notice the pot where their invisible AE suits lay. No snow stuck to the suits--it was melting even before it hit them. All in one night they had been to Matsushima, Akita City, Yokote, and now the hot springs of Owani near Hirosaki. Hsui Tai's eyes were somewhere else, thinking of many things. Mike splashed some water at her, "Hey, he'll be okay! I told you. TIM and I left a warning device near his bed. If he so much as gets up to go to the bathroom, a telepathic alarm will go off in my mind, your mind and TIM's...TIM's...uh, so are you having a good time?"
Hsui Tai looked at the beauty all around her. Snow everywhere, still lightly falling, smoke rising from the hot springs on this hillside where tourists mingled with the friendly Japanese people here. The sky was m ildly pinkish blue with the moon glowing through somewhat. "Yes, Mike, I am. Thank you."
Now it was Mike's turn to relax. He let his shoulders slink down against the tub walls which were inset into the rock floor. Mike fell into a dazed state between sleep and wakefulness. Something jarred him from it. Something loud and clanging dragged him back to the waking world. The alarm! Mike's realization made him jump up where he saw Hsui tai in her AE suit, disguised again as a winter jacket and suit, all white. "Cor, that was fast!"
"I just came from checking on him. He was safe."
Mike caused his AE Suit to materialize on himself and then made the spectre shift disguise it as the same outfit he wore before. He noticed how the sun began to come up as the snows subsided. He guessed that he had slept for a few hours. The alarms rang out until they jaunted. TIM, realizing the pair was jaunting back to the elderly man's home in Matsushima, stopped the clanging mental alert. Hsui Tai and Mike appear behind the old man, again on the beach, just ready to enter the sea.
The old man seemed dazed, hardly rested even though Hsui Tai had seen him resting. Could the whale be telepathically haunting him? As they turned him around to face the old house, both Mike and Hsui Tai glanced toward the sea behind them. Mike wasn't sure of the whale but Hsui Tai smiled, feeling its sincerity in her mind and heart.
After they bedded the old man again, empathically warming his snow covered feet, Mike pressed for answers. The old man, surprised Mike knew Japanese, began to respect him and answered. "Yes, I told your friend I was with a scientific expedition hunting whales near the Aleutian islands. Most men on board were not scientists. I was fooled---I lead them to this whale area. They told me they wanted to study whales, not harm them, not kill them. But the men--they insisted these men be the crew---they were not experienced in either science or whaling. I had not killed whales before even though our people had killed many."
"Our....you mean Hsui Tai? She...she is Chinese from near Nepal."
"She is part Chinese. But part Japanese."
"How do you know what?"
"I don't know....the whale..."
"The whale told you," Hsui Tai said, "You are mildly...telepathic!?"
"A gift from the beyonders."
Mike got back on track, "What happened?"
"This whale was there. Because of my stupidity, I allowed this team to try to net it. It was badly cut and died. That one, the one out there, was its mother."
Mike frowned, "And its followed you around for revenge."
"Yes, yes. It only fair that I give myself to it. It was my fault!"
"No," Hsui Tai said, "It does not blame you. It does not want vengeance."
"How do you know? You are but a girl."
Just then they all heard audible, loud sounds echoing from the whale. The communication also touched their minds. It was at peace with them and its world. Hsui Tai was so overwhelmed by its presence she shut her eyes. She vanished. Mike turned, shocked, "TIM" he telepathed, "Was that a voluntary jaunt or was she summoned by the whale?"
TIM was unsure of his answer, "Both, Mike."
Hsui Tai underwater in her AE Suit touched the whales head. It gently bowed for her and let her swim over its head toward its dorsal fin. She placed her hands on its back. The ride Hsui Tai was getting was only half responsible for the exhilarating chills she was receiving. The whale's mind--one of a collective family-mind, was the most peaceful mind she ever had the joy of sharing. Then Hsui Tai clearly received messages. This whale HAD followed the man. It did want something of him. And what this was both shocked and pleased Hsui Tai. But for the whale there was going to be a price to pay. Maybe more than one. Physically it had to separate itself from its pack although mentally and spiritually, such parting was impossible---for this whale. The second price was even more serious. Hsui Tai needed Mike's help.
She jaunted back, completely dry, in front of Mike and the old man, who jerked up out of bed. "Hsui Tai, he saw you!" Mike blurted.
"Mike," she puffed, "It doesn't matter. The whale....he brought me here originally. To him...he...he's my grandfather."
The old man rose from the bed and touched her eyes and cheeks. He then stroked her hair as she bowed her head. He began to cry. "It...is so. Many years ago...you are Toshi Sakoba's daughter. Many years ago he fell in love with a Chinese woman on one of his many journeys to your country, to China. Your mother, Chinese, was titled Tsai Chin. She had a very large family. I am sorry. I drove them both from me. It was a disgrace for...for both worlds to mingle. Now it does not seem to matter to me." He turned from Hsui Tai and walked to the window, opening it. "My fault. I am shamed for driving him...them...both away. He sent messages many times. Always I destroy them. I needed him. One time the boy who brought message told me or your birth." Tears welled up in his eyes and overflew. "I spat on the ground." Hsui Tai gulped, feeling traditional shame, yet not as much as her grandfather. She put a hand on his shoulder.
"What happened to her parents?" Mike spoke up.
"Do not now. They were forced out by her family, equally filled with hate and disgrace."
"Stupid," Mike spouted in fury.
"Mike, no time," Hsui Tai started.
"Let me go on! My son became a simple Shepard living in a hut in the mountains. Places even remote to us here and now in the modern world. I had secured the rights to go visit my son and his family."
"You mean..." Mike whispered, "You changed your mind?"
"Yes but when arrived, found no one. Chin family attack me but I escape. Imagine they killed your parents. Rumors of the monks' kidnappings spread but I also imagined the family killed the child."
"The important thing is that you tried. You came," she turned him around gently, to face her.
"While Chin family as busy with me, monks of Shanshu must have taken you. The whale---he--he knows all this."
"Yes sir...grandfather," Hsui Tai felt ill at ease addressing this man---a stranger who she wanted to know---had searched for in a way, yet did not know how to relate to. She had no way of truly understanding family relationships except through her contacts with the Tomorrow People. They were the closest thing to a family she had had---and she intended to stay close to them. She was, after all, one of them. She hadn't time to reflect on any of this now. "Mike, the whale risked everything to bring us together. He sensed my sadness and came her to try to contact my grandfather's mind--he is somewhat telepathic, my grandfather. Then the whale tried to contact me when he realized my grandfather misunderstood. The whale, now, is in danger."
"Danger?" Mike turned and looked out the window quickly, the wind gently blowing his long dark hair back, "From what Hsui Tai?"
"A ship," she stared out with him, "They want to capture whales alive to bring them into captivity."
TIM chimed in, "That has never been accomplished in Japan. Earlier attempts lead to the death of the whales--slow, torture like deaths."
The grandfather, Sakoba, sat down again, almost defeated, "Then it is as before."
Mike turned to him, "They're scientists. Maybe they will listen to reason."
"Mike, I'm afraid it is too late. They are already overtaking the whale and preparing nets," TIM told them, "I can know this from the whale itself."
"No!" Hsue Tai jaunted, Mike following. Sakoba was wide eyed with amazement, then wonder.
Water moved aside to accommodate the appearing of Hsue Tai and Mike, next to the fleeing whale. A new flew down toward them all. Mike sliced a long hole across it with the laser pencil. He telepathed to Hsui Tai and TIM, "I have an idea! One that may work! Hsue Tai, touch the whale. Concentrate on how we jaunt."
TIM signaled back, "I know your plan, Mike. We do not know if the whale can!"
Mike fired at a giant metallic net, "We must try, TIM." The ship was very close, so close they could its bottom rudders churning, ready to slice anything in the way. Hsue Tai had her hands on the tremendous head of the whale. Mike took the other side. Together they convinced it to slow down to a near stop. The ship came closer. On its deck, scientists, whalers, and fisherman conferred as to what the whale was doing. Was it dead, they wondered. Why did it stop so suddenly and seem to sink? The bottom wasn't so far---they could still capture it. Others were too busy over the torn netting to conjecture.
TIM gently called, "Hsue Tai, Mike, remember, you must also jaunt but to a different location. If you don't, the impact of the sea filling in the area where the whale last was--will kill both of you. Also do not jaunt with the whale. That may also prove dangerous, possibly fatal."
Mike called back, "The whale is highly telepathic, TIM. Possibly he already broke out or is about to. I can't tell which."
"Not the concern now, Mike," Hsue Tai blared in his mind.
It was difficult to block out the sound and sight of the large gray, approaching ship--a symbol of the coldness of man toward other forms of life. The biting rudders came closer as did the nose. More nets sank toward them--followed by long maneuvering poles, which reached toward the whale to move it into position. Their points would maim it but would probably kill the two Tomorrow People. The nose of the ship came close. Hsue Tai and Mike relayed the mental procedure of jaunting. If this worked, the whale would find itself back with its family group---which were found by TIM. The location was set. The whale's mass began to jaunt. Only it took longer for it to vanish than a human being. Hsue Tai and Mike remained as it passed from a solid phase, back again to a solid. The water began to uncaringly savage Hsue Tai and Mike, pushing them about between the whale, the air space, and the rest of the sea. When the whale returned, they were knocked back into it. TIM called, "Animals can handle jaunts better than human beings. It will not be lost in hyper space."
The whale vanished, the pair of Tomorrow People, a second later. A few moments more and the nose of the ship would have hit Hsue Tai and Mike from either side. As it was, the nose hit the area just as water began to pour into the open space--creating an undersea depth charge. The explosion downed the nose of the ship and began to sink it. Mike and Hsue Tai, still with the guise of scuba gear over the AE image, watched from the beach. After jaunting, they had fallen but recovered.
"It's sinking. Poetic justice," Mike stood up.
Hsue Tai was worried, "Will they die? Oh no."
Mike used infra red binoculars, "No, it is going down slowly. Looks to me like the blokes have all fled in life boats. Hope they don't come here."
Hsue Tai and Mike, wearing their winter clothes again, were standing in a niche of rock, toward the top of the mountains to the north. From here, they could overlook the entire Matsushima region. The dazzling, dizzying beauty overtook Hsue Tai. It was mid morning now and the weather, quite clear but still cold, was not sunny, affording them this chance to relax. TIM called in, "Whale safely back to its group. I believe it to be a complete Tomorrow Per...eh, Whale."
Hsue Tai took in a deep breath, "I'm going to stay with him, for a while, Mike."
"The whale? How?"
"No, my grandfather."
"And for a time, I'll stay with you. Jaunting back for gigs of course. Before that, we have a mission."
"Finding my parents if they live?"
"No, that's not a mission, that's a war. But one day we will track down the Chin family. Make them tell us where are parents are or might be."
"Thank you, Mike."
"Uit first, we owe the whale something." They jaunted.
John, Liz, and Andrew jaunted home from the Trig. The old matter transfer beams had been discarded for a new method. This method was more akin to a long distance jaunt and was much safer. They had returned quickly but were so busy storing all their gear and gifts, changing from their AE suits, that they didn't notice the absence of Hsue Tai and Mike, nor TIM's preoccupation. Hsue Tai and Mike jaunted in when the others were in their rooms.
"You see, that old news report said the monks found out about you and took you from Japan."
"Report wasn't accurate. They originally saw me in Japan, found out about me in Japan, but they took me from China."
John came in, dressed in his usual, looking happy, "Good morning to you both. Hey wait a moment. You two look suspicious. What have you been up to?"
After explaining to him all about the whale and noticing his happiness over the Tomorrow Whale, Mike then broke the news he knew John would disapprove of. "So you see to be fair to the whale, indeed all whales, who we know not to be killers, we decided to give them a new name."
Hsue Tai said, "Killer whale just does not fit."
John's eyes widened, "You mean to tell me that you two, with TIM's help..." John looked at Tim's stall, angered, "...just went through every document, book, and recorded history about whales---killer whales---and changed their names?!?!?!?! That's the riskiest thing you've ever ordealed, Mike! I should...wait what did you change their names to?"
Mike winked at Hsue Tai, who tried to suppress her laughter. "The UN-KILLER." Mike and Hsue Tai broke into laughter, followed by a tickled John.
AUTHORS' NOTE: 1979, the year this story is set around, is the year Canadian biologist acoustician John Ford identified dialects in orca vocalizing, something documented in humans and some apes but not previously noted among whales or other social mammals. Secondly in the same year, the first live killer whales were captured in Japanese waters. Of the five sent to Japanese aquariums, three died within months. This story is dedicated to those three.
PLACEMENT: I realize this story is between ACHILLES' HEEL and LIVING SKINS and should technically be 1978 in November or October but I could not change the season of the January Winterfest. It is up to the reader as to what to think--alternate universe or not. It could also come before WAR OF THE EMPIRES and this would not affect the story or the timeline much. It could be October 1978 or Jan. 1979.
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