SPORTING BIRDS by Kondoru
Thanks to Rex for Betaing.
Dedicated to Ming my ferret who won his first race this summer.
And yes, it's the Oldest Time Travel Cliche in the book. (And a great opportunity to Knight Bash.)
It's lamer than a Delorean. (Someone once tried to sell me a Delorean once; at only twice the true value. Gullwing doors are cool but not practical.)
It is dark in the dungeons of the Reizu Monastery.
The Penologist moves from cell to cell, inspecting the energy levels of the force fields and the occupants, who deign not to say anything to them.
All is normal...And Unquantumised. He walks back to his office and uploads yet another report to the Rulers.
The Birdies are safely caged.
Well, what is this all about?
Just recently there has been a big ferret race, The Lady Amamiku has been studying form.
And there are these Time Travellers...
...You get the drift.
Poverty reigned in the Henhouse.
Due to Government Cutbacks the Knights had not been paid for the past few months. They still were kept supplied with fungus gruel and reizu, but that wasn't sufficient.
After a week of desperately empty bellies the inhabitants of the Henhouse had resorted to other means in order to eat.
A quick sale of DVDs, carved birds, footballs, manga, defunct PCs and cut with water hair dye had raised a few credits...but not enough.
The hungry birds sat around the table say staring at the remains of their latest non dinner. Roast radioactive pigeon.
And two skinny birds don't go far in the Henhouse.
"We need more cash!" Grumbled Atori for the sixth time.
Isuka looked at him. "We could sell your drugs on the black market."
Atori frowned, "I need those. To stay sane."
Karasu sat carving away. He had sold all his efforts, and was rapidly running out of wood. "Yes, it's a pity they don't work!"
"Karasu..." chided Tobi.
"And it's a pity some computer expert doesn't hack into the Reizu simulator and get us some more credits!" Karasu threw his knife down with a clatter.
"Don't look at me." Tobi growled. His hair was now a sad shade of near pink.
"Do you think getting into trouble will help?" Kosagi sniffed. (Her hair was now a delicate off white)
"I could go to Miho and get a loan." Offered Fukuro. "Trouble is, she has a high interest rate."
"Its so demeaning having to go scrounge off an Uptowner." Isuka said, poking at the bird bones on the plate.
There was a clumping in the corridor, that of a metal and a booted foot.
It was Kuina, of course.
And Kuina had had a brilliant idea in order to raise some funds.
No doubt, certain other Knights had had the self-same idea quite independently.
But they did not voice it. They knew better than that
Now this was Kuinas plan.
So the others were prepared to go along with their cybernetic Leader.
"It's the big ferret race next Saturday." He announced.
"Aw come on, Kuina, its not like we can attend." Isuka said.
"It's not our day off." Atori added. The Knights did not leave Downtown unless on Leave...Which didn't happen very often.
"We can watch on my TV." Kosagi offered, rather generously for once in her narky life.
"I'm not interested in polecats." Fukuro shrugged.
"Boring," Karasu added.
Kuina smiled. "I think we should watch the race on TV." Kuina told them. "We are Time travellers, right?"
Six faces of varying grubbiness turned to him.
Kuina smiled. He knew what his Knights were thinking.
"I was considering testing the Transporter Room, someone make a short term Jump...To the Future."
All were silent; You could have heard a Squig drop.
"Just a week."
Karasu nodded silently; while the Knights could Jump to the past and alternate dimensions (They could have Jumped to Shangrila, but had never dared try.) the Future was tricky.
It took energies vast even by Lacrymas prodigal standards and a whole set of new dangers.
Just a week was fairly safe though.
Fukuro, ever ready for mischief smiled. "It will look like a routine test."
"So it will." Kosagi put out her hand and switched on her PC. "Come help me, Tobi, you know the drill."
"Are you sure?" Tobi was always dubious about clever schemes like this; He had to live with so many of Atoris half-baked plots.
And inevitably it was the Quantum expert who got whacked when Atoris ideas fell apart.
"Yes, it will look like a routine check of the machines function." Kuina reassured.
"Oh, ok," replied Tobi and he called up his sensors. He didn't seem very happy though.
The others snickered as Tobi, Kosagi and Kuina examined the Probabilities.
"Got it." Tobi powered down his PC.
"That's good." Kuina smiled, his face twisting round his cybernetic bits. "Any volunteers for the Jump?"
They rolled dice for the dubious privilege of being the one to Jump.
Atori won. (Or lost, as the case may be)
Fortunately he was very stable that day. Kuina decided to trust Atori...for once.
The six inch thick shield door to the Transporter Room hissed open.
Seven black robed forms stepped though, the door hissed shut.
"Atori, get connected and be ready to jump." Ordered Kuina.
The tall man nodded, and stepped forwards, then stopped.
The Transporter Room had not been used for some time; all the great portal gates were shut.
He turned expectantly to the Observer who manned the computer.
Kuina gestured at Tobi; "You have the co ordinates, transfer them."
Tobi called up his PC and began the transfer.
The Observer who was watching Kuina with interest turned to his screen. "A future Jump?" He queried.
Kuina nodded. He had the authority to send his Knights where he willed.
"I saw some interesting probabilities." Tobi added helpfully. The small Knight tended to stay in the background; but all knew he was an authority in his field of Quantum probabilities. If Tobi saw something interesting in the chaos of the Quantum Reality, it bore checking out.
The Observer nodded, the gesture hidden by his great environment suit. He pressed a key.
A portal slowly opened, the winch disengaged, Atori stepped onto the secondary gate and catching the lowering plug, deftly slotted it in his umbilical.
"Ready to go?" Isuka asked.
Atori flipped up his hood by way of reply. The layze protected the Knights from the stresses of transportation; at least, none of them ever Jumped without the extra layer to their potent auras.
"Don't get lost," Karasu told his comrade in a nasty way.
Atori sniffed disdainfully.
"And don't cause a paradox...I don't want to get to next week and find myself in a different Reality altogether because you messed this one up." Tobi warned.
"Yeah, I'll find one where you have had a haircut." Atori replied.
"Perhaps you will come back sane!" Fukuro jabbed.
Atori gave a rude gesture in reply, as the portal opened in a burst of blue light and Atori dropped from sight.
The Reizu Simulator transformed him into pure data and shunted him to the calculated Reality.
Nine seconds later Atori was rematerialised and was winched back into view.
"Got it, just like you said." He told everyone as he gave a quick check of his body; everything intact.
"Well, did you find the winner?" Asked the Observer.
Atori looked shocked; Kuina went pale.
Fortunately Atori knew what to say. "Lacrymas still in existence," he shook his head. (Doesn't Time Travel play havoc with tenses?)
The Observer looked forlorn. "I was hoping you found out who won the ferret race, that's all."
"Ferret race?" Atori grunted. "I had to check some data, that's all. I wasn't studying form."
Isuka folded his great arms. "I don't like your game." He leaned over the Observer menacingly.
"Yeah," Tobi added. "If you're so keen to learn who will win the race...You can go Jump yourself."
Kuina stepped forwards. "We don't use the Transporter for frivolous reasons. I've a mind to report you." He stepped on the Observers umbilical pipes for emphasis.
"Just curious," the Observer choked.
Isuka gestured to the massive computer display. "You don't need to go see which polecat won." He said depreciatingly.
"Anyhow, even if you were quantumised, like as not the Transporter would take you to a Reality like your own." Kosagi added.
The Observer nodded, "That's one theory."
Tobi laughed. "Do you have ferrets in your world?"
"My worlds very like your world." The Observer told them.
Pretty much everyone who lived in Lacryma came from different versions of Reality...The Observer's world had a much more primitive atmosphere, hence the pressure suits. They were believed to be the main source of Lacryman technology. (The other was a world of Artificial Intelligence, who didn't dare to get too many Planes close to Shangrila.)
"So you should be able to assess the probabilities better, I'm sure the Reizu Simulator knows who will win." Kuina added.
"We are not allowed to use the Reizu Simulator for frivolities."
Atori smirked. "Don't accuse `us` of studying form then." He turned and stalked out.
"Yes, if you observe Reality...You will affect it." Tobi turned to go.
The Observer went back to his screen.
Kuina laughed and whispered something in Isukas ear.
"Get it?" Kuina asked as soon as the door to the Henhouse was firmly shut.
"Golden Bounty." Atori told everyone.
"Brilliant." Isuka said.
"I nearly had a fit when that methane breathing creep asked." Karasu added, he had managed to remain silent all though his comrades banter in the Transporter room.
"Do you think he's going to rat on us?"
All looked glum; This could get everyone in trouble.
Kuina shook his head. "No, I bet he's checking probabilities right now. We set him off on a good one."
Atori sat down, "But if he starts on that, wont he affect the data?"
Kosagi poured Atori a cup of reizu water. "Yes, that could bring all our plans to naught."
Atori drank deeply. Tobi shuffled along the bench closer to his friend. "You just had a look around, didn't you?" He asked Atori with concern in his voice. "You didn't do anything to cause a paradox?"
Atori put the cup down. "Don't worry. I got a broadsheet, read the results and hit Recall. I didn't mess around."
"You did a good job." Karasu added. Fukuro nodded in agreement.
"Well, who's going to place the bet?" Asked Kosagi, who had been thinking. (Always a dangerous activity for her.)
All went silent.
"We can't go in the bookies; we monks aren't allowed to gamble." Karasu said.
"We didn't think of that." Tobi hung his head.
Kuina was silent, lost in thought. "No we didn't."
"Don't worry." Said Fukuro.
All eyes were on the pony tailed Knight.
"I know just the person." Fukuro smiled.
"Well?" Karasu asked, mildly.
Miho gave her old friend a hard stare; "I don't want to be a cat's-paw in your games!"
"But you will profit by it too." Kosagi told her.
"No one will know" Karasu added.
"I won't get involved in your games!" She thumped a fist on the scarred plasteel table. "Jumping to the future to find the winner! If this gets out, you will bring the whole of your order into controversy, and me with it!"
"It won't get out. Fukuro laid a placating fist on Mihos.
And received the other one in his blind side. Fukuro yelped.
"No, no and double no! Begone!"
The three Dragon Knights beat an ingonimous retreat.
"We are going to have to think of something else." Karasu told his one eyed comrade as they exited Mihos council hovel.
Fukuro gave a smile. "I'm sure she will come round to our way of thinking tomorrow."
"Humph" said Kosagi in disagreement. They both knew if Miho were pushed too far, she would rat on them to her ex best friend the Lady Amamiku.
"In fact I have just the thing..."
"Isn't it nice of you to come fishing with me?" Lilly told Atori and Tobi as they made their way though one of the outer caves. "I could go fishing by myself; mum lets me, but it's more fun with company."
"The Rulers wont let us go fishing by ourselves." Tobi told her. His sensors lighting the way.
"Says fishing's idling." Atori added, bringing up the rear with a basket. "I say fishing's food!"
"I'm pretty good at it." Lilly declares.
"No, we aren't allowed to by ourselves but if we are minding you for the afternoon." Tobi continued. "Ah, here's the lake."
They stopped in a huge cave, Tobis sensors lighting a gravel beach and black waters.
Atori put down the basket; there were many footprints along the stygian beach. It was a popular fishing spot as it was the nearest cave lake to Uptown.
"Thanks for taking us out, Lilly." Atori smiled.
It was a productive afternoon. They caught many fish. Enough for Mihos family and fish stew for the Knights.
"It's a shame Uncle Fukuro couldn't come." Lilly said as Atori reeled in another blind trout.
Tobi shook his head. He was trying a different bait. (And secretly guzzling the maggots) "Fukuro doesn't like fishing much."
"No," Atori nodded. "He prefers football." (1)
"Isuka, Kosagi and Karasu are very busy today." Tobi replied.
"I'm sure Uncle Fukuros happy, drinking up all mums psuedo coffee." Lilly said.
"Fukuros having a long chat with your mother." Atori told her.
Tobi gave a nasty laugh.
"Is it the sort of chat that Daddear would not want to hear?" Lilly added penetratingly.
Daddear was a nonentity who worked on a squig farm. He let Miho run the house, and a whole Lacryma full of conspiracy theories. Daddear was very proud of his cunning wife, but was seemingly unaware of the potential trouble she was making. At least, he seemed to be naive.
Atori nodded. "Fukuro and your mother, they are great gossips."
"Speaking of old times?" Lilly made a cast.
Tobi shook his head; he adjusted his own rod. "Not always."
"What were you doing yesterday?" Growled the Lady Amamiku.
"Visiting Miho." Said Fukuro with an absolutely straight face.
"It says here you were babysitting Lilly...You, Atori and Tobi." She frowned. "Why were `three` of you required to look after `one` small girl?"
"Ummm," Fukuro sighed disarmingly. "Tobi and Atori took her fishing."
"Two of them." Growled Amamiku.
"If an emergency came up, Atori would have to go fight. Tobi doesn't fight, so he could stay with Lilly."
Amamiku mulled this over. "And I suppose Atori wanted to go with Tobi?"
"Where did `you` come into this?" Amamiku gave a very hard frown .
"Oh," Fukuros tone was innocent, "I was with Miho."
"I mean, your records say you dismissed your Layze." Amanmikus tone was dangerous. "Just what has `that` to do with Miho?"
"Yes, that." Amamiku leaned forwards. "What were you `doing` with Miho? Did it entail having Tobi and Atori keep Lily out of the way?"
"Uhhhh..." groaned Fukuro.
"Your behavioural Data is looking `very` interesting..." prompted Amamiku.
"I could do what I did to Miho to you, if you like." Fukuro offered kindly.
"Why you scoundrel!" Amamiku was fighting mad.
"You're my best friend."
"Not when you behave like that! "
"Well, Miho needs affection too...And in return she tells me what's going on in Uptown."
"Humph! Married too! " Amamiku turned around and started rummaging in a drawer (always a worrying sight in any member of the medical profession.)
When she returned to meet Fukuros sad looks, she was holding a syringe. "I think its time for me to render you harmless in that area."
Fukuro took a step back. "I did offer you..."
"No bribes! Off with your layze and bend over!"
The unfortunate Knight knew better than to argue. He dismissed his layze and presented his shivering behind to his nemesis.
Amamiku reminded him why it was best to let one of the nurse's deal with hypodermics.
"Ouch." Whimpered Fukuro, one eye going wide. He hurriedly rematerialised his layze.
"Don't be a wimp." Amamiku chided, "your punishments not over yet."
"No?" Said her lab rat in disbelief.
"You weren't buying information, I know that." Amamiku gave an evil smile. "You were selling information."
Fukuro said nothing.
"And I know just `what` information."
Fukuro shuffled his feet; Amamiku was getting way too close to the mark here.
"Now, I want to know that information too." She continued, "or you will be severely punished." She continued, "Also I'll put you down for a continued dose of the dope, like Atori gets. I've put you out of action for a few months, that can continue as long as the Joain project runs if you please. "
Fukuro shivered. Having his functions was one of his few small pleasures in life...Not that he got much chance to use them.
"Ok, what I want to know is Who won the race?" Amamiku smiled, "tell me and I'll overlook this little escapade of yours."
"Golden Bounty." Fukuro decided too much was at stake to deny it.
"Fukuro got laid," smirked Kosagi. "I think Id like..."
"In your dreams, Kosagi," snapped Fukuro.
She looked at Karasu, who was studiciously ignoring her. "There's lots I would like."
"Anyhow, even if by some quantum leap I did desire you." Fukuro winced. "I couldn't."
"The Lady Amamiku gave me a shot of the quantumised anaphrodisiacs."
"Hey, that's my dope!" Growled Atori jealously.
"It's all our dopes." Grumbled Isuka. "We all got it when we were ordinary Monks."
"You don't know what its like, waking up with a ache in your crotch because your layze doesn't allow..." Atori trailed off, unsure of a decent way to end the sentence.
"Oh yes we do!" Reassured Isuka.
"Yes, it always seems to happen at the culmination of a new programme."
"Too much information, Tobi." Fukuro snorted.
"You don't know what its like trying to date a girl when your LIMP!" Karasu sniffed. His relationship with the Late and very patient Haruka had been a bit...pointless.
It had still got him thrashed by the Elders of the Reizu Monastery.
It was just his hard luck he didn't get any dope now...Unbeknown to the others, he had asked Amamiku for a dose. But she had shook her head. "Its best we keep Atori tame in that direction at least. I can justify that. If I started to give it to you I would have to start giving it to `everyone` and then we would run over budget."
"Oh, I'm going to be limp for a few months now," Fukuro sighed, "I always wanted to be a big hit with the girls...Why did I end up a monk?"
Kosagi was in one of her cantankerous moods again, "How do I feel, being stuck in here with a load of frigid men?"
It was at that moment Kuina stepped though the door. "None of them are worth your efforts, Kosagi." He told her.
"Urugh!" Atori stuck his nose in the air.
"Try me." Tobi was pretending to be examining his PC.
"Uh, huh, I don't date guys who dye their pubic hair." Kosagi told him.
Karasu rubbed his nose; "I don't date girls who dye their pubic hair." He paused "Haruka..."
Fukuro looked sharply at Kuina, when Haruka was brought into the conversation a fight was sure to start.
Kosagi went to tell him he should have got over it, but found Isukas hand clamped firmly over her mouth.
Isuka gave everyone a broad grin. "I think the little girl here should go to bed. All this talk of men is getting her excitable."
"Go to your cell, Kosagi," Kuina ordered in a no nonsense tone.
Kosagi wriggled out of Isukas grasp, she wrapped her habit about herself sulkily and stomped off to her man less quarters. She knew full well if things escalated it would be her who would get beaten or worse.
But then, it always seemed to be Kosagi who started fights.
The Male members of the Dragon Knights all peaceably beamed at each other.
Fukuro rubbed his still sore behind. "You know, Kosagi makes me feel much less resentful about my emasculation."
Karasu nodded, "I find with her, I don't need drugs!"
"Had a bad encounter with Amamiku after your date? " Kuina said sympathetically.
"Yes," Fukuro nodded, "I think I was let off lightly. Oww! Does she artificially blunt those needles?"
But Fukuro didn't tell anyone he had told Amamiku who won the race.
The ferrets were among the fanciest of Lacrymas animals, they cost a lot to feed, and so the ferret owners were among the elite of Uptown...Those that weren't discreetly sponsored by sportive Downtowners, who were not supposed to get involved in such low brow activities as ferret racing.
This is Golden Bounty, a successful veteran of several races, as his rosettes on his cage testify. He is a fitch type ferret; cream body; brown legs and back and white mask. Such ferrets are often chosen for races, as the albinos are for rabbiting.
And today he has a visitor; Golden Bounty gets out of his plastic toy filled hammock (2) and begins dancing around with arched back, chittering with pleasure.
A personage who resembles an albino ferret looks down upon him.
There is the scream of a ferret who has had all four feet trod heavily upon in quick succession.
Golden Bounty came last.
Amamiku was Not Amused. "I lost fifty credits! Fifty!"
"Perhaps we Jumped to a different Reality." Kuina explained.
"It's not an exact science." Tobi added.
"Enough of your snivelling." Snarked the Lady Amamiku. "Arrest them!" She ordered the Dragon Soldiers who trailed aimlessly after her.
The Knights were cudgelled into submission and dragged off to the Correction Cells.
A couple of days later Amamiku visited her lab rats again.
The Knights were busy enjoying the neural pain inducers, that and blaming each other for the disaster.
Atori and Karasu were cussing each other out. Tobi, his braids amusingly trailing on the cell floor, was occupying his time in recalculating the probabilities, aided and abetted by Kuina and Kosagi, who saw in this a way to possibly appease the Rulers who were most displeased. "You have brought the whole order into disrepute." Taiza had said, sourly. (He had betted upon Nightlight, who came fourth.) Isuka was suffering from yet another bought of depression. Fukuro dreading what Miho would say when he saw her next.
"Good news!" And by the ways she said it, the news was not that good.
Kuina cracked open a mucus rhuemed eye. "Yes, Madam?"
"The Rulers have decided to let you off, you will spend the rest of the month confined to the Henhouse...When you are not working in the mushroom fields."
The Knights managed not to groan.
"And you will be paid for your labours, so you won't need to worry about credits for a while."
"Thank you very much." But it was not certain what Kuina mean exactly by that.
The mushroom fields of the Reizu Monastery were fertilized by...Um, I'm sure you can guess.
It was the Knights solemn task to see the fertilizer was spread about.
This was messy.
"Urgh!" Whimpered Kosagi, trying to breathe though her mouth. "This is dreadful."
"Think how I feel." Karasu was down in the cesspit, shovelling yuk into a huge bucket. He had drawn the short straw.
"I'll never sneer at farmers ever again." Kuinas cybernetic bits had been wrapped in plastic. The rustling was getting on his nerves.
Isuka, sighing, picked up two of the tubs and carried them over to Tobi and Atori who were shovelling it about in a desultory way. Why was it him who got the carrying jobs?
Tobi slipped up and fell face down in the muck for the fourth time that day.
Atori deftly pulled him out with his rake. "Time travels a mugs game." He grumbled.
(1) Football; a popular sport in the world of Quantum Physics. Niles Bohr was a keen footballer.
It was him who famously said "Anyone who is not shocked by Quantum Theory has not understood it."
(2) Ferrets sleep in hammocks; I do not know why. I also do not know why they like to ferret away small items such as plastic toys.
One of the many Great Things about Anime is the writers are certainly not afraid to discuss deep matters. The main deep matter of `Noein` is of course Quantum Physics.
I skimmed this when I was a teen studying Philosophy (and I will freely admit that was many years ago.) so a lot of the concepts were not unfamiliar to me.
I can't link to anything, so I will every so often give you a term to Wiki; (How I love Wikipedia; being too eccentric to ever want accurate information on anything.)
In Ep 6, Uchida expresses concern that the missing Haruka has met a Quantum Phenomenon of the order of Wheeler.
She is referring to JOHN ARCHIBALD WHEELER, who first coined such terms as `Black Hole` and `Wormhole. `
No wonder Uchida is worried.