Further Tales From The UnderCurrent (Short Story Prequel Series)
Entry 5; 23-07-TA424
I wrote about Tamai, the little girl with blood-red hair who the townsfolk treat like a noblewomen last time, but I've observed some more interesting things about her since then.
Aside from her seat on the town-council, or the fact that the closet thing to parents she has is the town elder, his wife and her permanent bodyguard 'Scarface' - I've also learned she has a role similar to a priest.
You know the sort I mean? The one's in rural towns who make rounds of all the elderly folk to make sure none of them are 'lonely' or whatever.
Well Tamai preforms a similar 'duty'; On a schedule of her own devising she makes her way around the entire town, and I mean the entire place.
She seems to have some sort of priority list, those older people with no family, or young families partway through a pregnancy can expect a weekly, or atleast biweekly visit from her (though in the case of the pregnant women I reckon Tamai's more curious then concerned) - She turns up asks about your wellbeing, if your eating enough, warm enough, getting enough fresh air, etc.
And of course that includes me.
I didn't ask for her to constantly turn up but she does, in fact she comes to my place as often as she does some of the older folks - How old does she take me for eh?
Her and Scarface just appear - I have a little veranda would you call it? Well just an overhang on the front of house I built, a couple of crappy uncomfortable chairs and a table.
They sit there, I pour some tea and then we 'chat'. I say chat but I ain't one for small-talk personally. Instead I sit there, nodding periodically out of courtesy while Tamai and Scarface chat around me - Except Scarface doesn't seem to talk much either, so really it's just Tamai does most of the speaking.
What's worse is she waits till the evening, visits everyone else on her list first and sees me last meaning she's never in any hurry.
And for all that she walks and talks like an adult, boy is she still just a kid - Asks all these silly questions about the so-called 'outside world'.
I wrote before that I've never actually been to Abhaile, well it seems Tamai here has no memories from before coming to the town, she was too young to remember wherever it is these people came from.
So I get all these benign questions, about types of foods or livestock animals she's seen pictures of in books - About different kinds of flowers, what a desert or an ocean looks like - I mean how should I know?
She can be really childish too, one time she turned up on my doorstep with this burning fever - Girl's forehead might as well of been on fire, but despite barely being able to stand she had insisted on doing her rounds for the day - Silly child.
Sometimes I think I should try probe the two for information, see if I can get one of them to slip up and reveal some secret or other - But then why would I do that?
I mean what benefit would I gain, who would I tell it to?
I guess the visits aren't unpleasant or anything, it's one thing to wave at people you pass on the street but another to sit with them and just look out at the sunset.
Heh, it reminds me of this time once, we we're on leave from 'work' and the squad I was with at the time, our NCO insisted we go with him to this one beach he knew.
So off we went and spent a whole evening sitting outside this quint little tavern, drinking pints, speaking nonsense and looking out at the pretty ocean - That was a nice day.
See Tamai's visits got me thinking more about how this town is run. At first I thought it was all about this idea of balance, what with the three way town-council and stuff, but I think 'trust' might be a second axis to that.
Everyone here trusts each other, they trust that Tamai will do her perceived duty, they trust that if someone gets sick, everyone else will cover their work load.
If a kid steals an apple in the market place then his punishment will be less trust and I mean that literally.
He or she will be explicitly told the reason they aren't allowed dessert is because of trust. You don't get grounded here, you're trusted with less time outside.
And I mean it seems like a pretty good idea. Say your a single parent with no family, imagine the worry and stress that must bring, being scared to death about what'll happen to your kid should you die - Here they probably still worry, all parents do I guess, but in the knowledge that a community, that a dozen different people would be ready and happy to step in should something bad happen to you - That right there is security.
You don't need police because everyone trusts one another. No one ever needs to steal because even if you're too prideful to admit your financially struggling - A nosy neighbour or Tamai will step in on your behalf.
Everyone is looked after, put into the job that hopefully matches them the best - People with, lets say awkward dispositions, are identified and looked after long before such tendencies can lead to hurt or tragedy.
And that's what happened with me right?
I spoke up at the first council meeting and that got me a little trust, free-reign to job-about in the town. I worked around the place for a bit and they gave me land to build on - Now I've been here for a few months and even though all I've done is help out a-bit to pay off my debt, now they've given me the job of repairing the mechs...
Scarface was good to his word, I went out with the old tow-truck and the three crashed mechs were, between them capable of repair - I picked the 'Nemo' model or 'V-MBT-Neo-M' to be precise.
I did so for a couple reasons, one it got everyone talking & theorising as to whether my picking the Neo means I'm from IAFS - Heh, maybe I'll stick one of the Ogre's heads and the couple spiked shoulders onto it just to really confuse everyone!
More importantly however everyone knows IAFS's Neo is a better machine then TSU's Ogres - Better weapons, better power generation, just plain more efficient. Still a bucket of shite but a better bucket then the alternative that I had to chose from.
Unfortunately the little truck was no match for the 60 tonne Vijaik - So I slunk back to town, to the 'Red Box' pub to tell the guy who had leant me the truck that I would need atleast a few days to dissemble the mech and then drag it back in parts - That's if I could even disable it.
To my surprise the guy turns to his buddies and then tells me to head out again tomorrow and they'd have a solution for me - After that he insisted I shared a drink with them, alot of drinks actually.
So out I went the next day only to see something bizarrely wonderful. The idiots had all come out ahead of me, bringing every last heavy duty vehicle they could find.
Dunno' if I've mentioned much but there aren't alot of cars in the town, people just walk - Still there's some vans and stuff for moving things, a few tractors and the like for the fields & lumber.
Well that day there was a dozen or more, all different makes and ages rigged up with these sturdy metal cables tied to different parts of Nemo.
They waved like a bunch of fools as they saw me arrive, this collection of farmers and old men - Got the tow-truck I was borrowing hooked up too and together we dragged the mech the whole way back to the dome, taking every last bit of paint off its poor backside.
Helped me drag the two Ogres a little closer to the dome too, so that I can get spares off of them easier - And that was that, town effort all for me.
Well I guess you could say they did it because the parts of the mechs might be useful, that they're having me handle them because I know the machines best, being a soldier and that.
Still it just doesn't feel like a gesture with ulterior motives to me...
It's there now, the mech I mean, in my yard next to the little vegetable patch I've been planting. Even in the hunched over position its in, it's a good nine or ten metres tall. Just sitting there outside my bedroom window, covered in burns and dented armour from 'The Fall'.
These townsfolk must be crazy to trust me with it, like sure its busted but how much would it take to get the head mounted machine guns running again eh?
A week or two and I could use those to kill half the population without ever moving it, why the hell would they trust me with something like that?
That's isn't trust it's reckless stupidity!
I put up a little shed next to 'it' and put all the tools I gathered out of all three mechs into it. Isn't much, frontline units like these only carry a handful of spanners, screwdrivers that sort of thing - Perhaps I should ask one of the farmers if they've got anything more substantial.
With just the spanners I should be able to remove the chair from one of the ogres, obviously not the one with the pieced cockpit...
The other one was alright thought, hopefully will unbolt it pretty easy. Maybe I could put it out the front of the house, girl like Tamai shouldn't have to sit on that hard splinter filled wooden-chair, she might aswell be comfortable if she's going to keep annoying me by visiting...
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