This is the first of an experimental series of stories written in the haibun style. Haibun is from medieval Japan in which a haiku was written after a section of prose. I learned of the style when I read an English translation of the book Oku no Hosomichi (“The Narrow Road to the Deep North”) by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho.
I have taken more than my share of liberties in writing this style in this work, but I hope that you can enjoy it nonetheless.
The Kwanje Galaxy has been terrorized by the dreaded cyborg race, the Daregei, for centuries. The six-tentacled monsters of mysterious origin send their “harvest groups” to gather children to be converted to Daregei. The Kyasan Empire fears that they will be next. Their scientists have developed a desperate and bold plan to halt the monsters, but the individuals volunteering must forfeit humanity itself.
Part 1: Rejected Appeal
Sikiya sat in the green couch opposite his father’s chair in the atrium of the family home, dappled light falling through gently swaying leaves onto the polished tile floor. He eyed the older man and met his gaze. “I’m going to go through with it, you know.”
Father scowled. “No! I will not listen to such nonsense. You cannot be serious.” Sikiya opened his mouth to speak again, but Father held up his hand and went on. “It is wrong to imitate the processes of the enemy, feared and despised in the entire galaxy. Don’t you see that?”
Sikiya kept his voice calm. “It’s better than doing nothing.”
“But why—” Father searched for words. “Why does it have to be my son?”
“I don’t need your agreement. But I do want your support.”
Father stood to his feet. His shoulders were slumped and his face screwed up. “You will have neither.” He shuffled out of the room, and Sikiya stared unseeing at the movement of the leaves.
Denied by father
The approval so desired,
Part 2: Operation
Sikiya fidgeted on the gurney, awaiting the journey into the operating room. Sweat beaded down his brow. Voices raced in his mind. “Run,” demanded one. But another dominated. “Stand your ground like a man and do your duty.” It was the point of no return. “I must go through with this. The Empire needs me. I can’t quit at the last minute and be branded a coward.”
The doctor came, a pretty young woman. She smiled down at him. “Are you ready to do this?”
Sikiya nodded his head.
“Good boy. The Empire is counting on you. Your bravery inspires us all.”
In the operating room, the cold plastic cover of the operating table welcomed him. The room was white and smelled of sterility. The staff wore clean white surgical gear. His mind began panicking. “I change my mind. Please take me out of here. I want to go home.” The anesthetic being administered through the mask covering his face halted the vocalization of his fears.
Sikiya was “awakened” by the jarring of his container. He opened his electronic eyes to see what was causing it.
Right in front of him, his father screamed, shaking the vessel. Six orderlies pulled him out of the room.
Sikiya could not hear because the sensors had not been connected, yet he could read his father’s repeating appeal. “Give me back my son!” Give me back my son!”
He could not go back. No one could return him to his human form. He was only a brain, spinal cord, heart, lungs, and a few nerves in a half-meter tall black cylindrical container.
A heart broken
By a father’s anguish
Part 3: Merging
It was time. Two burly technicians came for Sikiya, lifting his container onto an antigrav sled. They pushed him out of the lab, across an expanse of concrete. It was the first time he had been outside since the operation, but it was different now. He would never feel the breeze on his skin again. What have I done?
Sikiya tried to see the mountains, but he was at the wrong angle. They pushed his container into a large hangar. An army of scientists swarmed in front of the sled, wearing white robes with blue stripes down the arms.
Sikiya’s electronic eyes took it all in; they were on permanently, with no need for blinking or sleeping. He could not turn. He could only see in front of him. Upon entering the great maw of the entrance, exhilaration washed over him.
There it is.
Sikiya inspected the large figure that was to become his new body. He had seen diagrams before, of course. But they had not prepared him for the reality. It was humanoid in shape and the color of bronze, standing twelve meters tall. The shape of the body was of a muscular warrior in plate armor with a great deal of ornamentation. Four enormous petal-shaped wings were on its back.
The most amazing feature of the suit was its head. Four faces were crafted into it, 90 degrees apart from each other. The front face was that of a man, the left face was that of an ox, the back face was that of an eagle, the right face was that of a lion. The body was all machine, Sikiya the only organic component.
The technicians and scientists used a small crane to lift Sikiya’s container into the open chest portion of the armor. The cylinder settled into its place and the chest panel closed over Sikiya. There was darkness for a few seconds, and then the connections were established to his new eyes, seeing in all directions at once. He lifted his left arm. A four-meter long blade extended from the palm and glowed with a bluish light.
Merging is complete
Man and machine are one
Part 4: Fate Announces the Final Exam
The first days in the suit were not fun. Although he had a new body, it was not like his old one and he nearly went insane because of sensory deprivation. The sensors did not function well at first, but improvements were installed throughout the frame to give him the sense of “feeling” when he moved.
Progress was slow. The planets completed two entire dances around the star while Sikiya’s training went on. Finally, he displayed the agility of an athlete in peak condition. He enjoyed the full 360 degrees of vision the faces gave him.
One day his father came to watch his final training session. Sikiya had to sit on the ground to see him properly. “I have waited for this day, Father.”
The old man stared up at the four faces. “You are not my son. He is dead.”
The commanders were getting ready to celebrate Sikiya’s graduation with a grand ceremony. But even as the crowds began to gather, there was a commotion in the officers’ area. They ran to Sikiya where he still sat with his father.
“The ceremony will have to wait,” said one. “We have received word that a Daregei harvesting task force is approaching the border world of Kotiya. Fate has planned your final exam and your first test in combat.”
Part 5: Casting of the Die
Above the red and green skies of Kotiya, the jagged saucers of Harvest Collection Group 37-B floated in space. Sikiya fidgeted his metallic arms, a remnant of human behavior. He faced the enemy alone; it was his own mind that controlled the ship he rode on. He had positioned it twenty thousand kilometers above the planet, between the people and the invaders. Stars glimmered all around beyond the enemy ships and Kotiya’s four moons.
Several hundred cybernetic creatures hovered at their scanners in the saucers, watching the absurdity before them: on top of a large arrowhead-shaped spaceship stood a figure in defiance of them.
They had come to this world to “harvest” the brains, lungs, and hearts of Kotiya’s children so that they could become new Daregeis. Children were desirable because they proved the most resilient in adapting after the procedure, but this twelve-meter, four-faced oddity blocked their mission.
“This is Harvest Group Commanding Unit BL6126416. Who stands in the way of our mission here?”
Sikiya prayed for a strengthened resolve. He hoped his shields would back it up. “I am Sikiya of the Chawnsa Corps. In the name of Emperor Shiata, I order you to withdraw from Kyasan space or face utter destruction.”
The silence stretched into an eternity.
Impedes the Enemy
The die is cast
Part 6: Battle Baptism
Sikiya twitched a finger. The silence had gone on too long.
Then it ended. The two leading saucers of the group fired on Sikiya. To the amazement of everyone, including Sikiya, the bubble-like energy shields held.
Sikiya commanded his ship to move forward. Anti-gravitic sails unfurled. He used his ship’s momentum to boost his own before he jumped off as it approached within one thousand meters of the command saucer. His ship lacked the maneuverability that he would need.
Before the battle, he had been fitted with two medium lasers and the powerful Cherubim Cannon. The designers believed that it could penetrate Daregei saucer armor. This would be its field test. He ran through the setup protocols and aimed it at the lead saucer. “Here goes,” he said to himself inside his mind.
The ship exploded like a supernova.
He fired a second blast and the next saucer joined the first one in eternity, and was about to continue fighting when his sensors registered internal overheating due to the firing of the cannon. He jettisoned the Cherubim Cannon and the giant power backpack reactor that powered it. The four petal-shaped wings on his back vibrated to produce the anti-gravitic thrust that propelled him to the remaining saucers.
The last four saucers caught him in a torrential crossfire. He took evasive action, but was hit in the shoulder, then the leg and foot, and a hit to the arm spun him around in space. His shields started to collapse. “Maker, please!” he screamed in his mind.
A desperate and insane plan formed in his mind. He dropped his shields to minimal power and redirected everything into the anti-gravitic wings. The gunners on one of the saucers tried in vain to keep their targeting sights locked on the wildly darting figure. They fired their heaviest weapons. Sikiya darted out of the way.
The plan worked. The weapons fire made contact with another saucer. It exploded like a new sunrise. Another saucer collided with a nearby one, damaging both severely.
Two more destroyed themselves when they collided in an attempt to box Sikiya in.
He hovered in front of the last one. “Leave Kyasan space now if you value your pathetic imitations of life!” The saucer jumped out of the system within two seconds.
News of the victory was quickly relayed throughout the Empire and beyond. For the first time, a Daregei task force had been defeated.
First victory achieved
Now long war begun.
Reblogged this on K.A. Ramstad and commented:
Have you ever seen haiku intermingled in a story? Joseph Ficor demonstrates that in his “Tales of the Chawnsa Corps: Beginnings.”
This story is fitting for a high school and adult audience, as it shows a character undergo a major operation to become a cyborg. It isn’t too graphic, though, and the story overall contains engaging emotion, a right amount of tension, and out-of-this-world battle action.
It’s interesting–but–I’m appalled that he went through with it.
As the series progresses, he will feel its limitations. Please stay tuned.