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 Home the Amur Falcon [Story]

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dancingcrane



Join date : 2012-12-26
Posts : 26

PostSubject: Home the Amur Falcon [Story]   Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:22 pm

Colorado Springs, and it's environs was 1000 feet higher still than the "Mile High City" of Denver, and had one of the largest enclaves of Tibetans-in-exile in the world. Tonight's performance of the welcoming dances, had been for the visiting dignitaries from India, and there was much to discuss afterwards. Yet, as much as his heart was into the Tibetan hope for freedom, one swarthy young dancer was grateful for the end, and even more grateful for the sleep that would come after. Thokmay Tsering's day job as a El Paso County paramedic had him on call for the next 24 hours. He was looking forward to sleeping in before tomorrow's performance for the schoolchildren.

...5 am came far too quickly...

He was awake, anyway, by the time they were airborne. The deafening 'rachet'-sound of helicopter rotors was enough to wake the dead, he thought wryly. Tourists, hiking at night, and one still lost. He couldn't blame them really. He loved, himself, the way the city looked from the high reaches, like a sea of lights reflecting the stars...

His eyes followed the sharp gesture downwards. They were pinging the hiker's cellphone, but saw nothing during the flyover. His partner's arm swung out, then up - there! - a flash of metal from the dawn sun, on a ledge impossibly small. A body, obviously fallen, his cellphone likely another 700 feet below him. No landing there, but no trees dangerously close either. Thokmay climbed out onto the landing strut, and deployed the basket stretcher, clipped his harness onto it and followed it down, swinging in the downdraft from the rotors.

Lucky man, that hiker, or would be. Still alive and shivering, grimacing as he held a leg. The noise too great to speak, except with gestures, and a wide grin, startling white against swarthy skin. Thokmay touched the leg. Broken, yes...

...but not for long, if he had any say. They wouldn't ask questions. The hiker would be just...one of the lucky ones...

The ledge barely wide enough for the stretcher and it's passenger. Once secured, his rescuer thumbed-up, and they rose. On the way, hanging from the rigging, he did his own welcoming dance to the breaking dawn, his arms flared wide, grateful to have had some part in the saving of a life.

Later that day, his dance had never been happier, nor more graceful, despite the lack of sleep. It was his own choreography, that he had called 'Homeward the Amur Falcon'" He would be glad, later, of the energy and joy and laughter it had brought him, as he mingled with the teachers and their young charges. Answering questions, from the sublime, to the, well, not-so-sublime. Was his dance a prayer? Oh, yes...Was he a girl? No, he'd chuckled, as a young boy not much smaller than he, had tentatively poked the long horsetail that fell down his back, and another tugged a sidelock to see if it was real. He'd even taken the time to teach a few of them some steps from the falcon dance, his 'tail and 'locks bouncing and swinging from the rhythm of hops and dips and turns.

It seemed only breathless moments later that his cell wailed 'urgent!". The stage was exchanged for a rocky embankment, the dancer left behind by the healer. Not entirely, though, as he had to use all his skills to sure-foot his way down the gravelly slope. It had been a long while since he'd been teased for his hobby, or his size. In the situations he was thrust into, both had proved advantages.

The skill he hid in plain sight, even more so...

With 'jaws of life' in each hand, their hoses snaking their way back up to the truck he's arrived in, he slid to the bottom and ran to the crushed auto. His partner took the ram, to shove the dashboard off the driver, he the cutter/spreader to shred the passenger door. He took the young woman's head in his hands, his awareness sinking deep inside, searching....

The nasty scalp wound that left half her face bloodied, he had to leave be. His partner had seen that. That was the least of all her troubles, was his thankful thought, and the fact that his teammate was working on the driver, and the ambulance was arriving, made this easier.

Thokmay's voice, low but insistent, made the familiar patter, as he tried to rouse the girl. He knew what was wrong, was already healing the broken ribs that threatened her heart and reknitting the crushed artery that would kill her before a surgeon's knife had a chance to find it. All, thankfully, under the cover of lights and sirens and the distractions of crisis. She had to be awake. Concussions, like any brain injury, were the hardest to heal - but the less she remembered of this, the better it suited him, the better for both of them. She would only be glad that she was alive.

Alive - Thokmay looked sharply at the driver, where his partner had laid him. The lifesigns were fainter than when they arrived. His partner was one of the best, but did not have Thokmay's hidden gift. He wished, not for the first time, that it was something he could teach, like he'd taught dancing to those children - or even that he could tell someone, at all. But he knew where that would lead. They'd, lock him up and study him, or worse. Even the thought of that sent a bolt of fear through him more intense than that of any rescue mission he'd ever been on. He remembered the one where a ledge had crumbled and he had fallen, and he had had to heal himself through a haze of pain, before the others got to him. They had thought the temporary blindness had been from hitting the back of his head, and he had never set them straight...

"They've got the girl...how's he?" He whispered, as he came round, touching the driver's leg. That was all he needed, to feel the healing rush pour out of him. Too late. He felt the life vanish under his hands like mist, even as he sought to grasp it. His secret saved, by lack of time.

The adrenaline rush over, he sat, stunned at how close he had come to betraying himself, and averting a death no emergency training could cover up for. But the need to heal had been so strong! He knew now that it would only be a matter of time before he'd have to make a choice, between another's life and his.

"Hey...could you drive me home, and pick me up in the morning? I've had 4 of sleep in the last 48, and i'm over the line." He hadn't felt this tired, a moment ago.

The choice was already made, and it scared him.

Yesterday had been uneventful, mostly hanging around the station house, cleaning and repairing equipment, while waiting for a dispatch. The usual joke was that that emergency/search and rescue was 95% boredom and 5% sheer terror. That he and his partner were quiet that day was noticed, but unremarked. Responding to a fatality accident was hard on anyone, and both had been let off early.

Family dinner had been livelier, but with an undercurrent of sadness. He'd excused himself early from that too, his grin and bow of thanks brief, half-hearted. A shower hot enough to send clouds of steam out the bathroom window, couldn't rinse it out of him. That night, the same nightmare, just with different particulars. The driver he had failed to save, laying on the ground, had his father's face. The dampness on his pillow was not from the shower....

Thokmay woke un-rested. He had almost forgotten, or rather tried to forget, until a groggy glimpse at the calendar by his desk made it inescapable. Today was the last time for a long time, that he would see his father. If fate decreed, perhaps forever. He had arranged this vacation a while back, giving up his ticket to the Emergency Medical Response Conference to his partner. He had to be there for his family upon his father's return to their homeland, to fight the Chinese takeover. It had been agreed, that he would take his father to the airport, in the hope that a few hours together would lead to reconciliation before the parting.

On the way, Thokmay thought about how it had come to this...It had started small, nothing that anyone would notice...

The streets of mountain-community Manitou Springs could be steep, and it was not unusual for someone, especially a tourist, to lose control of their car, and end up plowing into a fence, or worse. The first time had been a neighbor girl's kitten. Dragging its legs after being clipped by a car, the young Thokmay had reflexively picked it up to comfort it, only to have it bound out of his hands a few moments later to run to its crying mistress. Hurt animals, scrapes on the playground, nothing special. If it were plants, they would have said he had a 'green thumb'. He was good with hurting folk, and with herbs, too. Some said he'd be a good doctor. One day his doctor said he needed glasses. There was nothing unusual about that, either. Then, in the heart of winter, after a short thaw and a hard freeze, he heard a car's horn, and his mother scream...He ran outside to where his father lay on the ice at the bottom of the steep hill, another shaken tourist's car canted into a snowbank. He touched him, terrified, and remembered nothing more, til he woke up, blind. They called his father's escape from death miraculous.

The blindness was temporary, but the change was not. Rabten had called him weak, after that, not knowing what it had cost his son to watch his father dying, and fight an enemy that could be stayed, but never vanquished. The boy had met violent death...and his and his father's dream would be forever different...

His father was angry. It hung in the air between them, even as his father feigned sleep. That hadn't changed for a while. Arguments had devolved into strained silences. He had expected his son to fly with him, back to Tibet. He had not acknowledged that his son's choosing search and rescue as a field over guerilla fighting indicated a deeper rift in outlook...The disagreement itself was a dance of sorts. Dishonor and cowardice, or honoring their homeland's desire for a peaceful solution? Loyalty to family, or to his adopted home? When Rabten would remind him that all modern countries had fought for freedom, even America, Thokmay would point to Gandhi and the Dalai Lama...when he reminded his father that his work was dangerous, Rabten would rejoin that he wasn't being shot at...

Thokmay was of two minds about it, taking his father's part as well as his own. He was afraid - not of pain, or his own death, but of imprisonment should he be caught, and of worse if his power was discovered...to be dissected, or manipulated, forced to be a tool for the harm of others....afraid of what it would do to him, to deliberately cause a death.

He hated the death of others by violence. It meant the end of options and the loss of hope and the chance for reconciliation. While a man lived, he could still become a friend. His death in battle, would likely only raise enemies to replace him. Death was supposed to be a part of life, accepted with peace of heart, not while dealing it to another in anger and vengeance. Not when there was another way.

" - and braid your queue like a girl while you're at it!" The paramedic awoke from his thoughts to find his father already talking, as he unloaded the duffel outside the terminal at Denver International. A soldier travelled light. Thokmay let the comment be, and wondered if he would ever be able to prove he wasn't a coward.

Both men wore their hair in long horsetails, under flat gray bucket hats. They had learned the hard way that turbans on swarthy men were not popular here...especially so near Cheyenne Mountain, the North American Air Defense Command, Little Pentagon. The fear of war and it's fruits was everywhere.

It made even him wonder, if there was a place in the world for Tibet, the Land of Ahimsa, the Land of Peace. Or a place for one who only wished to protect, to rescue, and heal...

"Father...I love you. Come home soon." The words firm, his eyes bright.
"<Come home with me, eldest son. Be the Amur falcon.> The words, Tibetan, old beyond modern tongues. Black eyes returned his black-eyed gaze, and Thokmay could feel the ache behind them.

Could still feel it, after the man was gone.

-----------------------------

Thokmay walked back to the car, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of the tan fleece-lined jacket, looking nothing special in denim shirt and jeans. He had a lot on his mind. The past few days had been strenuous, lives saved and lost, hopes raised and extinguished. His mind dwelled on the fatality from yesterday and his dreams. He wondered what future had been lost to the man. What future might be lost to his father...

All he wanted for himself was some of his mother's good cooking, and maybe a hug. No, definitely a hug, she'd need it too, with her husband gone. He'd have to take his father's place with the heavier work around the restaurant and the house. A week's vacation meant he'd get a good start. He hoped Bob would have a good time in New York. They'd brought a guy up from Pueblo, and another over from Cripple Creek, to take their places. He hoped they were bored the whole time...better that than terror, he thought wryly.

He'd go down to the Garden of the Gods for a few off hours, maybe Seven Falls. The top of Will Rogers Shrine even sounded good, it was quiet there, just him and the wind and the open spaces...

He was on automatic pilot, until he was back at the car, listening bemusedly to the chittering clicks of an unresponsive ignition. Huffing a ragged sigh, he hopped back out, and lifted the hood. Sure enough...as reliable as State cars were, nothing lasted forever. A quick call had a tow on the way, and the state would foot the short taxi ride to the facility to pick up the replacement already lined up. He'd be on his way in an hour, tops. He called his mother, told her not to wait dinner just for him, and that he wouldn't be long.

His wallet, state radio, his cellphone, taser and his EPCSAR badge on his belt, he was good to go. He left the keys in the dead ignition, and climbed up to the car's roof, the better to see those coming for him. Now was as good a time as any to meditate, as he waited patiently.

"<Come home with me, eldest son>"

Why did he feel at such loose ends, of a sudden? As if he shouldn't be here? If he had felt this a few moments ago, would he be another Amur falcon, winging its way back to the Roof of the World?

He wanted to go home...and for the first time in his life, wondered where home was, for him.
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bbphage



Join date : 2012-10-19
Posts : 96

PostSubject: Re: Home the Amur Falcon [Story]   Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:57 pm

I really like this story and I definitely get a sense of the story having a lot of previous history of which only some is alluded to and also stretches far beyond this small window into Thokmay's experiences.

The departure from the mundane, being Thokmay's healing powers, was very well implemented. It is a boon, but is also a source of worry if he overuses his gift and the possibility of anyone finding out is a great source of tension.

Transitions are a bit choppy in some places while others flow with a freedom of thought vague glossover. For instance, sliding from a rescue, to the dance, to another rescue "feels right" because that is his routine and he is running on practically no sleep at all. But when he needs to get up to take his father to the airport, I feel like time should slow down more and that should feel more climactic. As it is, the entire drive feels like his dad is just insulting Thokmay while his mind visits the past. There could be a lot more tension and climax here. That final insult about the woman's braid fell flat for lack of build up, and could be a great point of tension.

Besides my critiques about transitions and use of tension, I think this great writing and a wonderful read.
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dragoncello



Join date : 2013-04-20
Posts : 47

PostSubject: Re: Home the Amur Falcon [Story]   Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:53 am

Lovely mix of culture, politics, and ethics. As bbphage said above, the introduction of Thokmay's powers was smooth and clear.

You're obviously a more advanced writer than I am, and this being the first piece of yours that I've read, the only faults this piece has are ones common in mine so they don't really stand out to me.

All in all it was both similar and very different from things I've read before, good work Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Home the Amur Falcon [Story]   Today at 10:26 am

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