Rise of Glie Chapter 19
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Chapter 19: Return of the Crow
Feather Fushoku, sit down, the teacher orders gruffly.
"Am I in trouble?" the timid blonde haired boy asks as he takes his seat, "You're not going to make me quit my experiments, I hope." He's obviously expecting that news.
The teacher reveals what he's hiding in his hand and sets it in front of the boy, "Is that a transistor?"
"No, teacher," Fushoku says instantly, "It does the same thing, but they work in completely different ways."
"Can you test it to see how similar it is to your devices?"
Fushoku carefully taps a finger on the vacuum tube to make sure it is not hot, and then takes it in his hand, quickly looks at the base and sets it back down. "No, its operating voltage is thirty times what my battery can generate. Is that the best that the er ... traders have?"
"Perhaps," Aware says from the door, "Sorry, I'm late, but the humans have first dibs on everything, and half the town wanted to try getting this thing to work." Aware sets the other device in front of him.
Fushoku seems to recognize it at some level, tries the buttons. "Impressive," he says sarcastically.
"It's been like that ever since-" Aware's seeing something totally new. Fushoku has begun to take it apart, and the screen no longer glows, but is a flat black. "It's a battery," he says of the part that he took off, "This part of it must still work." When he puts it back together, the screen lights up, "Look, it's a different pattern." It still does not respond to the buttons.
"The Toga told us that it has failed," Aware says, "Can you tell us what it is?"
"Some sort of mobile radio," Fushoku says, "You'd hail somebody by using the keys here; using his name or number. It's probably supported by a network of beacon towers so that it doesn't need to use as much power or carry as big of an antenna or battery to reach far places. I think I can get it open without doing too much damage." Fushoku's tone turns to one of warning, "It is very unlikely that opening will do it good and not harm."
"If it had any hope of working, I'm sure the Toga wouldn't have given it to us for free," Aware says before he stares at it in anticipation, believing Etch would work some sort of magic with his bare fingers to dismantle it.
Instead he whistles, then yells, "Hey, Bahitsu!" then dips his finger in the wax at the edge of a candle, presses it into a small circular opening.
The red-haired teenage boy comes barrelling in enthusiastically.
"Aware brought this from the Toga, but I need a screwdriver to get it open," Fushoku explains as he pulls out his little wax template. "It'll need more of a handle."
Bahitsu claps his heels together, salutes by raising his right hand to his eyebrow with his elbow stretched, "Yes, Master Fushoku," he says, takes the wax template and runs off.
"It'll be ready tomorrow afternoon," Fushoku explains with a blush, "For all his preaching on fire safety and efficiency," Fushoku explains to Aware, "Bahitsu is always proving that he can horse around."
"How many transistors do you have?" Aware asks.
"I don't know," Fushoku responds, "I know I have one wired up as a transistor, but I don't know if it works as one. Including that one, I have two working diodes." Aware shows him the two devices.
"I wonder if they will interest the Toga next week?" Aware says, "The Toga said that they can't make these any more," indicating the small radio, "and that soon everything will need to be made with these."
"I can't yet guess how many transistors this thing might have," Fushoku says, "but it is certainly more than a dozen even if it doesn't belong to a network, but is a simple receiver."
"Washi said twenty billion," Aware says.
"Oh," Fushoku says quietly, "That's ... a lot." He does not seem surprised, however.
"Do you think we can match that?" Aware asks.
"It'll take a couple decades at least," Fushoku explains, "but as Teacher Shoukai knows very well," he curls up the edge of his lips, "I was born for this."
"I haven't seen a crow since the battle," the Communicator grumbles, "so why would an entire murder of crows suddenly fly in here and start making a fuss?"
He has no one to ask except the crows themselves, and the dozen or so crows that up until that moment had been squawking up a storm all around him, jumping from tree to young tree in the garden, instantly are all silent.
The Communicator had spoken.
He notes they all cock their heads curiously, they have a brilliance in their eyes somehow. One peeps, and suddenly they all caw in unison, like a skilled corvid choir.
Washi is startled. The crows seem to recognize this, and closer ones fly to more distant branches. He cautiously says, "Did you want me to speak?"
The closest looks at his neighbor, and his neighbour looks back, then both tilt their heads back slightly and huff. Washi thinks they might have shared a joke somehow. Can't be, crows are smart, but not that smart, and they certainly aren't telepathic.
Washi's desk was the one Jabez made for Kasei, which was inherited by Stanley. Washi is not sure how it got in the temple, but he likes it. He gets upset when he sees a crow standing on it, "Get off my desk, you filthy scavenger!"
The way the crow looks up at him, as almost to say, "Filthy? Who are you calling filthy?"
Washi slams his hand down on the desk next to the crow, who merely steps away. As he brings his hand down on the crow, he spreads his wings and flies a couple feet along the desk.
The crow notices himself next to the quill pen and its bottle, quickly reaches over his shoulder, takes a secondary off his left wing and smartly stuffs the black feather it into the ink bottle next to the much larger brown feather from a canned goose, then flies away. The Communicator notes that the corresponding feather on his right wing was already missing. Must be how they molt.
The quill pen is a symbol of scholarship! How dare a lowly crow-
The Washi suddenly realizes that there must be more to these crows than "lowly scavenger". He finds a fallen black feather, takes out a small knife and prepares it for writing. The one that is in the ink bottle is useless because it lacks the all-important slit in its tip that makes it usable as a pen. He discards that feather, and with his new crow feather pen, dips in the ink and writes 今日 ("Hello") in Japanese on a piece of paper.
The crow that was on his desk before returns by landing on the hutch. Washi offers it the feather pen. The crow is tentative, not sure what to do. He carefully glides to the desk, next to the paper, and finally takes the feather. He struggles to cut the feather about two centimetres from the tip. Once done, he tries to get it onto a toe.
He seems scared of Washi's hands as he slowly reaches out for the crow. "Let me help," the Communicator offers gently. The crow lets Washi help out. Indeed, the crow is quite clean, leaving none of the greasy residue suggested by the eerie lustre of its feathers. The Communicator drops some ink on the edge of the page, and asks, "So, how smart are you really?"
It's quite a struggle for the crow to write, but write he does, and Washi's drooping jaw can be seen even around the strange mask as the kanji character 間 emerges from the crow's quixotic effort at communication.
"How can you do that?" Washi gasps.
The crow squawks as though offended, fluffs up its feathers and slowly reaches his head down, then pecks at the paper twice, right in the middle of the character with its jet-black bill.
The crow nods.
He then struggles to write another Japanese word 紫電, which shocks the Communicator even more.
How does it know my name?
The crow then reaches over his back and pulls from his feathers two tiny shreds of paper, tucked in his feathers in the way a lovebird collects its nesting. He then flies away, whacking his feet against a branch to free his toe of the pen.
Another crow lands, delivers two shreds of paper and flies away. Another, and another, until each and every crow present has had its turn, leaving the Communicator piecing together twenty eight pieces of paper. Each has been carefully torn along the line of English text. The Communicator traces the cut edges, and reconstructs part of a letter from twenty of the pieces.
[Author's note: Jose, a lovebird at Modern 988 hair in Dragon City Mall downtown, can completely destroy a section of the Calgary Herald in a matter of hours for her nesting box.]
To: Erebus, Defense Commander From: Osteune, Your Humble Servant
My report on the spread of delta vector and the destruction of computers around the world.
Washi reads the other eight pieces, which read "changes atoms of crystalline germanium into gallium ... silicon into aluminum"
"Human smarts, perhaps, but I'm pretty sure you must eat like crows," Washi says, "You may have the next rabbit that falls into my snare, if you get me the rest of this report."
Every crow takes off and flies out of the temple's open roof as though startled.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 20: Window to the World