Rise of Glie Chapter 20
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 19: Return of the Crow
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 20: Window to the World
[I hope Majic doesn't mind the pun.]
"This is the perfect spot right here," Bahitsu says, "and we got just enough small pieces of stoneforge for the foundation."
They are upstream of Old Home, the stream dry, and with beautiful rounded stones in the bottom of it, hinting at the speedy waters that coursed through before the aqueduct was rebuilt.
"We're obviously not done with the river," Stanley notes as he stands on the bottom, picking up the empty shell of an unfortunate snail.
"The inlet lagoon level dropped more than we expected after we blew the rerouting dam," Aware says.
"One well placed charge'll fix that," Jabez says with a smile, "But the bridge wouldn't survive if we did."
"Not only that, but our fords down here would be washed out," Bahitsu suggests, "Let's cut the path to the temple out of the cliffs and we can use the stone blocks from that on another bridge across the stream here, much handier to the camp and the Flight Well."
"Good idea," Aware says, "Eventually all the risk and calories that would go into cutting such a path would be saved by not having to climb that extra thirty slippery metres each way on the existing path." He tosses a flat stone as though trying to skip it off the imaginary surface of the stream's water. Instead it rattles playfully among the dry stream bed stones.
"We'll call it Stone Mill," Bahitsu suggests, "since it'll be made out of both stone and stoneforge."
"Why here?" Stanley asks
"Power!" Fushoku exclaims, "We set this place up with a microhydro turbine, and then it becomes the shop where we can build the big ones. I thought you knew all about it."
"You know, if you build a generator," Stanley warns, "Any human who wants it can claim it because it is new."
"First of all," Aware says, "The hydro generator is for Glie as a community, not us as haibane. We won't be using its power for personal use, but only for Stone Mill itself."
"There's more to your argument, isn't there?" Stanley asks.
"Yeah," Aware says, "It'll be the first electromagnetic generator made within the wall. We'll do our best, but it's probably going to be a piece of junk that'll need daily servicing, and we are not planning to waste Tower Oil on a prototype as we are learning the basic principles all over again. If anyone actually wants it, we'll hand it over, but he'll be on his own when it comes to maintenance."
[Note: While it obviously draws inspiration and was invited by Majic, this Stone Mill is not the same as the one in Mado of Stone Mill. While both worlds are compatible with the relatively simple world of Haibane Renmei, they are not compatible with each other.]
Back at Old Home, Fushoku carefully removes the screws with the little investment casting Bahitsu made for him, and the tiny mobile radio reveals its first secret as the back comes off. One little fibre embedded plastic card contains a single black chip, which seems to hover above the card itself. It takes him another hour to get the plastic card off, and he finds that it contains the sixteen contact pads for the keys, and a plastic ribbon cable for the screen. By following the traces, it is clear to him that all twenty billion switches are in the black chip, which has an independent circuit to a tiny silver can that Fushoku instinctively knows contains a quartz crystal oscillator.
He closes his mind and digs into his past life, deciding that he has never seen such a device before; it is only an anticipation that must have required advances far beyond what he had learned.
Opening his eyes, he sadly realizes that an entire civilization put it effort into this technology ... that what little he sees around him is all that's left of it and whatever is outside the wall must be something else entirely. Something fundamentally incompatible with human nature. Something evil. He cries.
The Washi anticipates the third visit of the Toga, the second that he has attended. He stands in front of the Gate, having made the long trip around the north path. The Gate opens right on schedule.
"Welcome back," he signs.
"It's good to be back," the first Toga out of the gate signs. The Washi can't tell if he's the same one who was the spokesperson last time. "Even as short as you were last week, you are still the most pleasant of our partners to communicate with."
"Do you have any of those little flip-flop things that actually work?" Washi asks. [The electronic historian in me is laughing at an accidental pun the average reader will probably not get.]
"We can't get ones that work, Communicator," he signs sadly, "I'm sorry. Do you have anything yourselves like it? Surely you must, all we hear from the other partners is complaints about how far ahead you are," he exagerates.
"No," Washi answers, "Everything that we had that was this advanced was fried during a major battle twenty-three years ago winter."
The Toga seem helpless. All nine of them dip their heads sadly.
"Not the same way," Washi signs. He waits for the Toga to get interested again, "You must be patient with us, since it will take a lot of time and effort, but we," he bangs his arms to emphasize, "can build them again within our wall. If my knowledge is correct, the cause of the failures outside will only get worse with time, first affect the production facilities-" Washi pauses, "Silly me, they already have, you said that last week. The way the electronics are built are not protected against the problem. The computers fail first, then the smaller devices. We can learn the problem and find ways to protect the advanced goods that we produce."
"Do you have anything you can show us?" the Toga ask.
"Only this experimental prototype," Washi signs. He takes the first transistor out of his bag and shows the Toga.
The Toga takes it and starts looking at it in fascination.
"It took our best expert three days to make it," Washi signs, "and we have no way of testing it."
The Toga pull a cover back on their one cart and clamp a couple of little clips to it.
The Communicator puts a hand on the Toga's shoulder as he reaches for the power switch. "Sir," he warns, "The glass tube you gave us requires a far higher voltage, which would destroy this device. Its creator warns you not to apply more than four volts."
The Toga makes several adjustments to his device before turning it on. Once on, two pens move, apparently under the influence of a force generated by coiled wires near their bases. They draw similar patterns. One draws boldly with wide strokes, while the other pen seems timid and draws the pattern almost as variations on a straight line.
The Toga stops the test and turns to Washi. "It's not very good, but," the Toga seems a little surprised, "It works with," resorting to the freshly learned phonetic alphabet the Communicator gave him the week before, he signs, "an alpha of 0.34 and responds at a speed of up to 50 kilohertz. Congratulations."
"How much of a breakthrough is that?" the Communicator asks.
"Well, it's not good enough to be useful in anything," the Toga signs, "But, it has been several years at least, since those outside this wall have been able to make an advanced device."
"We're not willing to part with it anyway," Washi signs, "Any case, what else do you need? We would like power generators, engines, batteries, and fuel. This would help us build more useful devices like this."
"Our other trading partners generate their own power," one Toga signs. Another shudders. Another seems sad.
The Communicator remembers this from long ago, how Imps and Hellknights can throw fireballs from their bare hands, the Guardian as the walking furnace, and the gruesome abilities of the Arch-Vile.
"Copper wire then," Washi signs, "Or just plain copper. Or even just plain copper ores. Whatever you can get us."
"We prepared this for you, Glie-jin," one Toga signs while the other takes a small written catalog from the cart and hands it to Washi.
"I guess that's all for today," the Toga signs after a flip through it, "There should be much you would find useful in the debris from the Final War. I'm sure we'll find something."
After the Toga leave, he looks at the little catalog, which is a list of bid/ask type entries, all in Toganese "hand" writing. On the way back the path that he knows so well, he realizes that the most cost effective items they can export are live animals. He does not wish to imagine their fates.
Next:Rise of Glie Chapter 21: Cold Dawn