Rise of Glie Chapter 24

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Previous Rise of Glie Chapter 23: Reestablished

FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie

Chapter 24: Growth

"Try it," Washi asks gently, "try moving one wing at a time."

Kagami moves one of her wings instead of both. The bells on her right wing ring.

"That means yes," Washi says, "Now try the other."

Kagami rings the bells on her left wing.

"That means no," the Communicator says, "Very good, Kagami-kun." He reaches around with his new walking stick, not yet adorned with the little winged ball, and taps his own, wooden left wing, "I wish I could do that."

Kagami squeals gleefully.

As the Communicator approaches, pulling a grey notebook from his robe's pocket, Kagami gets scared, and backs into Aware's legs. Her bells ring muffled as her wings press against the elder haibane.

"It's okay, Kagami," Aware whispers, "He's not going to hurt you."

Washi kneels, bringing his face to her height. It provides her little comfort, since she can't see it through the strange mask. In fact, she seems to get more scared.

"This," he offers the grey notebook in both hands, "makes you the first member of the new Ashfeather Federation who is actually an ashfeather," he explains, "it guarantees your daily life in exchange for your service to our community."

"Service?" she asks.

"Once you're big enough," Washi says.

"What's your name, sir?" she asks.

"No one is allowed to know," Washi says softly, but dutifully, "So don't tell anyone. Since Aware's my closest friend, and you are special among the haibane, being the first girl and youngest hatchling since the battle twenty four years ago, I'll make an exception. First, please," he almost touches the notebook against her chest, "this is yours."

It has the T-handle symbol of the Haibane Renmei, its name in kanji, and her name on the cover. Slowly, she takes it.

The Washi reaches up and lifts his hood and mask, revealing a face wrinkled by smiles, but with a note of deep sadness in his eyes, "My name is Shiden. I lost my wings. Take good care of yours," he chides, "They can never be taken from you."

"Thank you, Shi-"

"Sssssh," he interrupts with a finger over his own lips, "Remember, you're not allowed to know."

Kagami retreats behind her friend Aware as Shiden stands. "Aware, she will remember more than she has told you, that's the Saviour's promise," he puts a hand on his friend's shoulder, "Get her a human friend. A woman, probably Crystal. When it hits, be there, but be sensitive. You won't understand it."

"Do you?" Aware asks

"No, none of us ever will," Shiden replies, "But I know from my own experience that you will not let her down."

"I will do my best," Aware quietly promises.

Shiden steps backwards two paces, then pulls his mask and his hood back into position, formally becoming the Communicator again, "Send the rest of the haibane for their official notebooks, one per day except Saturday, Haibane Aware ... in any order that you see fit. Farewell."

"Why?" Aware asks.

"Farewell, Haibane Aware," Washi says, almost coldly.

"I started stamping coins for Glie," Bahitsu explains happily, handing him one of the shining examples as they walk along the path to the Temple cliff the next day, "How does it look?"

"The haibane aren't allowed to own money," Aware says.

"It's not mine," Bahitsu says, "I make several before giving them to Stanley. It's slow going, of course, and I'm teaching Haoto and a couple of the human boys how to run the press so they can take over."

The obverse contains a faithful reproduction of the Haibane Renmei T-handle logo, while the reverse has the simple numeral "1" on it.

"So what's the currency unit?" Aware asks.

"I don't know," Bahitsu says like it's no big deal, "They haven't decided what to call it yet."

Tossing it back, Aware says, "Well, that explains the notebooks."

"Notebooks?" Bahitsu asks.

Aware spends the rest of the long trip explaining the new Haibane Renmei, including the new wing bells.

The Washi goes through the relatively simple procedure of welcoming Bahitsu to the Haibane Renmei and giving him his new notebook, and on the way back, they discuss Fushoku's plans for a new crystal furnace, designed to produce a junctioned transistor crystal 15mm in diameter and 5mm long using what they have no idea is called the Czolchalski process.

"I can tell Fushoku is looking forward to having his vacuums drawn by electrical power instead of his arms," Bahitsu goes on, "Pulling that pump all day must be exhausting."

"Why does he want to make them bigger?" Aware asks, "I thought his goal was to make them thousands of times smaller."

"Well," Bahitsu explains, "once he gets the furnace working, that'll be the easy part. The tough part is slicing up the big crystal into many small ones. He'll use a diamond dusted saw blade from the Toga."

"Sounds like something Jabez would be interested in," Aware says, remembering the "nothing new" rule for the haibane.

"Oh, it is, it is," Bahitsu says, "and he buys them for us. He uses them to cut one rafter on the fancy mitre chop saw he got from the Toga, then says <<There, it's used.>>"

They laugh at the arrangement. Bahitsu then goes on, "Fushoku doesn't think it's so funny actually, he insists the residual dust from the wood will ruin the transistors." Aware already knows that Fushoku had made a motor for the saw blades, and I contributed some of the parts to it. The clamp for the crystal and the tongs for removing the cut pieces will be carefully polished."

"The quality of the original saw blades must really matter," Aware observes.

"They were designed for cutting microchips," Bahitsu says, "Fushoku says it's the same kind of thing that he's trying to make. Oh, I'm so glad they're getting along."

Aware follows his eye to Kagami, who's dancing around Crystal, the much larger human. One would guess their ages at five and thirteen years. The latter would be correct, but the former would need to be amended to five days. Aware notes that her wings are moving comfortably as she plays, and her halo is faithfully following her head.

"She can't stand boys, especially human boys," Bahitsu complains, "She won't even say hi to us. Do you have any idea why?"

"No," Aware says, "but my instinct tells me that it is not her fault."

"Can't she just choose to like us?" Bahitsu asks, "Like I can choose to like or not like you?"

"I don't know," Aware says, remembering his choice to like Shiden even after his abuse shattered his soul in those early days. He speculates, "Maybe there's a point a soul can be damaged beyond where one can make the choice to like someone." Aware remembers how hard it was to make that choice. Far more vaguely, he remembers that his precursor made that choice to like someone quite easily and that like went on for his entire life. Perhaps he was what the humans call "married". He wonders if there is an opposite.

Kagami instantly cowers behind Crystal when she notices Bahitsu and Aware returning from the Temple.

To make casual conversation and show Kagami that these are her friends, Crystal asks, "Why can't Washi issue all of the notebooks at once?"

"He has to make them," Aware answers easily, "Bahitsu and I snuck up on him, since we're not allowed to talk in there before he allows us to. We caught him drying the paper for Haoto's notebook."

"Hi, Kagami-san," Bahitsu says.

"Oh," Kagami says, "Hi, angel-boy!" she squeals.

After the two haibane pass on, rejoining the other angel-boys hard at work building the first wind turbine generator, Crystal turns her gaze west and shades her eyes from the setting sun to look at the men hard at work digging the foundation for the first generator tower on the Hill of Winds. How are they going to get that thing up there? She crouches for Kagami, brushes her bangs away from her eyes, then asks, "Why do the boys scare you, Kagami-san?"

"I don't know," Kagami says, "They just do. The angels ... haibane are okay, but them," she looks nervously over at the men of the camp half a kilometre away, "I don't know."

"It's okay," Crystal assures her, "There's no need to be scared, but if you can't help it, that's okay."

"Washi said my wings can never be taken from me," Kagami says, "yet he lost his own, what is that about?"

After a pause, Crystal answers slowly, "Kagami-san, I haven't the faintest idea."

[Author's Note: Shiden is aware of the rules of the much larger featherwings of love, which would be destroyed by the crimes committed against Kagami's precursor.]

Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 25: A Second Chance

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