Rise of Glie Chapter 29
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 28: Lady Number
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 29: The Last Place On Earth, Period.
"So what's it like?" Fushoku asks, noting that Bangou prefers to move her head more towards the chopsticks than vice-versa; doubtless due to her sore wings. She sits backwards on the wicker chair as well.
"It's um ... I don't know actually," Bangou says, "I don't have much experience eating yet."
"Hi," a friendly new voice says from the doorway, "I'm Janice. You must be Bangou."
"Uh, yeah," the brown-haired young lady replies.
"I'm Glie's tailor," the human explains, "You're probably looking forward to these," she pats the bundle in her hands.
"Oh? What are they?" she asks.
"Not in front of the boys," Janice says warmly.
Fushoku and Bahitsu blush; Bahitsu more so.
"Once you're done eating, we can find a quiet spot to find your size," she sees the newborn haibane's bare back as she walks past. The roots of her wings are brown with scabs. "That looks painful," she remarks, "Your wings are okay I hope."
"That's normal for a new haibane," Fushoku says.
"Oh, I know," Janice says.
"She's trying to fly too soon," Bahitsu says, "I think she's jealous of Kagami buzzing around her head."
"Something like that, I guess," Bangou says timidly, "I'm still figuring them out."
"Maybe it's just because I'm seeing you a day earlier than I've seen other haibane," Janice explains, "After Kagami, Aware, the senior haibane, decided I better come over instead of having Bahitsu visit."
"Why's that?" Bangou asks innocently.
"Not in front of the boys, please," Bahitsu grunts, stuffing the last blob of rice in his mouth.
Fushoku gives him a playful shove, "Come on, let's go see how Haoto and the others are doing with that engine."
The boys disappear.
Once alone, Bangou asks, "I was wondering if there are other haibane women. All I've seen are the boys and little Kagami."
"No," Janice says, "You're the second haibane girl since the battle, before which the Haibane Renmei was large enough to look after their own. They were in charge of the old city, and our communities had grown apart before I was born, so I don't know very much about haibane, but still more than most other humans."
"So, you wouldn't know if I should be expecting, uh," Bangou tucks her chin in shyly, "...periods?"
"I have no idea," Janice confesses, "I know that haibane don't reproduce. My daughter wanted to marry Fushoku, that's how I found out." Janice seems distant, almost lost for a moment, "I ... miss my own, messy as they are. I know I live the same life as before, but it sure hasn't felt like it for the last six months. Forgive me if I seem a little ... off."
"Alright, here goes!" Bahitsu announces as he turns the key. He presses the start button and the engine reluctantly squirms to life. After the sounds of internal combustion start singing from the heart of the beast, Haoto's big gizmo firmly fastened to the engine's end changes from starter motor to generator and the needles on Fushoku's gauges flip the other way, and the engine begins recharging the batteries that just started it.
Cheers erupt from all in attendance, including the engine's recipient, Jabez.
"Good work," Aware says with a friendly shove on the boy's shoulder.
"We'll give it an hour to charge this bank," Bahitsu explains, "Then we'll shut her down and decouple them for shipment."
Jabez had decided to "go electrical", using Toga-supplied electric tools. And so, he was returning the mechanical gizmos to the haibane. His old engine would become Stone Mill's new "rotator", and through a series of transmissions and clutches handcrafted by Haoto and Bahitsu, mechanically drive the big machines lining the walls of the main hall at the north end. This will, literally, take a load off the puny hydro turbine so it can run the kitchen and thereby save some of Glie's precious wood for construction, and for Fushoku's exotic semiconductor autoclaves.
"Look how far you've come in just two years," Aware gasps, "It's a great feeling to know that Glie is going uphill instead of down ... and so quickly."
"It's all your fault," Fushoku complains, "and for that, I present you-" he offers Aware a tiny little metal box the size of a lima bean, "the first working metal gate transistor."
"You seem a little disappointed," Aware notes.
"It was the only one in the first batch that worked," Fushoku grumbles, "when I need to get all but a very few to work on each wafer."
"Why is that?" Aware asks.
"Because," Haoto interjects, "when we start printing the wires on them to make a microchip with a hundred of them, if one of those hundred are messed up, the whole chip is wasted."
"Uh, what he said," Fushoku smiles.
"What do you think of Stanley's plans for Wire Factory?" Aware asks.
Fushoku gets nervous, "I've tried to think of a gentler way..." he scratches the back of his neck and scrunches his wings.
"Well?" Aware presses.
"They suck," Fushoku squeaks, "I mean, it's not that he's a bad architect at all, it's just that he needs to understand the needs of production better. We need to keep the air clean, and I mean fastidiously clean. Human bodies are messy enough as it is. Then you add-" he whacks Aware's arm with a wing, "these to the mix."
"The glovebox isn't going to cut it?" Aware groans.
"The glovebox already isn't cutting it," Haoto joins the chorus, "Stone Mill is incapable of being clean enough to make these things."
"I heard that!" Bahitsu yells, pretending to be offended.
Everyone laughs, Aware joining in last. They already know that Stone Mill was designed primarily to build generators, transformers, and batteries, not microchips. Fushoku's little semiconductor lab is way out of place. Heck, with its whitewashed walls and air ducting (not for cleaning air, but for feeding his exotic furnaces with oxygen for burning wood), it even looks bizarre compared to the rest of rough-and-tumble Stone Mill.
"Still," Aware says ruefully, "it is already better than the very best the Toga can pull off outside."
The following morning, as the haibane are packing the generator set up to ship it the rather difficult seven hundred metres to the Wood Mill, Bangou shows up not quite unannounced with Kagami serving as her jester.
"I want to see it go," Kagami squeals at the sight of the engine as they crack open Stone Mill's big door.
"You will," Haoto says. Kagami clings to Bangou's side like a static-charged dust bunny. "When it's ready to go at Jabez' shop in a couple of days," Haoto finishes. Noting the far taller haibane lady, he greets, "Oh," wiping his greasy hand on his coveralls before offering it, "You must be Bangou, I'm Haoto."
After a moment's reluctance, she takes it for a brief shake, "Is Fushoku around?"
Haoto points a thumb through the big door into Stone Mill.
Bangou soon finds the odd white lab, where she spies Fushoku at his soldering bench rapidly installing components into a circuit board, one after the other. "I had a strange dream last night," she says softly, "not a part of my past but he gave me a lesson on what you're doing."
"He?" Fushoku asks.
"I don't know his name," Bangou says, then gives a description.
"Must be the Saviour," Fushoku says with a smile, "I don't know his name either. What'd he teach you?"
Bangou notices that Fushoku has a wire clipped onto his sleeve, leading to a clamp on the sink's pipe. She crouches between him and the sink, grabs the pipe with her left hand, and then gently takes the circuit board with her right. "This is a pair of latch circuits," she notes, "probably for a shift register," then hands the board back to him.
"How did you know?" Fushoku asks, "and ... how did you know to ground yourself for static?"
"Static?" she ponders for a moment, then lets go of the sink pipe, "Oh, so that's what this is for. Oh, he ... the uh..."
"Saviour?" he offers.
"Yeah, the Saviour taught me how to design those last night," she says.
"I don't even know what it is," he confesses, "What I do know is that I put four transistors in these places," he points, "and if the transistors work right, the voltages here and here," he points at two pads for his voltmeter, "will stabilize at either five volts or zero, and should be easy to switch by either applying the battery or grounding it. That's what the Toga want my transistors to do."
"Each of those is a binary digit," she says, "The machines I programmed in my dreams had billions of them, and a whole module half as big as that card had nine billion."
"Something like this?" Fushoku offers her a small wrapped package.
She unfolds it to see the circuit board of the little radio, "Whoa!" she gasps. "No, this is much more advanced." She then looks at him in confusion, "If we can make these, why the heck are you puttering around with something that primitive?"
"Because inside our wall is the last place on Earth that they can be made," Fushoku says.
"What wall?" she asks.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 30: The Toga's Computer Language