Rise of Glie Chapter 33

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Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 32: Sixty Thousand Transistors

FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie

Chapter 33: Take Your Best Guess

Jabez pushes the blade carriage on the saw, keeping a careful eye on the disk he slices. As he pulls back the blade, it moves almost imperceptably for the next slice. The white coveralls he is wearing has the gloves for the wings tucked inside the back of the suit, since he doesn't have wings.

"Thanks for your help," Fushoku says, "The rest of us have decided to combine lunch and afternoon break to save a cleaning cycle. It'll start an hour later. Is that alright with you?"

"Well," Jabez carefully takes another slice of the transistor crystal, then says, "I'm getting kinda hungry, but considering what these things bring in and how many we need to make, yeah, I'm fine with it."

"Jabez," Fushoku whispers, "Our yield jumped from 25% to 60% since you started working the saw. Do you have any idea why?"

"I guess I'm just good at it," Jabez whispers back playfully.

Fushoku follows the tilt of his head and sees another saw blade resting against the hutch of the bench. He then looks at the blade on the saw and realizes that Jabez has installed his own, brand-new diamond saw blade, absent of the microscopic wood dust they usually come with. "Thank you," he says, "Remember your pen at lunch; I want to keep it."

Stone Mill has been retrofitted with a clean room, and the other workers, both human and haibane, have interrupted their work on the third windmill generator, cleaned out Kenny's entire inventory of plastic sheeting, and wrapped up everything to make this half of Stone Mill cleaner than it has ever been. The sheeting separating the transistor half of Stone Mill from the idle generator half (and the little lunch room) billows with a filtered blower blowing clean air into it. It is Jose's blower, with Haoto's electrostatic filters on both the intake and exhaust.

Fushoku stayed up late the night before to run a batch of metal gate transistors, 435 of which fit on a wafer. Instead of just one, ninety-three worked, and he cheered ... but the thought that so many more of the tiny devices must function to make a microchip out of them was sobering. Also, he can't sell them to the Toga like this, since they don't meet the junction transistor specification.

That morning, Bangou rides with Washi as they drive the cart along the southern path. Kenny leads his "paving crew" somewhat to the north, tiling a shorter route over the mud flats, which will also become Glie's new Main Street once the city moves back towards the geographic centre of the walled area.

As they approach, a crow sitting in a potted tree next to the tent flying the small grey triangular flag from its centerpost caws four times as though to announce the cart's approach. As though answering it, a Toga emerges from the tent a few seconds later.

When they get there, Washi sells the four batches that they are carrying to the camp, along with four blocks of red colored high density polyethylene plastic. The Toga have their own metal cans and lead wires. Bangou is surprised to realize that, from her dreams alone, she is fluent in the sign language that they use.

"We have a gift for your Ashfeather Number, if you have one," the Toga signs. He presents a small wooden box.

"We do," the Communicator signs, "I'm not sure how you find out, but I'll make sure she-"

He suddenly feels a bump on his shoulder. The crow shifts its weight nervously on its branch in the little tree.

"I am Ashfeather Number," she signs from the Communicator's side, having silently disembarked from the cart when the conversation turned to her. She bows graciously, then signs, "Thank you very much."

The Toga seems rather taken aback, perhaps even alarmed. The Communicator is quite stiff. Bangou can hear his wings creaking.

Washi rushes Bangou back to the cart. "Bangou, you have to realize there are reasons we have rules," he growls.

"I'm sorry," she squeaks.

"Only official Communicators are allowed to speak to the Toga," he clarifies, "You know that. But I guess, since you've learned their language somehow, I should explain why."

He starts up the cart as he begins, "The Toga have ingrained in their culture privacy and anonymity. They are more comfortable not knowing the individual identities of the people they are dealing with."

"Sounds like they have trouble trusting their trading partners," she observes.

"Yeah, well I can't blame them," the Communicator huffs.

Bangou thinks that might be referring to her, but that thought immediately becomes uncomfortable. "Who do you mean?" she begins to ask, and then quickly retreats, "Never mind."

"I think you understand more than you let on," Washi says, "Do you know what the wall is for?"

"Not exactly," she says.

"Take your best guess," Washi instructs.

"Protection?" she asks.

"Good answer," the Communicator intones, "Don't you think the Toga would like to protect their best friends from that enemy?"

"We are their best friends?" Bangou asks.

"Absolutely," Washi affirms, "Don't you also think, that living outside the wall..."

"Mostly," she fills in.

"Mostly," Washi confirms, "that they too would need protection from whatever we need protection from?"

"Oh, that's silly," she says, "If they can't trust whoever's outside, how do they conduct..." her speech slows to an eerie crawl, "...trade?"

"I think that settles the reason about official Communicators," he says, "So what did they give you?"

"Oh?" she realizes she's still holding the wooden box. Inside, wrapped in a silvered plastic, are dozens of tiny metal cans, each with three wires sticking out of them at one end, through a red plastic plug. Two hundred. She closes the box.

"How did you learn their language?" Washi asks.

"The Saviour teaches me in my dreams," she says softly, near tears, "as a computer language."

"Interesting," Washi says, "Anyway, keep up the good work, and give my regards to Stone Mill."

She smiles, and waves goodbye in Toganese.

"You're keeping them really busy," Washi signs in Toganese as she departs the cart at the camp.

"So, what's it like over there?" Fushoku asks.

"I don't know," Bangou says, "I spoke out of turn and blew it."

"Oh, you know the Toga don't speak," Fushoku says, "Why bother trying?"

"It's a bit worse than that," she says, then signs in Toganese.

"Ashfeather Number," he tries to work out, "very much?"

"I am Ashfeather Number," she says with a blush, "Thank you very much."

"For what?" he asks.

She opens the box and wrapper and shows him.

"Wow," he gasps.

"That's quite a cry from the campfire kiln four years ago," Aware says.

Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 34: Kagami's Bird

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