Rise of Glie Chapter 4

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Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 3: Sorrow, Meet Sorrow

FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie

Chapter 4: Work to Do

"This is the big project right now," Hagane says as they head out the next morning.

They are on a scary rope bridge over a raging river, "It took us six miserable years to get the muck away from the front of the Tower, only to have a bunch more slide over the back and flood the inside. I wish we still had the roof," then he huffs, pointing out what is left of Defense Tower Four. "But then again, I wish we still had the other five towers."

"What happened?" Aware asks.

"We got our asses kicked," Jabez grunts, tossing a little pebble off the bridge into the raging current as they get to the other end.

"The enemy attack sixteen years ago was overwhelming," Hagane says, "Over that way," he waves over a big grey lake, where, Aware notes, the river they've just passed over rejoins a dry bed from the huge ridge on their left, "there used to be a city with a population of a hundred and sixty-five thousand."

"There used to be almost five thousand of us," Shinzoo whispers, flapping a wing, "Now, you've met all but one known to be left alive."

Aware gasps, "Why ... there are only four haibane?"

"Including you," Hagane confirms, "Our first big job is to get the river back on its proper course. We started by reinforcing the dyke north of the Tower," he points back along where they came and up the raging waterfall, "so it could survive that when we rerouted the river. Then we could work on the main dyke, which is where we're headed."

Reaching the base of the main dyke, they find Kasei, in his usual snitty mood.

"Stanley-kun," he snorts, "I have to know you can handle this. I haven't got much time left, and I have to know that there is someone who can continue to lead it."

"Yes, Master," The young, red-haired man replies. The two are stooped over a crufty looking plan table. "I believe we should build this portion to a safety factor of four by buttressing it with more soil-"

"Hagane!" Kasei greets with mock enthusiasm, before giving his protege an interesting smile.

Stanley smiles back.

Aware tries to hide what he sees. He recognizes what they are discussing. He knows how to do a better job of designing and managing the construction of this dyke, but he doesn't know how to say it; it is merely a detailed vision in his mind. He also recognizes that these two have a very low opinion of haibane.

"Shiden is off recovering stoneforge from Tower Two, I take it?" Hagane says calmly.

"Very perceptive," Stanley remarks.

"I spotted his convoy across the lake," Hagane smiles, "Oh, meet Aware, the first haibane of what we've decided to call Old Home."

Aware bows, his halo becoming much better behaved. His eyes go wide as he spots something on the ground at his feet. Once he is back at the upright, he notes how the two snicker at each other again. Once satisfied that he is being ignored, he stoops to pick up what he saw. Unbelievably, the material looks like stone on one edge and torn metal on the other. He can't find a seam between metal and stone.

"Stoneforge," Shinzoo explains, "Really cool stuff."

Aware's eyes go wide as Shinzoo starts reciting properties: tensile strength, melting temperature, hardness, and a few other fascinating things. This is no ordinary stone! After a property Aware immediately recognizes as the material's modulus of elasticity, Shinzoo chuckles, "whatever that means."

"Is this what the original aqueduct was made from?"

"Three metres thick," Hagane says.

Aware drops it in astonishment, gasping, "You're joking!"

"Nope," Hagane says, "It used to be right here," he indicates with his arm.

"Try a safety factor of like, forty," he gasps, "How could it possibly have-" He suddenly remembers, "We really got our asses kicked, didn't we?" he asks Jabez with a tear.

Jabez is not in a talking mood.

Hagane gets right up close to Aware and whispers, "I find myself wondering how you might react to the words, civil engineer."

Aware spins is head at him with wide eyes.

"We'll discuss it later," Hagane whispers even more quietly. Returning to a normal conversational tone, he says, "Grab a shovel, let's see if you're old hat at this."

They have the relatively simple task of shovelling soil into the new, and much larger, dyke. It is instantly obvious that Aware is not old hat at driving a wheelbarrow, but he only dumps two loads before getting the hang of it.

Aware spends the first half of his lunch break washing his irritated wings.

Shiden flaps his frazzled feathers as Aware sits down, "Don't even bother, it's not like you need them for flying or anything."

"Oh, it's not that," Aware says quietly, "The scabs were getting really itchy from the dust, and I don't want them to get infected."

"Oh, shoot," Hagane pounds his head, "I should have thought of that. Aware, perhaps the hard labour is too much for you, still so young as a haibane."

"So what can I do instead?" Aware asks cheerfully.

"Something about these mosquitos, maybe," Shinzoo groans as he sweeps the air in front to fhis face.

"One of the older tricks I learned," Aware says with a smile. He gets up, walks a few feet to the edge of the grass and grabs a clump of the ubiquitous yellow flowers and hands the larger part of the impromptu boquet to Shinzoo.

"For me?" Shinzoo jokes.

"Yeah," Aware says, "like this," squishing the petals all over the skin on the back of his neck, then starts spreading the flower juice on his arms. Shinzoo looks skeptical, but enthusiastically follows Aware's lead.

"Where'd you learn that?" Hagane asks.

"Oh, it's easy, I-" Aware trails off, his eyes scanning an empty sky and his mind searching an empty memory. After almost a minute he finishes, "-have no idea."

The other three haibane burst out laughing.

Aware's confused, and feels very small at not understanding the joke he was just the victim of.

"The first of many such occasions, I'm sure," Hagane give him a friendly shove on the shoulder, "Don't bother trying to answer such questions. Memories do not come easily to haibane."

He joins in the laughter for a few moments, then notices Shiden checking the time.

"Ima, nanji wo kudasai?" Aware asks him casually.

"Gozen, hachiji juuni-" Shiden casually begins to answer, then gasps, "What the heck? Eight-twelve? Why'd I say eight-twelve? It's twelve-thirty, time to get back to work."

As they get up, Aware puts a hand on Shiden's shoulder and quietly asks, "Your cocoon dream?"

"Flash," Shiden answers.

"Shiden, we know each other," Aware whispers.

Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 5: Never In Heat

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