Rise of Glie Chapter 44
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 43: Quieter Than the Toga
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 44: Potatoes and Chickens
The crow sits on the top of the hutch, its feet buried under its fluffed feathers, every few moments it shakes off the fallen flakes of snow.
"I wish this thing fit in the gazebo," the Communicator grumbles.
The crow extends his right wing slightly, spilling some of the snow beside it onto the desk the Communicator sits at. She looks up at the black bird and says, "Let's go to my room, so this doesn't get all wet."
She turns about, offering her right wing as a perch for the crow, which it takes gingerly, gripping the wood softly as though it might hurt like a real haibane wing if he squeezed it too hard. Once in the room, she holds the spent bullet case until the note frozen into it has thawed, and she can pull it out without it getting any wetter than it already is.
"Oh my," she rasps.
The crow doesn't seem even slightly amused at her reaction. It is perched on the lamp stand hanging from the unfurnished room's ceiling. It reaches over its right wing and starts preening its dorsal coverts.
"What do we need to do?" she asks softly.
The crow lifts its right wing and starts preening through the underside of the wing. Not preening, Washi realizes, looking for something. The crow leans over onto its left foot and starts scratching at his wing with the claws of its right. Suddenly a tiny scrap of paper flies loose. The crow caws.
It floats about every which way while Washi calmly tracks it. Finally it rests on the tatami matting at the Communicator's feet. She lifts her round mask to pick it up and read the single English word apparently torn out of a novel.
"You want me to arrest a Toga?" she gasps.
The bird extends his right wing.
The crow bows its head and extends his left wing. He doesn't know how.
"I can't tell one Toga from another," she groans as she sits on the floor, "First how am I going to know which one?"
The crow crouches, flies off the lamp and dives on one of the plant pots sitting on the window sill, knocking it over before returning to the lamp.
"Now what'd you do that for?" she asks as she rights the empty pot, the only one on the window that didn't have a bulb in it patiently waiting for spring.
After she sets it back, he dives on it again, cawing up a fuss. The same pot.
As she puts it back the second time, she turns to the crow and asks. "This traitor," she whispers, "You know who he is and how to pick him out from the other Toga?"
The crow extends his right wing.
"How are you-"
The crow takes off and dives on the pot again.
"Alright, I get it, I get it," Washi says while hastily grabbing the pot to save it from another fall. "Is he coming on Tuesday?" she asks after he returns to the lamp.
The crow bows its head, then extends its right wing a little bit. A "probably".
"Okay," Washi nods, "but only dive on him if he's actually there. If you don't point somebody out, I'll make like I don't know a thing about this. Okay?"
The crow extends its right wing.
"Now, I might not be able to tell Toga apart, but I can sort you guys out," she explains, "It has to be you, not some other crow. Got it?"
Wally's a little frustrated at that remark, but extends his right wing anyway.
"Anyway, I'm starved, let's get something to eat," she hops up to her feet and starts digging through a bag in the corner.
"Do you like potatoes?" she asks.
The crow extends his left wing and spits.
"You'll like the ones I found in the suit room," she smiles, "I left them down there about two months ago, forgot all about them. Right where its warm and moist, and I couldn't figure out where that smell was coming from."
Wally perks up. The smell she's referring to is the sort of smell that makes crows curious. He's wondered where it was coming from too.
"Maggots," she snorts, "I didn't know flies could nest in potatoes. Next time I go down, they're all yours." [I didn't know either, until I had it happen!]
On Tuesday, the outbound, mostly empty cart, carries two crates of microchip dice and four bins of plastic chips to the Toga camp in the Market Square. Washi patiently waits for the gate to open. She was discussing the production with a Toga in the camp when the inner gate cracks.
The first thing out of the gate is a chicken. Then more chickens. Hundreds of panicky chickens scramble through the gate and gather around her, squawking and flapping and smelling like chickens.
"Nani?" she blurts aloud.
The Toga she was just talking with (in the sign language) seems just as perplexed.
There must be at least five hundred chickens, all braving the winter to forage around in the snow around her feet.
"They're good for eating," the Toga who emerges from the wall signs.
"Oh?" she signs, "How much?"
"Free of charge," the Toga hustles to sign in a flustered manner that could be interpreted as nearly screaming. "They suddenly showed up just as we opened the outer gate and charged in after us. There was nothing we could do about it."
The newcomers to Glie seem happy to be there, clucking and strutting around, gathering around patches of grass poking through the snow. Behaving much as chickens. They don't stray very far from the Market Square, though.
After the discussions regarding the sale of forty computers worth of case plastic and the chips themselves (double what the Toga had expected this week, even though this batch was a week late), Washi concluded, "I think you deserve something for spending an hour in the gatehouse with hundreds of chickens."
"An exclusive contract on the straw perhaps?" the Toga signs.
It is a joke, obviously, since the Toga have an exclusive contract on everything, being the only intermediaries between Glie and the outside world. Washi claps warmly.
The chickens faithfully follow the little puffing cart convoy all the way back to the western town (after a stop at Wire Factory and the new South District), and it doesn't seem that any of them went missing during the trip.
Stanley and most of the humans are utterly ecstatic, and even kill a few for a celebration supper. There is no shortage, after all. The next morning, Taka, uncharacteristically, wanders up onto the Hill of Winds, and they all follow him out. And they all follow him back to Old Home at lunch after grazing on the winter stubble.
Crystal chewed him out for missing his morning classes. He just shrugs.
It is then, from the step of her tower, that the Communicator realized that the one bird she most wanted to see during her visit with the Toga never showed. Where was Wally?
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 45: You'll Get Used to It