Rise of Glie Chapter 12
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 11: Laid to Rest
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 12: Our Peace
"Seems like longer than seven days," Aware says.
"Somehow, it seems appropriate for your first Saturday in Glie," Hagane says as they open the door to the waiting room in the North Wing for the first time in sixteen years, bypassing the paneless windows they used before.
"Second Saturday," Aware says. With a gentle caress of his wings, and a wince to let Hagane know why, "I will never forget the first."
"Oh yeah," Hagane says, "sorry."
Hagane sees a group of shadows clustered on the floor, stoops and sweeps away with his hand several patches of singed and decayed fabric. Clothing, bandages, bedding, scrubs to his eyes. His fingers come to rest on a small chain of balls, grasp it and lift it. A small picture of a high cheeked young woman, mid twenties, in the prime of life, blonde hair, and a hopeful smile promising dedicated service in desperate times gazes back at Aware in color more brilliant than he could imagine a photograph having.
Hagane grasps the tag with his other hand to turn it to face his own eyes. Aware looks at him and sees pain. "Kammy," he sobs, "My God, is this all that's left of you?" He grasps it in both hands, clutching it against his heart, "She was my dearest human friend."
"Pretty," Aware remarks, "She had the look of a soldier's wife."
"I don't know how you can tell," Shinyoo says, "She was single."
"She was a surgical nurse," Hagane explains, "If you cut your wing off and brought it to me, I'd be the one to put it back on," he pauses, for a moment unable to speak through his sobs, then finishes, "she'd be at my side, making sure you'd never feel my blade. She'd be the one who would clean you up before I saw you, so she's seen the sorts of things that a soldier would see. She would have been doing triage ... right here," he points at the floor.
"Triage?" Aware asks.
"When a hospital is overloaded," Shinyoo explains, "The way to save the most lives is to sort your patients into three categories. The first is those whose lives are not threatened by their injuries. The second is those whose lives you can save. The third are those you must let go of for the sake of those in the second ... those lives that you cannot save, or," a tear parts way with his lashes, "those you should not save because you would lose more than one other life that you can."
"I understand," Aware says, "Did you save three strangers instead of one friend on that awful day?" he asks the heart surgeon.
"I couldn't do it," Shinyoo weeps, "When the battle started, at first I was surprised how little came to our steps. That was because the battle was so hard that the Defenders who would have brought the injured to us were too busy fighting. Their injured, all haibane, lie where they fell or carried each other to the wards in the Defense Towers. As soon as evacuation went to Phase Two, the injured started pouring in by the thousands. It was impossible."
"I saw you flee," Hagane says to his friend, "You probably didn't know that. I never thought you were a coward."
Shinyoo weeps, "He said it didn't matter to you. I had only been in Haib-," he catches himself, "-in Glie for three weeks, that you'd understand. My previous life as a surgeon didn't include war or mass emergency. It was not why he brought me here."
"Who?" Hagane asks.
"You know him," Shinyoo says. He looks around to make sure there are no humans in earshot, a redundant act in the midst of Old Home. "The Saviour," he finishes.
"Oh, yes," Hagane says, "I wonder ... Why doesn't knowing him make our feathers white any more?"
Aware hears a hammer strike wood, winces at the pain in his wrist, a sudden tension in all his bones, and difficulty breathing as though his organs push up against his lungs, and then it passes. That Saviour, he realizes. He remembers exactly who they are referring to, but not a name.
"I don't know," Shinyoo answers, "but he had a special mission for me that night: Save people. That included the-" he suddenly turns to Aware.
"I know who you're talking about," Aware says.
"Don't tell anyone about the crows," Shinyoo says.
Aware is confused. He doesn't know anything about the crows, except how they ate his fallen breakfast twice as fast as he could in a flat rush.
"He had me take the crows to the seed room in Defense Tower Four," Shinyoo says, "You know, the injured ones in the aviary. The two that couldn't fly. The other two had escaped earlier in the afternoon, before the enemy attacked. I think they had something to do in the battle."
Aware realizes, the crows are also people. That must be why they are so smart.
"Then he had me take from Defense Tower Four, in violation of the evacuation plan, anyone who was willing follow, to the Flight Well," Shinyoo continues, "At the time, I had no idea why, but in hindsight it is so obvious."
Aware's familiar enough with the aqueduct and river to figure it out. The Tower is in the flood zone, while the Flight Well is not.
"When I argued in prayer, <<Master, this is rebellion,>> he replied, << I'm the one who's really in charge, you know that,>>" Shinyoo looks at Hagane, "He brought to my mind Tori and all the other children he spared from the battle by having them Fly that Wednesday. Only he can do that."
"Ashfeather Bird?" Aware asks.
"Very perceptive," Shiden says to his friend with a pat on his shoulder, "He was the crows' closest friend."
"What do you mean he had the children fly?" Aware asks.
"It is called the Day of Leaving the Nest," Hagane explains. [This is the proper translation of the Japanese in Haibane Renmei that normally refers to the "Day of Flight"] "It is how haibane leave this world ... how we normally leave this world. You'll get to see one. It may be years, but you'll get to see one."
"It is so beautiful," Shiden recalls, "the beams of light dancing in the sky like a visual lullaby."
"You might not like it," Shinyoo warns, "for when you do see that light, you'll know that one of us who are standing beside you right now ... You'll never see again."
"The world that light leads to will last forever," Aware says as he puts a hand on his elder's shoulder, "and that is a long time. In the world beyond, I'll find you. I promise." He points a finger at him to scold, "So don't say never."
Shinyoo's face freezes, contorts into a scowl. Suddenly he turns away and chuckles. The other three join in the laughter. Shinyoo messes up Aware's hair under his halo, "I had you goin' there for half a second."
"Come on," Shiden says, "We still have our jobs in this world. We've wasted enough time chatting about history, let's get this place cleaned up."
The following Tuesday afternoon, Shinyoo continues to lay bricks to replace the empty windows on the main floors of each building. Slow work with just him and Aware helping, but they are making good time. The bricks are plentiful, having been blown out of the northern wall during the battle.
Suddenly Hagane and Shinyoo arrive, carrying a small crate overflowing with rags. The four haibane silently pace to the northwest corner of the wall of Old Home. They find bricks laid out in a rectangular pattern. Carefully scratched into each one are two numbers, in kanji.
Aware notes that two similar pairs of numbers have been scratched into the wall itself. He doesn't know what they mean: "76-14" and "76-17".
Without a word, the haibane dig a hole big enough for all the rags, and then carefully lay upon the pile, over one hundred Northern University security cards, including Kammy's, the first that they found. After that, they lay over a hundred dim halos. As the sun sets, they cover the grave, and set upon it a large brick Shinyoo has carefully etched with, "Our Peace." They don't know how many lives the memorial represents.
Aware takes the large glowing pickle jar full of light leaves and is about to set it on the brick when Shiden puts his hand on Aware's shoulder. "No, my elder brother. Those are the remains of our merciless foe, to be forged into our halos and made to do good for us."
Aware stands, still holding the jar. He looks Shiden in the eye. Shiden is about an inch taller and appears to be almost twenty years older. "Elder brother?" he says blankly. His lips curl into a smile as he asks, "How do you get away with calling me elder brother when I need you for the time of day?"
The two haibane laugh at their private joke as they part the bird's cemetary, trailing behind the doctors.
Hard at work restoring the damaged buildings as best they can, by the Friday evening, Old Home actually looks old. Brick and mortar have replaced most of the open first floor windows, creating a facade that better matches the style of the upper floors. This all belies the steel frame hiding within each of the three buildings. Most of the windows in the first floor have Shinyoo's expertly hand sawn wooden sills and lintels and the wooden "panes" to keep out the weather look incredibly out of place.
"For want of glass," Shinyoo moans.
"Shutters," Hagane says, "We'll get Jabez to make them for us from all the lumber we tore out."
They return to the camp, and their tilted house.
"Holy crap!" Keepsie complains from a seat on the cafe's ground level balcony, nursing a bowl of soup with her left hand while her right arm rests in a sling. Suddenly she notices the approaching haibane, by the glowing jar of light leaves. "Oh, hi!" she smiles.
"How's the Temple coming?" Hagane asks as he sits down.
"Like a quarry," Keepsie sighs, "That mud is the same stuff we made all this from," she whacks the adobe side of the cafe with a stick, "and it's had three years to set." She sighs, "but we're almost done."
"How did that happen?" Shinyoo asks, waving to her sling.
"Oh, yesterday afternoon I was making good time, hacking through the stuff with my pick, when suddenly I hit the Temple's stoneforge wall. Looks exactly the same," she winces at the memory, "but it's harder than steel." She looks up at the former Defender, "Shiden, how the heck do you-?"
"I don't," Shiden sighs, "the enemy's broken it all up for me, already."
"Oh," Keepsie sighs, "yeah." Switching topics, she asks, "I'm not going to get sick from that, am I?" indicating the jar of light leaves.
"No," Hagane says, setting a small green leaf in front of her, "Old Home is delta free. The Light must have fixed whatever damage the foundation had from the battle."
"Thank God for that," she takes a swig of her brew.
"Amen," Aware says, barely above a whisper.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 13: Finished