Rise of Glie Chapter 14
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FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 14: The First Communicator
"Washi," Aware whispers in the garden of the Temple, the trees young and short, plot borders marked by small stones. "Washi," Aware says, "you know this place too well, you can't possibly have missed me coming in, and you snore like a chainsaw so I know you're not asleep either."
"Who are you calling Communicator?" the old voice of an unseen man growls impatiently, "There is no such thing."
"The East Gate doesn't open on its own, Master Shiden," Aware says, "Your binoculars still work, too," he holds them up, "I know."
"The East Gate?" the growl has turned from angry to suspicious.
"Yes, Communicator," Aware says, "Men in grey robes who hide their faces, three carts, no animals. Their way to the camp is blocked by the lake. They seemed very disappointed that there was no one to greet them, so they left after waiting five hours. There were at least thirty, but they hide well, so I'm not too sure of my count. I haven't told anyone in the camp."
Shiden makes a sound that triggers a memory in Aware: A steel ship at sea populated by pale-skinned men with a flat deck and blue flying machines that were short, fat, and made an awful buzzing noise. That must be something else. [The abbreviation is used three times in Space: Above and Beyond, a Fox series that lasted only the 1995-96 season; it features a type of creature with a bit of similarity to haibane, the "InVitro" as well as an episode with a bit more similarity to Doom 3, #7 The Enemy; finally, Lt. Colonel T. C. McQueen, the squadron commander played by James Morrison, bears some resemblance to a Communicator by being an InVitro who is grounded as a space pilot.]
"What did you call them?" Aware asks.
"The Toga," Shiden replies after clearing his throat, "Traders with those outside." Aware finally sees him as he mutters, "I finally got this damn thing open. Turns out the latch was fine. I used the breast drill to give it a new handle. God, is it ever boring in here."
"We blow the dam today," Aware says softly, trying to assure the old man with the good news, "You'll be the only haibane from the old city to see it." Aware approaches cautiously, reaching for Shiden's trembling left wing, which is missing several feathers.
"Ah!" Shiden screams as Aware touches him. He spins around and swings the dim halo in his hands like a bladed weapon, causing Aware to jump back. The old man collapses to his knees, dropping the halo. He buries the balls of his hands into his eyes and cries, "I'm not a haibane anymore, can't you see that?"
"You are still my elder brother," Aware says, "We still have the same dream, and I want to help you."
"Don't leave me," Shiden bawls, staring at his dim halo. He picks it up and gently taps the flat side of it against his head. "Why doesn't it glow? Aware, why doesn't it glow?"
"You know more about that than I do, Master," Aware says, kneeling in front of him, "and you made me promise never to say anything about it, twice even before you told me the first time."
"It hurts, elder brother, it hurts, God damn it!" he wails, leaning on his friend's shoulders, helpless to do anything about his situation. "Not just the physical pain, but knowing my time as a haibane is up, and the Saviour will not let me Fly!!" The white knuckle grip on Aware's shoulders makes him wince, share in the elder's pain.
"Master ... Shiden ... my brother," Aware sobs, "I don't know how to help you, but I have to get back to the camp."
"Don't leave me!" he screams desperately, pulling on Aware's shoulders. "It hurts less when you're around. It might be the glow of your halo. I beg you please, brother, stay with me until-"
"Until?" Aware warmly grasps the elder's arms above the elbow, trying to loosen his grip. "Master Shiden, are you dying?"
"No," he sobs, "I'm losing my wings. They die without the glow of the halo."
"You told me," Aware says.
"Stay with me," Shiden begs, "until they fall off, please!"
"Why won't he let you fly?" Aware whispers. "I want to help, if there's some sin you can tell me about, maybe it's not too late."
"He said you would tell me," Shiden sobs, "Since the last time you were here, he told me you'd come with the answer. Brother Aware, why won't he let me fly?"
Aware sobs helplessly.
"Why!?" Shiden bawls, shaking Aware's shoulders, "He said you'd have the answer ... right now!" Shiden lets go of his friend and picks up his halo, "Why, my friend and brother, won't you tell me why, this thing won't glow, and why I can't get out of this world?"
"I don't know," Aware sobs, "but they ... what did you call them? ... They're back. You can be Washi, the Communicator. Those robes are so encompassing, and the mask, I've seen pictures. No one will ever know it's you ... especially the way your voice has changed since you left the camp."
The old man looks Aware in the eye with realization. The same happy glint that came when Shiden first understood a formula or calculation Aware would be discussing with him about the dyke over the last seven years. But, that glint came not with happiness, but with horror, and Shiden turns his face away, then collapses prone in front of Aware, holding his dim halo over his head where it once belonged, bawling desperately, "Uso da ... Uso da ... Uso da" [Japanese, "not true", repeated by Rakka in Haibane Renmei Episode 13 after she learns why Reki is sin-bound.]
"How long, Master?" Aware whispers.
"It ... shouldn't be more than a couple of days," Shiden sobs.
Aware winces, he was hoping his visit would last no more than an hour, but he daren't utter that in front of the broken man at his knees. If it is to be days, there is no point in going back to explain to a camp that isn't supposed to know Shiden is still in Glie. He takes the elder's left hand from the halo and grips it tightly in his own right hand. "Master Shiden," he whispers, "I'll stay. The dam can wait a couple of days."
"Oh," his voice wells from a pit of desperate gratitude, "Thank you, brother. Thank you."
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 15: Gone Forever