Rise of Glie Chapter 2
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 1: A Sad Beginning
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 2: A New Old Home
The haibane soap has done a good job of cleaning his feathers and his robe. In the washroom mirror, he sees that his wings are grey, and quite pretty. He's a little embarrassed, despite being alone. In the white robe with these pretty feathers, he looks feminine. The task ahead, finding a room in this building and making it livable, doesn't help.
Food. That would be nice. He finds some shoes that fit, which he considers very odd. He wonders what they are doing there when he sees a ring. He picks it up, examining the matte grey metal, and sees upon it scratched in charcoal: "76 year, 12 month, 21 day. Sayonara".
How long ago was that? Examining the ring, he can't think of any purpose for it. It has no teeth like a gear, no caliper marks as for a brake disk, the edges aren't sharp and that's the only writing on it. He sets it back on the floor where he found it, and starts sweeping up the glass in the hallway, afterwards picking the light leaves from the debris. Remarkable stuff, far brighter than the glowing clock faces that he remembers [radium/phosphor in real life].
Sounds. Someone has entered his egg room.
"Oh my God," the voice cries. "Hello! Hello! Is anyone in here?"
The new arrival pops from the sunlit emergency room into the dim hall.
"Hi, I was just cleaning up," he says to his shocked guest. He notes immediately that the new arrival wears blue coveralls, has grey wings like his own, and dark hair with a few grey strands. He'd guess the man was about forty years old, about double his own age.
"Sir, I'm sorry I'm late," the man says, "I'm Doctor Hagane. I used to run this place, but I haven't been here since the winter battle sixteen years ago."
His gaze is fixed on the object hovering over the man's head. A glowing ring, the same glow as the flakes around him.
"How were you able to clean your wings?" Hagane asks.
"Oh, uh," the newborn blushes. "The plumbing still works ... I've never seen anything like it. I used the bath in here," he points.
The doctor snaps his fingers, "Oh, yeah, the boiler has its own plasma cell. I forgot."
"What's that?" the newborn gestures.
"Oh?" Hagane wonders. "Oh, yes," he blushes at not recognizing such an obvious question sooner, "That's my halo. I brought one for you," Hagane presents the Haibane Renmei halo mould.
"Where am I?" the man asks.
Hagane starts to say, but pauses. Tears flow from his eyes as he stands quietly there. Finally, he explains, "It is forbidden to utter the original name of this city. We live in a circular walled area ten kilometres in diameter. No one can leave or enter it, and what's outside-" he pauses.
"Outside?" the newborn prompts.
After several seconds, Hagane says, "The Light has done an excellent job of protecting us. Maybe it is better if we don't remember. Where are you from?"
"I don't know," the man confesses easily, "Before I hatched, I was in a city, saw three planes overhead drop a single bomb. It was calm, sunny, one of the most beautiful days and suddenly, I found myself in the egg."
Hagane notes how sad the man looks, "What was it like where you're from?"
"So sad," the man sobs, "Our country refused to-" It is curious how the newborn looks at Hagane as he utters the forbidden word, "-surrender. Cities were being burned to the ground, and people's very thoughts were policed."
Hagane, familiar with the policy of the United Earth Government asks an educated question, "Do you remember if there were any uprisings, protests, controversy surrounding a Saviour prior to your arrival here?"
"No," the man says, "my country just wanted to-" The man sighs, "I don't remember. I know that we started it, and I'm so sorry. It is a sad world. Very sad."
"Not as sad as the one you've just entered," Hagane whispers. "We are ashfeathers," Hagane explains.
"I read that off the soap package," the man says, "Haibane."
"Right," Hagane says, "It is our custom to name ourselves after the dream we had in the cocoon. I'm hoping you can remember some more detail, or would you like to be called Kanashii (Sorrow)?"
"Aware," the man says, "Whatever word is less common in use ... was yours Tetsu?"
"Hagane," the Doctor clarifies.
"Oh. Hagane-sensei, if I'm to be named after the dream before I hatched, I would like to be Aware. It beats the alternative."
"Which would be?" Hagane prompts.
"Okay," Hagane blushes, "Aware it is." He opens the halo mold and says formally, "Companion Aware, I present you your halo, and welcome you to the Ashfeather Federation." After placing it, he warns, "Don't touch it. It's hot. If it wants to fall, just let it."
The halo soon binds itself over Aware's head. Wondering if it is going to stay, Aware tightens his arms to his sides, bows deeply, and says, "Arigatoo."
The halo wobbles wildly, but stays in the vicinity of Aware's head without touching it. The two haibane get quite a chuckle out of its unusual behaviour.
Hagane then looks into his bag and pulls out a small flower. He breathes a sigh of relief as the little daisy looks hopefully at the ceiling. "Not a trace of delta radiation," Hagane says, "Thank you, our Saviour."
"Delta radiation?" Aware asks.
"There's not a trace of it anywhere inside the wall, now," Hagane says, "This was the worst contamination, right after the battle. All of us who came here after the flood had to be quarantined for two months while it worked itself out. Well ... Samurai Flew, but it was his time."
"Flew?" the newborn asks.
"Oh, I don't want to overwhelm you, Aware-san," Hagane says, "and besides, it's a special day, or was that yesterday or maybe even the day before? Aware-san, you are the first haibane to have hatched since the battle. Welcome to-" Hagane has nothing to finish the sentence with.
"Old Home?" the newborn offers in kana-styled English.
"Old Home," Hagane takes his hand with a tear, "It used to be Western University, but since it can't be a hospital or a place of learning anymore, and these are by far the oldest standing buildings inside the wall, Old Home sounds just right."
Hagane looks up and down the hall as though looking for something. He kneels, rubs his finger on the wall, and examines the faint carbon deposit.
For the first time, Aware notices the very faint round circles, all between about a a foot and a half and three feet above the wall, with the larger ones higher up along both sides of the wall. While he was sweeping he had been curious about the tattered pieces of cloth.
"Vaporized, all of them," Hagane sighs, "This is all that's left of them, and I can't even take a picture."
"Oh, no," Aware crouches to see, "who?"
"Fifty-six children died in this corridor during the battle," he explains sadly, "They were slashed by Wraiths in the moments before the Light began to shine. They were burned away by delta radiation."
"Perhaps this is a sadder world," Aware weeps.
"From your cocoon dream, Aware-san," Hagane says, "It seems likely that this is all your world remembered of you as well. At best, you would have left a faint shadow as that bomb vaporized your body."
"Why do we make such terrible weapons?" Aware asks.
Hagane shrugs. "Right now," he says softly, "if our enemy even still exists, they must perceive of the Light that protects us as being the most terrible weapon ever conceived." He turns to his new companion and says, "I'm glad it's on our side." He raps him on the shoulder and says, "Let's clean this up, then I'll take you back to the camp and tell everybody the good news of your arrival and the absence of this awful poison from your new Old Home."
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 3: Sorrow, Meet Sorrow