Rise of Glie Chapter 31
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 30: The Toga's Computer Language
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 31: They Don't Fall
"It seems like a rather crude way to control an engine," the Toga remarks as he watches the idling beast inside the imported yellow crane.
"We gotta make 'em work somehow," the Communicator signs back, "Come, it's dangerous to be this close if you're not an expert at these things."
From further away, they watch as Stanley and his crew slink around the naked steel structure like cats. Only one of the nine humans wears a fall harness as the crane roars while it lifts the heavy steel beam imported by the Toga into the structure of the rising Wire Factory.
"Why the rope?" the Toga signs after pointing out the one human to the Communicator.
"He's the apprentice," the Communicator explains, "Most construction accidents happen in a new guy's first season, so Stanley tells me. If he were to fall, he'd be losing his career instead of his life."
"What about everyone else?" the Toga asks.
"They don't fall," the Communicator signs, "Much of the work will be done from railed scaffolding. There are only a few in Glie who are comfortable at such heights without it, and they are very good at it."
"Well," the Toga signs, "If you ever get an ashfeather named Rakka, don't let him up there," he finishes with a playful shove.
It takes the Communicator a moment to translate the Toga's now fluent phonetic gestures into Japanese. "Funny," he answers. Under the mask, Shiden is glad that people who never use their voices or show their faces can find ways to laugh and smile. "How are Kenny's new packages working out?"
"Nicely," the Toga answers, "we can predict a transistor's failure by the color changes in the can's base. They're lasting over a year. Oh, and that's on the ground."
By using the wallblessing leaves most sensitive to delta radiation, along with the boat's mast, Shiden was able to determine that the delta radiation seeping through the wall only did so less than four metres from the ground outside, and by this method also mapped out a rough topography. Last fall, he found a twenty metre high mound outside the wall up in the north, prayed desperately, thinking it was probably the beginning of a siege ramp the enemy was going to use to get over the wall. After the Bell Nut Festival and the wall's spectacular bloom of light the first Saturday after the longest night of the year, the ground in that area was level again. Although the radiation levels were far higher than usual, he was glad they were coming from the proper ground level.
"We've made our first computer," the Toga announces, "It's as big as the crane, but it does work."
"What do you use it for?" the Communicator asks.
"Chita's payroll," the Toga answers, "That's all I can tell you."
"I know," the Communicator says, "that the Toga don't pay taxes."
"Correct," the Toga responds.
"What's hell about?" the Communicator asks, "Death and taxes?"
"Funny," the Toga finishes with a clap. "What's that about?" the Toga asks before pointing.
Past the western side of the construction site, the haibane are gathered, and a dark brown haired young lady gives a blonde haired boy a hard shove, and he trips over his feet and falls into the river. She was smiling, but now is concerned as the other haibane move to rescue him.
"Bahitsu!" she cries after him.
"Sumai!" he screams back, scrambling back onto the shore several metres downstream, "It snows outside already! And all I said was <<Happy Birthday>>" In moments he is running laps around his barbecue to warm up.
"Let's have a toast," Fushoku holds up his plate of pancakes, "to Bangou's first year in Glie."
"Oh, so that's how you teetotalers do it," Keepsie remarks, clinking the edge of her half-eaten plate against Aware's.
Aware looks upstream, along his own dyke. After a few moments of staring at the tranquil, if swift flowing waters as they hurry towards their exit to the east, not far south of the Great Gate, a smallish hand grips his left shoulder. He turns to see who it is.
"Thank you," Crystal says, "We couldn't have come this far without you, and without this," she nods to the river's edge.
Soon Aware is surrounded by adoring aqueduct fans.
"Thanks," Bangou says with a blush.
"You ... can't be remembering," Aware notes, "but I appreciate it."
"I don't like being the center of attention," Bangou clarifies.
"Really?" Bahitsu, now somewhat dried off, whacks the edge of her halo with a stick, setting it ringing and spinning. She starts chasing him all over the little picnic area.
Crystal suddenly realizes how, without romance, haibane are such easy friends.
"Come," Fushoku tugs on Crystal's sleeve, "let's eat together over here."
She plunks down on the picnic blanket beside him and suddenly announces, "I don't think I'll ever marry."
"Oh, now, please reconsider: unlike haibane," he smiles, "humans don't grow on trees."
"I don't see human couples getting along like this," she points at Bahitsu and Bangou who stand near the barbecue with fresh plates of pancakes. Bangou has apparently stumped Bahitsu in some argument about nothing, and they laugh at each other. "They get into real fights, and every little thing seems to matter so much more. The cooking, the dishes, the diapers, you name it."
"Diapers?" Fushoku asks in confusion.
"Uh, forget that part," Crystal giggles. She returns to her reflection, "It's like marriage makes things all serious."
"Oh, you know," Fushoku says quietly, "this is our day off. What we're doing at Stone Mill is quite serious," he points at the second wind turbine almost out of sight against the background of the even-more-distant grey wall, "All of Glie depends on us," he says soberly, "and yes, we do have our arguments."
"Then how do you do it?" the brown-haired teenager asks, "How can nine haibane shoulder the responsibility over eight hundred people while two parents can't weather the travails of two children, and often can't get along even when there are no children at all?"
"We make the promise," Fushoku starts, then adds, "and really you should see those vows they make in the white dress and the black tux like this." He turns to her and takes one of her shoulders in each of her hands, "No matter what issues we have before us, at the end of the day, we're still friends. Problems are problems, but friends are friends. It only gets serious when you start mixing the two."
Crystal tries to understand as Fushoku turns and looks up at the circling crows. "So if you don't do the dishes-" she starts.
"Oops, I gotta quit forgetting," he play acts, "thanks so much for covering for me."
"But I haven't-"
"Oh?" he jumps to his feet, "then I'll get right on 'em."
"Fushoku, I'm not being serious!" she squeals as he stoops to pick up her empty plate.
"I know," he says, "Want some more pancakes?"
"Okay," she smiles, "we're still friends, right?"
As he returns to the barbecue stand, Bahitsu and Bangou end their playful bickering. Aware has started helping old George cut the coneys for lunch, the potatoes already simmering in the morning broth. Bahitsu somehow finds enough real estate on the griddle to pour six more pancakes.
"They've started on lunch for the boys," Fushoku explains the undersized pancakes as he returns.
"I see," she says.
"Where did you learn that stuff about friends and problems?" Crystal asks.
"Aware," he answers with ease, "He thinks you did too. He thinks that's what your toast was about earlier."
"Oh," she says, "That was about the river," she clarifies, "You know he designed this thing," she pats the ground.
"Yes," Fushoku says, "I know. But that isn't so important."
"Oh?" she prompts as Fushoku looks for some way of saying it.
"He taught us what leadership is really about," Fushoku answers at last, "By his example. That's how Stanley learned," he points up at Wire Factory's heavy gauge skeleton with the men crawling on it.
"How old is Aware?" Crystal asks.
"Ten years," Fushoku says.
"I mean before that," she says, "and I'm not talking physical years, like you're my age," she scoffs. "You come out of your cocoons with skills and histories, dreams of different contexts. Even little Kagami, I see in her eyes the pain of years, a hard life where she has suffered like Janice and Keepsie. Where do you haibane come from?"
"I don't know," Fushoku says, "Really. I don't even know where I come from. I could have been Noyce or Kilby, I just don't know."
"Who's that?" Crystal wonders quietly.
Fushoku tries very hard to remember the names that just came out of his mouth, but he can't. With a tear, he sobs, "I don't know."
[Author's note: The full names of the people Fushoku referred to are Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby. Google will tell you who they are. Also, I don't have any real people in mind for Fushoku's precursor, any resemblance is coincidence (not saying it can't happen; Scott Pagano depicted the construction of Haibi in a music video three years before I even began FHD Remix!)]
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 32: Sixty Thousand Transistors