Rise of Glie Chapter 41
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 40: New Wings
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 41: Boys!!
[Spot the homage to Thomas Andrews of James Cameron's Titanic.]
Aware finds him at Bangou's programming station, on his face, the little keyboard pushed aside. "Are you okay, Fushoku?" he asks gently.
His shoulders bob as he cries, but he eventually pulls up his head and looks at Aware, "How are we going to do this without her? I never thought she'd Fly before me. I followed your example and planned for the Factory's operation without me, because I'd Fly." He falls back onto the bench, "Now she's gone, and I never expected..." he trails off into sobbing.
"Programming is mostly arithmetic and Toganese, right?" Aware says, "That doesn't have to be done inside the wall. We'll get by fine, I'm sure."
"She did the logic and circuit layouts," Fushoku sobs. He lifts himself again from the bench and shows him the layout drawing for the processor, a confusing city-like schematic drawing on a ledger size sheet, "She drew this all by herself. The Saviour taught her in her dreams. I don't know where to begin."
Aware's warm hand grips his shoulder, "Stick with what you're good at. Can you compact these designs to the new twenty micrometre photographic stuff you were talking to her about last week?"
This bursts another rising bubble of grief in the troubled technologist, "Oh, she was so excited about that," he bawls, "All the new things she was going to do. She was planning to use those liquid crystal monitors the Toga showed us, and make a portable calculator."
"Let's see what those two on the second floor of the east wing have in store for us," Aware says, "They went grey this morning, I have Bahitsu watching."
Suddenly, there's a ruckus in the stairwell behind them. The door bursts open and Bahitsu screams, "Boys!" He starts dragging Fushoku towards the exit, "Come see!"
"Who's looking after them?" Aware asks.
"Shoukai," Bahitsu says instantly, "He says I can run faster than Teisei and Kinzoku."
"You're probably the fastest runner in the world," Aware says to no one in particular as the two young men have already vanished into the stairwell.
Once in the guest room, where the two hatchlings sit patiently, quietly enjoying their first meals as haibane.
"Kiniiri, for pet (気に入り)," Shoukai indicates the one with dark brown hair, "and Taka, for hawk (鷹)" indicating the blonde one. The only thing that seems to be different about them is the color of their hair, at least physically. They're about twelve apparent years old. Kiniiri looks curiously about at everyone and everything with his grey eyes, while Taka stares at his bowl of rice as though his little sister vanished into it. Neither has had their wings emerge yet. "Who's going to get their halos?" Shoukai asks.
"Bangou should probably-" Aware starts, then catches himself.
"Who's Bangou?" Kiniiri asks innocently.
"She's gone," Aware says, "she left the nest a couple weeks ago."
"Aware," Shoukai waves a finger. They retreat into the hall as Fushoku and Bahitsu start explaining the basics about Glie, the wall, and the haibane. Once alone, Shoukai asks, "Why do you keep forgetting? It's hard on the boys, and you don't seem to be crying about it. In fact, Mister Sorrow, your reactions to Days of Flight have been incredibly inconsistent. How are you going to handle mine?"
The light flickers. Aware looks up and realizes, Old Home is still without electricity; the lights aren't even on, and the sun does not flicker. Realizing what it must have been, he looks into Shoukai's eyes peering with concern back at him from under the salt-and-pepper eyebrows of a professor in his prime. "When?" he asks.
"Night after tomorrow," Shoukai says, "Keepsie and Kenny will be taking over the care of Old Home. Well, Keepsie mostly, since Kenny's busy at his plastics shop. I've already made the arrangements."
"It's like you," Aware smiles, "to be so quiet about it. I guess my secrets are safe with you. Come on," he inclines his head to the stairwell, "I got a bit left in my bento."
They sit at the bottom of the stairs and share what's left of Aware's random dumplings, as he explains, "Do you remember Shiden's Day of Flight?"
Shoukai scoffs, "How could I forget? You were messed up for weeks, even disappeared into the Temple for two days while everyone was asking me why there was no light. And believe it or not," he points, "they'd rather ask me!"
"Sorry," Aware blushes, "Believe it or not, Shiden's Day of Flight was two weeks ago."
Shoukai drops only one chopstick. After almost a minute he gasps, "What?"
"Shiden Flew two weeks ago," Aware whispers, "Bangou's succeeding him as Communicator. That's why I keep forgetting."
Shoukai's halo flickers as his head and eyes slowly turn to the fallen chopstick past the bottom stair.
"Thought you knew everything, didn't you?" Aware quietly teases.
"Well," the old teacher stammers, "How he could hide from me in that outfit all these years, I suppose. Suppose," he turns to Aware, "It'll probably obvious that there's a woman in that uniform."
"Ever seen a Toga woman?" Aware asks.
"No," Shoukai says, then chuckles, "but then again, I probably couldn't tell if I did."
"I don't know anything about that, actually," Aware chuckles, "I had enough trouble keeping Shiden's secrets; I don't want to know any more about the Toga."
"I think Bangou already knew more than you about the Toga. A lot more," Shoukai says, "before she er ... <<Flew>>."
Taka and Kiniiri are led into separate rooms for their wings' emergence about an hour apart that evening.
In the meantime, Shoukai journeys to the temple.
"It wasn't always so," Bangou explains from her prone position in the grass, "but these days, you need to lose your wings to become an official Communicator."
"Why?" Shoukai asks as she inspects pieces of firewood brought to him by Tiindare.
"It is a sign to the hellspawn outside the wall that the Saviour is real," she says, "When they accept his gift and repent of their sins, he erases their lives and they become Toga." Bangou selects two pieces of firewood that are exactly eighteen inches long and with no knots, sapwood, checks, splits or pitch pockets.
"You're going to burn those?" Shoukai asks with surprise as Tiindare presents them, "The finest pieces of wood I have ever seen?"
"They are for the halos," Bangou explains, "It's probably not a big deal, but I spare no expense when it comes to halos."
Following her instructions, Shoukai inserts the first of the two halo molds, partly open and filled with light leaves, into the furnace's forge tray, then the first perfect piece of wood into the firebox, closing the damper and opening the intake and vent. "How long before it's ready?" he asks.
"An hour," she sighs, "Two at most."
When it is ready, Shoukai places the mold with the glowing flakes inside it under the drop hammer, and releases the latter from the black mark on its post. With one clank, the mold is slammed closed, and one of the halos is forged inside it. He then starts on the second one.
"You're doing great. Thanks for your help," she says. After a sigh, she adds, "The timing of new arrivals couldn't have been much worse."
"It beats when, every now and then," Shoukai says, "The new arrival goes unnoticed."
"Aware will probably be the last haibane to be found after his wings emerge," she says, "well unless..." her voice trails off.
"Unless what?" Shoukai asks.
"There are a lot of tags in the wall," she says, "They change when haibane come and go. They say nothing of the humans or Toga. I can see not getting around to one soon enough. I've really got my work cut out for me," she smiles, "I still got that twenty micron layout project, which I'll have the Toga quietly pop masks for. Then-" she starts coughing.
"What's wrong?" Shoukai rushes to her side as she coughs uncontrollably.
Soon she stops, controls her breathing, and utters, "Dang, that hurt."
Shoukai jumps back a step. Bangou's voice has changed to that of an old man, not too far from what Shiden's changed to as he lost his wings for this job.
"Oh," she says, "so that's how that works." Then she chuckles, "This'll take some getting used to."
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 42: Happy Enough to Cry