Rise of Glie Chapter 5
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 4: Work to Do
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 5: Never In Heat
"I'm Keepsie," she says, offering her grubby hand. Aware takes it without hesitation, even though his own is far cleaner. She looks like she's about thirty, a rugged, fertile European. He blushes. Did I just think fertile?
"Jose," the olive-skinned, shorter man about the same age rescues him from his embarrassing thought, "I think she's cute, too."
Noticing the ring on the third finger of her left hand, Keepsie reads the question out of his expression.
"Oh, that's Kenny," she says, "He's a great guy. Come over for dinner. I'd love to host the first Haibane of Old Home, even if it is just a bowl of rice. What are you up to right now?"
"Oh, I'm trying to get some smoke fires going to cut down on the mosquitoes, but I er... can't find a-" he can't remember the word.
"Ssssshhh..." she softly hisses, then scans around, pulls a small silver object out of her pocket and hands it to him, whispering, "Don't let anyone know you have that, Kasei would have a fit."
Taking her hand in both of his, he whispers, "Thank you."
Keepsie blushes this time.
Aware finishes with a quick, awkward smile and then wanders off. He doesn't know what it's called, but when he presses its only button, a tiny door opens and a blue flash emits from it. He can feel the gentle heat with his finger and decides not to test his luck.
Someone's behind him.
He turns and sees Jose with a huge grin on his face, "I know how you feel, I couldn't get her out of my mind until I met Kenny."
Aware is lost. It takes Jose a few seconds to realize this.
"What, you don't think she's ... you know ... hot?" Jose asks.
"Oh, this," Aware holds up the plasma lighter, "Yeah, it's very-"
"Oh, come on," Jose covers it up with his hand, "Don't pull that with me."
Aware takes a second to realize that his hostility is not genuine. Jose is not his enemy, but Aware has no idea what he's driving at.
"I'm sorry, I'm kinda new here," Aware says, "I don't understand."
"You don't think she's sexy? Or what was that crimson-faced curling of the toes about?" Jose asks.
"Sexy?" Aware takes a moment to remember, "Oh!" Something else dawns on Aware. He looks over Jose's shoulder at her, where she is bent over a rock, pulling on it with a hoe. It turns out to be just a stubborn blob of clay and breaks up. Aware smiles. She really is a rugged, hard worker. And that sort of appreciation really isn't there at all.
"What do you think?" Jose asks.
"I can't think that," Aware says, "I don't get it."
"You really don't?" Jose asks sincerely.
"No," Aware whispers, "I think she's well proportioned and all, a fine young lady, but..." Aware looks at his toes for a moment, than back at Jose, "I'm not attracted to her, if that's what you're getting at. If you're confused, don't worry, so am I. I'll ask Hagane about it, first chance I get."
Aware makes haste to get to work stealthily lighting his little mosquito repellant piles with Keepsie's lighter. When he returns it to her, Jose notices that while respectful and keeping his distance, this time Aware is not awkward at all. Keepsie asks something, and with a small wince, Aware turns a shoulder and extends a wing.
"I've been trying them out ever since I hatched," Aware explains, "It's been a challenge to move them separately from my arms, but while they hurt, I've been concentrating on moving my arms without moving my wings."
Keepsie strokes the soft grey feathers. "Whenever I touch an ashfeather wing, I always have the same thought: I can't believe you can never fly." Taking her hand away, she says, "Anyway, I should get back to work. Look after them. They look so much nicer when properly tended."
Aware wanders over to the plan table, having ensured his smoke screen protects the work area. He stares at it for a few seconds. <Do they know the river's flow rate? The height of fall from the intake in the wall? They don't know how it gets in.> He notices that the scribbled calculation has the wrong value for stoneforge's tensile strength, realizing that the design is based on what they know of the old aqueduct, not a fresh design. Do they realize the entire conversation about the safety factor that morning was meaningless?
"Hey!" Stanley barks, "That's not your business, Haibane."
"Sorry," Aware says quietly, "We haibane ... we'll be staying in Old Home once it's finished, right?"
"Of course," Stanley says, "It's in the rules that haibane are not allowed to use anything we humans still need. That'll include the city."
"I feel safer, already," he whispers soberly, then walks away, filling bottles of water for the workers from the canteen. He has to expain that to Stanley as well.
"Master," Stanley asks Kasei as he returns from another pep talk on "the line". "Master, I mean no disrespect, but are you sure there's nothing wrong with your calculations?"
"Absolutely," Kasei says with conviction, "Why do you ask, Stanley-kun?"
"The new haibane seemed a little nervous," he says.
Kasei chuckles harshly, "That's because you rightfully scared him off, m'boy. The Haibane are why the city got leveled. They're obviously not cut out for this sort of thing."
"Right," Stanley smiles. Looking over at the hatchling, scurrying cheerfully about serving his bottles of water. He's probably put the reprimand out of his mind already.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 6: One Bomb