Rise of Glie Chapter 51

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Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 50: Over Sushi

FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie

Chapter 51: An Old Friend

"Hmm," Washi says, "The knowledge of the past does seem to be filtering through the haibane. I wonder if it'll continue on that way, or if we will have a time that the haibane will not have any memories or dreams that are significant to the whole of Glie."

"Or further," Fushoku says quietly, "I came because, out of everyone in Glie, I figured you'd be the one least likely to freak out if he ever saw this." Slowly, he pulls the rolled drawing out of his bag, unties the string, and shows the Communicator...

...who takes one glance and rolls it back up. "Put it away," the Washi instructs quietly, "If my guards ever find out it exists, they will burn it." After Fushoku has it put away, Washi remarks, "I didn't know you were having those dreams, too."

Fushoku shakes his head, "No, Taka gave it to me in exchange for the name of delta radiation." He points at the papers on the desk, "What is that?"

"Oh, uh..." Washi seems nervous and shuffles them away.

"Something sensitive?" Fushoku says, "I'm sorry, it's just that they look a lot like Tiindare's circuit plans. The next generation?"

"Yeah," the Communicator says softly.

"You share the desk I take it," Fushoku observes, "I thought he was doing them out at the Toga camp where they have the computers. But er..." something seems to dawn on him. "There would have to be a computer here, right?" He smiles, "If you ever need help upgrading it, give us a call. Hane and I have gotten pretty good at tweaking things with our electron beam machine, and I muddle through the assembly and wiring, although I don't think I'll ever be as good at it as Aware."

The Communicator seems to be listening intently, but quite nervously.

"Oh, don't worry, we can keep it secret," Fushoku says, "We're insulating the humans from Taka's," he says with a roll of his eyes, "nonsense, after all. We- ... is there something wrong, Washi?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary," the person in the mask says.

"Oh," Fushoku sighs. After a minute, he says, "Is Tiindare working on a five micrometre layout yet? I thought I saw five-mu-m on that plan." Then he puts up his hands, "Oh, don't tell him I asked. He's doing great, and I don't want to put any pressure on him."

"The layout designer has all the pressure she can handle," Washi says, "because those things outside," Washi points at the bag held by Fushoku, who checks to make sure Taka's drawing is well hidden, "are trying to make computer chips out of diamonds. We don't want our enemies to gain such technology that is impervious to delta radiation."

Fushoku nods, then after a moment remarks, "She?"

"You're my friend," Washi says, "before and since. But I need to hear you say it anyway. You won't tell anyone about what I'm going to show you, right?"

"No," Fushoku shakes his head slowly, "I won't." Slowly he asks, "Tiindare's a woman?"

"I am," Washi says. After this, she slowly lifts her mask.

"Bangou?" Fushoku gasps. He whispers, "It's really you?"

She nods.

"Tiindare isn't actually doing it, is he?" Fushoku gasps, "You just get him to sign yours to cover the idea that you're the Communicator?"

"Yes," she says.

"You still sound like an old man," Fushoku observes.

Washi lowers her mask again and explains, "I can't take that part of the uniform off."

Fushoku remembers the fireball that destroyed her last pair of wooden wings, and realizes that the uniform couldn't possibly be able to hide real ones.

As he looks around at the wooden ones, she explains, "Yes, I lost them."

A crow lands on one of her wooden wings and angles the unified pair.

"Wally!" she moans, "Now's not a good time."

The crow tucks one of his feet up and pouts.

Fushoku laughs, "I see you have many friends. Are you in a race with Taka?"

The crow looks at him funny.

"What..." Fushoku looks closely at the crow, "...is that?"

"Is what?" the Communicator asks.

Slowly, Fushoku says, "Just dumb birds?" Then he points at the crow, "Don't tell Taka that!"

The crow squawks with surprise.

"Great," the Communicator groans, "I dream in Toganese while I'm still a haibane, and I'm the Communicator for a year before I notice you guys can sign it. And Wire Boy here picks it up instantly."

"Where do you come from?" Fushoku asks.

"We're hatched from cocoons similar to yours," Wally explains with his feet, "only we remember our lives and names, and can really fly. We can also eat just about anything, and are totally unaffected by delta radiation." He switches to his other foot, "I figured that out when I watched King try to commit suicide by taking a swim in Lake Baikal."

"You remember your old name?" Fushoku remarks, "I wonder what it was."

"Wally of course," the crow answers, then balls up his foot and bangs it against the other. "The downside is," he continues, "We inherit the corvid reputation, and our intelligence is the strictest secret, except for the Toga's origin."

"The Toga's origin," Fushoku wonders.

"Oh, don't tell him, everything," Washi grumbles.

"You know where the Toga come from?" Fushoku asks.

"Yes," the Communicator says, "The Saviour is probably more powerful than you realize, Fushoku."

"Oh?" he wonders.

"Can you guess why the guards would burn your picture of the Hell Knight if they ever found out it existed?" Washi asks.

He thinks about it for a moment, then shakes his head.

"That's what they used to be," Washi whispers, "The Saviour transformed them, spirit, soul, and body. They hate what they were before and are so happy to be welcomed into Saviour's kingdom."

"But that traitor," Fushoku says, "turned away and transformed back into a monster. Was she ever a Toga?"

"Oh, yes," the Communicator explains, "and it can happen. One of the Saviour's original twelve did that: accepted the Saviour's love and then later rejected and betrayed him. I couldn't believe it when he told me, but he insisted that it was true, and that it was instrumental in the story of how he died for us."

"Died for us?" Fushoku gasps, "He really did? I'm still trying to grok that."

"Yes," she says, "It can be hard to understand, which is why he had me give up my wings: to show the Toga that I feel his love the same way." She sighs, "Anyway, both of you, I better get back to work." She turns to her desk and pulls out her layout drawings as Wally flies away.

"Just a suggestion, old friend," Fushoku says, resting his hand on the Washi's shoulder, a gesture he wouldn't dare try only a few minutes earlier. "If you can make dice that are semi-compatible with the twenty micrometre stuff we're building now, I can get you early silicon. I've already started some test layouts at five micrometres. If you design test versions that we can install in a Mark Four, I can get you some."

"Thank you," she says, "but I'm still getting logic bugs in the simulator program."

"Simulator?" he wonders.

"Yes," she says, "I have three computers, actually, all hidden away. I get them to run input simulations on the logic behaviour. You can tell this is a totally new architecture. Our transistor counts will go up by fifteen with the five micrometre model. I'll certainly take up your offer though, when I'm ready."

"Well if the simulator-" he starts.

She actually laughs, "Fushoku-san, the real thing will run at least ten thousand times as fast. The simulator is a program running on a machine that's two generations behind. It needs to run about five hundred instructions on a twenty micrometre logic to simulate just one for this new design. Now, as for the earliest silicon, here's my idea: If I get you to build it at ten micrometres-"

"The die would be four times as big," he says frankly, "Wouldn't that put it into moderation territory?"

"Yes, obviously," she says, "But we don't need to worry about the effects of delta radiation in Glie. We'd only make a dozen sets or so. From those, I can do tests on the design. They'd never go outside." She opens a drawer in the desk and pulls out a few flat plastic things, "I'll get you the drive that reads these disks as soon as I can, but the Toga are still fiddling around with the prototypes, so it'll probably be at least three or four weeks. These are mask programs for some five micrometre latch memory chips." She hands him another small container, "These are some actual latch memory masks that they've scaled down to five micrometres. You can use them to master your technique. Hopefully, you can get down to five micrometres before you have to move to the other wing, but I'll settle for six. Any more than that, and we'll be stuck with a scaling of the Mark Four chips," she pulls out another, much larger stack of disks, "which are right here in ten micrometres."

"Already?" he gasps, "We'll do our best, as always."

"This is important," she says as she turns to him, "We have to beat those Hell Knights and their diamonds to five micrometres, or we're out of business."

"And I'd guess they're throwing a lot more manpower at it," Fushoku says.

"They're not men, you know," Washi sighs, "But yeah, there are more of them out there than there are haibane in here. Lucky for us, they aren't very bright. See you on Tuesday."

Author's note: On the fourth revision pass, I finally realized that the crow's precursor could be a character from the comic strip Dilbert.

Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 52: Vacation, What's That?

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