Rise of Glie Chapter 6
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 5: Never In Heat
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 6: One Bomb
"What are we?" Aware asks as he leans back on his new (in the haibane sense) mattress on the floor next to Hagane.
"Haibane," Hagane says with a raised eyebrow, "I think I know what you're asking, Aware. I quit asking even before the Battle."
"The day I hatched," Shinzoo says melodically from the next room in the tiny four room house.
"Who asked you?" Hagane snorts back. Then he grins at Aware, "He's right, though. I had a big magnetic resonance imager around his cocoon and still didn't learn much."
"Well, I'm curious about something more specific then," Aware tucks his chin down a bit, "Uh ... can we reproduce?"
"Nope," Hagane says instantly and comfortably, "You probably realized that over dinner at Keepsie's."
Aware smiles, "How did you know?"
"Jose asked me the same question just after last bell," Hagane says, "He's jealous how comfortable you were around her at work. The most awkward was Kenny. He finds this ring on the floor of the Tower on one of our last cleanout passes before the mud came down. And he's standing there in front of her like, <<Hi, I found this, and I was wondering if you ... you know ... Uh ... Maybe we could,>> and he goes on like that for about twenty minutes before she finally interrupts with, <<Of course, I'll marry you.>>"
Aware smiles, then asks, "What about Jabez' father?"
"His natural father was human," Hagane says, "Kabocha loved her in a different way, that's why only haibane can marry divorced people. With humans, it's what you'd call cheating."
"They were married, but they were," Aware tries to ask, "You mean they never even tried to..."
"That's correct, Aware-san," Hagane says, "As bizarre as it sounds, a celibate husband and wife for over sixteen years. Anyway, get your sleep. The only easy day was yesterday," he smiles. Hagane curls up under his sparse covers and shuts down like a stalled motor: Asleep before Aware can even say good night.
Sleep comes easily to Aware. He soon finds himself on the T-shaped bridge with Shiden with the three planes over their heads, once again about to ask him the time. He stops himself this time. He sees Shiden's halo and wings, and feels his own. Everyone else on the scene is human. He runs up to the man's side as he puts away his watch, knowing that he's only seconds from the dream's end. Aware guides his eye to the sky, where the cube-shaped bomb glints green from its shadowed side as it falls towards them, "What is that? Do you know?"
"Kikotsu no Rittae," Shiden answers. The Soul Cube.
"Sir," Aware says quickly, "What's your-" Everything goes white. Aware suddenly feels the ache in his wings again as he almost rolls onto one in his bed. "Oh," he moans, "Shiden. I remember now."
"I figured you'd wake up at this exact moment," he says.
"What moment?" Aware groggily mumbles.
"Gozen, hachiji juunipun," Shiden recites carefully, "You're right, we did know each other before we were haibane, but only for that one moment. We were killed by the same bomb."
"Ssssssh!" Shiden says, cupping his hand over Aware's mouth, "We can get banished for saying those words."
Aware nods, then Shiden takes his hands away. Aware feels the tear rolling down his cheek, "Suddenly I miss when the forbidden topic was surrender," he whispers.
"So do I," Shiden weeps, "And I mean our war, sixteen years ago."
"Sixteen years ago, surrender was a forbidden word?" Aware asks.
"The enemy wanted to wipe us out, and they so nearly succeeded," Shiden says, "To throw down your arms and raise your hands with them gets you only a laugh's reprieve. But the Light came to save us only so we could throw away our glorious past, so we could feel sorry for ourselves. Let's not talk about it any more, there's too much at stake if we get caught."
"Let's talk about the dyke then," Aware says, "Our future is more important than our past right?"
"What about it?" Shiden asks.
"They're building it wrong. The design has no allowance for the wear of the water against it. Stoneforge might not wear down, but I know soil better. You can't build it the same way."
"I warned them about the erosion allowance. They won't listen," Shiden says, "I'm no engineer, but I know stoneforge. It was designed for forever, but at the end of the battle, the Light only fixed the wall."
"You'll have to tell me more about this Light some day," Aware says.
"Patience," Shiden says, "You'll get to see it. The Saturday after the winter solstice, every year."
"But I want it now," Aware pouts in jest.
Smiling, Shiden says, "Come on, let's go get breakfast."
At breakfast, Aware learns that there is little meat. Most of the livestock were killed in the battle, and several species have gone extinct. Hagane explains how the canned geese flew in over the wall a few weeks after the battle and never flew again, having given up their migratory nature to settle into the only place where they were safe from the hungry enemy and their radioactive breath.
Observing one of the obnoxious fifteen pound brown birds honking at another over possibly some little patch of ground, Aware asks, "They obviously don't come in a can, how did these unfortunate creatures get such a name?"
"I think there was once a country named Canned," Hagane says, looking to Aware like he's almost speculating, "Somewhere north of America's Great River East, where the geese used to live in the summer. We never learned much about the history of Earth during the Fi-" Hagane blushes. "I'm getting into dangerous material. We need to leave the past behind and look ahead to our future, they say."
There's a tap on the door. "Uh, hi," it's Jabez.
Hagane answers the door. Aware is quite nervous. The man who looks so much like him has never regarded him in terms anywhere near friendly, and never spoke to him at all during work yesterday.
"These are for Aware," Jabez says quietly, offering Hagane a pair of folded, but clean coveralls, "Tell him I'm sorry about yesterday."
"Come on in," Hagane says. It's only two steps from the front door to the kitchen table in the tiny adobe house. Jabez only takes one.
"Aware, Kasei and Stanley might not have noticed, but," Jabez timidly smiles, seems afraid to talk to the new haibane, or perhaps afraid to show such respect to the camp's second class. "We got more work done yesterday than we would have if you had laboured on the line all day. With the water, serving lunch at our places, keeping away the mosquitos, and taking the brunt of Stanley's abuse. I want to say thank you."
Jabez verily flees the crowded temporary nest of the four haibane. Aware finds himself holding the grey coveralls and staring at the line between the roof and the ceiling.
"This was my first house," Shinzoo says apologetically, "It'll hold up, don't worry."
"Oh, it's not that," Aware says just in time to watch Hagane, Shinyoo and Shiden walk out the door.
"Head over to Janice's to patch those up and put in the wing openings," Shiden cheers, "I hope you get out there in time for lunch!"
It's almost nine thirty, and with a squeak, Aware realizes how long he must have been staring at Shinyoo's novice bricklaying while thinking nothing of it. He's sitting in a swept and empty room with his barely touched plate of breakfast and a pair of grey coveralls in his arms.
Was that really the same Jabez I met yesterday?
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 7: Meaning of Community