Rise of Glie Chapter 7
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 6: One Bomb
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 7: Meaning of Community
Aware can't sew. If his life depended on being able to sew, he'd be dead by now. Janice is carefully removing the patch in the buttocks of his coveralls, complete with the two accidental pleats.
"Sewing isn't for everyone," Janice says cheerfully, "I'm sure you'll find something you're good at."
"I have already," Aware says.
"Really? Why are you trying out sewing then?" the tailor asks.
"I thought I had to do them myself."
"Nonsense," Janice says, "No matter what Kasei says, no man-" she corrects herself, "No haibane is an island. The whole point of organizing a community is so that each person may work according to his strengths. He fills a need of many others that he can fill best. Then those others in the community who are best at each can meet his many needs. Get it?"
Aware smiles, noticing that of the seven hundred people in the village, only about a dozen are full time farmers. He has noticed that the village seems to be organized around the task of rebuilding the river aqueduct.
"When everyone is honest, grateful, and hardworking, it happens on its own," Janice explains, "Kasei and Stanley don't seem to know that, and are doing too much to manage the effort, lead us around by the hand."
"And, there's such a thing as a community where people aren't honest, grateful, and hardworking enough for it to happen on its own, right?" Aware asks.
"True," Janice confirms, "Stanley was just a kid when the battle happened. He was with Shinyoo's second group, just after the roof of the tower collapsed. Don't tell anyone that I told you this." Janice pauses after pulling the last stitch, then looks Aware in the eye. "His entire opinion of haibane is shaped around his experience in the Tower, during the battle. The roof collapsed, and he was pinned under the third floor with a broken leg." Janice sheds a tear. "A Defender, the Haibane's job at the time, crawled out of his wrecked turret, picked up his rifle, and walked away without a word as dozens of survivors cried out for help. That was the first night." Janice is quite distraught, "Their armor is so anonymous. We never found out who he was."
"I hope he burns in hell," Aware growls.
"Oh, don't say that," Janice squeaks, taking his hand, "Whoever it was probably had damaged armor, and couldn't administer first aid without hurting people. He couldn't have defended the tower against air attack from within its structure because he'd have so much in the way of where he could see and shoot. Not only that, but he would have attracted more bombing and we'd have no Towers at all instead of just the one shell that's left."
"Really?" Aware gasps, "You think he was doing the right thing by rudely walking away from everyone?"
"I don't know," Janice says, "But what I do know is that I've never met a haibane who didn't care about us humans, neither before, during, nor after the battle." She adds with a smile, "Aware, you're no exception."
Aware runs in his new coveralls to the construction site of the dyke and starts quickly dishing up lunch. "Sorry, I'm late," he says to the cooks, who shrug at each other. He hurries back and forth between the working line and the grill as Kasei rants at his back about how useless he is.
Aware suddenly stops, as though to listen, checks the time on the clock next to the stoves and surveys the work line. Everyone's putting in a good effort.
"So, what do you have to say for yourself?" Kasei asks.
Aware bows to him and says, "Thank you master." From his mental stock, he adds, "We're nearly out of water, I'll go fetch some more." He grabs two of the big plastic jugs and heads back into town.
"Useless haibane," Kasei grumbles, "The workers are to bring their own water."
"Master Kasei," Stanley says quietly.
"What's wrong this time?" Kasei snaps.
"Oh, nothing, Master," Stanley says, taking a step back, "I just thought you wanted to know, we've passed our goal point for today."
"Impossible," Kasei grunts, "It's barely two in the afternoon."
"It's true, I swear!" Stanley squeaks, "Look at where we are," gesturing to the workers.
On the way back to the village, Aware quite sore for underestimating the difficulty of carrying forty litres of water all the way from the Flight Well to the dyke, a dark haired twenty year old man runs up to him and says, "I don't know how you put up with him like that, but thank you so much for keeping him off my back." He wipes his hand off on his grubby coveralls as best he can and offers it, "I'm Endicott, you might be..."
"Aware," he takes it. "It's easier to put up with him when everyone keeps thanking me for it," he says humbly, "I can almost enjoy being a thankless, useless good-for-nothing haibane at this rate."
Stanley begins to wrap up the plans for the dyke for the night, reviewing the work schedule. "Two more years, perhaps," he sighs softly just before a small, letter sized note slips out of his roll onto the table.
Stanley finds that it is a very neatly drawn cross section of the dyke, but with a glacis added on the inside. He flips it over and finds carefully handwritten calculations for the curve that they are working on. Stresses and wear rates, and even a few things he can't quite understand. A calculation that the design that they are working on can be expected to last somewhere between 14 and 30 years.
There is no name.
At least four different drawing instruments have been applied to it, all in the same hand. It's not urgent, he realizes. These changes needn't be started on for about a year, yet. But... these changes will set back the completion of the dyke by almost two more years. Worth it if it means the dyke will last centuries instead of just a couple of decades. He hides the note. Kasei would never take it seriously, especially if he ever thought the haibane had anything to do with it.
Eight-twelve. It is morning. That's four mornings in a row, including the first at Old Home. He stays up late working on schedules and plans for the dyke. Washing his face in the basin, missing the instantly hot running water of Old Home already, he remembers the warm ceremony of the night before. At least, the warm part. Kasei read him the rules, formally introduced him to the community, and then everyone wanted to touch his sore arms and sore hands and sore wings. Kenny and Keepsie brought him a bicycle. Jabez brought him a wooden guard for the chain, lest it ever get jammed.
It rolls so easily. He's shocked that a bike could be so well built. He can accelerate on the cobbles of main street without pedalling, and thus discovers that downhill is north, a gradient he didn't realize existed before.
Why was he frustrated? Oh, yeah. He lost his plan for the bend in the aqueduct. Crud. I still have some checking to do on it. Oh, well. I'll do better on the next version.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 8: He'll Manage