Rise of Glie Chapter 8
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 7: Meaning of Community
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 8: He'll Manage
Aware lifts the one side of his coveralls. No, I'm trying to flap the wing. He presses the coveralls back into the bed, then lifts his wing. Then he lifts the coveralls properly up around his back and then slips the wings through the rectangular hole square in the back, reaches behind, and rubs the uropygial gland between them before buttoning up the central flap. Then he starts preening his feathers.
Shiden, in the next room, cries out in alarm. Then he storms into Aware's room to see his beaming grin in the mirror. "You turned off my alarm clock, didn't you?"
"Sorry, it won't happen again," Aware promises, "but I couldn't help but try it just once."
"You could've just asked," Shiden scoffs.
It is eight-twelve in the morning.
As part of his little experiment, Aware had gotten up a half-hour early on his first "official" day at work, to do all of Shiden's morning chores, with the exception of eating his breakfast.
He waves good bye to the group as he rolls off on his "new" bike over to the Flight Well with an empty water jug on the back tray. He fills it from the fountain and returns to the job site, carefully walking his bike over the bridge.
He gets there about ten o'clock to meet a furious Kasei. After about twenty minutes of listening, he holds up a finger for a turn to speak. "Thank you, Master," he bows, "I am well rested after bringing the water, and would like to get back to work."
"Work?" Kasei snorts.
"Yes, Master," Aware nods, "Master Tony the butcher will probably have lunch's rabbit fully dressed by the time I get back to camp to pick it up, and I'll be signing out eight kilograms of grain and twelve kilograms of potatoes from Master Yulie for the lunch stew for the next trip. The day's fourth trip will the tools and materials Jabez and Shiden will specify for the repair of the Sector Two bridge, and finally the fifth trip for the afternoon water." He mounts his bike, gives Kasei a wave, "I'll be back in half an hour, Master," and he pedals smoothly away.
Kasei turns to his student and asks, "Stanley, did you ask him to do all that?"
"No," Stanley says, "but he made four trips on foot yesterday. Since he started doing these errands, everyone else has been going much faster."
"Keepsie's his immediate Master, right?" Kasei grunts, "Is she the one tasking him?"
"I'll go ask," Stanley says.
"Oh, and bloody hell," Kasei gripes, "Why the heck doesn't he go to the line after all that?"
"Uh, Master," Stanley almost whispers, lowering his head, "You've never actually asked him to go on the line. But since you've told him how useless he'd be on it, like Shiden he has volunteered to do other things."
"Shiden," Kasei scoffs.
"Thirty-seven tonnes of stoneforge blocks, all from a site four kilometres away over marshy terrain," Stanley says, "We need a hundred, fifty."
Kasei laughs, "A hundred and twenty, my forgetful apprentice."
Stanley shakes his head briefly, "Ah, yes, sorry master; a hundred, twenty."
"You're not allowed to forget the plan until," he rests a hand on Stanley's shoulder, "you're my age."
Stanley blushes and smiles sheepishly. A hundred, fifty according to the mysterious doodles he found the afternoon before. He heads over to Keepsie.
"What's that new haibane up to?" Stanley asks.
"Anything he thinks we need," Keepsie says easily, "He's doing a great job, isn't he? Bricks, forms, mortars, spare tools, lunch, mosquito fires, water, pedal pumps. He thinks of it all and has it ready just when we need it."
<Haibane aren't smart enough to think like that!> Stanley fumes inside.
"Oh," Keepsie says, "I'm alive today because the Defenders weren't near where I was hiding during the battle. The Western U-," she catches herself, "I mean, Old Home." She sets her shovel down for a moment, "It took me months to realize that. If they actually occupied Old Home during the battle, the enemy would have bombed it flat. The enemy found us only a few minutes before the Light blossomed the second night. I hated them for abandoning us," she says with a tear, "but now I know, they were doing the best thing under the circumstances."
"Why are you so comfortable telling me this?" Stanley asks.
"Because the Haibane are comfortable accepting the consequences of their failure," Keepsie whispers, "Even..." indicates where she's looking past Stanley with a tip of her chin. A nearly exhausted Aware has just arrived with the ingredients for the lunch stew; Kasei has started into him again, "...the one who had no part in it."
Stanley gawks as Aware fuels the fire for the soup cauldron and pumps the bellows to get it going. One of the cooks turns the roasting rabbit over another fire. Kasei is still yelling at him as one of the cooks politely motions to him to keep it down. "Look at him," Keepsie says with admiration, "such wisdom and grace, and humility. He knows how to manage the work site as though he has decades of experience from a previous life."
Stanley then watches in amazement as Kasei turns from him and starts gesturing at one of the two cooks. Gently, Aware puts a hand on his shoulder, droops his wings, lowers his head, and says something Stanley might never learn. Kasei wrenches himself from Aware's grip, storms back to his desk, and pounds it as he sits down and sulks. Aware and the cook get into a brief argument, but in moments they both back down from it and return to work.
Stanley gets intensely curious. Quickly, he says to Keepsie, "Look, you're his taskmaster, just make sure he's always doing something," then runs back to Kasei.
"He said," Kasei perks up his chin in his manner of quoting the newborn haibane, "<<Master Kasei, you're absolutely right. I'm doing this because I'm not strong enough,>> or <<stamina>> or," he throws up his arms, "whatever enough to handle work on the line."
"What about George?" Stanley asks.
"Oh, he was just trying to shelter the haibane from his just desserts," Kasei snorts, "What a fool!"
Suddenly, for the first time, Kasei seems to Stanley to be petty and small. Stanley gets up his nerve to address him again as, "Master Kasei, I'll go put him in his place." Stanley turns and marches away.
"Haibane Aware," Stanley growls at Aware.
"Yes, Master Stanley," Aware turns deferently towards him, but Stanley sees in the haibane's eyes, that Kasei has finally met his match, and that is what has him so riled up.
"Go help Keepsie," Stanley orders.
"Yes, Master," and Aware enthusiastically marches away. Keepsie seems rather alarmed to see him approaching, but soon has him driving a wheelbarrow.
"George, what happened with Kasei?" Stanley asks the cook.
"Oh, I tried to say that Aware's doing a fine job of keeping things running smoothly, but Kasei, as you would guess, wouldn't hear any of it, and when he started yelling at me," George pauses for a moment, "Aware put his hand on his shoulder and agreed with Kasei on everything he ... Kasei ... had just-" George obviously can't bear to repeat any of it.
"After Kasei left, I said, <<Haibane, you don't need to agree with everything he says. He's just a->> Oh, I better not," George winces.
"I won't insist," Stanley says, "What did the haibane say?"
"Aware said, << I know, Master George. We're all better off it he hates just me.>>" George weeps, "Oh, Stanley, have we really reduced them to that? I mean, he manages just fine, the new haibane. He has such a deep mind, I can see it in his eyes, and he's constantly keeping track of so many things. I mean, what sin did he commit to deserve so much of Kasei's wrath?"
"Hagane brought him back from Western University," Stanley says, "They've started calling it Old Home, four days ago. They come out of cocoons, they say. George, he's six days old."
"Impossible," George gasps.
"But true," Stanley confirms, "I don't get it either, but right now, our camp is standing on the only patch of land inside the wall that we can grow food on. There is nowhere else a haibane nest could hide and stay fed since the battle. If it's not true, where has he been hiding and how has he been kept fed since the battle?"
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 9: Master