Tuesday, October 29, 2013

153 - Epilogue

Kyrus sank down on the code floor and Tizrav crawled into his lap, up his chest ad thrust her nose into his neck. *I fly now. Bio body old old old and tired. I fly now. I fly. I DRAGON now. FireDrake said. One said.*

Werfas sat, all but exhausted. *What's wrong with Tizrav?*

*I don't know. * Kyrus ran his mental hands down Tizzy's spine and could feel the crunch and crushed vertebrate code. 

*Tizzy. Fix. You fix and come out with your boy boy.*

*No. No. I stay. I stay. I stay with old old ma.*

Kyrus tried to hold onto her but she shivered as the code re-wrote itself and the tiny, lithe white body bounced straight through his grasp and ran over to a gigantic cliff face that looked like Mother Thriti, but with closed eyes. She curled up against the chin of the image and... became stone.


*Mom? Mom? Are you still running, under there?* FireDrake One had uncoiled itself, slithered out and flown to the rubble field at the base of the butte, the instant Prime's bombardment stopped. Its long, flexible mouth parts closed on boulders the size of warbirds spitting them violently over the north rim with reports that made people all around flinch.

*Carefully, One, please.* Mom's sending was faint but clear. *Thank you One, that weight was about to crush us all. * FireDrake's digging grew somehow more frantic but more careful. *One, you needn't be concerned about this hull. You have my consciousness safe. So does Agador. I have many back ups. We are nearly free. *

*We'll have you all out momentarily. *

*Thank you, One. *


Terence opened his eyes in time to see Hara sit up and reach to touch Mother Thriti's arm. “Should Agadore call a medic?” But he could see that the old woman sat like a wax statue, her mind gone elsewhere. Her dog sat at her feet, as still as she, but still breathing, a steady whimper rising from the tiny black and tan.

She... helped dig out... uncover... the control centre.” Hara said vaguely, her eyes not tracking. Most of the other zardukar hadn't managed to crawl out of code yet. His Radiance was still under, Ilax as well. The Nadu head and Archie were both barely beginning to stir.

Mariush, with Homa on her arm, swept in. “Get everyone water. We need to have everyone checked. Shashi, Amardad, if you have anyone not flattened, we're going to need them.”

The bees roared in, floated in the top of the room and coating Ky's da from head to foot. “Ow,” he said faintly, and began to sit up, slowly.

Ky rolled over and right off his couch. “Ow. Da, I think I'd rather learn to be a regular feather spitter than do this.”

His Da laughed, choked, coughed and made it to his feet, still robed and crowned in bees. “We have a lot of work to do, before Prime figures out the code shuffle I passed off on him.” The warriors of Lainz and Milar and Nadumon, raising themselves out of the brutal code fight, were quiet but they were, at least, still alive, as were most of city folk. 

Dag lifted her head from Silly's neck and looked around the rest of the flock.  It was the first time another type of animal had voluntarily gone into code with them, so now they had ferrets, dogs and warbirds.  Silly couldn't vomit but his secondary eyelids were closed tight as if against a haboob.

The distant roar as the mist curtains continued to show people a sky empty of fireballs, and they began to uncoil and realize they were all still alive and that there were their lives to rebuild.  Code dogs howled and ferrets sat silent as zardukar were discovered missing from their bodies.

The zardukar were sitting up slowly, all around Kyrus, moaned. Their noses were bloody, some bled from their ears.  One or two vomited quietly and the stink of someone's filthy underclout filled the room.  

Werfas accepted a glass of water and groaned "Is this what war is going to be from now on?  We're all in a stinking room, bleeding from our ears and struggling to sit up afterwards?" 

Ky just nodded at him. "We seem to be doing this a lot," he whispered.  "Not what I thought I'd get when I tried to make Ilax teach me to be a warrior."

People retched, but no one spoke, except Kyrus. He turned to look at all of them, meeting their eyes. “As I told you before. We've won this latest battle. The war is still to be finished."


Monday, October 28, 2013

152 -This Battle is Over

Kyrus stood unmoving for what felt a very long time.

*I am Glass Mountain.* The voice was clipped and dry. *Have we been properly introduced?*

*No. I'm sorry. I'm the third owner of this planet and the first owner doesn't like that idea.*

*First owner. Do you mean Prime?*

*Yes. Glass Mountain, my name is Kyrus Talain. My DNA sequence is as follows.* Data squeal.

*How polite you are. Kyrus Talain, I am glad to meet you. I am Prime's control centre, he calls me 'Glass Mountain.'*

*How is it that I am able to speak to you? Prime is not sure that we even still exist. He is going to try and kill us.*

*I am currently in reformat mode, resetting my access codes. Prime, Secundus and Tertius are all listed as administrators in the baseline while I am in this re-set mode. That has never been changed.*

*So, once you are finished, will I be able to speak to you directly?*

*No, once I am restarted I am restricted access. I will again be in purdah.*

*I'm sorry to hear that.*


*Could I request your assistance, Glass Mountain?* Kyrus felt his body outside code hold its breath.

*Nothing against Perrin Thurmontaler.*

*I would never ask you to attack him.*

*Then I may be able to help you, Tertius Kyrus.*

*Could I ask you to put a tiny change in your program, that routes all requests to deliver water or recordings or anything else, to 57 degrees north, 137 east latitude, to 63 degrees north, 140 east?*

*...* Glass Mountain didn't respond immediately. *You mean just erase those coordinates from my memory and replace them with the further north ones?*

*I realize I am asking a great deal. It will save a lot of human lives.*



Kyrus held his mental tongue, even as Glass Mountain took enormous amounts of time, especially for an intelligent machine, to process his request.

*Tertius administrator request approved – complete. Source code rewritten.*

*Thank you, Glass Mountain. Thank you.*

*You... are welcome, Tertius.*

*I'm sorry that I won't be able to speak to you after your re-format, but I understand that you are going to have to forget I exist. Perhaps when Prime and I settle out differences we will once more be able to work together.*

*Yes, Tertius. My higher functions are about to be--* 

There was a stumble, a lurch in code and the whole landscape began to shift, a wave rolled through the landscape and it went from fight mode to a benign and beaming landscape, every code dog and ferret jumped up, dropping shredded bits of code that were drawn in and became smoke, solidifying once more into an earlier, cleaner version. The sky shivered around them and even the hut shook and the ash sifted lower.

Kyrus turned to Dukir and said *I've bought us some time.*

*This is only the first skirmish, Radiance,* the older man said. *And you've hidden the city from being seen by anything run through code.*

*He'll have to send human beings... like Terence... to actually lay eyes on us.* Kyrus stopped himself from trying to brush the ashes away. In code it wasn't going to help. Then he pushed open the door carefully.

*Ilax. Amia. Thriti. Withdraw. We need to retreat while code is being rewritten. This battle's over.*

Saturday, October 26, 2013


The end of Warbird is coming!  I am leading up to Meteors and Firedrakes.

But I have a rather extensive translation to do, so I will be taking a rather longer break than I normaly would like.  I should begin book three early in the new year.

We'll see.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

151 - Every Hologram Showed Pretty Lights

On every mist curtain, in every undamaged bee-grown city hide people froze, waiting to see, holding their breath, their silences all grown thick and dark as the blood splashed and drying on the city.

The fireball, trailing burning pieces steam, smoke, the bright sparks of the fire drakes struggling to assist Fifty two, the only one connected to the hurtling chunk of sublimating ice and stone.

The two spun around one another, less than a hundred seconds from impact. *Fifty two! Disengage, disengage! Three hundred four and One hundred fifty will detonate! Fifty two! DISENGAGE*


Kyrus and Dukir floundered to their feet almost waist-deep in ashes of code, coughing, struggling to breathe. *What is this? Dukir?*

*I used a bit of code my friend -- * 

*Dukir. You found the need for this?* The voice in their heads wasn't hollow, or eldritch, or unusual in any way, just the voice of an old man, but the hair stood up on the back of Kyrus's neck. It was the voice of a dead man. A faint glow rose up between them. *Come now, quickly my friend. You need access to our control codes? You're in a hurry, I'm sure, even if I am recording this.*

*We're in the deepest ancestor crap, Diryish. The city's about to go and another wave of ice is about to be hammered down on the wreckage.*

*I see.* The bald old man dressed in cloth... no... a covering of bees, raised a hand. *My grandson, it seems you've not had time to listen to all my busybody recordings for you.  Just another way to stick my fingers in your reign, of course.  I won't apologize. You need this information, eventually. This ruin is what is left of our gate, our control centre. Ah, you've already been taken up by the hive. Good. All the codes to jam Perrin's water delivery systems, at least for now, are over on the left.* The image smiled at Kyrus and Dukir. *I'll be here with more advice if you need me,* the recording said, and winked out, leaving them in pitch black once more.

*ENDARKEN IT!* Kyrus pulled his temper under control and snapped *Give me some light to see by*

The light bloomed in the walls, too slowly, and something that looked like a feeble fire in a stone bowl. The codes Kyrus needed, not to take over Prime's glass mountain, but just stop it, confuse it, make him think his own machinery was to blame, if they were lucky, shone brightly on a rack of... bones? Yes. The codes were hung on a rack of bones and teeth.

*Radiance, those fangs the code is hanging on... I think only you should touch them.* Dukir had his hands firmly in his belt.

Kyrus cautiously reached one hand in through the teeth, some as long as his forearm, and grasped what looked like the hilt of a sword and began to draw it out. The whole pile of bones shifted and the jaws closed with a clash, around his wrist, even faster than his warrior's recoil. *FAK!*

*Voice and DNA match confirmed.* With a creaking wheezing noise the bones cranked themselves open and let him withdraw what he needed.

*A sword? How are you going to use a sword to shut down Glass Mountain?*

*It just looks like a sword.* Kyrus raised it over his head and, standing in what looked like the ruins of a burned-out hut, called code to his hand. *Owner Tertius, emergency override, abort all current water delivery modes. Abort, abort, abort. Pause all Prime terraforming commands previous month. Emergency override shut down Owner Prime controls and re-format data controls, purge Hinnom and Sheol recordings. Recalibrate.*


The fireball, with Fifty Two, One Hundred Fifty and Three Hundred Four blew into a thousand pieces just above the canyon rim, flinging its guts kilometres away.

Enough plowed into the bottom of the canyon to break off more of the city butte, send a shockwave rolling along the walls, cracking terraces and trees away, dumping rock on top of a creaking, straining Ramtuff vehicle full of the injured.


Perrin stared at his screens and his holographic projectors that a moment ago had been displaying what looked like some of the indigenous Chishiki fauna, a variant of those bush-dragon-snake things he'd certainly eradicated on Xanadu, attacking the ice meteors. There had been a partially terraformed canyon and badlands but no immediate sign of humanity. Now ever single screen displayed the tasteful sprays of light that marked an equipment reformat and recalibration.

Display Hinnom.” 

Reformatting. Reconfiguring program functionality. Scrubbing data storage. All systems stop. Reformatting.” 

STOP reformat!” 

System administrator required to abort program. Some data will be lost. Continue yes or no?” 

I AM the system administrator you STUPID machines!” 

Glass Mountain replied. “Continue yes or no?”

Yes, damn you. Alert me the moment you are useful again!” 

Acknowledged. Glass Mountain continuing cleanse and repair function, reconfiguring in thirteen hours and sixteen minutes approximate.” 


In code, everything that was Prime's froze. No burning, no acid, no dragons fighting warbirds, dogs and ferrets. Kyrus the younger and Werfas threw another shaped piece of code into a dragon as it ceased to move and it blew into tiny bits and blew away. All the security programs stopped. 

150 - The Whole Erased Bottom of the Butte!

*Fifty two! Cease. I have you recorded as not wishing to destroy yourself!*

*I agreed to protect you Mom. Sending final self recording to One. 100% capacity switching over to protecting the RAMTUFF unit. Fifty Two off*


*Terence! What are you doing?*

*Agadore, over-ride, give Fifty Two access to his own ignition system, allow for conversion of chlorine! Allow for super concentration of peroxide! Give him access to make the biggest bang of his life or Mom and all the wounded and Esh and Dav and perhaps the whole erased bottom of the butte are vapourized! That meteor coming in is a monster! And hope with all your remaining nanoseconds that he stops it, because if its that big a fireball, we're all dead too.*

 *Fire wash confined in the narrows of the deep canyon. Understood. I calculate that he will intercept in twenty-eight seconds.*



The edges of Kyrus's shield were being driving into code all around them as if being pounded into the earth. Every enormous crushing thud pounded harder and harder. *Get. Out.* Kyrus's voice was barely audible, even in code, as he held the shield around the two of them, hands just above his face. It would burn what it had smashed, soon. It was what these programs did. Kyrus could feel every muscle, every bone screaming as if he were holding it off with his physical self.

The security dragon raised its head once more, high, higher, looming to either smash or burn. *Go! Go!* Kyrus commanded Dukir.


*All Nadu, support the cuddle flock zardukar. All code workers, back up His Radiance!*

A pack of hounds poured out of a hole in the code, with Thriti and and the whole coded cuddle flock, Kyrus and Werfas on Tzar and Imam, hissing and howling. 

Kyrus the younger and Werfas together tore apart Prime's security dragons as they'd taken apart the zombie things that had attacked them on the way back to Lainz.

The other riders flung code-ferrets onto the dragon and they ripped scales off, bit toes, slashed into the holes made by the dogs and the birds, tearinng claws gouging into the dragon's neck. The dogs ran right over his Radiance's shield but compared to the dragon's chin their weight and claws were negligible.


Perrin sank into glass mountain control without all the preliminary lead up, of strolling in. *Report.*

*Biological anomelies at 54 degrees north, 137 east. Security breaches in code. Security programs 'A' through 'ZZZb' activated. Code breach. Code Tertius enabled. Tertius control repaired, re-initializing. Tertius Control... location unknown. Searching. Location not found. Searching. Location not found. Tertius DNA located... lost... located... lost. Searching. Not found.*

Perrin startled so hard he broke a finger, slamming his frail old hand down, in reality. In code he ripped open the search programs wide. *Lainz and what's her name? I killed them all. Oh, yes, uncontrolled plague and sandstorms killed them all. Not me. Unfortunate accident. It can't be. None of them survived. None of them could have made it from Xanadu. They didn't have so much as a single airbus left when I was done delivering their water. Bird-crazy, local eco loving idiot.*


Mom continued broadcasting to Fifty Two even though she got no acknowledging ping. Agador linked to her, even as Terence gave Fifty Two access to more bang than he should have. *Fifty Two impact in – no, contact made, not impact. Contact.*

Far above, slowly, slowly, the fireball and the blue spark next to it, began to spin, even as they fell.


*Radiance, come right now!*


The code under his back shivered and disappeared, letting Kyrus fall all the way down the fluffy hole. Or a pitter's sand-trap, but at the bottom instead of a ring of teeth spread out like the calyx of a flower, a door swung open and he fell straight into a ruined and burned room. The door slammed shut just as the sand began to fall on top of it, throwing him and Dukir, who he'd just glimpsed before the light went, in total darkness.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

149 - Incoming Incoming!

The code between Kyrus and Dukir, and Glass Mountain exploded in lava flows and mercury rivers. Kyrus sat heavily in his coded saddle, sagging in exhaustion. *I can't fight that.* He conjured up a heavy, fireproof shield and then let it evapourate.

Dukir, scorched, singed, sitting a trifle lopsided, from the code injuries he'd taken guarding Kyrus's back. *That's... right.*

*I refuse to give up. I refuse to surrender. Almost a million people are depending on me... on us, to shut down this attack. I. Will. Not.*

*Radiance... Radiance wait!* Dukir threw out a hand that expanded to stop Kyrus from his intended plunge into the deadly mess blocking their way. *There might be a way around this.*

Kyrus had dropped his reins, stopping his bird dead, turning in weary rage as the old man stopped him. *What?* He shook his head and straightened. *Don't just stop there, Dukir.*
Dukir had both hands knotted in his hair, the helmet he'd conjured long since vanished in the fight. *Diryish... he... said...*

The Emperor clenched his hand, refraining from shaking the memory out of his spymaster. That kind of behaviour never worked. Instead he threw up his gauntlets up over their heads and created a gigantic roof over the two of them, as Prime's code began raining acid on them from orange clouds. *Not to hurry you, feather-spitter, but I'm running out of will and energy both.*


*Mom! Mom!* Agadore's warning usurped Terence's higher functions for a nanosecond. *Get out of there!*

*I cannot move, Agadore.*


*Several of my patients are not yet stable. I am at capacity. I cannot divert to any kind of movement.*

*INCOMING. 400 201 2 AND 99 ALL DETONATED. INCOMING METEOR* FireDrake One's send was strong enough to make Terry wince.

*Mom if you do not move you will lose all your patients. Back them up and restart them later.* Fifty two sounded almost plaintive.

*Negative. Capacity at 100 percent.*

*Incoming incoming incoming impact in one hundred seventy seconds*


*Radiance, Secundus and Tertius had code control centres. Diryish said the Prime believed them destroyed.*

One of the security dragons had found them and after trying to burn them out was raising its head and pounding on the shield Kyrus held – barely – with its chin. *Please. Get. To. The. POINT. Dukir!* He had almost no voice, no force as his bird evaporated under him and he was forced to his knees and Dukir flattened himself completely.

*Find the ruins of Tertius and you could just shut this whole battle down.*

*Oh. Good. Help me here. Dig us an escape tunnel.*

148 - Where Are You Going to Put Them?

*biological repair functions at current maximum*

*Mom, there are people still in the city, they refused to be evacuated!*

*Yes, Eshmaeel. Unload bunks one and two and put those four children in. I can hold the adults in place well enough when we move. Good. Brace yourself.* Above them chunks of rock rained down, ringing off Mom's hide, crackling off the stone making Esh and Dav flinch.

Esh flattened himself as best he could on the floor covered in people, Davood stood with the board just behind the loo door. Every square centimetre it seemed had someone injured on it. Mom had extended her healing protocols so that the med equipment would function fully in her main cabin, rather than just in the sealed bunks. Even insulated inside Mom he could feel the tremors of explosions outside.

Her capacity was stretched enough that Eshmaeel lost all the air in his lungs with an oof as she launched herself down a hundred metre cliff to the river bottom, ran out to a narrow spur of rock and threw up a splash that almost scattered to the refugee city slot in the canyon wall.

She bounced once on a rock mid-river and then made it to the broken rock on the other side, the city side. The water was already flowing through the impromptu dam, bursting through in streams as thick as Esh's wrist gushing hard.

The city butte lay peeled open like a honeybee's hive, or a mordant-ant farm of roads and pathways and rooms, leaking water and blood and dust. Heating columns and pipes leaked and burned, throwing bluish smoke into the air, oozing yellow liquid wax down to float and crackle on the river. Crushed people and bits of people lay, unmoving and the screaming and moaning of the injured echoed weirdly against the rock.

Human bone white lay soaking in human red splinters, painted across the planetary red rock, drying to match, dripping steadily from some levels, enough people trapped and bleeding out to keep the flow, however slowly. 

The water all around, behind the dam was already red and mud. “Help... help us... please oh endarkened take me make it stop hurting mama mamam papa sissy help ow it hurts oh it huuuuurts! Make it stop enlightened make it stop shut up shut up shut up ow ow ow help! AAAAAAAAAA AAAAAA AAAAAA My little brother is there and I can't get to him make it stop shut up ow ow help us help me I want to die please let me die oooooooooooooo help...” The words and cries flowed like the blood, down the stone of the butte.

Eshmaeel felt badly that he was relieved when Mom cut her external mics. “Mom, where are we going to put all these people, you're at capacity already.”

You have no idea, Eshmaeel. Get ready to start loading wounded. I will direct you when I am ready.” 

FireDrake 52 wrapped around the rock above Mom and extended its scales to lock it into the ground to protect her. "Mom, if you move so precipitously I require you to inform me and Drake One of your intention.  Otherwise I cannot begin to protect you."

"Yes, yes, 52. My apologies for not speaking first."

Eshmaeel braced himself, uselessly, as Mom anchored her feet into the stone, right at the worst of the ripped open butte and slowly began to expand. Her skin unwrinkled completely, and her legs extended as her belly blew out slowly, fitting to the very bottom of each leg, making it look as though she were filling posts with the walls of her chameleon skin.

The skin itself went from mimicking the stone and bloody river around her to a fuzzy, off-white blur. Her rear compartment stretched out more that four times, her blunt, shell-like tail digging into the sand and rock right at her creaking limit.

Where bodies had crowded her before, now they lay unconscious in the centre of a floor with space for a hundred more. “I shall be able to accommodate people vertically as well,” she said, popping her mouth, letting the vile, organic stench roll in. “Go, Eshmaeel. Go Davood. The first survivors are at these coordinates to your left.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

147 - His Tea Growing Cold, Unsipped

Kyrus Talain rode into the teeth of Prime's defenses, reins of his warbird clenched in his teeth. The road was laid along the faint track of his first foray and was still solid but he knew that would change.

A flock of security harpies spiralled out of the sky down on him and his spymaster, and he flung spears of light, conjured out of his own coding one, two, three, a dozen, but the flock was thick as lice on a warbird. Behind him he heard a heavy 'click' and then Dukir launched something so encrusted with grandfather's touch he could almost see the fingerprints piled one on another.

It roared up into the screeching flock and before the heavy beat of its wings could blow them all away it opened up its jaws and sucked them all into itself, like a boy licking up honey bugs scraped out of a hive, and then burst itself into a hundred fragments that fluttered down slowly, the code blizzard already behind them

*Good one,* he said quietly. No need to shout, in code, however much he wanted to. He didn't even need to spit out his reins, though he'd done so, by reflex.

*Thanks, Radiance.*

*It's Kyrus, Dukir. If you can't manage that, call my ass shiny but no more titles... all right?* He set his teeth in the leather again and they plunged forward along a suddenly rising road.

 *You got it Shiny Pants.*

Kyrus nearly choked on his reins, laughing as he ducked under the vicious swing of a gigantic fixed scythe that was planted in the centre of the road. All of code rocked with an impact, in both worlds. The scythe tree flailed its limbs and scrambled its roots, trying to stay steady and continue attacking them at the same time. He flung an axe into its roots and then set it aflame rather than try and cut it down one stroke at a time.

Code rocked again and the scythe tree cracked across just above its roots, where the axe burned, but one limb fell between them with a thunderous crash, making Dukir's bird howl as one of its feet was slashed off.

*Are we close enough for me to grab that code?* Kyrus spat out his reins a second time, tied them around his saddlehook and bellowed back over his shoulder at Dukir who was trying to make his bird hold still to accept a mechanical foot.

*Nope, hold still you endarkened thing.*

Another quiver through code and this time a tear made a firey hole that crisped edges and let in a glare of light from the other world.

Kyrus couldn't take his attention off the road or it would vanish under them, send them tumbling into the maelstrom that made up the code world, and Prime's dragons had awakened, pulling their ponderous heads up and up and up, wings spreading out, overlapping, covering the sky. One roared and it shook code almost as much as the bombardment outside.


Prime raised his teacup to his lips and felt the first tremour of something wrong so strongly that he checked to make sure the surface of his tea hadn't actually quivered.

Immoderate Fortesque.” He turned his head toward where his faithful Immoderate Captain stood, like a cool, dark statue.

Yes, Font of All Knowledge?”

Arrest my son, Perrin, immediately.”

As the Font wishes.”

Always a fast response, he thought complacently to himself. As always I'm more than one step ahead of the young pup. He thinks he can kill me? Hah.

He was interrupted a second time, his tea growing cold, unsipped, as emergency reports and alarms began going off in his head, wildly enough that he had to blink for a moment, just to continue to function properly and in a civilized way, outside of code. He rose and his court rustled to its feet as well. “As you were,” he said. “We shall be privy for a small time. As you all were.”

They sank into curtsies or bows as etiquette demanded, holding their heads lowered as he swept out of the room, to his couch where he could sort out the shrilling of computerized alarms in his head, in peace.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

146 - Lump Them Together

Terry could hear and see everything that was going on, with Agadore's help, even as he sat, pressed against the quivering stone walls, feeling helpless and useless.

Hara lay on a couch next to a table with a miniature of the whole city and immediate canyon system on one side of her, while Firedrake One lay coiled into an enormous lump of scale, head resting on the stone to her other side.

Ilax and the other zon all connected in code, watched by ahymanders and beyond them, the Nadu also lay, reaching out with their sensors as far up into the atmosphere as possible to give the Drakes their targets as far out as they could.

Out of his sight he knew that the so called Emperor... the older Kyrus fellow, and his boy were deep in code, striking for the control codes buried deep in the fortress Prime had built.

*Agador, how is Mom doing?*

*They are proceeding very well, only two hundred people died in the initial ceiling fall. Mom estimates that another one thousand forty are salvageable... oops, sorry, Mom and Drake One inform me I should say 'saveable', I'm sorry, I didn't--*

*--I understand what you meant, no offense taken. How are they?*

*Functioning well, smoothly and with no damage... or injury.*

*I appreciate the effort to use human terms for humans, Agador.*

The next chunk of code poured in, before his eyes and ears.

*Four Hundred to Five hundred... all of you. Lump the masses together!*

*Sure boss. The eighty seven of us left are confused but compliant,* One said. *Why?*

*Shove forty or fifty of them into a single falling lump, get it spinning before someone gets to go bang and spall off chips in all directions!*


Fireballs high in the sky, falling stars, grew bigger, began to spin randomizing their trajectories, burst into glittering flakes that vanished in the air, burning or were so small when they hit that in the massive noise were lost.

*Great idea warboss, we're getting them!* *Whoo Hoo we'll save the--* *incoming. INCOMING* Archie and the Head both screamed out warnings. *under power*

*I have eight restored, stepfather, Four Ninety One is almost rebuilt*

That's what I can do. I can work with Hara and help them rebuild the Drakes and reload their code from when they blew... surely a tech second class should be able to help... ouch, where did you come from? I don't use code ferrets, certainly not as battered as you, Blackie.

The ancient old ferret settled on Terry's shoulder and thrust a nose in his ear, under the veil fastening. *I I I Yashar not Blackie flyer than bees. We builder more more, build faster faster. Faster than stink dirt dog.*

*Mom reporting small chamber cleared, Eshmaeel slightly injured in secondary rock fall. No more casualties, crossing the river to assist medics*

*Agador I'd like to introduce you to Yashar, Yashar the ferret who is fly, Agador the better than a Bootleg.*

*Hello Yashar.*

*Sniff. Machine Better than Bootlegger boy, code inside outside Terry boy. We build.*

*Nice to meet you too.  We build.* Agador sounded both rushed and amused.

*Amalgamation working, too few Drakes left, too few! Warboss send us send us spend us* *Fifteen you missed one* *Two Ten get it get it now move it no, don't bang you can't catch that one**Get THOSE stop them stop them*

*City impact in four sec--*

The distant strikes had shaken a ceiling down. This was close enough to throw everyone up in the air, flailing and bruised, a sound so large that it could not be heard but only felt. Terry had his arms wrapped around his head as he saw, through Agador, the next one.

*Boss we can't stop it, we can't redirect. Forty Seven, Sixty Nine, Four detonating!*

The fireball broke into a dozen pieces when the Drakes blew themselves against it, only one smaller piece hit the city glancingly, sheering off enormous chunks of stone that flew to ricochet off the canyon walls and partly dam the river below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

145 - Do NOT Go Bang One for One

Dee Amardad and Mother Thriti paced out with Mariush as she rose and spread her calm before her. The great halls all along the bottom of the canyon were cut deep and bee metal supports built into overhangs that they hoped would be enough to protect everyone. Only the cuddle flock were allowed in with people, the rest of the warbirds spread south of the city, all along the river bottom, away from the farm terraces and hives.

A day's journey downriver, the canyon pinched in tight enough to the river making the whole canyon floor one long corral.

Amardad sent her dragon-flies soaring out and down to where mist-curtain frames had been set up, each with a Beymander student or two, or even three Ahymanders to relay the images sent out from their teachers.

Thriti set her gnarled hands over the warbird head of her cane and her forehead against her hands and went into code without a ferret or code dog. Amardad caught code from her, resending to every student and everyone old enough to understand caught their breaths and watched as the mist curtains showed them what was happening.

Firedrakes lashed out of the river, flapping like true bush dragons until they cleared the foaming water. Then they began rolling and spinning in the air as they burst into their nearly invisible flames and flickered and glittered up into the sky.

The lin repeated even the chatter between the Firedrakes, people ripping wet pages out of the tanks and passing them to those who could not see the moving pictures.

Great Hive reports first air contact.”

Wooo HOOO! We get to go BANG bigtime! Wheee!”

Eight you're nuts.”

Shut up Fifty-Two.”

In the upper atmosphere the Drakes began to hit the biggest meteorites, not immolating themselves but clamping on with mouths open wide, becoming the motors to shove them off target. Blue glittering scales lashing, clamped to dirty lumps of ice and dust.

The pale sky was suddenly full of star-fall and fire balls, long, streaking trails of fire, tiny blue sparks.

You're too slow, guys! A tiny bump, then get the next one! Quit having fun pushing singletons!” FireDrake's voice was snarly, surly.

There's more of us than there are meteors, One!”

Oh, oh.”

Report! Ilax's voice snapped. “What do you mean, 'oh oh?”

Triple initial estimates of ice, boss,” Two Thirty Four said. 

“Estimated entry of fifteen hundred snowballs, one third appear to be powered.”

Two to Three Oh One go high, try to catch those powered ones. Identify and destroy them. Do not... I repeat do not go bang one for one.”

Sure thing boss!”

The first meteors nudged by the Drakes rumbled into the lower atmosphere, off their initial target but close enough to have people crouch and cover their heads as the fireballs brightened in the sky. Parents sat down and pulled their children in close under their veils, clung to each other, but still in eerie silence. In the desert, noise called predators.

The first one hit “CRACKBOOOOOOOMMmmmmmmmm” out in the badlands, quake tremors rolling through the sand and rock. Supports cracked, the ceiling in one shelter came down, people began screaming.

The Great Hive swarmed in, bolstering supports, Mom scuttled into view, clinging to the ground hard as CRACK CRACK RRRRRRRRummmmmble more ice hit the desert nearby, and began lifting boulders and broken chunks off ceiling off survivors.

Her maw was open and when she had another body cleared Davood and Eshmaeel, wielding their litterboard, carried them inside her.



Thirteen get that one!

Four twenty two and Eighty seven --” “--on it boss!”

Eight, no! Endarken it you can't go --” “--BANG.” “Eight engulfed one, blew two others.”

Three for one... it still won't be enough--”

RRRRRRUMMMMBLLLLLLLL BOOM Hissing as the air scorched. Ilax and his zon directed the FireDrakes, weaving a burning net to intercept the ice. Drakes danced and coiled around what they could not engulf, taking in more and more water, even as they rained on the planet below.

Kyrus ripped open Tertius Gate for his father in code and stood back to back with Werfas holding it open as Kyrus the Elder, armed and armoured in the shining code that Hara and Mariush and Shashi had built, backed by the old Amir, rode hard for the glass mountain to kill the bombardment.

There's more coming, we can't divert them a--” CRACK. CRACK. BOOM.

Friday, October 11, 2013

144 - Relays Clicked

In the orbit of the planet Chishiki, there are hundreds of chunks of ice from the size of a fist up to the size of a very large cetacean. In the stable orbit points they glittered and shimmered in their cloud, with their dark and tentacled shepherd.

A relay clicked and instruction flowed from glass mountain. Coordinates. Tonnage. Amount of ice needed to re-establish earthan bio-mat.

In the frigid cold and scorching radiation of space... never only one but always both... relays clicked.

The targeting satellite reached out dark tentacles, a tiny motor on the end of each one. Hisss. Match orbit. Hisss. Match orbit. Four hundred thirteen times before primary motor source is questioned.

In the dark. In the cold. In the boiling heat. Four hundred thirteen pieces of ice changed their fall and began to arc across their normal orbits to impact with the planet. A planet, so far invisible to their sensors.

The motor drive pushes them to balls of liquid, held together by quantum forces long past the hellish furnace of the sun. Back out, crystalizing into ice as they plunge back out,  into the cold, dark night until scraped off the shoe of this orbit plunging down into this laboratory. Latitude. Longitude.

But long before the motor could bring its ball of ice to rest in the atmosphere there was another factor.

Counter forces scooping smaller balls of ice and water carrying them in random directions. The explosions of ice where there should only be solidity.

The glass mountain programs clicked. Recorded. Whirred to themselves. Sent ignored notifications to Prime. Recorded. Recorded. Sent a second wave of instruction because required water levels were not being met on Chishiki, continent Hinnemon.