Hara sat at the desk, on its raised platform, next to her mechanical bush dragon. It hung, quiescent just inside her reach, even though the bees could reach any part of it. She always felt as though she wasn't truly working on it, even when she spun code and her little sisters created it for her, unless she could lay hands on it.
It needed power. In her talks with the program mimicking Terence, it had commented on many things at all levels of technology, that provided motive power. Everything from muscle power up to the engine that could fly to the moon and even between stars seemed to depend on burning something.
In the tiny pocket of code she'd created to do this, the Hive began displaying things they could make for her, the modifications, engines that could be built and installed.
She turned over the extra dragon scales in her fingers, careful of the razor sharp edges. A frame off to one side of her desk was the container for a very small mist curtain that could actually show moving images so the Hive could show her how the various engines could work.
There. Well, the smallest of the engines, that actually powered the bees, were driven by motion. They caught motion and stored that tiniest of energies to drive all of their parts. A mechanism that mimicked an unengineered creature. Even if she placed those tiny molecules on every dragon scale it would be enough to give it the semblence of life, since even the wind could tickle the mechanical bush dragon. She had to come up with another name for it, since it only resembled a real, live, hatched dragon.
It looked like that kind of power... getting started from tiny motions – she pursed her lips. It would run a full 'on' cycle for perhaps six months. But while it was enough to have it fly or squirm through the air like a real dragon, it wasn't enough to have it move fast enough, hard enough, to be the weapon she thought they needed.
Another cascade of images, each way of driving the dragon bulkier and heavier than the last. Something about the scale in her hands caught her eye. The flesh gave way to the central bone-like core before disappearing under the hard scale. She turned it over and looked again. It was not only the strongest, metal-laced structure they had, it was fireproof. The Lainz used the scales for everything. Fireproof.
In response to her thoughts an image came up on the mistwall. A very different looking dragonscale that burst into a blue flame that burned so hot it was almost invisible.
Hara closed her eyes and plunged all the way into code. “If this dragon I'm building had a way of making its scales burn like that, show me how fast it could move.” Even in code, she ducked under her desk as the image of the firedrake she was working on burst into flames and then blew a hole in the stone wall. Her eyes snapped open to see the moving image of what she'd seen in code repeat and then continue, the firedrake disappearing into the sky, its triple pairs of wing scales held rigidly, its body outlined by a heat shimmer that was hard to see in daylight, every scale on its body burning blue. Then it was gone and the mistwall showed only the falling fog of moisture.
She was soaked with fear sweat when she reached out to touch the firedrake still lying quietly in its cradle, all of its eye-patch sensors dull, scales hanging limp. “I think. I really think that's enough power.”