Tuesday, August 6, 2013

107 - How Alive is it?

It takes me a while to calm Tizzy down. She keeps hiding or trying to hide under piles of things on my desk and then, if she doesn't knock everything down, sticks her head out to hiss at my firedrake. I'm nearly ripping my hair out over the code that runs it.

It is a beautiful organic machine, that soaks up water and then can burst into flames to drive it very, very quickly across the sky. Like a real bush dragon it can undulate up and down or side to side in the air, though unlike a bush dragon it only uses its wing scales for control rather than actual flight. That might be useful... to have it mimick real bush dragons and only use the small powers when or if we actually need to place them out around the whole continent. Or it could lie quiescent at the bottom of rivers. That might be the real way to keep Prime or any of his people finding them, seeing them as what they are, new constructs, not just the old terraforming programs lumbering blindly on.

It can also corkscrew through the air and on paper it looks like it could actually float down to earth, headfirst, since its tail could thrash it down. I pull Tizrav out from under my shirt where she is making a determined attempt to dig her way down my sleeve, scrambling in my armpit. I hold her up so we are nose to nose.

“Tizrav! You are brave. Stop it. This dragon is my firedrake. My code. Mine. Understand?” She is a very brave tiny one to fling herself whole-heartedly at my firedrake's head when she saw it and thought me in danger. Her fur stands up in dried spit spikes where the drake grabbed her mid-leap and held her. Since it isn't a real dragon, it has no gullet, no gut, no lungs. It is thinner than a real bush dragon since all its power comes from its scales, either from motion or the burning of water. But how can I set something so dangerous that it can knock falling rocks out of the air, or engulf the smaller ones outside, out of my control?

The tingle of code shivers all through me and my bees translate Tizzy for me. *Yours, yours. Pft. Spit, stinky code. Owner code.*

*My code. I just need to finish building it. I need to make it safe to put out to defend us.*

*Bad code. Bad dragon code. Put stinky dog code. Not sly, fly ferret. Put Hive in. Hive is you. You and big man and other big man and my boy all Hive. Buzz buzz buzz. Sting not stink.*

I sit down, staring at Tizzy. Ferreting out bad code is her function. One of her functions. But that is a brilliant idea. I've been thinking of this thing as different from my little sisters. But what one bee knows... all the others know as well, in code. I could be connected to all of my firedrakes if I just considered them as very very large and oddly shaped bees. That would mean that only Pa and Stepapa and I and Ky would be able to control them. For the hive. I started scrubbing Tizzy's fur soft again, absently, just thinking about this.

This drake... these drakes... might be our flying things. If I can figure out how to fix a person to them without burning them to a cinder. But they could carry our message, even if we cannot get a person up to the moon or past.

The drake swings its head back and forth, lying in its sling. It is running on its own motion and mine, not the flames. It ripples its scales down its body and the dark grey-green flickers through dark blue and purple, almost black iridescence. Very obviously different from the bright green breeding rainbow colours of a living bush dragon.

I feel better about it being a bee. A drone. I was worried about how alive I would have to make it. I wasn't comfortable building a creature that was designed to immolate itself, that knew it.


  1. "How alive is it?" I'll check. (Poking with long stick)

    1. It wiggles and looks at you with its eyepatches. Then it rattles its scales at you, warningly.

  2. Replies
    1. Well... is it a machine if it is partly organic? Or is it a living creature? The answer is yes both.