Hara drifted awake slowly, becoming aware of Tizzy's warm, fast-ticking pulse, even as she snoozed, under her chin. The mist curtains blowing... no, all the loggia's shutters were closed against the pounding rain and howling wind. Somehow she'd slept through the start of the fall rains.
She hadn't been drinking. She'd... just... well... been working. It had gotten so interesting that she kind of lost track of time.
She could hear two people talking quietly in her room. Everybody was now just using the modern variant of Lainz and it was clear as a bell to her that Milari and Nadu and all the other languages she'd learned were based out of the same tongue and most were mutually comprehensible if one spoke slowly or about simple things.
“Has she made herself sick?” That sounded like Shashi. A baby burble over her words made it more likely.
“Probably not. You youngsters do this kind of thing. In my experience its what humans do when they're that age. Overextend themselves all the time. It's a good thing that she and you and the others are channelling that inexhaustible energy toward our common good.”
“Of course we would do that, Thriti.”
Hara opened her eyes just as Mother Thriti snorted laughter. “Shashi, sweetheart, you still cherish being old enough and a mother enough to relish using my first name!”
“There you go.”
Hara put one hand over Tizzy, who wiggled but didn't do more than snort and sneeze into her hand as she sat up. “I'm listening. How's Mariush? And Homa?”
“Siwion Haraklez.” Mother Thriti smiled. “Do you realize you have single handedly solved our problem?”
Hara blinked. “I mean... um...” she coughed. “I built something that can fly. Yes. But.”
“It's not entirely a solution. We need to find out more. Mariush and Homa are both full of a mild illness... a little fever. We have our baby Siwion safely tucked away now that the rains have come. We have water falling again, more water than we can save. We need more catch basins, more ways of keeping it during the Hell season. But. You have come up with fire drakes. One... to defend us from strikes by Prime. Two, fire drakes might be our path off planet. Three, you have given us single scale power sources that can, if soaked in water, provide power wherever and whenever we need. Girl do you realize? Do you REALIZE?”
Hara blinked. Shashi sighed and set the baby on the floor, got up and handed Hara a cup of naked tea, without any kind of fat in it at all.
“Thank you, Shash. Um... Mother Thriti... we needed something to protect us from rocks falling out of the sky!”
For a moment she revelled in having the covers pulled to her chin, the rain hissing against the shutters. She'd missed it. The two older women looked at each other.
“Hara, your development has every zardukar in Lainz either tearing her hair out, dancing with joy or jittering impatiently for you to wake up so they can pounce on you and start throwing their ideas at you for how these power scales can be used," Shashi said.
She sipped her tea to try and clear the fogginess out of her mind. “You mean... what we started weeks ago, I just solved?”
“But we can't just strap a pair of firedrakes to a litter and hurl it up above the air,” she said. “First of all there's the air problem, then there's the Prime problem – no way we can hide something like that from him – thirdly there's the... well... we can't just stick our heads up and scream and hope the right people hear us. Who does Prime answer to? Anyone? Could we pay someone to help us fight back?”
Thriti started laughing even before Hara finished speaking. “Lovely. I do love it when someone is so 'on the saddle'!”
Shashi sniffed. “I have a few more questions than that. I have some information that you might be interested in. Lainz has its own security, you know.”
“Of course the country does. Doesn't everybody? I don't know about you but I could eat a dozen warbird eggs at a sitting.” She settled Tizrav into the dent in her pillow as she got up and the ferret settled down without opening her eyes. “What information?” Her water jug was full so she began filling her face basin with it.
“It seems that that boy... that program you and I found... is rebelling against Prime and is running to us.”
Hara stopped pouring. “Terence you mean? For real? Not just a mimic?”
“Who knows what information he might have. We need to see if we can help him run, I mean if Prime is after him... he's an ally we really need.”
“An excellent suggestion,” Mother Thriti said, raised her veil and sipped her own tea. “Let us hope that nobody gets too jealous of the young man, should he manage to make it here.”