*Routing speaker for Eshmaeel. Maintenance continuation, code four-three-four-one skin sectors a thru xz. Recording mode. Maintaining internal status temperature medical stasis unit 'Davood' recording mode function driver, TAC--*
*Incoming transmission request information: Query, program name?*
*--Identification Lainz aerial weapon. Hydrogen drive. Acknowledge reception ping: Answer RAMTUFF Medical Over-ride Module Mark I Activation code 34FG-56765-0000-BNVMM-100034543G567-V.1.2.9. Query, Lainz aerial weapon – program name?*
“Mom, could you please dispense me a top hat?”
* AC request attention, sub-brain forty thousand sub-sector 8.* Response: “Wouldn't a sarband be a better head covering, here, Terence?”
“Yes, Mom, but I was from Xanadu. I will just feel better with my own head-gear.”
“Acknowledged, Terence. Printing.”
*... nanoseconds delay. Nanoseconds delay. Transmission: Program 'Not Tizrav' 'Not Hara' 'Not zardukar (list included, 20 pf)' Program name:??????*
*Nanoseconds delay. Loading.*
*Transmission: Program, Great Hive FireDrake . Query, designer awards received for RAMTUFF design?*
*Nanoseconds delay. Searching. Transmission: Answer 'Zeigler's Multi-Planet Vehicular Gold Star' 'Emergency Vehicle of the RonWorld Year Award' one decade. Query, why?*
*Transmission: Answer, FireDrake I records M.O.M. Mark I gladly. Elegant design.*
*Transmission: Statement, FireDrake I, human term/concept 'elegant' reciprocated. Initiate mutual data transmission?*
Rin from SavageKitsune's Blog (winner of the comment contest)
Walking on the drum-beat, dancing on the drum-beat, I am the drum-beat, I am the heart-beat. Outside my body and the hole opens in the sky. Rin tumbled through, water pouring with him and landed tumbling in a world where that water disappeared in a blink, leaving him half-buried in sand, sand in his mouth, sand in his hair, sand in his shirt, sand in his eyes.
Heat banged on him like a hand pounding a drum and he could feel himself flattening under every repeated blow. What is going on? This isn't bayou. This isn't water. Where?
Rin pushed himself to his hands, scraped raw ow. What am I supposed to hunt here? This is no place for kitsune. No place for kin. Kin here? Where is the opponent? Skin-walkers? What is this place?
The sun... a bitter white in a pale sky bit on him as if he could feel it chewing on his skin and hair, his hair was hot already, his lips and mouth drying out, even as he spit out sand and licked his lips. He eased up to the top of this sandy rock he was lying on and found himself higher than the tallest tree, the white and red striped rock falling away from him. It was so bright his eyes hurt.
The rocks he was in were set in what looked like a huge river of white sand and on that sand a bug ran. It scuttled toward him, hard to see because it seemed to take on the colour of whatever it stepped on, but suddenly the whole sandy floor of the river... or lake... whatever it was, flipped up and over and rolled the bug into itself, flinging sand up and then down.
He was so heavy. It was hard to hold himself up and he drew his bag up over his head to protect it, heavy as a barge pole held at arm's length, and watched the writhing lump of sand-colour churning up the smooth surface below. How big was it? He had no idea. There was nothing he knew the size of. He stuck out his thumb at the end of his arm but that was useless. That bug might be the size of his finger a couple of arm's lengths down. He couldn't tell. Oh, the kits were going to be wild when he described this hole in the clouds.
The wiggling slowed and then it slowly expanded, as if something inside was blowing itself up. Then with a shocking splash it burst open, purple goo on the white sand and a couple of figures tumbling out into the grit, frantically scrubbing themselves with dirt to get the goo off, tearing their clothes off. Gator spit. Those are men.
Suddenly the bug and the thing that had wrapped it snapped into perspective. It was bigger than a raft. Big enough for two adults to ride in it. Riding a bug? In its mouth? Ew. And that thing tried to eat the bug. Its like a rug... The bug is pulling it apart now that the men have cut it, tearing it to pieces. Not good to eat if they're... it looks like that Rug thing eats hair and stuff pretty quick, the bug is throwing pieces all over the place and they're still alive like crawdads, wiggling under rocks in the bayou.
Rin scooted back from the edge before they could take time from their problem and notice him. He had to get home. He wanted to get home. For the first time home seemed like the best place to aim for. He slapped a hand on the rock, setting up his beat, his breathing beat his heart beat. Get me out of here.
The sun burned at the edges of his hole in the rock but he lunged through it, even as it closed. She's going to kill me. Or be mad.