Ilax settled into the spyhole he'd built, in code, in Prime's country. He'd worked in from the edges gradually, easing past security programs one at a time, becoming part of the landscape after each hurdle.
The glass mountain was still a glitter in the near distance, glass foothills extending outwards like frozen waves. Above, in the weirdly blue sky, a shining pack of motes flapped and swirled and flew in columns. They were a new type of security program, just called up out of the glass mountain recently, hovering over Secundus and Tertius code, as if carefully examining every instruction. They looked somewhat like hairy humans, with wings and tails that coiled and uncoiled as they flew, picking up chunks of code as if they were fruit picked from a tree, picking them apart and letting them flutter back down to settle back into their places, jigsaw like.
It was disconcerting. These programs were certainly smaller than the dragons. They did have fangs designed to destroy alien code but they were much, much smarter than any scaley, stupid, blundering firewall.
Kyrus's thread into the glass mountain, so recklessly laid, was a burnt out track in the road below. Because he was so close to his husband, Ilax could feel and see the faintest unburnt skin, the tiniest seeds ready and waiting to sprout.
The code was more active, the flying monkeys chattered and swore at each other as they soared. Code seethed below, building more moats, more walls, more fanged and trapped gates. Prime was aware that something was going on. But his attention was wrapped up in the glass mountain, that now had another peak.
That must be the code space of the Heir. Fortunately for everyone trying to stay under Prime's attention, there was a permanent storm suspended between the two peaks of the mountain, randomly sparking blue-white lightning bolts back and forth as Prime and Double Prime argued. Prime had other things on his mind than bad, old code. Every lightning strike caused a fire-fountain of molten glass shards that blew into the sky and rained down to damage code all around that the two Primes had to stop and fix every once in a while or they'd burn a ring all the way around and sink the mountain under the mercury.
The latest flurry of monkeys flew up with their booty ripped free in their paws and settled on glass mountain and an ominous rumble shook code from end to end. Now seemed the time, since Prime was surely distracted.
*Filchang, come now.*
He extended a hand behind himself, to assist Filchang up into his hide, eased sideways for her to see.
*This isn't science!* She fluttered with indignation, presenting as a long-haired white mouse, in a white coat and the Nadumon's elaborate half spectacles. *That's... that's craziness!*
You see the whole section of code... there?*
*That was the wilderness where your city codes were.*
It was a plain of glass, with charred things embedded inside. Prime's will manifested around the edges with glass eating creatures that broke chips of dirty transparency off the lip of the plain and crunched them between grinding teeth, dumping ground glass all around them. Then planting spiders marched behind and thrust terran code into the sand glass to grow that bright, alien green.
*I'm sorry, but I thought you needed to see this. This is part of my duty, to my people and now to my husband's people.* Ilax, wearing grey-black clothing, shook his head. *I'll have to hold the war in code here.* He pointed. *There at the bridges. If we destroy his access there and there then we might be able to disrupt his control over his machines.*
*You mean we'll have to fight the war here as well as outside.* He turned back to the opening. *Konsiliarch? Have you seen?* She had been slithering through his network of spy tunnels, all around the edges of Prime's country.
*Indeed, Surdeniliarch. Your assessment is good.* She stood up with the two of them, making the spy hole pulse with crowded. Ilax turned back to Filchang.
*This is where I hope to ask your assistance, Head of the Council of Nadu.*
*We need to work together to have an ancestral hope of defending ourselves,* Vidarna said.
*You two do realize you're making the same argument again,* Filchang said. *We will do this. Our council have given me war permissions. I can speak for our survivors. You have saved us and helped us save far more of our lives than we would have managed on our own. You have both offered us earthan reformed land for us to settle. I declare that we are allies, and in your debt.*
All three twitched and grew still, like the inside of a seed, as a flock of monkeys bounced down all around them, picking things apart with their fingers and their fangs. Ilax held his hand up but he didn't need to tell anyone to be very still and very quiet.
The spy hole rocked, was ripped out of context in code and code land wheeled under their eyes. They held their silence, after a single gasp from Filchang, and a choking noise from Vidarna when their encapsulated selves were discarded as benign, dropping from the sky.