“Amardad,” Kyrus said softly. “Ilax.” The three of them sat in the highest spot over the Great Hive, watching the sparkle of stars falling from the moon. It was somehow reassuring to know that the water was all pounding into the new inland sea rather than down on their heads. The sparkle in the evening sky was comforting, even though he knew down to his bones how deadly it could be, in reality.
“You heard how frantic my son was. The bees we sent with the Hippifrei have made it clear that they did, indeed, dump their princess on us, in the hopes that we have someone strong enough to control her, to teach her. Can we do that?”
“We have enough strong teachers and we are a unified force when correctly applied, Radiance,” Amardad said. “As you well know. Your husband is incredibly strong by himself… the Milari individual zon are so different from us, that we can, perhaps, keep her off balance until we can gain control of her code access.”
Kyrus sighed. “They were seriously thinking of killing her and from a Hippifrei, that’s serious. They might be necromanders and bone workers, but they do not kill, usually. I became a father with my child already grown Ilax. I’m going to have to count on you and you,” he nodded at Amardad. “to actually be parents to this little horror.”
Ilax leaned his chin on his hand. “We’ll ALL be there to greet her tomorrow morning. Dag wants to take Ky off after his hard run with this child and look after him. We’ll have this situation under control before the FireDrakes and Mom have this ‘reaching the moon’ problem solved. Terence tells me that Hara came up with a crazy idea that they all want to try, the day after tomorrow. We have two months before the next courier and then we have to wait another two years.”
“I know. Still. One thing at a time.”
Next morning, in the cold, dim blue moment before the furnace of the sun rose, Lainz and Milar and Nadumon all stood on the rim, on the other side of the bridges, outside the Rim Gates. There was little sign that the city had been bombarded from space less than two months ago. The winter dry was coming and the fall inundation just passed.
The Lainz birds were in fine feather and a handful were on sticks, with their riders sitting in front of them. In the dawn wind, the city banners flapped and crackled and the crowd of Lainz… on the other side of the bridge along the Avenue of Prayers, rustled and murmured like the mythical sea.
Kyrus was all in gold, Ilax in Milari red and white and the Nadumon Head in her white. Hara stood to one side, next to Terence, in his alien head-gear. *Master Terence,* Agador announced. *Kyrus the younger is just over the horizon.*
“My brainseed just announced their approach, Radiance,” he said aloud just as Amia tapped upon her slate and pointed.
“Thank you, my friends.” Kyrus nodded at them both and didn’t mention that code had opened between himself and his son while the sky was still black.
Ky and Werfas and the rest of the entourage… all of them flying… had worn themselves ragged keeping up with this nine-year old, who could make her bone creations continue functioning even while she slept. They were ahead of her, but only barely and only because she’d had to break down her bone monster to get through the gap that they flew over.
“There they are!” Hara called, pointing. Mom was in rock mode to Terence’s offside, being discrete. The FireDrakes were all draped along the bottom of the river, waving gently in the current monitoring in case they should be needed.
The monster kicked up an enormous plume of dust, even on the tended road, and Kyrus’s silver glittered right over her head. His bird had his head stretched out over his head as far as he could, beak spread, eyes wide, squawking hoarsely as if he had been doing it for hours.
Kyrus nudge his bird and trotted forward to intercept her. “It appears that you have won your race, since my son has not yet landed!”
She leaned down from her monster and said “Good. That proves I’m better. When are we going to get married then? You’ll be my father in law, correct?”
“Siwion. It proves nothing. I am Kyrus Talain, Radiance of Lainz. This is my husband, Ilaxandal Vania aht Ruikart, and our dearly beloved ally, Amia Filchang of the Nadumon. My dear siwion, you are most definitely a contender for my son’s hand but you are too young to consider marriage.”
There was a pause. A peculiar hesitation as if the planet itself were stumbling over a block in the road that it hadn’t seen. Pressure built. Built again, as her eyes opened wide.