Wednesday, July 16, 2014

41 - Don't Shoot!

Kyrus looked over his father’s shoulder as Two Hundred sent images projected onto the mist curtain in the throne room.  “It hasn’t been sneaking up on this settlement has it?” he whispered to Ilax.  The Lainz generals and the Officers of War from the Nadumon were all there watching as Two Hundred acquired the information they needed.  Terence stood off behind, his arms crossed. Alissa stood next to Terence, cuddling her winged zombie ferret.

Two Hundred was sending information to the Lin in Milar as well.  Only the Rumon were not part of their war, refusing to respond to any overtures from anyone.

“No… our FireDrakes have backed off because we didn’t want to let them shoot one down and find out that they’re constructed.”

“I know that,” Kyrus said.  “Those are real bush dragons then?” 

The image showed a large flock of sheep being driven out of a covered corral by a number of men, without the herd dog machine they’d seen before.   Far above, in the harsh blue sky, a flock of bush dragons flitted, ranging in age and size from barely flying and small to the old bull dragon who had the wingspan big enough to shade the whole flock below.

“Yes.” His radiance leaned on his cupped palm, watching.  “They don’t seem to realize that all that water they’re spreading around… their waste water alone brought that whole field of pitters out of dormancy early.”

“I guess they’re going to find out what pitters and bush-dragons are,” That was Hive Lord Sander.

*Don’t get caught, Two Hundred.*

A mental snort. *Not moving. Just recording and sending.*

The men were having trouble keeping the sheep moving.  The animals had more sense than the people and were not going to step into the multitude of tiny holes hidden in the grass they were supposed to be eating.  Little holes with a large set of lizard teeth hidden, spread wide, at the bottom.  The pitter field swept from the scar of the new road down to the flat that, once the river actually had enough water in it to flood, would be a flood plain.

The flock bunched up at the edge of the grass, milling about and baaing, balking, turning as though they were water, swirling back away from the edge. The men’s shouts were muffled through their masks, struggling to push the ewes forward into the fodder, without their ‘dog’ to help them.

"That's one of Prime's Immoderates," Terence spoke up, gesturing at the one man not helping herd sheep.

He sat on the back of a statue still metal horse. He had a dark grey uniform, with a matching filter mask and even if they couldn’t see his expression, he radiated boredom as he cradled some kind of weapon in his arms. The men on the ground were hard to see now, with the dust kicked up and they were coated head to foot with it.

"What's an Immoderate?"

"Fanatic.  First Class.  They're his bullies.  People are terrified of them."

The sheep broke around and back onto the road for the fourth or fifth time and the man on the horse finally moved.  He raised his weapon and even as one of the men on the ground cried ‘Don’t shoot!” There was a tremendous crack and everything began happening all at once.  The sheep scattered in all directions, including the pitter field and immediately began bouncing and leaping up into the air, screaming, shaking suddenly bloodied legs, some flinging the smaller lizards off them. A small, slow dragon, below the flock, blew into a hundred pieces even as the old bull seemed to realize where the threat to his flock was coming from and dove down on the men in the road, screaming fit to burst a man’s eardrums.

They were still mostly shrouded in dust so when the men on foot flung themselves flat, they nearly disappeared.  The uniformed man stood up in his stirrups, sighting carefully at the behemoth falling out of the sky on him.  Another crash and the bull’s charge fell apart as his head blew off and in his fall he dragged some of the other young bulls with him.  They crashed into the grass field with a sound like a water skin bursting on stone. A pattering of drips and pieces landed all around and it grew quiet as the sheep that had stampeded back to their barn and the ones that had struggled out of the grass and followed, after bleating and bleeding.  The flock of dragons had scattered when the bull fell out of the sky.

The man in uniform checked his weapon, buffed a bit of dust off the top of it with a sleeve, and sat down again on his horse.  “You Illiterates best round up all those sheep you lost,” he said.  “And we’ll find out what …” he gestured at the corpses in the grass that were twitching slightly as they were tugged at from below.  “…is in the grass.”

He turned to one of the men climbing to their feet.  "And who are you, to shout at me? To command me?"

The boy he chastised stood under the horse's nose and merely hung his head.  "No one, sir."

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