Thursday, August 14, 2014

55 - Inspection

The School of Mandery and Clinery was lit from top to bottom, glowing like an eyebleed flower on top of its stalk, but then most of the city was lit and the comforting scent of beeswax lamps and the gentle warmth from the wax filled columns filled the air.

The lights were on as almost everyone was awake, except for people who were ill, or lost in code, watching the lin screens.  They watched on tiny mist screens in what had been the poorest and lowest parts of the city.  They gathered in groups of streets, watching in gathering halls and plazas on stone screens.

Up and down the canyon, people gathered to watch.  The Milari came together in their war-schools, the yearly snows already beginning to fall.  The Trovi gathered on the stilt-raised market places in the delta. The Nadumon gathered in the centre of their new stone city.

All of them watching, sitting in the night, realizing that their images from the moon might, at any moment cease.

Surely Prime noticed a meteor slamming into his new welcome centre for this off planet Radiance CEO fellow.  Surely Mom couldn’t have survived that impact.  Surely the Xanadu man and the Hippifrei princess were smeared to a thin paste on the inside of Mom’s shattered hull.  The murmuring flowed across Hinnemon as people feared the worst.  Then the mutter of less panicked voices rose.  Terence must still be alive, since images were still coming from the moon.

Somehow, someone had recording devices outside the Station, showing the plowed trench of destruction through the ice-sculpture garden surrounding the station itself.  The images were stationary, grainy,  minimal amounts of video information being transmitted.  The images showed two objects… neatly labelled in the image as ‘armed shuttles’, emerging from the underice garage and soar up into the moon’s sky, out of the frame.

Then they circled back, hovered over the beginning of the crash trench.  The path dug deeper and deeper into the ice, white fading almost instantly down to blue and dark blue, right at the base of Station the broken shards from the wall above had filled in the hole, burying Mom in a mound of white, bits of ice tower, shards of ice dyed red or green or blue or tawny gold.

The shuttles tracked the whole length of the trench, their passage shaking more damaged ice loose as they tracked low over the length of the crash site.  Then they zoomed up and away again, zipping into the garage at a speed that showed Station was in control, rather than any human hand on their controls.  The door closed. There was no movement for a very long time.

The garage door opened once more and several hundred small machines, that looked like a plain box set on the same number of legs as an oyuk had, though they were longer and thinner making their bodies shimmer and dance above they ice as they swarmed the damage and began clearing away the mess and repairing the ice, misting water vapour onto the surface to smooth and harden it once more.

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