There was suddenly a profound silence, both on the moon and the planet below. All the shooting stopped. The planet seemed to relax and the geysers blowing millions of gallons of water into the atmosphere ceased.
Without the superheated steam overloading the atmosphere, here and there drops precipitated out and with a roar that overwhelmed even the wind, the water fell out of the air and everywhere there was a hot rain.
Rain was too gentle a word for the water falling. A deluge perhaps. A waterfall yanked out of the sky to crash onto the sand below. Darcy and the others didn’t have time to do more than cover their heads before they got hit with a storm that was wilder than anything they’d ever seen, and then in a handful of minutes, it was over. The clouds had fallen down and the sun shone in a completely empty blue sky.
“Succession witnessed.” Legal Machine 8 said. “All personnel under long term, multi-generational contract with Perrin Thurmontaler III please review and renew.”
The new Font of all Knowledge, who looked very much like his old father, stood with a girl… a young woman, who had fought with him to overcome Perrin III. “All Immoderates, stand down. Return to the garage here. Per.” He turned to where Kyrus’s image was fading as the Great Hive reorganized. “Per, I understand the lawsuit and I reviewed the data. You are – all of you – co-owners of this planet and we have to meet to discuss what is to happen to it and to all of us.” Kyrus’s image shrank till only his shoulders and head showed.
“We will call you, Xanadu,” was all he said before Ilax apparently caught him and the image winked out.
“I’m pleased to meet you,” the CEO said, and sat down on one of her fallen pieces of luggage, as Mom came limping through the veil, holding Station’s main brain carefully in one of her claws.
“And I you, Per Indux,” the new Prime said, using the Galactic gender neutral formal address. The CEO smiled at him and let him raise her to her feet. He indicated the young woman next to him. “Per, may I present my daughter, Jessica?”
She shook hands and they smiled the company smiles at one another before Jess turned to her father. “While you see our guest settled, I can speak to the Captain of the Marines, and the heroic machine that saved Station for us.”
“Please do.” He offered the CEO his arm and escorted her past the smoldering throne tipped sideways on the floor. “My father’s funeral, for this body, must be arranged and his legal status as a discorporate entity in the planetary network has to be fixed.”
Terence stepped out of Mom’s open hatch, shaken, rumpled, nauseated and still managed his best bow, sweeping his much abused top hat from his head. “Prema, ah, Per,” he stammered at the new Heir. She smiled at him as she tucked Station into her pocket.
“Tech. I am certain we shall be properly introduced later. There’s a huge amount of damage we have to fix and I am certain I shall need your assistance, especially speaking to these new owners that we had no idea were there.”
“Per, I shall certainly do my best.”
The Immoderates, in their combat suits, set their floyalni, or flyers just inside the veil, nervous and uncertain of how to proceed. The shuttles popped their hatches and two units of marines trotted out to confiscate their guns so they didn’t shoot the wrong individual and herd them into the Station itself.
“Tech I shall request linkage with your brainseed to finish my trial records,” Legal Machine 8 said and the armed shuttles withdrew their guns and the hatches hide them away with a faint click.
Darcy sat up in the warm puddle, dazed by the sheer weight of water that had fallen on him. All around others were groaning and rolling over, sitting up, re-settling their filter masks.
“What’s that sound?” Someone asked. There was this odd, hissing, swishing thundering noise and Darcy shaded his eyes from the glare of the sun, squinting.
The first thing he saw was that everything was wet, flooded even. The river was full, overfull he thought. Water lapped almost to the bottom-most field of lifeweed, over the grassland where he’d cleared the lizard predators, muddy and brown and roiling and full of swimming, drowning, bobbing lizards, swaths of biomat ripped loose, plants ripped up by the roots running over… there.
There was water.
It was dirty, muddy, sandy and probably toxic, full of garbage, but the sun glinted off it blindingly white and further away it was blue. The sky was a different blue, the horizon was blue. His eyes watered as the sun glanced off the tops of wild waves higher than… higher than anything he’d ever seen before… like the old fantasy recs of Earth. Waves with white and foaming heads throwing themselves… it looked like they were throwing themselves around as, for the first time, there was a planetary ocean. The hissing thumping, moaning and creaking noises were the waves, pounding on the shore for the very first time.
“I think it’s called a sea,” Darcy said.