Saturday, May 24, 2014

23 - Tantrum



“Did you say… did you say that I’m too YOUNG?”  Her voice spiralled up.  “Just…a CONTENDER?!"

Kyrus and his bird settled down to the ground beside his father, dust kicking up, the smell of burning dust. “Siwion.” He tried to speak to the little girl sitting on her monster.

“SHUT UP!”

Her voice rose to a howl as she slid down the bony neck to stand in the shadow of the gate. “YOU’RE BAD! YOU’RE MESSY AND UNPREDICTABLE AND LIVING. I HATE YOU I HATE YOU YOU LIED YOU LIED YOU LI…”

As she screamed and stamped her feet, the dust and sand began to boil up around her, the canyon trembled slightly. All along the north rim, holes began to open in the cliff like pimples popping and spidery shapes began to emerge, bursting out of the rock.

The warbirds began to shriek and if they were on the ground tried to lunge to attack her, fighting their hoods, shaking their heads wildly, lifting their claws up and waving them toward her, even if they couldn’t see to direct their aggression. All the pilots had to seize control of the flightsticks and the FireDrakes came lashing up out of the muddy river and blasted straight to stop the bird-only flyers.

Her face over the veil grew red and her eyes squinted almost shut as she screamed and tiny bits of dust, all the dead things around the city began to coalesce around the bones of her horse-pony building on the bones growing spurs and claws and spikes.

The air shook and the Great Hive… flying in a silvery, glittering cloud, fell out of the sky, raining bees. The White Mountains, where the royal dead were buried, cracked and in the dust blowing up, shambling figures could be seen in the vortices surrounding them.  As she stamped, her monster stamped with her, all eight hooves scarring the road and the noise, the warbirds and the groaning rocks and faintly the screaming, terrified crowd made a maddening cacophony.

Kyrus could see her raise her hand and the mandery reaching out toward his father, clear in the dust. His da flung up a shield and then a second and a third as she burst through the first, reaching through to tear at his beating heart. 

Light and Dark, she’ll kill us all.  Kyrus ‘reached’ into code with his will and rather than creating a shield over them while the haboob roared over their heads, slapped a dome over the raging girl. For a moment silence crashed around them and then his control broke, even with Werfas and Hara flinging him assistance.  He couldn’t keep it down, closed.  She was connected too strongly with her monster.

His bird, Tzar, reached over and pushed the flight-stick into an almost straight up lunge as fast as he could, snapping Kyrus’s head back sharply.  “No, no, you stupid bird! I can lock her down!”

The horse monster, already double its size with added bone chips and bone dust reared up, waving enormous hooves over the gate.  It threw back its head and echoed her enraged screaming.  Out of the dust, Diryish’s gilded corpse staggered.  One of his legs had fallen off and he lurched on one leg, and his broken staff.  His eyes were missing.

Ilax and Kyrus raised a shield across the end of the bridge and braced themselves as the monster began trying to trample its way through, surrounded by the Lainz royal dead.

One woman, wrapped in her veil, stepped quietly out past the Emperor and his husband.  She looked up at the bone maelstrom on the other side of the constantly renewing shield.  “Your Radiance, could you drop your protection please?”  Even though her voice was quiet everyone heard her clearly.

It was enough to startle Alissa in mid-shriek and the horse paused, one hoof raised.  The High Teacher of the Lainz mandery school walked out underneath it, right up to the little girl.  Code work all around the city froze as if it were in the middle of the desert night, at the bottom of the canyon.  Everything paused, held in her hand. The corpses all around the Hippifrei girl crumbled into rotten bone and flesh or leathery piles or mere dust.

Mom, in mid-motion, to sweep people into the safety of her shell, stopped as well.  All her code functions shifted to passive mode and merely recorded.

Amardad raised one finger and said “Bad girl.”  The wind swirled around the bone horse and it diminished to the original size and configuration.  “That is quite enough.  You are abusing everyone’s culture here and you expect us to welcome you with open arms?”

As the wind around Alissa died down, she kept trying to scream but was only able to stamp her feet in silence. Amardad waited until she grew tired and finally stood still, looking bewildered.  “As His Radiance said, you are welcome to Lainz, but only if you obey the social contracts we hold with one another.  For instance, calling up our own dead…” she waved a hand at the heaps of corpses.  “… is beyond rude. How could you think that we would be impressed by your disrespect?"

As your teacher I will be requiring you to follow the rules of the school and you will be given a tutor to walk you through the proper laying to rest of our ancestors.  Until that point your access to code will be limited to this level. 
  
How could you treat your beloved horses that badly, child?  Are you capable of caring?”

Friday, May 23, 2014

22 - One Thing At a Time




“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.

“Princess!”

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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reasons

Hello everyone, I realize that I am again two posts behind.  These past two days I've been sitting by a friend who is back in the hospital, fighting a bad, bad form of cancer.  I may be with her again tomorrow.

I don't particularly like this part of my life... the hospital watches, the miles of crochet that emerge from under my hands, the hospital coffee... the smell and the sounds.  Hospitals are so discordantly noisy. Perhaps it is to prove that there is still life there, as opposed to the studied hush of funeral homes.

Oh, btw, when I go I'd like a Dixieland Jazz Marching band to play me out!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Back Cover Painting

Here is the back cover painting.  I finished it yesterday, in the back yard.  I'll be offline till the Tuesday after Victoria Day. (May 20th) 

Have a good week everyone!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

21 - No, You Two are Staying!




Into the quiet after Ilax’s wry comment, someone stepped out of the crowd in the Milari screen. It was Ilia, her brother Maks holding her hand.  “Konsiliarch, please excuse my interruption.”  She sounded much more grown up than her twelve years… no, Ilax reminded himself.  She was thirteen now and Maks was eleven.

“Papa.  We think that you and Haraklez are going to spend a lot more time in Lainz, and we don’t know how long it’s going to be before this war stuff is done.  Maks and I would like to come to Lainz too.” She took a deep breath and plunged on before he could answer.  “We know it’s dangerous but it’s just as dangerous here if Prime figures out that we’re here and there’s no place on this whole planet that isn’t in danger because Prime’s got the high ground –“

Ilax unlocked his teeth.  “You and your little brother are much safer where you are than with Hara and I!  You’re staying THERE!”

“Excuse me, Surdeniliarch.” The voice was from Trovi.  “I’m sorry to say that your child is correct.  There is nowhere on the planet that is safe from Prime.”

“Husband.” Ilax turned to Kyrus who leaned forward from the throne.  “I understand and I know that you desperately miss your children.” He glanced over at Ilia and Maks.  “You two don’t have to worry that you’re losing your father, chicks.  He mentions you every day, no matter what’s going on.”  He rolled his eyes and Maks giggled at his step father.  Ilia tried to keep a straight face.  “I have a suggestion.  We have the galleries set up at Vertical Falls for the new flock… and a whole new set of eggs who need keepers.  Why don’t we arrange to make it even more hidden that we have, and say that if any of our allies wish they will have a safer place to send their people.”

“AND YOU SAY YOU AREN’T GROWING YOUR DAMNED EMPIRE AT OUR EXPENSE!”  The bellow came out of the group of Nadumon.  “Our home is already destroyed and we’re squatting here on Lainz land, at Lainz’s mercy…”

“Shut up, Sven.” Head snapped.  “The Lainz gave us shelter when Prime showed us what he thought of our existence.  They have not asked for tribute, taxes or any kind of control of our lives.  In fact they’ve provided us space, food, water, shelter and we have been giving our research and development skills in return.  It is barter.  Perhaps you should have your therapist check into your blood balances to see what is causing this paranoia.”

Ilax looked from his husband to his Konsiliarch, now standing behind his children, glanced over at the Nadu Head and her man still nose to nose in the screen, then over at the Trovi.  His sigh was audible as he made the best of the situation. “We have a new project on the table and I, for one, do not feel that offering new warbirds and a safe space to everyone’s children and pregnant women and elders is a bad idea.  Ilia… when your big brother gets back to the city tomorrow, I’ll send him up to get you and he’ll be able to show you how to fly a warbird on a flightstick.”

He turned back to the Nadu screen, resolutely ignoring his children’s delighted squeals from Viltaria.  “Researcher Sven.  Perhaps we can talk about measures to reassure you…”

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

20 - She Wants to MARRY Me!




There was a long pause as Kyrus turned his stone back to look into it and realized that there was a conference of Hinnemon happening.  “Um… Father… she… she… excuse me honourable delegates… this little girl, she says she’s supposed to marry me!”  He panted, even as he crouched low over his bird’s back. His veils flapped and cracked in the wind as they flew. The warbird was honking and screeching at the bone horse on the ground.  The other warbirds were making all kinds of noises as they chased after Alissa on her mount.

“Excuse me… she say’s ‘are you my beloved’ and offers to kill all our birds so she can control them all perfectly!  Da, she’s she’s… um…”  He paused and swallowed as the wind howled through the connection with the speed they were travelling.

“Kraganzh,” the Konsiliarch said quietly.  “You mean to tell us that the Hippifrei brought their powerful mandering princess to us and then just left her?”

“Yes, Konsiliarch.  Da… they dumped her and ran as though they were afraid for their lives… what am I to do here?  She’s got a dead ferret as a pet and that horse of hers has at least two of her horse skeletons in that thing and bakons and sand sheets and any fakin’ bone she finds in the desert and... she wants to marry me and I'm not sure she'd rather just kill me and have my zombie corpse around to keep her happy...” His voice had been rising, filled with panic.

“Kraganzh!”  The title snapped out of the Milari crowd.

“Yes, Zon!”  He responded automatically.  “Zon Belina!”  She had been his ‘clinery teacher, even after they’d realized that he was mostly a ‘mander.  He still had some talent in the other direction and the Milar wouldn’t let that go untrained.

“Stop filling yourself up with this panic,” she said, tartly.  “Breathe.”

“Yes, Zon.”

“Why on earth would the Hippifrei throw this girl at us like this?”  The voice came out of the mass of Milari councillors.

“Well…” Ilax’s voice was thoughtful.  “Perhaps they don’t have anyone strong enough to control her and they’re hoping we do.”

“Why wouldn’t they just ask us, if that’s the case?” Kyrus’s voice was plaintive, wondering.  “We would have offered to help.”

He blinked at everyone’s stares.  “Well, we would have.”

“Love,” Ilax said gently.  “People are still reacting as if your grandfather… the controlman extraordinaire… was on that throne.”

The Hive, feeling Kyrus’s distress came pouring down to flow down over his head and shoulders and lap, trying to help him be calm.  “You mean that I’m the ‘na├»ve paladin’ rather than the ‘ruthless Emperor?’  He tried to make it a joke but there was too much reality in it to make it one.

“Yes, husband,” Ilax said.

“Da!  Stepfather!  I need advice RIGHT NOW!  I can’t just keep trying to catch this girl, we’re coming into the city, at this speed it will be tomorrow that we get there and she’s going to whip the pants off us with that monster of hers…”

“Son!”

Kyrus’s frantic words cut off.  “Yes, Da?”

“We’ll be ready for her.  We’ll find someone who can shut her down if she tries to kill and control anyone.  We did it before and we’ll do it again.  This time without killing the necromander.  You’re doing well to let us know.  We’ll have some chance to prepare.  Keep on… you and Werfas and everyone else.  You’re doing fine… Call her and tell her you’ll have tea for her… that she needs to rest.  Many children don’t realize how tired they are until they stop moving.  Try it.  If it doesn’t work, grit your teeth and endure.  We’ll take over when you get here.”

“Thanks, Da.  Thanks.  I’m tired Da… but I’ll bring her in.”

“You keep yourself safe, boy.”

The click when Kyrus the Younger signed off, was loud.  For a long moment there was only the sound of the Hive in the room before one of the Trovi plaintively asked, “Why do problems need to keep coming at us in waves?  Couldn’t we just have them one at a time?”

Ilax couldn’t see who started laughing first, but the wave of laughter rolled through the room and out the mist curtains.  “It’s always the way councilwoman, councilman… Problems come in packs and troops and herds.”