|Partial of a Don Davis concept of a torus spaceship such as |
Jeb and her people are looking forward to entering ...
There’s only an apprehensive sibilance as we wait, of people barely daring to whisper.
“Limber?” says Uncle Puma says at last.
“The creature brushed by me,” Limber says, broadcasting his voice over the whole scene. “I saw its darkness meld into the membrane. The membrane is still up. A visual disturbance only.”
We on the disk do not relax.
“What’s the problem?” Uncle Puma says. “Red-tail?”
He expected us to cheer? Red-tail ever so slowly raises the lantern to assess where we all are. “The disk is free and in a sort of balance. Lotor knows how it works. None of us feels safe enough move or talk.”
“I hear you. Thyal?” Uncle Puma says.
Is that Uncle Puma acknowledging his ignorance? It seems so.
“Thyal, is there something you and your group can do to stabilize the disk?” he says. Almost straightaway following it with, “No, I guess not …”
There’s something he isn’t saying.
One of the swans hissing for the other. I hear someone talking his way down the cliff. Limber and Uncle Puma perhaps lowering Lithe. Then there are murmurs, and … hissing, clicking and growls with the intonations of greetings.
What if the creatures from up haven’t changed back into their human shapes? Because what if transmogrification really isn’t real? I recall the podium in Reception. Everyone there in their totem-form. There must be something other going on? Mongoose, I need you.
“We’ll be needing this, probably?” There’s enough light from Red-tail’s lantern that I can see Isis rise into a crouch and reach past me. She picks up the life-suit.
Yes. A useful distraction.
The disk trembles as if in resentment. Everyone on board hisses for Isis to sit down.
“We need that suit for everyone to get an amulet,” I say loud enough for them all to hear. “I’ve heard that an airlock is the only way out of this disaster?” A cruel joke that has some people sitting up attentively. Perhaps they search the dark for the tell-tale outlines of the doors into safety.
Isis folds the blackened interior of the suit inward and rolls it up. It’s the parcel again. She shoves it in her gleaner bag.
I wonder whether there is enough space down below for four hundred people minus the dead? What will we do about the dead?
“There’s an airlock near where the alien went through the membrane,” someone says. “I remember seeing it before.” She gets up and starts into that direction. A couple more someones get up too and start to follow. People cheer them on.
The disk trembles and the cheering falters. Can it possibly be a reaction to a couple of people clambering about and a few more shouting?
I rise. I’m stressed and I shout in my turn. “We are still in the alien’s ship and we are still too many. Will it be dozens of people trying for an airlock in a minute? And without any chips as far as I know. Will the disk start to spin and fling us against the walls?”
The three droop—from shame I hope—and dropping to their hands and knees creep back to their groups.
Now Red-tail raises her voice. “The disk is badly balanced as we all know. But we need to get off. A single person only must scout a safe route for the many. I’m Red-tail, in charge of security in Chief Puma’s group. I’ll scout the route.”
Stopping any argument in its tracks by starting right away, she turns edge-ward and walks three paces into the direction where the disk is the lowest. She stops. Jumps a couple of times.
Some of us sitting moan when the disk vibrates under us.
“She’s testing for stability,” Isis says.
“Would’ve been good to know ahead of time?” I say. “Give me the bag? I can make a start getting the amulets loose?”
Isis chuckles, probably about my snippy tone. “The way we used to loosen corn from their cobs can be the way to loosen the amulets out of the skin-matrix. One hand on the outside of the bag kneading. One hand inside prying the amulets from their seating.”
She hands me her gleaner bag made from the usual two rectangles of cloth sewn together on three sides, in this case with straps that feel like …
“The straps are made of hair?” I’m surprised into saying.
“Horse hair,” Isis says. “Man of the Forest is a true scavenger and very handy with the needle.”
Flying horse hair that must be. And that was scavenged from the slopes of the mountain that the first villages encircled. Many strands are plaited together to make a sturdy thread that is woven through a mesh.
Caressing a satiny section, I see again the flying horse overcome by the silver. Red was the main color of that event. I shudder though it was a long way ago, back on Lotor. How far we’ve come without being safe.
I bandoleer the straps over my head and shoulder and start kneading the bag. Didn’t I decide that Kosi Lionhair is an amazing entity in her own right? That she probably would not entrust just the one copy of her pattern to any new situation?
I hope that’s the truth.