Petrolea 9d

Victor looked at the blimp of bloated malevolence squatting on the ruins of human life on Petrolea. “Uh…”

She made an impatient noise. “The cannons cannot fire straight up. The Fusillade Wyrms would hit the hot air cowlings.”

“What kind of worms? You mean the cannon-ball creatures?” Victor glanced at his readouts. He didn’t have enough oxygen to make it back to the aerie, even if they could escape. “No. I get it. Okay. But what then? We can’t just hover over the damn Leviathan’s back.”

“We can land on it.”

“Are you kidding? What if there are worse things riding it? Cannon-ball creatures. Other kinds of epiphytes?”

“The word is ‘symbionts,'” she said, “or ‘parasites.’ Or just ‘commensals.’ And yes. I plan to feed them to her.” She patted the Dragon’s side. “You hear that? I will feed you. Good food.”

“I don’t think talking to it will make any difference. It’s as likely to eat you as anything.”

The Dragon ducked under another volley of high-velocity death.

“She will only eat me if you let her. Does the code in her behavioral processor show any tendency to regard me as food?”

“You mean her runtime environment, or active processes, or behavior cue?”


“Never mind. The answer is no, and I can delete or overwrite the command when it appears,” said Victor. “But I can’t tell her where to land.”

“I can tell her where to land.”

“How?” He still did not want to go anywhere near that horrible Leviathan.

“By example. Make it let go of me,” Feroza said. “Victor, the factors. Make them let go.”

“But you’ll fall.”

Feroza turned to meet his eyes. “The Dragon will catch me.”

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