Petrolea 17b

More warnings as the juvenile Dragon spread his little wings and engaged his jet engines. Hot streams of exhaust bracketed Feroza’s body, pointing downward at the onrushing protectors of the crater. One large Dragon veered away from those columns of hot gas, but another opened its jaws, pilot light flaring at the end of its flame-thrower.

It was gone in a bright burst of sparks and a dark blur of tangled metal. Feroza looked up to see her would-be attacker fall, while the mother Dragon looped around to defend her children.

They passed over the edge of the crater in a cage of fire.

“They’re going to kill the mother Dragon,” said Victor. “We have to do something to help her.”

Feroza’s heart was thumping too fast to be warmed by her lover’s devotion to Petrolean wildlife. “The question is ‘how do we deactivate this alarm system?'”

“You mean,” said Victor, “how do we make friends with the other Dragons?”

The mother Dragon belched flame into the face of an onrushing attacker.

“That’s one possibility,” Feroza said, “but is there any way you can get your slave factors into those other Dragons?”

“My slave factors have been compromised. The clean ones are all back on…the…Leviathan. Okay,” he said, “I have an idea.”

Feroza could guess what it was. But it would take time for the giant mechanoid to arrive, and while Victor was working on hacking their behavioral code from the inside, she would work from the outside.

She looked down, past her feet and the columns of exhaust to the up-thrust noses of the rockets below. “What would an alien overlord do?”

Victor’s answer was a deafening blast of white noise from his Radio Tick. An electromagnetic roar designed to carry his message to the other side of Saturn.

Every flying thing in the Petrolean sky converged on him.

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