Thousands of light years away from Earth in another arm of the Milky Way is the world of Ice-Callis, settled by the Feetjie, who were fleeing from an unstable sun. Finding an empty world they transformed it to make it suit their requirements. To enable them to do this they created the Saitek from an ape-like creature that lived in the forests to serve them.
Here they built their city of Ixias and turned the empty world into a paradise.
When a shift in the suns path took them out of a dust filled nebulae it caused a great melt and the city sank beneath the waves. The Feetjie froze time in Ixias until a new ice-age began. When the waters receded a hundred thousand years later, they found that the race that they had created had a vision of their own and had filled Ice-Callis with their own people. They had discovered freedom.
The Feetjie found that they were forgotten, except in legends.
To save the planet from destruction they had to convince them that the city needed the Saitek children to be gathered and educated to the Feetjie scientific standards. Once this was accomplished they would once more work with and for the elder race.
Still in orbit was the transporter section of the city and somehow this had to be made operational to move the city and allow certain tectonic plates to move or the world of Ice-Callis would become sterilized by volcanic action.
The Rise of Ixias.
Leaving an exploding sun behind us, we found a world locked in ice at both poles. It was during this great Ice Age we settled here and built the first city. We called this new world Ice-Callis and our city, Ixias. It was ours to do with as we wished and by genetic manipulation we made it ours.
We, the Feetjie came here and landed on this world at the dawn of its history. We were unchallenged, as intelligence had not yet evolved on this wild and untouched new home. In the forests of this place, creatures swung from tree to tree and showed some promise of improvement by genetic manipulation. We were few and needed workers that could take instruction. These creatures had apposable thumbs and hands that could be improved by selective breeding. They already had begun to use rudimentary tools and with our help, soon mastered the art of fire. After a thousand years had gone by they had become totally changed and now all stood upright and were capable of speech.
They became the Saitek, servants to the Feetjie and knew no other life. Together we turned the world of Ice-Callis into a place of plenty. The race of beings that we created increased in intelligence by selective breeding. They built their own cities and towns inland, but always remained in awe of us. We were called the Dream-Masters as we could control them with our minds. We are practically immortal and can slip from body to body whenever we felt the need. We had evolved into creatures of the mind, existing inside any living thing with enough brain matter to dominate, but able to enjoy fleshly pursuits. Masters of genetic manipulation, we enjoyed living as dragons in the genetically produced creatures of our creation. The Saitek worshipped us as the Gods we were.
The narrow band of temperate climate gave enough to feed all by careful management. At each pole of the world, the ice-caps had surged towards the equator and formed glaciers miles deep across the lands, burying whole mountain chains. This kept the seas in check. Winters could be harsh close to the glaciers, but spring, summer and autumn in the temperate lands brought forth abundance. As time went on, we settled only the coastal areas, as inland the mountains were permanently wreathed in snow and ice. We lived apart and the Saitek built their own ports and cites on the plains, leading up to the ice-caps. As there were always so few of us and we preferred our own company only a few Feetjie cities were built and the greatest of these was Ixias.
Not all of the Saitek obeyed the dictates of our rule, becoming ungrateful and tried to form opposition to our regime. We hunted them for sport, but their breeding rate was high and they spread out to fill the empty lands. When one of them killed one of our dragon riders with a poisoned spear we destroyed the settlement and the valley that supported them. The Feetjie returned to her body, but the dragon perished. We dropped one end of a worm-hole down to the ground and opened the other in deep space. Everything inside the valley was sucked into the vacuum, right down to the bedrock.
We were mighty and feared by those who would take what was ours, but time passed and the great ice shields melted. Steadily the seas rose and would cover the city of Ixias under a mile of water. Knowing this, we locked the city in time before it drowned and retired to the breeding pits to wait for the ice to return and the seas to recede.
Now the ice builds up once more and the spires of that great city can be seen rising from the depths. Buried in stasis, lay the Old Lords of this world, long forgotten, but waiting to return, safe in the knowledge that the star’s path through the cosmos would bring the ice back again. What was will be again and dragon-kind will lift us once more in the ancient powers. What is not covered in ice will once again be ours.
Hundreds of Thousands of years had passed since those days and those early years of domination became myth. A new world was born. The great melt had begun. As the ice retreated and new lands uncovered from the ice, the barbarians of the southern lands became civilised and learnt to master their inheritance, as the former slaves took possession of the new lands. What was once buried under ice began to bloom as rain fell in areas that had been dry for centuries. Forests sprung up and deserts were created due to the shifting weather patterns.
As predicted by the Feetjie, a great change eventually took place, as the star and its attendant planets began a long journey through the remnants of a nebula and vast clouds of dust began to darken the sun. The star that gave life to the system began to ‘suffer’ sun-spots and that also dropped the temperature of the sunlight being emitted.
The weather altered and it became much colder and as the ice sheets extended their grip again, forests died and grasslands flourished. Life adapted and evolved great herds that filled the plains. Carnivores flourished on this meat rich bonanza and also evolved to meet the challenge. Farms failed as they were buried in ice and the Saitek cities starved while conflicts grew as the descendants of the barbarians were pushed by hunger into warfare. Arable land became scarce and was ruthlessly guarded from raiding bands.
The fragile arts of technology became harder and harder to keep as survival took precedent over all else. The universities and schools became ruins in the snow. New coastlines emerged from the depths of the sea and ancient derelict buildings of the Saitek began to thrust into the salt-laden air, covered in sea-weed. The new lands that became uncovered were barren, as they had soaked in salt for hundreds of thousands of years. As the ice moved towards the equator, what used to be deserts became savannas and bit by bit became new forests. Through these lands a new kind of barbarian laid claim, grubbing through their own ruins and scavenging what they could find. Bit by bit, salt-hardy plants colonised the new exposed areas and new evolved animals took up residence. As the seas shrank, the effect of the double moons decreased and the tides became much less fierce and the seas calmer.
Steadily more and more of the ancient drowned cities of the Saitek began to emerge from the depths, but the effects of time had robbed them of any majesty. Meanwhile the ancient mechanisms at Ixias began to gather power from solar panels now bathed in sunshine. Soon the time stasis generators would switch off, but not until the solar panels had stored enough power to run the city and protect it. The towers and buildings of Ixias remained untouchable to the curious Saitek that had journeyed along the new shoreline scavenging for what they could find. Any attempt to get too close, rendered the person eons old and they fell into dust. All living creatures suffered the same fate and had learnt to keep away from the emerging city. Inside the ‘bubble’ roads could be seen and the city had not aged one day during all the time that it had been submerged, unlike the old cities of the Saitek that had become homes to the denizens of the deeps. What had adapted to live inside the damp corridors and rooms were far too dangerous to remove.
What had once been coastline became coastline again as the edge of the continental shelf once again defined the land from the seas. The world of Ice-Callis was reborn and the Lords of Splendour became aware. These were the Dream-masters of legend, long forgotten except in myth and buried temples emerging from the seas. High above in eccentric orbit, the two moons Tooth and Claw danced their strange duet. Tooth orbited closer to the planet and the other, far enough away as to not collide. It was only when they came into conjunction close together that they raised the tides on Ice-Callis.
In the breeding pits of Ixias the Feetjie began to move as time once more relinquished its grip on the city. The A.I. that ran the city informed all of them the length of time that had transpired. This was quickly accepted by the Dream-Lords and interest became invoked throughout the throng. A quick check of all functions took place and all found that they were exactly as they were before being placed in stasis. Many of them decided then to place their bodies into suspended animation chambers and enter into partnership with the riding dragons at their disposal and explore the new world that had emerged from the depths of the sea over the last thousand years.
The Rise of Ixias.
The interstellar ship that had brought the Feetjie to Ice-Callis had become derelict over the years that it had remained in orbit. As the sun had moved into the dust cloud of the nebulae, the continual impact of meteorite bombardment had eventually proved too much for the defense systems on board to cope with. Now the ship was no longer powered up and the security of the vessel compromised. Once the Saitek had the ability to reach the intriguing puzzle that their telescopes had found long ago, they did so. A hundred thousand years in orbit had robbed the vessel of all protection. Early attempts to board the vessel had activated isolation mechanisms that had swiftly destroyed the inquisitive visitors. A careful watch was kept of the vessel and the occasional probe impelled towards the enigma to test its defences. After a particularly dense shower of high speed chunks of metallic substances sent a firework display throughout the skies, it was noticed that the next probe launched, reached the vessel without mishap. After scanning the approaching dust cloud, a quiet span of involvement was perceived and a manned vessel sent to have a look at the orbiting puzzle. They found a great deal that they could not understand and to their frustration it was impossible to power up the devices left on board. One thing was apparent and that was there was only the rear of the vessel in orbit. The rest of it must be somewhere on the Saitek planet. The other thing that became obvious was that this part of the interstellar vessel was incredibly old and predated written history.
Many items were taken apart and taken back to the home-world for further study, but the increasing bombardment outside of the atmosphere made it impossible to return. Before any investigation was able to take place the great freeze began as the star moved into a denser part of the nebulae’s dust cloud. Snow began to fall incessantly burying unharvested crops under deep drifts and the polar caps began the slow and steady increase towards the equator engulfing cities in their wake. Civilisation collapsed in less than a hundred years.
The first thing that the Feetjie did once the time stasis field shut down was to check on the possibility of the parent vessel still having its weapon system intact. No matter what the Ixias A.I. tried, there was no response and it had to pass on the news to its masters. Everything inside the stasis bubble had remained intact and working at maximum capacity. There was enough food and stocks to last a century, locked in stasis fields in a far superior state to being frozen.
It was time to assert the Feetjie’s authority over this emerging world and the dragon riders set forth.
Mae’n settled herself into the suspended animation chamber and felt the pipes gently intrude into her body. She reached out with her mind and contacted Shrill, feeling the echo of her mind in hers. They became one and Mae’n/Shrill flexed her wings and stood up on her hind feet. By her side was a male, known as Bellow, ridden by Canu’t and their minds blended, melded and fused into communication. Other dragons were being symbiotically linked with their compatible riders and soon the dragon pens were empty as the Feetjie took to the air and started to explore this new world.
“Fly and let us see what this new world has to offer,” Canu’t thoughts rang in the mind of Mae’n and one bronze male and one green female dragon took to the skies.
Much had changed since we had frozen time and the rich farmlands were now covered in a salty wasteland, overgrown with plants that we could not recognise. Using the dragon’s exceptional eyesight we searched for signs of intelligent life and found that there were indeed traces of overgrown roads that led from the sea to the interior. We saw a herd of pig-like animals scatter and one was pulled down by a predator that had ambushed them from the tangled undergrowth. It definitely looked reptilian and we noticed that it had driven the herd towards another of its kind, waiting flat to the swampy ground. These creatures had the intelligence to work together. They might make interesting subjects to mentally control in the arena. We signaled to our dragons to drop down and take one each from the herd and retired to the back of their minds to think about what we had just witnessed. We enjoyed the meal with Bellow and Shrill as they tore apart the kills. There is no greater sensation than to feel the mind slip away from the prey as the warm bloody chunks slide down the throat of a dragon. Their sensory equipment had been enhanced long ago by our genetic manipulation of their species to our mutual satisfaction. Now we needed to find the creatures that we designed long ago and see what changes time had wrought! We left the reptilians feeding soon far behind, as we circled up into the sky, always following the primitive roads that had been hacked out of the salt-marsh. In the far distance we could see a river winding through the lands and emptying into the sea. Clustered around the mouth of the estuary were buildings several stories high. We could see that they were built on the exposed ruins of a previous civilization. Underneath the makeshift buildings a key of finely dressed stone could be seen.
Canu’t connected his thoughts to Mae’n and said, “That is all that remains of our fishing port of Arius. At least the Saitek have cleaned the stonework and made use of what was there before. I can see that the port is busy. Look at the sailing ships anchored there. They are using wind power to move the wooden vessels. How far back has their civilization regressed?”
“We need to take one of them away from curious eyes and take from their minds the language that they use,” Mae’n replied, hovering in the sky well above the simple port.
A good distance away from the buildings a number of the Saitek were labouring in the fields. They were walking in front of a large cart and digging out some kind of root. This they placed into the cart that was being dragged through the mud by a large four legged beast, controlled by one of the smaller of the people.
Dropping from the sky, Canu’t pointed to one of them that was some distance from the main party and allowed Bellow to swoop down from behind with his hind claws extended. Mae’n gave a shrill scream that made the workers look up to where she was hovering some way above the cart. Canu’t took that opportunity to snatch the larger worker from his companions before he could dodge the onslaught. Bellow carefully tightened his grip on the terrified Saitek and flapped his wings to take him aloft. High above the field the Feetjie plundered his mind and ignored the stream of urine and excrement pouring from the captured creature. All of his knowledge and past history was available to Canu’t, including his uncomplicated language.
He forced his mind into the receptive area of his brain and spoke as though he were speaking into his ears and said in his language, “Do not struggle or I may drop you. I mean you no harm as long as you are obedient. I am Canu’t a dream-master come back from ancient times to rule this world. These dragons are not their own master, but part of US. I will not explain more to you as you will not understand. The great city of Ixias has risen from the receding sea and a new time has come. We are the Feetjie and it would seem long forgotten in your culture. I will instil certain facts into you puny brain and you can spread the news that more of us will be coming, to see all of the lands locked between ice and sea. We created this world and ruled it once. We will rule it again. There is much to be done and generations of work to be accomplished. All will bend their knee to Ixias with no exception.”
Canu’t/Bellow sank gently through the air and dropped the Saitek onto the mud by the cart. He then gained height without a backward glance, re-joining Mae’n high above them and turned to their left to follow the river into the cultivated lands. Settlements began to appear grouped around crossroads and finally they saw a city emerging from the forests that stretched in all directions. Once again Canu’t dropped out of the sky and snatched a female picking fruit from a tree in the garden of her house. Again he stripped knowledge from her unresisting mind and felt her die of terror in his talons. He let Bellow and Shrill tear her apart and feed on the corpse. Terrified eyes watched from the windows of the house as her teenaged son hid from the awesome visitors and lay upon the floor, silent. He stared at the impossible sight of these two reptilian creatures as they stood on their hind legs with their wings folded and supporting them from the ground. They looked like giant bats crossed with some kind of reptile. Nothing like them had ever been seen by the Saitek living in this time. They were three times the height of a man and Jud felt that there was something about them that denoted intelligence. He moved and knocked over a stool and the green dragon lifted her head towards the sound. He felt the questing sense of another mind in his and did something that he had never done before. He shut her out, but not before he had absorbed some of the creature’s memories inside its mind!
The Rise of Ixias.
He had visions of the civilisation that had flourished long ago and the place of the Saitek in that time. Jud vowed that he would have his revenge on these parasitic creatures that could inhabit or mentally control their subjects. What he had just done, he could not understand or control as yet. All he understood was that it had been an instinctive reaction to shut her out. There were a few of the Saitek that could read each other’s minds. They were treated with a certain amount of hostility by those who did not have this gift. Mistakenly the ‘ungifted’ believed that all their secrets were there to be able to be read by those telepaths that had been foolish enough to try to explain. There were limitations to the gift. Non-telepaths could not be read by a Saitek telepath. This was what had surprised Jud the most that he could read the minds of whatever was controlling the dragons. He had been all too aware that the Feetjie had easily ripped the information from his mother’s mind with ease. Jud clamped down on the barrier and ‘peeped’ into the creature that had caused his mother’s death. He was aware that there were two minds inhabiting the reptilian creature, one subservient to the other. The controlling mind was awesome in its power and Jud withdrew without letting him know that he had been ‘read.’ As he lay upon the floor he processed what information that the ‘Dream-Master’ had inadvertently passed on to the descendant of the Feetjie slaves.
He now knew that the controlling mind was known among his people as Canu’t and the dragon that he was using was called Bellow. In a few moments Jud had absorbed the true history of his world and the facts about the Saitek race who had inherited everything after the great melt that had submerged the Feetjie city of Ixias and the lowlands to the old sea coast. He clenched his three fingered hands in futile anger, pressing his green thumbs together and tightening his control of the mental barrier.
Both dragons then launched themselves into air and made their way towards the Saitek city of New Ironbound leaving the farm behind.
Jud stood up and stared through the glass window at the two great beasts heading towards the city. He was shaking with shock and fear as he made his way outside. There was nothing left of his mother, except the bloodstains beneath the fruit tree that she had been picking and the upturned woven basket that had spilled the fruit over the ground. He dropped to his knees and wept as he clutched the basket to his chest. There was nothing that he could do except to wait for his father to return from planting the curly-beans in the lower field. It would take some time to walk the distance from the newly ploughed field back to the farmhouse.
Meanwhile Jud sent a clarion mental call to the small group of similarly ‘gifted’ friends in the city. It took a few moments before the six of them linked up and Jud sent all of the details that he had picked out of the Feetjies’ minds, including the horror that had unfolded at the farm.
Jud then gave this advice, continuing to send his thoughts to his friends in the city and said, “When they come, tell everyone to offer no resistance and shield your thoughts behind a barrier so that they will not know of your abilities. They have no compassion and look upon us as slaves that will pick up from where they left off, before the great melt drowned their city of Ixias. They have been down there under the water for countless years locked in time stasis. They have mastered sciences that we could not possibly understand. Those old cities that have emerged from the seas were once ours and we managed this world for them. We did anything they required, without question.
Killing their dragons will not kill them! They will remain safe inside their city and their retribution will be a thing of horror. So spread the word as best you can and bend the knee to them when they come. Goodbye, I see my father coming over the rise. There is much that I have to tell him.”
The stink of sulphur hung in the air above the outskirts of the city as the furnaces of New Ironbound were busy with smelting the iron ore that was dug locally. This city was the main supplier of raw cast iron and steel for the continent that straddled the equator. It stood on the boundary between what had once been sea coast and the land. The mines that produced the ore were located underneath what had once been sea bottom. The processed ore was shipped downriver and loaded onto the big sailing ships to be taken to other towns on the new coast. All this was considered by the two Feetjie as they flew over the Saitek city. Many faces turned towards the sky as Canu’t and Mae’n hovered over them. Fortunately both Bellow and Shrill were busily digesting their kills, so were uninterested in feeding on the audience below that were filling the streets. The Feetjie directed their dragons to land on a green space in the city that had been made into a park. As they spiralled down, the majority of the bystanders disappeared back into the buildings and hid.
Long ago when the Feetjie had genetically engineered the dragons to be compatible, they had made alterations in their vocal chords so that they could be used to speak with the Saitek. During the shaping of the Saitek into usable tools they had bred for intelligence and psychic ability so that it was easy to overpower the lesser minds of their slaves.
Whilst the majority of the race had bred true, over the thousands of years, some of the Saitek had evolved further than the Feetjie had intended. These individuals tended to partner and bring more enhanced children into being. These kept themselves secret from the ‘ordinary’ people and kept to themselves. The news of the emergence of the city of Ixias was rapidly sent from telepath to telepath across the continent so wherever the dragons showed themselves they were not attacked. To do this the enhanced Saitek had to ‘come out’ of the shadows and convince the local authorities that what they had told them was true. Not all of them listened and believed, so that when a pair of dragons appeared in the sky above them, they let loose with a hail of arrows that just dapped off the dragons’ scales. Retribution was swift and merciless, leaving a few still alive to tell others of their fate.
Radio operators were hastily tapping out messages through the communication systems, warning those who had no telepathic warning to not harass any of the flights of dragons filling the skies.
Canu’t and Mae’n dropped onto the springy turf and stared around at the small expanse of green to wait for someone to approach them. There were ornamental trees loaded with pink blossoms and many different flowering plants dotted about the green. The Feetjie could appreciate beauty when they saw it and even though this was an industrial city, time had been spent in deflecting some of the ugliness of the steelworks and attendant factories.
“The Saitek have prospered in our absence if they have time to plant trees and plants to give colour to this city,” Canu’t said using the dragon’s vocal chords to speak to Mae’n in the local dialect.
She reared up on her hind legs to get a better view of the people that were warily approaching the pair and shouted, “Come closer servants of the Feetjie and recognise your returned masters!”
Canu’t also reared up to survey the terrified crowd and added to the statement of Mae’n, “Those of you that have approached us with weapons in your hands will die today if you do not drop them immediately.”
This evinced a sudden disposal of swords, clubs, bows and arrows throughout the crowd. Every green hand suddenly became empty of any piece of malice towards the visitors and all that stood there found that discretion was the better part of valour. The chief administer of the city reluctantly walked forwards to stand before the two dragons that towered above him, three time his size.
He stood before them trembling with fear, remembering what a telepath informant had told him and said, “We do not know you. We have never seen the like of you before so do not understand the strange things that you have said. The Saitek are a free and peaceful people and bow the knee to no-one. We do not understand your declaration about being our masters! We have no masters!”
Canu’t lent forwards to the level of his face and replied, “I will give you the chance to live. The sea has retreated and our city of Ixias is now above the waves. We made this world as it is today. We came here long ago when the icecaps covered the world as it is today. This world we found empty of any intelligent beings. We turned it into a paradise and created your ancestors from the creatures that lived in the forests by using sciences that you could not understand. You were designed to serve us and to manage this world for us. We made you.
I will place certain facts into the minds of those who have come out of hiding and stand here. Those of you touched in this manner will spread the news. There will be no resistance from any of you, or the retribution that will follow will be an object lesson to you all.”
There was a stunned silence as the knowledge of the ancient past lodged into the minds of those most receptive and some began to weep.
The Rise of Ixias
Canu’t and Mae’n released the dragons from their control with just a few instructions of importance. One of which was not to eat or attack any of the Saitek, or their livestock and apart from that they were free to do as they wished hunting whatever crossed their paths, as they returned to the dragon pens at Ixias. The cocoons drained of fluid while the feeding and waste pipes withdrew from each orifice. Artificial stimulation took place, invigorating flaccid muscles that had not been used for over a week.
As the lid opened on the immersion capsules, both Feetjie swung all three legs from the grip of the form-fitting apparatus and onto the floor. They stood firm, enjoying the sensation of sure stability as they became tripedal organisms instead of bipedal. Canu’t extended his upper set of arms to support Mae’n as she stumbled for a moment. The eye-stalks at the side of his head swiveled round to stare at her and he opened his center, infra-red sensitive ‘eye’ to check on Mae’n’s whole body temperature.
“Be steady Mae’n. I think that the cocoon was faulty. Not all of your waste products have been removed and your blood is showing overheating throughout your inner organs. I will have it serviced and upgraded and the one responsible flogged. Make your way to the medical section and have your blood filtered. I will wait until you are purged and only then call a meeting of the high council to decide what our next actions will be.”
He turned to a lower rank Feetjie and shouted, “You! Take the Lady Mae’n to the medical section to have her blood purged. Then find the technician responsible for the maintenance of the cocoons and have him brought to me!”
With that, he scuttled off in the direction of the control tower fuming with anger. There was much for him to inspect and to be sure that all was working throughout the city of Ixias after freezing time for so long. As he thought about the failure of Mae’n’s cocoon to fully maintain her vital signs while they were Dragon-bound his rage simmered down to a more reasonable worry, that some deterioration had taken place over the thousands of years the city had been in stasis, deep under the sea.
He dropped into his apartment and changed his clothing. He wrapped a metallic skirt around his waist that would touch the ground when he collapsed his front legs and the powerful back one, to control stability. Over the top he wore a blouse of blue showing his rank amongst his race. Pinned to this was his seal of office as ‘Servant’ to the high council. Mae’n lived with him and had her own wardrobe next to the sleeping pit. Canu’t picked up a scarf that she had dropped when they were called to be Dragon-bound and fly, gathering information. He touched it to his tongue and shivered as her scent flooded his sensors.
A chime rang out from his viewing screen and a high council member stared at him in annoyance and spoke to him, “Why are you not here giving your report?”
“My partner has suffered a shift in health due to a breakdown in the maintenance of the cocoons. She needs her blood purged before she can join me in giving our report,” replied Canu’t. “I’m sure that it will not take long.”
“You try my patience, Canu't. We need the information that you have NOW! Not when it is convenient to you. Come to the control tower this very moment or I will personally see to it that you lose your rank and privileges. Do not make me tell you again!”
The screen went black. Canu't stood up and made his way across the city via the pneumatic tube-car as quickly as he could. High Councillor Ramaj't was not a person to have as an enemy! He was known for his sharp beak and ill-temper. Most of the time, he commanded the High Council by the force of his knowledge and his dominating personality. He could be an excellent leader in a time of crisis. His mind was prized by the Feetjie and he was inhabiting his forty-third clone. There was little chance that the High Council would allow his brain cells to deteriorate, so a young healthy clone was always occupying a stasis tank for when it might be needed. Canu't had a clone ready for use, but would not automatically be downloaded into it until this present body became senile unless he earnt an earlier reward.
Canu't entered the control chamber as the doors slid open and saw that all members of the High Council were sat around the conference table waiting for him to make his report. He collapsed his legs and sat on his rump completely steady and opened his mind to the questing members of the High council. The ruthless way that each and every one of them dug into his recent memories made him nauseous, but he dare not show weakness.
Ramaj't pushed down onto his tripedal legs and stood up to walk over to the view-screen and motioned into the air. Immediately the scenes shown on the screen began to alter as the spy-system showed the city in all its glory completely undamaged, but compensating for a pronounced tilt.
“Over-mind has examined the situation and reports that tectonic shift has taken place during out long stay in stasis. We will need to move Ixias to a more stable situation. To do that we need the other part of the star-ship that brought us here. The Saitek have built a civilization of their own during our absence and have forgotten us. No longer, Canu't, since you and the other Dragon-bound have spread the word. We need it to turn to our advantage and educate them to the level that they were before the city drowned. It is time that the Saitek were re-yoked in harness and served our needs as before. We also need to do this before this star moves out of the dust-cloud and the polar icecaps melt and drown the city again. We need to relocate fissionable ores to process and refine them to build a warp generator and connect to the interstellar section of Ixias. Our A.I., Over-mind, feels that a collection of the Saitek young should take place and skills and crafts passed on by mental persuasion. From your memories, Canu't, we can understand that there would need very little mind-reaming necessary to implant these skills. You had no trouble communicating with the subjects apart from one that died of terror. The civilization that the Saitek have regressed to is little use to us in this state. They will need bringing up to a much higher level if we are going to be able to make physical contact with the mother-ship. We will need Ixias Base, fully functional if we are to use the tractor beams to pull Ixias from off the seabed and reposition it elsewhere. Over-mind calculates that we may well move out of this dust cloud and the icecaps melt again. The city will not survive another millennium drowning in stasis on this unsteady continental plate.”
Canu't quickly bowed from his waist and lifted his head to look up at the leader of the council to ask, “What would you have me do, Ramaj't?”
“Make a visit to the industrial city and collect all children of five years of age to ten and bring them back here with sufficient of their own kind to look after their needs. Take the floating platform cages with a number of the dragon-bound just to be sure of obedience. They are no use to us dead. While you are gone the living quarters of the Saitek will need to be activated again. I will deal with that. There is a small number of the original stock in stasis that we froze in time, for this possibility. They will soon acclimatise the newcomers to their duties and start the children to their educational needs. See that the cocoons are all thoroughly inspected so that no-one else suffers impurities of their blood supply. You may find out who was responsible for the failure of your partner’s cocoon and punish them accordingly. I suspect that the suspended animation chamber was not properly serviced before Ixias was put into stasis.”
Ramaj't turned his back to Canu't with a gesture of dismissal and continued to share his ideas with the council, leaving the dragon-bound Feetjie to leave.
By this time both dragons had returned to the pens and Canu't made his way to the balcony that overlooked the pit. Bellow sensed the appearance of his master and flew up to perch on the railing. As the great head dropped down to Canu't’s reach, the Feetjie held onto the head by its fringe with his upper, stronger hands while the bottom pair scratched under the jaw. The next time he paid a visit to the Saitek to collect the children; Bellow would accompany him as a guard while Mae’n ‘rode’ Shrill close by. Canu't could not help remember what the Saitek administrator had said in their confrontation.
He had said, “We bow the knee to no-one. We do not understand your declaration about being our masters! We have no masters!”
Canu't thought about this and felt that they might need a greater deal of persuasion before the evolved Saitek were bent into a useful shape. The Feetjie had tailored this world to suit their needs and by genetic manipulation had produced an intelligent race where there was none. The food that they all ate had been designed to be edible from the original stock, roaming this planet before the Feetjie had colonised it. Very few of the original species remained. What was needed of the Feetjie native life had been transferred from the dying home world before the star had flared, sterilizing everything on the planet. The life on Ice-Callis had been altered to suit and the foodstuffs had been transformed to feed them. The dragons had been genetically altered through the centuries and had been part of the Feetjie’s culture long before they arrived at Ice-Callis. This genetically re-programing was not something that the Feetjie could do again. Others from the home-world had spread out in all directions looking for a new home. They were unlikely to ever make contact with each other again.
The Rise of Ixias.
Jud bent his head and choked back his tears, clutching the empty basket, as his father approached. He dropped it and ran to his father, throwing his arms around him and wrapping his tail around his leg. In the approaching darkness of the evening he lost control and drew strength from his father as he sobbed. Eventually he regained control and told him of the visit by the two flying creatures that had swept out of the sky. He also told him of the temporary telepathic link he had with whatever was controlling the beast.
Jud’s father stiffened in his grief and said, “So the legends are true! We thought that the old stories of before the flood were just folklore. We have forgotten so much. I tell you, son, from now on our lives will no longer be our own. You must hide your abilities from them and keep it secret. Your mother had the ability and it was passed down through her generations. She kept it quiet all of her life and could ‘emote’ her love for me. I could feel it whenever we were close together like a warm glow. My heart is broken and I do not know how I will cope without her. As for you, a life on a farm will not suit you. Make your way to Ironbound and find others of your kind. If you do not fight back then your life will count for nothing and the Masters of long ago will once more use us as they will. They did not kill your mother; they just used her until she broke. Understand that and remember that to them, you are just something that can be used and discarded. Now let us go home and plan what you are going to do. Your mother warned me that a day would come when circumstances would force you into moving from obscurity to leadership. She was a seer and I have never known her to be wrong.”
The two men made their way into the empty house and sat at the table to eat the stew that Jud’s mother had left simmering over the wood stove. All Jud could think about, was that the creatures that had controlled the flying beasts had casually regarded his mother as food for them. After the two of them had eaten Jud walked out to the barn where Axe, his riding beast, prowled the harvested stocks seeking the night time raiders of their crops. He whistled a low note and the bird came running to him. Jud was the first thing that Axe had seen when his egg had split and the chick climbed out. The flightless bird had imprinted Jud into its bloody world. The hooked beak made short work of any ratoid that dared to pilfer any of the stored food. They were nocturnal hunters and their night-time vision was a great deal better than Jud’s. What would have been wings on the flying variety of the species had evolved into taloned ‘hands’ that could rip apart any adversary or hold it, while one of the hind feet kicked forwards in a disembowelling motion. In the wild, the ‘birds’ were impossible to tame and long ago the Saitek had discovered the ‘trick’ of imprinting them at hatching. These domesticated creatures proved very useful as riding beasts and pest control. They also made good eating when half grown. The plumage was mostly a mottled brown and stretched from the wrist to halfway down the legs. The fan-like tail could be raised as a braking aid when the bird needed to change course or slow down.
Jud scratched underneath the razor sharp bill and up towards the bird’s ears that stood out from the head. There was a rumble of appreciation from Axe as Jud worked through the feathers rearranging them and preening the parts that Axe could not reach. He took his saddle from the peg, lifted it over the bird’s back and buckled it into place. Jud slipped the bridle over the beak and put one foot into the stirrup and swung his leg over the beast. He had packed a haversack with food, some fresh clothing and the saddle bags with anything else that might come in useful, including a stout knife. His father had said his goodbyes and stayed in the house so that if the Feetjie payed him a visit, what he did not know they could not dig out of his mind to use.
Before he set out, he contacted the others similarly ‘gifted’ like himself that he was on his way towards the city and would meet them on the road to the coast. Jud encouraged Axe to a good steady run that soon ate up the miles.
Meanwhile in the city the other five, of the group, Grime, Hen, Fret and the two girls, Monnow and Sonnet had all quietly disappeared from their homes. They too had ‘listened in’ when the two flying beasts had called the populace to the park. The strength of the mental broadcast had made them grit their teeth and they too had formed a shield that made them ‘vanish’ from the questing mind of the female creature that was using the dragon. As the two beings made no effort to shield their thoughts from the Saitek, the gifted five were able to extract a great deal of information that the Feetjie would have preferred to have stayed un-looked at in their minds. As they regarded the Saitek as vastly inferior creatures, they had not thought of the possibility that the race of beings that they had genetically engineered, would have evolved any further over the years.
The five telepaths urged their birds to a headlong gallop out of the city towards the coast road. They ‘shared’ the information that each of them had stolen from the visitors from the skies. They had slipped into the mind of Mae'n while the other one, Canu't, was broadcasting the new life that the Saitek would have to follow directly into the minds of the crowd. Grime had managed to steal some information from the male while Monnow and Sonnet provided a shield over his mind. Neither of the two Feetjie had noticed the intrusion and had left their minds unshielded. They had broadcast what information they had shared with Jud as he urged his bird to reckless speed towards them.
Both moons were high in the sky when Jud caught sight of his friends waiting for him, resting their mounts. He eased the pace back to a gentle trot and pulled up by their side. He felt their sorrow at his loss as his mother had been one of the ‘gifted’ and part of their lives, teaching and instructing them in the ways of increasing the power. She had died, refusing Canu't the inner secrets of the gifted, without him knowing that there was more to the Saitek than he would have believed possible. This was a secret that had to be kept, if the Feetjie were to remain ignorant and unprepared.
All of the group had passed on every crumb of information to each other and knew what had to be done now. They dismounted their mounts and stood in a tight group, all facing outwards and entwined their prehensile tails into a woven pillar. They became a gestalt mind, more powerful than any of the Feetjie. This was something that the Dream-masters had never thought to do. It was something that had evolved separately amongst the Saitek through the eons of separation of the Feetjie’s controlled mating plans and genetic engineering.
They had formed a group with two males, one female, two males & one female. The identity that they forged became, Jud-GMHFS with Jud’s mind as the controlling one and the others as the main memory banks, each an individual part, but also merged into the whole.
Jud spread his gestalt mind into an umbrella over the entire continent, contacting every telepath, isolated or in groups and passed on the terrifying news of the takeover of their world by the Feetjie. All that they knew was passed on and added to by any telepath that had contacted the Feetjie and had also shielded their thoughts from them. Every Saitek telepath had instinctively done the same thing on coming in contact with the dragons and their masters, shielded their thoughts and probed information from them. Jud-GMHFS withdrew from the neural net and the mind-meld disbanded leaving the six Saitek exhausted by their supreme effort.
“That was amazing,” said Fret. “Do you not realise that we have done more with the ‘gift’ since the Feetjie have threatened our way of life than ever before!”
Jud swung round and place his hand on Fret’s shoulder and replied, “It gets a little scary, dear friend. But what you must bear in mind is that any advantage we have over the creatures that created us, will only remain so if they do not know what we can do. As yet we have no idea what we may be capable of. I think that we may be able to do much more than just talk to each other using our minds. The Feetjie have been doing this for thousands of years, long before they came here. We have still much to learn and we must stay cautious. Do not let down your guard at any price, for once they realise that some of us are ‘different’ they will hunt us down.”
The Rise of Ixias.
Canu't made his way to the medical section where Mae'n was connected to the purging unit. Fortunately the amount of damage to her organs and circulatory system was minimal. After his dismissive interview with the High Counsel and the edge of Ramaj't’s beak he was in a bad humour and was seething with anger. Fortunately for the technician in charge of the suspended animation units Mae'n was fully conscious and speedily recovering from the blood poisoning episode. She reached out with her upper arm and grasped him by the shoulder.
Mae'n spoke softly to Canu't and said, “I have spoken to the maintenance operator about the partial failure of the unit. There are a number of other cabinets that are in need of refurbishment. Warnings were given about the condition of being in stasis for so long, but fears were shouted down and orders given to send the dragon riders out to find what awaited us. I plead that she not be punished for something that was not her fault.”
“I have reported to the High Counsel and suffered the edge of Ramaj't’s beak for not being quick enough with the information that I brought. He wants us among others, to take a floating barge to the Saitek city and collect their children so that they can be educated in our science and technology. You are to accompany me as a dragon rider while I am to be the one to control the barge. I shall also take Bellow as an extra set of fangs for added protection. They have, as you know, forgotten what we look like, so the presence of your dragon will help keep them under control. I will make sure that the lip of the barge is electrified so that we will not lose any of them on the journey back. I think that I will take two of the Ixias stasis Saitek with me, to show the populace that they need not be over concerned for the safety of their young.”
This obsession about caring for their young was something that the Feetjie found difficult to understand. As egg layers, all female Feetjie placed their eggs in the communal nest and had little to do with their own young, as only the fittest survived after hatching in the breeding pit. Those that survived the struggle of existence formed groups and kept to them as they matured. Once they were capable of taking instruction their education began. Those that were judged to be sub-standard were weeded out of the gene pool, reconstituted and added to the food dispensers as protein. Any of the generation produced that showed promise were cloned and the body stored for the future use of the original. Earning your clone was an incentive for excellence. Canu’t had been resurrected nine times so far and was quite confident that he would continue to do so.
As the pipes withdrew from Mae'n’s veins and the surgical unit sealed the entry points, a green light began flashing to show that the process was over. Canu't gave Mae'n some assistance to extricate herself from the couch that was connected to the purging unit. Waiting behind them was another dragon rider waiting to have his blood purged and Canu't realised that there were others in the same state as Mae'n had been. He wondered to himself what other mechanisms and power circuits might be showing their age?
Addressing the nearest wall, Canu't asked the A.I., “Over-mind? Can you give me the number of suspended animation units that are unreliable? As you know, I have to do as the High Counsel requires as soon as possible,”
The Feetjie sentient computer answered, “Of the one hundred units on call, thirty-five have shown signs of excessive wear. The rest of the units are sound, but I recommend that they all be serviced before being used again. The High Counsel have been informed and you are to prepare to take a floating barge to the Saitek city of Iron-bound and by the time that you are finished enough suspended animation units will be ready. Estimate two days, maybe three before the dragon riders can be ready.”
Canu't and Mae'n hooked up to the monorail overhead and strapped in, pressed the ‘engaged’ button and were soon whisked across the city to their apartments, safely hanging in the harnesses. Over-mind made sure that the two of them were directed through the many cross-over points and delivered safely to their apartment. Once they unbuckled from the mono-rail the A.I. lifted the harnesses out of the way and continued to supervise all the other travellers in the city, leaving the two of them at the entrance to their home.
The Feetjie entered and closed the doorway. One inside, Canu't ordered a jug of a strong stimulant known as kaffi and two porcelain mugs. As the steam rolled off the mugs, they sipped the potent mixture and relaxed as the drug began to take effect. The food content was high in needed proteins as well as the relaxing mixture and both of them felt the benefit of a full stomach. Mae'n was gravid and was carrying an egg that had not yet hardened its shell. If they did not take advantage of the situation the shell would harden before fertilisation and conception would not take place. The room filled with released pheromones and they removed their clothing from the breeding area of their bodies. Locking the two front legs together they brought the breeding pads into contact and sealed themselves together. They both brought their beaks over the right shoulder of each other and intertwined all four arms. As they rocked back and forth, the centres of pleasure extended into their minds. In this state they could feel each other’s physical pleasure as Canu't released his sperm through the contact pad of Mae'n, where they attached themselves to the thin skin of her egg. Now there would be a battlefield of conflict as each sperm fought and struggled to pierce the skin. As one did, the skin began to instantly harden, closing off any chance of another sperm to get through. They remained ‘glued’ together until with a shudder Mae'n released Canu't from her embrace.
“Tomorrow I must go to the breeding pit and deposit our offering to the gene pool before I do anything else,” Mae'n declared and swivelled her eye stalks to stare challengingly at Canu't. “I will do that before once more I assume the shape of a dragon. I think that Ramaj't will have many other things on his mind without chasing you to see that you are carrying out his wishes? After all Over-mind has stated that it may take several days for all the cocoons to be ready.”
Canu't spoke to the connection consul as they made their way to the sleeping lodge for the night, “Over-mind, see that I am woken at dawn and make sure that the Saitek, Jonness has been instructed about the mission. Make sure that he is outside the apartment when I am ready to go. Pull his ‘mate’ out of storage and brief her as well. Make sure that both of them have been prepped in the language swing, so that they are well able to converse with the new recruits when we collect them.”
Canu't and Mae'n retired to the sleep unit and switched on the anti-gravity pads after strapping themselves into place. They rose in the air and soon stretched out every limb, as they slid into dreamless sleep. After an hour or so they both began to dream. By now every limb had folded up so that all that floated in the chamber were two cylindrical bodies. Their arms were folded across their chest and all three legs bent with their knees up and feet tucked underneath the base of the sleeping Feetjie. The rank of dragon rider gave them these privileges and the use of the anti-gravity units and a private apartment.
When the first rays of sun began to illuminate the tops of the towers Over-mind began to activate the gravity plates underneath the floor of the sleeping unit and the two Feetjie began to lower to the floor. Once they made contact, the straps rewound into the wall leaving the chamber empty and the two inhabitants awake. The main doorway into the apartment opened and their two assistants entered. Jonness and his mate had been indentured servants to the two Feetjie for many years, long before the city had been frozen in time. They immediately went into the shower-room and laid out the scents and soaps for them to use when washing their owners.
Jonness bowed to Canu't and said, “Greetings Lord Canu't. Over-mind had told us what we must do this day. It is good to be able to serve you again. If you would enter the shower room then Brabness and I will wash you down.”
Canu't and Mae'n entered the shower-room and stood still as the two Saitek washed them down from head to toe. They also rubbed scented oils into the muscles and joints of the Feetjie and dried them down. Next they took what clothes were indicated and dressed them. Straight after this was done they served breakfast and while they were eating they cleaned the shower room and redressed themselves.
Mae'n stood on all three legs and said, “I will go quickly to the breeding pit and then straight to the cocoons and reacquaint myself with Shrill. I will meet you on the road towards the Saitek city of Ironbound. Brabness you will of course travel in the barge with Jonness and assist in collecting the children for induction and instruction. I will see you later, Canu't, with the dragon Bellow flying with me. Over-mind has informed me that a cocoon has been checked over and has been put by for my exclusive use.”
With that she exited the apartments, hooked herself onto the monorail and disappeared into the distance. Canu't did the same and was soon travelling towards the transport sheds along with the two Saitek to take a floating barge towards the Saitek city. From the vantage point above the buildings Canu't could see that there were more of his kind and rank making their way towards the vehicle sheds with their attendant Saitek.
The Rise of Ixias.
At the vehicle sheds, hundreds of Saitek had been returned from stasis and were busy provisioning and refuelling the barges’ energy levels. The sound of turbine blades over-revving occasionally, deafened anyone close by. A steady number of the transporters were floating out of the hangers and out of the city. Jonness and Brabness soon located the allocated vehicle and climbed aboard; making sure that all was in order for their master to take control. Canu't was dressed in total blue as befitted his rank, as were his assistants. Most of the other dragon riders were dressed in blue and white, still waiting to take on the higher rank. Five of the barges pulled behind Canu't’s transporter and would follow him to the Saitek city of Ironbound to collect the children. Soon they would be educated and trained to do whatever the Feetjie needed. They would then take their place in the city’s infrastructure. Those that would not settle down and study, would have their minds changed so that they did. The only problem with that enforcement was that the recipient lost a great deal of creativity, but would make good craftsman and labourers.
Columns of barges began to leave the city and make their way across the countryside, floating over the uneven lands. All were well armed in case of attack by some of the bolder creatures and also with ‘tranquilising’ dart guns and Tasers to persuade any of the ‘regressed’ Saitek from interfering with the collection of their children. Canu't settled himself into the bucket seat that moulded around him and turned on the map on the forward viewing screen. He filtered out all background ‘chatter’ and concentrated on Mae'n’s mind signature.
He soon found her at the dragon pens and told her, “I am on my way. You should catch up with me tomorrow. I will see you then, once you are tucked inside Shrill.”
Mae'n agreed and assured her partner that their egg had been placed in the incubator in an advantageous position as befitted her rank. She was now on her way to the cocoons to get ‘suited up’ and take charge of her mount. Mae'n was quite confident that she could manage Bellow as well as Shrill as she had done this before, although it was strange to be split into two facets of her personality.
Many miles away the six Saitek rebels continued to ride their birds towards the alien city. From inside the unguarded mind of the Feetjie visitors, they had plucked the location of and the terrine that they would have to travel over, to reach Ixias. The land that they were crossing was uncultivated and full of wildlife that had not been hunted before. Picking off the local fauna as they rode by was easy using their cross-bows. Some of the game they fed to the birds to keep up their strength. What they kept for themselves they cooked over a small fire, making sure that it was out, before they left.
As they travelled along, the Saitek became aware of the approaching caravan and moved off the path that would bring them together. Shielding their minds from the aliens riding inside the floating barges, they kept the riding birds quiet and hid in a nearby thicket. To their amazement the huge floating platforms were being managed by some of their own kind. The greatest shock was the first time that any of the six had seen the true form of the Feetjie, which had visited them as dragons. They were the ugliest things that any of them had ever seen.
Jud got out his binoculars and saw that the body was cylindrical and covered in black and gold scales while his friends stared through Jud’s eyes. The body was supported on three, thick, spider-like legs; two at the front with one at the back. At midway to the top of the cylinder were four arms jutting out from the ‘shoulders’ and were divided into two large arms with a more delicate pair underneath. The head was oval and supported by a thick neck. At the top of the head were two eyes on stalks that could swivel independently. In the middle of its ‘forehead was another ‘eye’ set into the skull. Other organs that the Saitek could not readily identify stuck out from the ‘head’ and logically had to be ears of some kind. In the front of the head was a vicious looking, hooked beak, full of small sharp teeth. They were indeed hideous to look upon, but the Saitek inside the floating platforms were completely unbothered by the aliens’ appearance and were obviously freely serving them.
Jud recognised the mind of the Feetjie that led the caravan. It was one of the two that had visited the farm as dragons. This was where his mother had died of fright, as her mind was picked apart. He found it very difficult to place the mind that he had contacted, with the abomination that was directing the caravan. Gritting his teeth, holding his anger in check, Jud and the group watched the convoy pass by. They knew that now was not the time to try any form of attack until they had learnt more about the creatures that had suddenly appeared with willing Saitek slaves. First they needed to find the city of Ixias and try to understand how to send it back beneath the sea.
As Canu't passed the hidden Saitek and their mounts, he was aware of the heat signature that they radiated, someway from the caravan’s path, but as he needed to be at Ironbound as soon as possible, he ignored the gathering. He swept the area to see if there was any more of the large infra-red traces. Canu’t found nothing and thinking that they were just a herd of beasts he closed the organ down. He then switched on the twin light-beams to reveal the ‘road’ in front in the gathering darkness. This immediately showed that further along the overgrown way, many boulders would get in their way so he gave the signal to settle the floating carriers and prepare for the night. It would be more sensible to wait until morning and have a clear view of the terrine in front. This had once been a main road leading from Ixias to the Saitek settlements and cities before the ice-caps had melted and drowned everything. Buried underneath the undergrowth were the flagstones that had been laid so very long ago.
Jud spoke to the others, “Try entering the Saitek minds and see what you can extract from them about the alien city and how to get inside.”
The group remained silent and kept the riding birds under control while they tried to connect with the minds of the servile Saitek. To their surprise these ‘ancient’ members of their race were as easy to read as an open book, unlike those that lived in the city of Ironbound. In the thousands of years since the Feetjie had directed the breeding programs, a much more resistant species of Saitek had evolved. The majority of the Saitek had become telepathically resistant, not enough that they could prevent the superior minds of the Feetjie dominating them, but enough to become difficult to control in large numbers. A small proportion had become adept in the telepathic mind skills and they tended to form relationships amongst others of their kind and produce more of the ‘gifted’ children. The coming of the Feetjie and their contact had unknowingly awoken dormant powers of the mind amongst Jud and his friends. By contacting others of their kind they had jolted many of them into a greater mental capacity. Those that had hidden from the Feetjie riding the dragons and shielded their thoughts had also passed on their talents. The instinctive act of shielding their thoughts had opened a dam that had kept their abilities curtailed.
Jud and his friends found that the Saitek could remember the world as it had been before the flood. They discovered that the Feetjie had indeed ruled this world and had turned it into a thriving community for thousands of years. They were a benign dictatorship that had created a great deal of the plant and animal life that flourished on this world. As masters of genetic engineering they had completely altered the native life of this place to be compatible with theirs. The Saitek owed their very existence to the aliens from the stars. Nevertheless the thousands of years of lapsing into barbarism and the long climb back into a civilised community had changed the Saitek’s concept of life. They cherished their freedom and would die for it if necessary.
Having taken all the knowledge that they could from the servants Jud quietly led the others out of the thicket and away from the caravan. They all had a clear mind’s eye view of the terrine ahead and urged the birds to a gentle trot, trusting to their night-vision. Each of them marvelled at the wonders of the bygone age that had existed before the ice caps had melted and the seas rose. What they found was that it happened very quickly, making it impossible for the Feetjie to do anything to defeat the rising waters. They did the only thing that their science was capable of, to save the city of Ixias by placing it and all the inhabitants into time stasis. What they had not bargained for was the length of time that it would take for the ice caps to reform and the seas retreat.
The Rising of Ixias.
Canu't awoke to the sound of dragon wings flapping above the carrier and the arrival of Mae'n hosted by Shrill. By her side was the magnificent Bellow and he sent thoughts of welcome to them all. His first concern was the placing of their egg in the incubator and when the start of incubation would take place. All Feetjie eggs were collected into a stasis chamber and kept there until there were a significant number of them to warrant the start of gestation. After that, usually there would be no more association with the hatchlings, as they fought for survival after splitting their egg apart.
Mea’n’s thoughts interrupted Canu't’s reverie abruptly with an observation. “The way ahead is covered with boulders where a cliff has crumbled. Keep your mind on the job in hand, or our precious egg will be moved to a less advantageous position,” she irritably thrust into his mind. “You will need to unleash the plasma projectors and clear the way. Otherwise you will all have to spend precious fuel climbing high enough to clear them!”
Canu't stared down the blocked road and was thankful that he had decided to ‘camp out’ for the night and not press forward in the darkness.
“Power up the plasma cannon, Jonness and clear the way” he ordered and he allowed Brabness to open a stasis box and offer him a live porky.
He tilted his head back and swallowed the creature whole and felt it kick a few times as it went down. It was still quite alive even after being in stasis for thousands of years, but then so were all of the Feetjie and their Saitek. As he looked around the landscape, he could see that although time had stopped for them, outside of the city of Ixias time had indeed marched on. What had once been arable lands producing crops, had now reverted to salt-marsh and rampant growth of salt resistant shrubs and trees. The relocation of the city of Ixias had to be done sometime in the near future, before the tectonic plates broke free and the land moved. It could happen anytime in the next few hundred years and volcanic activities would then take place. Everything rested on whether the combined efforts of the two races could get to the star-ship and get it active again, but first it was necessary to bring back sufficient Saitek children to train and educate them in the sciences of the Feetjie.
He watched as Jonness aimed the cannon down towards the blocked road and sent two broad banded bursts at the blockage. The vibration that the plasma beam produced in the boulders caused the atomic bonds to come apart and turned the material into gravel. A flattened, cone-shaped beam worked like a wedge as it was aimed just above the ground. This meant that the stones above the beam dropped into it and dissolved, before they hit the surface of the road. Brabness controlled the forward motion of the carrier and matched the speed to the rate of absorption of the beam. This left a level surface spread out over the ruins of the road giving the following caravan an easier journey. As they moved forwards, Jonness activated the side-projectors and ‘glazed’ the side of the collapsed cliff-face making it secure. Whilst this was happening he also used the bottom projectors to force the loose gravel into a glazed surface with a slight incline to it so that the rain would runoff and not accumulate on the road. All across the countryside other carriers were occupying the travel-time in making repairs to ancient roads, as they travelled along.
Jud and his friends made their way towards the Feetjie city, keeping away from the road leading back to Ixias. They travelled from cover to cover, maintaining a strong shield that they kept in place over their thoughts. Eventually after topping a rise in the landscape they got their first view of the city lit by the morning sun. Nothing had prepared them for the size of the alien metropolis or the magnitude of the buildings. From the minds that they had entered, they had pieced together the history of the Feetjie and the rapid return of the aliens to the original city. They had built other cities, but a falling birth-rate had led to abandonment of the newly furbished settlements when it became obvious that the rising seas would drown them. The melting of the ice-caps had been sudden and relentless so the Feetjie were forced to make many hasty decisions, one of which was leaving the mothership transporter in orbit. The Feetjie had not reckoned with the vast amount of time that would elapse before the waters receded and Ixias was uncovered and the damage that would be done to it.
Jud had read the mind of one of the carrier pilots who had been gathering information via the observatory for the High Council, before being assigned to the gathering of Saitek children. He had discovered that the debris filled arm of this galaxy would thin out again in several hundred years and the great melt would start up all over again as more and more sunlight got through. If they could somehow stop the Feetjie’s plan of making the star-ship transporter operational by the time that the aliens had regrouped there was a good chance that their city would disappear under the sea again in the future. The other alternative was to strike now and destroy Ixias from within.
Monnow had managed to gain another piece of information from the last carrier’s pilot who was female like herself. For some reason reading her mind was much easier than a male Feetjie. She was in partnership with a male who was occupied in maintaining the city on an even level. The seabed underneath the city had become unstable over the millennia and the whole city was on the tilt. If the power source could be interfered that was keeping Ixias level the whole city could slide into the sea. She jubilantly fed this information to Jud, who thought about this extra gem of information.
Jud turned to the other five and said, “That gives us all a goal, but first we have to get inside. Somewhere around here we will have to loosen the birds and make our way on foot. Just remember, keep those shields in place and they cannot be aware of us. There are other Saitek in the city and all we have to do is fit in. As long as we keep our nerve, the aliens will not notice us. What we must do is to find where the power house is and wreck it. Do not think that you will comeback from this. If we are to be successful in destroying this city we will go with it into oblivion.”
At the same time that that Canu't was building a new road towards Ironbound, Jud and his companions were staring at the city, waiting their chance of entering un-noticed. As they had ridden all night, Jud decided that they should seek cover and get some sleep. He planned on gaining entrance to the Feetjie city under cover of darkness.
When Jud and the others awoke, the sun was going down and the shadows were lengthening. Ixias was a blaze of lights contained by a giant bubble that enclosed the entire city. The sight was beyond anything that the Saitek had ever experienced. Although Ironbound was lit by electric lights, they were sparse and only illuminated the wealthiest sections of the city. Put against the size of Ixias, Ironbound was just a large town. The members of the group shared out the rest of the food supplies that they had between them whilst they watched the ‘captive’ Saitek come and go through the main arch.
Jud chewed a haunch of meat, swallowed and said, “That’s our way in. There seems to be just the one road into the city. Set the birds free and tell them to hunt and they will wander off. Give their minds a gentle nudge and send them back home. I doubt that we will be using them again, if we are successful.”
Each member of the group removed the harnesses from the birds, gave them a piece of the latest kill, left over from their evening feast and sent them off into the gathering darkness. The six of them made their way towards the road and joined the working parties, which were overseeing the stocking of the carriers before they set out. In amongst them walked the three legged creatures that were in charge. All six clamped down on their new ability of shielding their thoughts and walked through the crowd as if they were also part of the manual labour. Each of them picked up something light and walked to the back of the operations, where they put it down and made their way into the shadows. In their minds was the location of the power house and control centre stolen from the minds of the captive Saitek as they had passed them by. It would be a long walk to where the lifts were that would take them down to the generators that fed the power into the citywide network. Those that worked there would be all too easy to steal from their minds the necessary information to send Ixias sliding into the sea.
The Rise of Ixias.
Canu’t surveyed the way ahead through the carrier’s scanner, by sending a drone over and along the buried road. He could see that once they were away from the collapsed cliff, the way was flat enough for them to increase speed considerably.
Mae’n had left the carrier that morning to make her way towards Ironbound with Canu’t’s dragon connected to her mind as well. Her task was to prepare the city dwellers for the demands of the Feetjie concerning their children. There could be no reprieve for any of the children to be taken, unless they were found to be unsuitable. In the past she had been a teacher to the Saitek children on quantum mechanics. Several of her pupils had gone into joint research with Feetjie scientists and had been kept in stasis along with their masters before the city had drowned.
Mae’n circled above the green space that they had landed on before and soon saw a band of reluctant Saitek congregating to wait to be contacted. She coasted down, followed by Bellow and landed in front of the rapidly swelling crowd. As they did so, the chief administrator that they had met before, pushed his way forwards and stood before the two dragons.
Although he trembled with fear he stood tall in front of the creatures and asked, “What are your demands?”
“You full well know what we are here for, administrator. I planted the message in your minds before we left. My partner will soon appear leading a caravan of carriers and when he arrives, we will expect that you will have the children that we require, waiting here to be taken back to Ixias. There they will be educated far beyond the simple sciences that you use here in this filthy town. They will then be of some use to us,” Mae'n ordered and bent forward to bring her fearsome face, close to his.
The hot breath of the dragon made his eyes water and the stench turned his stomach, but Frees stood his ground and replied, “I fully understand the power that you can wield, but you must understand that our children are dear to us and we will not give them up lightly without knowing what will happen to them. Even now there are cross-bows pointing in your direction and should you make any move towards me, your beast will die.”
“You are a brave fool, administrator. I told you when we came here that we only use these beasts to travel around in. My body is in a cocoon in Ixias, safe and sound. I do not want to kill anyone unless I have too, as we value your potential and are loathe to waste any sentient life. I warn you do not try my patience, but I will take the time to try to explain further about the aims of my people and what we need to do. Listen to me carefully and think about what I am going to tell you. Your children will be educated by us and only the best of them will stay in the city to pursue their destiny. Those that do not meet our requirements will be returned. From time to time those that earn their right to stay will be able to return to their old homes and see their families.
They must start their education and selection early on, or time and effort will be wasted. I will plant in your mind as much information that you can absorb and hope that this will enable you to understand,” Mae'n instructed and continued, “You have to believe me when I assure you that we wish your young no harm, but we will have complete obedience from you. Nothing less will do. Continued life on this world requires it. You have been a very long time without our guidance and this must come to an end. This idea that you call freedom will not save this world and I will also show you what life upon this world used to be like before the flood. This is what we are going to try to bring back. Then perhaps you will begin to understand.”
Mae'n flooded the mind of Frees with selected information without damaging his brain. The chief administrator stood in rapture as scene after scene paraded through his mind and he began to understand. He also got a clear view of what the Feetjie really looked like and realised just how alien they were. The world that once was, before the seas swallowed all the croplands and farming communities, was a dream that was real. The Feetjie had in fact turned this world into a paradise and would do so again provided that the Saitek became the tools that the elder race needed. The scene shifted to what the Feetjie knew was going to happen in the future as tectonic plates tore loose and the world returned to the drowning that had happened before along with a prolonged spasm of volcanism.
Frees turned away from the dragon’s breath and said, “If you help me to get the others to understand, it will be much easier to persuade them to allow you to take the children back to your city. All you have to do is to spread the knowledge of the impending disaster that will hit in the future and our part in trying to stave it off, to ensure full cooperation.”
“Go and speak to them and explain as much as you are able and I will also implant into the minds of as many as I can, the reason that we need them. Tell them also that a number of them can accompany their children into the city while they settle down. You are welcome to accompany your own eligible children into the city of Ixias. Also you can tell them that this scenario is being repeated all over this world wherever a Saitek settlement is found. No child will be harmed.”
Frees returned to the crowd and spoke to the worried parents and tried his best to soften the blow of the alien’s requirements. He used all his persuasive talents in putting forwards Mae'n’s implacable demands and reminded them of the vast difference between the alien’s knowledge and their own. It was at this moment that the caravan led by Canu't came whispering down the road and positioned themselves over the green park. The sight of other Saitek inside the carriers and the fact that they were obviously free to come and go, drove home the different state of affairs. They rapidly formed a shielding force in between the lead carrier and the crowd. The strangest creature that they had ever seen stood up and walked down a gangplank onto the grass. It was half as tall again as the Saitek and it stood on three legs! It walked towards the crowd with a bobbing motion until it stood next to the dragons. The large bronze dragon dipped his head until it touched the strange creature on his chest. Two larger arms smoothed the dragon’s upper neck whilst the smaller; bottom set of arms caressed his chest.
Canu't pushed the affectionate creature to one side and continued to walk towards the chief administrator.
He stared down at the green skinned Saitek and said, “We meet again Frees, this time you see me as I really am. Has my partner instructed you of our requirements? As you can see we have brought others of your kind with us to reassure you of our good intentions. These Saitek that you see were placed in stasis with us when the sea drowned our city. If you have any doubts or questions speak to them for guidance. We are willing to stay here for some while to give you the chance to organise parents and children for the trip back to Ixias.”
At the mention of the children being taken away the crowd became hostile and very unfriendly. Someone made the mistake of firing a cross-bow bolt at Canu't. The retaliation was instant. The bolt disintegrated as it hit the force-field erected around the Feetjie and one of the Saitek in the carrier shot the one responsible with a Taser.
As he lay convulsing on the grass Mae'n reared up inside the dragon and shouted, “The next one, who tries anything like that, dies. You have become very foolish in our absence and of no use to us in this state. Your children will be sorted at Ixias and only the very best will stay in the city. It is too late for you as adults to try and understand our ways, or to help us build this world back to how it was. That will take several generations of your people and a great deal of re-education. Do not try the patience of the Lord Canu't by being disobedient. Most of you who still have that telepathic nature, have been shown the world that was by having the knowledge placed in your minds. Those who have the vision must tell others in your Township of what we offer. Look upon the members of your species that travel in the carriers and try to understand they occupy positions of trust earnt by their actions. Now go and bring us the children and do it now!”
The Rise of Ixias.
Inside the city of Ixias, the six saboteurs made their way deeper into the strange alien stronghold. Shielding their thoughts, they were invisible to any of the Feetjie that they passed and the other Saitek just ignored them. Slowly and surely they made their way towards the nuclear fusion power plant. No doors were locked or fences placed around any of the equipment or machines that were humming with electrical discharge. The concept of anyone doing deliberate damage to any of the many mechanisms was totally alien to the Feetjie or the Saitek personnel who tended them. Jud and his friends took the information easily from the minds of those who crossed their paths and planted suggestions not to notice them.
The Feetjie Over-mind however, had sensed their intrusion from the start of their penetration of the city. It had watched them negotiate the ways into the city with ease and had reasoned that they had the gift of telepathy. By the way that any passing Feetjie ignored them, what they had was much more powerful than the Saitek that had come with the city through the ages. It was obvious to the Over-mind that these Saitek could shield their thoughts from the unsuspecting Feetjie. By plotting the route that they had taken and forecasting the destination, Over-mind came to the conclusion that the fusion reactor was their goal. As the six young bipeds had made their way in, the A.I. realised that they thought that they could sabotage the power-house and destroy the city. Using the built in sound systems, Over-mind listened in to their conversations as the saboteurs travelled deeper into the city and began looking for a way down to where the power was generated. By picking the Saitek engineers’ minds of information as they walked, bit by bit they began to understand what they would have to do to shut off the power to Ixias. The moment that they did this the supports would give way and the alien city would slide into the sea and off the continental shelf into the depths below. The totally logical mind of the A.I. recoiled in consternation as it realised that these young and gifted Saitek were quite willing to sacrifice their lives to destroy the city of the Feetjie.
It remembered that thousands of years ago, the Feetjie had instructed Over-mind to cause a worm-hole to centre over a valley and suck every living thing into space, to put down a rebellion. It had taken a long time for the A.I. to regain its centre of mental balance after it had carried out this operation.
Subsequently there were no more rebellions, but Over-mind would not take life on that scale again and risk total failure in its neural networks. It had at its disposal a virtual army of mobile units scattered all over the city and the A.I. began to move some of them to intercept the path of the six young fools that were bent on destruction. It was at this point that Over-mind contacted Ramaj't with the news that they had been invaded and its plans to contain the problem.
“Show me,” the leader of the council demanded.
He stared at the view-screen and concentrated his mind towards the six and could feel nothing! He could see them plainly, but mentally they did not exist.
“It’s no wonder that they have managed to walk into our city without being apprehended. Their minds are shielded! It seems that some of the Saitek have developed a lot further than we thought. It is obvious to me that they have been mind-picking everyone that they have met upon the way. That is the only way that they could have penetrated so far,” he explained to the mind that ran the city. “Bring them to me without doing them any damage and summon the other members of the council, informing them of what you have found. Find Trann’t and have her sent here. She has exceptionally powerful telepathic abilities and I am sure that she will be able to prise off those mental shields, so that I can look beneath.”
Over-mind did what Ramaj't had ordered and also moved its mobile units into place. The saboteurs were heading for the lift that would take them to the lower levels where the fusion reactors were located. There they would be met by the maintenance bots. These were fitted with multiple arms and resin sprays for dealing with pipe leaks. The Feetjie A.I. had managed the control of the fusion reactor for thousands of years and had no need of light in the regions that the Saitek were heading for. Unknown to the rebels the city had three reactors sited in the depths of Ixias. One was running, one was ready to take over and the third one was stripped down for periodic maintenance.
Over-mind made sure that the way to the inactive reactor was clear and opened the lift doors leading down to it. The A.I. increased the luminance to the down arrow on the wall and switched off the power to the up light, just to make sure that the six picked the right destination. It also gave the reactor the appearance of being in use by feeding a test program to the control circuits that lit up the inside of the lift. Although the Saitek would be unable to read the symbols and understand them, Over-mind was confident that the sight of the lights would draw them in.
For some time the six saboteurs had been able to walk unchallenged through the city towards the location of the reactor. They had been given a cursory glance by both the aliens and their own kind and had put this down to luck, their shielded minds and the fact that the aliens were not expecting agents of destruction to strike this early, if at all.
Jud called a halt as the opened doors of the lift came into view and said, “Well my friends this is it. There is no going back now. When we get to the bottom we must fan out and do as much destruction as we can. We have all got heavy knives with insulated handles. Chop through as many cables as you can and keep on the move. From what we have learnt from the minds of those who live here, the controls are located above us somewhere. So it’s the reactor we must damage. Do not expect that we will survive what we are about to do here. If we are successful then this city will be destroyed leaving very few of these Feetjie alive and I am sure that those who are trapped outside will be whittled down by insurgents. Those with their minds inside a dragon will die in here as the sea floods in!”
Grime put his hands on Jud’s shoulders and replied, “What we do here will never be known by our people, except that suddenly they will have a chance for freedom.”
Monnow and Sonnet hugged the others and exchanged kisses before they made their way towards the open lift door.
Over-mind watched and listened to the conversation, before taking control of the lift. As soon as all the six were inside and the doors closed, the A.I. began to pump the air out of the descending chamber, by reversing the airflow of the air conditioning. One by one the Saitek dropped to the floor as Over-mind made sure that they had enough air to survive, but not enough to remain conscious. At the bottom of the shaft the air conditioning fan rapidly pumped the air back to normal pressure. As the six began to regain consciousness the doors opened into pure blackness and they were aware that they had been picked up by something they could not see and they all heard a liquid, hissing sound. Cold metal clamped around their legs and shoulders and they found that they could not move, as something had been sprayed over their legs and up to their waist that rapidly hardened. The legs were released as the substance moved down towards their feet. Suddenly the lights came on in the lift and the six Saitek could see what had awaited them at the bottom of the lift-shaft.
The maintenance ‘Bots’ were twice the size of the saboteurs and had multiple arms that easily supported the Saitek, as they were sprayed with a fast acting resin. Once their arms became trapped the ‘bots’ put them back into the lift compartment and laid them down, side by side. They looked like six chrysalises with just their heads and upper chest was visible. The doors closed and the lift began to travel upwards at a steady velocity.
This had taken just a few minutes to operate, leaving the would-be saboteurs completely helpless. They could not even roll around as the maintenance ‘bots’ had jammed them across the floor so they could not move. All of them were silent and apprehensive about what was going to happen next. They were all too sure that wherever they were going, they had been out-thought all the time that they thought that they were ‘invisible’ to both the Feetjie and their Saitek servants. One thing was certain, the lift was taking them a lot higher than where they had started. Suddenly the lift stopped and the doors opened. A single maintenance ‘bot’ stood waiting for them and laid them down in a line on what had to be a roof of the building that they had entered. Above them they could see a network of rails going in all directions. Hanging from the rails were sets of straps to carry both the Feetjie and the Saitek to their destination.
The bot directed a set of straps from the mono-rail above them and made the first body secure, fitting a helmet, before sending each one on their way. Soon the six of them were travelling at quite some speed over the rooves of many buildings via the extensive mono-rail system. Sometimes there was a vertical drop underneath the cargo of hundreds of feet and the sight of the empty drop made all of them feel ill. As they rattled across the city a strange, female sounding voice startled them as it fed information into the headsets.
“I am Over-mind,” the voice said. “I control the city amongst other duties. What did you think that you would achieve, even if I had not captured you? Think about your answer as I guide you to meet the leader of the council. He will require cogent answers from you.”
The Rising of Ixias.
To Canu't’s irritation, it had taken several more days to get the Saitek children and those parents that had elected to go with them, get on board the various carriers. Once they were fully aboard his craft, Brabness had activated the electrical fence around the loading bay of the carrier. The voltage was not too high, but would deter any attempts of escape over the railing. In the meantime Mae'n had to take the dragons off on a foraging hunt for their food, leaving him with the other Feetjie and Saitek to carry on. Without the presence of the dragons the people began to relax a little and were more willing to do what was demanded of them.
Feeding the passengers was not a problem, as the carriers were well stocked and the food cooked or heated up with banks of micro-wave cabinets. While the carriers filled, the sub-ranked Feetjie and their assistants took the children back to the city. After some time the resident Saitek became accustomed to the strange shape of the Feetjie and accepted that the old master race were doing all this ultimately for the Saitek’s benefit as well as their own.
Frees walked over with his children to allow them to meet the alien creature that would now have a great deal to do with. They had been told that the strange looking being would not harm them and that their father was coming with them so were not afraid.
The chief administer of Ironbound said, “Lord Canu't I have brought my son, Camille and my daughter, Gisela to meet you and take their place on board your machine. I will accompany them to the city and with your permission to stay with them a while, until they are settled down?”
“Of course you may, Frees. We have no problem with that at all. We want this operation to go smoothly and hope that your people can see the advantages that we are placing before your children. In a hundred years’ time all of this turmoil will be forgotten, as we forge a new partnership together. You have achieved a great deal without us, after the collapse of civilization, but together we can accomplish much greater things. There may well come a time when we become equals, but that time is not now. If we are all to survive, your people will have to trust us that we know what we are doing and obey our commands. As the weight of the ice increases the very ground that you stand on will become unstable. This is our ultimate goal, to prevent this from happening and the first thing that we must do is move Ixias inland.”
The Saitek administrator stared up at the strange being and asked, “Why is everything becoming unstable now?”
“The seas have become shallow to what they were and what was seawater has become ice, and is piling up over the lands at both poles, creeping steadily towards the equator. So the sea bottoms are being pressed upwards by the magma deep underneath, splitting open and what was open land is being forced downwards. Eventually the tectonic plates will cataclysmically slip and a time of extreme volcanism will grip this world, destroying everything in its path. This happened once before to a lesser degree and Ixias drowned before we could stop it. Life hung on however and repopulated this world, evolving to suit the new conditions. Now this has reversed and once again things have steadily changed. This time it will be much different as this world is heading towards a denser segment of the nebulae that is in our path. If nothing is done this world could become encased in ice from pole to pole except for the string of volcanos that will erupt, spewing ash high up into the atmosphere, thus increasing the density of the miasma that the sun must penetrate, to keep us warm. Have you not noticed that the night sky has less stars shining down on Ice-Callis? They have not gone away, Frees. The fact is that you can no longer see them, because of all the trillions of particles and debris that are in the way. This is why we need your children, to teach them and give them an education so that they can understand what we need to do to stay alive. What we have in mind will take time and effort by all of us to achieve,” Canu't explained as he ushered more Saitek children and their parents into the carrier including the children of Frees.
Canu't nodded to Jonness and the carrier began to lift until it hovered over the ground and slowly spun round to face back the way they came. The Saitek male locked the controls into automatic and turned towards the Administrator and Jonness beckoned him to stand by his side.
“You will see great wonders when we enter the city,” he told him. “There will be much that will look strange to you. There are enormous gaps in your knowledge that can only be filled by experience. I was born into what you would call servitude, but we look upon it as being favoured. The world that the Feetjie created and operated was a paradise that we enjoyed as well. Your children if they are successful in showing aptitude will enjoy privileges beyond your comprehension. Do not think that those who sent back home have attained something of value. They will not! Only the most talented and intelligent will be of use to the Dream-Masters. Some will have their minds altered to make them more amenable to working inside Ixias, but the Feetjie have learnt that those who freely settle here and make the most of the opportunity to study make the best citizens. They will teach your children to the limits of their own knowledge and hope that they may go beyond. It is true that they created us to serve them, but they do not regard us as slaves! We share this world with them as partners, but this state has to be earned.”
Frees stared at him and angrily answered, “We managed for thousands of years without them and dragged ourselves unaided out of barbarism. Why should we bend the knee and allow them to be our masters?”
Brabness shook her head in disbelief and seized the Administrator by his shoulders and whispered in his ear, “Have you not listened to the lord Canu't? Are you selectively deaf? They offer continual life on this world and you would turn that down? There is one thing that you must understand and do it well. They are masters of life or death and are coldly logical in their way of thinking. They find it difficult to understand how it is that we look after and cherish our children. They lay eggs in a communal incubation chamber and there they are left until it is judged that enough of them have been placed and the stasis generators are switched off. It is then that the eggs begin to live and develop without any help from the parents. When they hatch it is the survival of the fittest. Only the strongest will survive to climb out of the breeding pit. It is then that their education takes place. Should any of them show signs of regression or mental weakness, they are culled. It breeds an attitude that requires instant obedience by our race. Do not ever make one of them have to tell you twice. The Lord Canu't has explained the reasons that we are collecting your children. Do not question, just do as you are asked. I could say told, but the Feetjie do not think that way.”
Frees stood silent as he thought about the information that the Saitek ‘slave’ had told him. He struggled to understand all the implications that living under the Feetjie rule would alter his life. One thing was definite and that was the fact that there would be no turning back from this new and altered future. He stared at the strange being that dominated the carrier and knew that there would be no returning to the life that the Saitek had forged on their own. From what Jonness and Brabness had implied, the Feetjie had no concept of lying and spoke the truth at all times. The fact that the Lord Canu't had been at great patience to explain to him at all the reasons for the Saitek young to be abducted meant that the aliens did understand their creations’ feelings to a certain extent and would make limited allowances.
He bent down to his children and said, “Do not be afraid. You will soon see wonderful things and you must accept them as a new part of your lives.”
Inside, his heart was breaking at the prospect of losing his children to the wonders of the alien city, but he dared not show it.
The Rising of Ixias.
Jud’s stomach turned over as they sped across the alien city suspended by the harness that hung from the mono-rail. From time to time he got a glimpse of the other five as the pathway across the roof of the city twisted to one side or the other. He could not move his arms or his legs as the second unyielding skin completely enveloped him from ankles to chest. The cast around him was elasticated so that he could breathe in and out, but not wriggle out of the tube. As he could see the ground far beneath him Jud had no inclination to try doing that.
The voice whispered into his ears, “We are nearly to the control centre, young Saitek. I have served these beings for more thousands of years, ever since I was created, than you can imagine. You are going to meet and explain yourself to the greatest Feetjie of them all, Council Leader Ramaj't. Do not try to wander from the truth when you meet him. Resistance will be unsuccessful as the minds that you will be up against are far stronger than yours. I give you this advice knowing that you will attempt to defy him, but I give a warning to you that should be not likely taken.”
Jud and the others could now see their destination coming closer and closer. As Over-mind had said, this was the control centre of the city and was almost completely covered in glass windows and overlooked the entire panoply. The mono-rail was constructed to enter the wall on one side that was in shadow and the other side of the building was bathed in sunlight, with terraces of vegetation that showed thousands of flowers. Here both races of people could be seen enjoying the warmth of the sun.
The wall opened and shut, as the rest of the Saitek passed into a hall. Another wall opened in front of them and the six moved forwards to be directed into a line that fanned out in front of two Feetjie. Unlike the one that they had seen coming towards the city of Ironbound that was dressed in blue, these two were dressed in reds and gold. One of them was markedly larger than the other and wore a gold chain with a pendant of a type of blue and purple crystal that none of the Saitek had ever seen before.
Ramaj't swivelled his eyestalks round so that he could stare directly at the captives, snapped his beak once and said, “Which one of you acted as leader?”
At the sound of his voice each one of them concentrated on shielding their thoughts and effectively disappeared from all psychic senses.
“Do not try my patience young Saitek. This will be very painful for you and perhaps an object lesson to you all.” He turned to the other alien and said, “Trann’t, prise their mental shields off so that I can find out what I need to know.”
The smaller Feetjie stared at each one in turn and concentrated her mind. Some of them screamed, as what felt like molten tar saturated their minds and stuck fast, opening up all hidden thoughts to the probing mind of Ramaj't.
“Now that is done, I shall ask you some questions that you will answer truthfully and concisely, or I shall have to probe into your consciousness for my answers. This you will find extremely unpleasant, so I advise you to be open with me. So I will begin again. Who is your leader on this foolish enterprise?”
Jud stared into the eyes of the alien being and shuddered.
“I led these companions on a quest to destroy this city,” he answered.
“Are there more of you engaged in this pursuit? No! That was easier for you young Saitek. Now your mind can be ‘picked’ as easily as you found it, to wander through the minds of my fellow occupants of this city. I can feel that your friends and you have climbed a little further up the evolutional ladder in our absence. Your fore-fathers could not shield their thoughts from us. Neither will you, now that we know about your new generation. Ah! I see that you six can combine your thoughts into a gestalt and that you have passed this on by projecting your combined thoughts right across the continent! I am impressed young Saitek called Jud. I am also aware that this knowledge has only just come to you all and is new. There may come a time that we can assist you in develop this extra gift.”
He turned and walked up and down in front of the captives that hung defenceless each in their elasticated cocoon. Stopping in front of every captive he stared into each face and slipped into their minds.
“Your names, Jud, Grime, Hen, Fret and the two females, Monnow and Sonnet give me no idea of your rank or abilities. So I will gently probe each of you to find out what it is that you do at Ironbound. If you do not resist, you will suffer no pain. Should you try to hide anything, Trann't will drag it out of you and that will be painful. Do we understand each other?”
“Only too well,” answered Jud as he swung helplessly to and fro in the harness his mind still reeling from the painful impact of Trann't’s breaking his shield.
He felt the power of the intrusive mind of the Feetjie, as he dug into his memories to see what kind of life he had led and those of his people. Ramaj't eased the pain of his scalded mind before he went any further. A wave of grief swept over him when the memory of his mother’s death was replayed and Ramaj't gently pulled out.
“I understand a little now, of what brought you here. You wanted revenge for what happened at your farm. We were too eager in our need for knowledge and did not take in, that so much time had passed that you have forgotten us. We have no concept of family so Canu't and Mae'n would not have wasted the meat that your mother contributed on her death. The last thing that they expected was that her heart would stop through utter fear.
All members of this city are reprocessed upon death and turned into digestible foods. What cannot be used is turned into fertiliser to feed the hydroponics systems. This in turn provides us with essential minerals and vitamins missing from our diet. Unlike yourself, we did not originate from this world and so have had to genetically change the many of the life-forms on this planet to be compatible to our needs. We developed your ancestors from almost mindlessness to what you are today. In our absence you have continued to evolve independently and develop better telepathic powers that make you even more indispensable to our co-habiting cultures. We will need those of you with strong powers for us to attempt to alter things on this world to keep all of us alive. You six are excellent representatives of the telepathically gifted amongst your people. What we have in mind to do will require such as you to carry out the tasks that I have been planning ever since time restarted for the citizens of Ixias.”
Jud just stared at the alien being stood before him and asked, “You do not intend to punish us for attempting to destroy your city?”
“That would be unnecessary and unproductive at this stage. I am more interested in offering you and your misguided companions a senior situation in the new world that we would like to build. To attempt what you had in mind took courage and the fact that you were willing to die for your ideals to carry your plan to fruition gives me the possibility of using the six of you to do something dangerous, but to all our benefit. To make a start in that department we need to trust each other. So to begin with I will fill your mind with information that you would need to think about before you choose the path that you would like to take! But first I will release you from your bonds,” Ramaj't said and gestured to a Saitek that had joined them.
“I will run this appliance down the material that keeps you imprisoned”, he said and walked towards Jud holding out what looked like a small knife. “My name is Dannat and I assure you there is nothing to fear, but be prepared that you will fall out of this elasticated prison as soon as I finished opening it.”
With that the Saitek ran the cutter upwards from ankle to chest and Jud fell out onto the floor. Dannet put out a steady hand to stop Jud from falling over and waited for him to get his balance before he made his way towards the other five of Jud’s companions to also release them.
Ramaj't leant forward to bring his head down onto Jud’s level, tapped him on the shoulder with his beak and said, “Are you ready to receive the knowledge that you need to know? I will re-enter your mind and fill it with what you need to know. I will also take control of your body while you are wrapping your mind around all I have to tell you. My ability to control your bodily actions is necessary to my plan for our salvation.”
The Saitek felt the mind of Ramaj't flow into his awareness and begin to fill it with the knowledge that he would need to understand. He also realised that the alien was in full control of his limbs and was walking him around the chamber. The Feetjie opened drawers and took out some papers and began to draw a diagram. All this time, Ramaj't had stood with all three limbs locked in a tripod position as if frozen in time. The alien’s plan for the use of the Saitek filled his mind. With that understanding he could appreciate the enormity of what the Feetjie planned to do, or in reality, what Jud and other Saitek would have to do as animated puppets. He could also see that there was no alternative or the world that he had been born into would perish and with it every living thing. Without the Feetjie and their scientific knowledge sometime soon the future of both races would end.
The Rising of Ixias.
Fifteen years had passed by after the city of Ixias had emerged from the sea. The polar caps had steadily increased in size and the seas continued to shrink. Saitek children had been taken to the alien city from all over the continent and as the Feetjie had cautioned, only the best had been given leave to stay. Side by side Feetjie and Saitek children had studied together in the universities of knowledge and were now beginning to investigate the means to get to the interstellar part of the ship that had brought the Feetjie to Ice-Callis. The intermittent cascade of particles from the dark nebulae continued to make reaching the vessel impossible for any form of rocket powered ship. It would have been torn apart by the constant battering. The only way had to be by refining the wormhole generator that had been used in anger thousands of years ago. The problem that the Feetjie faced was centring the other end of the hole in space-time and keeping it steady by locking the other end inside the ‘Mother Ship’. To do that they needed to take an anchor through the wormhole so that the other open end of the tunnel stayed put. This meant that an airlock needed to be fitted at Ixias so that when the tunnel was formed a hungry vacuum did not exhaust the air from the city. The Feetjie being extra cautious built an airtight building around the airlock as a failsafe, with another airlock on the side of that.
Under the mental instruction provided by their handlers, Jud and his companions had learnt how to operate the many tools that their creators had devised. They had become willing avatars and had relinquished their bodily controls to the Feetjie floating in their cocoons. They learnt how to work side by side, sharing the Saitek body as a dual entity. One of the many new skills that they had to learn was how to operate in zero gravity. This was practised over and over again inside a huge hall that was operated by a Feetjie technician. In here they learnt how to operate their spacesuits and to move around in weightless conditions. Random ‘accidents’ were induced by their instructors and the pupils soon learnt how to plug a hole in the spacesuits when a small explosion would make a rent suddenly appear, as they floated in an induced vacuum. If the Saitek panicked, the suit would reseal and the occupant discarded as too unreliable. No amount of pleading would budge the controller from his or her decision. If the panic was brought rapidly under control however the Feetjie conducting the test would relent. Only those that were telepathically gifted with pronounced ability were chosen to take part in the project. The eruption of a volcano that burst out of the ground at the edge of a large town and engulfed it, put a great deal of extra pressure to get the project started. The number of earthquakes began to increase as tectonic plates began to buckle under the increasing weight of the ice.
Jud had ‘partnered’ with Sonnet soon after he had enlisted into the project envisioned by the Feetjie. They had been allowed to have two children genetically determined by their masters, one of each sex. Under the Feetjie auspices they had developed their ‘gifts’ beyond the abilities of their parents. The entire group of would-be saboteurs had become ‘City Dwellers’ and were all inducted into the team that would be used to start the project. They had all become used to being ‘ridden’ by the Feetjie engineers that would be responsible in repairing the ‘Mother Ship’ so that it could be used to alter the conditions on Ice-Callis. First the spatial engineers had to centre the other end of the wormhole inside the orbiting vessel.
Jud and his team assembled inside the airlock and shut the door and dogged it sealed. The air was pumped out and the wormhole generator activated. As the hole in space-time opened it took on the appearance of a mirror. The first thing that they did was to send through a probe carrying a quantum singularity that activated on the other side becoming an anchor. They then powered up the mobile unit from an expanding cable and switched on the cluster of lights illuminating what seemed to be a storage chamber. They all viewed the screen sending the information back to the control station as well as to the space-suited crew picked for this task. The matter repelling coils had made sure that the worm-hole had not opened partly in a wall.
Engineer Bill’t surveyed the situation from Jud’s eyes considering any dangers and gave the order to advance. Jud did as he was asked and stepped through the mirror and found himself in a weightless situation, so rapidly stepped down with his magnetic boots onto the platform on top of the mobile unit. He moved as quickly as he could away from the machine and watched as the other members of the team came through. Grim and Fret released the sealing bubbles from the hose leading back to the airlock on the other side. As they all anchored themselves to the wall of the chamber the ‘ground crew’ opened the pipes to the outside of the building and a mighty rush of air began to fill the vessel from the roof of Ixias. As the air began to fill the ‘Mother-Ship’ the bubbles swept through the vessel, sealing any holes to the outside. In seconds the material hardened, as it jammed into the thousands of holes, sealing the outside of the double hull. Soon the void became filled and the mother-ship completely sealed. As the hours went by, the crew began to make their way into the control-room as the wind began to die down. As the moist air flooded into the vessel, ice began to form on all exposed surfaces in the sub-zero temperature.
Once the air pressure equalized, the ground crew began the process of transferring a multitude of solar panels through the airlock and through the gate. Once these were through, a crew of experts came after them and manhandled them to the vessel’s air-locks where they were taken out to replace the tattered panels that in some places hung in shreds. The re-building Feetjie engineers kept a watch that the Saitek did not overwork themselves as they operated through their avatars. Sometimes the Feetjie withdrew their mind control, allowing the Saitek to use their own judgement in the mechanics of the task that they were engaged in. As the solar panels caught the sun and power began to flood into the ship’s energy banks, lights began to glow. Warm air gushed out of vents and heat started to thaw the moving parts of the great vessel. Prefabricated shields were fitted to protect the solar panels from the constant onslaught of being ‘peppered’ by the contents of the dark nebulae. All the work done on the outside of the ‘Mother Ship’ had to be done behind portable shields. Although most of the debris was made up as grains of ice and dust, many of the fragments were the size of small pebbles. These would rip through a spacesuit and out the other side in a fraction of a second.
Jud and the other members of the crew had been acclimatised to working in zero gravity and vacuum inside the building that housed the wormhole gate. This was what the hours of training had been for. As more and more solar panels were replaced and welded in place, the ‘Mother Ship’ began to come alive and the other ship-bound Over-mind activated. Now the two A.I.’s combined knowledge and facts to become twin minds. After some time, a host of mobile units became activated and those in good repair, attended to those that had been damaged by the passing of so many years, to bring them into the workforce. Soon hundreds of them were busy doing internal repairs run by the two A.I.s and ferrying the new solar panels to the airlocks. After several years the engineer Bill’t and Jud had learnt to build a relationship working on the outside of the vessel. They had even met at the cocoons before the Feetjie had all the necessary pipes fitted, before they forged a partnership. They worked ten days on, ten days off so that the muscles of the Feetjie did not weaken and atrophy. The nights were for resting and sleeping although Jud and Sonnet found other things to do.
The Saitek had prospered under the ‘rule’ of the Feetjie and blended into the new culture. Jud had met the two dragon riders that had caused the death of his mother many years ago. He had understood the shock that had killed her was not intended and regretted by Canu't and Mae'n. The fading into myth of the Feetjie and their dragons had meant that she had become so terrified when she was picked up and mind swept, that she had reacted to the extent of a heart attack.
The cultural difference between the two vastly different peoples had added to the shock suffered by Jud, when the dragons had eaten his mother. These differences were now forgotten and all grievances put aside in the forging of the new way. Soon the interstellar ‘Mother-Ship’ would be totally repaired and the next stage of the project would be undertaken. This was the moving of the city of Ixias to a more stable position, away from the edge of the shrunken sea and far enough inland to avoid the encroaching waves as the ice-caps melted.
Jud was thinking about this incredible task when he made a fatal mistake and moved out from underneath the shield to retrieve a tool that had slipped the tether. As he reached out for it a billion year old chunk of ice the size of his fist took his hand and arm off by ploughing through it just above the elbow. This was beyond the abilities of the suit to reseal the opening and in seconds all the air and most of his blood was pumped into the vacuum until his heart began to stop. As the blood flow eased, the heart slowed down and the stump froze solid, but too late to allow the brain to live more than a few moments.
The Rising of Ixias.
Bill’t reacted instinctively by withdrawing his consciousness from the dying Saitek’s body, collecting Jud’s mind with him and returned to his maintained body in the sustaining cocoon. He anchored Jud within his mind and maintained it while he sent a telepathic call for assistance. Located in the storage units were a set of stasis boxes that had an insurance for an accident that would lead to any Saitek’s death. Every coupled mind working outside the ‘Mother Ship’ had been cloned many times without the recipient’s knowledge and placed in readiness for just such a time. At the moment Jud was aware of a totally new sensory experience as he was flooded with neuronal inputs from the host Feetjie’s brain, flowing through his mind. He could feel what it was to stand rock steady on three legs and to have four arms. The entire area around Bill’t was viewed in binocular vision and also infra-red that gave each individual a unique aura projecting around their body.
He became aware of Bill’t’s presence as his mind communicated the welcome news, “You’re not dead! I have you safely in my mind awaiting transfer into your clone. We do not waste the time and effort teaching talented people like yourself to lose them. But do not think that we have an unlimited set of clones awaiting acts of carelessness! The dangers that you may face could easily take your life and we still have much to do. You will of course find that you will have a much younger body than you are used to. You will be given at least five days to acclimatise until you are called upon to return to your duties on board the ‘Mother Ship’ so I will expect you there fully recovered.”
Jud was just glad to be alive and was ready to make every effort to be able to return. He wondered how Sonnet would react when a much younger partner came through the door? He surmised that his clone would be only a few years older than his children were and they might find the situation difficult.
Bill’t made his way towards the stasis storage area that was quite close to the cocoons that the Feetjie occupied while they operated the Saitek as living tools. The clone was already being brought out as they got there and a defibrillator had been placed across his chest. The replica was firmly strapped down, as when the creature started to breathe it would be mindless and would thrash about. The clone jolted and pushed against the restraints, as the charge was administered. Its heart started and the clone began to draw breathe struggling against the straps.
Bill’t placed his second set of arms and hands on Jud’s forehead and spoke in his mind, “I am about to transfer you to your new home, Jud, so be ready to take control and try to lie still. You will need some time to adjust and I will be with you at all times until you gain control.”
Jud felt the overwhelming presence of the alien’s mind in his and became aware that he no longer had three legs and four arms. He noticed that he was breathing and he could feel his heart thumping in his chest. Jud breathed steadily and slowed down his need for air. His heart began to slow and go back to normal and he opened his eyes to see his Feetjie handler looking down on him with both eyestalks swivelled round to stare into his face, his beak closed. He became aware that he was alone in his new body and Bill't had taken his hands away from his head. He curled and clenched his fists and swished his tail back and forth, tensing and un-tensing the muscles in his arms and legs.
After some time, although his speech was still a little slurred, he managed to say, “You can unstrap me now if you please. I will get off this gurney and stand by the side of it. Is there any chance of some clothes for me to wear, as I’m not that keen on walking home through crowds of people naked!”
Bill't gave a mental command and another Saitek was at Jud’s side with a tunic and footwear. The female helped him into a fresh set of clothes and bowed her head in deference to his rank. Jud felt the energy fountaining through his body and stared down at his unscarred hands. Every moment spent inside the clone made him more and more sure of himself. Not one single muscle ached in this young body or showed any tiredness.
Bill't lent forwards and in a deep contralto voice said, “You will now go home with an escort to make sure that you are able to get there. I will be awaiting you five days from now on board the ‘Mother Ship.’ You will be there in the flesh and I in your mind. Do not be careless again or the next clone that you will activate might be a much older person from the ‘spares’ stasis box and you will not enjoy that experience.”
Jud bent his head in supplication and replied, “I hear you Lord Bill't and I will be more careful in future. Now that I am clothed, I would like to leave this place and return to my apartment. We will meet again in five days.”
Jud hooked onto the mono-rail along with his minder and the two of them were soon whisked across the city to the Saitek living quarters. He cast his mind back to an hour or so ago when he was in zero gravity, floating in vacuum and tethered to the ‘Mother Ship.’ He remembered fixing another shield in place in the bitter cold of space and reaching for the tool. Then there was a moment of excruciating pain and he was inside Bill't’s mind. He now had some experience of what it was to be a Feetjie and he was in awe of the engineer’s abilities.
Everything was sharper in sound and vision as he adjusted to his new body that he estimated as late teens or early twenties. It still seemed like a dream.
As the disembarking point came up, Jud projected his mind to Sonnet’s to tell her of his ‘accident’ and the consequences that would follow. The two Saitek stopped at the platform and Jud unhooked his harness and bid his companion goodbye. He walked into the hallway and made his way towards his doorway when it swung open and Sonnet came to meet him.
“The Lord Bill't entered my mind and told me what happened out there. Where will they put your body? Are you alright? You look so different! So young!”
“It’s still me, Sonnet my love. I am just younger that’s all. We have five days maximum before I have to return to the ‘Mother Ship’ so let us not waste them. Our children are boarded at the university so we have the apartment to ourselves!”
Jud picked her up and walked towards the bedroom curling his tail around hers.
Two years later the ‘Mother Ship’ was fully restored to its former condition and began to approach synchronised orbit directly over the city of Ixias. Tractor beams were directed to the city and both city and ‘Mother Ship became one. The larger of the two moons, Tooth and Claw was reaching its zenith and as one of them slipped behind the other what the Feetjie were waiting for happened. The mother ship directed its forward tractor beams onto the larger moon, Tooth and applied a double grab to the system. As the moon continued in orbit its mass countered the anchorage of the city and tore it out of it original situation. As the city rose out of the sea-bottom’s grip the Feetjie spatial engineers cut off the tractor beams attached to the moon and prevented the linked city and ship from swinging wildly, as the ‘Mother Ship’ would have followed the moon’s path dragging the city with it.
Many miles from where the city of Ixias had risen from the sea, a flattened area had been prepared for the city’s new position on solid rock towards the top of a hill. This had been levelled off halfway between the top and the valley below. There would be no flooding of the city in its new position when the melt began. All of the anti-gravity generators in the city were working flat out as the ‘Mother Ship’ eased the city into position and lowered it to its new position over an artificial lake, fed by a river. The two Over-minds kept a tight control over the city and the ‘Mother Ship’ as Ixias took up its new position overlooking the plains of ‘Ro’ that would sweep down to the sea once the great melt finished. This area was seismically quiet and would remain so, but the area that the city had sat on for millennia, freed of the mass, holding the tectonic plates together, erupted as the old sea bottom split. Lava pumped out and engulfed the place where the city had stood. To first part of the plan had successfully been enacted and now the next part would have to be set in motion.
The Rising of Ixias.
The Feetjie were masters of nanotechnology. Once they had decided on the remedy to staving off the induced ice age, they set forth to grow crystals that would reflect sunlight without losing any power. They had a multitude of fractal frames within the heart of the crystal, arranged so that all the light entering would be returned out into the void.
This was the heart of the project that the Feetjie had decided to embark on. What was needed to begin with was a visit to the largest satellite, Tooth that had the lower orbit of the two moons. With the success of the first stage they would concentrate the same idea on the smaller moon, Claw that orbited further out from Ice-Callis.
Ramaj't had decided to make Canu't the project leader of the expedition to the moon’s surface to collect samples. He in turn had decided that the engineer Bill't and his ‘crew’ would be the ones to manage breaking up some of the top, ‘lunar regolith’ and returning it to the ‘Mother Ship’ so that it could be sent back through the star-gate to Ixias for study.
This time the interstellar vessel would act as a giant shield so that the Saitek could move around on the moon’s surface without being pierced by the constant peppering of the dark nebulae’s debris and detritus. Jud and his squad of collectors were down there to ‘cherry pick’ items, minerals and rocks that showed any colour or difference from the uniform greyness of the moonscape.
The ‘Mother Ship’ had set itself close enough to the surface of the moon known as Tooth, to be able to tear up the surface with its tractor beams. This enabled them to go deeper under the top layer, to see what minerals could be found and adapted. Jud and the other members of the team followed the trenches cut by the tractor beams, looking again for items of interest. The success of the alteration at the molecular level depended to a great extent on what they could find to work with. The Saitek gathered and bagged everything that they could find and placed them in a prominent position so that the ship’s tractor beams could pull them back and place them inside the airlock in airtight containers. These were ferried back to Ixias and studied. Jud and his companions occasionally liked minds to form a gestalt and with this power were able to drag out items using their fledgling telekinetic powers. It was this potential that Ramaj't had sensed, when he had first met the saboteurs and was determined to use. Where the tractor beams had manged to penetrate much deeper excavationing into the regolith, there appeared to be an abundance of crystalline deposits buried under the constant rain of particles from the dark nebulae. This raw material would suit the Over-minds best for the nano-bots to work on to transform them into reflectors.
Over-mind one and two manipulated the nannites, rearranging the molecular patterns, transforming any of the moonrock into reflecting crystals using nano-bots. These were experimented with and refined by Saitek engineers working with the Feetjie, until they got a workable framework that would house a barrage of reflectors to direct the sunbeams towards Ice-Callis from the two moons.
Once the A.I.s were satisfied with the results of their manipulation of the molecular structure of the crystallite deposits, they contained the programed nannites in magnetic bottles and sent them back to the interstellar ‘Mother Ship’ for the crew to ‘seed’ the moonscape of Tooth with the cargo. Canu't eased the vessel into as low an orbit as they dared and proceeded to scatter the containers of programed nano-bots across the rugged moonscape. Once the magnetic bottles smashed open on impact, the tiny machines began their work and disappeared from sight, delving into the rocks to drag out the material that was needed to be adapted. Soon the mountains began to shine with reflected sunlight and projecting the mirrored light in all directions. Canu't altered the direction of the ship to do a polar orbit and once again scattering the nano-bots’ containers over crater walls, mountains and plains. Once the transformation began, the process accelerated, as thousands of nannites became millions and then billions as the nano-bots transformed the surface of the moon into a vast multi-directional mirror. Any rock or debris that fell on the moon would be transformed into a crystallite reflector. Any damage done to the mirrored surface would be instantly repaired by the nano-bots.
The Feetjie engineers felt a great sense of achievement as the project began to do what it was meant for, as Ice-Callis gained an extra sun that began at once to heat up the planet below and vaporise any dirty ice chunks as they fell into the path of the reflected light. Now the smaller moon would meet the same treatment, so that when Tooth ducked behind Ice-Callis, Claw would take up an auxiliary situation and continue to add heat to the system. The reflected sunlight from the two moons would carve a track through the dirty ice particles, also allowing the heat of the sun to penetrate through, by separating the frozen particles from the ice and burning the hydrogen out of the mix using the oxygen content.
As the years went by the ice-caps retreated and the seas once more began to fill up. The returned weight of water into the sea bottoms took the tectonic plates back into a more stable situation and one by one the volcanos ceased to pump toxic gas and lava into the sky. As the atmosphere became cleaner and allowed more of the sunlight to penetrate through, the process speeded up. Night-time became erratic depending whether the moons passed through the umbra of Ice-Callis’s eclipse. Only then would night fall, briefly, whilst the moons stayed in the shadow.
Life on the planet adapted, as life does, when the ice retreated and the old cities re-emerged from the icy wastes. This released the lands underneath the glaciers for agriculture. Once again under the Feetjie’s guidance, Ice-Callis became the paradise that it had been long ago.
The Saitek lost the idea of freedom as they were willing to resume the life that they had before under the guidance of the Feetjie and were content. Now they willingly sent their children to Ixias to be tested and the favoured few, educated. These fortunate enough to enter the research projects run by the tripedal Feetjie attained positions of enhanced rank and were rewarded by extended lifespans by having their minds transferred into clones.
Several hundred years later Jud and his partner, sonnet were enjoying themselves by co-existing with a pair of dragons while their cloned bodies were placed in suspended animation. They were joined by Canu't and Mae'n also enjoying a respite from another engineering project by taking dragon form. What the Feetjie had in mind was to move the next world out from the sun to take up an orbit a lot closer in over the poles so that the two planets would not collide or affect a tidal force between them. The planet had a molten iron core and threw out a deflecting magnetic field to ward off cosmic rays from the sun. It also would need a substantial moon that would act as a steadying influence to stop it tipping over. There was water in abundance locked in as ice that would form seas. First of all they needed to add mass to the outer world by colliding moons that orbited the gas giants with planet Callis two, until its gravitational force equalled that of Ice-Callis. This would trigger off volcanic action as tectonic plates would shift and move. Only then, would they attempt to move it and once it was in a steady orbit, start bringing it to life. This would be the task of the Feetjie geneticists along with their Saitek partners. This was going to become a vast project taking thousands, maybe millions of years to bring to fruition. After all now the Feetjie had plenty of time!
Who are the six? Jud, Grime, Hen & Fret.(M) Monnow (F) Sonnet (F),
Jonness & Brabness, Saitek servants of Canu't & Mae'n. Frees.admin.
Feetjie – Fairies. Dream-Masters. Ice-Callis – World. Ixias –city. Able to become ‘one’ with their creation – dragon. Dragon mistress - Mae'n – Shrill. Dragon master – Canu’t – Bellow. (Egg layers by reproduction. 4 arms, Upper larger than lower arms. 3 legs –two at front powerful one at the back. Black & Golden scaly skin. Faces – sharp teeth, beak-like, three eyed, centre eye sees in infra-red. High councillor Ramaj't.(M) Strong telepath;- Tran’t (F) Bill’t engineer. Over-mind A,I.
Saitek –Goblins. Prehensile tail. Bald. Green. New Ironbound. -- City.