Home for a few weeks from the asteroids. Marak inadvertently started a political mess – he asked the Governor of Oceana to sign his house charter to make it a multi-planet one, which apparently makes it an Imperial charter. Meanwhile, the Council decided to give seats on the new Constitutional Council to the Imperially chartered houses – Agro-Tech, ISP, House of Children, and House of Vigils. There was some discussion about giving the Vigils a non-voting role because the house is so small. Marak was going to trade his seat for making sure the Vigils got a vote and some trade plans he’s been working on with Oceana, but AUD1 persuaded him to keep his vote. Adams is running for the open Aurora seat along with Lorne.
Marak’s suggestion to send a Pegasus to Oceana along with a passenger pod of any hibernation pod techs that want to go has been ok’d. Marak also got an ok for regular cargo pod transfers between the colonies. This is a great thing, I have concerns about the colonies growing apart.
Bayside is getting more settled. I’ve been starting to plan my move. Legate Guthar has been courting Vicinius to open House Vitarum there. I need to ask him about inviting Speaker over – AUD1 may want to come to study the Fisher Kings colony, assuming Cailean’s diplomatic mission to the nearer Fisher King leader is successful. He’s the closest to being able to understand Tikkit (ThinkerBug) scent language, and I’m the best xeno-doc we have. (OK, I may be the only xeno-doc we’ve got.) Project Orpheus has moved to human trials, double-blind, results to be reviewed by Vicinius and I.
Speaker has made great progress in learning our language. We know more about the Tikkit. The scout eagle has been watching the formation bugs deliberately starve the refugee’s old grove. Then floating gas bags rose from the swamps to kill and petrify the bark. Finally, we had an alert. A large sea serpent beached itself and disgorged nearly a score of ants. The ants move in groups of five, with a leader that has a rod that project heat (pyrokenisis) to destroy the undergrowth around the maple grove. (At a guess, they are a small gestalt. I don’t know enough about pyrokensis to know how much power it takes to generate heat at a 100’ range.) They attacked the eagle, with the help of the formation bugs, but no damage to it. We attacked the formation bugs, but not the ants. So far, we’re trying to avoid an armed conflict.
Speaker says the Tikkit use the serpents for transport under the sea and through underground rivers. Vicinius got that covetous look in his eyes as did Marak. They bio-engineered the fire ants – they are intelligent, but loyal to Desert Bloom. The desert ants have cryokensis powers. Neither seems to have physical TK. The fire ants were securing the area around the maple grove and recognized eagle as a threat, so they drove it off. (They underestimate eagle’s magnification ability and our satellite surveillance capacity.) The trees are being transformed into something that can store memory – a biological server farm. The ants and the giant mobile mushrooms (Speaker says they are like firewalls) protect the groves to protect the data. The groves are interlinked by a fungal network. Vicinius has that covetous look again.
Yes, I know the maples are not sentient, but there’s something about the cold efficiency of driving off the Fisher Kings to starve their trees to convert to their own resources and using specifically designed viruses to eliminate the big reptile at Grassland that is chilling.
The Tikkit seem to be eusocial – arranged in groups that each have a specific function in their home – the queens are the only psi-healers and can bio-engineer with psi powers. They make intelligent life. Builders make non-intelligent tools like the formation bugs. We know that the consorts can teleport things, like Speaker’s pod. At a guess, the scientists like Ozone have long-range telepathy abilities to keep in contact with their little analysis pods. When I gave Speaker a polished rock from the asteroid mission, it was curious, but said that the Tikkit don’t study the stars.
Desert Bloom is not the first, but is the eldest queen. She is very long-lived but at a cost of reduced fertility – her daughters provide her children. Speaker’s queen, Coral Bloom, is outside Desert Bloom’s influence, but is dependent on her. Speaker sent me an image, the queens are within a nest of fungus that enhances their abilities. Grassland was apparently a military bioweapons lab that we stumbled across. They use buggalo for food and resources.
Speaker does not have information about Desert Bloom’s intentions or enough information to make an educated guess. We need to at least reach a truce. The Council agrees. We are going to escort Councilor Bahiti to meet Coral Bloom. Adams will be staying behind to politic. The rest of us are taking a crash-course in Tikkit culture to prepare. Marcus is on edge, and it isn’t about the Helios. I’ve tossed a couple of leading questions his way, but no response. Whatever it is, it’s private and concerning.
We also joined Marak on the uneventful maiden flight of Helios – it is a lovely ship. Vicinius used the occasion to propose to Bahiti. Marak has been spending a lot of time with Delanne and Lyra. Adams and Kawit seems to be on the verge of a formal marriage alliance. I’d better get moving, after we survive the Tikkit.