Ventus – Day 128 of 135


“…This is a small price to ask,” recited the operator by the moon’s doors. His voice trailed off with the last syllables, as he saw the effect his words were having on the listening basts.

“We have been betrayed!” shouted their leader. It rounded on Lavin. “There can be no negotiation with those who are to serve us. If your commander will not obey our orders, then we will take matters into our own hands.”

Lavin stepped forward. “What do you–” The bast was shouting something. Lavin felt a lurch go through the whole fabric of the moon; he stumbled.

“Sir!” The semaphore man was waving to him. “The hooks! They’re heading toward the mountain.” Lavin ran over to the edge of the door, and looked down. Giant metal claws were spiralling away from below them, aimed at the mountainside.

“We will collect the abomination ourselves,” said the bast. “And remove your army from this place at the same time.”

Calmly, Lavin drew his rapier and ran the bast through before it could even shout. He watched impassively as it toppled to the deck. Then he turned to his men.

“Relay the message to the other moons and to Hesty on the ground. Then send this code word to the moons: Repast.”

The other basts shrieked, and bared their claws; Lavin had posted men to watch them surreptitiously many hours ago, and now the moon suddenly echoed with musket-fire. The basts fell, clawing and yowling. Gunpowder smoke wafted past him and swirled out into the cold air above the mountains.

“But sir, what does this mean?” In the aftermath, the lieutenant was the only one brave enough to speak up. He would have made a good marshall, Lavin thought, given time. Too bad.

“We have known for some time that we are prisoners of the Winds,” he said. “We were wrong–Galas was right all along. The creatures who’ve enslaved our army do not have our interests in mind. Nor do they have the right to abuse us. Our homes are threatened, and if we let them, they will destroy us. We’ve known that, and we’ve been waiting on the proper moment to act.

“That moment is here. Send the messages, then I have one last detail for the engineers. They know what it is. For the rest of us, all we can do is pray that whatever rules both Man and Wind will be merciful to us, and let us live through the next hour.”

He stood with his sword out, watching the semaphore messages go out. The engineers ran to their stations and unreeled their fuses. At any moment the vagabond moon might realize what had occurred, and act to save itself. He wasn’t about to give it the chance.

Lavin’s heart was lifting. It lifted as the charges went off with sharp bangs and his men cheered. It lifted as the moon’s internal support cables whipped up and away, and ripples began to spread across the geodesic skin of the moon.

As the gales above the mountain took the moon and pulled it out of shape, he fell and slid along the floor, but he was no longer afraid. He knew he had finally done the right thing. He was able to hang onto the broken stump of a guy stanchion for a while and watch while the moon’s skin split and the sensation of falling–really falling–began. Then they were turning too fast and the gusts were too strong, and he let himself go.

For a while, he was flying.


Men had crowded the parapet below to watch the fall of the moons. Galas stood with one of the officers who had been in on the plan. He told her how they had observed the fragility of the great vehicles under windy conditions–how their skins were too thin and vast to be truly rigid, so that they needed internal support. He told her how Lavin had mined the guy wires. As he spoke she watched the globe that had hung above them tear apart on the south peak, and fall in wind-torn pieces across the valley.

Galas had thought she had nothing left to cry for, but she did weep as she watched the three moons in the valley vainly try to avoid one another. They collided at last in terrible slow motion, and with only the sound of far distant thunder, they split and drifted like the finest gauze onto the flaming, jagged peaks of the forest, which shredded them completely.

Lavin was dead. At the end of all things he had obeyed her, and maybe he even loved her still, as he had claimed. She put her hands over her face, and turned away.


Jordan hurried down a dim passage near the mountain top; his hand tightly gripped Tamsin’s, and she stumbled as she tried to keep up. The others were blundering along behind him, but he no longer had the patience to wait for them. Something terrible was happening above.

First, Mediation had fallen silent. Its constituents were busy–whether busy panicking or marshalling their forces, he did not know. The desals were only part of Mediation, Jordan knew; there were other, more powerful entities located deep within the planet’s crust: the geophysical Winds. He had caught vague telltales of their presence once or twice, like a deep rumbling far below his feet. Now that rumbling too was silent.

Something had happened above the mountain–some catastrophe involving the Heaven hooks. Jordan’s own senses weren’t strong enough to penetrate that far, and Mediation was not showing him anything. He could sense the immense machines of the Titans’ Gates slowing, however. They seemed to be shutting down.

Mediation, he called now. Answer me! What’s happening?

Silence. The back of his neck was prickling. Had the geophysical Winds been defeated by Thalience? Or had the Galactics attacked Ventus, as Axel warned they would?

It was only dozen meters now to the exit nearest the monastery. He would know in seconds.

“Come on! We’re nearly there!”

“What’s the hurry?” Axel loomed out of the shadows. The scowl he was wearing made him look like the sort of creature Jordan’s mother had always warned him lived underground.

“Something’s wrong.”

Axel shrugged. “That statement probably applies to every second I’ve spent on this blasted world.”

“No, I–” There was the door. As he hurried towards it, Jordan commanded the oddly-shaped lozenge to open. Dust burst in little clouds from its edges, and a moment later light split the gloom.

At that moment a voice spoke in Jordan’s mind. It had some of the qualities of the voices of the Winds; there was an impression of great strength there, and the sort of calmness borne of great age. From its first words, however, Jordan knew this was no Wind.

Stop now. You will cease this petty assault. There is nothing you can do to me. Reconcile yourselves to being devoured, because it will happen to you within the day.

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