The pilots of Bot City have been focused on securing the safety of their people, and incidentally the human city, for the last few days.
With one final battle to expunge the Tokkel before they can try and get a foothold on Hera, the bot pilots are ready to take up the customized weapons and use them to show the alien invasion who is in charge.
Their goal is clear. They have to repel the Tokkel and learn the actual history of the valley as not one version of the tale has rung entirely true. The Nine have their version, the elders have their version, the city has their version, and then there is the truth. It is past time for the truth to be heard. The pilots have earned it.
Duel was leading Kabriuk to the elders’ conference chamber when she noted the flow of folk to the amphitheater.
“Kab, am I taking him to the right place?”
“Yes, Duel. The elders are arranging a briefing for the valley before we go to war. You are still to go to the conference chambers. I believe they want to confine the males to the chambers during the briefing.”
Duel groaned. “They are going to lie to the population.”
“Probably. This is not the time to discuss genetic heritage.”
Ah. That was it. The members of the Nine wanted to speak to their descendants but the confusion that would ensue would be a distraction. It was going to have to be dealt with clan by clan.
“Who are you talking to?”
She looked up at him and smiled. “Kab. He’s chatty.”
“They named the bots after the donors of the AI print.” He smiled slowly.
“They did. Didn’t you know?”
“No, I was never introduced to my imprint. None of us were. The ladies were there and told us that it was successful.”
“I thought that the father of pilot Otta designed the bots and the AI casings.”
“No, it was his wife, Marya who drew up the bots and she did the calculations to use the imprint from our ship as a template. The ship was sacrificed in the early attacks, but we saved the main hard drive. I wonder what happened to her?”
“I will look into it once we are near a terminal.”
He blinked. “A terminal?”
“Sure. Your clan status determines what you can access, but we use them from the time we can walk and in every day life.”
“May we access them?”
She frowned. “I think Nyvett would be able to set you up. She has administrative privileges.”
“She is Iffendro’s blood.”
He nodded as if he was putting her appearance into place in his mind.
Duel sighed and flexed her hands. “Well, we are here.”
She nodded to the security officers and moved between them, opening the door to the spot where the elders usually gathered to create special task forces. The room was nearly at capacity when Duel and Kabriuk stepped inside.
Lameera looked up from her desk and she nodded, “Right. Thank you, Duel, for your assistance. You can go now.”
She paused and Kabriuk grabbed her arm.
Kabriuk stated, “I would like her to stay. There are nuances to your language that me and mine have trouble keeping up with.”
Lameera looked at Duel and Duel realized that she was the only pilot in the room. “I can go.”
Lameera shook her head. “Stay. You can explain this to the pilots.”
Lameera stood and looked at the men. “As we are hours from battle, we are not going to tell the population who you are. We wish to get through this with our morale intact, and knowing that the history has been cobbled together to be feasible is not what we want to tell them today. Tomorrow is another matter. The light of truth can blaze tomorrow.”
She nodded to the elders. “We have discussed it, and we agree that when the battle is over, the ships vanquished and the prisoners dealt with, we will tell our people about you. They will know your story, and that of the women who founded the valley.”
Kabriuk nodded but Aikoro raised a hand. “Prisoners?”
Lameera nodded. “There was an attack on this place by dozens of small vessels. We kept those alive that we could. They are in one of our dead-end mines right now.”
Ciotan piped up, “They can chew through rock.”
Lameera nodded. “We guessed at that. They are in a lined underground corridor that doesn’t go anywhere. They have only managed to chew through six inches in the last eight hours. By the time this is over, they will be reaching the second safety lining.”
The members of the Nine looked at each other and slow smiles crept across their faces. They said something in a liquid language and Kab translated for Duel. She grinned. “They say we are much like our grandmothers.”
Lameera inclined her head with a grin and she nodded at the rest of the elders. “Stay here while the speech is going on. I am going to try and build up a little bit of the morale and get folks ready for a big change. I don’t want the distraction the males in our midst.”
Duel blinked. “I understand. I think. We will remain here.”
“Good. When the meeting is over and everyone goes to their stations, make sure that you are in your bot without hesitation. We need all of you up there.”
Duel smiled. “I will be there. Kab wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kabriuk frowned and asked, “What will become of us during the battle? We want to help.”
Lameera paused during her exit but Duel waved her to leave.
“We can head to medical and I am sure that at least a few of you can run scans. Do scans to see if you made it through your long sleep without issue. For now, we just have to wait. After the meeting there will be a rush as folks get to duty stations.”
Kabriuk cocked his head. “Don’t you have to get to your station?”
“No, he comes to me.”
She grinned at their alarmed looks. “The med center is near one of the entrances for obvious reasons. I will have him meet me there.”
As they spoke quietly about what they would do in medical, Lameera began to address the citizens of the valley.
Duel sat at the council table and listened to Lameera’s speech.