Felmohsa-Randit Shelbros dam Leyostaam was new. She had arrived in the airsphere as a student just three or four months ago and neither of the two resident professors had any idea what, exactly, she was supposed to be studying.
Certainly the dirigible behemothaurs had much to teach them, but she seemed less interested in their knowledge than their biology. She would work in a grav-harness on the exterior, sometimes disappearing for days at a time below the vast bulk of the creature’s flanks. Mahell joked that she was probably working out how to mate with it, you know what that lot are like. This got a stern look from his partner (whose name he’d never worked out how to pronounce), and he busied himself again with his library.
++TRANSMISSION RECEIVED VFP LOOK OVER THERE, STUPID++
I think this is a waste of time. The behemothaurs don’t want to talk to us, they barely recognise that we are there. The two damn fool bird monsters living in its upper gondola are as dumb as rocks. Sure, they’ve read all the literature and even interfaced a few times but they understand nothing. The creature is so much more than it shows to them.
I found the parasitic cluster you spoke of. It was promising. I swear I was edging towards a solution; I think it wanted to be a go-between but as soon as I told it who I was it sent a single blip of static and then nothing. Are you sure Special Circumstances haven’t been here?
Anyway, without that we’re going to get nowhere with the dirigibles. The entire body is an ecosystem and it’s mostly benign but where it’s hostile it’s really hostile. And by my reckoning the hostile bits are the ones closest to its… I don’t really think it has ears, but something like that. My pen probes show there’s sensory equipment in there. Can I get a drone? A knife missile would do. Send it in there. Have a look. Try talking.
++TRANSMISSION INTERCEPTED FROM VFP LOOK OVER THERE, STUPID BY UNKNOWN MIND++
No drones! We have already put one airsphere off limits because we sent one in. Admittedly it went a little off-piste, you know how drones are. Took a chunk out of a behemothaur in frustration. Really got a bee in its bonnet about how it wouldn’t listen. Some drones just hate anything smarter than themselves that won’t chat with them, you know? That means no knife missiles, either –they’re not really standard field equipment, Shel.
++TRANSMISSION FROM UNKNOWN MIND++
Sending a drone along now. General purpose. Just right for this job. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.