Author Topic: Part 11: Thoughtstorming  (Read 6242 times)

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Offline Daen

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Part 11: Thoughtstorming
« on: July 13, 2022, 07:10:02 AM »
Every night, the Arbormass spent a few hours in prayer to honor the People and the Core, and to reflect on the dangers of the Void. Tonight's prayers were ragged and strained. There were never any actual words exchanged, but it was a chance to share through song and sensation how everyone actually felt.

Back in grove Praska, Moss had participated in a few such ceremonies, but they were much less important over there. Core-worship was standard, but it was practiced more practically in rural settings than apparently here and in grove Heirach. Moss supposed that in a grove made up of hundreds of people, the leaders had to be more inventive with ways to occupy their minions.

Tonight, Aysa led the song as usual, but her tone was muted by sadness and fear. Her bark groaned as it expanded and contracted, providing the baseline for the hymn. Her qars provided the percussion accompaniment, by rubbing limbs together or tapping in tune. Aysa's sorrow flooded the Arbormass as the others took up their parts in the song as well. It was as if they'd all been girdled, and were now lamenting their impending doom. Moss joined in when it was his turn, but only half his mind was on it. His thoughts were still caught up in that recording sent by the doomed treqar.

Her name had been Polda, he had learned. Her mother had run that grove's modest trade post, and she'd assisted. That was why she'd been planted so far away from her grove: to help coordinate caravan arrivals and departures. Polda probably hadn't known anything about the qar queens, and had been going about her business without a care in the world. Until she'd been incinerated.

Moss tried to hold in his hatred. That treqar and all her grovemates had been innocents! She'd been like him in being an outsider, but she'd done so to help her family. All he'd done had been to isolate himself from his. It should have been him burning in that grove!

No, he shouldn't be resisting his hatred. He should be mining it, refining it. The trejuns were ruthless and cunning. They needed to be faced in kind if Moss or his people were to stand any chance at all. Ter had sat there next to him for nearly a week, lying to him the whole time. Pretending that he cared about Moss' interests and intellect. Toying with him, like the daun felines out in the wild that sometimes played with their prey.

Well, he'd pay Lord Prajanko back someday, Moss vowed to himself. Survival was the first priority for now, but payback was next on the list.

Before the interroot, conflicts between groves had been common. His primitive ancestors hadn't thought twice about eliminating or crippling their enemies. They had poured out the ichor of their qars like water flowing into a stream. Millions of qars had died pointlessly: stabbing their neighbors or ripping limbs off each other. Hundreds of treqars had been girdled or dug up, de-rooted and left to die. The interroot had changed all that.

It wasn't just enough to communicate. You had to understand your enemy. To feel as they felt, and that's what the interroot had done. Like that enzyme message from Polda. Once treqars had been able to feel the suffering they were inflicting, the wars had died down almost immediately. It hadn't been much later that the Union had been founded.

But they had no interroot connecting them to Trejuna. The trejuns had no way of feeling the suffering as people burned alive! Moss would have liked to think that they wouldn't care; that they were unfeeling, frost-souled monsters. It would be easier to hate them that way, but the rational portion of his mind knew better. Maybe to end this war, all they had to do was connect with the trejuns!

Easier said than done. They had no way across the ocean, and this wasn't even a real war. In war, both sides stood at least a chance of winning.

Abruptly Moss realized the prayer had ended. The seven of them were now in an informal thoughtstorming session, trying to find a counter to flying jun firebombs. "What if we put a ring of poison around each grove?" Rax asked. "If they can poison qars, we should be able to poison juns. It would have to be a gas, to float up that high, but it would kill them."

Lens sent out a negative. "It would take minutes for the gas to rise, and minutes more to kill the targets. The grove would be ashes by then. A permanent wall of gas might do it, but we have no way of making one. Any supplies would be exhausted in days, much less weeks."

"What about rain?" Aysa put in. "It would keep the juns from flying. If we could somehow trigger a storm, or even a burst of rain, that would stop an attack."

"There are some compounds that might work," Char said thoughtfully. "It's all just a theory though. Unless we can actually get the compounds up there, there's no way to test it."

Moss's primitive ancestors sprang to mind again. They'd known how to fight a war. Wait, that was it! "We build a stone thrower!"

No one responded for a second, so Moss took that time to compose his argument. "Back before grove Chaepa invented the radios, there were all sorts of inventive ways to wage war. One grove—I forget which—was assaulting a much larger one. There were way too many qars and fortifications for them to go in on the ground, so they built a wooden stone thrower. Or boulder thrower, I guess. They loaded it up with the largest rocks they could find, and used ropes pulled as tight as possible to fling them like some trees launch seeds into the air! They were outnumbered at least three to one, but the attacking grove won. They damaged enough treqars in the defending grove that they were able to negotiate a settlement the next week!"

"That might work," Lars said with some excitement. "We'd need to be able to rotate the thrower, and adjust where the rock was sent. Otherwise the juns could just fly around it."

"But a qar couldn't see that far away. We'd have to aim it ourselves. Could we do that using the same interface we use for the radios?"

"Maybe, but adjusting aim and distance would take time. They'd need special training to make it happen."

"We'd also need a steady supply of boulders at each contested grove."

The others continued their discussion animatedly, and Moss felt that he'd finally contributed something to the group.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 01:36:32 AM by Daen »