“Sometimes, you simply have to get your hands dirty.”
***The White City***
“It looks glorious!” Riona raises her glass of wine towards Illum. My city is hovering above us in the night-sky, well illuminated by its many lights and security beacons. Her husband, Samir, nods. Somehow my uncle managed to behave himself up until now. After getting cleaned up, I grabbed Zane and headed out in order to meet up with Castella and Janice.
“You are quite right, my Dear.” His eyes wander to the top of his tower, which was cleanly cut off where I separated Castella's floors from the rest of the structure. His expression is mournful, but he doesn’t look quite as mad as he did when I told him what I was about to do.
We are sitting at a large, round table on a spacious balcony in the upper floors of Samir's tower, now, near to the top of his home. Which is now considerably shorter than before. The group is completed by Castella, Zane, Janice and myself.
For the sake of this meeting, I left the babies in Willow's care. If I trust anyone with the babies, then it's the fairies. Not only because they swore several binding oaths to me, but also because they have no reason to plot against me. Particularly in Willow's case, I am sure that she would give her life to protect the children.
“I am proud of my creation.” Looking up, I admire the spectacle of light and dancing force fields. When it's dark, it's possible to see some interesting interferences between the multitude of spells and wards which are holding the entire structure in place. Once they are illuminated by nearby light sources, they create a ghostly, shimmering effect which makes it possible to see some of the stronger force fields as they play with Illum’s mass.
I lean back and allow one of the servants to place a plate with food in front of me. It seems like fish and some sort of vegetable is on today's menu.
“I really wished that we could've met like this more often, but Janice always repelled me, saying that you guys are too busy. And the few times you deigned to visit us earthbound folk, the meeting was always a little too public.” Samir nods at another servant, who placed another plate in front of him.
Zane answers for me. “As you can see, we did a lot of work in the recent months.”
I raise the corner of my mouth, smiling at the thought. Illum underwent a complete restructuring process, even if it isn't quite as obvious from the outside. The oval main structure and the ring around it are mostly the same, but I cut quite a lot of mass from the oval's underbelly. Additionally, I acquired a lot of metal from a nearby mine to strengthen the new creation.
Castella's tower-peak is now a permanent part of the palace, crowning it with a piece of perfectly white marble.
As for the rest of the mass, I formed it into a group of interlocking rings which are slowly rotating around a spherical central mass. Sticking to Illum’s theme, I thought of yet another strange object to carry out my newest objectives. The new absurdity is armed to the teeth and contains most of my power cores. “I moved most of Illum's military capabilities over to the new separate structure.”
“Won't that leave the rest of Illum defenceless? And how did you move your military facilities?” Riona asks. “From what I was told, they aren't exactly small.” The petite woman studies the impossibility above us with interest, proving that there is a lot more inside her head than the mind of a normal wife of high status.
“The defences won't really be affected. I intend to leave the most of the captured warships with Illum's civilian part. The normal defence system is also still in place, so it will have abundant protections. Moving the facilities was more of a logistical problem from the beginning. Most of them are contained within Illum's spacial pockets. Rearranging them was just a matter of moving building blocks around,” I explain.
Admittedly, it was a little harder than I made it sound. The reason for not doing so earlier was that my power cores didn't have the computing capacity to make it work. That changed when Janice showed me her own laboratories here in the White City. Her assistants have a very sophisticated prototype of a real computer, not the slow slide rulers of binary logic which I built into the power cores.
Their prototype is a real computer and I managed to purchase some of the important parts from Janice. Like a working CPU and the surrounding hardware. The technology is crude, compared to some modern civilisations, but it's a quantum leap compared to what I managed to pull together in a hurry.
I don't feel bad about it. They had several decades for their project, while I created my first cores in a medieval workshop, realising the needed logical circuitry with actual mechanics, powered by magic. Admittedly, magic allowed me to downsize the process to the microscopic level, but such a method has limits.
Janice's devices are working with actual transistors on silicon basis, the cornerstone for all electric circuitry. I snort at the thought that Janice intended to use such abundant computing power for nothing more than to manage her state more efficiently.
She is brilliant with her soul magic, even driven by uncovering its secrets, but in most other matters she lacks the imagination on how to use a device's full potential.
“Is there a particular reason for splitting Illum?” Riona asks.
I shrug. “I am just planning for the future. If Illum goes to war, I don't want to take all those civilians with me. A dedicated war machine is much easier to handle.” After noticing that the others are already eating, I take my own fork and knife and start dissecting the fish. If it wasn't for the fear of fish-bones, I would even like eating fish.
Unfortunately, I remember a tragic event from a previous life when I managed to die from swallowing one accidentally. I am a hasty eater, and since I trusted the cook to have done a good job, I happily laid into the meal without much care. The damn thing got caught in my throat, causing me to suffocate. Phew, that was the most embarrassing way to bite the dirt ever!
Zane coughs. “I still don't like it. The whole thing is so confusing since both structures are still connected. You can walk through a door on the civilian part and emerge in the military docks. The two are one, yet they clearly aren't. You don't even feel like you took a portal. It's just like walking into another room.”
I smile. “You will get used to it. The portals are based on the same principle but aren't as energy efficient as the way I am doing it. Portals just punch a hole from one location to another, while I simply twist and stretch space. The weakness of the stretching method is that I can't open doorways wherever I want. I have to create a connection point between two spaces and then move them slowly apart.”
I jab through the skin of my fish. “A portal just makes a hole from here to there. That’s something nature really doesn’t want to happen, so we have to feed the portal huge amounts of energy to keep the hole open. I can’t claim that my method needs less energy while I am in the process of stretching the connection point, but once my version stays in place the energy consumption is much lower. It’s like bending a piece of metal.”
“What worries me is why you even think about sending a part of Illum to war,” Castella mumbles dejectedly.
Crap. Well, I guess that I have to confront her with the facts at some point. And it’s pretty obvious what I intend to do. Only a fool would mistake the changes which I made to Illum. “That’s because I will end the war on the continent.”
“End the war!?” Samir calls out. “I hope that you realize what you are saying! All of Mirai couldn’t end the war! How can you? With a single ship? I admit that it’s big, but still!”
Smiling, I play with the vegetables. “It isn’t just a single ship. It’s a giant who will step on the naughty children and bring them to heel.”