Than’yhidre and Meenakshi flew over the busy, crowded streets of Chennai, their repulsorlift craft carrying them high over teeming throngs from the dozens of worlds of the Tellusine Imperium – the second great and bountiful human empire, its allies, and its rivals.
Below, there were markets selling their wares, and even, remarkably enough, one, no, two of the gigantic Broogh warriors, guided and supervised by the higher-ranking but comparatively tiny tech-drone class. Here and there where representatives of the Dragons, the Rj’lt’ar, probably Mandarins of the species from the nearby embassy, who appeared, even from this far up, to show the impeccable politeness of master diplomats while mingling with both aliens and local humans. The two Broogh warriors were almost comical in their scrupulous attempts to avoid crushing anyone smaller than they underfoot, but apparently successful, and they seemed to cause no serious disturbance despite their size.
One of the giants had stopped momentarily, suddenly surrounded by apparently fearless human children, locals of the ancient city, whose parents looked on as their children vied to get close to the dinosaurine warrior, who seemed almost amused by the tiny humans, combat instincts held in check by iron discipline and a gentle side not often seen in the species. The giant’s tail swayed this way, then that, in perfect timing, to avoid hitting or knocking over anything behind it. The six trunk-like legs avoided both underfoot humans, aliens, market stalls, and vehicles alike.
The technology here was an eclectic mix of ancient and modern, bullock carts, rickshaws, electric ground-cars, bicycles, and Kurtz-Dunar lift-effect vehicles could be found side by side. The skies hosted soaring vehicles guided by a superior air-traffic control system, most vehicles self-piloting to take human error out of the equation. It resulted in air travel that was much, much safer than an American interstate highway in the days before personal vehicles were mostly self-driving. But these were the least of Chennai’s wonders.
The city had grown into a vast megalopolis dwarfing its old self, and harbored habitats for intelligent species from all over the Local Galaxy who worked there or visited. These were towering arcologies, “cities within buildings,” with self-contained breathable atmospheres, though the Old Quarter of the city remained in style and architecture much as it had in the early twenty-first century and long before, and well maintained, with a modern standard of living throughout. Here, the two women set down on the landing pad of the hotel’s roof.
“That was absolutely fantastic!” Than’yhidre exclaimed. “This is so different from the inland cities of mighty Sirug, so . . . diverse! To see even live Broogh here, and not shooting or being shot at! There are worlds in the inner galactic habitable zone where that would never be possible!”
Meenakshi smiled, saying, “If you think that’s a sight, wait until you see the local temples! The architecture is millennia old, and yet they still stand, solid and magnificent! But first, let’s go to your room, and we can both take some rest!”
The lift for the landing pad closed over like a flower blossoming in reverse, as the craft descended into the building’s parking garage. Things were beginning to get interesting.
To be continued on the 12th of April…