We left at nightfall. It’s a trick riding valkyries in darkness. The White Swarm helped, of course, making us more visible to one another. And the gel of machines beneath us phosphoresced after sunset, showing us the blue, green and golden way.
My army of the dead did not even hesitate. Ki had not been as obstinately idle as I had been. She had built esprit de corps, or perhaps the White Swarm had. No more division between veteran soldier and long-time civilian. No friction between sergeant and platoon. We wove across the water like a flock of fifty thousand birds.
Watches rolled on. The seas remained so calm. I wondered if the powers of the machines beneath us reached far above these waves. The settled worlds would have once needed climate alteration, too. The sun swelled upwards into a cloudless sky. We followed the gel south and east. Once, in the distance far off to the right, I saw a few humped shapes on the horizon.
I looked at Nogilian, who rode beside me, and he nodded. “The islands between the lands,” he said, loudly enough to be heard over the whines of our machines. I raised an eyebrow.
He shook his head. “Augers would not be interested. No wells or citadels. No weapons or Profusionist machinery. No humans, ever.”
“And animals?” I asked, remembering chameleonic apes.
He shrugged. No one had ever looked. Or whoever did never came back. I wondered about the basic lack of curiosity on this world. But we did not stop at the islands.
We rode through the afternoon. Travel kit meant, among other things, rations consumable without dismounting. Ki had had everyone empty bladders beforehand, and the White Swarm was by this time controlling metabolism anyway. Normally, the greatest danger of a journey of this kind would have been riders falling asleep and engendering collision. But neither Ki nor Ash nor I felt sleepy. The Swarm helped with measures beyond counting.