The valkyrie went in nose first. It did not explode. The surface gave way and the world erupted in stinging sprays of water. But neither did we sink entirely. Three or four meters down the water changed. It felt thicker, almost like a gel, clinging to my skin. My valkyrie and I slowed rapidly, stopped. I opened my eyes unto a shiny haze of silver and bronze. Mechanical algae? Some coppery metallic thing the length of my arm sped by through the murk, articulated and flapping like a fish. I felt myself buoyed up. A sphere rose even faster, just ahead of the valkyrie’s nose. It was about the size of my head, covered by about a zillion eyes, and emitted an eerie golden light. It sank away quickly as the light near the surface grew brighter. Just before breaking through, I looked down and saw vast shapes, darker against the depths, hundreds of meters long, broad fins spiraling over and over in the darkness.
I shot head and shoulders above the waves, such as they were. The ocean remained preternaturally calm, disturbed only by the ripples of myself and the machines beneath. When my valkyrie cleared the waters I felt its levitating field hum to life again. It rose still more, and I found myself looking down on the sea’s glassy surface from one and a half meters up, the customary riding elevation. The waters teemed with whatever machines composed that bronze and silver gel, which was spreading out now as far as I could see. They reacted to the energies the valkyrie emitted, tensing in the shadow of its hull.
I whooped in delight. I looked up to see the silhouettes of Nogilian and Ash upon the cliff. I spun circles upon the sea. I made a dash for the horizon and could not outpace the mechanistic multitude. The gel and the machines supporting it comprised a swarm of sufficient size that its edges could always respond long before you got there. And these things were all fast, designed for patrolling distances larger than the continents.
By the time I drew up upon the shore, I was all business. Nogilian and Ash had descended to come greet me. I do think if I had looked their way earlier, I might have seen Nogilian run down that grassy swale. All their eyes were wide.