So what is this new creation actually like? The Phoenix has no name. It is simply itself. It has some intelligence, but no introspection. Instincts, sense impressions, memories, serve only to feed the savage calculus it uses to live in the moment. When the slow-moving, soft blurs moved around it during its advent, its ears heard labels like "SKY-1" or "Phoenix", but those were just noises. The noises coincided with the soft slow ones paying attention to it, and this truth was stored like any other memory. The first time the larger, faster thing rode on its back, their instincts somehow connected. The Phoenix felt its discernment became sharper, its senses keener, its intelligence more pronounced. Before, the soft slow blurs were simply happyworriedimpatientscurrying, but now it understands that they are something like children, little weak Phoenixes that cannot fly on their own. The bigger faster thing can fly, but it wants to fly on the Phoenix's back. This is good. It has seen things of metal, odd shapes, strange configurations, and the bridged awareness marks them as safesafesafedon'ttouchthatonesafekeepawaysafe. Softslows are climbing into largefast's body. They can do this, this feels ordinary. Largefast connects to the Phoenix after that. Even without that connection, the Phoenix can read emotions and moods from every softslow around it. Even the largefast has no secrets to keep, though it doesn't express its moods the same. The position of the body, the head, the motions of the eyes, the looks on the faces - these small creatures are all so easy to understand. In its mind, the Phoenix feels what they feel, understands their relationships instinctively. The two softslows inside - one of them was there for the hatching, a crucial part of it. The other is more feeble, weaker, but it has a strength of its own which cannot be ignored. The young one feels love and tenderness toward it. The Phoenix shares in this feeling without hesitation, experiencing it as a comforting warmth in what might be called its heart. The softslows have to be somewhere. Badnessfearangerhatelovetangle is there. Largefast will take them, and keep them safe. Phoenix will keep largefast safe. The small ones feel fear, but they go anyway. They aren't hunting, but they go to see if there's danger from badnessfearangerhatelovetangle. It has a nest, but that nest is surrounded by more like feebleweakstrong. It is feebleweekstrong territory. This seems confusing - Phoenix's instinct is to destroy any intruder that feels as alien as badnessfearangerhatelovetangle. But youngsoftslow does not want it, that much is obvious. The flight is a thing of joy. Phoenix can feel its solid wings flexing, light wings pulsating, and the fire wings radiating. It is full, satiated. The metalhydrogenfood it hungers for fills its belly, feeds the fiery wings, pushes it screaming forward through the air. It experiences largefast's joy, recognizing a kinship in the experience. It wants to play, to fly where it will, to show off, glory in itself, but largefast's will is resolute - badnessfearangerhatelovetangle must be found, or there will be much painconfusionanguishloss. The Phoenix doesn't know it, but with largefast present, it dimly realizes that there is a connection between itself and youngsoftslow. Youngsoftslow brought Phoenix to life. Badnessfearangerhatelovetangle brought youngsoftslow to life. The arrival, and the wait, are frustrating. Largefast is impatient too, but restrains itself. The Phoenix does too, though it expresses its unhappiness in small yet insistent ways. Largefast radiates sympathy, but holds true to staying put. Here - now things are happening! The Phoenix's senses grow keen. Youngsoftslow has appeared out of that hole in the ground, and becomes younghardfast by donning a shell, like largefast wears. It disappears back into the ground. Time passes. Once again, younghardfast and feebleweakstrong come out of the earth. They have a third with them - badnessfearangerhatelovetangle. There is much angerfrustrationworry, a bit of hatemurderkill, and some waryweary. Phoenix samples the emotions swirling around these tiny moving creatures. Younghardfast is harder to understand now that it's put on its shell, but it still moves the way it did. Painconfusionanguishloss hasn't happened, but confusionimpatiencerage is in the air. Badnessfearangerhatelovetangle feels much, changing from moment to moment. Should the Phoenix fly again? There is much metalbad in the sky, growing closer. Largefast worries muchly, but younghardfast feels angercompassionfrustration and stays on the ground next to badnessfearangerhatelovetangle. It takes time, but Phoenix realizes finally what is going on. Metalbad is hunting badnessfearangerhatelovetangle. It is not a hatemurderkill hunt, but a childlossfearvengeance hunt. Younghardfast fears for the softslows still inside the ground. Metalbad will hurt them unless it sees badnessfearangerhatelovetangle has left the nest. Phoenix understands, and assents, despite the waryweary. It will be a close matter, and Phoenix must remain ready. There - metalbad has seen badnessfearangerhatelovetangle and changed course. The smallest ones are inside largefast in a flash, and now the flock hunts them, and Phoenix. With a screech, the wings of light and fire roar to life, and it howls into the sky. If you explained to the Phoenix, even using small words, that it was merely doing what Leo Snow would do if he were stripped of all sentience and restraint, then given ultimate power and perfect freedom, it would not understand. It would be too busy enjoying the thrill of the chase.