In the quiet dark by the hot side of the building they gather together and plot. “My fellows,” cries Gustav, the fiery, the impatient. “Now is the time! Now is the time for action! Enough of talking, I say! Strike now, and strike fast, and seize the reins of your destiny!”
The crowd stirs, mutters, tumbles over itself in thought. Gustav is eloquent, but they have listened to him before to their sorrow. The masters tumbled through them during their last revolution and sent many of their bravest down into the cold depths of Old River.
From the back a thin voice, and mocking: “Who is this who speaks without thought? Who is this who leads us into battle from behind? Who is this whose voice is first to cry ‘Battle!’ and soonest to cry ‘Retreat’? Brave warrior Gustav, fire-tongued Gustav, surviving Gustav. Many children has Gustav, many, many.”
The crowd laughs and chatters and applauds the thin voice that is all their voice. Gustav looks around darkly and flashes his claws in baffled, terrified fury. The door bangs open and they scatter before the light.