The Cold War between the Kiiote and the Yown’Hoo has become a shooting war. On Earth, there are three Triads one each in Minneapolis, Estados United; Pune, India; and Harbin, China. Protected by the Triad Corporation, they intend to integrate not only the three peoples and stop the war that threatens to break loose and slaughter Humans and devastate their world.; but to stop the war that consumes Kiiote economy and Yown’Hoo moral fiber. The Yown’Hoo know about the extra-Universe Braider, aliens whose own “civil war” mirrors the Cold War. The Braiders accidentally created a resonance wave that will destroy the Milky Way and the only way to stop it is to physically construct a sort of membrane that will produce a canceling wave – generated from the rim of the Galaxy inward. The Braiders don’t DO physical stuff on that scale – the Yown’Hoo-Kiiote-Human Triads may be their only chance of creating a solution. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society may produce a stability capable of launching incredible expansion, creativity, longevity and wealth – and building the Membrane to stop the wave.
The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans –two; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven. On nursery farms and ranches away from the TC cities, Humans have tended young Yown’Hoo and Kiiote in secret for decades, allowing the two warring people to reproduce and grow far from their home worlds. Grendl, Manitoba is one such place. No one but the Triad Company has ever heard of it and the physical plant http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/0/77/316636-81553-fly-man.jpggoes by the unobtrusive name of Organic Prairie Dairy.
The city Triads never hear of anything they aren’t spoon fed in their luxury worlds and have heard only rumors of the farms and ranches. Surrounded by a Humanity that has degenerated into a “duck-and-cover” society as the Big Boys fight their war, the Triads don’t care about anything but their own lives. Oblivious, cocooned, manipulated, they have no idea that their privileges are about to be violently curtailed and all of their biology ransacked for the correct Membrane pattern. (update: 5/2/2014)Naturally, I slammed on the brakes.
Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret)’s leaped to his feet, shoving my foot aside and flooring the accelerator.
I screamed and tried to push him away as the truck surged at the inferno. “Hold your breath!” he shouted. He reached over me, grabbed the door handle and slammed it shut. He dropped back into his seat and slammed his own door shut, then popped up again to floor the accelerator and steer us straight at the inferno.
I shouted, “What are you…”
“Hold your breath now!”
Not used to others telling me what to do almost made me defy him just on principal, but he was leading us somewhere. He seemed like he cared. I gulped air as the truck blew through the wreckage of the helicopter. As we reached the center – and I discovered it wasn’t as bad nor as hot as I’d imagined – he signaled me to turn right. I did. An instant later, we were out of the flames.
Directly in front of me was a garage door. I looked to the commander and he swept his arm forward. I floored it as three meters away from crashing into it, it vanished and we swept into darkness and hit a ramp that plunged downward. “What the priz?”
“Just drive, kid!” We hit a raised concrete mound in the middle of the road. The truck jumped underneath us. With a deafening shriek of metal, we hit the roof. Howls, whistles, and screams came from in back. The commander cursed in a language I’d never heard and cried out, “Slow down!” I hit the brakes, eliciting more noise from the back, “Don’t stop! Just slow down! We have to make it to the bottom alive!”
Once I slowed the truck down, I noticed that the side windows were covered with soot. I managed, “Where are we going?”
“I’ll tell you when we get there,” he held a hand up to my face as I opened my mouth to reply. “Don’t go all proud on us now. We have people to meet and a schedule to keep.” He glanced at me and I spared a look at him as he said, “You have lives to protect.”
Abruptly realizing that besides the two of us, there were eighteen others in the back of the huge truck. None of them had any idea where we were or what I was doing. I concentrated on following the downward slant of the floor. When we reached a flat area, Commander Bakhsh said, “Turn here, go to the end of the parking area and stop. Slow it way down. The ceiling is lower here than it was in the ramp.”
“If it gets any lower, we’ll have to let the air out of the tires,” I said.
“How’d you learn about that?”
“I read books. Watch movies. I like parables.”
He grunted, then said, “Me, too.” We came to the end of the flat area and he said, “All right. Stop here.” He stood and opened the window into the back and said, “We’ve arrived, but you can’t leave until we meet our transportation out of the City.” Everyone in back started talking at once and the commander shut them up with a low whistle. In ‘Hoonish, it meant something like, “If you don’t shut up, I’ll cut off your back legs and stuff them in your mouth.” The Herd’s language is expressive when it comes to directions for hiding.
He say back down next to me and looked to one side. He muttered something and slid the door open. The stench of burnt paint rolled in. I coughed and he shot me a look. That was when I realized it should have been dark down here. We were underground – I had no idea where we were underground. The old Metrodome – built in the latter part of the Teens – did have anything like it. “What did they store here?”
“Cars,” the commander said.
“Automobiles. They were temporarily stored here while their owners conducted business in the City. Before First Contact with the Kiiote-Yown’Hoo Conflict, Humans transported themselves on a vast highway system, as well as by a railway far more extensive than the one he have now. Humans flew just about everywhere else. They also owned the planet, though ownership was split about two hundred and fifty ways. Before everything fell apart, there were nearly eleven billion of us.”
I laughed and said, “Liar.”
He shrugged, saying, “Doesn’t matter anymore. The five billion survivors have to live. That’s where the nineteen of you come in. That’s why I’m risking my life to get you all out of the City before one of the Crazies nukes the whole place.”
“The Crazies? Nukes?” I said.
He hissed me silent. There was a deep growling noise coming from outside. The commander slid out of the truck, releasing his gun from its holster as he did. “Don’t move.”
I couldn’t have if I wanted to, my head worrying at what he’d just said. I’d never read in the histories that there’d been eleven billion Humans on Earth! It was a ridiculous thought! The carrying capacity of the planet was clearly three billion. Human government along with the Kiiote and the Yown’Hoo were working to reduce the excess. For the first time in my life, I wondered exactly what that meant.
I didn’t want to go there right now.
I sort of knew about automobiles because of the movies. I just never realized that Humans drove them very far. None of the visual histories said much about them, treating them as if they were so common no explanation of them was necessary. We had delivery trucks and buses now – that was a given; but none of us had ever gone very far from our home. I’d heard of trains and we saw them occasionally from a distance, but I’d never really cared what they were for.
The growling got louder. The rest of the Triad was silent in the back of the truck. The smell of burnt paint and metal was overwhelming and my eyes started watering. It had nothing to do with the terror that had made me freeze at the wheel of the truck.
There was a deafening explosion...