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 goes 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)
Then everyone screamed.
Me included.Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret) shouted, “Step on it!”
I did, though I shouted, “You want me to drive, too?”
That would explain the fact that even thought I was holding on to the handles on the sear, we were swerving all over the road. Even though it wasn’t me driving and there were no more explosions, everybody in back kept screaming at me to stop. For a second, I was really tempted to stand up and go into the back. I smiled and started to let go.
“Left!” shouted Lieutenant Bakhsh.
Grabbing the wheel hard again, I tried turning it. It fought me, so I shouted over whatever noisemaker Mr. Retired had turned on to make the deafening racket, “It won’t…”
“You have to override the autodriver! Harder!”
Grabbing the wheel hard again, this time I jerked it so the truck leaned hard over the right, Human, Kiiote, and Yown’Hoo shrieking. This time something hissed past us, through the place we’d just been. Far down the street, something exploded.
“Pull over and stop!” Mr. Retired shouted.
Slamming the brakes, I pulled over to the side and stopped, just as he’d started to move to take over from me. Over the sound of cursing from the back of the truck, he said, “Good job, kid.” Reaching under the dash, he did something and the truck was suddenly silent. “Let’s go. Careful, but as fast as you can move us.”
Shayla reached the door just as I pulled smoothly away from the curb. She said, “What in any-god-you-pick’s-name are you doing up here?”
I opened my mouth to defend myself, but Mr. Retired said, “Oscar and I were busy saving all of our lives. You can tell everyone that for the time being, we’re in stealth mode and while no one will hear anything from the vehicle, anyone screaming or shouting or making loud noises might just leak out past the bubble. So I would suggest everyone rest and relax.”
Shayla opened her mouth, looked at me, at Mr. Retired then went back into the rear of the truck. After a few moments, there was pretty much silence in the back. I said, “Thanks...”
Mr. Retired held up a finger and whispered, “That goes for us, too.” He didn’t bother to look at me, keeping his eyes glued on the road. He also reached into his chest pocket and pulled out something that looked like a tablet computer’s stylus. He squeezed it and it suddenly expanded into a half-meter-long blade-like thing. He aimed it outside and pressed the center. The thing glowed for a moment, then he whispered, “OK for now.” He grinned at me, making a forward motion. I opened my mouth to ask him where I should drive us, but he swung the blade at me and suddenly a map appeared on the windshield of the truck. At the bottom to the right was a blinking red light that was moving slowly upward along a straight line. “A map.” Suddenly a purple trail extended from the red dot all the way to the top of the windshield. He grinned at me again. I took a right when the map told me to and it went pretty quiet for a while.
Just then a pink circle started to flash alongside the purple trail line. Mr. Retired cussed under his breath, looked at me, and said in a regular voice, “In about five minutes, get ready.”
“To be attacked by enemy forces.”