The young experimental Triads are made up of the smallest primate tribe of Humans – Oscar and Kashayla; the smallest canine pack of Kiiote – six, pack leaders Qap and Xurf; and the smallest camelid herd of Yown’Hoo – a prime eleven, Dao-hi the Herd mother. 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.
“We had nearly fallen into stagnation when we encountered the Kiiote.”
“And we into internecine war when we encountered the Yown’Hoo.”
“Yown’Hoo and Kiiote have been defending themselves for a thousand revolutions of our Sun.”
“Together, we might do something none of us alone might have done…a destiny that included Yown’Hoo, Kiiote, and Human.” (2/19/2015)
“We’re a little busy right now, but as soon as we survive driving over this rickety old bridge, I’ll come back and tell you.”
“What rickety old...”
Suddenly, machine gun fire spanged off of the JACK’S BAKERY delivery truck. “Humans!” I shouted...
Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (retired) called, “Just keep driving! Go, go, go!”
I floored the accelerator while he elbowed ‘Shayla and the Herd mother back into the rear of the truck and slammed the door shut. We plowed through some sort of flimsy barrier, rode over the bridge to the other side. On the right, where Retired had said there would be a mansion, was an inferno. A cluster of loosely attached Yown’Hoo herdships, hovered over the river, pouring lambent energy beams at the site.
A Kiiote “pack fighter” craft, flat, sleek, and deadly, returned fire, but was clearly abandoning the blazing mansion, sniping whenever the Yown’Hoo took a shot at them.
It was clear that the battle was over and lost. “I think I’ll keep going while they’re busy with each other!” I said as I roared past the carnage. Retired had fallen back in the seat, his face closed and guarded. I only saw that much because I had to slow us down to navigate around a tree laying across the road, burned nearly into charcoal now. The road past the bridge was clear now, dark, silent, and looking like it was abandoned. I said, “So, where’s the next Kiiote mobile hospital?”
When he turned to look at me, his face was lit only by the telltales on the dash as he said, “Not for another two hundred klicks.”
Horrified, I turned to face the night. Finally I managed, “How long can you survive the gelp?” He’d described it as a Kiiote fungus growing roots into his skin, seeking the warmth of his major blood vessels. He hadn’t gone any farther, but I could imagine. Part of my training in the old Dome had been in medicine. I was, according to the medical trail marker guru, only a class and an internship away from certification as a paramedic. Off-world diseases were rare; the Kiiote and Yown’Hoo catching Earth diseases even rarer. I’d heard tales from the first days of the Hot War; people hoping that the aliens would die as easily as the Martians had in the Human classic by HG Wells, War Of The Worlds.
No such luck. For a fleeting moment, I suddenly felt what it must have been like in those days – even the days of Retired. There must have been deep resentment. Hatred of all things alien. Humans not bred up like me and Shay – with everyday contact with them – must truly hate them, they’re so different.
Retired and I weren’t friends – but he was the first Human male I’d ever spent time with. I didn’t know what I’d do if he died. I took a deep breath and said, “My great uncle...”
He scowled and turned to me. “Yes?”
I took a deep breath, held it, and said, “I met a Kiiote when I was two years old.”
His look narrowed as he said, “You weren’t drafted into the Triad until you were five.”
I nodded slowly, turned my head and attended to my driving as a dark, heavy silence fell in the bakery truck’s cab.