On Earth, there are three Triads intending 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 Braiders accidentally created a resonance wave that will destroy the Milky Way and the only way to stop it is for the Yown’Hoo-Kiiote-Human Triads to build a physical wall. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society may produce the Membrane to stop the wave.
“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)
Retired never got to finish his sentence because a flash of light followed by a thunderous roar made the truck swerve wildly. The autopilot took over from me and Retired had the big gun in his hands again. The truck stopped and ahead of us, the ground was glowing green. Otherwise, it was totally silent now.
He said, “I think our enemies may have found us. We have to get out of here.” Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret), whom I’d started calling Retired, yanked open the delivery truck’s door and dropped out.
“What are you doing?” I whispered. An instant later, it was obvious.
The truck’s rear doors popped open and Retired said, “We have to leave this behind and get to the farm. It’s the only way we’re gonna be able to survive tonight. It’s about two miles down the road. Herd Mother, can you make it?”
Dao-hi said, “Of course I can. We all can!” she snapped her tentacle-arm for emphasis as the Herd leaped from the back.
“Qap, Xurf, any problem running the distance?”
“We will travel in low form, so no,” Qap, the female replied, and set about organizing the Pack so that the pups were taken care of. Dao-hi did the same.
‘Shay climbed into the front of the cab with me, slugged me on the shoulder, then kissed me and said, “We’ll be fine. We’ve been training for years. We can run the Pack and Herd into the ground!”
Qap and Xurf snarled a challenged, and Dao-hi, along with her smaller chosen males, Zei-go, Seg-go, Ali-go laughed in return.
Retired snorted and said, “Good. Let’s move out. Stay with me – Herd Mother, do you cede temporary leadership to me?”
“Done, Master Human!”
They Pack howled and Xurf cried, “Lead, Human!”
“‘Car, ‘Shay? Do as I say, not as I do?”
We chorused, “Sir, yes, Sir!”
“Move out!” He ran, low to the ground, through the green glow of the shallow crater, then up the side and back on to the gravel road. “Single file, move fast, eyes ahead!” His lope was easy for all of us to follow. The Kiiote had all folded into “wolf” form and my best friend, the male Fax, ran alongside me, his bristles – not ‘fur’ because the Kiiote weren’t even loosely related to Earthly dogs – poked through my denims with shots of an adrenaline analogue. The Herd took up the rear, Herd Mother last of all. They were running with sheathed hooves. Underfoot, the road was frozen solid, though it’d been a mild winter and there wasn’t as much snow as there usually was.
It was silent and still, so we heard the Human choppers in the distance before we saw their searchlights sweeping the field. Ahead of us, Retired surged into a sprint and he hissed, “Spread out. Straight forward. When you get to the farm, head for the barn. Ignore the house.” Fax and me stayed together as the rest of them broke apart, the Herd with nervous snuffs barely heard.
The choppers homed on the truck and were shortly hovering over it. I shot a look over my shoulder and stumbled. No one yelled at me, but Fax’s spines dug into my leg as he held me up. The denim would be full of holes by morning. I could already feel the cold air in spots alongside my right knee.
I didn’t need to be looking to know that the choppers blew up our truck. The concussion was enough to knock me and Fax over, we tumbled over the hard ground, then were back on our feet. I was pretty sure I was running in the right direction – our truck was a pyre, flames shooting into the air – directly behind us. The choppers – there were two of them – started flying in widening circles, spotlights lancing down into the night like laser beams. Cursing all around except from me. Never got into it. The spotlights diffusing from the ground, lit our way with wildly leaping shadows. I had a stitch in my side, despite all the track running I’d done at our home in the Cities. I’d also never run over rough ground.
Or been scared for my life.
Why were Humans hunting us? Where was our Triad protection – Retired couldn’t be the total resources of the Corporation! Shouldn’t there be an army out here to protect us? The circle the choppers flew was only two hundred meters behind us and when the light came close this time, all I could see was Fax next to me, looking for all the world in that wild light, like a big dog. Running away from a scary helicopter with his master. Who’d been out hunting…raccoons on this cold winter night.
On close examination, Fax would obviously be a Kiiote. But from a height, maybe we could pass for a kid and his dog. One of the choppers was sweeping toward us, the noise deafening. I shouted to Fax, “Pretend you’re a dog!” I spun around, rolling onto my back. Fax huddled under my head as the chopper swept toward us. It stopped, the glaring spotlights washing out everything around us. I raised my hands, acting as if I was a terrified country boy – it wasn’t much of an act. The only part I was acting was ‘country’. I screamed, “Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! I didn’t do nothin’! We was only out huntin’ ‘coon! I didn’t see nothin’! Why’d you blow up that truck?”
I doubted they heard a word I screamed, but my act must have convinced them I wasn’t who they were looking for – that and the fact that from their height and mostly under me, Fax looked like a dog. And we were alone on a dark, cold night, near a farmhouse. Either that or I didn’t look like I could threaten a kitten, let alone a world government. The chopper moved away, blowing debris, snow, and grit over us. We lay that way as the second chopper passed over us, sweeping us with its lights. They did it two more times until they were finally well beyond our place in the snow. I said, “I think we can get up now.” The back of my head was fine as Fax had consciously laid down his spines before the chopper reached us. Otherwise, I’d be bleeding from multiple head wounds.
He growled, shook himself, then lifted the spines again, saying, “Let’s never do that again.”
“Agreed. Next time we lay belly-to-belly,” I said, brushing myself off. Suddenly realizing what I said, I stammered, “Not…you know…like…” Belly-to-belly was how Kiiote exchanged DNA. Males and females had bare belly patches about two hands wide and long, that when breeders were ready, became slick with mucus. The female extruded tiny hooks which stimulated the male to release sperm into his mucus layer. A bit of rubbing followed – from what I’d seen, sometimes lots of rubbing followed – and the hooks pulled the male closer as well as opened six slits on the female’s belly pad. There was an egg in each slit, which the male sperm fertilized. If the mating was arranged, they’d separate and act all very business-like. But if they liked each other...I cleared my throat and whispered, “Not like that!”
Fax growled low in his throat and said, “What, you think I’m ugly?”
The conversation stopped dead as the choppers swung over what looked like an abandoned farm, then passed on. “That’s gotta be my uncle’s farm,” I said, ignoring my blushing face and other…bodily…reactions. “But where is everyone?”