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.
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)
Either way, the alien robot in front of me acting like it was my Great Uncle Tim hadn’t steered me wrong in the past; my own father had trusted him; and we were, in fact now hidden from people who obviously wanted us dead. He was the one who had gotten us underground and on our way north. I took a deep breath, held it, then said, “I’ll trust you.” The group began to move then stopped, as if frozen in place when I added, “I also want to know more about my Human great uncle. The truths.”
GU Tim snorted then said, “It’s not all pretty.”
I managed to keep a smirk from my face then said, “It never is with us Humans.”
He mirrored the quirk of my mouth, and I knew two things right then – exactly how irritating the look was, and where I’d gotten it from. He said, “Especially your great uncle.”
I nodded then said, “What do we do next?”
Retired – his real name was Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh (ret) – whom we’d named because it was easier on the Yown’Hoo and Kiiote tongues and fit the lazy Human way of speaking, said, “More precisely, Mr. Artificial, where are you leading us?”
GU Tim seemed to stop moving entirely. His chest stopped moving as well. He didn’t blink. Then his face twitched. Once. He said, “There was a movement shortly after the Constitutional US collapsed twenty-five years ago and The Original US tried to annex Canada then Mexico, to move surviving Constitutionalists out of the country to avoid The Executions.” Retired snorted. GU Tim stopped, but he waved him on. “They really had nowhere to run except Cuba, Free Yucatan, the blockaded and besieged Republic of Texas, and Russian Alaska. But sympathizers created a real Underground. Using programmable nanomachines made tunneling easy, especially after the OUS banned non-medical research.” He gestured, “This is one the tunnels.”
“What distance does it cover?” asked the Herd Mother.
He shrugged, “The last time I was in the tunnel, I walked over three hundred kilometers.”
Retired’s snort this time was totally surprise. I said, “What?”
“That’s a long way! It would take us half way to our destination.”
“Where are you headed?” said GU Tim.
Retired shook his head and opened his mouth, but I spoke up, pretty certain I knew what he was going to ask, “I think we need to keep our end destination a secret for the time being.” Dao-hi, Qap, Xurf, and ‘Shayla turned to look at me. I shrugged, “What? I’m not stupid.” I nodded to Tim. “For all practical purposes, he’s my great uncle. I trust him, but not totally yet.”
He laughed, “You wound me great-nephew.” He was abruptly serious. “I haven’t been in the underground for some time. In it’s heyday, it could take us on a rather jagged trail to the exit twenty kilometers outside of Detroit Lakes.”
Qap howled before cutting himself off.
“That is why I don’t know for sure how far this tunnel goes. I haven’t walked it since the city was accidentally vaporized.”
“Idiot Yown’Hoo! They broke the treaty!”
Dao-hi’s tentacles snapped angrily, “There has never been a treaty! The city was a den of Pack hatred and plotting! It was necessary!”
“It was no such thing!” Xurf snarled. “You slaughtered innocent Humans! Like always, the mindless follow their idiot leaders!”
Xurf and Qap unfolded from their canine forms, disturbing even at the best of times, when they did it fast, it made me want to throw up. Dao-hi’s tentacles slid wetly out of their sheathes, dripping a painful neurotoxin, delivered through tiny, bony needles that line the tentacles.
Pack and Herd stood across from each other. ‘Shay and me backed up. Even Retired stepped back – though he drew a large weapon.
Great Uncle Tim did nothing as the air in the tunnel seemed to grow thick…