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. All three intelligences hover on the edge of extinction. The merger of Human-Kiiote-Yown’Hoo into a van der Walls Society might not only save all three – but become something not even they could predict. Something entirely new...
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)
“You were on their side, weren’t you?”
Retired spun around and if I hadn’t been so mad, I’ve have backed off. As it was, I didn’t flinch when he took a step toward me. He was only a little taller than me, but his shoulders were big. I probably looked like a branch compared to his tree trunk. He could have punched me or knocked me on my butt.
He didn’t. He growled and said, “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Then explain it to me! How is being a traitor to Humanity a good thing?”
He cocked his arm, making a fist. I braced myself and kept my eyes open. If I was gonna die, I wanted to see how. Suddenly he laughed. It wasn’t a humor laugh. It was a grim, dark laugh. A gallows laugh. He lowered his arm and said, “You got bigger balls than I figured you for, kid.”
I know what that meant, but I wasn’t sure. Retired used old-fashioned slang all the time, but I think that was a compliment. So, I took it as one and said, “You haven’t explained anything to me yet, though.”
He snapped his head to the side, gesturing with his chin as he said, “Let’s sit down.”
I’d probably stretched my luck about as far as it would go – what with escaping a city about to go nuclear, a chase scene that would have made any movie an award-winner, and meeting someone whom I’d thought was Human and found out they were a robot – so I followed him when he went deeper into the Human part of the refuge.
It wasn’t exactly a fancy hotel, but there were chairs and couches built like they had been like, wooden crates at one time. He gestured, me and ‘Shayla sat. GURion stood to one side, arms crossed over his chest. He looked totally Human right then. I forgave myself for not noticing he was a robot. Retired said, “I worked for the Triad Corporation.”
‘Shay said suddenly, “Worked?”
He shrugged, “I’m freelance now.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He looked right at me and said, “I don’t go off Earth anymore. I’m a Triad agent here, in Minnesota.”
“What do you do?”
“Rescue teenagers – of all three Nations. Human, Kiiote, and Yown’Hoo.”
“Why do you do that?” I asked. I’d never thought of Qap and Xurf as teenagers; I’d really never thought of Herd Mother Dao-hi as anything but old.
“Because I think Humans can do better when they’re teamed with others.”
I snorted and said, “You’re gonna have to do better than that!”
He sighed and sat down on one of the chairs. “Listen, you need to get rest tonight. I’ll save the details for some night when we can sit around a campfire without worrying about getting our asses shot off. But to make a really long story short, as far as the Yown’Hoo and the Kiiote know, Earth, Kii, and Y’eh are the only three planets in this part of the galaxy where all of us can successfully reproduce.” He held up a hand when I opened my mouth, so I shut it. “I don’t mean we can’t live anywhere else – and all three Nations have worlds with colonies. But there aren’t any other worlds where the combination of gravity, atmospheric gas proportions, insolation…”
“Insulation?” I said.
‘Shay slugged me in the shoulder. Even GURion rolled his eyes. Retired said, “The amount and intensity of light that a world receives from its primary.” He paused to let me ask any other stupid questions. I rubbed my shoulder and looked at my boots. He went on, “The average temperature and humidity are factors as well. But the single most important factor, when coupled with gravity, is cosmic and geological background radiation. For whatever reason, those two are profoundly limiting reproductive factors.”
I raised my hand to signal that I was going to ask another stupid question. Retired nodded to me and I braced myself for another slug from ‘Shay. “Both the Kiiote and the Yown’Hoo mastered gravity a long time ago, and can’t they just figure out the right amount of radiation and build it into some kind of…um…sex house or something?”
“Good question, Kid,” he said. ‘Shay slugged me.
“What was that for?”
“Having a dirty mind.”
Retired saved me from saying anything else stupid by adding, “They can, but the correct combination of factors is so sensitive that even when they get everything exactly right, it can go wrong.”
GURion said, “The cost of creating such havens is so prohibitive that neither one of the super powers can afford to keep them.”
“Why would the cost make them stop doing that if they can?”
There was a long pause, then ‘Shay said, “Because if they make places like that, they also have to defend it.”
GURion said softly, “And success by either side at destroying the places carries its own cost.”