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)
Kashayla glared at him, then gave a sharp nod, “Fine then. I won’t kill you tonight. I’ll wait until after you tell us what we want to know.”
Retired held her harsh gaze, then barked a laugh. “Just like your mother! Damn, you’re tough!” He sobered suddenly, “I just hope you’re as smart as she was. We’re going to need a new genius geneticist on our team.”
I’m pretty sure both of us looked stunned, because after busting out another guffaw, he pushed himself to his feet and headed for another room. “I’m going to bed. And so are you two.” He pointed suddenly, once at each of us, adding, “Separately.”
I don’t know about ‘Shay, but I suddenly found myself blushing about six shades of red…
‘Shay walked past me, slugged me – hard this time – and said, “How else do you think I sleep?”
When she was gone, Great Uncle Rion said, “Ouch.”
“Shut up,” I said. For a second I looked at him. How much could I tell him about myself? How much did he need to know? How much about myself did I understand? I sighed and said, “Sort of.”
“Only ‘sort of’?”
“I’m kinda complicated.”
I looked away from him, feeling my cheeks heat up, and shrugged. “I dunno.”
GURion nodded slowly then said, “Maybe you do need to go to bed.”
I looked up, glaring and opened my mouth. But for whatever reason, all I saw in his android eyes was compassion. “I suppose I’ll need a good night’s sleep in order to have enough energy to understand whatever crapload Retired is going to try and force feed us.”
GURion just studied me for a while. I felt like turning away at first, then stood up straighter. If he wanted to have a good long look at me, then fine. Finally, he said, “Not exactly. You’re going to need all the strength you have to believe.” He turned and left the room, gesturing silently to a door. When he was gone, I opened it. The room was small, but the bed looked clean, there was a table alongside it, and an e-reader – a full-sized one that looked like it was new. I took off the boots, went out to the bathroom I’d seen, and then went back to the room. It had been an intense night with all kinds of weird feelings churning around inside me, so I took care of the one need I could, then fell sound asleep.
I woke up the next day to someone tapping on the door. I sat bolt upright, swinging my feet to the floor before I was really awake. Rubbing my face with both hands, I scratched my head. Even with short hair, I think I needed a shower. I definitely needed to use the bathroom. I said, “Come on in.”
‘Shay walked in. She looked clean, her tight curled hair still flat against her head and wet. She said, “You look crappy.”
“Thanks for the update. I usually look great the second I wake up.”
She smirked. “I know that that is a total lie. In the past eight years, I’ve come to realize that you always look lousy when you first wake up. But I do have good news.”
“Your great uncle has coffee – the real thing! – and he said he’s got both an explanation and a plan.”
“About time,” I said, standing up. I’d slept in my clothes, which were still filthy from being exploded on and rolled around in a field with me inside of them. Even so, I tried to straighten them out.
“Don’t worry how you look. The Pack and Herd won’t notice and I’ll make sure I sit as far from you as I can.” She led the way out.
“What about Retired?” I muttered.
“Don’t worry, he likes you no matter what you do.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said, then walked into the meeting room. I was the last one up. Shoot daggers at ‘Shay let me know that she’d done it on purpose.
Fax slid up beside me and growled in his lowest register, “Don’t worry, I love you no matter how bad the stench. In fact, I remember you smelled a lot worse after you…”
I elbowed him before he could launch into his baked-beans story. That always sent the Pack into paroxysms of laughter. How he told it. The real story was…
Retired cleared his throat and even though his face was completely still, the look in his eyes told me he’d be on the floor laughing if it would have been a normal day. But it wasn’t. He said, “The time has come to lay all of our cards on the table.”
“What?” Dao-hi exclaimed, pulling her tentacles from their sheathes with a rude sucking sound.
Retired held up a hand, bowed his head, looked up and continued. “Just the facts there – bare bones. At this time I’m not looking for discussion, because frankly, there’s nothing anyone here – except Rion can add. Most of the plan was laid out decades ago by minds far greater than yours or mine.” He took a deep breath, held it, and gestured. One of the walls of the apartment vanished, replaced by an orbital shot of Earth. “Once the condition of the three societies became apparent – the reduction in the breeding imperative of the Kiiote, the catastrophic increase in heart-fiber deaths among the Yown’Hoo, and the unintended extermination of Humanity, it became clear to a group of all the Intelligences in this part of the Milky Way that if something didn’t change, there would be NO Intelligences left in approximately four hundred Human years.” Stunned silence. Even GURion leaned back against a wall.
“In order to stop this…Extinction Event…an assembly of scientists, philosophers, technologists, business beings, and spiritualists of all the belief systems of the three Intelligences was held in secret. It was clear to them that the eventual destruction of their peoples would bring about a Dark Age that none of them were likely to escape from. The Triads were proposed for a single purpose.” He stopped talking. None of us moved.
I didn’t even breathe until Qap said, “Prove that if we worked together, we could accomplish something none of us had managed to do apart.”
Ali-go, a Herd male I’d only known to speak one other time, said, “gMod, faster-than-light, fusion – we have all of those. There is only one thing we have not created,” he paused. Right then I knew he was going to be a Herd-father someday. He had the flair for the dramatic that was required of the males of their species. “Immortality.”