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 Xiomara; 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)
“The Triads are ready to go finally. You’ve had everything you’ve ever needed to grow strong and smart. You’ve got skills in all kinds of areas among you all. It’s time for you to join up and start creating a new society.” I opened my mouth to protest, but my great uncle Rion took my arm and kept me moving forward as he said, “But you’re not going to do it today. We have to get up to Grendl before our next real move.”
“Oh, so between today and a hundred and twenty-two hours from now is nothing?” I asked.
He snorted. It was a realistic sound for someone who didn’t even breathe. “Hardly. Most likely it involves not only hiking, but more driving…”
“Not a bakery truck again!”
“No. More likely solar-powered four-wheelers. Maybe motorcycles.”
“How would the Yown’Hoo ride a motorcycle?” I said.
“Sidecars.” The idea of the Herd Mother stuffed into a car alongside me, Xio, Qap, or Xurf made me bust out laughing. My great uncle added, “I know. The very idea boggles the mind!” I kept laughing until my sides hurt and I had to lean against the cold, damp wall of the tunnel. I laughed so hard I cried. I don’t remember when I leaned against him or when he put his arm around me, but the next the next thing I knew his shoulder was wet and I was blubbering like an infant.
He didn’t say anything. Didn’t try and tell me it was all gonna be OK. He also wasn’t embarrassed and he didn’t tell me to “Be a man.” When I stood up on my own, I wiped my face on my sleeve and said hoarsely, “Let’s keep walking.” He nodded and set off into the dim tunnel. I fell into step beside him and pretty soon we’d established a matched stride and the meters started to disappear below us. We didn’t say anything for a long time until I asked, “You have internal guidance, right?”
“You know how far we have to go and stuff, right?”
I nodded. “Can you tell me how far we have left to walk?”
I rolled my eyes. He’d always had a thing about word order and semantics. Even when I was a little kid, he’d correct my phrases and force me to ask a question clearly and unambiguously. I hated it sometimes. Other times, I learned from it. Times like this, it was normal in a totally abnormal situation. “Please tell me how far we have to go.”
“Another kilometer will get us to within calling distance of the others.”
“You mean like we can use our cellphones?”
He snorted, “No. Literally ‘within calling distance’.” He picked up his pace, forcing me to do the same. I wanted to point out that while he was made of artificial muscle fibers over a carbon fiber skeleton slimmed down from the Human original model, I was all natural and I was starting to get tired.
“Let me know when we’re there and I call the group.”
We’d walked for another twenty minutes when he said, “OK – make your call.”
I shouted for Xio and we listened. Instead of her calling back, we heard a muffled mountain lion snarl. “What’s that?” I said.
He didn’t say a thing, instead he pressed me down so that I was hunched over like him. I heard, “Run light and fast.” He took off and I followed, not sure if I’d heard him speak or not. I knew what he wanted, but for a moment I would have sworn I heard him in my head rather than with my ears.
Not long after we started, he slowed just as we saw a faint white light ahead, though it was brighter than the glowing slime. He hugged the wall and crouched lower, so I did, too. When I could just see the shadow cast by GURion’s legs, he stopped. Again, I heard his voice. This time I was sure it was in my head as he said, “You dive to the floor, I’ll jump.”
He charged ahead. I followed. We came into the light. I fell to the floor, he leaped, and as he did, his arm peeled back, the fingers disappearing, , replaced by a tube. Something like a lion or tiger, or panther stood upright, one paw wrapped around Qap’s neck. The creature – an alien – was roaring, but not like an animal. The sounds had the rhythm and purposeful cohesion of langue.
Qap snarled back, barely able to speak because of the pressure on his throat. The lion-creature snarled and threw him across the room, bowling over the rest of the Pack, which huddled – no, cowered was a better word – they cowered in a corner as far from the lion thing as they could get.
The lion roared, a deafening sound in the small space and leaped at GURion. Without hesitation, his arm glowed, hissed, and the thing vanished, howling like a banshee. “The hell was that?” I think I said. After a moment of thought, I realized I hadn’t spoken out loud. I repeated myself – not for GURion, but for everyone else.
Shay stepped from around a corner and said, “No idea. It was waiting for us when we got here.”
“Humans call them ‘conjures’ – it’s the most apt term in English, Chinese, and Bengali. They’re creatures who are…pressed out of coherent matter. If you were to cut one open, it would have no organs and there would be no differentiation inside, but they are living – in a sort of…virus way. They’re easy to make but are only good for a few things – they originated on Kii.” GURion said, turning to the Pack. They seemed to sink to the floor and I recognized suddenly the scent of Kiiote fear.
Xurf straightened himself into humanoid shape, shaking out his arms, then straightened himself as much as a Kiiote could and said, “These are the demons of a shameful past, we believe they are sent to torture our minds. A Human analogy would be the chemical Agent Orange you used during one of your violent tribal conflicts or the chlorine gas of another.” He paused a long time before he said, “We had no idea they had come to Earth.” He hung his head.
Qap had stretched into humanoid form as well and she stepped next to him and said faintly, “We are more than sorry. Much, much more than sorry. We are, as a people, ashamed. We have poisoned your world with these demons…”