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 Pack seemed to sink to the floor and I recognized 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.” 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…”
Shay said, “What do you mean, ‘demons’? Did you summon them from the land of the dead?”
Xurf sneezed. It was a Kiiote expression of extreme disgust. “There is no such thing! The conjures are constructed from a special kind of matter. They were created to work in high energy environments – on the surface of planets nearer the sun, planets caught in radiation belts of stars…”
Qap added, “In emergencies, they could be sent into highly radioactive environments.” She snorted, “They are expendable where we are not.”
Commander Patrick Bakhsh – we continued to call him Retired – hadn’t said much since our run from the destruction of the farmhouse. When he spoke now, his voice was low and sort of soft. Even so, it sounded dangerous. Like he’d discovered a bomb in one of backpacks, he said, “You’ve been experimenting with solid life.”
Qap and Xurf suddenly panted. That was a sign of extreme Kiiote distress. Finally, Qap said, “To our shame, I have to tell you that the Kiiote have.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked. “You’ve been with us since you were weaned.”
Xurf gestured to Qilf and Fax, the Pack seconds. They rarely spoke, never made decisions unless Qap and Xurf directed them to, and I’d never seen either one do more that follow the Firsts. Fax, the male said, “Our job since weaning, when we are not learning to lead, has been to comb through Kiiote news – dispatches, communiques, entertainment broadcasts, and private messages.” He nodded to Qilf.
She said, “Our job is to listen. We listen to you, we listen to Human news and words and messages from the Herd’s Plateship in orbit. We listen to them, interpret, discuss, then offer summary to the Pack Leaders.”
“I’ve never seen you talk to them!” Shay said.
Qilf yapped in amusement. “We do not share in words but in taste and smell. You know, Triad-mate, that all Kiiote speak on multiple levels. We have experienced tiered communication between the two of us.”
I didn’t know what Qilf meant, but Shay suddenly started to shift back and forth on her feet, cleared her throat, and clasped her hands behind her back. She did the same thing the first time we’d explored sex together – for about a week.
Retired pursed his lips then said, “How long has the Pack fighting over Earth known about the escaped conjures?”
Fax shook himself hard, the Kiiote equivalent of a Human shrug. “We knew seventeen of your months ago. They may have arrived on your world before that, but there is no clear evidence to indicate that they had. We’d heard nothing of the Solid Ones before that.” He paused. “But we do not guarantee that they were not here.”
Retired sighed and went to the room’s table and gestured for us to get comfortable on the floor. GURion closed the door into the tunnel and pulled a lever, locking it from our side, cutting off the flow of cold air. He looked to Qilf, “They can’t pass through solid matter, can they?”
She shook her pelt. “We do not believe so. They are made of coherent matter and while our people manipulate it, we do not entirely understand it, much as Humans began their journey into nuclear power.”
Retired shook his head, “Thoughts of lecturing you – and your entire civilization – on the foolishness of what you just told me are both self-evident and unlikely to make any difference. What do the conjures do when they attack beings made of regular matter?”
“Aside from strangling them, breaking bones, or inflicting other physical damage?” Retired snorted. “They can destabilize their own matrix through a voice command to the device that holds them together, not only destroying themselves, but causing standard matter to destabilize as well.” She paused, adding softly, “They turn into a pile of spreading gold slime.”
“Gross,” said Shay.
Retired sighed and said, “We need to sleep. We have a long trip ahead of us before we reach Grendl. The anti-Triad faction will be looking for you, the Kiiote and Yown’Hoo will be doing the same; and now conjures will be after us as well.”
Fax said, “It wearies me simply thinking about it.”
“Sorry son, that’s the least of our concerns at this point.” Fax nodded and headed for the Pack’s room.