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)
Panting after galloping up the ramp from the tunnel, Xurf paused, taking a deep breath of the air of the Human world. Even though it was the only place he’d ever known, he also could tell it smelled ‘wrong’. Not bad. He loved his Human Pack members. But he also knew it wasn’t the same as the Pack homeworld. Fax, Doj, Zei-go, Hil-hi-el, Jus-hi-el, and Eel-go-el – the mini-pack had a clear mission.
The basement of the fueling station was full of leaks. Volatiles had seeped into the ground, poisoning both the land and the air around it. Snarling a grin, he set off for the escape path Retired had shared with them. His respect for the elder Human grew more still as his third of the Triad broke to the surface and headed west. The scent from the material Retired had shared with him was strong in his mind. He would find the Human and they would move on to the next step of their flight.
He slowed then stopped. Fax and Doj, Pack members, stopped immediately. The Herd young kept going until Zei-go, the male, stopped. The others stopped with him. He said, “What are you doing?”
Xurf shook his head, then rearranged his form to bipedal, giving the Pack a signal to remain in running form. He said, “There’s something we need to decide here.”
Zei-go pulled his tentacles from their sheaths, though he did not extend the poison spurs. “What?”
“The elder Human, Lieutenant Commander Patrick Bakhsh,” he stumbled over the complex name and title which he needed to say to impart the right level of authority as Humans did, “Has sent us to seek the Masters, Pan and Zir.” He shook himself hard, hoping the others wouldn’t recognize his discomfort, “They will be undercover.”
“What?” said Zei-go, “They’ll be buried somewhere?”
“No!” Xurf snarled. He hunched his shoulders in apology – a gesture they’d all adopted from the Kiiote – and said, “It’s a peculiar Human idiom. It means they will not be what they appear to be.”
“How can they do that?” said Eel-go-el, it’s voice high-pitched. Likely a Human would have never heard the question. At least not a regular Human. Xurf wasn’t even sure Triad Humans could hear at that frequency.
He replied in the same register, “They will appear to be Human dogs.” All four of six of the mini-pack stiffened then snarled, extending to their full heights. Xurf let them vent their outrage. He’d reacted the same way when Retired had outlined the plan. They continued until he snarled, leaped on Fax and ground his body against the youngster as a Dominance display. Fax’ belly patch grew slippery and Xurf made sure to rub against it with unmistakable, sexual intent before leaping away.
Fax crouched, his body shape weirdly askew. He pulled himself to bipedal height, then cuffed or kicked each of the others when they came within reach of his humanoid arms, until the male, Doj and the others were sitting at his feet. Sweat oozed from the pores in their ears. Their distress was intense and the fluid was pale yellow instead of clear as his was. Finally he said, “Will we be able to scent them?”
“No. Retired said that they underwent a treatment to make them smell like Human dogs as well as look like them,” he farted his low opinion of that move, but added, “Remember, if a Human wants to see a dog, they’ll see a dog.” The others seemed stunned a bit longer but finally crawled to their bipedal forms. Xurf added, “Good. Return to lower form. We’ll need to hunt for game on our way.”
“How far, Pack Leader?” asked Doj, his scent was pure submission.
Xurf said, “Three thousand lopes at full speed.”
Hil-hi-el, bred for her weather and time-sense on Earth, said, “We will arrive there at night in two days if we take no breaks.” Her voice was female low nowhere near as expressive at its immature level as Qap or even Qilf. Even so, Xurf quivered. Even Fax and Doj seemed to take notice.
Suddenly Zeigo, the Herd male said, “Is time important for us?”
Xurf formed a loud, brief fart, an emphatic, “The less time we are separated from the Triad, the better.”
“Then it may be possible for you to ride me, and the smaller Pack to ride Hil-hi-el and Jus-hi-el.”
No sound or movement escaped Xurf’s control. Fax’ jaw developed a tic. Xurf managed, “It has never been done.”
“Do not the Humans say, ‘Extraordinary times call forth extraordinary efforts’.”
“I have heard the scentless one GURion state this.”
Zei-go said, “The sooner we get the transportation, the sooner we shall rejoin the Triad, and the sooner we can protect ourselves.” He pulled his tentacles into their sheathes and knelt in front of the Pack Leader. “It is for the Triad and the futures of all of our people – and Y’eh One of Seven hundred and thirty-nine, Kii, and Earth - that I offer what would have been humiliation on our Homeworld.”
Xurf snapped his jaws, “Then we shall do it. I place the safety of my body on your back, Zei-go.”
The Yown’Hoo whistled orders to his tiny Herd and as the Kiiote changed shape and mountain, he felt a strange strength flow through him. He said, “I will trust your sense of smell to direct me wisely,” he paused, adding the Human words, “My friend.”
Xurf placed a hand on the side of Zei-go’s neck, leaned forward, and said, “I will hold your trust as I would hold a puppy. My friend.”
Zei-go surged forward and Herd and Pack, merged as if they were some strange coyote-and-llama-centaur, thundered into the setting sun.