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Dimar: Lost Waters
(you can order a paperback copy or ebook here)

Special Thanks to:
Clay Dreslough, Ian Smith, David 'Tae' Baxter, Eugene Arenhaus and Paul aka 'Draco'. :)

Table of Contents

Intro
Prolog

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33

Glossary
Dimar terms
Arrallin terms

Map

 

 

Lost Waters - Chapter 27

     The rains held off just long enough for the residents of all of Dimar to enjoy the lightshow provided by the death of the dreaded Gate. The end of the Gate and the start of the rain provided a needed catharsis for everyone. Tara relaxed by one of the interior barryd pools and consulted with acolytes from both barryds, Luuko and her trusted colony advisors.
      Lazily, she hung one leg down into the cool water as she rested her chin on her knee and listened. The rains raged and poured onto the upper levels of the Barryd, but they were barely audible where the group was. She knew it was raining torrentially from the tingling on her skin. The constant stream of information the Barryd provided her about its condition had mild physical side effects, and this was one of the more pleasant ones. Here in one of the lower levels of the complex, water from above trickled down in a constant stream filling the pool and hundreds below it. The drone of the water was comforting in the face of dozens of bickering acolytes. She listened, stifling her irritation.
      "No offense, Great Mother, but the leadership commotion has cost both barryds terribly. Poorly maintained firelines resulted in the loss of two thirds of the outer agricultural settlements and two sub barryds." The only surviving Telkan first acolyte eyed her Mulkol companions in the meeting with contempt.
      The tone in her voice was not lost to the two Mulkol first acolytes present. "Luckily, the many deaths from the inter-barryd war had left almost all of these areas uninhabited. Good thing we live right next door to provide you with such a necessary service." A gray-blue male Mulkol wiggled his ears in delight at the Telkan's fury, and raised his tail in challenge.
      Harmon signaled the non-psi humans and arrallins to move back, and all psis in the room jumped.
      The Telkan lunged at him, screaming and roaring at his disrespectful regard for their dead. "How dare you...!" A slash from her tail landed cleanly and left a gash in his nose, and he reared back to strike.
      "ENOUGH!" Tara leapt from the side of the pool, furious, but wanting to quickly defuse the situation. "Yttea, Wrarthim...you are both fired! Demoted! Report to the relocation commission for new quarters...as of today, you are no longer acolytes...you are MUCK ROOM PARTNERS."
      One of the other Mulkol acolyte's eyes widened in surprise, and then narrowed in fury. Tara caught her attitude before she could block it, and turned. "Do YOU want to join them, Olitar?" The Mulkol bowed her head, saying nothing. "I didn't think so."
      Tara surveyed the crowd, catching vibrations from all around the room. Discord, shock and fury echoed from most present - all except Luuko, and a handful of Dimar who'd made the adjustment to the co-barryd situation, who seemed more confused than negative about the demotion.
      Suddenly, like a bright dapple of sunlight on a dingy wall, she felt the psionic echoes of someone in the room who was actually laughing. She turned to regard the Mulkol first, Olitar, who might be celebrating the unexpected rise to the power of being the only first-rank acolyte left in both Barryds, but she was still fuming over Tara's threat to demote her. She scanned the room, not angry that someone was amused in the midst of all the tension, but curious.
      Giving up on her psi senses, she resorted to just plain looking around. Freia and Karti sat far in the back of the crowd among several other fourth level acolytes. Tara scrutinized Karti closely. His ears were trembling with the effort to keep from wiggling, and Freia had simply resorted to clamping her paws to the sides of her head.
      "Frick and Frack back there...is there something you'd like to share with the rest of the class?" Tara smiled at Freia, who looked mortified to have been noticed.
      "No, Great Leader! Our apologies!" She bowed her dun colored head low, but continued to hold her ears to stop their uncontrollable wiggling.
      "Apologies for you and who else?" Tara already knew it was Karti, but wanted to see if Freia would readily admit having a Telkan compatriot.
      Karti spoke up before Freia might have to take the fall for both of them. "I'm afraid I'm to blame for the disturbance. We though we were being quiet, but I was too loud. I will go to the muckroom."
      Freia's head shot up, "No! It was my fault. You shouldn't go to the muck room. I was laughing too loud." She looked mortified that Karti might have to take the entire load of the blame.
      Tara couldn't get them to conclusively acknowledge each other, but she had to know. "So, you both admit to disturbing this very important meeting with your own amusements?"
      Freia looked around the room self-consciously, but rose up to her full height. "Yes."
      Karti rose up too and nodded assent guiltily.
      "Then you'll both take your punishment together. Come forward." Tara beckoned them to the pool. The crowd parted and whispers both audible and psi rippled through the room. Like nervous striplings, the two scuttled forward, avoiding eye contact with angry barrydmates.
      "Freia and Karti, I am going to make an example of you." Tara crossed her arms and glared at them. "You think everything is funny. You two find something amusing at every meeting."
      "...but our rank has an excellent efficiency rating! It's not that we're not serious about our duties..." Karti stammered.
      "Silence." Tara pointed toward the ground, and they lowered their heads. She put a hand on each forehead. "I will now pronounce my sentence upon you."
      The crowd's approval of punishment for the two was obvious. Tara didn't mind disappointing them.
      "For getting along well together, performing above expectation, and for keeping a steady and positive perspective on your work, I promote you both to Acolyte First. You'll report directly to me now."
      She pulled her hands back, looked down at them and smiled.
      "Like I said, I'm going to make an example of these two. If you don't get along with your co-acolytes - fine, but deal with it on your own time and make sure your work gets done. If you do get along, expect great rewards." Tara hopped up on the ledge of the pool and spoke loudly over the chattering of disgruntled acolytes. One of the acolyte second rank just turned and strode indignantly from the room.
      "Results equals rank - not time served. If you seconds ever want to make first, you've got to show some results. The fourth rank, headed up by these two, has shown real results. We'll have plenty of fresh fruit this winter thanks to the fourth rank's work with the vines guild and the first acolytes. However, we're low on meat and will be until next spring, NO thanks to the second rank in charge of aiding the morrak herds guild." Tara's stomach grumbled as if to emphasize the point. "Results. You can't coast to the top anymore. You've got to work together. Now, I'm hungry, so this meeting is adjourned. Karti and Freia...members of the first acolytes rank and I look forward to dining with you in an hour at the front table. We have much to talk about in regard to revitalizing the entire structure of both barryds."
      She nodded curtly to dismiss the group and sent the stunned pair on their way.
      Trying to keep a brisk pace in the flowing silk gown the Telkan weavers had made for her wasn't easy. She grunted with annoyance at having to constantly pick up the sleeves and skirt as they tripped her. It was a beautiful piece, a forest green background color with raised brocade flowers of purple and gold, but it was designed for looks and not practicality. Tonight she'd be dining in the Mulkol half of what had become nearly a single Barryd, so she'd opt for something a little more military anyway.
      Rounding the bend in the hallway, she came to the central spire passage, with it's precipitous drop toward the pools. A young Mulkol rested on the ledge, marked with the silks of an air-lifter. He was asleep and didn't notice her approach. Rather than having to suffer with the usual formal greeting, she simply climbed onto his back, settling on the quilted pad strapped between the two spiked plates along his spine. She wanted to get where she was going quickly and with as little pomp and circumstance as necessary.
      "Sir...I see you are a lifter. Will you please carry me to the second level top?" She prodded him gently with her foot and poked at him with her mind.
      He grunted his ascent, and without even looking back, slid off the ledge into the open air. He rose quickly, with some jerkiness, trying to get his errand over as soon as possible to return to his ledge and await his replacement.
      He swept past the level and braked with a customary Mulkol maneuver - grabbing the heavy rail with his hind feet. This brought him whipping into the second level hallway, but he was careful not to fling Tara off. He chuckled to himself, turning back to see how his cargo had fared.
      Tara, arms crossed, was grinning from ear to ear. "I hope you only treat the teenaged humans and the older Betas to that kind of landing. It's a bit like an amusement park ride from Earth." She had honestly enjoyed the ride, but didn't want him thinking all humans liked a roller coaster trip from level to level.
      His jaw dropped, and his eyes went wide with alarm when he recognized her. He brought his shoulders down carefully, as if he was carrying a youngster in his pouch. "Sincerest apologies, Leader Tara! I will be more considerate in the future."
      She slid off to the ground and smiled at him, reassuring him that he wouldn't be sent to the muckroom and that no harm had been done. "Hey...I'm not made of glass. Land as you like. I very much enjoyed the ride, and may just come later to see what other flying skills you have." She remembered his despondent boredom at the beginning of the flight and wondered if it was time to give the Mulkol something to think about. Cryptically, she added, "We'll be having need of good Mulkol flying skills soon."
      She saw the catlike pupils narrow and then widen at the mention of Mulkol flying skills in particular. He didn't miss the hint that this could mean combat flying.
      She winked and headed down the hall, knowing that she'd have to weather a storm of controversy once this lad's gossip got around. She hadn't really told him anything - Tinar firefighting took good combat flying skills. She could leave things up to interpretation for a while and then quash any rumors.
      There would be a new fighting Barryd...a hybrid of Telka and Mulkol, but it wouldn't be a war barryd set on conquering. People would naturally assume the worst, and then she'd relieve them by explaining the best. She'd finally be able to release Telka and Mulkol from their bonds and back to their natural states, if only the two cities could hold out long enough for her to bring her plan into action. And only if she could keep the rest of the Dimar Barryds from wiping them off the face of the planet...
      She pressed her hand to the membrane of the door and it slid open noiselessly.
      Rummaging through the interesting selection of garb the weavers had provided her and the other humans, she selected a sleeveless red overshirt with Mulkol traditional patterns woven into it, loose fitting silk pants that gathered at the feet, and a pair of black sandals. She pinned the triangular Arrallin military insignia to her shoulder, and used it to hold a silk strip of the two Telkan and two Mulkol colors in place. The green and purple clashed with the black and red of Mulkol in a perfect example of art imitating reality. Tara mused over the possibilities of her plan. New colors could be chosen to match the new organization.
      Despite the coming of the rainy season, things hadn't cooled down much. They'd just gotten horribly humid. She glanced down at her watch, and decided to take the last 15 minutes to rest from the heat and enjoy a little of the fruit drink the humans had come to refer to as Bug Juice. Luuko would meet her at the door as always and fly her personally to dinner. Luuko was good about being prompt so she never really had to worry about the time.
      She gazed up at the cathedral-like ceiling of her quarters. Each panel of the stained glass bubble-roof was a fret of the various flowers of the barryd. The panels in here didn't tell any stories... they were just soothing. The tiny blue and yellow flames of the chandelier-style branch that lit the room made the glass glitter, as there wasn't enough light from the rainy outdoors to really backlight the panels. The texture of the glass stood out more in this light, and the colors all appeared dark and vibrant.
      She tunelessly hummed a barryd greeting song and swung in her nest-bed. The familiar tickle of a mosquito on her skin distracted her momentarily and she swatted it. She regarded the long-legged remains of the bug on the end of her finger.
      She blinked.
      "Mosquitoes? On Dimar?" She jumped up just as Luuko made his familiar noise at the doorway.
      "Luuko, you have to see this. Come in. Come in!" She swatted the panel to open it and he trundled into the room.
      She jabbed her finger up toward his head. "What do you make of this?"
      He looked at her, and looked at her half finished glass of bug juice. "I think you need some rest. Finiss your bug juice or you'll dehydrate." Wiggling his ears slightly, he warbled "That's your index finger."
      She grinned. "No no no...look. That tiny thing on the end of my finger is a bug native to Earth only. How'd it get here on Dimar? HMMM?"
      He looked again closely. "I have not seen this kind of bug before, but it is so small, I might not ever have noticed it."
      "You would have. These things are the scourge of Earth. They spread disease and leave nasty welt-like bites on people and on all mammals they can find." She brushed the remains of the bug into an empty glass by her bed stand. "I'm going to have Cy Mason and the Telkai First take a good look at this. This may be a case of parallel evolution...or worse, one of these things stowed away on the ships."
      Luuko looked alarmed at the mention of the insects being dangerous pests, ears forward and eyes wide. "But do they not also serve some purpose on Earth?"
      "Oh, sure. I'm sure some people would even say they're indispensable. Lots of birds eat them, and dragonflies and other bugs that bigger animals eat. But I think the pain they inflict far outweighs their usefulness to the ecosystem as a whole." She peered into the glass at the dead bug. "They're awful. And they'll breed out of control in this rainy season."
      Luuko turned and headed down the hallway without Tara.
      "Hey! Luuko! Wait....I need a ride to Mulkol's Ptarmin Dining Hall.." She bolted out the door after him with the cup in hand and caught up with him at the balcony to the spire.
      "Apologies, Tara. Just wanted to prevent a disaster. Mason and the Telkai First have been informed of the bug." He lowered to the ground so she could climb aboard.
      "Look, we've survived with these pests for millions of years...Dimar probably won't have a problem. They'll never last in the dry seasons anyway. There will be a natural limit on them." She grabbed a tuft of his mane and settled on his shoulders, keeping the cup upright. He slid off the railing and down into the spire, taking one of the new ground level tunnels from Telka to Mulkol.
      The trip from Telka to Mulkol was long - a half hour even on Luuko or in a hovercar. The tunnel, in parts, was open, giving views to the countryside of both barryds, but also allowing the rain to pour down on them. Tara envied Luuko's innate ability to simply ignore the weather, and regretted not grabbing a rain slicker. Eventually, the Telkan transport tunnel ended, leaving Tara to enjoy a wet ride over the steamy forests and fields.
      Through the foggy day, she could survey the borderlands of Telka and Mulkol. Much of it was just starting to recover from the horrible burning that occurred during the fire season. Hostilities between Telka and Mulkol had resulted in severe mismanagement on both sides and much of the land's growth had been lost. It was going to be an interesting winter. Tara took advantage of the trip to talk to Mason about recent events.
      "Haven't heard from you in a long while...what have you been up to?" She reached out to Mason, who's mental signal got stronger as she approached Mulkol.
      "Learning, learning, learning. We've landed on a biotechnical gold mine with this planet. I am glad that gate is closed...I can only imagine what Central Command might have done with this stuff." He sounded distracted, but Tara had come to expect that from anyone working with Telkai.
      Tara continued, "I've got some news for you, which we can discuss over dinner. I think I've come up with a solution to the problem of how to deal with our Dimarian neighbors."
      "Problem? I'm having a great time with the Mulkol and the Telkans, when you can get them to stop trying to kill each other." Mason sounded confused. Tara could feel him release a bit of the Telkai concentration he'd been using. "And I haven't seen any problems between the colonists and the Dimar worth mentioning. Both Mulkol and Telkan are getting along fine with arrallins and humans. We take up so little of their range, they don't see us as competition. They see designing colony structures with us as fun."
      Tara grinned at the mental image he sent of Telkan engineers puzzling over how to make a live plant resemble stone. "Not those neighbors. You're right...except for the infighting between Mulkol and Telka, things are going well between us and the Barryds we're in. It's our neighboring Barryds I'm worried about.
      The acolytes have been keeping a quiet ear to the Wind, using what friends they have in far off places to keep tuned into the political situation outside. Reports from all sides show the other Barryd Leaders are scared witless of Telka's engineers combining with Mulkol's warriors. If they ever could get along, they could take the continent handily."
      "Heh! Like any two groups fighting this much could raise an army. They're too busy taking each other out in blood feuds." Mason retorted sarcastically.
      Tara wondered how much longer the two Barryds could hold together. The murder rate was high and getting higher as disgruntled Telkans or disgraced Mulkol warriors took action against their perceived enemies. Both Barryds could eventually depopulate each other enough that the core plants could not be maintained.
      Mason interrupted her thoughts, "So, what's the plan? Or do you want to tell me in plain English so that curious ears don't pick things up early?"
      "Over dinner...I'm almost there." She looked down into the bushes below and spotted the guarded expressions of older Mulkol watching her pass. Luuko flew carefully over the observers, staying above fields and avoiding the fortified outbuildings the Mulkol kept. Tara had been on him once before when young Mulkol pranksters had knocked the Wind out from under them.
      As they moved in toward the main Barryd, Tara began broadcasting an arrival song to prevent anyone from taking pot shots at them. Being the physical manifestation of two entire cities had it's advantages, but Tara wouldn't miss the drawbacks when she could finally relinquish her post and be just Tara again.
      Tara continued her song, enjoying Luuko's skill in approaching the hall. They made their way over the roofs and branches, finding a convenient entrance in the third hall spire above the Ptarmin wing of Mulkol. Tara's barryd-given knowledge of the layout helped her direct Luuko along the shortest route to the hall and the front table.
      Saluting Olitar, then Freia and Karti, Tara made her way down the table. Mason was seated to her right, and was shaping up to be one of the most striking Dimar in the room. He had burnished his velvet in one of the heating chambers of Telka, exposing firescales that seemed translucent, as if cut from sheets of a ruddy amber stone. The yellow glow of the hall lights gave his sides a warm yellow tint, bringing out the deeper stripes of rusty browns that could camouflage him in deep cover. He stared off at some unseen plan with his sky-blue Dimar eyes, oblivious to the room. Tara tugged his tail on her way by to get his attention, and he reluctantly released whatever he was working on to watch the opening of the meal. She handed him the mosquito sample on her way by, muttering, "Tell me this isn't what I think it is..." but Mason had little time to respond.
      Reaching the end of her table, she picked up her glass. The room quieted and watched intently. Per Mulkol tradition, she walked down into the room, moving table to table. She recognized a young Mulkol female who had been doing quite a bit of studying at Telka and was making friends there. She had only spoken to her once, but liked what she'd seen. She placed her glass on the table before her, and wordlessly took the large bowl the Mulkol used for drinking, and returned to her place.
      It was a mark of trust and respect for the Mulkol to be chosen to trade for Leader's cup. Poisoning was a long standing tradition in Dimar wars. Of course, Tara's tiny cup could not hold nearly enough liquid to be useful to the Mulkol. She would just take the cup home as a trophy, and would receive another bowl at the serving table.
      "Oohlam!" Tara signaled, and the meal began.

The Tomb of the Unknown Editor: Thank you for all those pages of GREAT edits. I suck for losing your email. <:|   Dimar: Lost Waters is a public domain work of modern science fiction by Dee Dreslough. Please feel free to be inspired by it, draw pictures, write stories based on it, even republish the work as a whole...it belongs to everyone! www.Dimar.org