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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 28

     Luuko greeted the few familiar faces in the Mulkol dining hall that night as he swept in for a quick landing. Tara slid from his shoulder, tugging his mane in a customary thank-you. She seemed more distracted than usual tonight, but it had been an unusual day. Luuko felt more curiosity than worry in the Leader's mind, and was relieved. He moved around to the far side of the table quietly as Tara began the evening ritual to begin the meal.
      Luuko rumbled approvingly as Genar accepted the Leader's trade. It was a wise choice, as Genar was popular with both her Mulkol mates and the Tinar ranks at Telka. He settled in his customary spot to Tara's left, and grabbed a mirul steak as the platter passed, ruing the fact that this might be the last steak served this winter thanks to the war.
      "So, Mason...what do you think of this little stow-away?" Tara leaned on her elbows watching Mason, who was peering into the glass at the bug.
      Luuko fidgeted nervously, wondering how Mason would react to the horrible bug.
      "It's a mosquito all right. It must have stowed away, but how could it have gotten from the colony ships all the way to Telka? There must have been two - which means we now have a new colony species to introduce." Mason seemed unconcerned, but Luuko had come to know that Mason was fond of taking chances.
      Tara was munching on a slice of bread when suddenly she sat bolt upright. Surprise more than fear emanated from her as she pointed down at the platter. Luuko followed her hand down to the plate and saw tiny black dots hovering. Curious, he lowered his nose to the plate and sniffed.
      "Luuko! Breathe out! Breathe out!" Mason rose up on his haunches and grabbed Luuko's nose with both paws. "Snort if you have to - I need to see those bugs!"
      Luuko snorted out, and quietly hoped he'd avoided eating the garlic-spiced slices of the meat for Mason's sake. Mason grabbed at the air in front of his nose and stared intently at the black dot on his palm.
      "Flies. The usual garden variety late summer flies." Mason looked at Tara and then around the room suspiciously. "I did the preflight checks of all the ships, and Tulera oversaw the radiating of the cargo. This is no fluke. One mosquito getting by us I can see, but flies we would have discovered. Someone's making Earth pests."
      Luuko wondered if these were machinations of Earth warfare, but the word 'pest' didn't carry that kind of weight in his mind. He thought for a while about who might be interested in Earth species, and offered helpfully, "Goothib was reading a golden disk from the metal tree ship that was about Earth animals."
      Tara and Mason both just stared at him. Tara dropped her bread.
      Slowly, they both looked at each other and spoke in unison: "The Ark!"
      "Ark?" Luuko asked, while sending out a search broadcast to find Goothib.
      "The Ark is a disk sent on all Earth starships. It contains encoding of genetic samples for every major animal and plant species on Earth. It's meant to be enough information to re-create Earth if those that find the disks understand the system of DNA most Earth species use." Mason answered Luuko's question quickly and scientifically, while joining his search band for Goothib. "Earth technology can't do much with the information. Our technology isn't to that point yet..."
      Tara broke her stunned silence and helped Mason explain the political angle, "Those disks were only installed on ships as a conceit to get funding from United Canada, who's prime minister at the time was...well, how can I say this delicately? He was crazy. Crazy McCray. He mandated the disk program after watching an episode of a science fiction entertainment show. The deal bankrupted United Canada, but Earth Federal Council got it's ships, and Minister McCray got his disks."
      Groggily, Goothib answered their call from Telka. "Tara? Mason? What has you knocking on my mind at this hour?"
      "It's dinnertime, Goothib...Harmon's letting you stay up too late." Luuko wiggled his ears at Goothib's indignant reaction, audible even over the distance.
      Tara broke in. "Um...Goothib. Do you know anything about a rash of insect sightings that's been happening in Mulkol? These are Earth insects...not Dimar natives."
      Goothib was quiet for a long time, but finally he spoke. He mind voice was suffused in Telkai pride, which made Luuko wince. When Goothib was working for the greater glory of Telkai, bad things could happen.
      Goothib proudly pronounced, "I have integrated 1812 Earth species into Dimar biosystems successfully so far. As a true child of the Water, I am striving to bring the dependencies of Earth's Barryds into harmony with Dimar's. I'm making your Barryds here."
      Tara picked up the mosquito cup, "Just which 1812 species have you brought into the ecosystem? Are they all bugs?"
      "No. I started with bacteria and lower forms. They are doing well, and many have Dimar counterparts that are nearly identical. Earth and Dimar are quite similar." Goothib sounded as if he was about to launch into one of his scientific dissertations. Luuko began to tune out and search for Harmon, who might be able to shed some more light on exactly how much damage had been done.
      Mason lit into Goothib like he was one of his assistants. "Goothib, you should have TOLD us about this! You know you should have told us about ANYTHING you took off the colony ships. You might introduce something that this planet can't handle...how can you simulate the effects? The barryds can't do that kind of calculation." They continued arguing over the disk on a private channel.
      Tara took her seat and resumed munching her bread. "Any luck raising Harmon, Luuko?"
      "No Leader Tara. Not yet." Luuko listened carefully to Telka's responses but continued his conversation. "You seem calm. Does the bug no longer bother you?"
      "No. It bothers me very much, but what can I do?" Tara regarded the salad on her plate dejectedly. Luuko wondered that perhaps she had finally just snapped under all the pressure.
      Harmon's answer broke Luuko's concentration, "Harmon here. Time for me to do some explaining, I guess..."
      "Harmon, tell Goothib to give us the disk. This little science project of his could kill us all." Tara's tone was final, and tired.
      "I'm afraid I can't do that. This is what I knew would happen." Harmon sighed. "Look, I know you'll never understand, but we Earthlings need the species on Earth. It's the same as the Barryds needing the Dimar, and the Dimar needing the Barryds. If we don't establish a valid Earth ecosystem on Dimar, our species won't survive. This program has to continue. Period."
      "Arrallins survive on Earth. We can eat all the Dimar foods. We get all the required vitamins. I've seen the reports Harmon...What's really going on?" Tara pulled Luuko in to exert force on Harmon to reveal more. Harmon and Goothib had been less than mentally stable after the last few hybrid Arrallin/Dimar and Human/Dimar had hatched. Making Mason and his cousins had taken a heavy toll on Goothib, and Harmon was just too close to him.
      "Tara, I taught you everything you know about mind-tricks, so don't even try it." Harmon's fury was open, and Luuko recoiled at such disrespect for a Leader. "We've got the disk, and we're keeping it. Goodbye!"
      Harmon's signal promptly disappeared, and Mason raced off toward the spire exit.
      Luuko lowered his chest to the floor as Tara leapt aboard, and without so much as an explanation to the rest of the front table or the hundreds of hall spectators, they were off.
      Luuko's roar and Tara's signals cleared everyone out of the spire as they whipped up through levels and out into the humid air. Mason had proven a quick study in the arts of the Wind, and was well ahead of them. His ruddy wing membranes were stretched to the limit, nearly transparent as they generated lift from the Wind. He streaked off toward Telka oblivious to Luuko's cries.
      Luuko could feel Tara hunch on his back so he could make the best time with the least wind, and rain, resistance. He stretched his own wings into the Wind, feeling for the strongest fluctuations and trying to maximize his surface area to generate the most forward speed. She wasn't using a guarded frequency as she called on Telkans to find Goothib and Harmon, and curious searchers flooded from Mulkol as well. Looking back, he saw Olitar keeping pace with him, followed by Freia and Karti.
      Luuko listened intently, trying to pinpoint where the signal had emanated. Tara had contacted him while he was asleep, and used a fairly open channel, so he wasn't hiding his signal through various echoing tricks the Barryd could provide, but he did sound distant.
      Joining a group of Telkans they moved out toward the sea, following the last contact from Harmon.
      The driving rain slowed their progress back toward Telka...the trip, even at Luuko's top speed seemed agonizingly long. Listening to the search teams - most of them his Tinar rankmates - he knew to fly past Telka, and out toward the original colony site. Tara was coordinating the ranks well, keeping Mulkol apart from Telkans - sending them both toward the colony on different routes. Luuko fell into formation with the Mulkol line knowing they wouldn't give him any trouble with Tara on his back.
      Luuko crested the last ridge between Telka territory and the now defunct colony site. The Mulkol ranks broke off and began rummaging through what was left of the settled area. Charred cinders were all that remained of the few outbuildings that had been constructed, but Harmon and Goothib could be inside the ship itself, or inside the many pockets created by the fallen trees. A deep longing welled in him as the silvery mass of the metal tree ship loomed into view. The entire area was charred to the ground, but spots of green were beginning to show along the creek bed. "If only the colony had survived." He positioned himself above what had been the meeting area to allow Tara the best view of the search.
      It was beautiful, wasn't it? Tara's voice in his head surprised him. He hadn't realized he'd been thinking out loud. Warm remembrances of the early colony filled her visual communication with him. She missed the old colony as much as he did.
      Reports flooding in from the Telkan group along the nearby coastline interrupted Tara's reverie, and Luuko respectfully broke off communication to make a gentle landing in the mud below.
      Finally, Tara spoke. "No sign of the disk...no sign of Goothib, no sign of Harmon. Well, I did choose Harmon for her ability to keep a secret. I should have expected that she'd have a plan in mind if she was going to try something as hair-brained as mixing Earth's species with Dimar. Well, let's just hope that their little mission doesn't involve breeding Ebola Haarvens or one of those other incurable diseases. We DON'T need that kind of trouble down here." Luuko recoiled at the images that Tara broadcast as she spoke. In agitation, he lifted out of the mud, letting the rain wash some of the dirt from his emerging winter coat.
      Tara tuned into him and patted his neck. "Don't worry, Luuko. From what I can tell, Dimar has the technology to handle that kind of a threat. Viruses are very much like your Water. They just carry a code, inject it and let it do it's work. Telkai can handle it." The confidence that suffused her voice made Luuko raise his head in pride. "And, my blue friend, our colony will live again."
      Her cryptic tone made Luuko swivel around to face her. She was grinning a grin that Luuko knew meant either great fun, or great trouble. He could hear her calling Mason in. "You have to keep this from Karti, Freia and Olitar, however. This must all be kept in the strictest confidence. It's so secret, I'm going to tell it to you in English - not mindspeak. This is probably as appropriate a place to discuss this as any." She wiped away rainwater as it poured down from her hair.
      Mason crested the hill and glided gracefully down into the colony valley, taking a seat in the mud without batting an eye.
      "Lucky bastard. Maybe I'll trade in my form for one of you dragon models. This rain doesn't even phase you, does it, Cy?" She spoke out loud, wringing some of the water from her shirt.
      Luuko took his own seat in the mud again and thoughtfully raised a wing over his back to shield her from the rain. He forgot that humans tended to use machinery to avoid problems with their environment, instead of just evolving themselves to handle it. He shook his head and bit back his frustration with himself. He should have remembered! Tara didn't need to be uncomfortable while guiding the ranks.
      "You didn't call me in to talk about the weather, I suspect. Certainly not in plain English. What's the big secret?" Mason extended a wing as well, creating a dry area for all three of their heads.
      "I want you to begin producing a seed. Use half of Mulkol's compliment of plant and species types, and half of Telka's. I need it to launch within the next three weeks. Can you do that?" Luuko watched him closely as he went into his own thoughtful reverie, and listened as he called out to Telka's data stores to run the calculations.
      Tara stopped him, "Wait -- don't refer to the Barryd yet. Our trusty cities can be made to talk, and our neighbors might move in before we're ready. Do the calculations here in your head if you can."
      "Well, from what I know of the seed process...yes, it can be done in two weeks. There's several good pods at Telka that could be intermixed with Mulkol, but Mulkol will be the side that holds us back. They haven't produced an external pod in centuries from what I hear. The spire may just not be up to it." Mason doodled in the mud with a clawed finger, and his tail flicked from side to side keeping time to some unheard tune.
      "We can use Telka's spire for the launch. Mulkol just needs to provide seeds. So, it is possible?" Tara's voice sounded flat to Luuko...he couldn't feel her emotions through it. Again, he cursed himself for getting out of practice with the human communication skills. Tara's becoming a psi had made his English studies much easier, but he wasn't gaining the subtle training he needed to fully understand humans.
      "Yes. The timetable's tight, but there are pods well along in Telka already. And, you'd think after centuries of dormancy, Mulkol's barryd would be desperate to produce some seeds." Mason turned from his doodles to regard Tara and Luuko. "So, what's this all about?"
      Luuko listened closely, and despite his best training, he peered into Tara's emotional mindset surreptitiously. Her hope and expectation for this project was strong - as strong as her feelings about the colony.
      "This seed will be the start of The Academy. I haven't thought of a good name for it yet, nor have I done historical research into what this kind of Barryd would be in Dimar terms, but it will a place of learning." Tara gesticulated carefully, and Luuko could feel her strain not to use her psi ability to show them what she saw. "This planet is so vulnerable to outside attack right now, it's ridiculous. This Water technology is a weapon that could change the tide of any war on Earth or Arralla - possibly on any planet with genetically encoded life similar to ours. There were once ancient Mulkai craft on this planet that could rip Earth to shreds in a day, and there are still ground based war machines on here that if in the wrong hands could destroy everything the Barryds have worked for.
      The Mulkai Barryds are dormant, and dying, but the skills they guard are vitally necessary. They're just too proud to share them with the rest of Dimar, or too short sighted to realize that their military duty doesn't lie in destroying the production barryds, but in guarding them and enjoying the products of their work in return. It will give them a place to go - a reason to train as hard as they do. Sparta will guard Athens this time around, instead of warring with it."
      Tara's warm regard for the Mulkai bothered Luuko, but he suppressed his feelings.
      "The Dimar live in constant fear of Starborn attacks, but do nothing about it. That's where the Academy comes in. We're going to set up a space based defense for Dimar. We don't have a choice. The three Arrallin Hives have already settled and begun serious colonies, and will be having litters soon. Kiralla and Rakal may whelp on board the Singularity II, and up there, if anything came into orbit, they'd be the first casualties. I wont allow that." The firm tone of Tara's voice wasn't lost to Luuko, even though his English was rusty.
      "We need a space based defense. This isn't a theoretical threat we're dealing with. I saw what the Mulkai sent up. I know what may be in store for us if even one of those transport ships 'rediscovers' Dimar. From what the records show, they'd expect to find a dead planet with remains of species they were familiar with. They wouldn't even recognize the new improved Morraks on Dimar these days, let alone humans and Arrallins. They'd immediately think we were a new world to conquer." Tara beat her fist into her other outstretched hand. The emphasis wasn't necessary; Luuko agreed wholeheartedly. It was a great fortune that Tara and her ships had found Dimar in the first place. Fate would not give Dimar such a gift again. Luuko and Mason both nodded their heads in assent.
      "We will return to the Stars. We have no choice." Luuko emphasized his support with a throaty growl. "The other Barryds must be made to see."
      Mason chuckled and shook his head. "And I thought this trip would finally free me from life in orbit. But, you're right. We won't be given this opportunity twice. The debris from the Dark Hope that went through that gate before it shut has probably raised some serious concerns about what was on the other side. If Humanity can unlock the secret to aiming the Gates, we're going to get visitors. It's only a matter of time."
      "You can get a cushy ground-based desk job. We need your scientific knowledge down here anyway." Tara patted Mason's muzzle affectionately. "I'll take the point on pilot training. Question is, what will we be flying?"
      "I can tell you, Leader Tara." A voice, speaking English, behind them made them all spin. Luuko was careful not to unseat Tara, but the shock of their discovery only made her grab his mane more tightly. Luuko turned to face Olitar full on, and flared his wings. He could take her out if it would save the plan.
      "Back down, Luuko. There's more Mulkai in you than I expected," she growled, snaking her neck forward. Luuko probed her emotional state, but she was blocking heavily. She dismissed him with a grunt and turned to look at Tara.
      "Leader Tara...for centuries we've been waiting for something to change. Something that would bring us back to our old glory and give honor to our family names. You will provide us with this opportunity. I respectfully request to be part of this venture." She dipped her nose into the mud in a gesture of absolute submission. Luuko could feel Olitar's fervent hope, even through her shielding.
      "Olitar, rise, and drop your shields. Luuko...block for her." Tara's tone was controlled, but Luuko recognized her fidgeting. She probably trusted Olitar as little as he did. You didn't get to Acolyte First in any Barryd without making enemies, and unseating them from their positions of power.
      Luuko moved in close to the large female so that Tara could grab her horns. He arched his neck back so that his horns locked with the ends of hers. The intimate contact made him bristle, but he had to be sure he was blocking her completely while Tara scanned her for signs of treachery or deceit. His shoulder leaned in against hers, and the sounds of her serrated scales rasping against his set his teeth on edge. The unexpected warmth of her side dredged up unwanted memories of his lost family, reminding him too much of the fire season. Despite his discomfort, he held his ground.
      He avoided listening to their conversation, and instead focused on anyone who might be approaching, or listening at a distance. Mason also set up a mental noise barrier to help. Luuko would trust Tara's judgment. She was a strong mind, although certainly far from even as skilled as some second acolytes, but the Barryds would give her extra abilities she would need. Olitar was already obviously under great emotional duress, and Luuko could sense her emotions even through her shields. Still, he worried that she could be hiding something, or that Tara's irrational respect for the Mulkai might keep her from exploring as fully as she should. There was no dishonor in a Leader invading privacy to protect the Barryd.
      "Olitar, welcome to the Academy." Tara released her spiked ebony horns and patted her nose affectionately. "She's clean guys. And, she speaks English well enough to keep up with us. Plus, she has some interesting news regarding our transportation."
      Luuko continued listening for anyone approaching, and berated himself for letting down his guard. "Foolishness, letting Olitar approach! What was I thinking? I WILL be more watchful of her." Luuko regarded the silver gray Mulkol surreptitiously from behind his outstretched wing. She had a black mane tufting out from beneath permanent firescales along her spine, and piercing green eyes. Her scales had rough serrated edges, and spikes along her back. A shiny black plate, covered with serrated blades, protruded from the end of her tail. Luuko shivered, wondering if he'd have to dance against her in any Mirrai practices at this new Barryd. He reached out quietly to sample her emotional state, but sensed nothing. Her shielding was excellent. Her scaled ears pricked up for a second, and she broke her concentration on Tara to dart her eyes toward him. She senses me! He ducked his head behind his wing and resumed listening to Tara, feeling a bit foolish.
      Tara continued, oblivious to the exchange, "So there's a good chance we can use the system for the walkers and the fliers the Mulkol used on Telka to create a space-faring set of fast attack vessels. We just have to find an alternate propulsion system once in orbit...the Wind will be useless there, but we will have solar Wind. Fusion engines wouldn't fit in the designs I'm envisioning, but for the larger transports and base ships, they'll work well." Rubbing her hands together in both anticipation and to get warmth, Tara grinned. "I hope Kiralla has her kits soon. We'll need her engineering talents, and her engineering team to pull off the larger ships. And there's still the problem of getting them in orbit."
      Luuko could not believe that an Acolyte First would not know the entire history of her own race. In challenge, he interrupted. "When the Mulkai went Starborn, they had a way to get the ships off Dimar. Does not Olitar have information on this system?" He peeked out again at her from behind his wing.
      Olitar's eyes narrowed, and she regarded him for a long moment, giving him chills. "The Mulkai who did go to the stars didn't want followers. Those of us left on Dimar were given the sacred task of guarding the secrets of the homeworld, so those in space could keep the knowledge of their evolution and weaknesses secret, securing a tactical advantage." She snorted derisively. "However, there are those who believe that those Mulkai Barryds left to rot on this rock were simply being given a long and painful execution. We were the vanquished of the Barryd Wars, and we do carry this dishonor with us regardless of what the Starborn might call it." Her bitterness was unmistakable, even in her English voice.
      "And, you wouldn't mind heading to the stars to finally get a little sweet revenge, if a Mulkai warship was to venture into this sector?" Tara grinned slyly at Olitar, who feigned shock at the idea. Luuko was deeply disturbed by how quickly Tara and Olitar had bonded through Tara's mind probe of her. Tara had Mulkai leanings, but he knew that she was a true child of arts other than war. This must be an act to win her confidence, Luuko comforted himself. Tara was exceptionally sly when she needed to be, so Luuko would rely on her judgment until given reason to do otherwise.
      "The thought hadn't crossed my mind, great Leader!" The big gray female laughed, wiggling her ears wildly with amusement.
      "Spite isn't the best motivator, but if it keeps us all safe and gives us a potent fighting force, I'll use it. I'm hoping that we can create ships and a team that will inspire us to do our best, instead of relying on grudges to whip us into shape." Tara wrung out her shirt again, deep in thought, and turned toward Mason.
      "Any luck with those seed calculations? Olitar, do you know what condition the west spire is in? Can Mulkol provide seeds for the new academy Barryd?" Tara looked back toward Telka.
      "Seeds are not my specialty, but yes. We have had seeds and pods for a long time now that could be sent over to Telka." Olitar scratched her scaled chin with a paw.
      Tara outlined the framework for the plan, "Olitar, Find your most trusted allies at Mulkol and have them transport the seeds to the westernmost spire at Telka. Mason, coordinate the effort with insiders there as well. Move at night - we can't risk the Leaders of the outside Barryds finding out what's going on. They're already massing forces in the north from what our Ekal allies can tell. There may be a scuffle. You both know what you have to do, and I'm going to trust you both to work out the details, and to work with each other."
      Olitar's ears sprang forward at the mention of fighting. "Should I ready our forces and machinery to repel the Barryd invaders?" Luuko nearly hissed as she licked her lips with anticipation.
      Tara just chuckled. "Be ready, but only cool heads will go out in this maneuver. Think of this as holding a fireline. If as a team, we can keep an entire regiment of Mulkol craft and fighters from attacking an agitated enemy, we'll hopefully gain a grudging amount of respect in the public eye by showing our self control. We need to demonstrate to the rest of the planet that we're willing to serve. And that's serve everyone...not just ourselves." Tara brushed away the dampness on her forehead. "And, Olitar, I won't lie to you. To gain the trust of the other Barryds, we may have to surrender without a fight. They must be allowed to inspect and understand every piece of war technology we have. They must be our allies, and they must trust us. We may all have enemies before we're ready. There is no time to be lost in petty on-planet fighting."
      Olitar reared back at the mention of surrender, and her tail lashed from side to side. "That's probably not going to be possible, Leader."
      "Then the Mulkol warriors will be confined to quarters for the duration. I know you understand this mission, and I know you understand what we're trying to do. If you can't make your most loyal troops see the same, then we'll deal with them as the treasonous scum that they would become." Tara was firm, but not angry from what Luuko could tell.
      "Yes, Tara." Olitar settled back down, but her tail continued to twitch. She scratched her chin absently as she pondered some unknown thoughts. Luuko tried to snatch a peek at her emotions again, and she let loose a tiny vibration. She was worried.
      Tara drifted into reverie, communicating with the search teams along the coast. Luuko scanned the report bands as well, but found no sign of the pair and the golden disk.
      Emerging from her thoughts as the two divisions of search teams landed around them, she announced in a strong mind-voice, "Oohlam! Attention. From what I know of these two fugitives, they're going to be seeking equipment and a safe harbor to continue producing Earth species and introducing them onto Dimar. I'll know if they use any of Mulkol or Telka's main stores, so they are bound to search for private refuge, possibly in other Barryds. We cannot have the loss of face that would come from other Barryds discovering their intent, and my personal failure to prevent this calamity. For this reason, you must continue searching, but privately. Your purpose cannot be known." Luuko noticed eager Mulkol faces in the crowd, their wings trembling with excitement to be on a hunt outside their territorial confines. He thought of gentle Goothib and curious Harmon, and looked back at Tara with concern. She glanced at him, and brushed his mind gently in reassurance.
      "Searchers - they must be returned to me ALIVE and UNHARMED. The disk must be found intact as well. These are my friends, and although they are errant Children, I will not have them treated with disrespect." Tara smiled up at him, and he sighed with relief. Her tone was clear, and there would be no misunderstandings among the Mulkai searchers. Harming them would be tantamount to treason.
      She dismissed them, and in a tired voice, "Okay, Luuko. Time to head back to Telka. What a night." Gently she patted his neck and pulled some of his long pouch-hair across her lap for warmth.
      Helpfully he offered, "You may use my pouch to stay warm, Tara." She hesitated, but acquiesced, slipping half-way inside the fur-lined pocket. He could feel her exhaustion and anxiety, even though her Barryd-enhanced shielding. He looked toward the borders, listening on the Wind. It was disturbingly quiet on the public wavelengths toward Ekal. He wondered what allies they truly did still have.
      Mason and Olitar broke off from them outside Telka's boundaries. Moving at top speed, they headed back toward Mulkol, eager to set plans in motion for the new Barryd.
      Luuko looked back to find that Tara had fallen completely asleep on his back. Loyalty to the tiny being from so far away welled in him, and he most carefully conveyed her back to her nest bed at Telka.

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