Table of Contents
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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.