Dimar.org  

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 10

     The feasting lasted well into the afternoon. The Dimar performed plays from their history, calling on the powers of their ancestors to sustain them in the time of the fires. They did a small war-dance demonstration, showing how each season, they use this blood sport to help define the boundaries of each barryd each year, trading harvest fields and suburbs between major barryd centers. The war dances were often fixed according to the needs of both barryds, except in the case of Telka and Mulkol. Their dances were deadly serious, ending in death for an unlucky few. Living next door to one of the last war barryds on Dimar made life difficult for the Telkans.
      Tara most enjoyed the barryd tour, and worked to memorize the general structure of most barryds. The hall they had feasted in was much like a great hall in a castle, except that only 1/6 the main population feasted there every night. The barryd had six dining halls stationed throughout, with multiple kitchens and food storage areas off each. Guilds, the economic equivalents of corporations, competed with each other to feed the population and make the most nila (money), creating a restaurant row in each hall. Between the graciously appointed mahogany halls and golden walled kitchens, corridors large enough for even the Great Mother lead to various workrooms and crafter's workshops, as well as the rooms for Tinar, Telkai, Ela, Tel, and even Mulkai studies. All passages, each in varying hues of wood-tones depending on the major plant-types that had been used to create each wing, were richly decorated with stained glass panels, paintings, tapestries and sculpture, and each passage also connected to one of the two central spires, which, unlike the residence spires that towered over each of the six dining halls, were hollow, and lead up to the clear sky and straight down into the heart of the barryd, shrouded in darkness. They entered a massive oblong chamber that dwarfed any of the six dining halls, and each end of the room had one huge hole in the floor, surrounded by golden wood railings, large enough to fit four Dimar through. They were not allowed to descend, and the scanner's bioactivity scale nearly broke when they lowered the receiver down into the chasm.
      All halls, passages and rooms were well lit by the same blue or yellow flame cubbyholes that dotted the main hall. Tarrin relayed for the tour guide "The barryd is constantly breaking down impure hydrocarbons in the crust and incorporating them into the structure, but the gas that the barryd can't consume is burned for light, and the waste produced, mostly carbon monoxide is filtered by the leaves higher up and again recycled for use in the barryd. Nothing is lost, nothing wasted. We could learn from these guys - this place is a self contained bio-bubble."
      The red Dimar male continued the tour, rumbling in low tones, and Tarrin rushed to keep up, "The rooms along the outside, with window views of places in the distance are highly sought after by most Dimar, and especially the visual artists. To avoid distress among members of the barryd, the rooms are assigned in cycles to anyone who applies, allowing all a chance to enjoy the beautiful views where they work. If a Dimar doesn't have a window room for working, he or she is usually stationed in a window room for sleeping. Many prefer to work in the dark, or without a good view - much like our programming teams - and opt to have a window room residence permanently. Refusing to give up a particular chamber at the appointed time is considered a treason against the barryd, and punishable by a week in the muck-room." Tarrin paused, and his speckled ears drooped.
      "We're going to visit the muck-rooms next. It's not a pretty sight, but serves an important function for the barryd." Tarrin shuffled a bit, trying to get a spot in the back of the tour group.
      They walked down a long, fairly deserted corridor that angled down, and stopped on a circular pad. Behind them, a plant-wall constricted, blocking their way out. Rakal decided to toss the tooth bearing restriction and let loose with a low, spine-tingling growl. The tour guide backed to the wall rearing on two legs, as another similar plant-wall released.
      "Rakal! Rakal! It's okay...this is an airlock...ooooh...." Tarrin grabbed his muzzle as a blast of foul air from the room beyond reached him.
      Rakal's ears drooped and he howled, grabbing his nose. "That stench! What is this place?"
      "The tour guide is explaining that this is the muckroom, where all the biological animal waste is recycled into the finest fertilizer ever known to Dimar. The processing secrets were a gift from Elanuru, a farming barryd to the northeast. He forgives your aggressive behavior, and understands that you are in uncertain surroundings. He wishes peace." Tarrin went nose to nose with the tour guide to apologize. "Come on, Rakal. He didn't mean not to tell us about the airlock, and he does understand why the smell bothers us. They're fairly immune to it, but they still dislike the idea of the place. Give him some nose."
      Tara wasn't particularly bothered by the stench, being used to her horses, dogs, goats, sheep, llamas and other animals stored in the animal pens on board the Golden Hinde. Mason was a little less enthusiastic.
      "They can't smell this? Must be part of that war-engineering they all underwent to be able to eat toxins. Maybe I'll get a Telkai nose job myself." Mason peered in the door to see Dimar, young and old alike, walking along catwalks with paddles to stir and check the consistency of the various filtration pools. "Why do they have the airlocks if they can't smell it?"
      "Good question...I'll ask." Tarrin tilted his head toward the tour guide, who was touching noses with Rakal. "Ooooh...uuurk. The system goes through a periodic cleansing. One set of pools is always filled with water, up to the ceiling. During the fire season this water is pumped from cycling room to cycling room to dilute the minerals and refuse and either spread it to the far ends of the barryd lands, or to feed the main barryd itself. The mineral rich water is pumped out of the barryds and is slowly released to the grasses and other non-integrated plant life in each area in such a way that salinization from irrigation never occurs and the plants can resist the fire. However, the distance the system can cover is severely limited."
      "I'd hate to get caught in a room when it floods." Mason winced as he tentatively stepped out onto a catwalk and scanned a pool. "Hey...this place is a tiny microcosm of the ecology outside. That far pool there - you could swim in it! They're just speeding up nature's own recycling system in here."
      Tarrin relayed Mason's concern, "Our guide, Uurlin, openly admits that leaving a Dimar in a flooding muck-room was a popular form of execution in some of the wars immediately after the war with the Isles, but now, the barryd itself has sensors and will not cleanse a room unless it is completely free of air breathing animal life."
      Two surly looking Dimar struggled with paddles to bring raw refuse into the first cycling pool. The tour guide pointed to them, and motioned to Tarrin.
      "He says that those two, the green and brown females over there are down here for bullying a smaller male who is not as good at Tinar, the firefighting flight, as they. That particular chore is reserved for Dimar with discipline problems, and to teach them to work together. If they work well together, they can finish their allotment of the shoveling and return to their normal schedules sooner. If they can forge a friendship and maintain it, the Great Mother will reward them both with places of honor at her table for a time." Tarrin looked impressed. "They have a punishment system, but they prefer to focus on rewarding positive behaviors instead of just punishing negatives. It's a reform discipline system, without institutionalized revenge, but they've still got a vengeance problem among their residents. Seems fighting and killing one another off was at one point encouraged by the leaders to control the populations and was a form of entertainment. Bread and circus."
      Much to the relief of the Arrallins, they were soon out of the muck-room and into one of the many garden courtyards along the outer wall of the barryd proper.
      "Each of these huge hedgerows is actually a sub-dwelling for various families or individuals who choose to live outside of the barryd proper. Usually they maintain the fields or herds, and often work long hours maintaining the fire line, as their houses go first when the heat gets through in the dry season." Tarrin began backing toward the entrance, his tail a bottle brush, as a herd of large, strange looking animals raced toward them. "Oolars!"
      Rakal, Mason and Tara all stood their ground as the vicious ram-horned, warthog tusked canine creatures bounded around them. The tour guide sat back on his hind legs as they tried to climb on him, and he warbled to them joyously. They ranged from tawny gold to pure black, with smooth gray ram horns and claws and white tusks. Their tails were more catlike than dog-like, but in general, they acted more like dogs than anything. Curiously, but not threateningly, they nosed around the feet of the visitors. Tarrin had climbed to the top of a hedgerow to observe and translate.
      "These guys are one of their forms of pet species. They are used to patrol perimeters, and have been bred into huge, armored war-beasts in ages previous. The tour guide has let them know that you are not invaders, but advises caution around them anyway. They're used to playing with Dimar, who, even when they shed their firescales have much thicker fur and hide than we do. The females have white tufts behind their ears and on their chin. They're also egg-layers, and the females are larger than the males."
      Tara knelt down and reached out a hand to a black and white oolar that had been fascinated by her wool jacket sleeve. She enthusiastically whuffled Tara's palm with a warm, dry nose. She scratched the beast between the horns, and stroked her fuzzy muzzle. "I could get to like these critters. I wonder how Koji and the other dogs will get along with them."
      "Dogs, nothing. The cats will be scared silly. Good thing the morraks seem to have a fancy for the felines - they'll need big allies with these guys around. And what will the goats and pigs think?" Mason was sitting on the ground scratching the belly of a tawny, spotted female, while Rakal was on all fours tussling with a buff-colored male.
      Tarrin, holding his position in the safety of the hedgerow, continued his translation, "They're good for patrols, herding, hauling, digging, and baby-sitting, and have been Telkai altered to be more tractable and intelligent than their wild siblings who still roam much of Dimar's unsettled regions. Let's get out of here, please."
      Tara smiled up at Tarrin. "Come on down and get used to these guys. I'm going to try to get a pup or two for the colony, so you'd better learn to adapt," she chimed teasingly.
      Gingerly, he made his way down the side of the 5 meter high wall of shrubs, and landed on all fours in front of Tara's female. They touched noses, and she sat in front of him and lowered her head for a pat. As if expecting an electric shock, he carefully patted her head once. With more confidence, he stroked her broad head, and then sat back on his haunches. "Hey... they're not so bad. They're better than your dogs, I'd say, and they've got a tiny glimmer of awareness in there. Not Talent as I know it, but enough to relay good fast commands."
      A wing of Dimar swept in - it was Luuko, Liur and the others.
      "Ah, here's our rides to the upper levels. Seems that since all Dimar can fly, and most Oolars are carried by their keepers or use the venting tunnels to move about, we'll need to take another flight to continue the tour." Tarrin trundled toward his red-brown Dimar friend and hopped onto his back, grabbing two fistfuls of his mane. "Not going to drop me, Goothib, right? Mason, Tewi is willing to take you again, providing you don't rip out too much of her mane this time." He whuffled an Arrallin chuckle.
      The dark green Dimar wiggled her ears at Mason, who blushed. With considerably more confidence, he climbed aboard her shoulder and sat astride her back. "Yee-haw," he muttered with a half grin.
      Rakal was aboard Liur, again choosing the reclined position on his back. Like Tarrin, he was much more comfortable with the idea of riding Dimar-back, but he still wasn't ready to risk sitting up.
      Tara bowed to Luuko, and hopped across his neck with the grace of a practiced horseback rider. Her time riding in the minute spaces of the cargo holds of the Golden Hinde had allowed her to keep her skills well honed, but she still took two handfuls of Luuko's mane, just to be safe.
      The tour guide led, and gracefully, the five forms rose with cautious speed. Sweeping around the twin central spires of the barryd, Tara was able to get a much closer view of the structures. Layer after layer of canopied tree cover was stacked around the central spires. Flat-topped branches reached from the spires over roof-branches of the residence rooms, serving as perches for the Dimar who were off duty from their various crafts or fire line duty. At the top of each spire, there was a wide platform, and various Dimar, each wearing the honor silks of Telka sat, watching the fire line intently. Above the platforms, large bulbous pods ending in rich violet petals, arrayed like a set of bluebells, hung over providing shade to the Dimar on the platform.
      They circled, echoing the greetings from relaxing Dimar on the branches with musical warbling cries, and swept in onto a platform at the end of a long passage on the top level. All the rooms that faced the outer wall had railed balconies, and were wide enough for two or three Dimar to land and sit comfortably. Tara envisioned three Dimar with a pellet-stove having a barbecue, and stifled a giggle as she slid from Luuko's shoulder.
      "Oh, the great mother bids us to come and witness a...miracle?" Tarrin looked intrigued and padded down the hall on all fours, forcing the humans to double time it to keep up. His gaze was distant, as if he was guided by a strong scent, and not any visual cue.
      They skittered around corners and worked their way through the twisting residence passages coming to a halt before a spacious set of living quarters, huge by human standards, currently packed with Dimar of all colors. The yellow wall fires burned brightly, bathing the room in warmth. Judging from the many beautiful paintings that hung about the place, it was the residence of a more prominent artisan of the barryd, or of a very serious art collector.
      "Okay, Mason and I are allowed to enter, but Rakal and Tara must remain in the other room. The Great Mother of the barryd is the only 'arch allowed to be in the same room with a hatchling, to prevent child-stealing." Tarrin slipped through the doorway on two legs and sat slightly behind the deep purple back of the Telka Matriarch. Mason followed, the scanner and recorder buzzing in his hands.
      "Oh, great." Rakal muttered, and the Great Mother turned to hiss at him.
      Tarrin translated, "They need silence to listen for problems in the eggs."
      Tara and Rakal both stood in the doorway, careful not to cross the braided knot of floor the marked the base of the door. Two eggs sat in a large leaf-lined nest, with carefully quilted pads all around them. Their shells were speckled with dark brown blotches and multicolored spots on a variegated tan base, and looked a bit like giant wild chicken eggs, except that they were lightly coated with a chalky powder. Each egg had many holes knocked in it, and fractures along the sides, but neither had opened to reveal enough of the babies to know what they looked like.
      In the deathly silence, they could hear the frantic tapping of the young inside.
      After what seemed like hours to Tara, a tiny clawed hand emerged, punching it's way through the wall of the more greenish of the two eggs, soon followed by a wet nose with a shiny black egg-tooth and a decidedly grumpy face. The little gray-blue Dimar, wrinkled and scaleless, without even a hint of underfur, fell out of the egg and down the side of the nest onto one of the quilted pads. It's father, a small brown, crooned over it, touching his muzzle to it's forehead, and gently lifted the pad with the exhausted baby toward it's mother, a light green Dimar with an almost white mane, who also greeted it in Dimar style. The baby screeched crossly, but quieted when the father settled it in the thick mane on the mother's back and shoulders. With unusual strength, the baby grabbed onto the mother's fur, wrapping itself deep into the silken mane and shoulder pouch, and fell into a deep sleep with only the end of it's muzzle and the spade of it's tiny tail showing.
      Not to be outdone, the second blue and brown speckled egg shattered with force, popping the pointed end of the egg off and onto one of the pads. The little blue-gray baby inside kicked away at the shell and fell on it's belly into the nest. The mother this time, lifted the tiny baby, who, unlike it's cross sibling, only warbled, and greeted it, and held it out to the father, who also greeted it. She nestled it in the rich chocolate brown fur on the back of the father, and it too dug in and disappeared into the pouch, except for a wing tip and the tiny snout, with it's shiny black egg tooth.
      Once both children were safely hatched, the noise of half-spoken, half-thought conversations filled every room in the apartment, and the Great Mother sung a long, complex tune in a major key to welcome the new barrydmates.
      Mason came out of the room, wiping tears from his eyes, followed by Tarrin.
      "Much more dignified than whelping, I'd say." Rakal chuckled, watching the new parents, craning their long necks to watch their sleeping charges.
      "So, what's the story? Those wrinkly little guys are male? Female? Will they both be gray-blue? What's their gestation period? What's the hatching period?" Mason bombarded Tarrin with questions faster than he could get answers from the people in the crowd.
      "Okay...okay...they'll be whatever color and sex they turn out to be. Oh, there! Look...see that little velvety guy over there -with the deep blue velvet skin. He's an immature Dimar, like a human twelve-year-old. He'll fly by a firestorm and shed that velvet to reveal his first coat of firescales, and he'll probably be blue, judging from the velvet. Sometimes the color of the immature velvet doesn't match their scales and fur, much like all Arrallins are born camouflaged and develop their mature coloring. It will be a cycle before they'll be able to discern visibly what sex the babies are, but the Dimar don't differentiate much between egg layers and egg keepers, female and male, so it doesn't affect their schooling or socialization. Their vocal language is gender neutral in most cases." Tarrin kept his eyes on the tiny snouts that poked through the fur on the parents' shoulders.
      "Seems the big dark green male and the yellow female in there are the alternates - god parents for Dimar, and the Great Mother or one of her acolytes is required to witness the hatchings and help if necessary. Because Telka is a Telkai-focus barryd, the 'archs are taught the healing arts, and this 'arch tries to make every hatching she can." Tarrin continued, bowing his head to the matriarch as she turned to regard them.
      Tara felt totally drained, and was glad Mason had brought extra disks for the recorder. She'd need to review all of this to make a final determination on the feasibility of cohabitation with this species. With the Arrallins 30 years ago, the decision had been easy, as the betas naturally flocked to the captains of their alien ships, full of new and interesting human technology to study. The humans couldn't beat the betas off with a plasma cannon. But these Dimar were very individual, and much more advanced than both humans and Arrallins in their knowledge of biotech. The problem would be keeping her people from flocking to the Dimar.
      She got that now familiar feeling in the back of her mind, and turned slowly to face the red-brown Dimar that had brought Mason in. She stared at him, seeing a faint blue-green light behind him and an image of Harmon flashed into her mind. Her stomach knotted.
      "Tara? You still with us?" Rakal nudged her shoulder.
      "Yeah...I'm just completely beat. After that huge red-meat meal, and then all this," she held out her arms, as if to encircle the room, "to deal with. It's given me the stares." Quietly, she aside to Rakal, "I think we're going to have the same trouble keeping our ranks in line as you had when humans dropped in on Arralla."
      Rakal nodded somberly, watching the matriarch who had been very pointedly not looking at them, but lavishing attention on Tarrin and Mason. The end of his tail twitched slightly, as if he were stalking something.
      Tara had dealt with ornery captains, uppity first mates, generals, prime ministers and dozens of cutthroat politicians. She had even survived working with Rakal, an Arrallin alpha. She could handle one competitive fuzz-lizard, it would just take time.

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