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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 13

     Despite Luuko's best efforts to soothe the nightmarish worries of the other Dimar, tensions ran high around the camp. With the advent of the knowledge of English, the Dimar had become aware of nuances of the colonist situation, details and dangers for which they were not prepared. The firebreaks all along the north and west were failing, despite the nighttime efforts of 3 full ranks - including the currently most skilled rank, Liur's Tinar Rank 1, as well as the exhaustive efforts of the six hundred and seventy new and old colonists. The tiny colony that had imperiled all of Dimar was itself nearing a fire crisis, and loyalties in every rank stationed there were divided. To make matters worse, the stormy Kiralla had not come down with the colony ship the day after the revelation of the hole in space. The Dark Hope had not been operable when the smaller transport shuttle had arrived to collect her. Rakal's usually level temper was becoming increasingly uneven as the time wore on, and with the new colonists arrivals, he and Tara needed to be more Leaders than ever.
      If the colony did ignite, would the Great Mother still extend the branches of the Telka Barryd openly to the human and Arrallin people, as agreed at the council? Luuko's slumbers were plagued with images of the charred remains of the tiny creatures, as he struggled alone to halt the fires in his dreams.
      Aching from half a night at the firebreaks, he called upon the Wind to gently lift him to his chosen perch next to the nest of tiny numu. Forlorn, he settled on the wide, flat topped branch, listening to the young nuMulkai chattering with annoyance as he settled. Sighing, he let his eyelids droop, shutting out the dim light of Dimar's one waning moon, as the wind, and the Wind lulled him to sleep.
      Luuko...
      Luuko...
      A voice touched his dreams, calling him back to the land of the living. It was Goothib, resting as he always did in the branch near Harmon's tent.
      Yes, Goothib? Is there a problem? Luuko flicked an eyelid open to survey his tree, but all was fine.
      No...well, yes, in truth. It's Harmon. His voice had a guilty, pained ring to it.
      Is she sick? Did you do something you shouldn't have? Luuko's mind slowly churned over the possibilities, reaching out to probe Goothib mildly.
      No, no...it's nothing like that. I haven't taken her to the Water, or done any more than the most basic and important lessons for her Seventh Class studies. Goothib's tail was visible in the dim light, flicking back and forth thoughtfully. I just...I would not like to lose her. I am considering sun-bonding with her. Is this wise? She is, after all, an important member of another barryd, and would add diversity to Telka, as is preferred.
      Bond? You mean the Sun Ceremony? With a human? I would think it could not be done. She would add much diversity, that is true, but, well, it's never been done, Goothib. It could kill her, or burn her mind. Luuko's thoughts turned grave, imagining the tiny human trying to encompass all that was Goothib with her mind, and him hers, while dancing the whirling, dangerous dance of the sun ceremony. It was not for the faint of heart - a bond more true than even physical mating, and the most complete sharing of souls two individuals could endure. And, it was a luxury lavished on only the most precious of minds in a barryd, as it provided a permanent active record of the experiences of each individual in the other. It would take twenty or more major Talents to oversee the procedure, and could be costly to them too. I do not think you could get the acolytes to agree to it. From what I can sense, they do not yet understand the colonists, and they fear them and their hole in space, as do we all. They would not want Harmon having your knowledge of both Tinar firefighting and Telkai engineering, and they would not find Harmon's mind useful, as she is not a member of the human and Arrallin Inner Circle Council.
      Oh, but Luuko! You have not seen the worlds she has! Admittedly, many are fantasy, but she has traveled the stars, as well as both Earth and Arralla, and she understands much of her worlds - the interactions between people, and their metal ship engineering too. If you had touched her mind, you'd be drawn to her like a kiMulkai bird to the fruits of the highest trees. Goothib's tone was flooded with admiration, rippling through the images in waves of blue and green.
      Luuko wiggled his ears in the darkness, Goothib, not that I speak from experience, but it is not a Sun Ceremony candidate that you have found in Harmon. He suppressed the yellow and orange colors of mirth that ranged through his response.
      She is worthy of the Sun Ceremony! She is the most powerful mind I have ever encountered, even more resonant and strong than the starborn psis, and many of our acolytes. Goothib was indignant, and in the dim light, Luuko could see him raise his head and lay his ears back. Well, if she is not a Sun Ceremony candidate, then what is she? You tell me now.
      A mate. You're in love. Luuko felt his shock, but didn't know how to cushion the blow. Goothib was in love, but was not yet ready to admit that he wished to spend his life with Harmon as a partner. He wanted Harmon with him, in his thoughts always, and thus, he thought he wanted the Sun Ceremony supposing that he had perhaps been sun-struck by a Great Mind. Luuko chuckled again. What Goothib really wanted was a mating ceremony. Harmon was not a Sun Ceremony candidate, that much Luuko knew truly. Sun Ceremony candidates were like brilliant powers, more commanding than Leaders, braver than Tinar heroes, and as intelligent as Telkai herself. Harmon had only had this effect on Goothib, and no other Dimar in the camp or out of it had noticed her at all. It was a sure sign that only Goothib was love struck.
      Feh! Goothib sent an annoyed farewell, with a troubled undertone, and returned to his restless thoughts.
      Luuko returned to his disgruntled slumber, a bit jealous that the only mate he'd found yet was the Wind, and that even it's constant contact was not enough to sate him. He watched the night colors flash across the sky, letting the patterns mesmerize him into a light sleep.
      An explosion, followed by another even closer, rattled Luuko's perch. He came fully awake, and looked for the moon. It was well set - much time had passed since he had settled and the sun would rise soon, but Rank 5 and Liur's half of Rank 1 were not back from the fire line. He reached out curiously to find out how they were progressing.
      Liur? Why aren't you back yet? The light will hit this valley soon, and the other Leaders may be watching. He reached out toward where he thought Liur would be, shocked at the images that flooded back to him.
      No time to talk, Luuko - we just lost the last line before the Valley. IT'S GOING UP!! Rouse your half, and get Rank 4 in the air now! Summon Telka - the colony will not survive without help! Liur's panic was more than just his fear that he would fail in his Tinar - he too had come to see the waters-lost of the colony as his own barryd. Luuko's own fear sent him blasting up through the branches of his tree and into the air, bugling a summons to all Ranks and Telka. Looking west, he could see the valley, with no stream bed in it, that ran alongside the valley in which the colony lay. Gouts of fire burst out along the walks of the canyon, moving toward where the two valleys met.
      Spinning, he assessed the colony valley condition. The dry season had progressed even further, and the few storms that had passed through the region had missed Telka and Mulkol provinces. It had been a very bad year for early rains. The stream that protected the swath of green around the ship and membrane-buildings was barely a trickle, and the plants at the top of the ridge were brown and had dropped much of their foliage.
      Humans and Arrallins streamed out of the ship, stumbling toward the clearing that served as a center for communication. Tara, dressed in her ripped fatigues, burst forward from her tent and swept the dark encampment with a hand-light.
      Luuko angled his wings and swept in to land on a branch near the encampment. "Honored colonists! The valley of which we warned you has caught fire now, and you must prepare yourself to defend this ridge." He swung his head toward the sloping, craggy rise that separated the colony from the dry valley. Fire was already climbing the ridge, igniting the trees along the top. "We will fight with you! Our ranks are coming to help!"
      With that, he swept over a ridge and took his place in the newly forming fire line. In faltering transports with water-cannons mounted on the front, human and Arrallin teams swept along the top of the ridge, soaking the trees with water. Other crews foamed the ground, smothering the fire as it blazed through the underbrush that had not yet been cleared by the crews.
      Relieved, Luuko could feel group after group of Telka's Tinar ranks assemble at the barryd and move south toward them. The Great Mother had awakened to guide the effort personally, and many acolytes were flying in the honor guard that would bring the foam and Water litas to aid the final effort to stave off the destruction of the colony. This would be a firefight worthy of a mural in glass, but Luuko knew that even with all the ranks Telka could spare, the colony was not well enough prepared for many long days at the fire line. He scanned for storm clouds in the dawn light, listening as colonists and their dogs herded their frightened animal charges into the pen at the nose of the ship for protection. It took the largest dogs to keep the morraks from trudging up the far ridge to move away from the fire, as they instinctively wished to do. The other side was just as perilous - but it had not caught fire yet. It wouldn't, providing the barryd...not barryd, he corrected himself, colony, could find time to fortify that side before it ignited.
      Sweeping in on gleaming silver wings, thousands of Dimar took positions along the walls of the burning valley, sweeping down to douse fires as they blazed into walls 40 meters high. The heat was stifling, even from the valley in which the colony lay, but the ranks held the fire line. Luuko slipped himself into the front line with Rank 23, bolstering their faltering upper edge.
      A scream punctured the roaring of the blaze as a hovercar smashed against the ridge and into the flames. He did not know the people aboard well, but he knew them. Against all training, he ripped himself free of the 23rd's fire line, blasting out a burst of Wind to hold the flames as others of the Rank closed in to seal the line again. Like a hatchling burning velvet, he swept into the flames, grabbing the unconscious bodies of the four pilots, two Arrallakeeni, two human, in his front legs. The heat nearly melted his scales to his sides as he shot up into the burning air above. Reaching out to locate Liur, he blindly pulled himself through the flames and flipping on his back, he shot through the wall, through the fire line and into the clearing. Gently, he placed each of the four figures on the ground, calling the honor guard.
      They did not answer.
      Furious, he screeched out for them to come, scanning the horizon for the honor silks. Honor Guard! WE HAVE INJURED! I will personally flay you alive if you don't get here now!
      A single guard flew in from the west, dropping a half full lita of Water on the ground as she skidded to an exhausted halt. What? Do you think these four are the only injured? We come as fast as we can, but we have lost three members of the honor guard as it is already! I left the other four in a dangerously weak line to go through the flames to you here. Flay me if you like - the blame will be on your head. She was gray-brown with charcoal smudges all along her sides. One wing was partially burned, and in serious need of the Water itself Still, she poured the water on the four on the ground.
      Only one Arrallakeeni awakened. The other three - two humans who were mated and an Arrallakeeni of Rakal's family, were dead. And it was only the start of the firestorm. Luuko could not hold back, releasing a fervent mourning song into the air and he returned to his position in the 23rd to hold the line. His 'mates to either side did not acknowledge his return, they were so focused now on the fire that raged.
      Roars caught his ears as parts of the fire line fell away to the south and west.
      Liur - I can't get to Rank 1, and Rank 23 needs support, so I'll be staying here. What ranks fell back? How many have we lost? Luuko took advantage in a momentary lull in wind, and a strong surge in the Wind to project to Liur, who was coordinating the effort of the ranks with four acolytes.
      He could feel that Liur was also having difficulty settling the line and holding it back, but that they were succeeding. The five ranks fell out of the south to re-enforce the flank. It seems to be working. We'll lose that grazing area for the animals, and some of the membranes to the far south, but that wall will hold, I think. We lose a battle, but win the war. Even through his physical strain, Liur's strategy was clear and well thought out. Luuko could catch echoes of respect from the acolytes that echoed his fire line orders, outlining the design to rank after rank. They might just survive the day.
     
      As the sun reached it's zenith, the fire line was well entrenched, and the colonists, although exhausted, had honed their spot-dousing navigation to exceed even the exploits of the honor guards. Luuko reached out toward Telka to see how the barryd was holding out, knowing that the lines there too were severely strained, but could read nothing from the mind-tones of the few acolytes he was able to reach.
      Luuko wavered in his place in line as a set of newly-burned hatchlings emerged from a wall of fire in the distance. They choose to burn their velvet NOW? Who allows this? The line is not yet fully stable! Luuko echoed his concern to Liur, hanging at the top of Rank 1, visible occasionally when the smoke blew away from the colony.
      I allowed them. We are settled here, and they know not to target the side near the colony. I've also cautioned them about trying for a Firebirth - having a flaming hatchling smash into a fire line in it's dying breath would cause some difficulty. Liur was impassive, but a fleeting spark of respect flickered through his thoughts about the young daredevils from Telka that would shed their velvet on this historic day to become full blooded Dimar adults.
      Oh, Liur! Be serious. You know at least one of them will try for a Firebirth. Knowing that lot, probably half of them will. And most of the appropriate flame-wells are near the lines. You should have told them to wait until tonight or tomorrow. Flying at night is considered more daring anyway. Luuko snorted with irritation, watching another pack of youngsters dive through wall after wall of flame, exposing the rich pearlescent sheen of fresh firescales.
      As if it was injured, one dropped down into the heart of a fire geyser, screaming as the intense heat and roaring rise of air ripped layers of velvet off her sides. She had to veer off before she could touch the source of the geyser, and she shot toward the cooler portions of the flaming field ahead of him. Luuko chuckled. She had been very close to hitting the heart of the flame. He wondered if any of the others had done that well. Liur, I JUST saw a female - looks like she'll be a golden-brown, go for Firebirth, right in front of my already taxed line. Like I said, this perhaps should have been scheduled for later.
      Liur's answer was distracted, Yes. Right. He let out a mental cheer that rippled through the ranks. Tewi's sister's hatchling did it! She made it! She's fireborn! Now, we'll see if she turns out to be acolyte material.
      Luuko chuckled, torn between pride for Tewi's family and the little one who had managed to touch the heart of the geyser, and irritation with the lightheartedness with which many in the line were treating the situation. If it was YOUR barryd, you'd fight harder. He growled inwardly, careful to shield it from his 'mates to either side. A burst of flame ignited to his left as yet another tree burst into flames. The tent near it began to crackle and melt from the searing blast of air that ripped at it's sides. Furious, he moved his segment of the line back, smothering the flames, but the tent was lost. It had been a medical tent, stripped and abandoned because of it's proximity to the encroaching fire, but Luuko was enraged that the 23rd had let even it fall.
      Sullenly, he redoubled his efforts in the line, bolstering his 'mates to either side, who truly were struggling against the heat and force of the flames before them.
     
      The day passed, and the line held well into the evening of the second day. The cool air had brought some relief to the remaining 23rd, but not in time to prevent dire injuries to the line. Out of the 40 Dimar that flew in the 23rd, which was a much larger Rank than the 1st, only 14 were left holding the fire line. Luuko had been seared twice, but not badly enough to warrant a break, and using his strong grasp of English, he rallied the now exhausted human support forces to re-douse the fire line and take some of the strain off the 23rd and 30th ranks that held the southwest portion. Screaming, of both Dimar and colonists, filled the air as the fire took it's toll up and down the seventy kilometer stretch of flame, but the line was holding. Luuko pointed his nose skyward, focusing on the now rising moon for strength, when a scream from the southern portion of the large 30th rank broke his reverie.
      That was not a scream of one who has been burned... he commented to Ruulamar, the smoky green Dimar to his right. Craning his head around, he could barely make out in the dim moonlight the silvery glimmer of wings gliding in from behind them. A foul current in the Wind reached his senses, and he bugled a war cry in response.
      Mulkol!! Mulkol at the southern flank! Liur! They're attacking! The pain of the exhausted Dimar that fell one after the other to the tusks of the war Oolars shot through the line like a spike. Furious, Luuko and his 'mates broke formation and sped toward the battlefield that was forming to the south.
      Instinct grabbed him as he came upon the first black and gray striped Mulkol warrior, who was struggling to dislodge his tale-blade from a fallen Telkan. Luuko shot a blast of Wind at him, momentarily stunning him, and landed with all four legs on his throat as the thick, heavily scaled head snapped back. He whipped his own tail-blade into the open mouth of the Mulkol, striking surgically where the base of the skull met the spinal column. The heavy warrior's body went limp, and fell back upon the Telkan beneath who had already expired from his injuries. Luuko let out a cry of fierce triumph, and leapt into the air to seek another victim. A female, flanked by two war Oolars hung back from the massive Mulkol front line. She was a deep blood red, visible in even the dim light of the new evening, striped with brown and black. She wore honor war silks, and the sight of her made Luuko's blood roar in his ears.
      He ducked down into the flaming forest, under the top canopy, and stealthily moved in on the female, hoping that the burning smoke of his chosen route would mask his smell and movements. I too can fly in from behind, you Mulkol pustule. The smoke was both blinding and choking him, and the heat sapped his energy as he moved, but he pressed on, avoiding the corridors of cool, uningnited forest. Finally, he looked up, and felt he was in position. He buoyed himself on a blast of Wind and shot straight up through the canopy...
      As he rocketed into the clear air, the target he expected to find in front of him was not the back of the female, but the back of her second Oolar, perched in a treetop. He knocked the beast into the flames below and turned just as she grabbed him by the throat. He lashed his tail, cutting a swath in her dark, mottled wingsail, and his tail dug into her side between two firescales. As she pulled him closer to her gaping jaws, he worked his tail in deeper and deeper into her side, prying apart the scales to cut through her thick war-toughened hide to reach her second heart. Luuko realized that she could, quite cleanly, bite his throat in two, and he needed to make more time to finish his work on her side. He snapped his wings open to generate a blast of wind to stun her, but the second Oolar latched onto one wing, snapping it at the elbow. The first Oolar survived the flames and had climbed back up the tree. It was working furiously to pry his tail out of her side. As he screamed in pain, the female's jaws clamped down on his throat and began to rhythmically saw through his firescales as if they were the bones of a fish.
      You dare challenge me, stripling? I will devour you and hang your head on my wall... She ripped into his mind as he lashed out mentally for some form of help, giving one final mental and physical scream before she closed off his windpipe with her jaws.
      As if to answer, a thousand stars shot up from the forest below, ripping through the Oolars, but missing him and the female. Distracted, she hesitated in making the final few bites that would fully lacerate and sever his head from his neck. As she raised her head and turned, a hovercar, with what Luuko knew to be a watercannon rose up out of the forest below, but instead of water, a glob of intensely hot material shot forward and charred her head right on her neck. She fell, dragging Luuko down as the hovercar pursued them into the canopy.
      He grabbed onto a passing tree branch, wrenching his tail from the side of the female as she fell crashing into the flaming jungle beneath him. The hovercar slowed, and Tara, of all people, leapt out carrying a lita of Water. She had an expression that gave Luuko chills - she had the look of a Mulkai that had made first blood.
      "We sure showed that fuzz-lizard who's boss of this place, eh Luuko!" She grinned down maniacally at Luuko as the Water worked to mend his lacerated throat and tail. "Go pick off a few more and come back for me, Susan. I want to take out another general myself!" She waved as the hovercar sped off, faltering as it passed low over the trees toward the still raging battle. Her expression softened as she regarded him. "That was a brilliant maneuver, Luuko. I could see it on long-range, the way you used the fire to sneak up on her like that. Taking out the boss often sends the ground troops running, same way as if you cut off the head of the snake, the body..." She looked at Luuko's neck and patted his side. "Well, never mind. Bad choice of example." She smiled.
      "Tttsssank oooo" he managed in a barely audible whisper, struggling to translate her words through the pain of his wing. He felt the order to retreat ripple through the Mulkol ranks as thousands of Telkans descended upon the field, backed by a tiny but fierce contingent of Ekal warriors. "Tssssey gooo now" He pointed toward the fleeting silvery glimmer of wings beating the air toward the west.
      "We won the war, but lost the colony." Tara muttered, kicking at the branch with one foot.
      Luuko's spirits sank as he imaged the tiny membrane-buildings engulfed in flames, and he warbled a high-pitched painful note that whistled out through the slowly closing holes in his neck.
      "Hey, hey, hey, there, Luuko. It's not that bad. Most of our supplies are still starborn, and guess what? We'll be taking that offer to move to Telka. You get to go home!" She smiled, but Luuko knew enough of human expression to sense that it was forced.
      He could barely hear the orders being broadcast by the acolytes, but he could hear the frightened screams of the colony animals as Dimar swept in to recover those that had survived the fire and the battle in the interior parts of the ship.
      The honor guard swept in to douse the base of the trees next to Luuko's, and a band of Ekal warriors from the tiny barryd to the northwest landed to gently lift him and carry him back toward Telka. The war leader dipped his shoulder to Tara, who hopped aboard, and together they sped off ahead toward the northern barryd. Luuko suppressed a surge of jealously that he would re-present himself at Telka not only injured and unable to fly the Leader back, but in disgrace at having lost the fire-fight to save the fledgling barryd that she and Rakal had forged. Rakal? A pang of worry filled him, making his wing burn. He wished Tara had remained so he could ask what had become of the Arrallin during the battle, but allowed the Ekal war-party healer to lull his mind into a half-sleep.
     

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