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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 15

     "Well, today's the day. How do I look?" Tara surveyed her uniform in the mirror, fingering the smooth silk honor-band that hung from her rank insignia. She'd waited two months for this day, and had fought the last three weeks with the Great Mother to make sure it would happen. The final colony shipment of supplies, and, most importantly, of the three other Arrallin mated pairs and Kiralla, would be splashing down in the Big Easy in an hour. "Telka colors do a lot for these old grays."
      "You look great." Rakal's tone was distracted as he worked through his own thick fur with a Dimar mane-comb. "How do I look? Today is the day, and my social life is riding on a good first impression. I haven't seen Kiralla in person for three years."
      Tara frowned, careful that Rakal wouldn't notice. "She's seen you in the video-comm. She knows what to expect. Hope she doesn't mind that you're shorter looking in person." She turned, grinning maliciously, and grabbed her side arm for the welcoming.
      Rakal turned in stunned shock. "I look..? YOU! Stop doing that!" The hair on the top of his head had bushed out as he reacted to her jibe, and he worked to get it to lay flat again. "Now I'm all fluffed up. I look like I've just been through an air blower."
      Tara just laughed. "It's dramatic. I can't wait to see you fluff up when you have your full mane grown in. If only Landry can get that good-for-nothing tub of his through the gate and crash it..." Grabbing a report from the Dark Hope, she flipped through the engineering progress reports. "They should be able to head back through and shut it tonight, adding fireworks to our little party, providing the third fuel cell holds. That's the only system here that looks like it really needs work."
      "Good. And, if worse comes to worse, we can always have the Arralla's Pride tow it into the gate to launch the crasher and out, and let that little toady Landry keep it. I hate to lose my ship, though. We'd be permanently moored here without it." Rakal fluffed again at the mention of Landry, and gave up on trying to appear unruffled for the celebration.
      Tara nodded. "Whatever it takes." She and Rakal exchanged a long look for a moment, and headed out toward the residence hall platform to meet with Luuko and Liur.
     
      "You both look fancy. Rakal - I like that fluffy look you're sporting today." Liur wiggled his ears, rumbling deeply as Rakal slapped his side, fluffing up even more.
      Tara laughed and climbed aboard Luuko's shoulders. Instinctively, she felt around in his mane to make sure there were no young stow-stowaways aboard. She'd been surprised more than once when she had accepted rides from well meaning barrydmates who were carrying hatchlings. Hatchlings had a propensity to sample with their teeth anything put near them, and Tara didn't want a large, embarrassing hole in the butt of her dress grays today.
      "Hello Tara. Welcome aboard." Luuko turned his head to regard Tara with his large golden eyes, and warbled good-naturedly. She could tell that he was looking forward to the ceremony as much as she was. "You, my big fuzzy friend are going to get a surprise today." She mused, chuckling to herself.
      "Thanks, Luuko. Always a pleasure to fly Luuko Air." Tara stated with a smile as he wiggled his ears. Luuko had been fascinated with the stories of old Earth airlines before hovercars, and had taken it upon himself to act as a ferry for the residents of the colony wings of the barryd while the stairs were being built. He had affectionately become known as 'Luuko Air' to Arrallins and humans alike.
      Exhilarated as always, Tara caught her breath as Luuko padded along the platform and launched himself into the wind. Liur and Rakal sped along beside them, Rakal's long tail flying out behind them as the air rushed by. She chuckled ruefully, knowing that what grooming he had managed to maintain would be long gone by the time they reached the coast.
      Herds of various Dimar animals grazed below them as they passed out of Telka's territory and into Ekal's coastal region. Flocks of Dimar's native birds and flighted lizards spooked and took to the air in blinding masses of color as they flew low over the canopy top, which was divided by huge swatches of charred stumps and the firebreaks dug by Ekal Tinar firefighters. To the southeast, the fires still raged at the colony site, which was now a deserted neutral zone in Telkan territory. Tara sighed. The forest thinned, giving way to a stretch of prairie and then dune. The brightly decorated landing rock came into view as they turned south and moved down along the coast, and Tara could barely make out Mason, Tarrin, Harmon, Goothib, Tewi and the others in a close knot in the shadow of the rock. Luuko swept in, seemingly unaffected by the strong onshore breeze and landed on all fours on the flat top of the red rock bluff.
      "Just in time!" Tara slid off Luuko's shoulder as Mason scrambled up the rock to report. A glimmering star, the Arralla's Pride, was already in view, making it's final approach to splash down in the gentle currents of the western sea. "Any news about the Dark Hope, Mason? Will it be ready by tonight?"
      Mason snapped a salute, and his eyes clouded. "They're going to work right up to the minute to get that last fuel cell in order, and they think they'll make it." He glanced at Rakal, who was deep in a discussion with Tarrin and some of the other betas, and mumbled, "We'll have our fireworks. Kiralla is not aboard the Pride."
      "Shit. We don't have time for this. The Great Mother is going to have a field day with this one." Tara gritted her teeth, groaning inwardly that the Telkan Leader would have yet another bone to pick with her for being unable to 'control her children.' "I'll go talk to Landry and find out what's really going on." She strode purposefully to the edge of a rock, and called to Tewi, who was nearby. "Tewi, can you give me a lift down?"
      "Sure thing..." The tall female stood on her hind legs, providing her front legs and knees as stairs down from the high rock. Tara was glad that the Dimar had no reservations about being used as all forms of furniture and transport by their new 'mates.
      "Thanks, Tewi! If I ever can return the favor..." Tara winked at the green Dimar, who rumbled back at her. "I've got a surprise for you too," Tara mused.
      She slapped the comm, "Landry, report."
      Landry looked calm and collected, as always. "We're not going to make the window, sir. There's no way. We lost 2 cells... again."
      "Wrong answer, Landry. We'll send the pride up, and we'll tow you through the gate, then. That gate must close tonight or we'll be torn to shreds by the fuzz lizards." Tara didn't mask her annoyance - enough was enough. She knew from Kiralla's progress reports that the ship would have been spaceworthy, and strong enough to survive the gate crash operation by tonight. He was stalling, but why?
      "All right then, I'll institute plan B and get the ship ready for a tow from the Pride." He shrugged, his angular features remaining unnaturally controlled as he glanced to the side of his console.
      "Fine. Tara out." She slapped the comm panel, and the screen blanked with a flicker.
      Waving to Tewi to give her a lift, she strode toward the stone platform, wondering how to break the news to Rakal yet again. Rakal turned and regarded her eagerly as she strode toward them.
      "I'm sorry, Rakal. Two cells are once again out, and Kiralla is again not aboard the Pride." She backed away instinctively as his fur again fluffed out. He let loose a blood curdling shriek, and snatched a sidearm from one of the flag bearers standing nearby, nearly knocking the small man off the bluff. The disturbance was broken by distinct boom and hissing as the Pride made what would have been it's final splash down in the cool waters of the ocean.
      "I will return to orbit with the Pride, and this time, I fly." Rakal stood on his hind legs, tying the sidearm into the thick fur on his sides deftly, obscuring it from view. "I will escort..." He paused, realizing that not all the people on the platform were inner circle members, "the overdue engineering team back here to the colony personally, as your Ir'est, your first officer, Tara." In a loud voice, he announced, "Those engineers have dishonored us by failing again to repair the ship. I will deal with them personally."
      The Arralla's Pride powered itself toward the bluff, gradually growing larger as it coasted in on water pulse engines. Tara turned her head slightly to the northeast, and as she expected, could see the honor guard's banners, and the violet form of the Great Mother sweeping in to attend the festivities. She wondered just how festive this was going to be.
      Distracted, Rakal turned and greeted the Great Mother, his tail lashing from side to side. Her disdainful Dimar expression for his irritation did not make matters any better. Resigning herself to the fact that this celebration would not provide any of the much needed rest for her and Rakal, she braced herself to put on a good show for all the colonists. This was for them. They'd suffered the most these past weeks, and this celebration had provided them with a much needed morale boost.
      People, betas and Dimar emerged from the woods, sailed in along the coasts, and landed all around the raised bluff platform. Tara was pleased to see that many of the colony's humans did arrive with various Dimar barrydmates, but noticed that there were many distinct groups of humans and a few betas that carefully avoided mixing with their larger hosts. She'd have to find a way to accommodate those who just couldn't adapt to barryd life.
      Scanning the surrounding beach, she could tell that a majority of the colony not on fire duty, and a significant number of the Dimar from Telka were patiently waiting the start of the presentation. The few children and young betas, seated near to the bluff so that they could see clearly, burbled with excitement. Various classes and wings of Dimar flew lazy circles, proudly displaying their various identification silks and challenging each other in mock territorial game-dances. Crowds of humans and betas sat in dunes, or under the shady mangrove-like trees that provided shade near the bluff, munching away on a variety of fresh barryd foods. Despite the problems on the bluff, the crowd was festive.
      The Pride pulled up to the bluff, and two young Dimar pushed the pontoon dock up. No sooner had the dock clicked into place, Rakal and one of the Pride's secondary crews climbed onto it and began refitting it for another takeoff, quietly working out of sight of the crowd. It would take at least an hour to clear the engines and reload the fusion reaction chamber with appropriately dense material to power it back into orbit, even with Rakal's best team working on it. It would be another two hours to fix the tow rig, and to position Dark Hope to successfully drop the gate crasher. Tara worked to think of ways to lengthen the ceremony so that the gate crash would coincide with the end of the presentations. Scanning the bluff crowd, she noticed that an entire division of people to whom she had planned to award medals were conspicuously absent. She hoped perhaps they'd provide the delay she needed.
      The door of the Pride opened, and one by one, the final colonists and crew from the Singularity II filed down the dock and up the stairs to the bluff. Excited yips and purring from the newly arrived betas exiting the ship elicited a joyous cheer from the crowds below, and a few celebratory whoops from the human colonists inside. Tara watched the six disguised alphas exit the ship, and exchange a short but meaningful glance with Rakal. Stooping slightly to hide their greater height, they quickly moved up the platform to mingle with humans from the Inner Circle on the bluff. Following, the remaining humans filed out behind, their faces glowing with the elation of being off a starship and out in open, unrecycled air. A few faces fell upon seeing the size and number of Dimar all around, but they quickly forgot their discomfort as they were reunited with long-missed crew mates and friends around the bluff.
      Tara turned to the Great Mother, surprised to find her not ignoring the proceedings as she had expected. Her lavender head, grizzled with white hairs indicative of her age, had an open, welcoming expression as she looked from one arrival to another. She rumbled to herself absently, seeming as pleased with the new arrivals as she might be with a returning rank of her own Tinar firefighters returning from the line. Noticing Tara's scrutiny, she snorted and turned away.
      The Great Mother turned back toward her. "Ssould I begin the ceremony, Leader Tara? All the new arrivals are here." Her tail flicked back and forth with her annoyance. Tara wondered if she was annoyed at having mispronounced the 'sh' sound, or at having to refer to her as a Leader. She didn't have time to wonder.
      Rising on her hind legs, and spreading her iridescent wings wide, the Great Mother let loose a loud "OOOOOLAAAHHHM!" The new arrivals on the bluff nearly dove into the water, scrambling for sidearms. Other members of the crew on the bluff quickly silenced them, careful to keep their rifles clipped and the safeties on. Tara clicked on her amplifier set, and strode purposely to the edge of the platform where she could be seen by both sides of the crowd. Shaking, she pulled out her notepad. She was accustomed to addressing large crowds, to prepare them for battle with a rousing speech. She'd never addressed a crowd of civilians, or a newly discovered alien species.
      "Three months ago..." She began, her voice cracking. "Three months ago we colonists were all running. Running from Earth Command, debts, imprisonment, slavery...the drudgery of what has become life on Earth, Arralla, and the Fleets. Three months ago we were searching - searching for a new way of living, wishing on distant stars for elbow room and a place we could call our own home. Today, our running is over." A cheer went up from the crowd, punctuated by the various wisecracks from those who Tara recognized as living in the third level barryd rooms, which were the most crowded of the temporary housing. "Level three...I can hear you!" She jibed, eliciting another roar of applause from the crowd. She paused, waiting for the crowd to refocus it's attention once again on the bluff.
      "Today we have a home. And, as we all knew when we joined this team, we have a lot of work ahead of us. As the people of Dimar have embraced us, so must we embrace them and work together to ensure our continued mutual survival. Without them, we'd have been burned alive. Without us, they'd be enslaved by their neighbors...or worse...Earth Force." The crowd quieted at the mention of Earth Force, knowing that until the night sky lit up with the explosion of the gate crasher closing the star gate, they were all still very much in danger. Liur cast a worried glance skyward, and quietly slipped off the bluff and glided back toward Telka. Tara didn't have time to worry and continued on. "Together, we will form a new Telka, as well as new colonies all around Telka territory - strengthening it against attack and against fire. We will be a part of the Dimar Plan. We will make this world our own, and it in turn will become a part of us." She saw eyebrows raise in parts of the crowd with the mention of new colonies. Many of the colonists were itching to rebuild the first settlement, and to claim their own pieces of territory free from the constraints of the barryd. "We all will find a space on Dimar that we can call our own home, where we can determine our own will and our own way, in the great barryd and out." The colony crowds cheered again, but the Dimar didn't echo the sentiment as loudly. Tara was walking a tightrope by pushing the colony concept and knew it. She continued, keeping the speech fluid as she altered it. "Our way will be a new way - the Dimar way. We will honor the great Plan that the Telka and all peaceable barryds have laid out. We will not deadbuild. As the true children of the Water, the Telkans will guide us as we become a part of all of Dimar. We will take the best from all three societies - Arrallin, Human, and Dimar - and together build a new, better world for our children." Most of the humans were not part of the Inner Circle, and the comment about the three societies started an undercurrent of discussion. Arrallins were no longer considered a society by humans, and using Arrallin instead of Lupine or Furry to refer to them was questionable.
      "Now, to celebrate this momentous day - the arrival of the last of the Singularity II - I would like to begin by recognizing individuals who have shown particular valor during the first tenuous months on Dimar. First, the fire crews - Tinar 1, 4 and 5, and our own firefighting teams..." She beckoned for Mason to bring forward the award case. All heads turned as a howling whine issued from the back of the crowd. The Great Mother wiggled her ears and whuffled loudly, laughing as the Tinar ranks rose out of the forest well behind the crowd and glided toward the bluff. The whining noise became more familiar...it was bagpiping, but it was horrible! Tara cast her glance up to the ranks moving in to see if they were the source of the noise. Each lead wore honor silks - but unlike any Tara had ever seen. They were plaid! They each wore a hideous mix of Telka colors, green gold and purple, arranged in a tartan pattern. As the ranks approached, the crowd parted, revealing the three dozen human and beta firefighters, dressed in full kilts made of the same hideous plaid silk, playing bagpipes fashioned from old lita-sacks. A roar rippled through the crowd, and those Dimar still hovering in the air dipped and swooped in a fit of sneezing Dimar laughter. Liur landed next to Tara, and announced, "The first integrated Tinar rank reporting as ordered, sir!"
      Tara recovered her composure enough to manage a reply. "Well, I can see you all haven't lost your sense of humor, but I won't comment on your taste in fashion." Sean MacNamara, a true Scottish fanatic who had headed the southern border fire-defense at the colony, strode purposefully up the stairs and onto the bluff. "I should have known, Sean. But next time...give your crew time to learn the bagpipes before you let them play." A few kilted betas had already fallen over with the effort to maintain the howling off-key bagpipe note they'd managed all during the procession. "Kill the bagpipes, Tinar!" Tara motioned.
      Happily, the howling died down with a sickly moan, and the Dimar in the air above the ranks landed and filed in with the betas and Humans below. "To each of these brave defenders, I would like to present the Order of the Flame, for their dedicated service to the barryd, the colony, and to one another." The crowd cheered as one by one, humans, betas and Dimar filed up onto the platform to accept each of the small silver pins. "And, to the Great Mother, and her Tinar ranks who selflessly gave each night to the colony to dig firebreaks despite direct orders from the council of Leaders, I would like to present this token of our esteem." She signaled to one of the unloading crews, and they brought up a large white box. "This was done on board the Singularity II while it was in orbit by one of our own artisans, Kelsey Dreslough. We snuck the materials up with each of the Pride's shuttle runs." She pulled away the container cover to reveal an intricate metallic sculpture depicting a graceful Tinar line hovering before a wall of carved rosewood flames. Tara grinned as a number of Dimar artisans near the platform rumbled approval of the work.
      "It is most beautiful. Perhaps our own artisans can learn from yours, Tara." The Great Mother strode forward and took the sculpture carefully in both paws. Holding it before the crowd, the Dimar joined in a chiming song of thanks. With perfect timing, one of her acolytes came forward and spirited the sculpture back to the barryd, skimming noiselessly over the crowd. Tara noted with a spike of jealousy how handy psionic communication was for these ceremonies. The Great Mother retook her place in the back of the platform, and nodded to Tara, signaling her to continue.
      "Now, it is both a human and Arrallin tradition to recognize acts of bravery and ingenuity whenever they occur - even in the heat of battle. She saw a few puzzled looks from the various Dimar in attendance. During the course of the attack on the colony by the Mulkol, many individuals showed exceptional self-sacrifice by risking themselves to save our colony, even though it was not their own home. For their bravery, the colony would like to recognize three Telkans - Luuko, Tewi and Namalki for their efforts to defend the colony from the attack and hold the fire lines." A buzz went up among the Dimar in the crowd, and all eyes were on the Great Mother.
      She stepped forward slowly and gracefully, towering over Tara. It was clear from her expression that she was psionically explaining the situation to the Dimar, quelling their protest. Speaking aloud for the benefit of the non-Talented, she roared, "As the colonists honor our traditions, so must we allow theirs. These awards are not for Mulkai action or Mulkai thought, but for bravery in a crisis. These individuals did not kill cruelly, or choose the Mulkai path, but instead chose, as any of us would, to defend the colony as if it were our own barryd. That is within keeping with our own Telkai tradition. We will accept this. There will be no questions." Her tone was final, and the Dimar were silent.
      Tara stepped forward to Tewi, her mate Namalki and Luuko. "Tewi and Namalki - for risking yourselves and your unlaid eggs for our colony, I present the Order of Kinratta. It is an ancient Arrallin award reserved for alphas carrying children who go into combat." She placed a blue silk ribbon bearing the golden insignia around each of the females' necks. She wondered about the frequency of same-sex pairings in Dimar culture, but had her attention snapped back to the business at hand.
      "For you, Luuko, who bravely endured flames to try to drive off an entire Mulkol rank with minimal loss of life by engaging the rank leader, I present the Silver Cross. It may not be commonly known to Telkans, but by driving off the leader of a group, you can sometimes break the entire formation and force it to retreat. In attempting to do this, Luuko was not only saving the lives of those defending the colony, but also sparing those lives of the young Mulkol in the first line of the battle who were ordered to retreat when the rank leader fell." An appreciative sing-song tune rose up from the Telkans in the crowd, and Luuko bowed his head modestly.
      She glanced back at the Pride, and saw Rakal's signal that they were ready to take off. "And now, for the first of two sets of fireworks for this evening. First, the Arralla's Pride will take off again - a spectacle with which we are now all thoroughly familiar. And, with the Pride overseeing the operation, in a few hours, we will all be able to view the closing of the gate, which promises to be something to remember." The crowd, Dimar and colonists alike let out a strong cheer at the news. "We'll spend the remainder of the evening enjoying a wide variety of new recipes, and hearing reports from all divisions of the new barryd/Colony."
      The Pride detached and pulled away on water-pulse engines, working toward takeoff speed. As she watched it go, Tara was filled with a sense of foreboding. She scanned the crowd, trying to figure out what was triggering her nervousness, but with no luck. She clicked over to the Pride's communication channel. "Rakal, is everything okay on board? You got that fuel transfer done in record time, which isn't exactly a good thing."
      "The Pride is as good as ever, and I'll throw it into orbit myself if need be. We'll be off this rock in 10 minutes, and I'll be with Kiralla in another five. I could fly without a ship right about now. I'll keep you posted on how the operation is going, relativity allowing. Rakal out." His voice resonated with a familiar confidence as he piloted the craft out into the calm water. Tara wondered how much he would miss long years in space, piloting the more challenging destroyer class ships.
      Still, Tara could not shake the apprehension she felt as the ship moved out of view. She concluded her presentation and prepared the crowd for Mason's important biological survey information. He took the broadcast channel, and she tuned back into the Pride's communications frequency nervously. She scanned the horizon, watching for the plume that would mark the Pride's liftoff toward orbit. Rakal's voice broke her reverie.
      "We're beginning liftoff, but I think I should abort...there's something big down there. Like a school of fish, moving toward the coast fast!" Rakal sounded torn between keeping the Pride and its weaponry power close to the festival and getting up into orbit and on board the Dark Hope with Kiralla.
      Luuko padded up, his head swaying back and forth with alarm. "Tara, Kiralla just spoke to me...something's very wrong with her," he whispered.
      "Rakal - no time for fishing. Get up there now! Seems Kiralla just told Luuko that there's something wrong up there." Tara fervently wished that Kiralla had not gone into season. His bark of alarm was coupled with a roar from across the ocean as the Pride lifted on a plume of steam.
      "Luuko, give me a full report...as best you can. Did she say that she was going to mate?" Tara stared deep into his blue eyes, seeing her own panicked reflection staring back at her.
      "Landry is moving the ship...and yes, she will mate very soon. He's heading for the Gate...he may not close it. He knows Kiralla is alpha and has her alone in the hold of the ship." He blinked nervously, careful to modulate his voice so the Great Mother could not hear. She was engrossed in her own discussions with her acolytes, listening to Mason's report.
      Wincing, she clicked back onto the communication channel with Rakal. "She's going into season, and Landry's making a break for the Gate. Damn furverts! He knows," she moaned. "I don't know how, but he knows! Get up there, and prime the cannons." She clicked out, not wanting to hear Rakal's reaction. She blinked back tears of rage, hoarsely whispering, "He'll never make it. Landry's 120 minutes from the gate, and he's 30 minutes from Landry. If he drops the Gate Crasher as he goes through, Rakal could be killed up there!" She felt as if she were watching a friend die.
      Luuko whined a concerned note, and the Great Mother momentarily turned her gaze to them. She looked away, feeling completely drained and helpless.
      "Her voice is very strange...she doesn't sound like herself." Luuko stared out across the water, as if listening. "She isn't making sense right now."
      Tara bit her lip. She was under the influence of 20 years of pent hormones. And, isolated from her beta entourage and alone with Landry, she'd have little choice when she reached her mating peak. Bleakly, she turned back to the crowd to listen to the reports.
      The Pride was little more than a speck atop the pillar of steam at this point, but the engine roar seemed to be getting louder. The water around the bluff became rough, with the waves getting higher and higher. The crowd went silent. The ground beneath her feet shuddered as the Great Mother screeched out a strangled cry of alarm!

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