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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 17

     
      Shots rang out through the forest behind the bluff. Tara spun away from the churning foam to find acolytes falling to either side of her. The carnage was almost incomprehensible. As each barbed globule struck, the firescales and skin of it's target seemed to slough away, as if liquefied. One acolyte fell into the now slushy wing of another, and it itself started to dissolve. Both fell away off the bluff and into the water, carefully avoiding the Great Mother and her guardians.
      Out across the treetops, massive forms churned toward them, preceded by a pressure wave of wind that knocked Dimar in flight out of the air and down into the trees. Tiny petals dropped from the underside of the flying vehicles, blossoming into parachutes. Each carried a fearsome looking cargo that either erupted in a shower of projectiles, or sprouted legs. The mobile vehicles scuttled through the forests like spiders, impaling Telkans on their barbs as they crushed through the underbrush at lightning speeds. Tara had seen enough, and grabbed a plasma rifle instinctively.
      "Damn Landry's timing! We need the Pride down here. What the hell are those things!" The sea-borne vehicles, now amphibious, were making good speed up the beaches. What Telkan resistance there was did little, but the plasma rifles did seem to slow them down. Tara picked off the front legs of one of the smaller craft that was making a bee-line for the bluff.
      Acolytes crowded around the Great Mother. They carried her off the bluff and down into the relative safety of the lee side. She was motionless, sitting in her customary position for commanding the fire lines, but her face lacked the sanguine expression she usually wore. Furrowed with concentration and raw anger, her muzzle had pulled back to reveal rows of sharp white teeth, and her eyes flashed. All around, Telkans formed the familiar and orderly battle lines from their territorial dances, as if propelled by an unseen hand. As each rank formed, it let loose a furious battle cry, and swept off to engage each of the approaching crawlers. Tara couldn't bare to watch to see how well they fared.
      Luuko leapt up from the Great Mother's side to sweep Tara off the bluff as a barrage of barbed globules rained down from an approaching paratrooper.
      Betas, working frantically in a coordinated mass had dug a cave in a matter of minutes, while others clumped around the alphas creating a perfect sphere of living protection for each pair. In a coordinated mass of fur, they rolled like some giant dust-bunny into the opening, suffering the impacts of spiked projectiles noiselessly. A snarl still evident on her face, a tan Beta, dead from a direct impact to the chest by one of the barbules, fell out of the clump and to the ground.
      As they rushed by, Tara noted that the viscous fluid that had caused such damage in the Telkans had no effect on the Betas struck by the projectiles. The Mulkol were using some kind of biological agent to digest the Telkans alive, but either sparing, or unable to affect the colonists. The spikes were still solid, and as sharp as razors, but at least the Arallakeeni wouldn't start to melt and infect others as the acolytes had.
      One of the nightmare machines climbed over the bluff, looming down over them and the Great Mother's entourage. Tara gave a warning yell and fired five shots into it's center. It faltered, seeming to writhe for a moment as if alive, and backed off. Screaming to the acolytes to move out, she knew it wouldn't be long before another and another of those machines came tumbling over after them.
      She ran into the woods in a zigzag pattern, firing on the ground-troops and foot soldiers of the Mulkol as best she could. "A hovercar, dammit! I need a higher capacity weapon!"
      What hovercars were still working had already taken to the air. Some blasted away, working to defend the bluff from attacks from all sides. With a deep resentment, Tara watched two hovercars blast off back toward the old colony site to the south, firing no shots as they went. If she lived, she'd execute those traitors personally.
      Fury goading her on, she deftly leapt over bodies of fallen Telkans, now decaying into pools on the forest floor. She fired away at the armored Mulkol, doing little damage and avoiding them in the complex root systems and underbrush. Again, she wished she could get airborne. She was a pilot, and could do more damage from the air - with the right weapons.
      She skirted a clearing where a wing of the Telkan defenders had engaged a crawler. Each had dug it's tail-spade into the side of the vehicle, and was working to pry one of the shell-like panels loose. The vehicle was covered in barbs that dug into each Telkan, infecting them with the liquefying ooze that had so completely destroyed the acolytes on the bluff. As if ignorant to the pain, the Telkans worked on...their sheer weight dragging the crawler to it's knees and flipping it.
      A Mulkol foot soldier approached to her left, not noticing her crouched in the underbrush. As it latched onto a dying Telkan and worked to pry it loose from the crawler, she quietly took aim and neatly shot a hole through the Mulkol's skull. The foot soldier's efforts were misguided, however. The crawler's own biological defenses were making quick work of the Telkans. They were simply turning to jelly and sliding off in half-digested pools, flailing ineffectively at the vehicle as it regained it's footing and righted itself.
      Tara swore in frustration. Noticing a fire-scorched tree leaning in toward the clearing, she took careful aim. Blast after blast blew hunks of wood out of the bottom of the tree, and finally, with a resounding crack, it fell, crushing the crawler. The machine stopped moving, leaving Tara with only the distant sounds of battle.
      The sudden stillness of the meadow, littered with colorful pools of the dead was too much for Tara. Her head swam, filled with a thousand frantic voices and cries for help. Dropping her rifle, she fell to her side in the grass. In vain, she covered her ears to block out the voices - voices, she slowly realized that were only in her head. An almost overwhelming feeling of guilt swept through her. In her exhaustion, she realized that she may be dead, and that these were the voices of all the Arrallins and people she'd killed in battle before she met Rakal. Before she understood just how wrong what she had been doing was. "I'm trying to save them now! I'm trying to save them now... I'm trying..." she screamed as the voices grew louder and each cry more distinct.
      A frantic shake on her shoulder knocked her out back into reality. She rolled to find Harmon staring down at her, stunned. "Tara...you've got to shut down your broadcasting... They're combing the forest for that voice now!"
      "Harmon...I haven't got a radio. Dammit, I need a hovercar to do real damage, and to coordinate the counter attack!" Tara sputtered, clamping down on her previous wild emotional outbursts to again take command of the situation. "Contact Tarrin...find out if there are any hovercars left near where they took the Alphas. We need to set up some kind of communication net...the Telkans' efforts are just damned useless!"
      Harmon locked eyes with her in a steady, searching gaze. "Tara, you were broadcasting...you have Talent. I can see it plain as day now. You've got to keep it hidden or they'll find you for sure." Without moving her mouth, Tara distinctly heard, "Can you hear this?"
      "Yes, but..." Tara answered verbally, still too shaken to know exactly what had just transpired.
      "Okay...next test...can you see this?" Harmon closed her eyes, concentrating. "Don't get frustrated...I can sense you blocking. Okay, what do you see in your mind now?" Images, first of basic shapes, and then colors, and different scenes in combination flashed into Tara's mind.
      "The blocks...circle...pyramid...blue...green...red...the Colony, Telka Barryd, the goat pens...the horses running in the grass courtyards at Telka." Tara struggled with the unfamiliar flavor of the images. Despite their bucolic and peaceful nature, the very presence of the odd images was disturbing. Feeling the need to counter, she responded with her own. She pushed out an image of her favorite horse, Tsarina, leading the herd back at the colony, feeling the warmth and pride she had felt when she first let them run after many long months in the ships.
      "Whoa...okay...we've established that you can broadcast and receive. Figuring your effective range we can do later. Our first task will be teaching you how to avoid detection. If they know you're a psi, they'll catch you for sure to lead the non-psi slaves." Harmon's tone was caustic, and she glared out toward the wings of Mulkol foot soldiers that swept low over the forest, carrying off colonists and Dimar alike.
      "Slaves? What? This battle's not over...we've got to regroup and set up a battle plan." Tara struggled to her feet, shouldering her plasma rifle. Emotionally, she was swept with wave after wave of an unfamiliar feeling - the feeling of defeat. It emanated all around her, an unfamiliar presence that she could never detect before.
      "No...from what I can tell, the battle is over. Reports from all over show that what Telkans resisted were quickly killed, and those that didn't resist were enslaved. Seems that that's the way the Mulkol do business..." Her bitter tone told Tara that this was more than just a lost battle, but a personal loss.
      "Is Goothib...?" Tara slumped back down into the long grass.
      "No...he's alive, but enslaved. Seems his skills will make a valuable addition to the Mulkol's failing Telkai and Tinar branches. They're not good at much beyond war." She dug her fingers into the roots of the grass, pulling at them angrily.
      Tara sat bolt upright. "The Great Mother...is she dead?"
      Harmon let loose a rueful chuckle. "No...no no no...they've got something special in store for her. I'm not sure what, but from what little I know of their history, it won't be pleasant. At least she's still alive though. As long as she's around, the Telkans are willing to at least put up some resistance."
      "What about Luuko, Liur, Mason and the others? Any news?" Tara was already forming a possible counterattack plan, but she'd need willing resistance from the Telkans who survived, and she'd need field marshals she could depend on. "Who's left to finish this war on our side?"
      "Luuko suffered some serious damage, but didn't get hit with a snot-gun, thanks be. He's getting watered-up at Ekal with the rest of the resistance. Liur...Liur was lost trying to defend the Great Mother, as were Tewi and her mate. About half of Telka's population was killed...the rest enslaved. Mason was captured, along with about five dozen other humans, I suspect for experimentation purposes. Telka is Mulkol occupied now...we can't go back, so we've lost most of our equipment. Luckily, because the Arrallins and humans aren't psi, and aren't considered very valuable by the Mulkol yet, most of the colonists did escape into the woods." Harmon looked dubious at the mention of a counter attack, but gave her report dutifully. "It's not enough to stand against the Mulkol and these ancient war-machines of theirs. It just isn't."
      "We've got three ships in orbit, and if need be, I'll drop all three straight on Mulkol's head. But, a direct attack is never effective at this point in the game. We need to work smarter, not harder to get out of this. We need support from other Barryds." Tara knew she needed more information, but Ekal was more than a day's march from the bluff, and the colonists were scattered. A twinge of guilt for having left the Great Mother's side passed through her, but she crushed it down.
      "I felt that guilt as clear as rain on my head, Tara. I've got to show you how to block...they'll hear you a mile away at this rate." Harmon shook her head, chuckling sardonically. A wing of Mulkol soldiers flew low over the forest near them, and turned their way as Harmon began the lesson.

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