Table of Contents
Lost Waters - Chapter 26
"You've got to be kidding. Look...I
don't know who this is, or what kind of a joke this is, but enough is
enough." Kiralla threw a wrench against the hull wall and it bounced
wildly in the weightless chamber.
Rakal turned, ducking as the wrench flew
past his head. Deftly, he snatched it with his tail before it could strike
the Arrallakeeni diligently putting the finishing touches on the Gate
Crasher. He looked over to see Kiralla staring crossly at the wall. "Prank
caller, again?" Rakal whuffled, glad for once that he wasn't psi.
"You won't believe this one. Says
she's Tara, and that I should send a capsule through to Earth before I
shut the gate. A capsule chock full about information on our location's
relative star brightness and nearest neighbors, military strength, Dimar...the
whole operation. Yeah...right." Kiralla shook her head, spinning
lazily on her tether.
"It could be worse. It could be that
two cycle old stripling who decided her favorite hobby was repeating the
word 'Chicken' to you a hundred times. I don't know what Tara's feeding
these fuzz lizards about Earth, but they're getting strange." Rakal
rechecked his calculations, doing a final check on the amount of exotic
matter needed to pierce the gate wall and close it without negative side
effects, like loss of the solar system they were near.
"You didn't tell anyone you're an
Alpha, did you?" Kiralla eyed him closely.
"No..." Rakal paused, his tail
fluffing automatically at the mention of his being discovered.
"You didn't tell anyone I was an Alpha,
did you? And Quiltan Hive, Keina Hive and Barstol Hive's leading Alphas
didn't even know we were Alphas..." Kiralla's fur stood on end, and
her tail wrapped around her tether nervously. "This has got to be
Tara. No one else could know this. No one..."
Rakal and the Arrallakeeni paused, watching.
Kiralla remained, staring at the wall, clutching a wrench to her chest
protectively, lost in her exchange. With a low bark, he sent the arrallakeeni
back to work and continued his calculations, keeping a curious eye on
"Well, it seems we have a choice.
I still can't verify that that was Tara, nor can I explain how Tara might
even be able to reach me being a non-psi, but Harmon is unmistakable."
Kiralla pushed off the wall toward Rakal, drifting to the gate crasher
pod. "From what I can tell, we can warn earth about the Mulkols and
their space-fairing brethren who haven't been seen or heard of since they
left 2000 odd years ago, or we can just leave Earth in the dark, where
I personally feel it belongs." She snorted and tweaked a calculation
on the pod absently.
Rakal waited until she'd turned her back
to tweak it back to it's original state. "Either way, we have to
crash the gate. Not closing the gate between Earth and Arralla cost us
our homeworld once. I'm not going to let that happen again. We need a
little breathing room between us and 20 billion humans to recover from
our last Contact. It's hard enough dealing with the Dimar." He closed
the panel before Kiralla could do any more damage to his work. "What
do we owe Earth anyway?"
"Admittedly, without Earth opening
that damned gate on our doorstep and distracting every Beta on the planet,
we wouldn't be way out here. But, you and I would be about 30 years to
being primary Alphas of our own Hive, you know. In a way, we owe Earth
our meteoric rise to power." Kiralla whuffled as a nearby Arrallakeeni,
Malry, laid his ears back at the distraction comment.
Malry drifted up next to Kiralla quietly,
out of earshot of the other members of the work crew. "I'll give
you a possible answer to your quandary if you promise to make me a member
of your court - or a steward of a Province." The sharp-eyed golden
face peered up at Kiralla expectantly.
Rakal nudged Malry good-naturedly, and
whispered to them both carefully, "This place is already getting
more and more like old-time Arralla. The politics have begun already..."
Kiralla bared her teeth in a ferocious
Arrallin grin, "If your answer is a good one, you're going to be
my Court Ir'kalan. Then I can come to you for all my ideas. If your answer
is bad, you get strapped to the crasher. Now, let's hear it." Kiralla
slipped the pod into the launch locks.
Malry bounced off the far wall and propelled
himself back toward the crasher with the ease of a long-term spacefaring
Beta. "Well, if humans think opening gates is possibly a bad idea
that will lead them to worlds which will devour them as they devoured
us, they might actually slow down..." His wrench clacked against
the metal couplings as he ratcheted the pod into place. "But, knowing
humans, they won't slow down at all...they'll just give themselves stress
ulcers worrying about the day they open the gate onto a planet of ravening
fuzz-lizards. I like the idea of causing them worry. I really do."
He paused, his tail lashing from side to side as he pondered. "And,
if we gave them the idea that the gate to Dimar actually had opened onto
a pack of ravening deadly lizards bent on the destruction of the human
race, they'll think twice about trying to aim a hole at us again, if and
when they ever bother to figure out how to aim the things at all. It should
keep them off our doorstep for a good long while."
Rakal paused, and then continued on his
line of thinking, "But for that to work, we'd have to send through
information that contradicts our false pod, and it would have to have
data conclusive enough to prove that our ploy wasn't just a ruse. Why
bother letting Earth know that a few precious Breeders slipped out of
their hands, if some day they could aim the gates and come after us?"
Rakal waved the idea away and did a final check on the crasher. "However,
you get significant points for creative thinking, Malry. Expect the pick
of the first litter."
Malry couldn't resist a celebratory yip
at the news, and lost all composure. The other Arrallakeeni in the room
took notice, but continued their work.
"What about Tara's order, though?"
Kiralla mused. "She's going to be pissed when she finds out we've
just completely disregarded her wish to inform her species of a possible
"Sever all ties, she's always said.
She should follow her own advice. We're free now...on the other side of
the gate. We need to follow our own orders and rely on ourselves. Tara
is an excellent leader and deserving of all deference, but the time has
come for our Hive to stand apart as a free Hive. Let the Earthers and
the Traitor Hives suffer together on the other side of the gate. We need
to make a clean break now and stabilize the situation on Dimar, and that
means crashing the gate as soon as possible. We don't have time to assemble
some pod for Earth." Rakal slapped the door panel and the work crew
floated into the hallway.
The door whooshed shut as an approach alarm
sounded in the hallway. Sidal's voice crackled over the comm. "Arralla's
Pride to Dark Hope. One Earth scout, coming through the gate...now! Within
firing range in two minutes!"
"Poor bastards...well, we can't let
them stop us from closing that gate. Decision settled - there's now less
than no time for a message pod." Rakal propelled himself toward the
panel. "Dark Hope to Pride - Disable the scout, or destroy it. In
any case, keep it busy. We're going in to close that gate now...all preparation
"Acknowledged...we're already on our
way." The comm light flicked out. Kiralla was already racing to the
crash control room to launch the pod.
Rakal slipped into the control room just
in time to see the Pride disable the scout's engines, leaving it hanging
in space. The yellow light and gate crasher launch siren sounded as the
last flash of plasma faded on the hull of the now disabled surprise visitor.
The Dark Hope creaked and shuddered with the pains of its labor as the
gate crasher shot from the bay and raced away from the ship.
The pod glimmered like a wet diamond in
the black velvet maw of the gateway.
The combat hymn of the second house of
Arralla, Kiralla's ancestral Hive, rose up from the back of the room,
mixed with the chants of several other long-lost Hives. The hope and anticipation
in the room was palpable.
The Pride moved in, attaching a tow rope
to the disabled ship. Rakal grabbed a rail and gave the order to accelerate
away from the Gate as fast as possible. "Our place in history is
secure, but I'd prefer not to die in the backlash of a closing gate, thank
you very much."
The tiny beacon finally disappeared into
the center of the singularity. A moment later, a brilliant flash filled
the viewscreen with a colorful cascade of shock waves and sparks. The
ship rollicked in the blast, but remained intact.
All the comms went on as roars of victory
rose up on all the ships. Weightless in the control room, Kiralla, Rakal
and the entire work crew smashed together into one giant ball of elated
fur, howling and thundering together with joy. The hope of one new free
Hive, in balance with humanity, was alive!
The cheering continued unabated as the
crew split apart and raced down the hallways to confer with crewmates.
Rakal and Kiralla had the control room to themselves as they watched the
last waves of energy from the gate wobble and flash out into the cosmos.
On another screen, they could see the pearly white clouds on Dimar swirling
over the verdant green of the Mainland continent.
Rakal regarded Kiralla for a moment as
they both listened to the channel chatter between the ships. From the
scoutship from Earth they had just disabled, there were no voices...only
the repeated beeping of the distress beacon. He looked at Dimar again,
and back at radiant Kiralla, "We're free from Earth, but like the
little scout, we're still stuck with Dimar. The work's not over."
"Party pooper," she grabbed him
by the muzzle and pulled him toward the door. "Fuzz lizards can't
be any worse than humans. We'll make a home for ourselves, even if we
have to live on this bucket." She slapped the dingy wall of the room.
In a regal voice she reminded him, "Our kits will be provided with
"Agreed." He hugged her close,
rubbing the soft downy fur on her belly which warmed the future of their