by David Brin
Discussed March 2007
Characters and Definitions:
The battleship Streaker carried 150 dolphins, 7 humans and 1 chimpanzee. They had found a derelict fleet of 50 thousand space ships. Each ship was the size of a moon. The Streaker received orders to hide and not reply to the orders they would receive next. They choose a water planet since their occupants were mostly dolphins. They were in hiding but believed they would be found by other fleets who wanted the information they had.
Several of the dolphins were missing and Toshio Iwashika, a human midshipman from the colony dolphin world of Calafia, and several other dolphins were searching the metallic waters. Their spaceship Streaker was hiding in the ocean to escape the Galactic ships. Akki, a dolphin midshipman also from Calafia, told his good friend Toshio there was a space war going on above them. They were fighting each other so that the winner could take over Streaker and obtain the information Streaker had discovered. The Galactics were from hundreds of parsecs away. The Episiarh, a member of a client race indentured to the Tandu, refuses to accept reality. The Tandu used its psychic ability to travel dangerously long distances to reach Kithrup, the planet where the Streaker was hiding. The Episiarh brought the Tandu to the planet long before any other fleet arrived. Not willing to accept the reality of space travel, the Episiarh set an impossible high speed course through a tunnel and brought the Armada through successfully. The Tandu sent impulses of gratitude to the Episiarh’s pleasure center making it howl and wave its great furry head. The Episiarh was returned to its chambers of alternate realities until its services were needed. The Acceptor, a member of The Tandu client race and psychically adept, entered. He appraised reality. “Such leakage.” Psychic shields of the dolphins were not well trained.
Leading stalker of the Tandu replied with its mantis legs. The Tandu plan to eat the dolphins.
The Acceptor appreciated the solar system and as the other fleets arrived. The Acceptor enjoyed the ensuing battle.
Takkata-Jim, a Stenos neo-fin and Vice-Captain of the Streaker was appraising the battle that was forming up above them. A human Ignacio Metz told Takkata-Jim that he had warned Creideki, Captain of the Streaker, this would happen. The prospecting party sent out earlier was ordered to return to the ship. Takkata-Jim never let Ignacio Metz know that it bothered him when the human insulted him. Takkata-Jim had a top-notch crew. However, the prospecting team was safer out in the ocean than they would be if they were on the ship.
Akki had no reply from the prospecting crew. Akki had trouble using English under water and was embarrassed by it.
Takkata-Jim wanted Captain Creideki to return to the control room. Dolphins were in command of Streaker but Takkata-Jim reminded himself he needed a human friend. Creideki had Thom Orley. Hikahi, a female neo-dolphin, third in command of the Streaker, had Gillian Baskin. Could Takkata-Jim align himself with Ignacio Metz?
Creideki felt that when the humans engineered the dolphin species, the dolphins had moved from one honorable position to another. Creideki was called to the bridge by Doctor Metz.
Krat, commander of the Soro forces, was a queen served by little bird-like creatures. Krat was leathery with whiskers and three abdomens. The little bird-like creatures had been uplifted and were talking about the joys of battle. Independent thinking was bred out of the little creatures. Krat was looking at her screen which showed the Tandu ship. The Tandu moved about so fast because they would take terrible dangerous chances. The Tandu ship disappeared. One of Krat’s crew who were slow with reactions was punished. Krat howled and laid an egg and rocked it.
Toshio saw some flashes on the horizon. He told Hikahi he thought they were supposed to return to the ship. Keepiru saved Toshio from an attack by plants with tentacles. Now Keepiru helped keep Toshio’s sled from going down. Both Toshio and Keepiru saw large cylinder-shaped space ships. Sonic bombs slammed the sled. Toshio got the sled righted. Hikahi told Toshio to take the group back to their ship.
Then, a tsunami hit. A space ship half a kilometer long had dropped into the ocean. Keepiru was in trouble.
Krat’s mating claw throbbed. Humans were ignorant and vulnerable. Krat wanted to alter and shape species. Krat want to make the dolphins tell her everything they had discovered.
Toshio took one of the waves to the island. He had sent one of the dolphins Brookida back to their ship. Toshio was searching for the other lost dolphins. He found one of the dolphins dead and another wounded. He tended to the injured dolphin. Another wave hit. Toshio’s attention was attracted by two eyes starring at him from up in one of the trees. Keepiru was bringing in Toshio’s sled. Five of the dolphins were accounted for but two were still missing. Hikahi was bleeding. She told Toshio to stay away. Toshio saw crude nets and huts on the island. Small webbed hands appeared. The newly discovered species were darting around helping Hikahi in the shallow water. Hikahi told Toshio to bury the dead and find the debris and the missing dolphins. Toshio knew that the battle ensuing in space would soon relinquish a champion and they would come down on the planet Kithrup after the Streaker and the information they had discovered.
Toshio and Hikahi were rescued. Thomas Orley looked around the site. He had seen the little creatures. Toshio had done a good job with the disaster tsunami. The creatures are hunter gatherers. They were just ready for uplift. Toshio will be the one to name the new race. The mechanicals rescued Hikahi.
Charles Dart, the chimpanzee, tugged on his ears. Dennie Sudman, a human
exobiologist, asked Dart if he was having trouble with the samples. The
minerals were very confusing. Their ship was hidden under the water in
the ocean. Charlie was a planetologist. Volcanoes were erupting near their
Sah’ot had refused to go with the prospecting party initially but now was requesting to visit the island. Sah’ot continued to make advances toward Dennie and Dennie continued to resist.
Thom and Gillian investigated the downed space craft. Thom wanted to do some topographic studies of the island. His only archeological find so far was a metal tube about three meters long. Initial testing of the core samples indicated volcanic and plate tectonic activity in relatively recent history. Thom felt that he and Gillian were made for each other. They were so great together in the field and in their personal relationship.
Upon inspection of the spacecraft, Thom warned that everything could be booby trapped. The troops were instructed not to leave any evidence of their presence.
Thom found the ship to be thirty million years old. He acknowledged that the Galactics used only the scientific information found in their ancient library. The Galactics did not use new technology.
Charles Dart was complaining to Gillian. He looked like an angry ape. He thinks that sentient species occupied Kithrup as recently as 30 thousand years ago. Records indicate that it had been at least 150 million years. The records were wrong.
Herbie, a mummy of an ancient star farer, of unknown origin was the secret occupant of Gillian’s lab. The computer refused to answer her questions regarding the cadaver. It kept asking questions abut human sexual values. Gillian was exhausted. Thinking of Thom, she was contemplating the awe everyone held for him.
Toshio, Dennie and Sah’ot were sent back to the island to capture the new species discovered for ultimate uplift. They decided to follow a cave that Sah’ot had investigated from the ocean into the island core. This was a much safer way onto the island than trying to climb the metal cliffs.
Dart was lecturing for over two hours and he acknowledged the discrepancy in the library data about the planet and their actual findings. He discovered there had been an advanced society living on the plate boundaries 30 thousand years ago. He postulated that if a species wanted their presence not to be known, they would build on a subduction zone so that it would alleviate any sign of their habitation after a few thousand years.
Metz talked to Captain Creideki and suggested they prepare to surrender to the winner of the battle that was active above them. Metz thought that the winner would allow them safe passage back to earth to continue with the uplift of the dolphins. Metz told Creideki he should tell them where the derelict space crafts were and release the cadaver to them.
The Galactic ships were being eliminated by the Tandu.
Creideki told Metz that he had observed a stress symptom among some of the fins. Creideki wanted to see Metz’s notes on the psychological assessment of the fins in question. Metz was worried. He was concerned about Creideki knowing about his experiments with some of the dolphins.
Gillian’s cadaver Herbie was retrieved by Thom from the derelict space ships. There they had lost one of the dolphins when it had initially touched down on one of the derelict ships. The ships lit up with lightening.
Now Streaker was being pursued by everyone wanting to know their information pertaining to the location of the ancient ships.
Gillian thought if she could find out more about Herbie she could answer many questions. She knew he was a planet walker.
Thom was to execute a plan to save them. First he was to meet Gillian on an island. She would have a glider for him. He had visited the Thennanin wrecked space ship and had recovered a fully active library. It was a real treasure because none had been available to them like this for hundreds of years.
Dolphins had modified blow holes. Speech was an art. The dolphin language was a compromise language between the whale dream language and human English.
Hikahi reported to Creideki. Charlie and Sah’ot wanted to stay behind on the islands. Creideki agreed with Thom’s plan but still required an agreement from the ship’s council. Creideki wanted to leave Metz behind on the planet but knew he couldn’t. Creideki wanted to nuzzle Hikahi. Gillian was taking supplies to Thom. Hikahi was going to get the ship ready to move to the wrecked space ship. Thom was planning to draw the attention from space. Hikahi nibbled Creideki and she sang to him.
Some of the fins went fishing with the aboriginals. Dennie and Toshio were laughing at Thom and Gillian’s constant love making. Toshio was teasing Dennie and he enjoyed it. Lights in the sky revealed the space battle continued. Toshio could hear Thom and Gillian again. Gillian was upset about Thom’s impending risk he was embarking on tomorrow when he would be leaving her.
Sah’ot followed the Kiqui fishing. By day they hunted. At night they swam with webbed hands and had gills. The Kiqui sang with a squeaking voice. As a linguist, Sah’ot listened and learned their language. Keepiru was listening. Sah’ot hated some of the changes human gene crafters had made in his species. He hated the two nubs on one of his dorsal fins. He hated the changes with his lungs. Sah’ot was a civilian. He hated to justify his actions in a military environment. Keepiru was near. Metal was in the air. Creideki’s plan would probably get them all killed. Keepiru wanted to report in. Sah’ot told Keepiru that he understood the Kiqui’s language. Sah’ot planned to get Dennie in the water. Keepiru said he was happy to see Gillian and Thom Orley together. Thom will be using the solar glider and asked Sah’ot and Keepiru to help. Sah’ot thought Thom’s plan was crazy.
Takkata-Jim thinks Creideki and Thom had developed a suicide plan. The plan is to trick the Soro.
Akki wanted to be out of the ship. He missed Toshio, his best friend, and all their fun. Akki had to break up a fight and Akki was knocked back. Akki made them concentrate and focus. This was how they had to be treated when the dolphins reverted back their primal state.
Hannes Suessi, a human engineer, was in charge of preparing the Thennanin wrecked ship to be used as a Trojan Horse for the Streaker to use to escape the space battle and make it to the transfer point. They were trying to get a beam into the wrecked ship. Suessi inspected the other work being done. They were opening a huge chamber in the wreck to fit the Streaker in. Streaker would be moved as soon as the order came from Orley. Three hundred years of uplift and still Suessi had to be careful with managing the fins.
The Acceptor probed nearby space. There was a Synthian, a member of one of three Galactic races friendly to Earth, trying to contact earthlings on Kithrup. The Acceptor lost the Synthian contact. Maybe the Acceptor would report the attempted contact from the Synthian later. Maybe not.
In the flight, there was a storm and Thom used dead reckoning with the sun. He saw some flying creatures during his flight. He missed Gillian. Thom estimated that he would be at his volcanic islands in about two hours. Clouds developed. He saw huge animals move in the ocean. He also saw a plume on the horizon. It started to rain. The surface color and texture changed. He headed for the active volcano.
Streaker was damaged. It looked beaten up and seared. Captain Creideki had lost a dozen fins at the derelict space crafts. He saw no alternative to Thom’s plan. Creideki only hoped it would be successful. K’tha-jon, the giant, was above Creideki. K’tha-jon gave Creideki the creeps. Takkata-Jim wanted to have unlimited children but that might be in danger because the humans wouldn’t allow it. Creideki received word that the Trojan Horse was coming along. Creideki was upset that Takkata-Jim continued to be disruptive. It was an experimental crew. Creideki plugged into the amp. Creideki was paralyzed from electric shock and rolled belly up in a blackness. K’tha-jon had sabotaged the equipment.
Tandu are a pseudo religious group and want a less crowed universe. The Tandu will be selected to be the chosen ones. Tandu are masters of uplift. They have control of the Episiarh and the Acceptor.
Gillian found information on the Tandu from the new library Thom had discovered on the Thennanin wrecked ship. The Tandu were evil creatures. She had a terrible sense last night that something had happened to Thom. Gillian had nightmares. She felt a Synthian touch her psychically. One of the nightmares was about Herbie who had smiled and winked at her.
Toshio has the robot down on a ledge. Charlie will like the results of the robot’s geologic information.
Takkata-Jim is now in charge of the Streaker. K’tha-jon asked Akki if he could help him then flipped off to join his group. Akki was aware of how many of the crew was gone.
Suessi woke up and had to swim because the room was full of water. Hikahi and Tsh’t were arguing. Hikahi said they had lost contact with the ship.
Toshio is angry because he is giving his full time to the robot. It was down 500 meters. Brookida said the drill tree couldn’t have drilled down that far. There are tens of thousands of metal islands with drill trees and thousands of these holes. Dart was nasty to Brookida. Dart wanted to ask Metz for a deep sea probe. He knew he was abrupt and he felt bad about it. He might not have any friends but he did have his geologic studies. Dart hadn’t heard about Thom yet. Charlie was upset that Creideki was sick. He requested a meeting with Metz and asked for his deep sea equipment and Metz agreed.
Makanee, the ship’s surgeon and female neo-fin, was not happy to operate alone. Takkata-Jim would not let her talk to Gillian because they restricted communication. Makanee was Creideki’s physician. She knew Metz and Takkata-Jim were plotting to take over the ship and Creideki’s accident was sabotage. She called Akki and set up a secret lunch date. She was forming a plan.
Thom Orley found himself among weeds. He had landed in an emergency on the island where he wanted to set off his distraction.
Akki told Gillian that Takkata-Jim and K’tha-jon had taken over the ship and Creideki was unconscious. Gillian decided to return to the ship. She told Toshio what happened. She ordered Toshio to carry on at the island.
Creideki realized he was in suspension and knew he had been severely injured. He heard the voices tell him he might be able to survive if he listens to the whale songs.
Sah’ot was working at the island on the geologic readings for Charlie Dart when he heard songs. The songs were coming from below in the ocean.
Takkata-Jim tried to act like the Captain. He was staying in the Captain’s quarters but he felt out of place.
Gillian planned to enter the ship and set up a decoy to attract K’tha-jon.
Toshio, Dennie and Sah’ot were attacked by the Kiqui. Then they saw the Kiqui were running and diving into the bay. Toshio and Dennie thought they were receiving psychic waves from outer space.
Everyone was hit with a psychic bomb. For two hours everyone had hallucinations.
Thom hoped the Thennanin were among the surviving groups in the space war. The craft they were hollowing out was Thennanin and they were going to move their own ship inside the wreck and fly it out.
Thom had set off the Thennanin psychic bombs that he had found in their wreck. Soon, Thom saw a spacecraft. It appeared to be Tandu. Another ship arrived and was shooting at the Tandu. Thom hid in the water in the weeds and inspected his supplies. The water was oxygen depleted. He cut a tube and stuck the tub above the surface. The searing blasts hit close to Thom and the heat was intense. There was a huge detonation and he was hit on the head during the rough waves in the ocean. Something hit the water. An angel bent forward. She recognized him as the Orley boy. She placed him on a stretcher. It was a memory from Venus.
Thom woke up on a stump. The battle had ended above the surface. The volcano was still erupting. The battleships were gone. He saw wrecked space ships and saw them explode. The Galactics death ships had come to investigate. The Galactics and the Tandu had destroyed each other.
Thom had only one message bomb left. It was the verifier bomb, the one that indicated the Streaker should move to the Thennanin wreck. There was a small space craft passing to the west. It was a design Thom did not know. The ship landed in a crash. Thom eventually wanted to reach the eggshell floating craft but first he wanted to check out the scout ship wreck.
K’tha-jon was close to Akki. Escaping K’tha-jon was not going to be easy. Keepiru saw that Akki was in trouble and decided to help out.
Once Gillian was in the ship she ordered Metz to leave and go to the island. Charlie Dart asked if he could go with Metz. Charlie thought it was only fair since Dart had agreed to give Metz his ship council proxy and not notify the island to the recent events. Metz said no and Charlie left the cabin angry.
Creideki was only able to communicate through old triangle.
Gillian told Sah’ot Toshio was in charge. Sah’ot told Gillian there were residents of intelligence in the depth of the planet. Gillian said that was the lowest priority. Along with Metz, Gillian had sent Takkata-Jim to the long boat. This way she thought Takkata-Jim would cause the least amount of trouble. Takkata-Jim did not agree with Thom’s Trojan Horse plan from its inception.
Gillian was very pleased with Sah’ot’s performance and told him that she would see he would be able to have a lot of children. Sah’ot was very happy.
Gillian gave Metz and Takkata-Jim enough fuel just to get to the islands and no radio. She knew however that Charlie Dart had stowed away on the long boat and that he had taken several atomic bombs with him.
Toshio was working on the Kiqui report. The metal mound was a whole organism. Metal eating coral, the drill tree and the living core of the island are part of a living entity. Toshio wanted to investigate the new being but knew his time was running out for any new research.
Krat had killed a Pilan because it brought her bad news. Her daughter was dead and she didn’t know who would follow her. The Pila would be the Galactics again to modify. She was a Soro Mother. Krat thought the Soro might loose to the Tandu. The Pila told Krat to take the most expendable ships and go to the planet.
Akki was swimming for his life trying to escape K’tha-jon. Keepiru has to deal with his pursuer before he could help Akki. Gillian’s plan was to leave Metz, Takkata-Jim and Dart on the long boat and the rest were to escape on the Streaker, but she would leave the decision up to Hikahi when she returned and assumed her role as Captain.
Thom found the wrecked Thennanin scout ship and talked to the dying reptilian creature. Thom found no food. It had been over five days since he had landed on the island. Thom saw the Tandu on the island. They were spindly creatures approaching him quickly. They had a creature with them who was creating land for all of them to walk. Thom recognized the shaggy creature as an Episiarh. Thom saw no alternative. He set his feet firmly, stood and started shooting the Tandu.
Takkata-Jim told Toshio Metz had turned his dolphins into monsters.
Dart built machines that would dig down and then laterally into the island. He equipped them with A-bombs.
Hikahi did not have contact with anyone for over twenty-four hours. She decided she would never surrender herself. She could hear swimming dolphins in distress. They were being pursued. She decided to go in the direction of the sound.
Gillian was moving the Streaker to the Thennanin shell. Creideki has come around since Sah’ot talked to him. Creideki asked to supervise the fins. He was zipping about on his sled giving directions. The Niss Machine was waiting with a message for Gillian.
Akki was fading and it would not be long before K’tha-jon would have him to eat.
Dart decided to use one of the A-bombs. Keepiru saw blood on the water and a giant dolphin ripping another dolphin apart. It was K’tha-jon. Keepiru argued with K’tha-jon and K’tha-jon attached. After many hours Keepiru latched on to K’tha-jon’s harness. Now all K’tha-jon had to do was keep Keepiru under water. K’tha-jon revealed to Keepiru that he was one of Metz’s experiments. K’tha-jon was an orca whale. Keepiru led K’tha-jon to the tentacle weed and K’tha-jon was attacked by it and died.
Hikahi found Keepiru. He was injured but alive. Akki was dead.
Toshio volunteered to stay with Takkata-Jim and Metz. Toshio realized he might get left behind.
Dart was convinced his human benefactors had put him on this ship as a token. He was going to escape with Takkata-Jim and Metz and once he is back on earth he will be praised by scientist about his discoveries.
Captain Creideki spoke to Sah’ot telling him about the voices he could hear from underneath the planet. The same voices Sah’ot heard. Now Creideki wants to speak to the voices below and he wants Sah’ot and Toshio with him.
The Brother of Twelve Shadows and his younger brother were all that were left from the crash. Both swam under the water in the weeds hunting the others who had crashed. They had superior fighting skills and knew they would be victorious over any creatures they crossed and they would find the humans and obtain their valuable information. The younger brother disappeared. The older brother searched for him and found his body. Screaming revenge, he was attached by a lowly human who sliced his neck. Thom.
Gillian should have checked the Niss Machine earlier. The Niss told here everything on this planet represents all that is good and all that is evil. What happens on Kithrup will be legend.
Keepiru was strapped down with tubes attached and Hikahi was taking him back to the ship.
The Niss told Gillian about the live organism, the voices that Captain Creideki had talked with. Gillian was upset because she feared that Takkata-Jim wouldn’t use all of Dart’s A-bombs. Dart might set off one of the A-bombs underground and kill live sentient organisms. She had to contact Toshio immediately because he was to disconnect his com unit soon.
Toshio had disconnected the radio. He was alone now. Dennie and Sah’ot had left this morning. Dart told Toshio that Takkata-Jim was ready to leave with or without Dart. While Toshio was under the water Takkata-Jim had started the long boat’s engines and destroyed the radio in Thom’s sled.
Captain Creideki asked the being under the planet for help but they were angered and refused. Creideki heard an engine.
Dennie and Sah’ot headed back to the Streaker’s original site. Dennie wanted to find Hikahi to help her get Toshio off the island.
Metz and Takkata-Jim argued about who was in charge. Takkata-Jim had created killers out of Metz’s dolphins. The killer dolphins shot Metz. Toshio helped Metz and he saw the Stenos wreck his sled. Toshio gave the Kiqui an alarm sound so they escaped.
Toshio told Charles Dart that Takkata-Jim had Metz killed. Charlie asked Toshio what to do. Charlie told Toshio that his A-bomb was set for eighty minutes.
Gillian had Streaker ready to leave Kithrup in the Thennanin shell. She had psychic intuition they would be making a move very soon. She had talked to Creideki and Hikahi told Gillian, she had to go back to the island and help Toshio. Hikahi was not going to be able to assume the role of Captain on the Streaker. Gillian was going to have to maintain her role as Captain a little while longer.
Volcanoes were erupting along the plate line. The A-bomb or another psychic bomb was set off. Takkata-Jim took off in the long boat.
Gillian made her move and Streaker was in space and in the battle in seconds. She made some amazing tactical maneuvers including releasing all the water in space creating a water shield that destroyed enemy ships.
Takkata-Jim took the long boat and tried to align himself with the enemy ships. That didn’t work. Then he tried to align himself with the Streaker and that didn’t work. He went back to the enemy line and was killed in the process.
Finally when everything looked desperate, their ploy as a Thennanin ship in trouble, saved them. Six Thennanin ships started blasting away at the other Galactic ships firing upon Streaker.
Gillian set the Streaker to the transfer point. She sent a psychic message to Thom of the Streaker leaving this system and heading back to Earth. She shed the Thennanin ship shell, the Streaker became transparent and transferred through the space hole. Thom was happy Streaker and Gillian survived.
Keepiru, Sah’ot, Creideki and Hikahi prepared the skiff for a trip back to Earth. They only had enough supplies to get them to the first transfer point. They knew they had at least five transfer points to earth but to stay on this metallic planet would mean certain death.
Toshio and the rescue team found Charles Dart floating in the ocean after the earthquakes. He was mortified because he had climbed a tree so save his life when the island started shaking. The last day of their final search Toshio found Thom. Thom had smoked meat for the trip home. He wondered what Tandu and Episiarh would taste like smoked.
by Brenda Krekeler