Chapter 28: Telami's Education
The crew of the Becky Thatcher were getting more than a little stir crazy. None of them were really used to just sitting around, Telami, least of all. Grommon were outdoorsy folk. Mostly farmers or merchants, the Grommon liked nothing more than the loamy earth under their bare feet. Not that they weren’t civilized and practical in the big cities, but Grommon would rather not be there at all.
“So tell me again why we can’t meet up with the rest of your clan?”
Liam replied “It’s not a clan, it’s a crew. A team. We work together.”
“How is that not a clan?”
“Where we come from, ‘Clans’ are generally relatives. People who are related to each other by blood.”
“Well we have that too, but with the Nilori, clans are anyone that live more than a generation in the same group that accept the leadership of one house,” said Telami.
“Sounds like the American Indians, before we wiped them out,” piped in Zak from the front. He was still sitting in the pilot seat. Even though the autopilot on the launch was at least as good as Jules on the Empress, he was taking no chances as the alien landscape drifted by below them. Besides, he was a ‘hands on’ kind of guy.
Ethan had his headphones on in the copilot seat, routinely making adjustments to the radio equipment. He had rigged a radio to monitor many more bands than normal when they started search and rescue over a year ago. He had also set it up to monitor all frequencies in the outside chance someone had built their own radio and was calling out for assistance. He suddenly sat up and punched the cabin speakers in. “Shh… guys listen to this…”
The squelch of radio, static and hiss was interrupted by a distinctly man-made tone. A male voice broke through the static… As everyone stopped what they were doing to listen, Ethan broke in “I don’t understand the language, but I would swear the voice is Kyton’s? Anyone else?” He looked around the cramped quarters and spied Telami’s face drop and become ashen. “Obviously, you understand the language Telami?”
“Unfortunately, I do.”
“What does that mean?”
Suddenly another male voice, distinctly different and younger sounding responded. There was a frantic dialog for about thirty seconds and then static. All the blood drained out of Telami’s face and Liam could swear Telami invented two new shades of ashen.
“What is it, Telami?”
Telami’s inside voice reappeared inside their heads. He had been doing very well with English speech, but something frightened him enough that he reverted back into himself.
Jackson broke the silence, “Come on, Telami. We need to know.”
“That transmission was between two people that I really don’t want to encounter again,” began the diminutive person. “Apparently the first man Nora-Ky Davici Nova-tonne is returning triumphantly to the House Davici with some kind of prize for his father, Domin-Tik Davici Ni-torre.”
“That doesn’t sound like any radio chatter that concerns us then.”
“I’m afraid it does and it gets very bad.”
“What do you mean?”
“The name Nora-Ky is the person’s given name by his family. Davici is his house name. Nova-Tonne means Third Son. Those are the formal versions of his name. If you shorten it to the more familiar, family version, you would get Ky-tonne Davici. Based on what you have told me….”
“Yeah, Okay, we get it. That first voice was Kyton’s.” Now Zak was concerned. “What about the other voice?”
“That was some radio dispatcher for House Davici. I don’t know who. They didn’t identify themselves.”
“Other than the obvious, why is this extra bad? You look like you have seen a ghost?”
“Yes, a dead spirit”
“I don’t understand your words. But I kind of understand the meaning. House Davici owns many sections of this land. They are a large and powerful clan that I was running away from. I had been about three days outside of their borders and territory when I was chased by that Hrok directly to you.” His voice dropped to a whisper, “I was worried about this. I’ve never seen the land from the air before but I thought we might be drifting back into their province.” Telami let out a huge sigh for such a small creature.
Liam said, “If you are with us, you have nothing to worry about. When we get back to the ship and you see what we actually came here in, you will see there is nothing to worry about.”
Jackson looked alarmed at Ethan and Zak and then his gaze pierced Liam.
Liam was taken aback “What? What did I say?” It suddenly dawned on him exactly what the prize was. “Oh...” Liam shook his head. “This is bad.”
Telami resumed. “Wait, you don’t know all of it yet. It gets worse.”
“How can it possibly get any worse?” Zak stopped because heard the ding of the drone approaching and attaching to their hull. He made ready to play back any message encoded in the stream. “Continue, Telami.”
“The problem is what the dispatcher didn’t tell Nora-Ky, I mean Ky-tonne. The message was for Domin-Tik Davici Ni-torre.”
“Yeah we got that part,” said Ethan impatiently.
“Domin-Tik Davici Ni-torre is dead. He’s been dead for twenty-two Morae.”
“That’s like twenty-two years.” Liam remembered their earlier conversations.
“Yes. It is a sign of disrespect to not divulge that when Nilori meet after an extended absence.”
“Maybe it just slipped the other guy’s mind?”
“Not likely, since the name was spoken directly. In Nilori custom, to speak of the dead, requires a word of respect to accompany it. In this case Gevosta ulimi Sir’ath which translates to you as something like may he rest with the mother.”
Jackson replied, “Yeah we say May he rest in peace.”
“Sounds like a very similar custom, Jackson Peck, but for Nilori, it’s more than a religion, it is life itself. It would be very important for the dispatcher to correct Ky-tonne unless there was a good reason not to.”
“What do you mean?” asked Liam.
“The man leading House Davici now is Ky-Tonne’s brother, Daran Davici Ni-torre, and he is a ruthless son of a Mox.” Liam didn’t need a translation to understand what that meant.
“Kyton’s father had been leading a war against Castalan and its nasty church- Omnus Exothesia. I understand the urgency and the passion. I think I’m safe here to say in front of you that I, I mean, we Grommon despise the Empire and the march of that horrendous religion as much as anyone. But the church killed Domin-Ky Davici.”
“So, Kyton’s brother took up the cause?”
“Hardly. Daran Davici Ni-torre had been a priest before the war and rose to Fifth Prefecture before betraying and selling out House Davici and handing them over to the Empire.”
Liam jumped in, “So, let me get this straight… Kyton Davis is apparently from this world, went to our world, found Captain Grumm, convinced him to build this airship with the express purpose of bringing it back to impress his father and win a war against a group of religious nuts?”
“Yes, I think you understand completely now,” said Telami.
Ethan summed it up, “Guys, we are so screwed.”
Zak and Jackson looked at each other again, the shadow deepened. Zak said, “We have to get our ship back. Kyton thinks he’s going to hand off the Empress in a moment of glory and he will really be handing it over to very Empire he’s fighting against! If Daran gets control of the ship, he will have just won that war once and for all.”
“I really don’t know which would be worse. The retaliation of the Empire or the chaos that would come from the vacuum it would leave behind.”
Liam replied, “We understand that chaos. We just came from the aftermath of the same kind of chaos. I wouldn’t wish that on any group of peoples.”
“We are already on the path to chaos as it were. When the new Sister emerged from the abyss and entered our sky it destroyed the grand city of Yar Imprella and left nothing but a hole in the ground where the city once was. No one can agree on the meaning of such an omen. It was obvious to anyone on that day, a thousand sepae ago that had been observant that this new Sister did not come from the mother, Sirath but came from the abyss. In our ways, in our religious teachings, that cannot happen. Some are saying this proves there is an outside, others believe this is a conjuring of Moloth, the dark one. No one can agree.”
Jackson responded, “I completely understand, Telami.” I grew up in a very religious home, I have always understood the pull it has on people. Putting faith in something higher than yourself and then having that faith tested by things completely unexpected.”
Zak interjected “Sorry to break up the party, but we have a decrypted translation!”
“By all means, Zak, let’s hear it.”
The main screen came to life with the faces of Rebekah, Marcus, Megan, Aaron, and Carol. Carol and the kids briefed the men in the launch about Captain Grumm, their suspicions of Kyton and the way Rebekah had jury-rigged Jules and bypassed the electrical grid and the steps they had taken.
“It’s a good thing they are on our side!” Jackson said. He could not be prouder of his daughter. “I’m just having a horrible time digesting this. I’ve known Kyton for almost eight years. I had no idea. No idea at all.”
Zak replied “Don’t beat yourself up Doc, I once knew a girl…” Zak looked up and the looks everyone except Telami were giving him told him to shut up.”
Telami replied, “Yes you met a girl… Go on.”
“Naw, some things are better left unsaid.”
“Like that hardly matters,” replied the dwarf. He was still looking out the window. “Wow, will you look at that?”
“What?” came the collective question.
Telami pointed out the window. “I’ve only seen one of those maybe twice in my life. It looks like a full grown Dipsinok to me- and look! a baby too!” He pointed down to the right and forward. Liam grabbed the binoculars.
Liam saw the largest dinosaur he could have ever hoped to imagine towering over the trees. Altogether, there seemed to be four or five adults and a scattering of young. Not in any hurry, they were devouring the leaves from the grove of trees they were standing amongst.
Jackson took the glasses from Liam and looked himself. “That is one large sauropod! The glasses are putting what appears to be the largest male at over thirty meters. Astounding!” He looked at Telami. “We call them Dinosaurs. They died out on our world millions of years ago. All we have left are fossilized bones dug out of the ground that we study and put in museums. “How do you live amongst creatures so large?”
Telami replied “It sometimes isn’t easy and some of the species have been hunted to extinction, but we have found that they can be corralled or driven away with certain smells and sounds. We manage. The more civilized areas of Aerathiea have created natural barriers to keep the various Arinok, like the Hrok at bay. Now that we have airships, we do a better job of locating, tagging and identifying herds of Arinok that might be a threat. There are always still accidents, though.”
Zak sat upright very quickly. “Wait, you have airships? Why didn’t you tell us that before?”
Ethan interjected, “Give him a break, Zak, he’s still barely learning the language. I give him high marks for learning so fast. Besides, in all fairness, I remember him mentioning airships when we first met him.”
“Not the kind of airship like this. Not like this,” gestured Telami at the space around him. He continued, “The Casteen warships are much larger than this. Very big and very dangerous- not to be trifled with. They are powered by wind- like a sailing ship and are very swift. They hunt in packs like the Ryn-Drakkor and overwhelm their enemies.”
“Well, you ain’t see our airship! Wait, you mean everyone has airships?”
“Not everyone. There are many races that don’t like flying. Like Grommon! The Nilor have been fighting their battles in the air for five hundred years,” said Telami. Ethan noticed that the translation was getting common enough that similar phrases like Morae to years was becoming automatic for him now.
Ethan turned from looking out the front window. The herd had slipped behind the launch now. They brought it up on a screen with the rear cameras and watch them until they were obscured by the ever-abundant trees again.
“Okay guys, any last words for the video?” Everyone huddled around the camera, including Telami. They told the kids everything they knew about the transmission and what they just found out about who Kyton really was. They praised the teens for their resourcefulness but also warned them about what might be coming next.