The Dohani War
by Martin Kerharo
|Table of Contents|
Chapter 19: Revolution
Some centuries in the future, humanity is locked in an interstellar war with the Dohani, a technologically advanced species of fearsome, reptilian-like appearance. The war has ground to a stalemate that cannot be resolved as long as humans and the Dohani and have no way to communicate.
Lieutenant Dexter Zimski leads a commando squad in a raid on a Dohani base and returns with a bizarre captive, one who looks for all the world like a 16-year old human girl. She is given the name “Jane.” As a prisoner of war, she and Dexter, to whom she is strangely attached, are taken to a research center, where Jane learns a human language — and much more.
Jane shows how formidable the Dohani can be. In a desperate, well-planned escape she kidnaps Dexter, borrows a spaceship and heads for home. Now the end game begins: humans and Dohani have to learn just how complex and alien each race really is. Jane and Dexter have a grander role: they will have to show that Dohani and humans need each other.
There’s a weapon|
We must use
In our defense
— Hilary and Haylie Duff
(originally The Go-Go’s)
Our Lips Are Sealed
This was the first time I had ever set foot on humanity’s home world. Jane was delighted. She had learned that Earth was covered with ancient sites to visit. With her habitual impatience, she wanted to see everything right away.
“We have work to do first, Jane,” I told her. “We have to find clues about the pirates. I didn’t come to Earth just so we could be tourists.”
The Dohani took steps to show Earth that the visit was no joke, and they employed a show of force. Jane and I were on the bridge when the chief contacted Earth space control center. He asked the humans to designate a landing area large enough to unload cargo. We were sent to an uninhabited area in Australia, not too far from Sydney.
I thought we would take a shuttle, but Ralph told me to sit down and buckle up. I saw that Jane and the other Dohanis had already begun to strap themselves into their seats.
“The maneuver will be perfectly safe, but there may be turbulence, and I do not want to take chances.”
Turbulence? In space?
“You’ll see,” said Jane. “This is impressive. I’ve asked them for a commentary in human language. You’ll know what’s going on.”
“Reverse heading,” the chief ordered. On the control screen, the battleship’s attitude thrusters fired. The vessel made an about-face turn and was flying backwards.
“Fire thrusters.” The main reactors roared to life and the ship lost speed. The ship’s kinetic energy no longer compensated for Earth’s gravity, and the ship began to lose altitude.
“Confirming orbit cancellation, chief,” another Dohani said. “Atmospheric deceleration begun.”
“Activate the heat shield,” said Ralph.
“Temperature normal and under control, chief. Safety shield on stand-by.”
The ship was falling like a stone into Earth’s atmosphere.
A panicky call came in from Earth control. “Dohani vessel, you are losing altitude. Is there a malfunction?”
“Negative,” the chief replied. “We are only preparing to land in the area assigned.”
“You’re... going to land? In your ship? That’s insane!”
“Certainly not. If it were, we would not be doing it. I must suspend this conversation and supervise the maneuver.”
The ship continued its descent. The thunder could be heard all over Australia.
* * *
The ship landed. A vessel of this kind should not have been able to enter a planetary atmosphere and land on the surface; designing such a vessel would be a nightmare, and the cost of the antigrav engines would be astronomical. Such a vessel would almost never use them anyway, because it would spend almost all its time in space. However, the Dohani had done it.
Jane told me that all their ships were capable of planetary landing and take-off. “And it’s not just to impress humans. With the battleship and its firepower, we’ll be protected. Humans won’t try to do anything to us when we’re in Sydney, looking for information.”
* * *
Upon our arrival, we held a press conference. The Dohanis had set up domes as temporary living quarters around the ship, and reporters had been invited to one of the domes. There were three of us: Jane, Ralph and I. Jane had put on dark glasses, to hide her red eyes.
“Hello,” I said. I was nervous. There were a lot of people in the audience. “Call me Dexter. The Dohani have assigned me the role of spokesman. This is Jane, my... fiancée, and Ralph, the commander of the battleship double-parked outside.”
The reporters laughed.
“You have heard the Dohani peace proposal,” I continued. “One of the conditions is to find, if possible, the pirates who attacked the Dohani ten years ago. We have come to Sydney to gain access to the official archives and to try to trace those pirates.”
One of the reporters raised a hand. “Why do the Dohani want the pirates turned over to them?”
“The Dohani have not told me what they expect to do with them,” I answered.
Another reporter asked, “Is it certain what happened? Are the videos authentic?”
Jane spoke. “We Dohani were attacked by those pirates. Without such a provocation we would never have gone to war against humans. We will do everything to find the perpetrators who have caused a terrible and useless conflict.”
One of the reporters in the first row spoke up. “Miss, you also seem to speak for the Dohani. Who are you, exactly?”
“I am Dohani.” She took off her sunglasses, and that had the desired effect. Everybody started talking at once when they saw her red eyes.
“Calm down!” I shouted. “Jane is half Dohani and half human. It’s a long story.”
Questions rained upon us. “Dexter, what’s your relationship with Jane? Is she really half Dohani? How did you meet?”
Jane explained: “I was in the Dohani army. And since he’s irresistible, it was love at first sight.” She put her arm around my waist. The reporters’ cameras had a field day.
“Since then,” Jane continued, “we’ve never been apart. I was a prisoner on Aubria-3, being studied by humans. When I got tired of it, I kidnapped Dexter and went home.”
“That’s incredible! How did you manage to escape? How did you go about kidnapping Dexter?”
I was beginning to wonder when someone would bring up the subject of the Dohani demands about searching for the pirates.
“I’m very strong,” Jane answered. “Much stronger and quicker than a human. It was easy to get rid of the guards, overcome Dexter and take him with me.”
Laughter. One of the reporters asked, “Are you really that strong?”
“Yes.” She had a fierce smile. “Would you like a demonstration? Does anyone here know how to fight?” she added. She was having a great time. She obviously loved the limelight. The press conference had taken an unexpected turn.
Jane came down off the stage. One of the reporters, a burly fellow, had taken her challenge.
I turned to Ralph and whispered, “I have the impression they’ve lost interest in our reason for coming here.”
The Dohani leaned over to me. “Indeed. Who can understand humans? But Jane is having fun, and that is a good thing.”
Jane and the reporter had gone outside. When the match was about to begin, I remembered something important and rushed up to them, shouting, “Jane, stop! You’re not going to fight when you’re pregnant, are you?”
The reporters were twice as excited as before. “She’s pregnant? Is Dexter the father? They’re going to have a half-human, half-Dohani baby?”
Oops. I’d goofed.
The reporter who was going to fight Jane asked her, “You’re really pregnant? It would really be better if we didn’t do this, you know.”
“No problem,” Jane replied. “My uterus is protected. There is no risk to the baby.”
I looked at Ralph, who confirmed what Jane had said. On the other hand, I should have known I had no cause for alarm. Jane easily immobilized her opponent. The reporters’ cameras caught everything, and the images immediately began to circulate on the Internet.
The reporters continued asking questions, especially of Jane, about her life, adventures and baby. They gave no thought to the search for the pirates.
* * *
Everybody loved Jane. She became an instant celebrity. Forgotten were the Dohani threat and the battleship parked near one of the largest cities on Earth. The news talked only of Jane.
She received literally millions of messages. Fan mail. Presents. Baby clothes. From all over the Federation.
Hundreds of people flocked to the ship to try to catch a glimpse of Jane or to ask for her autograph. Their patience was often rewarded, because she loved to visit with her fans, to shake their hands and sign dedications.
Ralph, a few Dohanis and I worked in the archives. Jane was too busy with her mail to be able to help us. I became friends with Ralph. He spent a lot of time with us and really seemed to enjoy talking with me, perhaps because our minds worked the same way: we were both soldiers at heart, ready for anything in defense of our homelands.
However, we were not making a lot of progress in our research. It had been a week since we had begun examining the archives, and so far they had revealed no act of piracy in the zone where the Dohani bases had been attacked. The human star systems in the vicinity had recorded no unusual activity and nothing that resembled the pirate ships in any way.
One evening we were having dinner with Ralph in our cabin. We were both listening to Jane tell about her day, the Internet chat that was talking about her and proposals for interviews... Such things never tired her. I was listening to her with one ear while mulling over the problem of the archives. Ralph was doing the same thing, and from time to time we would exchange ideas that might help us make headway.
Suddenly Ralph looked at me and said, “I have just received a message. There is a human who wants to talk to you, Dexter. Her name is Carolyn Greenshire. She says she has information about the pirates.”
* * *