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The lost colony



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THE LOST COLONY

Volume V in the EARTHBOUND Series


a novel by

D M Arnold

Table of Contents

1 -- Birthday 3

2 -- Briefing 8

3 -- The ExoScout 19

4 -- Planetfall Varada 29

5 -- Novo Hominids 39

6 -- Laida 47

7 -- The Pomma Farm 59

8 -- The Breedery 69

9 -- The Green Zone 84

10 -- Solicitation 98

11 -- Letter of Intent 109

12 -- Mystery Cargo 119

13 -- Mutiny 129

14 -- Legal Quagmire 139

15 -- Linguistic Feat 150

16 -- Dome, Sweet Dome 160

Epilogue -- Honeymoon 172

THE LOST COLONY

Volume V of the Earthbound Series


Edition of 9 November, 2004

Copyright (C) 2004, D M Arnold. All rights reserved.


Published by VIRTUALimprint

http://www.virtualimprint.com


1 -- Birthday




Nykkyo Kyhana stepped into the living room of the house in Queens. “Hey, Nick!” he called.

“Hey, Nick,” Nicky answered, laughed and ran toward him. Nyk traded high-fives with the boy, picked him up and kissed him.

“Do you know what day today is?” Nyk asked.

“Birthday!” Nicky replied.

“Whose?”

“Mine!”

“How old are you?”

“THREE!”

“And, what do you get on your birthday?”

“PRESENTS!”

“Come on, buddy -- let's go see Grandma.”

Nyk set the boy down and he climbed into a chair with a booster seat. Yasuko set a cake with three candles on the table. “Blow them out, buddy -- while I take your picture.”

Yasuko cut pieces of cake. “Can you believe three, Yasuko?” Nyk asked.

She shook her head. “I cannot.”

“Here, buddy,” Nyk said and handed Nicky a package.

Nicky ripped off the paper and opened a case containing two child-sized chopsticks. “Nick!” Yasuko exclaimed. “Those for him?”

“They said not for children under three. He is no longer under three. Don't you think it's time for him to start learning to use them?”

“I suppose it is. I can't recall when I learned.”

“You were probably born with a pair in your hand, Yasuko. Let me take a picture...”

Nicky hopped off the chair and headed toward the living room. Yasuko spoke to him in Japanese. He turned and walked to her. She held out her hand and he dropped the chopsticks into it. She said a few more words and Nicky headed back to the living room.

“I think I'm beginning to understand some of what you're saying to him,” Nyk said.

“That's impressive. Japanese is a difficult language.”

“So is English.”

She nodded. “I won't argue you on that. You must have a good ear for languages, Nick.”



Nyk walked into the building housing his office. “Good morning, Mr Kane.”

“Good morning, Jaquie. Here -- look.”

“Pictures... Oh, how adorable. Three years old! He's turning into such a fine little man. Is that his grandmother?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“She resembles Sukiko.”

“So does Nicky. You can see her features in his face. And, he has her coloring, her black hair and her dark, dark eyes.”

“How is your mother-in-law getting along?”

“Better. She still misses Suki and George, but ... better.”

“That's good. I'll bet you miss her, too.”

Seymor stepped through the door. “When you're done, lad,” he said and headed into his private office.

Nyk followed his boss into the office. “Shut the door, lad.”

“I don't know why we keep up this charade with Jaquie,” Nyk said. “She KNOWS I'm not really Nick Kane, and she KNOWS Suki isn't dead but living on Floran. I know she knows. I don't know if she knows I know she knows.”

“She thinks she's sheltering us. She probably is. I heard you say your mother-in-law is doing better.”

“Yes. Having me home has helped ... a lot. She still has her moments, but overall -- she's doing better.”

“Getting over it?”

“I don't expect she'll ever get over it.”

“How's the long-distance relationship working out?”

Nyk sighed. “It's evolving. I think I'm growing more distant from Suki. I still love her. She's becoming more and more important on the homeworld. When I first took her to Floran I promised her I'd call every day. Now, I'm lucky if I can speak to her once a week. I'm afraid she's found another husband.”

“Another man?” Seymor asked.

“No -- her work. I can't believe how her career there is taking off. Her courses at Sudal University are always full, and she's asked to do speaking engagements. She told me she's been asked to deliver an address at a convention of educators on Myataxya. On Myataxya, Seymor! I've never been there.”

“Neither have I. Myataxya... This must be a bunch of real big-wigs.”

“They'll put her up in one of the resorts there.”

“She should get herself an agent.”

“Do such exist on Floran?”

“Of course they do. No one could keep a speaking calendar straight by themselves.”

“I'll suggest it to her.”

“Pretty soon she'll have her own ax'amfin assistant.”

“She has Andra. I'm happy for her. I know she's more fulfilled there than she ever was here. But -- it's not how I expected it to be.” Nyk held his hand to his eyes. “I miss her so.”

“I'm sorry to open a wound, lad.”

“It's all right. It's the story of my life, Seymor. I'm always surrounded by women -- by people who are more important that I am.”

“You're doing important work here.”

“I know -- and raising Nicky is important. Why did you want to see me?”

“This came in last night after you went home. I'll forward it so you can read it. Executive summary is Illya Kronta wants to borrow you.”

“Borrow me? What for?”

“He needs your linguistic skills -- someone fluent in the Esperanto tongue. Something about a diplomatic initiative involving a lost colony.”

“Hmm... It's Probably the Abo -- that primitive colony on Lexal.”

“He doesn't say. He wants you in Floran City day after tomorrow for a briefing with the special envoy.”

“I'll tell Yasuko I'll be away for a few days... I wonder if I'll have time to visit Suki.”

“Play your cards right and you will,” Seymor replied. “Go show your woman her first choice in husbands was her best.”



Nyk climbed the steps to the house in Queens and opened the front door. “It's Nick,” he called to the back.

“We'll have dinner in the dining room,” Yasuko said to him from the rear of the house.

“The dining room?”

“Yes -- remember? We agreed that, when Nicky started using chopsticks, we would resume using the dining room.”

“I remember... I didn't remember it being an agreement.”

“Dinner is nearly ready.”

“Nicky!” Nyk called. Nicky ran toward him. Nyk held out his hand. “Hey, Nick!”

“Hey, Nick!” Nicky retorted and slapped Nyk's palm.

“Let's have dinner.” Nicky headed toward the kitchen. “No, buddy.” Nyk pointed. “Over there.”

Nyk approached the low table. Woven reed mats were set at three places, and pairs of chopsticks. The child-sized ones Nyk had given Nicky were set at one place. He adjusted a thin cushion and kneeled on it. “Like this,” he said.

Yasuko brought a tray with three bowls and set them on the placemats. Nyk picked up his own chopsticks. Nicky fumbled with his.

“Like this, buddy...” He looked toward his mother-in-law. “Obaasan, I need some help here.”

Yasuko attempted to show Nicky how to use the sticks.

“I'm going to get the camera,” Nyk said. “This is too precious.”

He returned with the camera and snapped photos of Yasuko and Nicky with the chopsticks. “I'll bet Suki would get a kick out of these,” he said.

“I'll bet she would,” Yasuko replied. “Truth be known, there's no right or wrong way to use these.”

Nicky put down the sticks and began picking food from the bowl with his fingers. Nyk took more photographs. “Hey -- when Suki taught me to use those things -- she never told ME that fingers are an acceptable alternative.”

“Give him time. In no time he'll be using them like a native. Like you do, Nick.”

“I hardly use them like a native.”

“You do very well with them.” Yasuko gazed into his face. “You're right, Nick. We should do things Sukiko would enjoy -- and things George would, too. Let's honor them -- day to day.”

“A wonderful idea, Yasuko.”

“I remember what you said about your experience losing your parents. 'Life goes on and happiness returns.' Those were your very words.”

“It doesn't mean we ever forget them, Yasuko. But, it's not written anywhere that we're obligated to mourn them for the rest of our lives.”

“After dinner -- we have some things to discuss.”

“All right, Yasuko.”

“After Nicky's in bed.”

“Whatever you say.”



Nyk stepped into the kitchen and began stowing bowls in cabinets. “Nicky's down. What did you want to discuss, Yasuko?”

“Nick... As the mother of the woman you married, I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but... I think ... you should consider ... bringing another woman...”

“Oh, is that it? I'm sorry, Yasuko -- I forgot the check the calendar.”

“Calendar?”

“Yes -- we seem to have this discussion every six months or so. I am not interested in marrying another woman. I'm not even interested in dating another.”

“But -- for Nicky's sake...”

“Nicky is doing just fine.” He stepped to the calendar and began flipping over leaves.

“What are you doing?”

“Marking the calendar so we'll remember to repeat this discussion in six months.” He took a pen from his pocket and annotated the calendar. “There -- Discuss woman for Nick.”

Yasuko smiled. “If you really don't want to -- I won't play match-maker.”

“I hope you didn't have someone in mind.”

“Well... My friend Linda Tsukasa has a niece -- a very nice girl...”

“Yasuko -- there is something we do need to discuss. Something's come up at my office and I'll need to be away for a while.”

“Oh... Not too long, I hope.”

“Possibly three to four weeks.”

“You go and do what you need to do, Nick. I have no claim on you. You haven't had too many of these assignments lately, and I've been thankful for that. I suppose once in a while comes with the territory.”

“Yes -- I'm afraid it does.”


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