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The Dohani War

by Martin Kerharo

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Chapter 17: Determination
The Dohani War: synopsis

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.

I wanna drive you into the corner
And kiss you without a sound
I wanna stay this way forever I’ll say it loud
Now you’re in and you can’t get out.
— Avril Lavigne, Hot

Jane’s physical condition got worse. Two more weeks went by and then, one morning, she told me she could not get up. She kept tossing and turning in bed, trying to find a comfortable position.

“What’s happening, Jane?” I asked her. “You’re feeling worse and worse.”

“It’s okay,” she answered. “Don’t worry. I’ll be all right. It’s just muscle pains, nothing serious.” She smiled feebly.

Jane’s mother, Irina, came into the room. She was carrying a bowl of clear, steaming broth and gave it to Jane without a word. They must have been speaking through their implants; I could not hear anything.

The Dohani lady turned to me: “Do not worry, Dexter. Her health is not in danger.”

“But what’s happening to her, for heaven’s sake?” I exclaimed. “This isn’t normal.”

“She is just—” She stopped. I surmised that Jane had just said something to her.

“She is just tired,” Irina continued. “She needs to rest. Stay with her. That is all she wants and needs. And we are always standing watch over her.”

I was sure they were hiding something from me. Whatever it was, they had agreed to tell me nothing.

A week later, Jane could no longer move without moaning in pain. I took care of her. I would help her eat, and get dressed, and go out; I would carry her in my arms to the swimming pool. She felt best when she was floating in the water. We spent hours in the pool. I was worried even though Jane’s family attempted to reassure me.

I began to notice that Jane’s figure had become rounder. She had grown, gradually. And I had been living with her for quite a while now.

* * *

Jane woke up screaming in the middle of the night. She was doubled over, her hands gripping her thighs.

“What’s happening?” I asked, frightened.

She was panting. “Oh... it hurts.” Her face was pale and strained, and she was covered with perspiration.

“Do you mind if Mama joins us?’ she asked.

“Of course not!” I answered.

The door opened and Jane’s mother came in. She sat down beside Jane.

“Please, speak human language, Mama,” said Jane. “I don’t want Dexter to feel excluded.”

Jane’s mother nodded. “Very well, my little kitten. Do you have much pain?”

“Yes, Mama. Hold me, please, the way you did when I was a baby.”

The Dohani woman delicately took Jane in her arms and rocked her gently. I took Jane’s hand.

“I did warn you, Jane,” her mother said. “You are stubborn and impatient. And very brave. Or very stupid. Your father and I cannot decide which.”

“I know, Mama.” Jane smiled feebly. “I am human, after all. The harder the victory, the sweeter it is. But I did not expect it would hurt so much.”

I listened to their conversation without understanding. I saw only that Jane and her mother were very close, an ideal image of mother and daughter.

“You are going to get better, Kitten. The hardest is past. You have reached the summit, and the way down will be easier.”

“Really?” Jane sighed. “I was beginning to think it would never happen.”

“Impatient, always impatient,” Irina said. “Impatient to discover the world. And to join the Army. I was afraid of losing you, Kitten. You have been very lucky.”

Jane let go of my hand and huddled in her mother’s arms. “That is true,” said Jane. “Very lucky...” Her speech had slowed. She was falling asleep again.

When Jane was sound asleep, her mother spoke to me. “My daughter is very willful, Dexter. But I am in a good position to understand her.”

“What’s happening to her?” I asked. “Nobody wants to tell me anything, everybody says she’s okay. But I know this is not normal for her.”

“Yes,” Irina replied, “something is happening. Something miraculous. She is preparing a gift for you. She made me promise not to tell you anything about it.”

A gift? I did not see how the state she was in could have anything to do with any present she could give me.

“All I can tell you,” the Dohani lady continued, “is this: in two weeks she will propose something to you. Everything she says at that moment will be true. Trust her. Say yes. Do not disappoint her. She does not deserve that, especially after all she has been through.”

* * *

In the following days, Jane’s condition improved markedly. She could move again, although with difficulty. I no longer needed to help her do everything. She also seemed very happy. As the days passed, I sometimes caught her doing dance steps and looking off into space and sighing, with a smile on her lips. This girl was a mystery.

The day came when the two fateful weeks prophesied by Jane’s mother had elapsed. Throughout the day I sensed a tension in the air, as if a storm were about to break.

Jane could not hold still. She could not concentrate. When I asked her a question, I had to repeat it two or three times. She did not eat, and she kept blushing when I looked at her, which she normally never did. In fact, her heartbeat did not easily speed up and her internal temperature was regulated more efficiently than in a human. And she was anything but timid. She had few reasons to blush.

I was relieved to see the day end. The situation had become rather stressful; I had the impression she was somewhere else.

When I found Jane in our room, she was standing next to the bed, her hands behind her back. She had not put on her usual pyjamas. She was wearing a long night dress. It was transparent.

I was shocked to realize how much she had grown in recent weeks. Her forms were... voluptuous. I could not think of another word. I had trouble remaining calm. She had obviously decided to go on the offensive again. But why now? What was going on?

“Hi, Dexter,” she said. She had a smile that would have melted an iceberg. Fortunately I was no iceberg.

“Are you ready for me?” she asked.

I cleared my throat painfully. “I thought we had an agreement. You were supposed to hold off till you were eighteen.”

“That’s right. I am eighteen.” She smiled even more broadly.

I rolled my eyes upwards. “It didn’t work the first time, and it won’t work now. You’ll be finished with your growth in about ten months.” And that will give me time to think this over, I told myself.

“Look at me, Dexter. My growth is finished.”

It was true; she had changed.

“I accelerated my growth. I did in two months what my body should have taken a year to do.”

I began to suspect what she was going to say next.

“The technique is rarely used,” she said, “because it’s so painful. But now it’s over.”

Good grief. She was crazy. “Jane, did you go through all that pain these past weeks just to make love with me earlier?” I was getting angry.

“Yes. I couldn’t wait.”

She saw I was furious, and a shadow passed over her face. “Apparently it displeases you. I’m beginning to wonder if you would have kept your promise anyway.”

She was probably right. Jane was extremely young and immature in many ways, and that bothered me.

She lowered her eyes. For a moment I looked at her without moving. I did not know what to do. Then I remembered what Jane’s mother had told me: Do not disappoint her. I was breaking her heart.

“Very much the opposite; I’m very pleased,” I said and went toward her.

She looked up. Her expression had cleared, and she came toward me.

“But,” I continued, “I hate to think you’ve suffered so much just for...”

She put her hand on my mouth. “Shhh. It’s my choice,” she said. “I’m the one who suffered, and it’s a small price to pay...

“Okay: are you going to stand there and look at me or are you going to help me take off my nightgown? I’ll need your help for what follows. I have no experience with... that sort of thing.”

* * *

After that night we spent a lot of time alone together in our apartment. Jane was incredible: determined, tireless, and above all she seemed completely happy. She had achieved all she wanted to. When we went out of our room she would continue to kiss me passionately. She could never get enough. Compared to her, my former flirtations seemed timid and clumsy.

It was pure bliss. The only shadow in the picture was the Dohani-human war: it was still going on, and I could think of no way to stop it.

Proceed to Chapter 18...

Copyright © 2012 by Martin Kerharo
translation © 2013 by Donald Webb

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