The next morning, Mila returned and told Taimi that the rebels had just wanted to ask how they were doing. She looked annoyed about the timing, but she quickly forgot about it when she called Octy’s family and then figured out the schedules of the ferry that would take them to Octy’s home.
Taimi took care with putting up her hair nicely and choosing a pretty yellow dress (though one she could still play and dance in). She didn’t usually take so much time to make sure she looked nice, but she was going to meet her new friend’s family! And there would be more people like her! It was like a proper celebration! And it was nice to feel pretty sometimes!
Taimi felt nervous when they sat in the ferry. She listened to the water and the waves, trying to calm down. Mila looked at her and smiled. She felt a bit nervous too. And excited. Mila squeezed her hand.
“It’ll be great,” she said.
Taimi knew that too. She was almost trembling with anticipation when they stepped out of the ferry and made the rest of the way to Octy’s cool-looking brick house. There were already people waiting for Octy to return.
Octy’s dad looked fun. He had glasses like Mila, and his hair was like snakes or rope. His name was Sebastion, and his smile was as nice as Octy’s. When Octy ran to him, he instantly hugged Octy like a dad should. Next to him stood a cute, furry thing that barked.
“Doggy!” Taimi shouted before she could stop herself.
“Thanks for returning my kid,” Sebastion chuckled. “Seriously. World of debt. Thank you.”
“No problem,” Mila said easily, even though Taimi could feel that she was a bit tense in her mind. Taimi dismissed that quickly, because she knew that Mila was just always ready to defend her if needed. No need to worry about that. Taimi was more interested in the dog, who was barking happily at them, especially at Octy.
Octy greeted the doggy, and suddenly Taimi realised there were two doggies there! This place was great!
“They’re so cute!” Taimi squealed.
“They’re good doggos!” Octy said. “Aren’t you, Lemon? Did you miss me? This is my new best friend! She’s named after a twig, but don’t go-fetch her! She’s a person-twig, not a chew-twig!”
Taimi laughed, but looked up when she sensed people coming their way. More people? How many were there? There was a pretty woman with brown hair, two pale blue kids, and…
Taimi’s eyes widened, and she felt a happy spark inside her. A spark so strong it made her glow with happiness. She knew the tall blue man immediately.
He was Sept Sevens. Everyone’s bagoto. The one she had sometimes heard in her mind.
“Sept Sevens!” Taimi said, “It’s you, right? You’re the BAbizoobagoto!”
“Taimi! You and your mom are the new family heroes! Thanks for singing to me to let me know this squirt was OK. And thanks even more for bringing my rascal of a brother home!”
“No problem,” Taimi said like Mila had a moment before. It sounded cool. Like being a hero was nothing special, “I think he found me first, so he helped me help him. And it was nice to bring him home. That way I got to meet you too!”
Sept’s smile turned different. Taimi wasn’t sure what it meant. She felt him remembering things, but she didn’t know what.
“We go way back, don’t we, Mikishirie?”
“Um… do we? I’ve heard you sing ever since I was tiny. But… is that already way back?”
“Well, it’s definitely a crowd here,” Mila said with a bit of a nervous smile. Taimi knew she didn’t like crowds, “Hi there! You’re all Octy’s family, right? I’m Mila Groves, and this is my kid.”
She looked at Taimi with the kind of look that meant that Taimi should continue.
“It’s great to meet you!” she said, “I’m Octy’s new best friend!”
Sept smiled at her and introduced the rest of the people. The woman was Mallory, Sept’s wife. Taimi looked at her with wide eyes. A human woman finding a blue prince for herself? That was so cool! And the littlest little kid, Naavre, was their real kid! Even cooler! The girl who was around Taimi’s age – maybe – was called Santi, and Taimi could immediately feel her emotions. They seemed to hug the entire world. They were so strong.
“I knew Octy to be safe, even before you sing,” said Santi, “for I keep feeling happy-yellow! But I not know happy-yellow was you! Very pretty yellow! So happy!”
“Pizza!” yelled Naavre. “Pizza! Pizza!”
“He just learn to talk,” explained Santi.
“He’s cute!” Taimi said, “I like pizza too! Can you say Taimi? Tai-mi! When most people say it they say it differently than Mila does. They say Thai-meeeee, but Mila says it with really hard and short sounds!”
Naavre threw his hands into the air and yelled, “Tai-mi! Tai-mi!”
“I knew I’d see you again,” said Sept. “Situ used to take me to see you on the ship. ‘This one is very special,’ she told me. ‘Strong and brave.’ So when I thought of you, out in your orange world, I never worried. Strong and brave–I knew you’d be OK, even when things get tough, as things often seem to do.”
Ship? Taimi stared at Sept. She didn’t remember much about the ship, except distorted words through sleep. But here was someone who had been there too.
“You were there? On the ship? I mean… you were… awake?”
She then blushed a bit when the part about her being strong and brave sunk in. Yes. She supposed she was strong and brave sometimes. Like when she had wanted to help Octy. Though that was hardly volcano-rescue-levels of bravery and strength. But at least it had led her here, to so many answers. And questions too.
Mila looked at Taimi in the gentle Mila-way she often did.
“Hey, sapling,” she said, “It seems like we found your shipmates. At least some of them.”
She smiled and looked at Sept.
“I’d love it if you guys could explain things to us. And especially for Taimi. And since you guys are a part of the rebellion too, I’d like to know more about that. I’ve only been in contact with a few of the rebels before, and… well, more wouldn’t hurt. If that’s okay, I mean.”
“I’m happy to share all I know,” Sept said, “but everything I know, I learned from Xirra, Octy’s mom. If you really want answers, she’s the one to ask!”
It turned out that Xirra was in the house as well. But after some more talk, it was suggested that Mila should meet the rest of the rebels the Sevens people knew too. It seemed that here, spaceships were just one little call away.
Mila looked encouragingly at Taimi.
“I’ll go talk to them,” then she looked at Sept, “You know, I trust you guys to look after her. But if anything happens to her, no one will be safe from me.”
She said it with a bit of a smile, but her eyes were dead serious. Sometimes Mila was a bit scary.
Taimi watched the spaceship take Mila away. Usually, this sort of thing ended up being more boring than it should have been. Usually the rebels just talked about boring things and about how they still didn’t know much about anything. But now, Taimi couldn’t wait to hear what kinds of new people Mila met on the ship. How much more they would know.
Taimi felt like they had been lost in some kind of forest of never knowing much for Taimi’s whole life. But now, it was all starting to clear up. Maybe. Probably. She hoped so.
After Mila was gone, Taimi couldn’t wait any longer. She wanted to see the place where Octy lived, so she ran inside even before she was properly invited. It was a cute house, with lots of pretty things like flowers and colourful chairs in it. And there was also a woman who looked a lot like Octy.
“Hi!” Taimi said, “You must be Octy’s mum! Because you look like him. Or he looks like you. And he told me he looks like you.”
She paused for a moment and then added.
“I’m Taimi. I brought Octy home.”
“Thank you, Taimi. We’re so grateful! All of us! Do you know, we have a saying that when you rescue one, you rescue all! We’ve always been looking out for you, dear one, and now it seems that you were looking out for us, as well!”
Her voice was like a warm desert wind. Taimi could feel pride and happiness swelling in her chest. It was like music. Music that made her want to dance. This place was so full of love and acceptance, something she had only really felt in Mila before now. And the people here were treating her like family. It was too great!
“I didn’t know that,” Taimi said and swung her arms with the music, “But I’m so glad! I mean, I got Mila, but Mila’s just one awesome person. But now it’s like… I had a whole army of people like me looking after me all this time too!”
She felt even safer than before. She smiled even wider, even though she was already smiling so much her face hurt a bit.
“I like you,” she said, “All of you. It’s… weird. It’s like I’ve had a whole bunch of friends all the time and I didn’t know.”
She suddenly felt like a very bad friend.
“I’m sorry I didn’t know.”
“Knowing happens when the time for knowing arrives! You know now, and that’s all that matters.”
It all sounded so mystical. Octy’s mum really was a great warrior. Old warriors spoke in mystical riddles, right? At least in some stories.
But she wasn’t just a warrior. She was Octy’s mum. And once she had said her mystical words, she got up and went outside to greet Octy.
Octy looked so happy in his mum’s arms. Taimi understood. She’d be just as happy too if she’d spent days apart from Mila. If there was anything good about getting lost, getting back home was it.
Taimi didn’t want to bother Octy and his mum now, but she also felt like she wanted to talk to Octy’s mum. Xirra. Yeah, that was her name. She was a rebel warrior person, and she was also like Taimi. And Sept had said that she knew about what was going on and what Taimi was!
Taimi paused at that thought. She didn’t think about where she had come from all that much. Because all she remembered were white rooms and needles and darkness and cold bizaapgotojoto. And crashing and burning, maybe. Nothing good. She knew Mila and some of the rebels were trying to find out, find the people from the lab Taimi had been in. But Taimi preferred to let the adults handle that.
But now… here was a safe place with safe-feeling people, who might know something. Who knew something. At least Taimi could know more about how people like her worked. If they were that different from humans. Taimi knew she had two hearts to start with, and that she had blue skin and that she could mind-sing. But other than that… there wasn’t much she knew. What kinds of jobs did the people there have? Other than rebels and evil scientists, that is. What were their homes like? Did they have ice cream?
“Um… Miss Xirra rebel person,” she said shyly once Octy was done hugging his mum, “I wanna ask some things.”
She thought about it and then added:
“If that’s okay.”
She hoped she had talked nicely enough. Mila always told her that just because Mila was sometimes rude and too blunt, Taimi didn’t have to be.
“Ask away, dear Taimi!” Xirra said, “I have lots of time to talk with you before the ship returns and it’s time for me to go again.”
Taimi nodded happily. Xirra sat on a rock in a pretty flower garden next to the house, and Taimi tried to get the millions and billions of questions in her head in order. Where should she start?
“Uh… so… what do you know about me coming here?”
That wasn’t a very good start, probably. Taimi added a bit sheepishly:
“I know I was on a ship. But I was asleep. Sept knew me, though. He said something about a… pretty dream? Mikishirie.”
“I think I remember that word. Maybe.”
“Mikishirie. Yes! That was my sister’s name for you! She had names for naatoui, for all the kids on the ship!”
Taimi paused at that. She’d had a name before she’d had a number after all!
Mikishirie… it sounded beautiful. But Taimi had come to think of herself as Taimi. She wondered what her name really was. Was it still Taimi? It wasn’t the first name, but it was the one that felt right. The one she really remembered.
She had to ask Mila later. Right now, she had to hide that spark of confusion somewhere in her mind and try to pick the next question out of all the millions billions.
“So the people on the ship saved me?” Taimi asked, “Where was I saved from? The white rooms?”
“Yes, from the white rooms. The ones who saved you were my sister and her husband – those are Whisper’s parents. Do you know Whisper? They saved you. You and the others.”
“I know Whisper! I haven’t met her, but she sends me pretty pictures! Her mum and dad are real heroes, then!”
She suddenly remembered another part of the story. A part that made her sad for Whisper, and for everyone else involved.
“I was told… the adults on the ship died.”
She went quiet for a moment. Death was a big mystery. A part of Taimi knew that it was supposed to happen. But another part of her knew that it meant something had ended for good. That it was gone forever. Mila had explained it to her. But Mila had also told her that some believed that it wasn’t an end, and that some others believed that something else would come back from a dead person.
Still, it was sad.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “For the dead ones.”
“Thank you. It was my sister, Situ. She was the one who passed. She was the only grown one on the ship. The rest were you little ones! But she made sure that you were safe within your pods before the ship entered the atmosphere. And, fortunately, Kiyakwe was here already, to help arrange safe placement for each of you!”
“So they were rebels, right? Mila’s told me they rebel against people who’re not nice to others. Especially not to bizoobi. What do the rebels really do?”
“Oh, we do what we can to help beings live free and well! I continue my sister’s work, finding safe havens for those who need to escape death or other bad fates. Teko, Octy’s little sister’s mom, works to restore ecosystems and prevent extinctions across the galaxies. And Septemus? His work is the most important of all! He works to change hearts and minds, so that people treat all living things and systems, including themselves, with respect and kindness.”
That did sound good. Taimi wasn’t quite sure what everything Xirra had just said meant, but she knew enough to know that these people were saving worlds. People and plants and birds and animals and everything. It sounded so big. Too big for Taimi to really wrap her head around. But that was probably why there was more than one hero in the galaxy.
“What about the not-rebels who are still nice? What do normal people do there?”
She took a deep breath, tried to imagine a world outside the white rooms.
“What was home like?” she asked, “All I remember is white rooms and… bizoogotogo who didn’t come back.”
Xirra looked sadder at that.
“We’re trying to change that. There are people who don’t know that all others have souls. These people believe that what doesn’t have a soul can be used for the benefit of those whom they believe do have souls. But we know that consciousness is here, there, and everywhere. Nothing, and no one, exists to be used.”
“Why wouldn’t everything have a soul?” Taimi said, suddenly angry, “That’s stupid not to believe! And no one should be used! I hope you kick the bad guys’ butts!”
She then paused.
“So… they thought bizoogotogo were… the not-soul ones?”
And that led to white rooms and needles and…
The other bizoogotogo in the white rooms who never came back… had they been just thrown away?
Taimi suddenly felt very empty. And angry. Emptyangry. She wanted to know more, but she wasn’t sure she really wanted. She knew the world was scary, but at least her world had only hinted at bad people who treated others badly, and evil scientists were just a part of worn-out memories. But now they were all too near.
“I… thank you, miss Xirra,” she said quietly, “I think I want to go play now.”
She turned away and walked through the pretty flowers, trying not to think about the evil people or the thought of not-souls, of people who were used like things and then thrown away.
Xirra’s soft voice made her turn back.
“It would be easy to get discouraged. Injustice and oppression have that effect. But what we have learned, in order to stay strong, is to focus on what we can do. Situ saved you. You are safe and loved and growing well. You have life! We focus on that, and the joy outshines the sorrow.”
She felt a spark of joy. She kept it and hid it in her mind, hoping it would chase away the bad memories and thoughts.
She really felt like she had talked enough grown-up stuff for the night. Now she wanted to play and enjoy being surrounded with family she had never known. And when the night went on, she managed to smile again and feel safe.
She was allowed to play with the toys in there. Some of them belonged to Octy’s little sister November, who hadn’t come to say hello to Octy in the beginning, but who sometimes toddled by in the rooms and did toddler things. She was cute too. Taimi felt like a big sister even though she and November mostly just passed each other by. Taimi didn’t mind it being just Mila and Taimi in Oasis Springs, but right now… she wanted to pretend for a moment.
Her new family was happy even when it started to get dark. They all danced together to some happy-cheery-bubbly music, and Taimi was glad to join them. Even the dogs seemed to dance, or at least walk past the music.
It was wonderful.
They gave Taimi food when she started to get hungry, and Octy took out some flour and chocolate sauce just like Taimi had back home. And he spilled it on the floor.
He smiled at Taimi, told him it had been cool when she had done it. Taimi felt a bit embarrassed.
“It wasn’t that cool,” she muttered.
Octy smiled and cleaned the mess up. He was so silly. But in a good way.
Finally, when Taimi got too tired to play or dance, she sat down near Octy. November sat near them, eating food and occasionally letting out funny chirpy laughter noises toddlers sometimes made. Sometimes she even said a word or two at the food. Taimi would have wanted to talk to her more, but November didn’t seem to notice her much. So much for being a big sister. Maybe later, once she was older and Taimi knew them better.
Taimi would have wanted to talk to Sept more too, but something seemed to be bothering him. Naavre looked at him with worry, and Taimi felt a passing thread of thought.
They were inside-talking. Even when they were right next to each other. Inside-talk was like another language to them. One they talked even at home and not just over great distances.
Somehow it made Taimi feel even more at home.
Sept held his head like it hurt, and Taimi could almost feel that it did. Maybe Sept was sick. Taimi hoped it wasn’t anything bad. He seemed to reply to Naavre, and maybe he said something about being okay soon. He stood up and walked away after that, and Octy quickly invaded the chair Sept had sat in.
“Is Sept okay?” Taimi asked Octy.
“He hasn’t got pfura,” Octy replied, “so, yeah, he’s OK. Novy’s mom, Teko, says it’s a vi-room. We’ve all got them, but his is picky. So he gets heads and has to take a nap. But then he’s OK.”
She looked around again.
“This place is so great,” she said, “I’m so happy I could come here. And dance with you all. And that you’re home again, Octy.”
“I’m happy you’re here, too. Everybody says you’re our hero, Taimi! Isn’t that awesome? I never thought I’d have a real-life hero for my best friend, but now I do!”
“Taimi-hero!” said November. “Taimi fly, save Octy. Monster SO big! I love Monster.”
Aww, so she did want to talk to her after all! Taimi beamed at her, even though she was a bit embarrassed about all the attention. She wasn’t really used to being noticed by so many, especially by people who were nice to her.
“There was no monster, really. Except the dinosaur. I love that dinosaur too.”
Octy stood, and they left November to finish her dinner. They sat on a couch near a big dinosaur toy. Taimi wondered if that was the big monster November loved.
“I think we’ll have to leave soon. When Mila gets back,” Taimi said, “But I hope we can visit again. This place has told me lots.”
She thought about it.
“So you’re my heroes too! You told me all those things! You’re like oracles or secretkeepers, who help everyone know what’s going on.”
“Ha! I guess so! Everybody’s just my everybody. But when you say it like that, it sounds neat. Like being in a warrior family!”
“Well, you are, right? Your mum’s a real warrior!” Taimi though tabout it, “But you know, maybe we’re like a hero-two-group… duo! That’s it! A hero-duo on an adventure in dinosaur-land and space!”
“See? I told you it wasn’t a mistake that we met! We had to! So we could form our hero-duo group!”
Taimi liked the sound of that.
“Since we’re not that good at inside-talk, maybe you should ask your dad and I should ask Mila if we could call each other. With phones! It’s like human inside-talk, except outside!”
She looked at Octy’s smile and felt so, so happy.
“That way we could be like proper friends who can talk when they want.”
“I like that! Can I call anytime? You can call me anytime, and if I can’t answer, I’ll just answer anyway, like ‘Excuse me. I have to go out to look at the moon!’ but really I’m going out to talk to you! And maybe we can visit! I know how to take the ferry now, so I can get to your house any time. No problem!”
That was even better than Taimi had hoped.
“Anytime,” she said, “And always.”
Octy stood, heroic in his spacesuit. Taimi could imagine him as a warrior. With a sword meant to slice apart all the meanness and using-others-ness from the world.
“I think my whole adventure led to this” Octy said, and Taimi saw him staring down a monster far, far away, “It was destiny. Like what you read in a really cool action comic book. Only it’s life. And we’re the heroes!”
Author’s Note: Again, collab time! With CathyTea! This time Cathy was the one who hosted my Sims, and the pics are taken by her. This has been so much fun. Thank you again, Cathy! There’s still one chapter to go before this arc is over, so stay tuned for that.
And check out Cathy’s stories here: Septemus, my Son and Lighthouse.