Stardust Sapling: Chapter 37

”Can you tell me a bedtime story, mom?”

“You almost never ask me to tell you those anymore, Sapling.”

“But it’s Winterfest. It’s tradition-time.”

“Sure. And I’m not complaining. I can tell you stories anytime. What do you wanna hear about?”

“What were the Winterfest days back in your secret home?”

“You really wanna hear that? It’s not too interesting.”

“I bet it is. And I like knowing I come from somewhere, so I want to know where you come from too. You almost never talk about it. Why?”

“It’s not that I don’t like it, or don’t miss it. I just… I guess I’ve got used to shutting up because we had to lay especially low in the beginning.”

“But you can tell me, right?”

“Yeah. I guess so.”

“Well?”

“Okay… Well…

“it was nothing too different from what we have here, honestly. We’d prepared for it for weeks, or at least it felt like it, and we weren’t even the crazy ones who took it too seriously. But we baked a lot. Gingerbread, pastries… all kinds of stuff that doesn’t have an accurate name in this language. We’d buy presents, we’d get a Winterfest tree. My foster dad usually brought it from his own forest. It’s pretty common, owning some woodlands in my home, because it’s nothing but woodlands and lakes. And bears.”

“It sounds cool.”

“Kinda. If you don’t mind the cold. And the dark. Well, anyway, the biggest difference was the snow. There’s a lot of it during winter there. And it’s really cold, so you have to bundle up. I liked it, at least when we sat indoors and looked at the snow falling outside. It would of course block all the roads so it’s not all pretty and lovely…”

“All pretty things can become too much at some point, I guess.”

“You said it. Also, we didn’t dance as much as we do now.”

“Aww, but dancing is the best! We even get Kiyakwe to join in now!”

“And that’s hilarious.”

“I liked the tree decorating-dance.”

“It was fun. I’m glad we finally got the tree actually decorated in between your pirouetting all over the place.”

“I’m good at spinning!”

“Yes, you are.”

“Did you also eat way too much food?”

“Of course! It’s not Winterfest if you don’t. We used to eat ham, but later changed it to seitan. This year was my first time trying to make a tofu turkey-thing, actually.”

“It was so good!”

“Yeah. I’m glad it turned out so well.”

“What was the best part?”

“Aside from the food? Well… we used to curl up and watch TV together, as a family. All of us. We had candles that smelled like gingerbread. Somehow I really remember that. And the hour before Winterfest day, when I woke up too early and lay awake and just waited for it to start.”

“I don’t like waiting all that much.”

“Neither do I. But somehow, that wait was magical. I don’t know why. Maybe because I could imagine the best Winterfest possible.”

“That does sound neat.”

“And the presents too, of course, because materialism.”

“I liked the presents! They were so thoughtful! I especially loved the books!”

“Yeah, you kept telling me. You can finish reading them tomorrow.”

“What else happened?”

“Well, in the evening, Father Winter would obviously show up, like he will once you fall asleep.”

“Father Winter isn’t real! I’m not a little kid anymore!”

“Who says he’s not? You always have some extra presents under the tree in the morning. How else do you explain that?”

“You put them there?”

“Taimi, I’m hurt. Why would I do that and lie about it?”

“You’re silly, mum.”

“Thanks. And now, go to sleep. It’s already past midnight.”

“Mila-mum?”

“Yeah?”

“I can’t imagine a better Winterfest than this.”

“Then try harder.”

“You’re silly.”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”


Author’s Note: Happy Holiday-wait, everyone. To celebrate me being free of NaNo again, let’s get slightly experimental and only do dialogue! I hope you enjoy!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 36

The day Taimi Groves met Killian Orchid was soon after Taimi’s tenth birthday. She had had several mostly carefree years, or at least they were free of worries other than those of growing up and going to school with people who didn’t understand her very well. This carefreeness was mostly because Mila took care of the worrying and only gave Taimi small snippets of information, just enough to sate her curiosity – sometimes, at least, for Taimi was a very curious child, as children usually are.

The day was a nice one. Taimi was cheerful. Mila was fidgety, and had promised to take Taimi to meet some friends at the local art gallery. She had shown Taimi plenty of art, and Taimi had quite liked it, though she hadn’t got into the making of it the way she had got into singing and dancing. But that was alright. She was doing what she liked, and Mila kept telling her that was exactly what she should be doing.

Still, looking at pretty paintings was nice. Not to mention Mila was acting in a way that made Taimi guess that this was going to be secret stuff. She loved secret stuff. The rebel stuff especially. So she was even more excited when she realised that Kiyakwe/Summer was there.

There was also a woman she didn’t recognise, and she approached her with some caution, even though she was clearly with Kiyakwe.

“Hey, Taimi,” Kiyakwe said, “You look well.”

“Who’s she?” Taimi asked, looking at the new woman.

“Taimi, what do we say?” Mila asked.

Taimi rolled her eyes.

“I’m fine, thanks. You’re great too, Kiyakwe. Now can you tell me what’s going on?”

Kiyakwe hesitated for a second, but then she spoke, though she somehow sounded like every word was an apology:

“Taimi, there is something we need to tell you. We found out about… about your origins. And you deserve to know. We already told Mila, and she said it’s okay if… we tell you more about it.”

“I’m a bizoo,” Taimi said matter-of-factly, “And Mila has told me I’ve got some genes from different beings in me too.”

“Well, yes,” Kiyakwe said, “But we finally found out… we got confirmation that the people who made you weren’t… good people at all. They were trying to find a cure for an illness, which we already suspected, but we didn’t think… they made you and your siblings sick on purpose to find out if you could withstand it. Many… didn’t make it.”

Taimi felt a small black hole opening in her chest. For the gotogo she didn’t remember, but who had been exactly like her. So many songs she had probably heard back then… all gone quiet. Mila hurried to put her hand on Taimi’s shoulder.

“It’s horrible,” she said, “But they’re working on making sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again. And we’re keeping you safe. All of us.”

She looked at the unknown woman and smiled at her. She smiled back, in the kind of way good friends smile. Mila gestured towards the woman.

“This is Killian Orchid,” she said, “She’s my friend, and she was originally supposed to be your caretaker.”

Now, this all could have been a somewhat pivotal moment in Taimi’s life. She was told that Killian was supposed to take care of her, but someone had started stalking her after insisting on buying Taimi from her, so she had been whisked away by the rebels. She was told that Killian also wanted the best for her, and Mila claimed that she would have been a better mum, but that Mila did her best.

I could have been life-changing, but all Taimi could really say was:

“Oh.”

And then she looked at Killian, smiled, and said:

“You’d rather be taken by extra-terrestrials than sell a baby you didn’t know?”

“Well, of course,” Killian replied, almost offended, “Of course I wouldn’t have given you away for some… nefarious purpose.”

“Then you’re amazing,” Taimi said, “Have you seen the pictures in this place? There’s some cool paintings of people-faces!”

And that was that. Because as much as the adults had worried, and as much as Taimi sometimes also worried too and got angry at the world, she did already know that she was loved. Now there was just another person who shared some kind of a love for her. She knew it in the songs of her siblings, both alive and dead, she knew it within every moment she spent with Mila. She knew it, and so even when Kiyakwe told Taimi that she needed to be tested for an illness the bad scientists may have put in her, she felt much braver about it than the adults had thought. She still didn’t care for needles, but maybe, if she didn’t look…

She knew that they would take care of her. And she knew that someday, she and the others would indeed make sure that things that had happened to the bizoobi never happened to anyone else.

She also realised that she had now been let into more secrets than ever. That she was already basically a rebel. It thrilled her, and made her want to craft herself a nice rebel badge out of golden cardboard and galaxy-coloured sparkles.

But before that, she would ask Mila if she could sleep in her bed tonight, because she was fairly sure that she would have nightmares of gotogo who didn’t sing anymore.


Author’s Note: Finally got around to landscaping the yard… Also writing a new chapter. Been doing NaNoWriMo, but today I was recovering from a sickness so I had time and energy to write and not do much else. 🙂

Writing mixed feelings is hard. I hope you enjoy!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 35

WARNING: This chapter is mostly about the laboratory where Taimi was created, so it’s not gonna be nice. There will be a lot of child and infant death, as well as scientific experiments on sentient beings. It’s nothing graphic, and mostly implied, but it’s definitely there.


Nearly twenty Earth years ago, far away from Earth, a group gathered in a secret underground laboratory. Their objective was clear, but they knew their mission wouldn’t be easy. So many others had tried and failed to find a cure for pfura. So many of the people had suffered while the greatest minds had muddled from one failure to another. They weren’t sure if it would work even this time, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. They had finally got their hands on a xirgisa, a life-drinker. Those beasts had been proven to be naturally immune to pfura, so surely their genes would hold some answers. They had to be careful with it, though. Life-drinkers were extremely dangerous, always preying on the innocent people who were unfortunate enough to stray to the far reaches of their planets.

This one was very young, though, so it should be less dangerous. And they were keeping it under constant guard and supplying it with more than enough tranquilisers to keep it asleep and nicely in its pod for however long they would need. It almost looked like one of their own; a dark blue child with black hair. But they knew it would grow if let outside its pod, and eventually it would start shedding its skin, grow scales and lose its hair, become more and more venomous and significantly stronger and more dangerous. They couldn’t take any chances.

And so it slept, and didn’t even notice when they took their samples.

They created only a small number of bizoobi first, a good, round twelve in total. The first batch started out just fine. The problems began on their fifteenth day of pod-life, as both of their hearts failed. The xirgisa genes were not meshing well with the genes of the people. They needed to be very careful. The second batch lived much longer, nearly thirty days before they grew weak. The third didn’t fare much better. The fourth they were optimistically removing from their pods after fifty days of life, but all of them expired once they were taken out.

They had known this was likely to happen. The failure still stung.

It was only the twenty-second batch that survived for long enough for them to properly observe them. They played, developed and grew like they should. Then they started to lose their hair. Some of the people were very particular about having hair, even though it wasn’t all that common. They had to destroy the clones and take the newer ones out of the pods instead. They were good at disposing of failures. It was quick and painless. Only a few of them realised what was happening and cried. It was just an automatic reaction, though. Bizoobi did not have souls to truly feel with.

The thirtieth set grew very promisingly. They could potentially even be used for labour if they survived the tests. At least within the facility. They would likely never see real starlight. It would be too risky, not to mention a waste of valuable resources. With this batch, they finally introduced pfura into the clones, tried to see if they could resist it. Normally, the sickness developed fairly slowly, destroying the telepathic abilities and crippling the body over time, but they introduced a much stronger variety of the sickness, one that would act much faster. With the bizoobi, the telepathic effects would be difficult to gauge, because they obviously couldn’t sing without a soul. But they had found out that at least some bizoobi did have some rudimentary abilities that imitated the true singing of the people. After their experiments with the bizoobi would finally be determined successful, they would need to find some volunteers among the people. They likely wouldn’t have to look far. Pfura scared almost everyone, and a huge number of the people would jump at the chance to help cure it.

That would have to wait, however, they realised, as the pfura destroyed their thirtieth set from the inside within ten days of introducing the sickness into their bodies. The thirty-second batch went insane. Within the thirty-sixth they saw some success, but then the xirgisa genes acted up. Two of the bizoobi lashed out and tore their siblings apart.

The forty-third batch was their breakthrough. The children grew, and only a few of them got sick after the pfura had been introduced. They didn’t show any signs of developing feral instincts, exhibiting only a few of the xirgisa traits, such as enhanced physical strength. They were fairly sure to develop fangs too, but they would most likely grow without the venom glands of the xirgisa. They would of course need to be monitored for years until they could be sure they were safe.

Not all of even this batch survived, of course. Their tests were rigorous, and the young bizoobi could sometimes act unpredictably or simply perish in the tests.

Still, they were optimistic this time. More optimistic than ever before. And of course that was when the spies were discovered and managed to flee before they could be silenced. Everyone in the laboratory knew they didn’t have much time. They needed to relocate so that they could finish their experiments.

They thought they were acting fast, but the rebels were faster. The laboratory was raided, the scientists escaped, and only one of the bizoobi survived, sleeping in a pod they had put her in during her testing. The rebels also found another very young child in another pod, kept in suspended animation so they wouldn’t age nor wake up.

Most of what had happened in the laboratory had been written in very clinical reports, but the scientists had managed to purge their files while they fled. It took years until the rebels’ intel cell managed to dig anything out.

However, the day they did, Payatoki and Kiyakwe received a report that detailed the happenings in the laboratory and were horrified. It wasn’t the first terrible thing they had come across, but it always struck just as heavily.

“All of them…” Payatoki said quietly.

“They were so young,” Kiyakwe said, “Then again, they almost always are.”

“Will we tell Mila?” asked Killian, who was never too far away when there was talk about anything Taimi-related.

“We can tell her something, of course,” Payatoki said, “She deserves to know. And to be prepared.”

“I will tell her,” Kiyakwe promised, “And then we’ll see if we can use these files to find those monsters.”

Payatoki sent a wave of strong agreement into Kiyakwe’s mind. Together, the three stared again at the text on their screen. At the cold reports on hundreds of innocent lives lost.

“I want to go with you, Kiyakwe,” Killian said suddenly, “I want to finally meet Taimi.”

“It’s not…”

“It is safe enough, if we’re careful,” Killian said, “I think that… just in case she hears any of this, she needs to know there’s lots of people who care about her, and will keep her safe.”

“Yes,” Payatoki said in an impossibly gentle voice, “I suppose that is true.”


Author’s Note: Ehhh, I can’t hope you enjoy this because it’s about horrible child death, but I hope it’s… uh… quality descriptions of terrible things? Okay, sure, it was mostly implied but still…

Xirgisa is a derogatory term for space vampires (Xirkari). Also I realise that dehumanising the child by calling them “it” doesn’t work because this is from the point of view of the alien scientists, and our Vingihoplo (the alien language) doesn’t have different pronouns for objects and living things, but oh well… uh… they’re still thinking of the child as an object/beast?

I hope you have a lovely time, guys!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 34

Taimi knew that something was making Mila-mum angry and worried. She didn’t know what it was, but she could guess it had something to do with her. Mila was almost always worried about Taimi. It also probably had something to do with the mean people, who had made Taimi. And who had made Taimi’s siblings and then made them not come back.

It also maybe had something to do with Taimi’s new cool cat teeth. Taimi really didn’t mind them, but she supposed they could be dangerous if she used them wrong. But she wouldn’t, surely Mila knew that? Or maybe Mila was worried that the mean people would come after Taimi because she had fangs. Or maybe the fangs were a sign of something that might happen to her. Mila at least started taking her to rebel doctors much more often, so Taimi had a feeling she was onto something there. They assured her that she was alright, and Taimi believed them, but the other stuff around it all made her wonder.

Taimi didn’t like thinking about that stuff, but she was also curious. This was her life, and she needed to know herself. Finding out about the mean people also made her feel like a secret agent, so that was cool.

She sometimes talked to Octy about it. She knew Octy’s big brother was a bizoo like her, made to serve a purpose to someone else and not live his own life at all. It sounded so wrong, and so terrifying, even though Septemus and Taimi and so many other of their gotogo had lives of their own now. Octy’s family could deal with it all so well, so Taimi had decided to deal with it well too. She had to, if she wanted to be a good rebel. And to not have too many nightmares.

She tried her best to be happy. Luckily, whenever Mila wasn’t too worried, she made it so easy. They danced together almost every morning, or at least when Mila had got up before Taimi left for school. Sometimes Mila stayed up too late and was still sleeping when the school bus came. She was always sorry about it when Taimi came back. They read books together, and Mila helped with Taimi’s homework. They went outside, where Mila gardened and praised Taimi while Taimi did tricks on the monkey bars.

Afterwards they watched the stars. It felt important even though it made them feel not important at all.

They also started sewing things together. They made tiny little stuffed animals and creatures. Mila even made some clothes for Taimi, but she was also still learning so they didn’t always fit quite right. Mila just laughed and told Taimi that they would have to learn together. And little by little, after some time of that, needles stopped being so scary.

It was great. It was still happysafe.

Sometimes Mila did something extra special. Like once they took the bus to a big city not too far away and sang karaoke in a place that was kid-friendly until six in the evening. That was what Mila told Taimi, at least, and Taimi was already old enough to know that it meant that after six there would be adult drinks there. Kiyakwe joined them, and they talked about random, fun things while Kiyakwe occasionally said something that had to be secret agent code. Something about tracking someone and getting close. Mila always listened so intently to those parts. Taimi wished they’d tell her the secret too, but she supposed that was adult stuff.

Well, it wouldn’t be long until she too became old enough to know more, she figured. She was growing. She was learning new things at school, and she could understand a lot more than before. She could sing in her mind better too, though lately she had felt that a lot of her siblings had been quieter. She supposed they wanted their privacy. Some still sent her pretty pictures, however. She had even learned to send good pictures back.

So yes, life was good for Taimi. She knew Mila would keep her safe despite the nightmares and even though Mila sometimes had to go to meetings with the rebels and leave Taimi under the more distant guard of a secret spaceship. She knew Mila would always come back and tell her all she could.

She was looking forward to when Mila could tell her more, but a big part of her was also afraid of what she would hear.

That was how the next few years of her life went. Happysafe, and a bit scared of what was behind it all. And trying not to think about the glass tubes, and the siblings who never came back.


Author’s Note: It’s alive! It’s ALLIIIVE! I have finally resurrected this story! Yayyyy! I hope you enjoyed this and have a lovely time, guys!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 33

Taimi had fangs.

Mila wasn’t sure when that had happened, or if Taimi noticed them before she did, but it didn’t matter. They were there, sharp like needles and gleaming white. They reminded Mila of vampire fangs, but that couldn’t be. Sure, Mila knew that vampires existed. They were rare, but they were still common knowledge especially in her home country, where they liked to travel especially during the winter because the sun barely rose there then. It was pretty much the norm to find garlic wreaths in every home in her country, and even here she had taken up the practise when she had one time woken up with a deep feeling of unease and unexplained marks in her neck. So there was a very small chance that Taimi had actually been bitten by one, especially in a way that would turn her into one.

So what could it be, then?

Mila tried to be optimistic about it and not show her worry. Taimi thought her fangs were cool, and they didn’t seem to impair her speech nor have any other adverse effects either.

“Now I’m even more like a cat!” Taimi cheered and danced – according to her own words – like a cat, waving her arms with fingers curved like claws.

“Sure, that’s great, kitten,” Mila smiled.

When Taimi was at school, however, Mila immediately grabbed her phone and called Summer Holiday a.k.a Kiyakwe. She arrived in a few hours, looking fresh and enviably fabulous in her flattering blue dress and her long blonde, flowing hair. She wore her disguise so naturally that Mila tended to almost forget that her true self was an alien infiltrator.

“Hi, Mila!” she actually hugged Mila in greeting. Mila felt a bit weird about hugging anyone who wasn’t very close to her, but she returned the gesture anyway. Whatever got the greetings over with faster.

Mila hastily shoved some tea and salad in front of them and sat them both down at the kitchen table. Summer complimented the food, smiled like the sun and then got to business, suddenly gaining an edge no one could see coming.

“So, you told me that Taimi has grown fangs,” she said, and it sounded more like a statement than a question. Mila could only nod. Summer frowned and seemed to think intently about something.

“Does she show any other changes? Like a change in appetite? Skin anomalies?”

“No… not as far as I know,” Mila said and all kinds of horror scenarios flashed through her mind. What was happening to Taimi?

“And does she have any signs of venom leaking out of her fangs?”

“No,” Mila said, more firmly this time, “I know enough about vampires to check. There’s nothing. She just has very sharp canines.”

Summer nodded.

“Okay. So you know about Earthling vampires. Good. That makes things easier to understand.”

“What? So you have space vampires too?”

It had been meant as a joke, but the way Summer looked back at Mila suggested that it hadn’t worked.

“They call themselves Xirkari,” Summer said, “the living moon. I have done some research, though information on them is pretty hard to find. They are predators, reptile-like and very dangerous, but they can also live in peace with others. Usually they stay hidden, though.”

Mila took a moment to process it all. Space vampires. Alright.

“And you think Taimi might be one?” she asked.

Summer shook her head.

“If she was, she would have shown signs of it earlier, I’m sure. But I have a hunch about what could have happened… perhaps the scientists in the laboratory have used Xirkari genes when creating Taimi and her late siblings, and they have only now started to manifest.”

“Why the hell would they put vampire genes in kids?”

“I don’t know,” Summer frowned, “I’ll have to ask some people to look into things. I’m sure Payatoki can spare a moment, at least. And he knows people who can help with this. I’ll call him.”

“Good. Thank you,” Mila said. There were about a million questions in her mind, but she wanted to trust that Summer would find answers to those that mattered.

“Mum? What are you talking about? Hey! It’s the strawberry woman!”

Mila started when she saw Taimi’s fanged smile and long pigtails standing next to them. Then she remembered that Taimi had had a short day at school today. Just how much had she heard? For a moment, Mila’s mind ground to a halt. Summer didn’t miss a beat, though.

“Yes, I’m Summer, though I’m one of the rebels, so you can call me Kiyakwe too when we’re alone.”

“That’s right!” Taimi said happily, “Can you show me the real you?”

Summer/Kiyakwe smiled.

“Sure. I can.”

Then she flickered, her hair disappeared and her skin turned green. Galaxy-swirls filled her eyes. Somehow, the summer dress still suited her. Maybe even better than before, in a way. Taimi clapped her hands.

“Yay! You’re so pretty! What’re rebels doing now?”

“Lots of secret things,” Kiyakwe said and whispered like a conspirator, “But I can tell you a few of them.”

Taimi’s whole face shone. Kiyakwe was surprisingly good with kids. She told Taimi unimportant but interesting details about rebel life and the current situation in space. About following messages and listening in on calls. About telling others to think of each other as equals and just being kind. Taimi ate up every word, and Mila knew that she could step aside for a moment.

When Kiyakwe left, Taimi didn’t even remember that she had walked in on a serious adult conversation about possible experiments done on her.

She didn’t even need to know yet. At least not until they knew more.

While Mila waited for Kiyakwe’s news, she decided to stay as happy and carefree as she could. Taimi had a good week, though she sometimes stomped home from school angry because some idiot had stolen her dessert during lunch, and Mila had to make a stern call to the idiot’s parents. Otherwise she was happy. She asked Mila if Octy could come over, and Mila said yes.

She was all smiles, then. As was Octy when he arrived. They didn’t miss a beat and instantly picked up from where they had left the last time they had seen each other. Sometimes Mila heard them call each other names, and she was about to intervene when she heard them both laughing.

They had clearly achieved that stage of friendship when they could jokingly say mean things to each other and know it was just a joke.

Mila also took Taimi camping to a forest a few hours’ drive away during the weekend. At first Taimi had been a bit sour, especially because she had to wear her disguise all the time, but she was soon enamoured with the starry skies and tall pine trees that reminded Mila of home.

Taimi was ecstatic about the adventure that involved sleeping in a tent. She loved the grilled fruit Mila made on an open fire and her laughter filled the gaps between the decades old trees. Mila imagined a little forest sprite running there in pastel coloured clothing, with a sharp-toothed smile.

It was one of those moments when Mila could imagine that she was a normal mother and that she was doing something right. And there were no experiments and no evil scientists anywhere in sight.

Not until after two weeks, when Summer/Kiyakwe called Mila and sounded both happy and dangerously angry.

“We found something out,” she said, “I think the Xirkari genes can take us pretty far with looking for the missing scientists.”

“That’s great. So, were you right?”

“Yes. We didn’t know to look for the genes in Taimi’s siblings because they died before they could manifest, but we think the people in the lab might have tried to find a cure for pfura.”

“Cure for what?”

“A terrible sickness that affects some of us. It impairs our telepathic abilities and can be fatal even with treatment. Many scientists are trying to find a cure for it as we speak, but to resort to gene-splicing… that’s low. Then again, it is the kfvico’kyastorrsto we’re talking about.”

She said the monstrous nonsense-sounding word in a tone that told Mila it was probably an insult towards those whom the rebels were rebelling against.

“So… what does this meant for Taimi?” she dared to ask.

“We just need to wait and see. Call me immediately if she starts to exhibit any changes or symptoms of something… anything. She should only see our doctors from now on.”

“Okay,” Mila said and tried to keep the fear away from her voice. Kiyakwe heard it anyway, or then she read her mind.

“Hey, if everything goes well, she’ll be perfectly healthy. She’s been fine so far, so I have high hopes for her. We all do.”

“O… okay. Thank you, Kiyakwe.”

“Anytime.”

Mila lowered the phone when Kiyakwe hung up.

“Shit,” she whispered, “I’m gonna kill those science-bastards if I ever find them.”


Author’s Notes: Ploooot! This was a fun chapter. I hope you guys enjoy and have a lovely time!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 32

Sometimes, being a parent required sacrifice.

“Mila-mum! Look!”

“Hey-whoa! What’s up with the… bear?”

“We’re having a Vitamin-party at school because we need to learn about healthy food! I’m the Orange Bear, because oranges have lots of vitamin C! I see C!”

“Okay. That’s cute. Let me know if I can help.”

“You can! The teacher said parents could come too!”

“Oh? What do I have to do, then?”

*sigh*

Okay, a lot of the time, being a parent required sacrifice.

Sometimes it was difficult and made Mila’s head hurt. Though sometimes her head hurt just because Taimi had realised that playing music really loud was cool and fun, and she often refused to turn the volume down without a serious talk.

Sometimes, being a parent was just a huge pile of chores.

But most of the time, everything about being a parent was the best thing ever.

The worst thing about being a parent, however, was the worry. The feeling that everything Mila did or everything that happened might cause pain to Taimi. Mila tried her best to keep the worry tamed, just noticeable enough to keep her on her toes and teach Taimi basic common sense and proper caution but not enough to make her into an over-protective wreck. She knew she had been bordering on that several times during Taimi’s early childhood. She had to try to grow out of it now that Taimi was already at school.

And yet…

Taimi had been complaining about toothache lately, but the dentist hadn’t found any sign of cavities. Mila had been – of course – worried about the visit. And not just because toothache could mean some serious problems. She also worried because one never knew when professionals would notice the differences in Taimi. The slightly off way light reflected off her hair and skin, the slightly too green eyes, or the fact that she was way too strong for a little girl like her. Soon they would have to start relying entirely on rebellion doctors, but so far Mila wanted to keep up appearances that she had a normal human child who went to doctors regularly.

Taimi had been nervous about the dentist too, but had afterwards happily stuck the glittering unicorn sticker she had got from the visit into one of her school notebooks.

“They said I have great teeth!” she said even days after the visit, “That I’ve got awesome canines! Maybe I could start hunting like a cat! I could pounce on things like this!”

She mimed pouncing on prey before getting up to grab a plate of food, and Mila laughed.

“Maybe stick to helping me cook?” she said, and Taimi nodded eagerly.

“I wanna learn spinach pancakes! And salads!”

Mila smiled. Taimi had been much more at ease since she had become Taimi Mikishirie Groves. Like many pieces had fallen into place in her mind. Once again Mila had to wonder about the flexibility and the healing properties of a young mind.

“Sure, you can learn those. And more than that.”

Taimi grinned and bounced to turn on the stereo. She twisted the volume way up again. Mila looked meaningfully at her, but she didn’t care. Bouncy songs about being happy and enjoying life filled the room. Very loud songs. Taimi started dancing, and Mila decided to deal with ringing ears for a moment because Taimi looked so happy.

Just for a moment…

Okay, done.

“Taimiiii. Eardrums.”

Taimi huffed angrily, but didn’t complain much when Mila went to turn the volume down.

“You can hear just fine even when it’s like this,” she said.

Taimi pouted, but continued dancing. Soon she was smiling again.

And that was again another moment when being a parent was awesome. Seeing her kid learn and adapt and still stay herself.

She decided to leave her worry aside for now. Maybe Taimi’s toothache really was nothing to worry about. And sure, someday she would need to go to extra-terrestrial doctors and have to come up with excuses to skip the standard checkups, but that would come later.

But for now… maybe there would really be another period of peace this time.

A time without worries.


Author’s Note: Hi again! This is a short but important one. I hope you guys enjoyed!

Taimi’s fangs are by wildlyminiaturesandwich and can be found here.

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 31

Even though things looked much steadier, warmer and cuddlier after visiting the Sevenses, Mila knew that Taimi hadn’t managed to deal with all of the things that their visit had cluttered her mind with. She kept staring into space, sometimes even without the look she got when she was communicating with the other extra-terrestrials. She looked absent-minded, and Mila noted that she sometimes hesitated before writing down her name into her school projects or drawings.

Mila couldn’t blame her for being so out of it. They had both got quite an infodump back at the Sevenses. And not all of it had been pretty.

The mental images of clone children in labs and working as slaves had haunted Mila’s mind before already, but now they were even stronger. Sure, she sometimes worried about the horrible things humans did, but she also fell into the trap of thinking it was all far away. But now – somewhat ironically – the problems of outer space had got much closer. Her own kid had been one of them. Who knew what exactly she had gone through?

Taimi remembered so little of it. But now Mila worried that even that little was too much. Mila tried to ask her how she felt about it all, but she didn’t talk. It was probably not the kind of thing that was easy to talk about. Well, of course it wasn’t. It would be hard to talk about even for an adult. So Mila decided to wait, even though it made her want to climb the walls out of anxiety and frustration. Taimi would come to her when she was ready. She hoped. Or then she would find someone else. Like Sept or Sebastion. They had their phone numbers now, and they sometimes called. Taimi called Octy a lot, and once Mila had got a call from school that the teacher had had to confiscate her phone for messaging in class. They had had another talk about that, and Taimi had then agreed to leave her phone in her bag during school hours.

Mila had a feeling that Taimi did want to talk to her, but maybe she was just scared. Mila tried her best to not be scary and to be accepting, the kind of person Taimi could confide in, but they weren’t quite ideally there yet. Even after all these years. They were comfortable around each other, sure. They were friends – family, really – and there was a deep trust and love between them, but there was still a little part of both Taimi and Mila who feared that they didn’t understand one another on some fundamental level.

Mila hoped it would go away, but she figured they’d both have to grow before that.

So, waiting it was.

Waiting and trying not to scratch the paint on the walls off. Metaphorically, of course. Well, most of the time.

Mila did her best to be there for Taimi and to make everything better and safe. It helped that things were relatively peaceful now that Johnny was out of the picture. Mila kept watching his computer, and had now started to try to crack some other Agency files as well just in case. She had a feeling that not all of the children in the project were as lucky as they were at the moment. There were likely much more persistent and dangerous weirdos after them than Johnny Zest.

Days passed, Mila tried to down her worries in ones and zeroes and code, and Taimi sat on her monkey bars a lot and stared at the moon. But finally she came to Mila and looked at her with a mix of worry, fear, embarrassment and guilt. Mila put away everything she was doing right away and looked back.

“Hi, sapling,” she said, “What’s wrong?”

Taimi choked down some hesitation, tasted words with a frown on her face, and finally breathed out a:

“What’s my name really?”

She took a deep breath and added with almost watery eyes:

Really-really?”

Okay, not what Mila’d been expecting, but still understandable. Kind of. At least she wasn’t thinking about evil laboratories. Or at least she wasn’t thinking about just them.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

Taimi fidgeted, but then hesitantly sat down next to Mila on their couch.

“I mean… they said I’m Mikishirie. And then I was 38. Then Taimi. And before all that I was… I don’t know. Something. Maybe other number. And I don’t like being a number but someone else called me something else and I kinda like it but I want to be Taimi!”

Mila closed her eyes and reminded herself that Taimi was still a kid. A smart kid, yeah, but a kid. And sure, losing one’s name and getting a new one was a pretty big deal. She knew that firsthand. She looked up with sudden realisation. At least she hadn’t needed to think about what to say for too long.

“Taimi,” she said, “Have you ever heard me call myself something else in my mind?”

Taimi nodded slowly.

“See-something?”

“Siiri. Yes.”

She wrapped her arms around Taimi.

“My name is Siiri Kaarina Löytökorpi. I’m from another country. From the north. And I had to change my name so that I could be a part of this project.”

Taimi was quiet. Almost eerily so. She was barely breathing.

“I still don’t know which one I really am,” Mila said, “But you know what? I like being both. Do you like being Taimi?”

Taimi nodded.

“It feels like me. And it’s in your north-language. But I like Mikishirie too because… they were good people. On the ship. They named me and then they died.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry.”

“But I don’t know if it’s me. And I don’t want to lose Taimi.”

Mila nodded, feeling Taimi’s liquid-silk hair against her cheek.

“A name is… important, I know. It’s what you call yourself. But it’s not who you are. You are the things you do and the things you like and don’t like and the things you think and dream and… everything. You understand?”

Taimi nodded again.

“But I don’t remember… did I like paint and monkey bars before?”

Mila paused for a moment, and then said:

“I don’t know. But you know what? We all grow and change. What you like now is different than what you liked when you were two years old. So it’s fine. It’s fine not to remember everything. Most of us don’t remember much about when we were really little.”

And some things are better forgotten, she added mentally.

Taimi was quiet again, for a long time. Then she said very quietly:

“Why do so many bad things happen?”

“I wish I could tell you. But I told you-“

“You’ll keep me safe,” Taimi said, “I believe you.”

Mila smiled.

“The world is so big and odd,” Taimi whispered.

“Yeah. It is.”

They sat in silence for a while. Mila then dared to ask:

“Would you like to be Mikishirie too? Because we can make you Taimi Mikishirie Groves if you want.”

Taimi tensed. Then she said almost giddily:

“Can we?”

“Sure. I mean, that name means nothing to any bad people. It’s safe.”

“And everyone would still call me Taimi?”

“If you want.”

“Yes! I want that! And I want Mikishirie to be in there!”

“It’s a deal, then,” Mila smiled.

Taimi hugged Mila tightly and then asked almost shyly:

“Can you sing in your secret language?”

Mila laughed.

“My singing voice is terrible, you know that.”

“No it’s not!”

Mila laughed again.

“Well, sure, I can. Do you want to hear a song?”

Taimi nodded. Mila took a moment to get over her sudden stage fright, and then picked a lullaby her foster parents had sung a lot:

“Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu.

väsy, väsy, västäräkki…”

Taimi listened quietly and settled better into Mila’s arms. And some small piece of them understood how similar they were in many more respects than they had initially thought.


Author’s Note: The lullaby Mila/Siiri sings is a very old Finnish lullaby called “Nuku, nuku” (Sleep, sleep). You can hear the whole song (accompanied by a traditional Finnish kantele) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFCixLn9qRw

And the lyrics and the translation is here: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/sleep-sleep-little-grassland-bird-lyrics.html

I hope you enjoy and have a lovely time!

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Stardust Sapling: Chapter 30

When Mila was again lifted into the sky by a spaceship, she wondered when this kind of thing had become normal. Then again, so many abnormal things had become normal, and really, isn’t normal just a matter of perspective anyway? In her home country, it was normal to get naked and sit in a heated room with even casual acquaintances and occasionally swim in the snow. It was mainstream to scoff at too much wheat in bread, and playing heavy metal with cellos was well-liked high art. And here, apparently, it was normal to adopt awesome kids from the stars and be a part of an extraterrestrial rebellion.

Okay, so maybe that was normal for just a select few.

She kinda liked being a part of that select few.

She was welcomed into the ship by technicolour people who were passionate about equality, kindness and the environment. And about rebelling. Going against the big men who thought so many living things were just soulless shells to be used. Puppets. Statistics. It was something Mila knew humans did too, and she had usually followed news stemming from those kinds of philosophies with jaded weariness, mild concern, and feelings of powerlessness. So what if she tried to be decent when so many more powerful people were being assholes?

She always quickly dismissed those thoughts, because damn it, it mattered, and damn it, she didn’t want to give up in the face of those bastards.

But now… she could think that she was doing something good more and more directly. Something that would really go against the wrongs in the universe. Or at least a small fraction of them.

They told her about clones, about their plans to take children from all sorts of facilities to safety. Mila knew some of that already, but she listened with interest and horror. The clone children had been saved from horrible, horrible fates. Some were created for slave labour, some for organ harvesting, some for genetic experiments, and some or… all of the above and more. Hearing it always made her skin crawl and her fingers twitch because she wanted to throw things in a sudden burst of hatred.

Another thing that made her want to throw things was hearing that – of course – there were many anti-extra-terrestrial movements on Earth, because of course humans would see a new, different thing and immediately think “wrong!”. She hadn’t even realised how big it all was. Oasis Springs was a small enough town to be less organised about their speciesism. Sure, Mila had heard some comments about weird-skinned people, and some people used the word “alien” like a slur. But it was all basic kind of intolerance that Mila had learned to think of as an inevitable evil that would always rear its ugly head no matter how much you tried to fight it.

They also told her about Taimi. Or Mikishirie, as she had been called before she had been a number and after she had been a nameless experiment. They had figured out more about the lab she had been saved from. From what they could tell, the clone children had been genetically altered, but it was difficult to say how. It was probably for some kind of medical experiments, as they had also found many samples of alien viruses. Mila shivered at the thought. She wanted to be back so she could hold and shield her kid from everything.

They told her about those who tried to change people’s minds. Those who spoke about kindness and souls. They told her about fighters, who did the dirty work. They told her about the eco warriors, who tried to save planets from ecological disasters. Good. This planet was due to a rescue. Global warming had got so bad recently.

It all made Mila somehow feel more at peace. She wasn’t nearly as alone as she had thought. No one was. And she knew she wanted to help more than she was helping now. Raising one rescued kid was a big thing – and her priority – but maybe she could do something else too.

Surely there were codes she could crack? Speciesist assholes and evil scientists kept files too. Sure, Mila probably wouldn’t be able to access any space-files, but she could maybe crack some here on Earth.

And maybe she could also start talking. About tolerance and changing minds. Being more open about how she felt about living things being equal.

That last part was so out of her comfort zone that it made her shudder. Usually she kept her opinions mostly to herself. But maybe… maybe she could finally try talking. It was the best way to really make a difference. Maybe. As long as someone listened.

When they were finally done talking, Mila was set back down. The first thing she heard was Taimi’s excited shout of:

“Mila’s back!”

She saw her looking up, glowing a playful pink from what Mila could assume was playing with the other kids. She looked so happy to see her again.

Mila grinned the moment her feet touched the brick terrace.

“Hey, sapling!” she said, “I’m glad you’re okay!”

Taimi smiled, but her feelings struck Mila’s mind. They were jumbled. The happiness had wrapped around questions and uncertainty. Taimi quickly hid them away again, made Mila not feel them. But she had already seen. She wondered what was wrong, but she figured she’d talk about it once they weren’t guests in the house of Taimi’s new friend.

“How’re things?” Mila asked.

Taimi explained enthusiastically about how she had played with the kids and how she had met Octy’s mum, who was the great rebel warrior Xirra.

“Xirra talked about lots of things and then I played with Octy and they gave me food and it was real good which is nice because Octy likes good food and Seb is really cool did you see his hair it’s like snakes! And…”

It went on and on, partly out of real excitement, partly probably to hide Taimi’s more negative feelings. Mila smiled and nodded, finally letting the tiny worry in her mind go.

She knew these were good people. Probably. Sure, she might be paranoid and overprotective, but there were some times when goodness was just radiating from someone, and it had to be real because no bad person would put so much effort into being genuinely good.

Unless they were really good at faking good. But that was rare, Mila figured.

Besides, Taimi was happy and fed and okay, and the only problem was that she was tired.

That made Mila check the time.

“Oh, darn”, she said, “We missed the last ferry back. Wonderful.”

Octy’s eyes shone at the mention of that. Maybe he was happy that his new friend had to stay a while longer.

“Do you like to swim? Like really swim? Like hundreds of miles in shark-infested waters? Or, OK, maybe not sharks. There are jellyfish! And lobsters. And crabs that like to pinch toes. Pops, are there sharks?”

“Sure there are, son! Remember those bull sharks we saw last winter?”

“I guess you’ll have to stay until tomorrow’s ferry, then! Can’t swim with the sharks! Not if you want to keep your toes! Wanna play chess, then, Mila? I promise that my knights will not bite!”

Mila laughed a little. Octy was one of those innocent, endearing kids. Filled with optimism and positivity and enthusiasm. And none of it crushed by the gritty reality. Then again, considering the incredibly positive aura around his dad, maybe he would keep all that into adulthood. This seemed like the kind of place that was a shelter from all the bad things in the world. Sure, from what Mila had been told, Sebastion Sevens’s eldest was one of the bizoobi, the clones who had been created just to be taken advantage of. To be abused. But even he seemed so positive. It had to be because of some expert parenting. Just enough of the gritty bits, all wrapped in enough cotton balls to keep them from cutting too deep. Or at least enough love and patient explaining to heal the cuts.

Wow, she was maybe a bit loopy. She was thinking in weird metaphors.

“Sure,” she said, “I can play.”

She wasn’t good at chess. She played board games, sure, but they were usually more co-operative in nature. Put her in a pen and paper role-playing game group, and she’d turn from a slightly snippy introvert into an over-dramatic adventurer. But chess? Not her thing. Well, it wasn’t about the game now, was it? It was about learning more about Taimi’s new friend.

Octy seemed much more at ease at home, which was saying a lot because he had been very at ease in the Springs too.

Mila had to admit that once she got past the endeared stage, she was slightly unnerved by the constant positivity. Even after all these years, she hadn’t shaken the melancholic basic nature of the northern forests. And she figured that suited her anyway. Someone needed to bring a bit of balance between the happy-happy-joy-joys and the overly angsty ones.

Though that someone should probably have better social skills.

Wow, she was really meandering.

“I’m glad you got home, Octy,” she said, mostly to open a conversation, “You have a good family here, right? Taimi seems to like you all, at least.”

“All families are good, right, Mila? That’s what family means! The good people!” Octy smiled.

“Right… sure…” Mila said slowly, “Or then they’re just people you’re stuck with. If you’re unlucky. Good thing you’re not.”

She sighed.

“Don’t mind me. I’m just being a downer. That’s what I am. Anyway, I’m glad you got back, and that you like it here. And that you’re friends with Taimi.”

“Me, too. Can you believe that one time, I didn’t know Taimi? And now! It’s like she’s my sister! We’re that close! We’re the hero-duo-thing.”

“That sounds awesome. Just remember to tell us before you go do any too dangerous hero-ing.”

She watched Octy kick her ass at chess and had to almost laugh at it all. Maybe it was because her mind was wandering, still soaring somewhere in space, but for a moment, she felt very cheerful and at ease. Like she had found a new home. A piece of one, anyway.

When Mila got hungry, Seb invited her inside for ice cream. It was a bit odd to eat ice cream for dinner or for a late night snack, but this was a special occasion, right? The ice cream was good. Probably homemade. Creamy and with some kinds of berries in it.

“Got space-lag?” Seb asked, “I always feel a bit off when I get back from a visit, no matter how quick it was.”

“I guess,” Mila said, “My mind keeps going too fast. Million thoughts a minute. Is it like that?”

“My mind usually stops. Or feels like jello for a few days. But I guess it can be different for different people.”

“I guess…” Mila said, “Maybe mine would feel like jello too if it wasn’t so… full of stuff now. I met so many of Taimi’s kind. It’s good to see how big the rebellion really is. They’re needed. Badly. I just hope they can make a difference.”

She looked at her ice cream as if the swirly frozen milk could somehow answer all her problems.

“I hope I can do more too.”

“Xirra always tells me it’s the doing that counts. When I get discouraged, which I often do, she tells me, ‘Don’t try to change things, Sebbo! Just do! In the doing you find the joy.’ It works for her. I’m not sure about for me, but I give it a try.”

“What do you do, Seb?” Mila glanced around and took note of the handful of children that seemed to be family, “Aside from raising tons of kiddos?”

“Did you know my academic background is in early childhood education and library sciences?” Seb asked, “Well, no. How would you know that? But that’s what it is. When Sept was little, I was too focused on him to develop my career – I painted and wrote to support us. I still paint and write, a little. But now, I’ve opened a school! I’m able to pull together all the theories I studied, combine them with my own ideas, and develop practical applications. It’s very exciting. We have two main missions: to provide an engaging and useful education to extra-T and mixed kids, and to offer an education that fosters peace and community to all kids. It’s heady stuff, and I love it.”

“Oh, wow. That’s… a lot. Congrats.”

Maybe she should put Seb in contact with Killian. She was supposed to be in early childhood education too. Two abductees teaching kiddos. It sounded nice.

Maybe once they were sure no one would try to blast Killian’s brains out for not wanting to sell a child to crazy scientists.

“I hope that goes well”, Mila said instead, “I can’t say I know you that well yet, but you seem like the kind of guy who could make that work. Like, really work. I wish I could say I’d do what I can to help… but I don’t think I can do that much. I’m just a socially awkward programmer who barely even knows what a good childhood is.”

“Now a socially awkward programmer… that sounds like the perfect credentials for a rebel hacker! You any good at C++?”

“I know my way around it just fine,” Mila said and had to smile, “I kinda like the sound of ‘Rebel Hacker Mila Groves.’ Maybe I’m not a completely useless person after all.”

She thought about it.

“And if things get really bad… Like, violent-bad, I suppose I do have my military training. But let’s hope things don’t come to that. I’m a guerrilla, which in my country means I’m really good at sneaking in forests. And there aren’t many forests where I live now.”

She frowned.

“And… you know, that would mean all the peaceful ways had failed and that too many people are complete idiots who can’t see anything past their own prejudice.”

Seb nodded, maybe a bit sadly. It was hard to tell through all the happiness.

“Diversity is hard for people. We’re not exactly wired for it. Take a baby, and the baby will learn to recognize the facial structures and types of those they see daily. Then, later, when they meet someone with different color skin, different facial structure, different sounding voices, these alarms go off in their head: Different! Danger? But, and here’s the thing: Though our conditioning influences us, we can also influence it. We don’t have to be subjugated to it. We can, for one, create diversity in our cultures. And two, when we meet those who fall into the conditioning-trap, we can work to provide escape routes. Like mindfulness training and meditation. That sort of thing. I’m preaching to the choir, I know.”

“Well, you’re better at preaching than I am. I usually just say something stupid about trying to punch out your inner caveman or something.”

She sighed.

“But you know, maybe I’m getting too negative again. Sorry about that. It was good to meet the people, and you know, maybe I’ll do something more for the rebellion now. For the people there. They were great. I think one of them spoke of your kid. November, wasn’t it? There’s so many of you. I think she was her mum.”

“Novy,” Octy said, “Mila got to meet your mommy!”

“How was Teko?” Seb asked. “We never see her as often as we’d like.”

Mila quickly recalled the pale blue woman with the striking makeup. Teko. She wasn’t sure what her name in her language – Vingihoplo, as they called it – meant, but in Mila’s language, it meant deed. As in things you did. She did seem like the person who did things. Good things. She was an eco warrior, keen on saving polar bears and atmospheres and biodiversity.

“She seemed fine. Busy. Working a lot. I hear she’s saving worlds. Or helping people save their worlds.”

She paused, thought about it.

“It feels… wrong that we can’t take care of that without outside help. Or more like enough people can’t be bothered.”

“Yeah. Teko doesn’t see it as ‘outside help,’ though. She’s into systems thinking – fractal stuff. She takes the smallest system you can imagine, like a dust mite, for example, and from there traces it out to the largest you can conceive of, like the multiverse. So she says, ‘We’re all cells in the same system.’”

“It’s nicely philosophical to think that,” Mila said, “But I think most people are a bit too stuck to their individuality to see it that way. Or then I’m just too pessimistic. Oh, heck, I know I am, but what’re you gonna do?”

She let out a nervous laugh.

“Anyway, it’s good, what she does.”

It was at this point that Octy jumped into the spare seat and beamed at Mila.

“I found the extra sleeping bag!” he said. “And we got clean pillow cases! Can you stay here? Please?”

“It’s really no trouble,” said Seb. “We’d love it. The couch pulls out into a little bed, and you don’t look like you take up too much space, and we can put the sleeping bag on the rug in the kids’ room. It’ll be a regular sleep-over! Much better than the mildewy old inn all the way in town!”

“Please?” Octy asked again.

It was probably the kindness and the warmth and Octy’s hopeful smiles that made Mila not care about being a bother.

“Thank you,” she said, “We’d be happy to stay.”

She heard Taimi start jumping up and down in joy.


Mila slept surprisingly well. She sometimes woke up and was ready to fight because she didn’t know where she was, but she always managed to calm back down quickly. Taimi slept calmly through the night, and was the one to wake Mila up by bouncing up and down on her with no regard to her bones.

“Wake up! There’s a good smell in the kitchen! Breakfast!”

There indeed was. And there was also Octy and Seb, who seemed to have overloaded their positivity reserves during the night.

“Yazoo!” Seb said. “Everybody sleep well? Let’s have pancakes with ice cream for breakfast! Woot!”

Mila’s smile was tired and a little bit forced. She liked Seb. A lot. But she noted that she liked him in small doses better. His happiness made the world a better place, but it didn’t mix all that well with her inner, more sombre core.

Taimi loved him, though. Of course she did. She was so sunny herself, and she fit right in with the Sevenses and their happy house. Mila almost felt bad for having to take her away from it, even though she assured her that they would meet again, and that Taimi could call Octy whenever she wanted – as long as it wasn’t right in the middle of a lesson at school.

“We never have pancakes with ice cream!” Taimi said, “These are so good!”

“We have pancakes with spinach,” Mila said, “They’re good too, right?”

“They’re awesome,” Taimi said, “But so are these.”

“Yeah, they are,” Mila looked up at Seb, who still practically danced around the breakfast table, “Thank you so much for all this, really.”

“I wish you could stay longer,” Seb said, “but I’m so glad you came. Come again, anytime.”

Mila knew they would. She liked that thought.

Maybe all too soon, they were leaving. The ferry was waiting, and so was home. Taimi waved at Octy for the longest time, and Mila and Seb exchanged last minute contact information. Then they really had to go. Octy waved and shouted after them:

“Taimi! Call me! During math lessons, preferably! I will need to ask you about the halves of two quarters and three wholes! Fractions ! Blech!”

“I’ll try!” Taimi shouted back, “Maybe if you think numbers at me really hard, I’ll know to text you!”

“What did I say about lessons and phones?” Mila said.

“You said no calling!” Taimi’s forehead wrinkled a bit in thought, “But maybe I can text at least?”

Mila laughed.

“Sneaky. Just don’t get too distracted. You guys need numbers for… well, probably for something at least.”

Taimi smiled.

“Yeah. But I think I need friends more.”

Mila smiled back.

“Well, sapling, this was a great adventure. I’m glad we came here.”

“I’m glad too!” Taimi said, but then her face fell a bit, “Mila… Octy’s mum said some things… that there are people, who…”

“I know,” Mila said when Taimi trailed off, “The world can be a dark place.”

“But… why?” Taimi asked.

“I wish I knew. All I can say that many people are stupid and selfish and hurt others.”

She pointed towards the warm brick house behind them. The one that was full of love.

“But there’s a lot of good people too. Those who want to make a difference. The bad things can often cover up the good, to just flow all over it because there’s so much of it. But if we’re smart about it and work hard enough, we can make things better.”

“But it’s… so big. It all is,” Taimi said.

“I know. But we can start small. Like making friends with other good people and being nice to others.”

“I can do that!” Taimi said, her face brightening again. Mila knew there was still plenty of things that were bothering Taimi, but for now, it was good enough.

“I know,” Mila said, “Now, let’s go home, sapling.”


Author’s Note: So, this is the last chapter in this collab arc with Cathy Tea! It’s been so much fun! Thank you again! I’m sure there’ll be lots of collabing in the future too!

Check out Cathy’s stories here: Septemus, my Son and Lighthouse

Also yes, all the things I mentioned being normal in Finland are true. First was of course a reference to sauna culture, and we really do favour really dark bread. Also there’s a band called Apocalyptica, which started out by doing cello covers of Metallica’s songs, and is now doing original stuff too, with “heavy metal with cellos” still being their thing. They’ll be playing at an opera festival this year, as far as I know. I like their stuff. 🙂

I hope you guys enjoyed! Have a lovely time!

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Sunshine Blogger Award

the-sunshinebloggeraward1

Hello! This blog was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely Shadami! Thank you so much! Go check out their stories here.

So here’s what I’m supposed to do:

1. In a blog post, thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

I think this time I’ll nominate the lovely people and stories belonging to the Alien Adoption Collab! Check out the stories here. And even more stories in the forum thread.

Also check out my other award-posts if you want to see some other stories I love:
Liebster Award
Animal Award
Sunshine Blogger -Award
The Versatile Blogger -Award

And now for the questions:

  1. What inspires you to write?
    Ideas. The fact that I just LOVE writing and creating stuff. It helps me clear my thoughts. When it comes to SimLit, the lovely community inspires a lot too.
  2. Do you have a style that you love but you have a hard time writing yourself?
    It’s more a genre-thing, but I love detective stories and murder mysteries. But because of my… lacking plot-writing skills, I don’t feel very confident writing them.
  3. Do you toss out ideas when you have to many stories? Or do you just save them for later?
    If the idea is good, I might save it for later. But often I toss ideas out because the longer I let an idea sit in my head, the worse it starts to feel.
  4. What is your favorite type of character?
    Socially awkward, somewhat creepy yet kind, knowledgeable in some weird stuff while totally incompetent in normal things. Someone who has a very different, outsider perspective to humanity. Usually a humanoid-looking non-human, such as a spirit, anthropomorphic personification or a robot. Also very or completely non-sexual. Another favourite type is the sarcastic, morally grey anti-hero.
  5. When writing do you try to create the typical archetypes or let the characters be themselves?
    I think archetypes are tools that can be used to create good characters if they’re used as… well, tools instead of moulds. So I let the characters be themselves but also try to make sure the characters fill certain roles in the story and have interesting dynamics between them.
  6. Do you lay out the plot first and try to follow it? Or does the story develop naturally as you write?
    I usually have a very vague, threadbare plot to go with the themes and characters that I flesh out much more before starting. The story hopefully develops from there.
  7. Do you take notes as you play the game?
    No.
  8. If you edit pictures for your story, how do you do it?
    I use GIMP 2. Most often I just resize the pics and adjust the colour and lighting, but sometimes I may have to do some more trickery to get the effects I want.
  9. What do you believe is a good length for a post?
    I like writing and reading slightly longer posts, something between 1000 and 5000 words. More than that starts to get pretty long, and less than that feels like it’s over just when it started.
  10. Do you know that you’re awesome?
    No. I’m not. But thanks. 🙂
  11. Can I give you a hug? 😀
    Sure.

And my new questions for those who want to do this are here:

  1. Is there a story from your childhood that still influences you?
  2. Do you notice/put recurring themes, symbols or motifs in your writing?
  3. Does real life often inspire/influence your stories?
  4. What is your favourite genre of stories to read?
  5. How about your favourite genre to write?
  6. What do you do on your free time besides write stuff?
  7. When I’m walking about, I often tend to pay attention to wall textures and people with luggage. Is there a random detail that always seems to catch your eye?
  8. Which animals do you especially like?
  9. What do you do to sort out your thoughts when they’re feeling tangled up?
  10. In the midst of all the bad news nowadays, what’s the thing that makes you happy?
  11. What are your strengths?

Okay, there we go. I’m not good at coming up with questions, but if anyone wants to do it, feel free. 🙂

Stardust Sapling: Chapter 29

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?”

Taimi frowned.

“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.

She frowned.

“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.”

“That’s good.”

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

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