Teko, November’s mom, is a striking woman. When I first knew her, she wore the marks of a Sanghikihu’ki, literally, a “Safe-Planet Holder.” A more functionally descriptive translation would be intergalactic eco-warrior.
The role was more than profession, greater than identity. It was a calling, and the life of a Sanghikihu’ki demanded complete commitment.
We didn’t see her often. Not even November saw her mother frequently, and when she did see her, Teko usually nodded to her, and that was often the extent of their interactions.
She and Seb have always been close friends, though, from the moment they met.
I spent an evening with her at Seb’s, shortly after my time with her on the ship.
“You took to the lesson, then,” she said. “You got our point?”
“I did,” I answered. “In fact, I think I’m pregnant already.”
“Oh! That’s good! That’s what we’d hoped,” she said. “A child between the two of you can accomplish so much!”
She didn’t elaborate. She turned her focus back to the computer. She was almost always on the computer when she stopped by Seb’s.
“You like video games?” I asked. I did. I’ve always been mildly addicted to them, and BlicBloc was my current addiction.
“I’m working,” she said. “I know it’s rude, to work while I’m talking with you, but there’s so little time. We’re worried for the polar bears.”
She explained that the game wasn’t really a game–well, it was, and it could be played as one. But it also carried within its fractal patterns data and intelligence, and she and her comrades used that to communicate, calculate, and plan. They were currently developing a scheme to use galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) to form cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN).
“This would cool the planet,” she explained.
“Can you really do that?” I asked.
“Oh, we can do all sorts of things–we hope. We’re actually not sure. We usually don’t interfere this directly, only when it’s a lost cause and this is the final recourse. It’s just too risky. We much prefer the indirect-direct method.”
“And what is that?”
“Planting Influencers. People who harmonize thinking, behavior, and values. You know–People like Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Walker, Al Gore…”
“Wait,” I laughed. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Well, their ideas certainly didn’t come from here, did they? But it hasn’t worked. We’ve been trying since Socrates, and it hasn’t taken. We can’t wait much longer. I haven’t been able to find a planet to move all the polar bears to, not in any kind of sustainable way. We can, of course, place a few individuals, like we’ve done here with steifotli boskabé, but that’s hardly a solution.”
“Wait. Back up,” I said. Thanks to Santi, my Vingihoplo was good enough to know that steifotli boskabé meant orange dog. “Did you imply that you’ve placed space dogs here, on this planet?”
Octy came in just then.
“Hi, peoples! Did somebody say space dog? Mop’s a space dog!”
“True!” said Teko. “Your mom brought him from Pu!Re!”
“And Lemon is, too!”
“You know,” I said, “there’s orange dog we’ve been seeing on the beach–we call him Cupcake.”
“That’s the steifotli boskabé from Steifotlikihu! Don’t worry. He’s neutered. This was an individual thing, not a species thing. The deserts of Steifotlikihu are getting eaten up by swampland, and, without their habitat, steifotli boskabébo can’t breed. The population isn’t viable, anymore. There’s not much we can do, but we are able to let some individuals live out their natural lives, if we find a suitable environment.”
“We’ve been trying to befriend him so that maybe he’ll let us care for him,” I said.
“That’s an excellent idea!” Teko replied.
“Mom’s bringing me more pups,” said Octy. “She’s gotta rescue them first!”
“Your mom’s always rescuing lost puppies!” Teko laughed. “Like your dad!”
“That’s cuz my mom’s a hero!” said Octy.
He turned to me. “She told me about this big lab with all these paboskabo and kedike, and as soon as she and Aunt Shésti can, they’re gonna break in, get the puppies and kitties, and bring them here, so we can take care of them!”
“She’s not supposed to be telling you their plans,” Teko said.
“That’s OK!” replied Octy. “I know how to keep a secret!”
Teko and I laughed. Octy never has been able to maintain a confidence, but at least he’s always been good about keeping the secrets within the family.