Septemus 74

A Safe Place

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The day after Panda’s visit, Anakin showed up with his two sisters.

Pops said, “Son. I think some of your folks are here.”

I knew they were coming. I just didn’t know when.

Anakin had sung to me.

ti, pi, ki, EAa Mokogotu
E paya, E Zimi, E Yo Aspi Aa Golan

He and his sisters were in trouble, and he didn’t know where to go. I sang back immediately, telling him to come here. It was safe. We’d take care of them.

I didn’t even have to ask Pops. When Xirra left us the money to build the second floor on the house, she told us that others would come. The extra rooms were for sanctuary, as much as any other purpose.

“This is so beyond me,” Pops had said to me as we painted the spare bedroom. “But I trust you, son. I trust Xirra. If there are folks in need, and if we can help, then that’s what we’ll do. You don’t have to ask. Just let them in.”

He was the first to welcome Anakin, Aayla, and Amadala.

“Our home is yours,” he said.

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First thing they did was make themselves useful. Anakin took out the trash, Aayla did the dishes, and Amadala played with Octy.

“You don’t have to!” I said. “Relax. Take it easy!”

“No, we do,” said Anakin. I remembered how Xirra and Shésti, too, cleaned house, first thing. Maybe I should have cleaned Panda and Harmony’s house when I came to visit… but then Panda didn’t clean when she was here, either, so maybe, if you know the host really well, you don’t have to clean? I’ll have to ask Xirra next time I see her.

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Finally I convinced Anakin to take a break and have a snack. Amadala was washing dishes then.

“I miss Daddy,” she said to her bagoto. “When can we go home?”

Worry crashed down from Anakin. I understood: It’s not custom that drives them to clean. It’s the need to keep busy, to find distraction.

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By nightfall, after everyone had finished two bowls of ice cream, with rainbow sprinkles and cinnamon sticks, and Anakin, Amadala, and Aayla had washed every dish in the house, the kids finally started to get settled.

Octy and  I changed into our PJs.

“Ready for bed, Grapeling?” I asked Octy.

“I’m ready for bed!” said Aayla.

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“I’m not,” said Amadala. She was emptying the trash.

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Eventually, we got everyone tucked in. It was a restless night, with tossing and turning and the girls crying out, and Anakin rushing to comfort them. After midnight, in the still hours, I finally fell asleep in a silent house.

In the morning, the girls were playing. I took that as a sign that they woke feeling comfortable and rested.

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Anakin seemed to agree.

“Everything’s going to be OK, sis,” he said. “It’s safe here.”

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I still didn’t know what was going on. We focused on keeping Anakin and his sisters feeling safe. And I waited for Anakin to reveal more.

In the evening, when he still hadn’t asked anything, I asked him if it was the Kfvico’kyastorr. Had they done something to endanger the family?

“No. I.. I don’t know, ” he said. “I just… I want my dad back, but I don’t want to put him or anyone else in any more danger. I’m sorry maybe I shouldn’t have told you or even come here. I just didn’t know what else to do.”

“Who are Kf…vico ky.. Kyastorr?” Aayla asked. “Did they take Daddy? Are coming to take us away, too?”

I swore before I could stop myself. The Kfvico’kyastorr have that effect on me.

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“No, you definitely did the right thing, Anakin,” I said, inside. “We’ll help you figure it out.”

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Aloud, I said to Aayla, “The Kfvico’kyastorr are Backwards-Leaders. They’re everything we’re against. Don’t worry, though. The two strongest women I know are fighting them. They’ll keep us safe.”

“Cookie store?” said Octy.

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After the kids went to bed, Anakin and I had a chance to talk more. He wanted to find Sapphire and Amber, their former neighbors. I knew about them. He’d told me about them the first time we met at the pool party. Amber came on the ship with us. She wasn’t exactly like us. It sounded like she was one of the refugees. Sapphire was her gotojo.

“I know my dad used to talk to Sapphire about a special forum all the time,” Anakin said.

I felt sure it was the same forum Pops joined to get in touch with the other gotojoto.

“Pops is an admin at that forum,” I said.

“Do you think my dad contacted her before he was taken?” Anakin asked.

“I know one way to find out,” I said. I know Pops’ login, and with that, I can access all the data. I mean, even if it’s not readily available, the admin account gives me a backdoor into the database.

“Do you think the shirjotu is using his account?” Anakin asked. “If he is, we might be able to find out what he’s up to and where they took him.”

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It was worth trying. Any information would help.

Anakin and I were pretty well synced internally by now. We’d established a strong connection the first time it met, and now, here in my own house, it just grew stronger.

I could feel his worry. I knew, too, that it wasn’t hopeless. I don’t know how I knew that. Maybe it’s because, deep in my cells, hope abides. Maybe it’s because I was in a position to help.

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Before bed, I logged into Pops’ account. I could trace the users’ login activity easily. Sapphire had logged in recently. It would take some digging to find out more, but I was pretty sure, with a little persistence, I’d be able to.

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I couldn’t sleep. I gave up on tossing and turning and headed outside to play the keyboard for a while. Music settles my mind, especially when I’m working on puzzles, like how to retrieve encrypted data.

While I was playing, Aayla came out.

“Can’t sleep either, munchkin?” I asked her.

“I heard the music,” she said. “Anakin told me that you sang happy songs to him when he was smaller. Can you sing a song just for me? I want to sing for my daddy when he comes home. Can you teach me how?”

“Think you can hear it if I sing inside?” I asked.

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She nodded.

I sang, first inside:

What is home? 
Where is home?

The wind,
The trees,
An ice cream cone!

“I like to sing like that, inside myself,” I said. “But I can also sing this way!”

And I continued, out loud, a little off-key.

“In your hearts,
In your mind

With gotogo
There you find

It’s home.
We’re home.”

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“I love that song,” she said, and she continued in a beautiful soprano.

“If you’re here
And I’m here

We don’t fear.
We bring cheer.

When Daddy’s here.
When Daddy’s here.”

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Pops was up by now, making breakfast. We went up to see if he needed a hand.

“I love staying here!” Aayla told him. “I want to have a long sleep over with Amadala, Octy, and can we bring Amber? We can read stories and eat ice cream. Like the other children from my school. Can we come visit again? Can we please…?”

“You’d better!” said Pops. “Octy, Sept, and I will be waiting! And I’ll even make brownies.”

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Anakin pulled Pops aside as soon as he cleared his plate.

“I couldn’t help but notice you have a rocket,” Anakin whispered, loud enough for me to hear.

“Indeed we do! It’s a gift from the rebels, though Sept and I had to build it. Would you like to see it?”

While they went down to inspect it, I took advantage of the spare moment and hopped back onto the computer to continue my digging.

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Pops told me later that Anakin was full of questions: Where did it come from? How did we know how to build it? How long did it take? Does it work? Do we know how to use it? And, if so, how?

Pops said he answered best he could. He told him he’d check with Xirra next time she visited and that maybe should could share an instruction book.

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By then, I cracked the encryption, and I rushed out to tell what I’d learned.

Pops was talking about Xirra being a fighter pilot.

“Sorry to interrupt?” I said. “Not sorry!”

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They both looked at me.

I dropped the happy bomb. I’d broken into Sapphire’s account. I had her IP address, the time stamp of her last login, which had been yesterday at 5:20 p.m., and her updated street address.

“Oh, wow!” Anakin yelled. For the first time, he smiled a real smile. “Could it really be her? I have to go and make sure they are safe. Or should we send a message? No, no. We’ve got to go now, I need to see them!”

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“What’s this?” Pops asked.

“I’ll fill you in later,” I replied, wondering exactly how I should cast my role as a hacker. Honesty, I reminded myself. I don’t like keeping anything from Pops.

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“Thank you! Thank you!” Anakin said. “I can’t believe you managed to find them.”

He gathered the girls. We gave them hurried hugs, and then we watched them run off down the road.

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“Son,” said Pops, as they turned the corner. “Can you promise me you’ll never leave home?”

Of course, Pops knows that’s a promise I can’t make.

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Author’s notes: Thank you to Charliimai for sending Anakin, Aayla, and Amadala our way. They are in the middle of a frightening adventure, and we were so happy to be able to provide a bit of sanctuary. Hop on over to Charliimai’s Sapphire and Amber to read more! Charliimai and I wrote this chapter together, with Charliimai providing the plot and the dialogue for Anakin, Aayla, and Amadala. These Sims were so delightful–even in the midst of danger! Thanks again, Charliimai! This was loads of fun!

Props to For_Eorzea/SMNerd/Vreliskriri for the phrase “Cookie Store!” (This won’t be the last time you hear it!)

Septemus 57

Ready to Bur7t

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I’m back from the pool party. Pops is huge–but at least the baby wasn’t born while I was gone. I was a little bit worried.

Pops looks about ready to burst.

“Thanks for waiting, Pops!” I told him when I got home. “I’d hate to miss the big event.”

Septeen2009

“I just want it over with, son,” he said.

He seems pretty uncomfortable.

“Maybe some dancing will help,” I suggested to him the next morning. It’s what we always do when we wait.

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He seemed to feel a little better once we started moving, and we fell into a quiet, lazy rhythm. I was glad we didn’t talk. I have so much to process. Dancing helps with that, too.

It’s odd to think that I completed my gestation without anyone having to experience birthing pains. I guess the bizaabgotojo simply reached into the gestation pod and pulled me out.

I can’t believe I met her birth-daughter. Whisper must have been born through pain, like all natural-born babies.

I hope I didn’t make a mistake in what I told Whisper. I would have liked her not to know about bizoobi and slaves. I’m glad she knows that her mother was a hero, but I don’t want any of us to know the truth of the world we came from.

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Somehow, they all seem to know, even if their knowledge only leaves them with questions.

I met so many of my siblings, and each one had so many questions.

Whisper needed to know if she’d been born free. Of course she had. Her experience coming here is so different than mine: She lost wide meadows. She lost her mother, lost her father. She lost belonging to the strong and brave community.

What did I lose? Nothing. I only gained.

I feel guilty–I can’t help it. To free me and the others, Whisper’s mother lost her life. She was our bizaabgotojo–but she was Whisper’s mother.

Nothing is worth another’s life. I would have given up mine, if given the choice, for our bizaabgotjo‘s. I wish I could let Whisper know that.

Then there was Paxilla–such a funny pabyu rabbit–she wanted to know why she didn’t sing, like the rest of us. If you’re not lonely, you don’t need to sing, I told her. I’m not sure she bought it.

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Then, my own pagoto. Somehow, we are brothers. I mean, I’m the bagoto to all the pagotogo, but Pabatuotuo, we share a cellular connection. We belong. We’re kin.

He taught me so much. He remembers things, from our origin, I am guessing. Everything surrounding him is filled with mystery for me, except for the feeling of belonging: inna-inna. I feel that in every molecule of every cell.

He has so many questions, and I have so few answers.

I thought back on my conversation with Anakin.

I had felt his presence strongly before he approached. He was reaching out to me.

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“Can I ask you something?” he said.

“Of course, Anakin.”

“Do you have to hide away too?”

“Hide? You mean like in a disguise? No. I’m always like this. We live in a friendly community, and we know almost everyone. We don’t leave our neighborhood often, though.”

“My daddy says we have to hide from the people in our neighborhood,” Anakin said, “because it’s too dangerous for us to go out. We have to keep secrets. My little sisters are secrets, but I don’t know why?”

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“That must be tough,” I replied. “You can trust your dad, though. I’m sure he’s doing what needs to be done to keep you safe.”

“I don’t like keeping secrets…”

“I don’t either. You know, you and I, we’re gotogo. And you don’t have to keep secrets from your goto. So, you can tell me anything, and it will be safe with me. You can write me or you can inside-talk. Whatever you want.”

“My friend Amber is like us, too,” he continued, “but Dad took us away and says we’ll never see them again coz something happened at out apartment and the bad people are coming to take us away. Who are the bad people and why do they want to take us? Are they going to hurt us?”

I had to take a moment in quiet. I tuned in, as best as I could.

“So,” I began, “there are a lot of scary things in the world. A lot of dangers. And yes, there are people who want to harm others. There are also a lot of really good people, all over the universe, who are brave and kind and who protect themselves and other people. It sounds like your dad is one of these good people, and he’s protecting you kids. I don’t know why anyone would want to take you. There are battles going on, and there are lots of warriors who are fighting the good fight. They fight it with love and with being brave. So even if you feel afraid, you can feel OK at the same time, because of warriors and good people like your dad who are working to keep you safe.”

“My daddy won’t talk about it, but I can see our friend did something to make him angry,” Anakin said. “My friend Amber. I need to keep her safe but she can’t do inside-talk when we are far away. What should I do?”

I felt a shiver when he said Amber’s name. “Amber’s one of us, right? She came over with us. I don’t know about the danger that Amber is in now, but I know that she is free. She wasn’t free before we left. She is one of those that our bizaabgotojo saved. Amber is very brave. It’s OK, Anakin. You will see her again, and when you do, you can tell her everything that you hold in your hearts.”

“I’m really scared.”

“Being brave doesn’t mean that you don’t feel scared. It means that you continue on, even when you feel scared. You’ve got a dad who loves you and who is doing things to keep you safe. You’ll see Amber again–I’m sure of it. And I’m always around. I have to do some training for a while, so I might not be singing as much, but I will always be listening, so you can call me anytime. And you can write, OK, Anakin?”

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“You had a good time then, son?” Pops asked. “I was worried it might be too much. Overwhelming, you know, meeting so many at once.”

“It was too much, Pops. Way, way too much. And it was very overwhelming. But it was also what I had to do. I’m a big brother, right, Pops? And big brothers have to be there, ready to answer any questions that come their way!”

Pops told me he thought I might be putting too much pressure on myself.

“Brothers don’t need to know everything,” he said.

I told him I knew that, but we had to try. We had to be available. That’s what brothers are for.

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I felt my new little brother stir inside of him. He’s going to be ready to come out soon!

“Oh, he’s got a big question, Pops!” I said. Pops thought I was joking, but I really could feel the little guy inquiring. “He wants to know what his name is.”

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“Oh, God!” groaned Pops. “I haven’t even thought of a name!”

I laughed. Pops said he thought Xirra and her people would want to name him. I felt pretty sure that, even if they did, we could name him, too. After all, I’ve got two names.

“I know what we should call him, Pops.” It wasn’t spur of the moment. I’d been thinking of it all along.

“What’s that?” Pops asked.

“Octavius!”

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Of course Pops loved it. It’s the obvious name: Octavius Sevens. Eight sevens: 56 – Judi.

That’s a perfect name.

After Pops went to sleep, I took my calculus book out to the park so I could read under the broad sky. Once that baby arrives, and I think the big day will be tomorrow, who knows when I’ll get another chance to study?

The lesson was on the volume of a cone. “A cross-section of a cone is a circle,” I read.

The volume of the cone is 0h A(x)dx = 0h π*[ r(h-x)/h]2 dx.

It’s beautiful. I knew then what the first step in my training would be. I had to be able to perceive a cone around me, forming a boundary between my energy–my emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual energy–and the rest of the universe. I wouldn’t always need the cone–sometimes, I could let my energy fly. But for those times when I needed to protect myself or others, when I needed to keep my emotions private, that cone would do. It was a first step–a baby step–but it’s time had come, and I was ready.

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Author’s Note: Many, many thanks to AllySim for hosting the pool party and featuring it in her story, Alienated! It’s so much work to have guest Sims over–and to co-write with guest writers–and Ally handled this with such warmth, talent, and grace! The photos of Sept and Anakin at the pool party were taken by Ally. Thank you! (She even posted her chapters ahead of schedule because I was so excited to post these chapters! Thank you! Thank you!)

The conversation with Anakin was co-written with Charliimai, who wrote Anakin’s portion. You can catch up with Anakin, his dad, and his friend Amber over at Sapphire and Amber.

Keep following Meggles’ The Xilla Project and Ny’s Whisper to find out Xilla and Whisper’s experiences at the party, which will be featured in upcoming chapters of theirs. We all had a great time. 🙂 Squeegee!