Despite the fact that the Numidids are… well, fictional, I have quite a fondness for the little guys. It’s funny how our ‘pack-bonding instinct’ can go pretty much anywhere. -- TheDragonsFlame
There was a shrine set up in the Avenue of Remembrance. For a fictional character. Fanart adorned it, and no two agreed on what the character looked like. The little altar also spilled over with flowers, soft toys, and votary candles. Someone hung a banner that read, Always an asshole. Forever missed.
Shayde was leaving a bottle of alcohol. And a single, long-stem red rose.
"I do not understand this outpouring of mourning for a person who isn't even real," Rael said, and had to ignore the dozens of hairy eyeballs that swung around for the surrounding humans to glare at him with.
"He's jus' here tae keep me oot'a trouble," said Shayde. She added the bottle and the rose to the altar. Got teary-eyed as she spent a minute of silence examining some of the art. "Aye, ze was an asshole, but ze was an asshole wi' a heart o' gold."
"Stolen" added a fellow fan.
"Oh aye, o' course. They would'nae have a heart o' their own gold, ye ken. 'Cause of how they'd spend it on some half-ass scheme."
Rael deepened in his confusion. "This sounds like the exact sort of person you'd kick to the curb if you met them in real life..."
"Aye, but because it's an audio play, I got attached."
"More like live communal story-building. And ze's not dead. Ze's faking it. They're gonna turn up in the next arc like, 'bet you thought you'd seen the last of me' and all that junk."
The fans clustered and exchanged theories in an ever-increasing babble of enthusiasm. Fanfics would be forthcoming, Rael had no doubt. And it was there, backing slowly away from the cloud of fissioning ideas, that he saw it.
Every single one of them was human. Whether from a retrotech or a progressive world, whether genner, ELF, or other... they were all human and they had one bonding feature in common. They had shared their pack-bonding with a person who was, in essence, a figment of a real person's imagination.
They spent their love, their art, their energy, with a creature that could not once possibly appreciate it or return their affections. In the light of this, the way that humanity made friends with just about everyone... it made a lot of sense. They did this all the time. They were used to it.
"Impressive, no?" said a passing anthropologist saurian. "All this love and effort and brain power. For an imaginary being named after a foodstuff."
They were what?
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / natara]
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