Challenge #01980-E156: Friends From the FringesteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  last year 


Having grown up together in the intergalactic community equivalent of an extremely isolated orphanage, you are very confused as to why everyone seems to be terrified of your best-friend-turned-basically-sibling-because-years-of-social-isolation-will-do-that-to-you. I mean, sure. She certainly has some weird habits and ways of showing affection, and can be rather unaware of her strength at times, but she’s also the nicest, quietest, most loving and peaceful sentient you’ve ever met. So why do all the scary, known-to-be-killers species hiding from her in fear? -- Anon Guest

They called it Oubliette Base, when they called it anything. There was work there, of course, because maintaining a spaceport means perpetual work. But it's one of those little pockets of the known universe that acts like a collecting area. And what it collects is the cogniscent equivalent of a tosheroon.

You know the type. The antisocial, the socially awkward, the weirdoes, oddballs, former stow-aways, and orphans of all kinds. Here, 'family' is a word for a group of people in a state of symbiosis. Love can happen, and it generally does, but the 'parent' role is nebulous at best and 'child' is defined as the person who needs the most looking after.

Theramin and Grohl more or less raised each other. Sure, there were others who fed them and clothed them and took them in, but they were transient at best and overworked to the point of accidental negligence at worst. They always had each other from the moment they could remember anything and that was that.

Theirs was a world in which anyone roughly the same age or skill level was addressed as 'cousin'. Where anyone of adult age or skill level was 'aunty' or 'uncle' or, if they couldn't tell, 'untie'[1]. Anyone of significant age got 'peepums' regardless of gender presentation. They had even chances of getting what they needed because communities like this thrived on the benevolence of their passing associates.

Grohl didn't know there was anything wrong with hir sib until the two of them got off-planet and started roaming around the more civilised areas of Galactic Society. Once at a certain level of civility, people started veering to avoid them. Shopkeepers would conduct all negotiations and haggling with their nervous gaze returning to Theramin like a boomerang.

When the pair got to the pinnacle of civilisation, the local security corps drew their stunners on them. They stood nervously just on the other side of the airlock with their manipulating limbs in a harmless position. One of the guards was a Krekkin like Grohl, and attempted to lure hir away from hir sib.

"Come to me, now. You're safe. The Deathworlder won't hurt you."

Grohl was more confused than reassured. "What Deathworlder?"

More confusion from the security people. "The cogniscent to your left?"

But there was only Theramin there. With both hands on their head and attempting to look small and harmless despite hir gangly limbs. "What'd I do?" ze said.

"Uh," said Grohl, not moving towards hir fellow Krekkin. "That's my sibling."

"Yeah, we're family," said Theramin.

"That's a human," said the fellow Krekkin. "They're class five Deathworlders."

Grohl looked up at hir lanky sibling, who was nervously looking down.

Theramin carefully shrugged. "Never harmed anyone, I swear," ze said.

It took hours, but they eventually sorted things out. Grohl had to carry a permit and Theramin, hir sibling, was classified as a 'wild bodyguard'. And even then, they had to have an escort to make sure that Theramin didn't start any trouble.

The problem was, Theramin could apparently start trouble just by existing.

And that's the reason most Oublietters stay in Oubliette.

[1] Pronounced, 'oon-tee' and the gender-neutral term for a sibling of one's parental.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Catmando]

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