Challenge #02561-G004: Soft ProtectionsteemCreated with Sketch.

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Cuddly-Pie, Uplift, the name said it all, designed as an accessory/servant. now acts as Companion,Escort, Shield for those humans needing a Buffer and Shield when moving about or interacting with life. The Shield works both ways. -- Anon Guest

Augment -- a non-cogniscent species given cusp-cogniscence at a genetic level before gestation and training after birth in order to be an engineered assistive animal, usually sterile and made for assisting one person.
Uplift -- a non-cogniscent species given post-birth retrogenetic treatments and surgeries to give them cogniscent qualities. Many are not sterilised and are kept in indentures to ensure their progeny can become Uplifted like them. -- Galactic Alliance Definitions For Newcomers.

Augments are made for a function, Uplifts -once freed from servitude- can choose what they do. Cuddly-Pie chose to be a Shield. An Escort, protector, or companion for those who needed it. They expected to be escorting Havenworlders, and for the most part, that was their job. A safe and comforting barrier between more delicate species and the rest of the known universe.

What Cuddly-Pie hadn't expected was Humans who needed them too. It was something of a surprise to find one of their creator-species waiting in the comforting lounge for them. They were not small, and they didn't appear to be weak. They appeared to be an average human. Average brown skin, average dark eyes, average height, and average weight. What was not average was the way they curled up on themselves in a corner of the lounge, a large fluffy pillow clutched to the knees like a bulwark against the rest of the known universe. "Human... Jaime?" risked Cuddly-Pie.

The Human flinched a little. "You're my shield? I... thought when it said 'Cuddly-Pie' as a name, that it was... a... nickname?"

"It's more a middle finger to my creators at this point," Cuddly-Pie kept a respectful distance and pointedly sat on a nearby chair as if they were still proving something with that action. Most of what they were doing now was rebellion against a former master who was basically the worst micro-despot the CRC had ever encountered. Cuddly-Pie had to continually remind themself that this Human was not their abuser and therefore didn't deserve any ire. The Human was clearly terrified of everything, leading Cuddly-Pie to wonder why they were travelling at all in the first place. "I have been assigned to help keep you safe on this leg of your journey. Why not begin by helping me understand what you need?" It was the normal spiel, despite using it on a Deathworlder, but it worked.

Human Jaime had phobias on their phobias. A layperson's diagnosis might easily be, "scared of existence" but that wasn't quite true. Human Jaime had a maladjusted threat detecting ability, and was therefore likely to react to the unfamiliar with abject terror. The time gave Jaime time to relax and become more comfortable with Cuddly-Pie in hir company. Ze even grew bold enough to express a desire to pet Cuddly-Pie's fur.

Cuddly-Pie was used to this. Fluff and warmth were soothing to many species and many of them wished to "burrow in for the winter" out loud. It was part of the reason why Cuddly-Pie had signed up to become a haptic therapist. The other part of it was that fur care was expensive and every Minute counted. It was also how Cuddly-Pie knew the correct way to hold and comfort a nervous person.

"You're good," sighed Human Jaime.

"I've learned to be better than I was," Cuddly-Pie allowed. "If you need to refine my interactions, I welcome feedback. What is your goal today?"

It was a simple one. Well. Simple for Cuddly-Pie. Walk from the comforting lounge to the sleeper suite aboard a vessel headed towards a remote spa on a paradise world where Human Jaime would be gradually and safely introduced to hazards at a rate ze could handle. The reason why they had to go so far out of their way was simple, too. Their own place of origin didn't believe that the treatment Human Jaime was going to get was the correct one. They had a "throw them in the deep end" policy and collectively wondered why so many sank without a trace.

Humans. They had the most amazing capacity for ignorance, sometimes.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / tana]

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Reminds me of when I was young and terrified to wetting myself when it came to storms. You see, my biggest terrors then, were storms and flying. It took years, and a lot of little steps, before I am able to handle MOST storms, though my heart will still race when the wind picks up during a storm. But I've only flown once and that triggered my phobia SO badly.. I can't do it again. I wish I'd've had someone like "Cuddly Pie" to help me. I was so scared!

Sometimes, we all need a soft friend to help us out, and that's okay.