Sep 18, 2020 11:11 PM
To all mankind -- may we never find space so vast, planets so cold, heart and mind so empty that we cannot fill them with love and warmth.
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"I'm Bruce! What's that thing you came here in?"

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"That's my spaceship!" She pats its shiny shell affectionately.

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"Can I look inside it?"

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She hesitates, then says, "Yeah, okay. But don't go inside, there's stuff in there it would be a bad idea for you to touch."

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"Okay, I'll just look." He peers around her into the ship.

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The inside of the ship is shiny and complicated! And pretty small, if you're an Apra-sized person. There's a chair, set in the middle of the cramped space and facing a curved panel of buttons and switches and blinking lights. Above/behind the panel, there's a dark glossy surface that covers most of the wall. Behind the chair, there's a ladder leading up into a dark mysterious place.

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It doesn't look anything like his house or like outside! "Coooool. I want to go to other planets someday. I want to see everything there is to see."

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"A respectable ambition," says Apra. "Maybe I'll come by again sometime and take you for a ride around the galaxy. I couldn't do it now, I don't have room for a passenger even if they're as little as you. D'you need anything in the meantime? Is there enough food here and stuff?"

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"Taking a ride around the galaxy would be awesome! And, um, I've got berries. Are there more kinds of food?"

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"There's plenty. Hmm, let me see if I can find anything..."

She steps into the ship, hauls herself up the ladder, and disappears out of sight. Rummaging noises ensue. Half a minute later she's sliding back down the ladder again with a box cradled in one arm.

"Here," she says, opening the box. It's made of a thin rough bendable material like very stiff leaves, and inside there are lots of roundish flattish objects slightly bigger than Bruce could hold in two cupped palms. She takes one out and bites it, revealing that it is a pale outer skin wrapped around a gooey inner filling, and offers the box to Bruce. "Apple handpies!"

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"Oh wow they smell amazing!" He takes another and bites it. "They taste amazing too!"

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"I'm glad you like 'em! I don't know how to make them myself but I know who does, I could see if she wants to come visit. And you can keep these in the meantime."

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"Awesome, thanks! I should get something for you too--one second!" And he darts into his house and comes back with one of his sparkly rock-shards, which he holds out to Apra.

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"Aww, thanks!" She happily trades the box for the shard. "It's real pretty."

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"You're welcome! So is this what you do all the time, just fly around and meet new people? What are other planets like? You said most of the ones with people were bigger than this."

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"Mostly I fly around and meet new planets, actually! That's my job, I'm a starscout. I look for planets that are interesting somehow, like if they're pretty or if people could live on them, and I write down where they are and then I go put them on the big list of all the planets in the galaxy so other people can find them later. But usually if I find a planet that's not on the list already, there won't be anybody living there. And usually if a planet is this small, it's not good enough at growing things for somebody to live on it."

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"Cool! What makes a planet good at growing things? Are you going to put mine on the list?"

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"So plants grow in dirt," she says, "and different dirt is better or worse for growing plants in, and different plants like different kinds of dirt more or less. Like, there's no grass growing on that rock," she gestures at the pond, "because rock is really bad for growing just about anything. And really little planets are usually just made of rock, sometimes with some sand on it, and there's not much that likes growing in sand either. And plants need water, too, and really little planets sometimes don't have any. Do you want your planet on the list? If it's on the list then lots of people can find out where it is and they might come visit you."

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"I'm not sure. Meeting you has been nice but I don't know if I want to be meeting lots of people all the time. . . . But some of them would have cool explanations of things like you, and if there are too many people I can just go in my house and not talk to them, so yeah, I do want to be on the list."

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She thinks for a second, and then suggests, "I could just tell a few people about you to start with, and you could see how you like that, and if you want more visits than just a handful of my friends, I could put you on the list then?"

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"That sounds really good, thanks!"

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"Okay, I'll do that!"

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"Do you want a tour of the planet before you leave?"

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"Sure!"

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"Okay, follow me! Over there is my house, and this way is the pond I like to swim in . . ." 

He gives her a tour of the pond and the berry bushes and the trees that make cool scaly seeds and the place he found the prettiest of all of his rocks and various other landmarks and in not too long they have gone clear around the planet and seen all the important tourist locations.

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