Miru sat in a public park, the blood-red and lilac skies of Rinalten CK93857-M hanging over them like an omen of doom.  The end of their tail trailed through holographic images of flora from different planets across the galaxy, but they hardly paid attention to the gleaming display all around them.  They held their head in their hands, and did not look up, even when holographic rain began to pitter patter down along the walkways, bouncing off the leaves of plants that weren’t really there.

     How could this have happened?  They’d given so many good years of their life to that company, only to be thrown out like trash!  Miru was a good, hard worker; they had always completed their tasks on time, and had never once talked back to their bosses, even the ones who were morons.

     It wasn’t fair.

     Cawraa-aa-aak, came the call of a holographic avian.  Miru looked up and glared at the thing as it hopped along a shimmering branch, then leaped into the air and flew off.  If they tracked its movement, they could see where it vanished at the far edge of the park projector’s range.

     They’d wanted to go somewhere peaceful to take in what had happened, but it seemed even a holographic vision of nature—free of nasty, biting insects and other annoyances—was unpleasant.  But where else would be better?  A prior emergency had wiped out a lot of their savings, so returning to their apartment would only solidify the dread they felt—they’d have to pack up and move soon, find somewhere smaller and cheaper, perhaps further away.  They could visit a restaurant or cafe, but that ran the risk of them bumping into one of their old colleagues.

     No.  The annoying holo-park was the best option, for now.

     Miru stood and began to walk along the path.  As they neared different sections, sensors built into the ground triggered a soothing, monotone voice to read out a scripted introduction to the flora and the planet they were from.  There might have been a note of pride in the voice, when they reached the area that talked about the planet they were on now.

     Miru could not understand why.  Rinalten CK93857-M was not a planet known for its nature; it was a world-spanning metropolis.  Aside from the pests and few hardy plants that could survive on an “urban planet”, its ecosystem had been obliterated, its natural water and every other resource devoured, and then every surface paved over and covered in concrete and steel.  One might see real plants grown on rooftops, but they weren’t native specimens.  The companies that had purchased the rights to the planet had profited dearly from it.

     They weren’t a naturalist.  They didn’t really care about the planet’s fate.  What they cared about was that, after all that, it had become a bureaucratic hub for this part of the galaxy; a place where they believed they could get stable employment in an office, and not have to worry about losing their job.  Miru’s parents had left the celethi homeworld for just that reason—to give their child a life of stability and opportunity.

     Their people’s home planet only had a small portion of the holo-park dedicated to it, where aquatic flora shimmered in the light, and false water ripples danced across the pathway.  The celethi were amphibious beings; their homeworld was mostly water, dotted with small islands, and they had made their cities both above and below its blue-green surface.  Non-celethi thought the idea was charming; a world of underwater palaces, something to be wondered at.

     But once the celethi had become connected to the wider interplanetary community, that had turned out to be their great undoing.  Few off-worlders were adapted to such a lifestyle; either they could not breathe underwater, or some chemical in it was toxic to them, and having to wear hazard suits just to visit a planet did not appeal to most, for vacation or to work.  To prosper, most celethi found they had to leave their homeworld behind.

     Miru’s parents had been more sentimental about it than them.  They’d always talked about taking them to see the planet, its ancient structures and remaining inhabited regions, and told stories about the long legal battle to keep the celethi homeworld intact.  In their youth, there had been several companies pushing to take over the planet; its large amounts of freshwater and other valuable resources had made it a tantalising prospect for them.  Natives and diaspora alike had banded together to ensure that would never happen, and their parents had been proud of their contributions to that effort.

     They never had made the trip back there.  Things had always been too busy.

     They didn’t know why they were thinking of all this now.  Perhaps the holograms had brought old memories back to the surface.

     Miru turned to walk away from the display, and then their foot caught in an uneven bit of tile.  They fell, items clattering out of their bag, and swore, uncaring for who might hear them.  That was going to bruise.  Why couldn’t this day just stop?

     They pushed themself up on their knees and went to gather their things, and found that the holoslate three strangers had handed them earlier had lit up.  Its screen glowed with the same message as before: ‘We are the Department of Protected Inhabited Planets. Your name precedes you and…’

     They grabbed the stupid thing, about to shove it back into their bag, but then paused.  They looked at it again.  Rinalten CK93857-M was their birthplace, but it was a vast, packed metropolis of a world, a culture where everyone was a stranger and to be treated with cool politeness.  They’d lost their job.  They had few friends.

     Perhaps, Miru thought, a fresh start might be exactly what they needed.

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[C1.A2] Opportunity, or Error?

In Chapter One ・ By Zagreus-15 ・ 1 Favourite ・ 0 Comments
Far away from Xiunus, a young(ish) sapient reconsiders an offer made, after losing their job...

C1.A2 entry & a sort of intro piece to my researcher character!  Going from office worker on an entirely urban planet to the leader of a colony in the mountains of an unfamiliar planet is going to be... an interesting experience for them, LMAO.

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