Carpathia III: Epilogue 9 - Confinement
Jaze's House, Rune Lake, New Berengaria
The next few days were spent with the new arrivals confined to Jaze's house and yard while they were educated on the ways of modern technology and culture. The first step was to introduce everyone to household technology, starting with the more advanced features of the plumbing. The novelty of a flush toilet was taken care of fairly quickly, followed by the shower and sink with hot and cold running water.
Next came some of the more complicated items. Some of these were not especially difficult. Basic operation of the TV, microwave, and dishwasher seemed like magic to the others, but it didn't take long for them to get the hang of it. More complex were computers and other computerized items and these were things they would have to learn over time rather than right away. For the rest, they were simply encouraged to ask questions if they encountered anything they didn't understand. Touch-operated items, such as the kitchen faucet, cabinets, and closets caused a bit of a fuss, but were easily explained.
Kagurain spent most of his time at the Bond house, with Lynx visiting often when his suddenly active schedule allowed. Lynx's gratitude seemed to have no end as feast after feast was delivered at every mealtime and group of professional organizers and construction workers showed up to completely redesign the layout of the third floor to accommodate the new inhabitants.
Some things, however, had to wait for later, and the adults all agreed that it was best for all to remain at the house until other aspects of Carpathian technology and culture could be introduced little by little in order to effect a more positive experience. Once the initial awe of the computer tablets began to wear off, Elektra delighted in teaching the amazed Yserians about things such as subway trains and spaceships as well as more subtle issues, such as the concept of shopping malls and restaurant dining.
Elektra and Tier, with the occasional help from Lynx and Kradik, schedule permitting, put together a list of activities for controlled outings to help familiarize the Yserians with their new home. First on the list, however, was clothing. Jaze had already collected the clothing from his own closet that he wanted to keep and allowed the other boys to take what they liked, but it was nowhere near enough. For this, Lynx used his influence and personal money to arrange and finance an after-hours trip to a shopping mall, where they could pick out what they liked without being overwhelmed by large crowds and distracted salespeople. This trip also allowed for cultural mishaps to occur without significant embarrassment.
Jaze's priority was to get to know Tuomas.
To that end, Jaze was keen to simply allow Tuomas to take the lead and show his interests. On this day, it lead to a short walk past the wall behind the house onto the sandy beach. With his teeny shovel and colorful plastic buckets, Tuomas showed his interest in making sand castles. Though rudimentary, Tuomas was clearly beginning to demonstrate some basics of sculpting as he used his claw to carve battlements into the top of his bucket-shaped lump of sand.
Jaze: You're pretty good at that.
Tuomas continued picking at the sand castle with his claw.
Tuomas: Grandpa likes to come out and make sand castles with me. He smiled and watched, but he always looked sad.
Jaze sat contemplatively without saying anything, wondering what things must have been like here while he was gone.
Tuomas: Grandpa's funny, though. One time, a big wave came and touched his butt. He roared and jumped over the wall.
Jaze giggled, realizing that some things didn't change at all.
Jaze: Hee hee. Yeah, Dad has always been scared of everything.
Tuomas took a bucket and started filling it with sand. Jaze did his best to think of a good question to help him get to know his son better, but he could only come up with something very generic.
Jaze: So, how have you been?
Tuomas turned over the bucket, making a new sand dome which he could start sculpting.
Tuomas: Since I got the fire, I don't have to be in the hospital all the time, so that's good. I like being here. Grandma and Grandpa are nice. Auntie Natalya takes me to her dance studio. Uncle Dominic smells funny, but he plays games with me. It's better than Tokkastra. When I was there, people point at me and whisper a lot. Here, I feel... normal.
Jaze scratched his temple as memories of his time on Tokkastra floated through his mind.
Jaze: Yeah, I experienced a bit of that myself.
Tuomas put his hands on his lap and looked up at Jaze earnestly.
Tuomas: You're not going away again?
Without hesitation, Jaze shook his head.
Jaze: No, definitely not. I didn't want to go. I spent a lot of time thinking and wondering about you. I'm glad I could come back. It wasn't easy.
Jaze didn't expect a one-on-one with Tuomas to last forever, given that he was now living in a house with a massive blended family, but the next voice he heard was one he did not expect.
Jaze turned and smiled.
Jaze: Oh, hey! Feels like ages since I saw you last. Is Artemis with you?
Adell plopped onto the sand by Jaze and Tuomas.
Adell: I know Artemis is okay, but that's about it. He and his dad have been locked up in their lab since we got back. I try calling, but Asta just keeps telling me that they don't want to be disturbed. I've been spending the last few days with my mom and stepmom. Ryuu stopped by to let them know that the stories I was telling them were completely real.
Adell paused thoughtfully for a moment.
Adell: You know, the one thing that they didn't have trouble believing was that I became the... umm...
Adell glanced at Tuomas before completing his thought.
Adell: "...special friend" of a prince. Am I that predictable?
Jaze smirked and nodded.
Jaze: Yeah, pretty much.
Adell: I guess I'm going to have to think about what sort of person I want to be. Artemis wants a single partner for life. I like to be...
Adell glanced furtively at Tuomas again.
Adell: ...um... a little more flexible. I love him, but I wonder if we are really compatible.
Jaze looked Adell in the eye earnestly as he wiped his hands on his shorts.
Jaze: Talk to him. Tell him what you just told me. One thing I learned being with Toma is that there can be a compromise if you want to find it.
Adell: Heh. That's going to be an awkward conversation, but you're right. We should do that.
Adell turned to Tuomas again, this time without stealth, and smiled as he reached out and ruffled his hair.
Adell: You know, Jaze, I'm actually jealous. This is a cute kid you have. I never thought I'd say this, but having kids of my own seems like a pretty good idea.
Jaze: Something else to talk to Artmeis about.
Adell: That's true!
All three turned to the back door of the house as Elektra called out to them.
Elektra: Adell! There's someone to see you!
Elektra stepped aside and they watched in shock as Artemis staggered drunkenly through the back door.
Artemis: He's... finished...
Artemis began to topple forward and Adell scrambled through the sand to get to him, though he knew there was no hope that Artemis could be reached in time. Fortunately, a white, furry paw reached out and grabbed Artemis just before he hit the ground. Adell skidded to a halt, followed by Jaze and Tuomas, all in awe of her reflexes.
Asta: Honestly. I told Arty to stay home and rest, but noooooooo. Of course he's too stubborn to listen. At least he's finally getting some sleep.
Asta was surprisingly strong, lifting Artemis with just the one arm straight up by the scruff of his neck. With a roll of her eyes and an exasperated smirk, she carried him down the stairs.
Asta: You got a chair I can put this in?
Jaze hastily pulled up a patio chair for Asta, who unceremoniously dumped Artemis into it.
Asta: That's better. Now where is...
Before Asta could finish her sentence, a wide-eyed, nekohuman boy who appeared to be about 16 suddenly burst through the back door and charged at Adell.
Adell instinctively scampered backward, but it was too late.
Adell: What the...
Before Adell could utter another word, the boy tackled Adell to the ground and snuggled him tightly.
Boy: I missed you, daddy!
Finally, the boy loosened his grip and rose to a kneeling position, still straddling Adell. This gave him a chance to look more closely at his strange attacker, observing his twitchy ears, and his earnest, child-like eyes. Adell blinked a few times, wondering if he believed what he was seeing.
The boy threw his hands in the air with delight.
Phobos: You remember! I have Deimos in me too, but I'm mostly Phobos.
Adell shook his head as though he'd just walked through a cobweb, still in disbelief.
Adell: But how...
Asta intervened, putting her paw on Phobos's chest, urging him to stand.
Asta: I can help with that. You can't be married to a man like Lianne for more than 20 years and not pick up on some things. Lianne has been working for years on some new robotics. He and Artemis used a lot of extra parts, made a few new ones, and made him. New power source too. Artemis insisted.
Adell sat up and studied Phobos closely, though with difficulty, because Phobos seemed to be far too excited to stand still, tip-tapping on his feet like he was about to run a race.
Adell: Amazing! But what about the personality and memories? How did he manage to transfer all of that? I'm thrilled that he's still the same Phobos, but I'm curious too.
Asta: Transfer the memories? They didn't do that at all.
Asta patted Phobos on his shoulders, though he still continued to trot in place restlessly.
Asta: Now, calm down, you dancing goober. I want to show Adell your brain.
Right away, Phobos became still and Asta leaned in to unzip is jacket. Adell took note on the giant "03" painted on his chest while Asta began to feel around Phobos's side.
Asta: Now where was that... Ah, here it is!
Asta gave a hard push on Phobos's ribs and his entire chest cavity opened up. Inside was the little Phobos he remembered, eyes closed and arms and legs spread wide like vitruvian man. Little Phobos was connected to new Phobos with a myriad of cables and wires.
Asta: Everything that makes Phobos who he is is right here. The body is purely robotic.
Adell sniffled and brushed a tear from his eye.
Adell: I'm so glad to have you back!
Asta closed Phobos's chest door just in time before Adell pulled him in for a tight hug. Beaming with happiness, Phobos reciprocated.
Adell: Come on, let's reintroduce you to the others!
Phobos: Yay, I wanna see them again too!
Adell put his arm around Phobos and together, along with Asta, Jaze, and Tuomas, marched pridefully toward the house.
Jaze: I feel like we're forgetting something.
Meanwhile, back at the patio chair...
All city pictures from SimCity 4