“Trella is where it began.” The Muse of Mischief said.

“Hey wait a minute, you changed your clothes! Do you keep a wardrobe on Zri’s ship?”

This made M laugh, “Uhhh no. I went home and changed

before  returning.  I’m  no   longer  in  the  mood  for   striped stockings.”

“Mmmmm I do  like this garment better. You  actually look like a lady.”

M  had  changed  into  a  simple  floor  length  skirt,  and blouse. What Bartala couldn’t see though was the left side of the skirt had an intermittent tear away seam. Beneath the skirt she wore solid black leggings. Time traveling, planet hopping superheroes just never know when they will be called upon to take action. “So anyway,” she continued, “Trella is where it began.”

“Trella? How did you ever find such a remote planet as a child? I remember it seemed like absolute paradise but it is in such a remote area, I’ve not been there since I became the Emperor of Ploosnar.” Bartala said.

M chuckled at her friend’s arrogance, as if an Emperor should maintain the freedom he had as a child. She continued.

“I never wondered how Trella came to be, or how I found it. It was always an escape for me. Sometimes I’ve wondered if it was  hardwired.  Some  kind  of  safety feature,  so  that  when  I started traveling I would be sure to end up someplace safe. Can you imagine if I had ended up on the Black Sea Planet or Chyke 2C95 when I was a child? I may not have survived.”

“Oh  I  can  imagine  that!  I  remember  a  tough  but frightened adolescent that appeared in my father’s palace after stumbling upon Ploosnar.” Bartala recalled.

M smiled at her old friend and continued, “I never spoke of Trella to the humans around me. I didn’t understand what I was doing when I opened an aperture and traveled, but I knew that they wouldn’t understand it either and would surely not believe me. They probably would have locked me up and attempted to treat me for mental illness, which means prescribe mind altering drugs.

Anyway, once when I was very young the pretend family took a trip to the ocean, a place called Lincoln City, Oregon. We all piled in a gigantic green station wagon; that’s a hideously ugly gas  combustion  automobile.  I  hated  these  family trips.  They didn’t provide me the hiding space I was used to. I loved my time at the ocean, the hugeness of it made me think of the possibility of other planets. I had been to Trella several times, but I had never had contact with a sentient being. For all I knew at the time, Trella could have been solely in my imagination. After the trip, life went back to normal, boring public school, bland food, and being surrounded by mindless zombies that were perpetually watching sitcoms.”

“Sitcoms?” Bartala asked.

“Yes, a super Earth invention.” M said sarcastically, “it stands for situation comedy. They are unimaginative drivel that’s broadcast endlessly on the idiot box or television as it’s actually called.   It’s   basically   a   communication   system   gone   bad. Originally it was able to provide worthy information and reasonable entertainment. But over the years, the greed of the Earth  corporations  turned  it  into  an  addictive  propaganda machine. Humans spend their entire lives being programmed by the corporations, their standards are lowered, they’re told what to eat, what to wear, even what to think.”

Bartala recoiled in disgust, “No wonder you have such a dim view of the planet. It’s disgusting that those responsible for the oversight of Earth didn’t control the greed. You see, there is something to be said for a monarchy! Why do you and Brzko stay on that planet?”

“I cannot disagree with that, assuming it’s the right monarch, and we stay because we were hidden there as infants. What if whoever hid us comes looking for us? Anyway, back in this normal day to day routine I start to daydream about the time I spent alone walking on the beach, I longed to be back there with the sand under my feet and the sound of the waves crashing. Imagine my surprise when I was there, I thought it, and then I was there.”

“That must have been quite shocking. Were you frightened or excited?”

“Both. I panicked and thought of the room I had just been in, and then I was there. It was then that I realized I could go to specific places. I started traveling as much as I could. Mostly I just went back to the beach at Lincoln City. There is a very short river there. The D River, they call it the World’s shortest river.

It’s only a few hundred feet or something like that. Anyway the area is absolutely stunning, with the ocean and huge trees, big hills.

But there were a few times that traveling was a little, well concerning. Humans don’t react well when you just appear in front of them. They have no concept of the Universe, most of them think they were created by the divine intervention of a god. So… if you just appear you too must be of a god status, they worship both good and evil gods. You see how that could work for or against you. But either way it tends to draw unwanted attention.”

“Absolutely barbaric. Did you know that you weren’t human at that time?”

“No but I was beginning to suspect. I started thinking about  Lincoln  City  in  the  past;  I  knew  the  population  was virtually nonexistent 100 years prior. Of course there was no way for me to verify the date the first time I went back in time but it was obviously the same place – the trees grew right down to the sand though, the highway wasn’t there and neither were the buildings. I went as often as I could sneak away. It was fantastic, until I realized I was seeing someone else’s footprints next to the river. After that, I started jumping to the forest and walking a short distance to the beach. I assumed it was just someone of that time,  living  in  the  area  –  maybe  one  of  the  local  Native Americans from the nearby Yaquina tribe.”

“Was it Brzko?” Bartala asked as he leaned forward. The story of how his dearest friend met her mate was clearly exciting him.

The Muse of Mischief smiled, not allowing herself to be deviated from the way she wanted to tell the story, she continued “Brzko had been hidden on the East Coast of North America. He was desperate to escape from an unhappy home. He had been experimenting with travel as well. We had never seen each other on Trella, but evidently we were both exploring the planet. After learning about the Oregon Trail in history class he started exploring Oregon.”

“Oregon Trail?”

“I’m  going  to  have  to  bring  you  a  book  about  Earth history, although it would probably disgust you. Early settlers of the continent where we were raised spread from east to west, as they slaughtered the indigenous population. Their travels mostly followed the path that was called the Oregon Trail, as the farthest western  point  that  was  inhabitable,  it  was  the  destination. Anyway, Brzko had seen pictures of a place called Depot Bay, that is just south of where I was hanging out. He was intrigued by the rocky outcroppings and native people, but he branched out and started exploring. He was also raised by pretend parents that didn’t really seem to care what he did, that left him plenty of time to explore.

The  first  time  we  saw  each  other  I  was  sitting  on  a boulder next to the D River. I had arrived at the forest, and after making sure the coast was clear, as the Earth saying goes, I went down to the river. I was just enjoying the sound of the water and the fresh air. I saw movement not far from me, I looked up, and there he was, no further than you are now. I panicked and opened an aperture back to my bedroom.”

Bartala poured them both another nekmid as he whistled through his teeth.

“When I saw him, it was like every cell in my body was electrified. I’d never experienced anything like it. I was obsessed, I had to meet this person but I wanted to be prepared this time. It turns out he had the same reaction. He felt the connection the minute he saw me, he was devastated when I disappeared. We both went back to that place as often as we could, I knew he was trying to find me, I could feel him. The problem was the time, how could we get there at the same time. I decided to leave a note for him. Even back then I wore a derby. I wrote a note telling him to meet me on May 27, 1912 at 10:00 AM at the D River. I wasn’t sure he’d find the note, and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to travel precisely to that time but I had to try.”

“And it worked didn’t it?”

“Yes, I discovered that if I thought of the specific time, as well as the specific place, I could travel there. But you know how mischievous I am.   I wanted to arrive first, so I arrived a few hours early at my usual spot in the forest. As I walked down to the beach I saw him. He was sitting on my favorite boulder, wearing a derby and holding mine, he had also arrived hours early. I knew I had met my match.”

“Stop, stop, you will make me cry. No, don’t stop, don’t stop!!”

M smiled and giggled at Bartala’s reaction. “So he stands

up when he sees me and he is the most attractive being I’ve ever seen – tall, dark, confident, and wearing a long black trench coat with his derby. I boldly walked up to him and before I could speak he said “I’ve been looking for you, my Muse” I asked him how he knew my name and he said he hadn’t stopped thinking about me since he saw me. He knew we were not from this planet,  that  we  had  been  hidden  here,  and  that  we  were connected, we were partners.

And that’s it, we went back to our normal lives until we were of the age Earth considers a human to be independent. Then we left our pretend parents and we’ve been together since.”

“How could you stand to be apart after meeting?”

“Brzko and I spent every minute we could together. Every time one of us could break free from the pretend parents we would  meet  in  the  past  in  Lincoln  City  or  travel  to  Trella together.  We  spent  as  much  time  together  as  we  could. Eventually we  built  our  fortress, the  Island,  in  Lincoln City. When he couldn’t get away to meet me I’d come find you and stir up some trouble. Remember that time you hid all of your father’s bisporks, wow, he was PISSED!”

“Hahaha yes, he was very pissed. But he saw the humor in it later after he calmed down. Did you meet Brzko before or after we met?” Bartala asked.

“Brzko and I met a few years before I stumbled my way to Ploosnar.”

“I remember that day very well. My father was informed of a being that had appeared at the palace entrance, I went out to see what the commotion was, and there you were, surrounded by armed guards and still defiant. Ha! You were a sight, striped stockings, high heels, and a derby – a petite little lady struggling with the guards. How old were you?”

“I was eleven. You know I really hate being restrained.  I was on Trella skipping rocks, just killing time, when I suddenly found myself here. Brzko and I have wondered if the ones that hid us on Earth may have placed something from Ploosnar on Trella to facilitate our meeting.”

“An interesting idea. Perhaps there are clues of your origins on Trella. We should take a trip there together and see if we can find anything.”

“Where are you  planning to go  now  Bartala darling?”

Empress Nalau had entered the room.

The  Muse  of  Mischief  stood  and  faced  her  “Empress

Nalau, it’s a pleasure to see you.”

“Hello M, dinner is being served, will you join us?”

“It would  be  my  pleasure.”  M said  as she  and  Bartala joined Nalau. Today’s  story hour was over.

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