“Why am I nervous?” Lelelu was pacing back and forth on the bridge of her new ship. Zri was seated in the command chair, just watching her.
“Lelelu.” He waited for her to stop and look at him. He stood up and went to her, embracing her. “You’re just excited. You thought you lost your father so long ago, and now you have him back.”
“You’re right. But it’s also being invited to Suus. They don’t invite many outsiders to the planet, I just don’t want to make a bad impression. I…”
“Lelelu, you’re not an outsider. You’ve worked personally with Ciic, you are the assistant to the Muse of Mischief, one of her dearest friends, and now your father has partnered with one of the Suus rescued from the VReoria. Relax, I assure you, they aren’t going to see you as an outsider.” He could feel her begin to relax, she sat down waiting for clearance to land.
“Excuse me, Lelelu.” Her communications officer approached. “You’ve been cleared to land, the shuttle is ready.”
Too nervous to speak, she stood and nodded before heading to the shuttle. Zri followed. She was too nervous to pilot the shuttle, she seated herself in the co-pilot’s chair and let Zri fly them down to the planet. As they neared the landing coordinates they’d been given, she could see an entire group of Suus gathered, waiting for her. They were flying the customary red banners used for ceremonies. Now she was really nervous. After setting the shuttle down, Zri stood and took her hand.
He led her to the side door, opened it, and allowed the ramp to descend. There was in fact a group of Suus waiting to greet her, and one of them was Ciic.
They made their way to the bottom of the ramp where Ciic and Muum greeted them. “Lelelu, Zri, on behalf of Suus, I welcome you both. And offer our sincere gratitude for rescuing some of us from the Vreoria.” She stepped forward and embraced Lelelu first, then Zri. Muum presented her with a huge bouquet of Leel flowers, the vines were woven together to create a handle with a complete sphere of flowers hanging from it. The smell was intoxicating.
“I know that you have much lost time to make up for with your father. We won’t keep you.” Ciic turned toward a small crowd.
“Ciic, thank you for allowing us to visit Suus. It is an honor to be here.” Lelelu said.
Ciic looked back toward her. Projecting only to Lelelu, she took her arm with her upper arm and encircled her waist with her lower arm. “I consider you to be family Lelelu. Should need anything, you have only to ask.”
Before Lelelu could respondIysuno came rushing forward with Faaf beside him. Ciic and Muum stepped back.
“Le!” He exclaimed, scooping her up and holding her. When he finally let her go, he stepped back and looked at her beaming with joy. He turned to Zri. “Commander Zri, thank you for coming.” He took a slight step back and with his arm around her, he presented Faaf. “And you both remember Faaf, now my wife.” He looked at Lelelu to see her reaction to the news that he had remarried. The only emotion her face displayed was joy. Her mother had lived a long, full life – why shouldn’t her father have a partner now that he was back?
“Thank you both for coming to Suus. We are honored to receive you.” Faaf projected.
Lelelu handed her bouquet to Zrie and went to her, and embraced her. “Thank you Faaf, I’m so pleased that you and Baba are together.”
As the pleasantries died down, Ciic came forward again. She reached for Lelelu’s hand, “I hope that you will join us at the palace for a reception this evening Lelelu.”
“Thank you Ciic, we will be there.”
The small crowd dispersed, and they headed to Faaf’s home. The walk was enjoyable, Suus is a very clean, heavily floral planet. It’s also a very safe place. Lelelu and Zri could feel eyes upon them as they walked, but there was not hostility in the stares, only curiosity. They arrived at a small residence, tucked away on a path with many others that looked similar. Each had a stone wall and a wooden gate. When they arrived Faaf opened the gate, Lelelu and Zri stepped into the courtyard. It was overwhelming – like stepping into a different world.
“This is amazing Faaf!” Lelelu exclaimed.
“Thank you Lelelu. I am honored to have a home such as this. It is very similar to the home I had before, before I was captured.” She paused, momentarily overtaken by memories of the decades she spent in a stasis tube on the VReoria specimen ship. “Luckily Iysuno is also passionate about gardening, we enjoy cultivating here in the courtyard.”
The courtyard will filled with a variety of flowers, most of which Lelelu had never seen. There was every color and shape imaginable. Along the fence line to the left she noticed a vine that was growing long bean pods.
“Are those atus beans, like we grew in the garden when I was a child?”
“Ah yes!” Iysuno said, heading over to the vine. He was very proud of them. “This is one of our experimental plants, and it’s been a great success.”
“Experimental?” Zri asked.
“Uh-huh, you know that Suus sustain themselves on vapors, but I need actual food. We’ve been experimenting with plants that create food for me, and flowers that can be vaporized for Faaf. Sort of allowing us to ‘eat together’ even though we have such different needs.”
“The vapor created from the flowers of the atus bean are surprisingly flavorful. It is unlike anything here on Suus, sort of hot.” Faaf projected.
“Hot like spicy?” Lelelu asked.
“Yes, I think spicy would be the correct description. Suus do not have anything like this. We’ve shared it with friends, and it has been well received. Others are now growing the vine here on Suus.”
“Oh I see. You two are becoming trendsetters here on Suus.” Lelelu teased.
Faaf looked at Iysuno and her eyes sparkled. It was as close to a smile as a being with no mouth could get. Lelelu assumed they had shared a private moment via telepathy.
“Let’s go in, we can continue our visit inside. I want to show you the plans for the greenhouse and garden we’re adding on to the house on the Planet of Portals. Are you hungry?” Iysuno asked.
“No Baba, we’re fine.” Lelelu said as they all followed him into the house. She was happy to see that her father seemed to have recovered from being held in a stasis tube for decades – recovered physically at least. Lelelu knew that having a partner who had suffered the same incarceration would be a benefit to his emotional recovery, she felt a weight lift as she realized that Baba would be fine.
They sat in the living room, sipping tea and reviewing the plans for the greenhouse addition that was to be built onto the house that Lelelu had grown up in.
“This tea tastes like jasmine, the tea that M gets on Earth.”
“Yes, it is the same. After The Muse of Mischief shared the tea with Ciic, she began to cultivate it here on Suus. Vapor from the jasmine flowers are enjoyed by many here.”
“Well, we should prepare for the reception. It’s not everyday that we’re invited to a reception at the palace!” Isyuno said, gather up the tea cups.