Emerald Starfire

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Reality Abroad 2022
8/28/2022 11:18pm

Nims & Bets and I were a mess saying our goodbyes on the platform. The central teleportation station is on Grundlage, the biggest of all the moons of Ishtr, and it was packed with the summer tourists making their way home.

So many tears but so much laughing too. I know we'll all keep in touch but it just won't be the same not being around each other every day, eating together, sleeping in the same rooms. This summer totally changed our lives, in ways that people who haven't traveled alone just can't understand. We all swore to meet up next year and do the archipelago water world of Fontaine, where they have floating islands and you can find your own and if you can make friends with it you can ask it to go anywhere you want.

Back at Psyhigh they asked if anybody had any symptoms or physical issues to report, and I don't figure it's worth telling them about my little rash. It's itchy and bumpy but I'm trying not to scratch. It looks a lot like the bug egg infestations they showed us pictures of but I'm sure it's nothing. Nims & Bets have it too, but you know, that kind of stuff just happens when you travel.

Can't wait till next summer!

Reality Abroad 2022
8/17/2022 11:30pm

The next morning there was another big bang on our hotel door.

We opened it, but this time it wasn't the secret police guys. It was a giant bug! Just like our friend George, but so big it had to crouch its cornstalk shrimp head down to look through the door.

"Hi," it said. "May we come in?"

Our own little George scampered in behind it, then leaped up into Nims' arms and licked her face with its proboscis.

It turned out those people who came to our room weren't really Endicott Internal Security at all. They were bug traffickers! Somebody in their underground criminal network must have spotted us and thought three young girls travelling alone would be easy to trick and intimidate into sneaking a backpack full of bug eggs to Nastrala.

"George is still very young," the giant insect said. "In a few more seasons he'll master your language. But he was lucky to be born free on Endicott at all."

Apparently there's a market for bug blood. People make some kind of drug out of it. They're setting up farms to harvest them for their blood on Nastrala. That's what the eggs were for.

"So, we're not in any trouble or anything?" Bets asked. "We never planned to take him off planet, I promise..."

"Oh no, not at all," the big bug chuckled. "George is quite capable of taking care of himself. And he's a good judge of character."

George nuzzled up against Nims' neck. Nim nuzzled him back.

"George subdued the traffickers himself," the big bug continued. "He brought their dessicated corpses back to the hive all on his own, didn't you dear?"

George let out slow creaky chirp, and we all laughed.

Reality Abroad 2022
8/5/2022 10:48pm

We learned that no hotels will take you if you have a bug. People at the desk see you coming with that big cornstalk shrimp over your shoulder, peering around with its antenna eyes, they start shouting at you right away and pointing at the door behind you.

So Bets hides George in her backpack. Which means Nims and I have to stuff all the rest of Bets’ stuff in our backpacks. And though he squirms we've been successful more often than not.

Until now.

There was a big bang on the door to our room and it was Endicott Internal Security. They said we were in a lot of trouble for even having George in our possession, but they'd let us go if we left George behind and delivered a package to Nastrala, the Ninth Moon. There was a 9am shuttle from the regional spaceport tomorrow.

They told us they were leaving a guard at our door for the night, and not to try to run or contact anyone.

And they took George with them. He wasn't happy about it, but they put big thick rubber bands around his legs, just like they do to lobster claws.

Reality Abroad 2022
7/28/2022 9:58pm

Bets brought home a bug from our tour of the Temple of the Crawling Vines.

We've been on Endicott (the fifth moon) for about a week and all the other trekkers we met here said we had to see the Temple, but be sure to get a local guide. After their experience on Mythika, Nims & Bets said no way to that so we went it alone, and while we found ourselves in a few tough patches we made it through mostly unscathed.

And so we're relaxing in an admittedly somewhat sketchy pension and Bets takes off her gear and there's this giant bug on her back, something like a cross between a shrimp and a cornstalk. He seems to be good natured enough. Bets has named him George.

Reality Abroad 2022
7/16/2022 9:43am

Nims & Bets found boyfriends. Ok not exactly “boys” but locals who hang around the tourist traps on Mythika, the seventh moon. They're pretty handsy — in that each of them has six hands — but seem pretty harmless. Probably going to get a kickback from the skinless horse rental stable they helped us find.

Skinless horses are the only way to cross the Howling Plain, because they keep the ghosts away.

Reality Abroad 2022
7/3/2022 11:49pm

STOP, SHOP, and see the STORMS!

That's what the sign says here at the top of Peak Dragana! I've been tramping around the Nine Moons of Ishtr for my Reality Abroad program. Met two super cool travelling companions--Nims & Bets--and it's all our first time so it's awesome!

Peak Dragana is a great place to watch the non-stop lightning storms on this side of the sixth moon, Lugal-Marada. Nims & Bets and I will spend the night then spend a couple days trekking back down to the regional spaceport and haven't decided on moon five or seven next.