8.Hearing

Juni awoke to find that it and Sam were alive, but in great peril, for the pod had crashed in an abandoned bay with no air. To make matters worse, the window was beginning to crack, and the pod was running out of oxygen.

Sam decided to take charge of the situation by swinging from the restraint, trying to rock the pod back upright, without much of a plan for what to do afterward. The effect was pretty much what Juni expected, and they both passed out almost immediately due to vacuum exposure. Fortunately for them, some service robots had already been on their way to repair the damage. (If only Sam had waited a bit longer.)

After they had gone unconscious, the service robots dragged them back into Unity. Juni, being lighter, moved more quickly, and Eugene Rumio, a male Kayohash, came across it. Thinking the robots were monsters or "bugs" of some sort, he fought them off and brought Juni the rest of the way, to the mouth of a cave in Kajoshu, the Kayohash province.

Eugene assumed that Juni had simply wandered in from a neighboring village, and was understandably confused when it asked about Sam, as Aikengyu were not particularly common in Kajoshu. Eugene noticed Juni's "sparkle" was messed up and assumed Juni was simply insane, but he was willing to explore the cave to find one of the "bugs" to hunt. Soon they came across Sam and one of the "bugs," a service drone robot, and when Juni talked to Sam in Hiero, Eugene suddenly realized that they had come from the South somehow.

Eugene's confusion multiplied when Juni began to have a conversation with the drone, which had a "sparkle" similar to a living being. The drone told Juni to seek out someone named "Mother," which made Eugene think of the local broodwitch, the respected village elder who tends to the communal egg farm, and who is often called "Mother" by her villagers. This broodwitch's name was Hira Melrose — Juni's mother. Juni had ended up near its own childhood village.

Sam soon learned several things about Kayohash: namely their innate tendency towards nudity, and the fact it didn't matter because, being monotremes, they have no external genitalia; for them, clothing is purely ornamental and occasionally utilitarian. Eugene, meanwhile, was a bit confused by Juni's statement that it was the child of the Broodwitch, as it is generally a faux pas for a broodwitch to show preferential treatment to any particular village male.

They returned to the village with the drone, and Juni went inside Hira's temple alone, while Eugene showed Sam off to the village females. Juni started to feel that this was all part of some bizarre plan.

Juni's reunion with its mother was chaotic and full of mixed emotions; Juni had left a long time ago to pursue a career in science, but had apparently kept in touch, enough that Hira was at least aware of Sam. Juni started to wonder why it would be returned to its own village.

Hira felt that Juni might know more about a problem in the village; the human information repository had in fact come from the cave that was attached to the transit network, and Eugene hadn't actually been hunting for food, but for answers. His mother, Tsan Rumio, had been the one to discover the information repository, and when she came across it, she apparently went insane, and heard "voices" from the repository and the other electronic equipment in the cave. Her "sparkle" had also been altered — in the same way that Juni's had, which both Eugene and Hira had felt right away.

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