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Foster Child

A 1-post collection

Challenge #01034-B302: Pupup

A human is raised by aliens, and it turns out a lot of things humans like that weird out the rest of the galaxy are innate. For example the love of explosions, climbing and/or jumping off tall things, interacting with potentially hazardous wildlife, and chucking rocks into water. -- Gallifreya

They had found the survival pod some distance from the crash. And inside, a human. It was unmistakably a human. No other species had that almost complete lack of fur. Nor the robustness to survive multiple impacts against the rocky ground, even protected by padding and harnesses.

It took one look at Crol and laughed. "Pupup!"

It was clearly an infant. It could not survive in this harsh land on its own. It needed protection and nurture.

Crol released it from its harnesses and scavenged what food it could from the wreckage. Anything he could identify as cogniscent remains were buried not far from the crash site. The human pup followed, playing with his tail when it wasn't trying to be 'helpful' and getting in the way of Crol's efforts.

His mate was going to chew his ear off for this.

In fact, it looked like she was going to do so now. "You are not," she said as she marched up to him, "going to take that on board with the rest of us."

"Where else could it go?" Crol asked.

"Pupup," said the human, and hugged Ijada's legs.

Crol could see Ijada's heart melting. The way she gently stroked the human's hair. The way her eyes gentled. "Affectionate little creature," she allowed. "We must teach it not to harm."

They did their best.

*

Pepa was ten years old when she grew taller than her parents. She stayed away from most other Lupids near the farm she shared with her family. When the bullies came, she was up the first tree she could find and they couldn't get to her. And if they kept her up too long, she'd arrange for branches or fruit to fall about them.

It wasn't a perfect life. Den-mother insisted there was no such thing. But she had her pack. She had her home. She had... a seemingly endless array of tasks that involved her strength.

Da was calling her.

Pepa brachiated her way through the grove for the fun of it and ran for Da. More heavy barrels for the brewing cellar. This lot smelled like a batch of sharp vinegar. Her muscles were useful for getting them down since the veet motor broke, but her size was not.

They had to save up to make the house bigger for Pepa. But they needed lots of bulk stores to save up, what with Pepa heading for another hungry season. And they needed Pepa to move things around, because a new veet motor cost a lot. But they also needed to make the house bigger because there were places where Pepa couldn't easily fit, any more.

She couldn't just carry the barrels down. Not any more. She had to rig up a cunning set of ropes and ramps to roll the barrels down into the cellar, and then squirm down to set them right. It was neck-cricking, back, aching, sweaty work. But she got the cellar full from corner to corner.

Her bones clicked as she stretched in the balmy afternoon air. "Can I go to the lake, now, Da?"

Da didn't like her going to the lake. She splashed too much, he said. And threw herself and other things about like a lunatic. Going to the lake or the sea let her Human out. But he also knew that she'd worked hard. "All right. You've earned it. Don't let any of the pups see you."

Jumping about had its time and place, and bathing was for special occasions. Lupids couldn't really handle the sight of someone having as much fun in water as Pepa did. She had to rescue four pups, the last time she went swimming.

But it was hard, so very hard, not to whoop with joy. She loved the water. And, when there were definitely no Lupids to see her, she would throw things into the water, just to see the splash. Then, of course, she would dive to fetch them back.

Everyone she knew called her strange. Even Den-mother and Da, when they thought she couldn't hear them.

Den-mother found her bringing up one of the decorative rocks.

Pepa giggled nervously and set it back where it had come from. "Am I in trouble?" she asked. It was a safe bet. There wasn't a day where she didn't get a lecture about something.

"Not yet," sighed Den-mother. "The education board have come up with a solution to your... needs."

It was army training. Sort of. The tutors had her running through obstacle courses designed to tire her enough so that she would fidget less at her custom-made desk in a custom-made classroom. Not her fault. She was just... bigger than any Lupid alive. And the exercise only made her stronger and tougher. And bigger.

Everything they gave her was novelty. A novelty cushion-bed for a family of four became her seat. A novelty enormous bed was where she slept. Her meals were stunt-sized. And her education... well.

She found out why some of the local pups called her a monster.

Humans were dangerous. They were insane. They loved the things that made other species wary. But she was a good monster. And she aimed to prove it.

*

When she finally stopped growing, most adult Lupids were at about the same height as her navel. She had a costume that protected her against any Lupid weapons that could harm her. She had a team who worked with her.

She only came into play when the need was extreme. But she was helpful.

The people loved having such a giant on their side. But not enough to let her socialise with them. Her times in public were usually limited to letting people gawk at her on some kind of stage. Exhibitions of her power.

The only people who let her touch them was her family. Da and Den-mother and all the pups. She was careful with them, of course. She'd been careful all her life.

She began to love for her days off. When it was just her and her family on the farm. In the big, new house made for someone of Pepa's bulk.

"I'm gonna be lonely, aren't I, Da?" she asked. "There's nobody who loves me like you all do."

Da didn't answer. Just stared up at the stars. "Wait and see, pup. Wait and see."

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