They threw him a Going Away Party. Just like they threw him an
Adoption Day party on the anniversary of his arrival on Hippo Mining
Station. And, like all the things the mining crew did for him, it
involved available materials.
So far, he’d been given a pair of
The Drongo’s old work-boots - refurbished and ‘gussied up’ with a layer
of gleaming black ductape. This parcel contained fabric scraps from
Dode’s stash. Every colour of the rainbow, and then some.
“These are your fat quarters,” he said. “I can’t–”
JOAT must make their own coat, kiddo,” said Dode the JOAT. “And for that, you need cloth. I’m not about to send you out through five jumps
with a bare back.”
“I’ll make good use of every thread,” he whispered.
last gift came from all the miners. Meaning that they’d cumulatively gleaned, scraped, and fabricated it. Hard work, for such a little
It was, indeed, small. The red of two sides of the oblong was a kind of ochre. It had a H instead of the white cross.
The blades had a knife, two screwdrivers, a saw, and a pair of pliers. As well as scissors and a really big blade. And a spoon.
hand-forged a swissarmynyff. Rael wished he could weep for the joy of it. “Thank you,” he said. “I know how much this cost you. This is my
first and best treasure.”
Dave was the last. “You’ll need this to go with Dode’s. Bon voyage, eh?”
It was a sewing kit. And a cheat sheet of basic patterns.
Work boots. A coat in potentia. And a First Multitool.
he said, “I am a JOAT. And an independent citizen of the Galactic Alliance. Wherever I go… whatever I do… I’ll always treasure my time
here. Thank you for everything.”
Then it was tears and crushing
hugs from all the miners. And a couple of bawdy songs before they
all-but carried him to the departing shuttle like a victor of some
He had the things he needed to live. His tank. His
kibble supply. The clothes on his back and the warm memories of the
first place where he was loved.
He had the things he needed to work. Good boots, a coat, and his first toolkit.
And he had the entire universe to find a place where he would belong.
All in all, Rael found it… terrifying.
 It’s natural for some phrases to become words.