Magna Gratia by GTS33, Melanie

In a world where the big regularly dominate and abuse the small, Jeannine wants to break the mold. Believing all three races to be inherently equal, she rescues 'tinies' and protects them in her home. Assuming the role of 'protector' she seeks to help as many as she can, even if the world would look down on her for it.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Categories: Giantess, Teenager (13-19), Adventure, Young Adult 20-29, Adult 30-39, Mature (40-49), Middle Age (50+), Fantasy, Maternal, Sci-Fi, Violent Characters: None
Growth: Giga (1 mi. to 100 mi.)
Shrink: Micro (1 in. to 1/2 in.), Nano (1/2 in. to 2.5 nanometers)
Size Roles: F/f, F/m
Warnings: Following story may contain inappropriate material for certain audiences
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 39 Completed: No Word count: 107515 Read: 89590 Published: August 24 2022 Updated: May 24 2023
Story Notes:

I've been planning this story for over five years now. I felt like I wasn't up to the task until a good friend of mine gave me the final push I needed to get started. Six months later, I've written eighteen whole chapters and I'm only about halfway done. 

The premise for this was heavily inspired by minuss' "Cities in the Cellar". Personally, I think the world of Brobdingnagians, Gulliverians, and Lilliputians lends itself to great creative interpretation. It's no surprise, given how many stories feature these races. After reading CITC, along with many other similar stories, I grew disappointed with the overall negative and cruel themes that pervade them. I took it upon myself to write something a little more positive. This is a story about the inherent good in all of us. It'll be (mostly) grounded in reality. If you came for smut or gore, you're in the wrong place, though things may get dark from time to time. I don't intend to include anything sexual or romantic at any point. It should also be known that this is a story about people, rather than just big women and small men. I hope to do all of the characters justice, not just Jeannine.

With that said, I hope you enjoy this new project of mine!

1. Prologue - Chapter 1 by GTS33

2. Part 1 - Chapter 2 by GTS33

3. Part 1 - Chapter 3 by GTS33

4. Part 1 - Chapter 4 by GTS33

5. Part 1 - Chapter 5 by GTS33

6. Part 1 - Chapter 6 by GTS33

7. Part 1 - Chapter 7 by GTS33

8. Part 1 - Chapter 8 by GTS33

9. Part 1 - Chapter 9 by GTS33

10. Part 1 - Chapter 10 by GTS33

11. Part 2 - Chapter 11 by GTS33

12. Part 2 - Chapter 12 by GTS33

13. Part 2 - Chapter 13 by GTS33

14. Part 2 - Chapter 14 by GTS33

15. Part 2 - Chapter 15 by GTS33

16. Part 2 - Chapter 16 by GTS33

17. Part 2 - Chapter 17 by GTS33

18. Part 2 - Chapter 18 by GTS33

19. Part 2 - Chapter 19 by GTS33

20. Part 2 - Chapter 20 by GTS33

21. Part 2 - Chapter 21 by GTS33

22. Part 2.5 - Chapter 22 by GTS33

23. Part 2.5 - Chapter 23 by GTS33

24. Part 2.5 - Chapter 24 by GTS33

25. Part 2.5 - Chapter 25 by GTS33

26. Part 3 - Chapter 26 by GTS33

27. Part 3 - Chapter 27 by GTS33

28. Part 3 - Chapter 28 by GTS33

29. Part 3 - Chapter 29 by GTS33

30. Part 3 - Chapter 30 by GTS33

31. Part 3 - Chapter 31 by GTS33

32. Part 3 - Chapter 32 by GTS33

33. Part 3 - Chapter 33 by GTS33

34. Part 3 - Chapter 34 by GTS33

35. Part 3 - Chapter 35 by GTS33

36. Part 3 - Chapter 36 by GTS33

37. Part 4 - Chapter 37 by GTS33

38. Part 4 - Chapter 38 by GTS33

39. Part 4 - Chapter 39 by GTS33

Prologue - Chapter 1 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A plan is set in motion...

POV: Jeannine


The walk home from university was uneventful, as always. I feel a cold breeze against my face as I move. Even with all my layers, somehow, I'm still cold. It must be like, what, five below zero? My scarf is wrapped tightly around my neck and face, up to roughly nose level, almost like a mask. Pulling it down, I feel some wetness on my chin from the soft fabric wiping against it. 

It must be the condensation of my breath. I was wearing the scarf for a while, so I'm not exactly surprised.

"Ugh…", I groan quietly.

I shiver a little, exhaling slowly. My breath is visible for a moment, and I can feel a slight sting in my chest as frigid air fills my lungs with each new breath. I can't help but wonder when the weather will improve. It's already mid-February but I feel as though spring couldn't be farther away.

As I walk by a bus stop, I consider hopping on. I have some change on me; it would be enough to get home, I think. I stop for a moment, considering it. There's still at least 20 more minutes of walking left. Should I?

"No, Jeannine. Remember your goal..." I mumble.

I continue walking, deciding to endure until I arrive home. Why did I decide to walk? It's simple. I'm saving up for something. I need to avoid spending on anything that isn't essential. A few walks in the cold will be worth it in the long run. It's only for this month and then I can rest easy. Focusing on my goal often helps distract me from the inconveniences resulting from my money saving. 

“It's for them. They will be grateful. Be strong!”

A few minutes later I arrive at my home street, and not a second too soon. My hands have long since gone numb and stiff. I can't feel my nose, either. As I'm walking up to the door to the apartment complex, I take note of the overgrown garden. Grass and weeds have gotten so big that they are covering sizeable portions of the walkway. 

I stop mid-step when I notice a line of ants crossing my path. I hang my foot midair over them for a moment, and then set it down away from them. I make sure not to step on them, going as far as to take an entire step back just to give them space. I lean over a little to rest my hands on my knees and take a closer look. 

They seem unbothered by me. I’m curious about what could be going through their little minds right now.


Are they too busy to notice me? 

Are they too dumb to realize the threat I pose? 

Maybe they sense that I'm harmless? 

I really wish I knew.

"Don't mind me, guys. Just a passerby~", I giggle.

I enter the building and immediately breathe a sigh of relief. Warmth! I love it! Not hot, but just warm enough to be comfy. Enough to lose a layer, probably. I head over to the elevator and call it down. In the meantime, I look left and right. The halls are empty. I hope there won't be anyone in the elevator, either. I just...don't feel comfortable with that. It's a delightful surprise when the doors open, and I find it empty. 

As I ride up to my floor, I hum a tune from some random song that's stuck in my head.

My eyes drift downward to my feet. It seems like I've been looking down a lot lately. I should really break that habit, if possible. My gaze is drawn to some red dots near the corner of the floor. I purse my lips, feeling a little sad.


I wonder who they were. Was it an accident? Probably not. Whenever they're found in a building they're treated as pests or worse. I know it's not my problem, but I feel a pang of guilt. That guilt quickly turns into stress in no time at all.

"Hurry up, hurry up! I don't want to be in here anymore...", I mutter...

The door opens and I scurry out into the hallway. Without looking back, I make my way to my door and quickly unlock it, fumbling with the keys in the process. Another blur of panic, and I enter, slamming the door behind me. I fall back against it, slouching a little as my legs get weak. I'm breathing hard, even as I try to calm myself.

I hate seeing things like that. I really hate it. It's like, I can physically feel their suffering… 


A glass of water. Water will help.

I shake my head and go to the fridge. My hands are still shaking as I pour the glass. 

"God, why am I like this? If anyone saw me, I'd be a laughingstock." 

I bring the glass to my lips and drink my fill, finally coming down a little. The ensuing dizziness is not welcome, but it's par for the course. I whip out my phone and open my banking app. I smile when I see the amount.

"One thousand, five hundred, sixty-seven dollars, and thirteen cents. Almost there--just one more week. So close!"

My original goal was a thousand dollars, but after some research, I figured that I could get far better materials with double that. Sadly, this unemployed student isn't exactly swimming in funds. Besides the allowance I get from my parents once a month, I only have money from previous jobs. Lately, I've been living conservatively just to save up. I feel so broke, it's ridiculous! What's worse is that I can't really tell anyone why I'm doing it in the first place. 

They simply wouldn't understand.

I head to my room and flop down on my bed. I could use a shower. No, that can wait until I've finished my assignments… Scratch that, I still need to eat. But my room is still such a mess. I lift my head and look around the room. There's a lot of work to be done. Even if they're super tiny, I can't have them living in a space like this. What would they think of me? I shudder at the thought. Okay, time to get to work. No excuses!

Cleaning up the floor is the easy part. A plastic water bottle here, a discarded bra there... It doesn't take long. What does take a while is the second stage. I need to have the floor spotless; more specifically, one key area. The corner of my room, across from my bed, and beneath a poster of my favorite band. I get down on my hands and knees, low as I can go, and inspect the area. I see dust. A few crumbs and some hairs decorate the one meter by one meter space I've been preparing.

"This won't do. No, it has to be perfect. They'll notice."

I take a ridiculously long time in that area, doing everything I can to make it ready. I disinfect it, wipe it down, dry it, and repeat a few times. Any other person would think I'm crazy, or perhaps suffer from OCD. It's a good thing I'm in the privacy of my home. There's no one here to judge me, at least not until next month.

Once I finish, I turn my attention to the pile of assorted things I've purchased recently. I wasn't sure how to organize them, so I simply piled them up in the corner behind the door. Going over my inventory has been a nervous habit of mine. I often wonder if it will be enough. I don't think having too much would necessarily be a bad thing either, though.


I've got wood chips, iron filaments, copper wires, beach sand, a whole assortment of elements from a pricey chemistry set, various fabrics, and so much more. Pretty much any material you could ever want for construction or metalworking. Personally, I have no clue how to use these things, but thankfully my job is merely to provide. If anything, it's sort of the easy job. Still, I just can't help but feel like it's not enough. 

What is still missing?

"Oh! Maybe some matches? You can grind the heads into powder for a fire starter..."

I take a mental note and hope I wont forget. Fortunately, I have a good memory! The day is approaching, the preparations are almost complete. I even know where I'm going to get them. A friend of mine put me into contact with some, let's say, shady individuals who regularly deal. Normally I would never condone their actions, but this is for something good. I'm not like the creeps and sadists who usually give them business. I refuse to be. My only regret is that I'm giving them money for it. 

"Lowlifes. Every one of them...", I grimace.

I recline back in my chair, stretching my arms and groaning. I close my eyes and picture a happy place. Somewhere where life is easy, safety is assured, and you will never be alone. It's about to become a reality, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. I almost want to live in a place like that, honestly. 

Actually… No, I think I'll stick to being its caretaker. Not that I'd abuse it, but it's nice to be big and in charge. I think it'll be interesting, despite my lack of experience in leadership. Who knows? Maybe my role will be something entirely different than I imagined? Only time will tell.

"I really hope they like me."

I feel a discomfort in my stomach. It's the usual butterflies from whenever I'm nervous. In times like these it's best to think about something else. I've got so much to do already that sitting here and worrying about what may or may not happen is just absurd. Plus, I'm starving! Taking care of myself comes first. You can't take care of others until you've taken care of yourself.

I get up from my chair and get on with my afternoon. Aside from my preparations, the rest of the day is uneventful. Around eleven, I decide to turn in early. I know it's not that early but I'm still a student, so I go by university student standards. I'll be walking to campus again, so I'll need the extra time. Just as I feel myself slipping into sleep, I'm disturbed by a notification from my phone. 

My eyes crack open, my vision somewhat blurry. I pick it up and squint at the screen's brightness.

Mom: “I'm so proud of you for doing so well on your midterms! Check your bank account ;) Love, Mom!”

I smile upon reading that. I'm glad that Mom's happy, but I'm even more interested in the second part. I swipe over to my banking app and check my balance. My eyes practically bulge out of my skull. 

"One thousand, eight hundred, sixty-seven dollars... and thirteen cents. She sent me three hundred. Oh my gosh..."

I lock my phone and shut my eyes once more, the smile never leaving my face. Her generous gift brings my big day forward to just next week. 

I'm ready. I know I am.


It's finally time to make my dream come true.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

(Also, I'm not sure how often I will be uploading yet. Stay tuned.)

Part 1 - Chapter 2 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

The giantess content begins here...

POV: Jeannine


The day had finally come.

Months of saving up would culminate in just a single purchase today. I stand at the entrance to the pet shop. Through the street windows I can see some birds in their cages. Beyond that there are some fish tanks, but I can't seem too much else. 

I guess they must keep the bigger animals somewhere inside. I put my hand in my coat pocket and touch my wallet through the fabric. I've been compulsively confirming it's there, as if it might have fallen out or something. Considering I've been planning this for months, there's no reason why I should be this nervous.

I take a deep breath and enter the shop. I walk a short distance to the counter and see a middle-aged man. I can't put my finger on it, but he seems creepy. Unfortunately, he matches the description my friend gave me so I approach anyway. 

"Morning. Is this all you've got here? It's packed."

"Good morning to you little lady." He flashes me a smile. "No, we've got some others in the back too. Mostly the older ones, and some of the exotic pets like myriapods."

"Hmm... I was hoping for something exotic. Something... I wouldn't find in the front, so to speak."

He eyes me carefully. I see his eyes dart left and right, confirming that there's no one else in the shop except for us. He leans in a little closer looking a lot less cheery.

"I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for, but it sounds...expensive."

He raises a brow at me. It takes me a second to catch on. I quickly pull out my wallet and show him the money I've saved up. His expression softens a bit, and he motions for me to follow him.

"We keep those kinds of pets hidden. It's not exactly legal to buy and sell them, you know."

"I know. ‘Hush-hush’, right?", I smile, trying my best to look pretty and innocent.

He simply nods and takes me into the room behind the counter. We pass by a bunch of tanks and cages with all sorts of creepy crawlies. The man goes over to a locker and pulls out a key to unlock a storage unit. As soon as he does, I see a very different tank. I step forward to get a better look. 

My heart sinks.

Dear God, what kind of sick hell is this...

I see Lilliputians. A race of people genetically identical to us Brobdingnagians, except for their size. The average adult is no bigger than a quarter millimeter. Legally they are recognized as people, but the law doesn't truly protect them all that well. People like this guy make a business out of selling them as disposable toys. It's slavery, plain and simple. The strong oppressing the weak has always been the way of the world. 

It's so unfair. Cruel people like him and his customers only add fuel to the fire.

My gaze is drawn to a group of them huddled in the corner of their prison.  He hands me a magnifying glass and I take a closer look. Most are naked, although I see a few wearing rags. They seem bothered by the sudden shower of light. I can only imagine how much time they spend in the darkness of the locker. 

I can only describe them as miserable. They're like husks of former people, long since dead and gone. The time spent living in their own filth has made many look very malnourished. I don't think they could be in a worse state.

"I know that look." The man nods his head confidently, as if he read my mind. "Rest assured, they respond if you scare them a little."

He knocks the tank with the back of his hand, sending the tiny people into a panic. I feel my blood boil and I clench my fists.

"I've never had any complaints from my customers. Hell, just last week a couple came in looking for something to help 'spice things up' in the bedroom. A day later they placed an order for more. So, how many are you looking to buy?"

I look at him and force myself to act pleasant. It takes all I have just to resist slapping him across his disgusting face. I take another look at the poor creatures before responding.

"I'll take thirty. I was told that'll cost me about a thousand, right?"

"That won't do. A thousand will only get you ten."

"Wait, why? I could've sworn those were the rates just last month!"

"Exactly. Last month the police cracked down on Lilli dealing. It's become harder to find them, so naturally the price shot up. Take it or leave it, miss."

I think for a moment. With my two thousand I could get twenty, but then I would have no reserve funds. I'd like to have a lot in case anything goes wrong. You never know what you will need or when you will need it until the time comes. Reluctantly, I agree to his new price, handing him a thousand.

"Fine. I'll take ten, but they better not die by tomorrow morning! They're in such a sorry state already, I wouldn't be surprised."

He opens the tank and begins fishing them out roughly with a pair of specialized tweezers. He drops them into a vial that's no bigger than a shot glass and hands it to me, sealed and ready.

"Rest assured, they are healthier than they look. If one does die, you are welcome to bring it up with me then." He explains as we leave the room. "Have a nice day."

I don't reply, leaving the shop in a hurry. I'm extra careful with the vial as I walk, worrying about how my steps might bounce them around. I move the vial to the neckline of my shirt out of habit before immediately stopping myself and blushing profusely. What am I doing? These are people, not some random items to be stuffed down my top. Instead, I carefully place the vial into my pocket and make my way home.

I arrive at my apartment a few minutes later. I don't waste a second, heading to my room and locking the door behind me. Yes, I live alone, but that is beside the point. I take out the vial and hold it before my eye. All ten of my little Lillis look horrified. They must be expecting me to be like the others--someone who would use and discard them without a second thought. 

I think it's time I introduce myself. It would be cruel to leave them so shaken like this.

I slowly tilt the vial between my fingers. This has to be slow so that they have a chance to adjust rather than being thrown. Once it's perfectly horizontal, I set it down on my desk. With a gentle twist of the lid, I pop it off, leaving their container open. 

Not a word leaves my mouth...yet. 

I turn around and take off my jacket, hanging it on the hook of the door. 

By the time I come back to the desk I already see a few of them leaving the vial, setting foot on my desk. They're not running for their lives, as far as I can tell. That's good. I think they're just waiting for me. They want to know what will become of them at the hands of their new owner.

My heart is racing a mile a minute. Is this excitement or anxiety? I'm not sure. I hope it's the former. 

I pull up my chair and take a seat before them, leaning in close. Immediately they panic, backing away from me. I'm taken aback at first, until I look down and realize what's scaring them so much. I put an arm over my chest and scoot my seat back a little, which seems to put them at ease. I find myself blushing again. What a great start, huh? Nice one, Jeannine. I forget how big and scary I must look to them. Every part of me, for that matter.

I clear my throat and finally address them, only after the last ones have joined up with the group on my desktop. I set my worries aside and act as confidently as I can. I try to act like a queen would, or maybe even a goddess.

"Hello there, little ones! My name is Jeannine and as you know I just purchased the ten of you from my local pet shop. I'm sure you're very scared right now, but you don't have to be. In fact, you never have to be scared again."

I try to see their faces, but they're simply too small. The best I can do is look at body language, which isn't very visible either. They're like dots to me.

"I know what you must be thinking. Here comes another Brob, ready to use us for her entertainment or sexual pleasure. I swear to you, that could not be farther from the truth. I mean you no harm and I will prove it."

I reach under my desk for a small bottle of water and a chocolate bar. I drip a single drop of water onto my finger and transfer it to the desk not too far from them. Next, I take the chocolate the break of the tiniest piece I can, setting it down beside the drop of water.

"Even I can see how tired and hungry you all are from way up here. Please, have your fill. This is just a taste of what I'm going to provide you from now on." 

I see that they are very hesitant. I'm inclined to feel upset, but I remind myself that these people have suffered in ways that I can only imagine. When they were kidnapped they must have been torn from the family and friends. All their pain has been at the hands of people who look like me. It's the least I can do to be patient.

"It's alright if you're nervous. I'll wait."

Minutes pass before the first tiny begins eating and drinking. A few minutes later, some more join. By the fifteen-minute mark, nine of them are enjoying my gifts. One still seems nervous. I squint and make out the form of a woman, or at least I think it's a woman. I look at her directly when I speak again.

"Take this as an example of how you will be treated. I will always offer you what you need, but I will never force you to take it. One thing you will always have, so long as you live under my roof, is freedom."

She's clearly a stubborn one. After another then minutes of waiting, I decide to place a piece right in front of her, just to be nice. She still doesn't take it, so I shrug and move on with my speech. 

"I wish this could be more of a discussion rather than a speech, but we will have to figure that out later. For now, I need to explain some things before we go any further."

The tiny men and women seem interested. I notice they've all moved away from the food now, looking at me with pure curiosity. It makes me happy, strangely enough. I feel a warmth in my chest.

"I don't want you to think of me as your owner. In my mind, we are the same... Apart from the obvious.", I giggle.

I place a hand on my chest, as if to seem even more sincere. It's not an act, though...

"My goal is to create a sanctuary for you tinies. One where you can live out your lives in peace, under my care and protection. I've already bought more materials than you could possibly need, and I'm willing to get more if you want. Sadly, being as big as I am makes building tiny things...difficult. I can help with the heavy lifting, but it's pretty much up to you to handle the construction. I've set aside a space in the corner of my room for you guys, so feel free to use it however you wish."

I see a few of them following my pointing finger to the corner. They look on from the desk to the place they will soon be calling home.

"And now for everyone's least favorite part. We will need to set some rules. Listen carefully, because these are important."

I raise my hand and a single finger, beginning my count.

"One. You may not leave the designated space for any reason. If you roam around my room, there's a chance I could step on you. Also, boundaries. This is my room, so I ask that you respect my space."

"Two. So long as you live in the settlement, there will be no fighting. 

If you have a dispute, you can bring it up with me. Otherwise, I want to see cooperation. If not for me, you might have been sold to a horny couple or even some hungry Brob. Just do it for me, okay?"

"Three. I plan or buying more Lilli's and bringing them here. I need you all to relay this information to them so that they can smoothly integrate into your society. The transition might not always be easy for some. Be kind."

"Four. This isn't required just yet, but eventually we will need a government. I would like to have someone, or possibly someones, who I can speak with occasionally about issues."

"Five. I really want to get to know you guys. You must have stories, and I need to hear them. If we're going to be roomies, then shouldn't we chat? Please figure out some way of communicating with me. Frankly, your voices are far too soft, unless I stick you into my ear and... Yeah, let's not do that. Maybe find a way into the WIFI-network?"

"Six. This one is an extension of number two. Obviously, no criminal activity. Stealing, vandalism, sexual assault, and worst of all, killing, will be punished. Admittedly, I haven't decided on punishments yet, but criminals can expect to be exiled from our little sanctuary. They can look forward to the garden outside my building. Watch out for the ants."

"Seven. Do not disturb me when I am busy unless it's an emergency. I'm still a university student so I've got lots of coursework every day. Just be considerate, yeah?"

"Eight. This one's a little silly, but don't attack me. I may be gentle, but I am still a lot bigger than you. Trust me, you're not going to scratch me, if even that. If you feel like I've wronged you, please just talk to me. Mutual understanding is all I ask."

"Nine. All the previous rules may be amended or added to, if the situation arises. However, I am aware of how dangerous a loophole like that can be. I will only do so if your chosen leader or leaders agree with me. We might make it a majority vote or something similar."

"Ten. This is the last one, and it's hardly even a rule."

I lean in a bit and smile dearly. I try to look as gentle and motherly as humanly possible. At this distance, I can partially see some of their expressions. Forget about sounding like a queen or a goddess. I just want to be Jeannine for a moment.

"For rule ten, please try to be happy. Whatever hardships you’ve endured before now are behind you. Look to the future and live the lives you deserve!"

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

Part 1 - Chapter 3 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

It's time to see what the little people think...

POV: ???


When I stepped out of that vial, I expected many things. To be killed, used or even left to fend for myself; truly, anything but this. 

When my settlement had been discovered by the giants, I figured that was it--our time had come. Encounters with their kind almost always involve a gruesome end. At least, that's what everyone says. In my short seventeen years on this Earth, I'd never actually seen one until that day. I never imagined I would, nor any of my community for that matter.

My settlement was medium sized for Lilliputians. We began as just three primarily nomadic clans. A chance encounter between our leaders led to the establishment of a permanent residence. We were just under twenty people, but such small numbers allowed us to take better care of each other. Eventually, we even took on some wanderers, seeking refuge. Our population had reached seventy-four at our peak, which a proud achievement for any Lilli society nowadays.

Our prosperity was the result of smart decision making on the part of my late father, one of the three original founders. It was his idea to build our new home in a Brob restaurant. Every Lilli knows to stay as far away as possible, but my dad knew his stuff. Being in a restaurant meant food would be both clean and abundant. We wouldn't even need to steal, considering how much ends up on the kitchen floor. If anything, we were providing a service by cleaning up the mess.

As soon as they closed, there would be a few minutes before anyone would come in to clean. That was our chance. We'd send our small groups to gather food scraps and bring them home. We made our homes in the space behind one of their refrigerators. It provided a constant heat source in the winter and kept us well hidden. Aside from some insects occasionally, we lived a relatively peaceful life. Never would we have expected to be discovered. 

Not like that, anyway.

I remember it so vividly. I doubt I'll ever know the reason, but one day someone dropped some change near us. It hadn't even landed under the fridge, but they didn't know that. I don't know why they decided to check behind the fridge of all places, but they were meticulous. An earthquake rocked our home as the fridge was pushed aside. Next thing we knew, there was a young man looking down on us, likely one of the waiters locking up for the night. He didn't hesitate to stomp on us like insects. 

The settlement was thrown into chaos. Panicked screams went unheard as the massacre began. Each footfall was like a bomb going off, and with each explosion I heard less screaming. I closed my eyes and cowered, too afraid to even move.

The only reason I'm alive now is because that monster decided to spare a few of us. After giving it some thought, he realized how much we go for on the black market. When I opened my eyes, I was met with a bloodbath. 

Bodies everywhere… Most reduced to vile mush. My family and friends--here one moment and gone the next. At the sight of such gore my mind went numb. When I looked up, I found him gathering us up into a tiny container. I remember him reaching for me. I was taken... 

The rest is a miserable blur.  

I have no clue what became of the survivors. The capsule I was contained in housed only five of us. Six, if you count the one who died during transport. It was an older woman who had fatally bashed her head when she was dropped in. I spent a lot of time staring at her lifeless form. Oddly enough, it brought me some peace of mind. Though I never saw my family’s bodies, I'm sure they all perished. Or at least I hope they did. Capture is a fate worse than death...

“I'm going to die. My life has been meaningless. I hate this... Why is this happening to me? I hate this!” I sobbed.

Our captor didn't delay before selling us to a pet shop. The owner took us and dumped us into a tank for storage. Hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks. It's difficult to keep track of time when you're imprisoned, even less when you spent so long in the dark… The only thing that kept me sane was the echoing sound of heavy beathing caused by the ever-thickening air in the tank.  

“Neglect… Torture… Death…?”

The lack of food and water took a toll on both the body and spirit. With such low energy, I found myself moving less and less. It didn't take long before I could smell my own- No, all the bodies in the tank. I resorted to tearing up my clothes to use them for entertainment or even just hygiene. 

I had to make do. 

Things got quiet with the passage of time. Tears dried up, throats started to hurt and facial muscles cramped. It took three days before I realized I'd all but lost my voice. All my wailing had taken its toll.  

“Nobody's going to hear you. If they did, they certainly wouldn't care. You're not going to be saved. Just pray for a swift end… The sooner the better…”

Every once in a while, a few of us were removed and sold off to whoever had the money to afford us. Even the four who had been captured with me were already gone. I'd begun to associate the blinding light of the tank's lid being removed with death itself. The light at the end of the tunnel, or whatever. 

The only question was, "Whose turn is it this time?"

When I first laid eyes upon her, I was almost happy. Through squinted eyes, I looked upon the face of a young woman, likely a few years older than myself. So, this would be the one to end me? I almost couldn't wait. Younger people tended to be far more impatient. Maybe I could disobey her and get squished? It would be quick. Just one, light press of her finger would be enough.

She got closer, and I looked into her eyes. Her expression was odd. It was not curiosity, excitement, nor apathy. Perhaps the exhaustion had gotten to me, but I could have sworn I saw pity. 


Imagine a Brob feeling pity toward us? That would imply that they think we are of any value. Still, the thought stuck in my mind even as we were sold and taken away.

Back to the present, I stretch my weary body without a care in the world. 

Looking around, it appears that we're in a bedroom. The first thing I notice is the fresh air. I take several deep breathes, letting it fill my lungs for the first time in forever. I look to the others around me, curiously. Everyone seems scared, unable to tear their eyes away from our new owner.

I follow their gaze to the colossus in the distance. Due to her sitting position, I can only see her upper body. She looks tall for a girl, though I can't confirm that until she stands up again. Then again, every member of her kind looks tall to us. What's the difference between being ten kilometers tall versus just nine? Either way, she's ridiculously big. I doubt we're bigger than half a millimeter to her, if even that. Probably smaller...

I take note of her features. She's very pretty, even for a Brob. Normally, I would never compliment their kind, but she's just that pretty. Her straigt, brown hair flows down about her chest. Large hazel eyes focus on us with unknown intent. She's got a nice smile too; however, I worry what she might be smiling about. Lower down, my gaze is drawn to her body. 

Now that her coat is off, her figure is a lot easier to make out. She must be popular with the boys, with breasts like that. She's well endowed, even for a person of her size.

She seems so far away, but we feel no less afraid. Size is often deceiving. Even though she's that big, her movements are fast. In an instant she could reach out and slam her hand down, ending us all. We wouldn't even have a chance to run. But she doesn't do that, instead watching us carefully. She's up to something, I just know it. I brace myself, just in case.

All of a sudden, she’s comes closer. She leans in, thinking nothing of it, and it terrifies us to our core. Even I tremble as her face looms above us. We back away frantically as her chest approaches, threatening to bulldoze us as it drags on the tabletop. Thankfully, she seems to realize this and backs away before there are any casualties. The soft blush that follows is almost cute. Finally, the living mountain of woman decides to speak.

We see her lips parting and immediately cover our ears. Few giants realize it, and even fewer care, but their voices are incredibly loud to us. Just an indoor voice is enough to cause hearing loss, and a yell is almost always deafening. To our surprise, she speaks softly. It's still incredibly loud, of course, but not so much that it hurts. I've never seen such consideration from a Brob before. Not to mention, her tone is gentle. She's addressing us as if she cares that we hear her. 

We listen on, spellbound by the giant girl. Her name is Jeannine. She immediately makes her intentions clear. I honestly cannot believe what I am hearing. It's unheard of, not to mention far too good to be true. I must have died. That, or I'm hallucinating. There's simply no other explanation. 

I look to the others for their reactions. They seem hesitant, not unlike me. Sweet words are just that. Who knows what she's thinking? I've seen firsthand what kind of unspeakable cruelty her kind are capable off. It will take more than that to convince me that this isn't some elaborate trick. Anything makes more sense than... Than this!

I cower once more when her fingers zoom towards us. They deposit a piece of chocolate and water for us. My stomach aches. Despite the situation, I'm the first to run up to the food. After what I've been through, I can't think clearly when food is involved, let alone gifted to me. Falling onto my hands and knees I scarf down the chocolate like a rabid animal. Shortly after, I run over to the tiny lake of water and bring my cupped hands down to it. I watch the grime and filth dissolving into the water. I'm so damn thirsty that I drink it up anyway without a second thought.

The others are slow to join me, but eventually all of us fill up on this little gift. Even after finishing, we've hardly made a visible difference in either offering. It's funny to think that this is just one single piece of a single chunk of a chocolate bar. I can't imagine how much she would eat on her own. I bet I could have fed everyone in my settlement with this piece alone. It's almost silly just how much there is.

Finally, she resumes her introduction, this time with some rules. We listen carefully, suddenly unsettled by her more serious tone. She counts on her hands all the way up to ten. With the last rule she gets in close, and I swear it's like she's trying to make eye contact. It's personal, almost as if we're...her friends? My heart skips a beat. On instinct, I reach my hand out, as if to touch her cheek. For some reason, against my better judgment, my gut tells me that I can trust her that...

...her words are genuine.


The lives we deserve? I never even considered having a life after my settlement was crushed. Can I really start over? Here, under her protection?

Just as I lower my guard, the giantess giggles, unleashing a gust of her breath upon us. From so close, it becomes as powerful as a hurricane. I lose my footing, helplessly launching through the air, as our entire group is blasted across her desk.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

(Your reviews are so kind. Thank you for the positive responses, everyone!)

Part 1 - Chapter 4 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A moment of carelessness can be devastating.

POV: Jeannine


It takes all I have not to gasp. 

Doing so would undoubtedly make this terrible situation even worse. I hadn't expected the softest of sounds on my part to be so harmful to my little ones. As soon as I realize my mistake, I sit up and cover my mouth. Thankfully, my breath only forces them back a few centimeters. I don't even want to consider what intentionally blowing on them would have done.

"Oh my god. I'm so sorry, guys." I manage to keep my voice down despite my panic. "Being around Lillis is something I'm still adjusting to. I’m still learning, hehe…"

I give a wry smile, leaning in just a little this time. I keep my distance but remain close enough to inspect them. They look shaken, but unharmed. With my mouth still covered, I breathe a sigh of relief. To think that they're that fragile. Or rather, I'm that powerful. I feel my heart racing again, for a multitude of reasons. I allow them a moment to collect themselves before speaking up.

"I hope you’re not scared of me all of a sudden."

I watch them expecting some sort of a response but get none. I cringe at my own stupidity. Of course they're not going to respond. Their voices are inaudible at their size!

"I think that's enough of an introduction. Before I take you to your new home, we need to be clear about something." 

My tone becomes a lot more serious. 

"If any of you object to my rules, please express that now. I am no kidnapper, and you have every right to leave if that is what you desire. I will not return you to that nasty shopkeeper, but I will have to set you free somewhere outdoors. At that point, it's up to you to fend for yourself. I cannot protect you once you leave."

I look away for a moment, considering how best to do this. An idea pops into my head. I set my hands down on the desk, palms down, in front of them.

"If you wish to stay, please approach my right hand. If not, head to my left. Either way, no harm will come to you. You have my word, so think hard and decide."

Despite my words, I feel rather anxious. It would really discourage me if any of them decided to leave. Just a moment ago I was super confident, but now I'm not so sure. Fear must be a big factor. A relationship like ours must be daunting. Would anyone want to be around someone with the power to end them with just their breath? I would never, but they don't need to know that.

"It will take time. Don't be impatient!" I silently reassure myself. "They will trust you once they see what kind of person you are. Actions speak louder than words!"

The Lillis appear to be talking amongst themselves. I'm sure they're enjoying the fact that I can't hear them. Fair enough, I guess. A part of me sincerely hopes that they're not saying anything insulting or weird. To my surprise, I see the reluctant woman from earlier running up to my right hand. She stops in front of it, getting closer than I was prepared for. I instinctively move my hand back an inch, just to be safe. Shortly after, the rest of the crowd follows her. In the end, not even one chose to leave. 

It puts a genuine smile on my face.

"I'm honored. You won't regret it, I swear!"

I blush and pull away in embarrassment. That was too direct... Now I seem like a giddy little girl. How am I supposed to be respected when I keep letting this side of me show? I'm going to be responsible for so many people now.This isn't the behavior befitting of a caretaker, let alone a queen. 

I lean in again, preemptively covering my mouth and nose. From this distance I can make out individual details, to an extent. Their expressions look calmer now, though I wonder what’s actually on their minds. More importantly, I'm worried about how they'll react to my next request...

"With our introduction out of the way, I think it's best I give you some space. You've been through a lot and it's only natural that you find it difficult to process. I'm going to take you to your new home now, but I don't want to shove you back into that vial like objects. You're people, and you deserve to be treated as such."

I take my left hand off the desk and set it down in my lap. My right hand remains palm-down and I extend my index finger before them. I keep it as still as possible, for their safety.

"Climb on. I'll carry you down on my finger. Don't be afraid, I'm going to be extremely careful."

I don't think I could have said it in a gentler way if I tried. I watch as they clamber onto my digit. One by one, they hike up my nail until they're all gathered near the center of it. They never touch the skin, so I don't feel a thing. Their presence on my finger is virtually imperceptible. 

Slowly, I raise my finger off the desk and bring it up to my face. I hold it at eye-level, away from my nose or mouth. I can see them panicking a little. I suppress another giggle. It's just so cute. I feel for them, I really do, but that doesn't make it any less amusing. And even more than that, I think it’s exciting. To think that ten people are all riding atop my nail as if it were some sort of ferry. 

They're weightless to me.


I bet dust would weight more than them, realistically. I wonder how many I could hold in my palm if I tried? A hundred? A thousand? Oh my god. I feel my heart racing again.

"Calm down, Jeannine." I think. "Don't be careless now."

Keeping my finger stable, I stand up to my full height. I bring my other hand up to shield them from the winds they're about to experience. I walk the short distance from my desk to the corner of my room, where everything is set up for them. I then lower myself, coming to a kneeling position. I bring my finger down to the floor and hold it there.

"There you go. See? I told you I would be careful. From what I can tell, everyone seems alright? You may step off me now."

They're a lot faster on the way off. I certainly hope I didn't make anyone motion sick. Once the last tiny steps off, I relax and stand back up. From way up here, I can't make a single once of them out anymore. Maybe I should have stayed low? Oh well. They'll need to get used to seeing me like this anyway. I can't crouch for them every single time.

"The platform you are on is one I made specially for you. It's about an inch thick, which should be more than enough for any structure you wish to build. It's made of densely packed soil, which is ideal for construction. I've left you loads of materials scattered around. They are yours to use however you like."

I lean over slightlu, looking down on them. My demeanor softens again, becoming less regal. 

"And seriously, I'm here for whatever you need! Until we get communications going, I'll just check in on you every few hours. I live alone, so don't worry about any other big people coming along and bothering you. I've got some stuff to do so I'll just leave you to it. Lights out will be whenever I head to bed, I guess. Make yourselves at home, everyone!"

With that, I finally leave them alone. I gather my laptop and notebook and head to the living room to work. Normally, I'd do my assignments in my room, but I want to give them some space for now. I can manage, at least for the first few days. I'll still be sleeping in my bed, of course, but only at the end of each day. For the time being, I immerse myself into my work and studies. 

For some reason I just can't stop smiling.

The rest of my day is uneventful. I work on my assignments for a few hours, utilizing those 'bouts of focus' whenever they come. I'm rarely a focused person, but today is all-time low in terms of productivity. 

After completing just the first part of my seven part task, it becomes clear that I'm getting nowhere. I look out the window and realize the sun has long since set. 

"Already? The days are so short lately."

When I was saving money, I never left the lights on during daylight hours. 

Now that I've begun this new project, I tend to leave them on more often. I can't imagine how they would feel to be in darkness, all alone in my room. Until they get working power, my indoor lighting will have to suffice. 

I focus my attention on my assignment and read the instructions for the second task. How many times have I read this already? No less than ten, for sure. It becomes clear to me that I'm never going to be able to focus like this. The excitement from our first day together is just too much for me. I can't contain it, even while putting this distance between myself and them. 

"I should check on them. It's getting late and I'm sure they're hungry."

I set my laptop on the coffee table and head to the fridge. Inside there are a bunch of vials labelled from one to seven containing food I prepared this morning. Each one contains no more than a few grams, though I'm confident it will be more than enough. I grab the vial labelled 'one' and quietly walk back to my room. Standing at the doorway, I peek inside as if this wasn't even my own room. From across the way, I can't make anything out. 

"It's only been like four hours. I shouldn't expect a world wonder." I whsiper under my breath.

I walk over to their corner of my room and kneel. They're all still now, probably looking at the enormous girl who suddenly reappeared without warning. I smile, doing my best to appear friendly. The last thing I want is for them to be afraid of me.

"Hello again, guys. This is me checking in, as promised. Let's see..."

I can see that the materials I provided are already being put to good use. Some makeshift tents and shelters have been set up. I count only nine and blush a little. It appears that some of my new roomies have already gotten a bit more than comfortable in a short time. Either that or someone is planning to sleep out in the open, I suppose. 

"I brought you some food. It's a mix of a bunch of things I like. In the future I'll just give you ingredients and you can cook whatever you want for yourselves."

I open the vial and pour its contents in an area that's clear of any people. I then reach over for the water bottle from earlier and use my finger to deposit a few drops as well. Most of them are already making their way to their first real meal. I watch them silently, entertained by how long it takes them to travel the ten centimeters to the bits of beef and steamed veggies. I also hope they don't mind it cold. I'd heat it up but I'm worried about it burning them if it's too hot. You can never be too careful.

I stay with them as they eat, like a good friend. I want to be sure that everyone gets their fill and I won't have it any other way. Eventually my legs get tired and I adopt a cross-legged sitting position. My knees hover over the closer part of the square, but I don't sweat it. Even as they fill their little stomachs only a small amount of the food disappears. It's so unbelievably adorable.

"I can't, I just can't." I yell in my head. "They're so cute~! Don't show it. Don't show it!"

Once they’re finished, I notice them moving around strangely. It's...organized, I think? As they move about, I noted them making lines in the ground. I have to lean in and squint really, really hard, but I make out a message. 

It says ‘Thank you’.

My lip quivers. I bite the bottom one with my teeth. I have a reply in mind, but my voice has betrayed me. So I just stare at them, speechless and paralyzed by happiness. After an embarrassingly long pause I finally mouth the words I want to say.

“You're welcome!”

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. My plan is to upload a chapter a week exclusively on this site. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 5 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A new character and a new point of view…

POV: ???


It was the least we could do. 

Despite not fully trusting our new owner, some gratitude was due. It wasn't even my idea, but I went along with it. It took roughly fifteen minutes, but the ten of us were able to draw a message in the ground. 

It was a whopping hundred meters long, like a football pitch. None of us could make it out from down here, but clearly, she could. The look on her face said it all. Apparently, she thought it was very cute. 

And yet I hate that. That look on her face. It makes me feel like a pet doing tricks to please its owner. I know we aren't pets, but a gesture like this doesn't sit right with me. Despite what she said, I feel no less like a possession.

She insisted that she isn't our owner, but I don't know what else to call her. Refusing to take on a leading role, she's promising to provide for us and asks for virtually nothing in return. What kind of person does that? I can't think of a single word for it. The closest thing I can think of is 'friend', though even that also doesn't feel quite accurate.

"A Brobdingnagian friend? Hah. What has this world come to..."

I realize I'm talking to myself again. That's a habit I should really work on breaking. Now that I've recovered some of my strength it's almost like I've been given new life.With the promise of protection and a friendly community, I have no reason to retreat into myself anymore. It'll be in my best interest to get to know the others before people start to form groups. Things will only get more complicated when she brings in more of us later.

I scan the area taking note of where everyone is. Some are sitting together, chatting away. A few have gone over to one of the many material piles to assess our resources. I'm alone, still standing by the message we dug. The stubborn woman from earlier is sitting alone some distance away from us, staring into the sky. 

I follow her gaze up to the giantess. She's still there, sitting cross-legged near the border. She's just watching us silently, her smile refusing to leave her face. It unsettles me, having a person that enormous loom over us like that. In any other situation I would be running for my life right now.

"That's going to take some getting used to."

After a short staring contest with the colossus, I become bored. Her eyes are scanning around, trying to inspect us one by one. She doesn't linger on any one person, simply observing peacefully from way up in the sky. I have so many questions about her. Assuming she wasn't lying earlier, I would love to speak with her one on one. That will have to wait until later, though.

For now, I decide to talk with someone a little more my size. Not really feeling like joining the group yet, I'm inclined to head over to the woman sitting alone. I approach her from the side, yet she doesn't even acknowledge my presence. She's too busy staring off into the sky to notice me, apparently. I audibly clear my throat to announce my presence and she finally looks my way.

"Hey. Mind if I join you?"

She nods, not yet speaking. I sit down next to her and try my best not to seem as shy as I am. I give her a moment, but she remains silent. 


"Umm, how are you feeling? The food was good, I think. I haven't had anything that good since...well, ever."


She switches between looking at me and staring at the giantess occasionally. Maybe she's not the talkative type? I look over to the group across from us and consider joining them. I begin to stand up.

"Sorry I bothered you. I'm sure you have been through a lot. I'll leave you alone."

Just as I'm standing up, I feel her grip my arm. I look back and see her gesturing for me to sit, so I oblige. After another moment of silence, she lets go of me.

"D-Don't go. Please." She speaks softly. Her voice is plaintive. "I'm just... Processing a lot."

"Okay...sure. Uhm, is everything alright?"



"What do you think of her?" Her tone shifts to a more soothing one. I suspect she's trying to take her mind off of whatever was bothering her. "Be honest with me."

"Her? Oh, you mean Jeannine. I'm not sure yet. She's different, but who knows what she's really thinking? I do want to trust her, but I can't decide after just one day."

"I see."

"Why do you ask?" I ask, curious about how she feels as well. "Are you scared?"

"No, not scared. I'm... I'm not exactly sure. I can't stop staring at her..."

I gaze at the woman intently. I have no clue what she's feeling, although I think I understand what she's trying to say. The giantess, or rather, Jeannine, is an enigma. I've never been this close to one of her kind for this long without doing so in secret. Usually, we're the ones watching them. Contact between our races is usually brief, followed by a swift death by crushing. And yet she just sits there, harmless as can be.

"I know, right?"

She turns to me and raises a brow. I cock my head, confused. It then dawns on me how my tone might have sent the wrong message.

"O-Oh not like that! I meant, like, in awe, I think?, that."

Her expression softens and she laughs softly. She finally looks at me for the first time followed by a half-grin. 

"It's alright. She's very pretty, anyone can see that. You're lucky she can’t see you ogling her body down here.

"I mean, yeah, but... She's one of them. Hot or not, she's-"

"A monster?" She cuts me off, stealing the words right from my mouth.


"Trust me, I've seen some real monsters. She's...not one of them. Jeannine is different, somehow."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Just a feeling."

"I hope you're right. For all our sakes."

We sit together for a time, only speaking up occasionally. Despite having spent so much time rotting away together in that locker, it feels as though everyone is just now meeting for the first time. I wonder if we ever crossed paths before now. It didn't seem like she recognized me earlier. None of us were in a talking mood until just a few hours ago.

The two of us listen to the other group. They've become rowdy and full of energy. It seems like everyone is quickly acclimating to our new home. The readiness with which some are accepting Jeannine's words is shocking. Though from what I hear, not everyone is convinced that Jeannine is totally benevolent. I think they've decided to enjoy this moment of peace while it lasts. They're leaving their problems for their tomorrow-selves, so to speak.

I look over to the woman beside me, pondering.I've been holding back a question out of fear of the answer.

"Do you think she'll hurt us?"

She looks at me with an annoyed expression. Leaning in close, she gets up in my face. I recoil, but she reclaims the small distance I put between us in an instant.

"There's a saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Do you feel as though your life is at risk right now?"

"No, not really. It's just that-"

"Jeannine gave us food, water, our own space, shelter, and more resources than we can possibly use. We don't get that anywhere else."

"...You have a point."

"Exactly. Don't forget that if she wants to, she can end us in an instant. Beings that huge are all-powerful, and rarely hesitate with restraint in our presence. She's kept her voice down, been careful not to get too close, and even kept this area away from any drafts. There's no way someone would go that far if they weren't benevolent."

Hearing this stranger lecture me is irritating. I understand her points, really I do, and I firmly disagree. Normally I'm not an argumentative person, but I feel the need to fire back. 

"Even so, I can't just trust her after half a day. She could wake up tomorrow and decide to stomp us out. One mood swing and she could act rashly. Do you trust her to refrain from using that power of hers to hurt us? What if we make her angry?"

"Just don't make her angry then. It's much simpler than you're making it out to be."

We glare at each other, both refusing to back down. I can tell by the look in her eyes that it's pointless to argue. The only thing that would convince her would be something neither of us want, nor Jeannine for that matter. I relent and decide to drop the topic altogether.

Just as I'm about to speak, a powerful tremor shakes the area. If I had not been sitting, I surely would have been knocked over. I look up and to the right of me at Jeannine. All of this shaking is merely standing back up! She must have had her fill of watching us for today. It's incredible to me just how much of a presence she has. She walks away without a word, going about her business around her room. The tremors cease once she gets a few kilometers away.

"I'll never get used to that." I shake my head.

"I know. It's quite an experience." She smirks.

I stand up and stretch my stiff body. I offer her a hand and pull her up. As soon as we're both upright I notice that we're the same height. I'd assumed I was taller. Huh.

"I heard the others talking about getting clean. I don't remember the last time I s-showered..." She admits.

"A shower sounds amazing." I run my fingers through the shaggy mess I call my hair. "Maybe a haircut too, if I can find someone to cut it for me."

"I'd be happy to." She points to it with her finger. "Just wash it first, or else I'm not coming anywhere near that mess."

We share a laugh. I'm relieved that our earlier discussion hasn't put either of us in a foul mood. She begins to walk away, giving me a wave as she heads to one of the lakes our 'caretaker' made for us.

"Sorry," I call out to her, "I never got your name?"

"You can call me Ori." She says with a smile. "Yours?"

"Nick. My name’s Nick."

We part ways, each heading to a separate lake. When Jeannine left us the water, she spilled a lot more than intended, creating several small lakes and ponds across the barren land. Without planning it, us seven men and the three women head to separate lakes each to clean ourselves up. It's funny how everyone remembers the concept of shame when there’s no  immediate danger to worry about. As if we weren't barely clothed for months.

I strip down, diving into the shallow lake without a shred of hesitation. 

It's only a few meters deep, so I manage not to hit my head as my body fully submerges. I relax my body under the water for a time, content that, at the very least, I won’t be dying of thirst any time soon. I resurface and shake the water out of my shaggy hair. Immediately I feel a million times better, especially since the lake is so warm. Central heating makes all the difference. We must be right above a heat-pipe or something similar. 

"She thought of everything, huh? Impressive."

As I float there on my back, a memory of my old home creeps its way back into my mind. It's been so long since I've felt good. No, it's been a long time since I've felt anything at all. It's as if the water is washing the numbness away. I welcome it. For now, I'll put my worries aside. Pewaceful moments like these are rare. It would be a waste not to enjoy them. I turn over and sink back down up to my chin, blowing bubbles in the water.

"I could get used to this..."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 6 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Some new faces meet for the first time...

POV: Orina


"What a strange young man..."

Our conversation replays itself over and over in mind. Even as I dry myself off after a relaxing bath, I'm unable to move on from it. The way he described Jeannine leads me to wonder about him. He's skeptical and paranoid, as well as pessimistic. 

Can't he recognize a good thing when he sees it? I simply don't understand how some people can obsess over 'maybes' and 'what-ifs'.

"When every day could be your last, live every moment to its fullest."

That is my mantra. 

My mind drifts back to the events leading up to those wretched days in the pet shop's locker. Compared to where I'd been prior, it was a monumental improvement. I close my eyes and recall the face of a woman. It's not difficult, her face is forever burned into my memory. How could I ever forget her sick, gleeful smile? That horrible expression... It always meant that someone was going to die today, the only question was who. 

I squint harder, feeling a sudden pain in my right arm. I clutch it tightly, my nails digging into the skin to the point of nearly piercing it. I remember a child, tiny and defenseless. She gored him slowly, starting with his arm. We were forced to witness it up close. By the end of it, he was in pieces. I've long since forgotten his name, but I will never forget his wails. The smell of blood is not easily forgotten. 

I start to feel cold as the memory becomes too painful to bear. 

"Those days are over. She's not like her. S-She can't be... Never. Her eyes weren't those of a monster."

I desperately try to focus on something else. I push the memory out of my mind and think about the young man from earlier. Perhaps I was a bit too hard on him? Honestly, he isn't wrong for being worried. I can tell he's been through a lot by his eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul, or so they say. One can gleam a lot from them if they know how. His eyes tell me that he's caught a glimpse of cruelty, but I doubt he's ever been the recipient. 

"Good. No one needs to go through what I have. He's fortunate, really he is."

His face just won't leave my mind. He looked so young, or at least younger than I am. Based on those flecks of hair on his chin I'd say he's around eighteen, probably. Younger, maybe, but not older. 

If I'm correct, he's at least six years younger than me. A legal adult, but no less a child. That's my impression, despite only interacting with him for a short time. The age of our big friend is currently unknown, but I would guess she's around twenty-one or twenty-two, probably. She seems mature.

"That's enough soaking for today. I don't want to catch a cold."

Once I'm dressed, I wander around the area for a time. I notice that the others have all dispersed now. None of us have any clue what time it is, but the room has become dark except for a lamp above us on her desk. Its dim light is about the same as the fading daylight from the window, to an extent. Beyond the illumination of our new home, I can't see much. The lights in the room are off, so it’s very dark. 

Not that I would dare to, but I wonder what it would be like to venture beyond our boundary. It's eerie, even though I know it's just the bedroom of a university student. Who knows what hostile things lurk in the dark out there? It unsettles me. Was this a calculated move? If so, she has got impecable foresight. I wouldn't put it past her. She seems to have thought of everything...

I yawn loudly, unconcerned with who hears me. I'm getting sleepy, but it will be difficult to get some rest until the lamp is turned off. Jeannine said lights out will be whenever she decides to sleep, so we will have to adjust to her schedule. I only hope that she isn't a night owl like most girls her age. Until then, I must find something to occupy myself with. I look around for anyone interesting. I don't see that boy from before anywhere. 

I should find someone new to talk to. 

Now then, who to pick...

I survey the area for anyone interesting looking. No one really piques my interest. The larger group from earlier has split up into a pair and a group of three. They're sitting around chatting. I turn on my heel to look behind me. Two of the men are standing near one of the materials piles. They're doing something over there, but I can't tell what from this distance. So I stroll over to them and make myself known. 

"Hello there. Pardon me, but may I ask what you're doing over here?" 

They both turn and greet me with a smile. The one on the left is a younger man with a large build. He's easily a head taller than me. The one on the right is much older, evident by his nearly completely grayed hair. They look alike, somehow. When I look into their eyes, I see the same essence. Given the age difference, could they be father and son?

"Hey. Nothing interesting, just checking out our resources. As you can see, we have a lot to keep track of." The younger one says.

"Count your blessings, boy. Remember when we were scraping by for just ten percent of this iron? Compared to that, this is like a dream." The older one tells him.

"Yeah, don't remind me." The younger guy ruffles his hair and grimaces." Say, miss, what did you do before you... Y'know?"

I look at him curiously.


"He means to ask you what your role in your settlement was, assuming you had one."

I furrow my brows. It's a fair question, though too personal for mere acquaintences. Nonetheless, I answer.

"I was a teacher, once. It was years ago, but I used to teach the kids in my settlement to read and write, among other things. Why do you ask?"

"We're planning on asking everyone here about their skills." The young one explains. "If we're going to build a settlement, then why live like we're in the bronze age? We have the resources, so all that's still needed is the know-how. We could establish a city with electricity and plumbing and all!"

"Exactly. We were hoping to find people with all kinds of skills. I was once an engineer, my son here was good with electronics. It's still just a dream, but an achievable one, I reckon."

I stare at them in disbelief. Electronics?! Plumbing?! Those are things that only the Brobs have. What are they talking about? Why do they sound like they're so familiar with these things?

"W-Wait! I'm so confused. How in the world did you both...?"

They look at each other in confusion but then suddenly seem to realize what I mean. 

"We should have explained more. My bad there. Dad?" 

"Yeah. We aren't from a settlement exactly... At least not like the ones you know. Way out in the countryside, there are places where Brobs haven't settled. Our old home was a big city about the size of that bed."

The older man gestures beyond the boundaries of the square of land Jeannine made for us.

"Because it was left alone for so long, it eventually advanced enough to have infrastructure like that. It was unbelievable! You had to see it!" The son exclaims.

The older man suddenly looks grim. His son turns to him and puts an arm on his shoulder, pulling him in close.

"I know, Dad. I miss her too."

It doesn't take a genius to guess what happened. Someone must have found them and proceeded to destroy it. Why else would they be here now? At some point they were sold, just like the rest of us. The story rarely changes.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up your past. It was insensitive of me."

"It's alright, miss. What's gone is gone. No point in dwelling, right? It's time to look to the future."

"Yes, absolutely." I say, smiling.

"In other news, we're quite fortunate. We already spoke with most of the others. It seems we have people with knowledge of woodwork, smithing and even refinery. It's amazing."

"Wow, I wouldn't have guessed."

"Not to mention that the girl plans to save more of us soon. Who knows what they'll bring to the table? This could be the start of something truly unprecedented."

Their expressions are so hopeful that I can't help but believe them. I'm sold. I only wish I had better skills. I don't want to be useless to our group.

"Is there anything I can do? I'm not a 'hands-on' type, but surely there's something?"

"Hmm. I'm not sure, to be frank. Maybe see if you can learn something? The folks here are very kind. I'm sure everyone would be willing to teach you if you asked."

He's right. I'll need to carefully consider who to ask. I want to do my part for our community.

"I'll do that. Thank you. Both of you."

"My pleasure, miss...?"

"Orina. Just Ori is fine."

"Call me Daedalus. This is my son Icarus.”

Their names strike me as odd, though I don't implore further. I hadn't expected any of this when I decided to approach them. I'm very glad that I did. I have a feeling that these two are going to do great things. The idea of a city is so interesting to me. I've never seen one, not a very modern one anyway. Yes, we all 'live' in a Brob-city but I don't think I can proudly say I've seen it, let alone enjoyed its sights.

"Dad, I think we have most of what we need. I could have it working in like a day, maybe?"

"Um, what are you making?" I blurt out. "I-If you don't mind me asking."

The son shoots me a proud smile. 

"Oh, are you interested? If all goes well, I should be able to make a-"

Just then the ground begins to shake. A moment later, we're all looking up at Jeannine once more. She's in her nightclothes now, looking very sleepy. She puts her hands on her knees and leans over us, inspecting our work. Little has changed, obviously. It's only been two hours since she last checked. She begins to speak, and we all listen carefully.

"Hey guys, it's getting late, so I think it's time for bed. I'm going to turn off this lamp now, but don't worry, I'm right here. I wish you all a good night. Sweet dreams!"

She reaches over and switches off the lamp. Immediately, the area becomes very dark. A few more tremors are felt before we hear the springs of her bed creaking. Off she goes, as if this were any other  ordinary day. For us, however, it's experience. Thankfully her blinds are open, allowing the moonlight into her room. It makes the difference between not seeing anything and being able to get around with some difficulty.

"I suppose it's time I sleep too. It was nice meeting you both. Have a good rest."

I leave them, heading to an area far away from anyone else. I lay down on the ground and relax my body. I'm used to sleeping in the cold and on hard surfaces. This is nothing like that. Despite the bitter cold outside, this room is warm. The ground isn't soft, but it's so indescribably better than plastic. Most importantly, I don't have to worry about something attacking me in the night. 

I feel safe.

With heavy eyelids, fatigue catches up with me. Although my mind is overflowing with ideas, I manage to clear it rather quickly. Rest must come first. There will be plenty of time tomorrow. And the next day; And the next... 

It isn't long before I fall fast asleep.

The next morning, I wake up to the sound of movement. It's not due to any of the other Lillis being noisy. No, these strange sounds spreading through the room are undoubtedly coming from her bed. Jeannine must be waking up. I should do the same if I intend to adapt to her lifestyle. My eyes reluctantly flutter open, and I squint at the bright morning sun. It's a new day.

I sit up, groggily rubbing my eyes as they adjust to the brightness of the room. I stand up and stretch, shaking out my legs while I'm at it. I'm not as stiff as usual, which is a pleasant surprise. I recognize the noise as her mattress springs creaking in response to her stirring. She throws her covers off and swings her feet over the side of the bed. A stretch is followed by a loud yawn and then she sleepily walks over to us. Her feet stop right at the edge of our border. Her half-lidded eyes scan around for each of us. I think she might be counting heads?

I find myself staring at her again. She's so pretty, even with that mess of bedhead. Her hair looks silky smooth too. I find myself unconsciously running my fingers through my own, less well-kept locks. 

"Good morning, everyone..." She yawns again, "I hope everyone's first night here was alright. I've got class in about an hour so I'm going to go get ready. It's a short day. I'll be back before you know it. The food and water from yesterday should be enough, right? I'll bring more later. See you~"

The titanic university student turns and walks away, grabbing some clothes from her dresser on the way out. My gaze follows her until she disappears out of sight. 

"Have a nice day, Jeannine."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 7 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A day in the life of a university student...

POV: Jeannine


I should really plan to be in bed before midnight.

I touch my face below my eye. Is it just me or am I getting bags? I seriously hope not. I'd better get going, this lecture's an important one. My morning routine is quite streamlined. A few things had to change since getting ten new roommates, but otherwise it's the same. What isn't the same is having to change outside the bedroom, but it's preferable to stripping in front of an audience. The very idea makes me blush.

Once I grab my clothes from my room, I head into the bathroom. I go about my business then enjoy a brief, steaming-hot shower. Shortly after, I get dressed in a comfortable outfit and proceed to freshen up. I bring my face close to the mirror and look for any spots or blemishes. I find none, thankfully.

"Good. No bags, either."

I smile at my reflection. They say the more you smile, the happier you'll feel. True or not, I hope that's the case. It's best that I appear as cheerful and friendly as possible to the Lillis. Isn't that what a good host does?


I check the time as I enter the kitchen. Last night I prepared a sandwich for myself so I wouldn't have to leave without breakfast. I eat it and follow it up with a cup of coffee. A short time later, I grab my things and head out the door. For the first time in ages I can take the bus, free of guilt. I won't be saving money again for a while. Gone are the days of icy-cold walks to campus.

Not even twenty minutes later I take my seat in the lecture hall. I pull out my laptop and prepare to take notes. If I recall correctly, today's lecture will be about international relations. I already read this chapter in advance a few days ago. Still, I chose to attend, sparing no effort in staying on top of my studies. The professor, a middle-aged, Asian lady, enters right on time, greets us and then begins.

Halfway into her presentation I find myself losing focus. It's clear that I could have used some more sleep. 

Either that or a second cup of coffee. Resisting the urge to doze off at my desk becomes a battle. I need something interesting to keep me focused. I look left and right at the other students. Most are either on their phones or already fast asleep, nothing out of the ordinary. I allow myself to rest my head in my hands. My eyelids start to feel heavy. 

"I wonder what the little ones are up to right now..." I mumble.

Just before I nod off, a girl one row down from me raises her hand.

"Professor Lam, why do we even bother with relations? I'll never understand why even consider those mites to be worthy of the rights we enjoy."

Her bold, unashamedly racist statement wakes me right up. My previously tired eyes are now wide open, glaring at the back of her head. I can't say I'm surprised that she thinks that way. Hell, it's practically part of our culture, but it does nothing to quell my building rage in my chest.

The class murmurs in agreement. I notice the professor trying and failing to hide her amused smirk.

"Who knows? Maybe one day we'll wake up and realize exactly that. But until then, our three nations live in 'peace'." She emphasizes her statement with air-quotes. Her smirk fades and becomes serious again. "Just remember that legally you must treat them with respect. Whether you kill a fellow Brob or a pathetic, little Lilli, the crime of homicide is the same."

"It's absurd..." The girl groans.

"We will be covering Lilli-related topics for the next three lectures. I suggest you study the material well, lest you fall behind. We'll be back to our usual, domestic topics as of next month."

Dr. Lam resumes her lecture, going on and on about the history of the largest and smallest races. Her casual, racist remarks only increase once she realizes that everyone in the room feels the same way towards tinies. Unafraid of being reported, she speaks her mind. She goes so far as to comment on their biology, comparing them to actual insects. The lecture devolves into a discussion in the last fifteen minutes. 

I hear other students quietly chatting about what they would do if the law protecting Lillis was ever lifted. It truly sickens me, down to my core. I want to respond, but I reluctantly bite my tongue.

Arguing with them won't change their minds, nor their hearts. It would be a waste of breath. My one voice will only be drowned out in this echo chamber of stupidity. Not to mention, I also don't know how Dr. Lam would respond. From what I've observed, she's not the type you can debate with, let alone argue with. Even if I disproved each and every one of her unfounded and unscientific claims, which I know I could, it would only result in her taking it out on me for the rest of the semester. Instead, I think I'll keep my 'A' and hold my tongue.

Class finally ends, I happily leave. On my way out I hear that same girl telling one of her friends about how her boyfriend bought some Lillis for them to 'play with' later. My anger quickly turns to sadness. I have no doubt those poor things will be meeting a horrific end at her hands.

"What a bitch." I whisper. "No, what a damned monster. Why are people like this?! Sometimes I wish we didn't share a race."

Sadly, I'm powerless to stop her. There's only so many I can protect right now. I'd do so much more if I could. A welcome distraction comes in the form of thoughts of the Lillis I saved. At least I can find peace knowing that they will never have to deal with people like her. 

Not if I can help it.

I catch the same bus back to my apartment, arriving home at last. That class drained energy out of me that I didn't even know I had. Unsurprisingly, my appetite is long gone. All I want to do right now is collapse into bed and reset. But not just yet. I still must check on them. They must be hungry by now. I grab another food vial from the fridge and head into my room. 

"I'm back, guys. You wouldn't believe how bad that lecture was. Ugh. So happy to be done."

I kneel and pour the food and water out for them once more. My drowsy eyes scan around for any changes. I think I see some form of tilling. It would be amazing if they could get some agriculture going. Other than that, I see that many seem to be clothed now. That's a huge improvement compared to the rags I found them in. I'll need a magnifying glass or something similar if I want to see details.

“You guys are making stellar progre-”

I stop when I notice that something is off. No, that can't be right. Six... seven... no more? There's three missing! I do a headcount two more times. It's the same each time. No way. They didn't... Did they? Please let it be a miscount. 

My body tenses up. I don't dare move a muscle apart from my neck. Slowly and with extreme caution, my wide eyes scan around my legs. The mere idea of seeing a red dot right now makes my stomach turn. My head feels dizzy, and I realize that I've been holding my breath. I take a few deep breaths to calm myself before resuming my search. 

There are no signs of life around the boundary or where I'm kneeling. Once I've checked the immediate vicinity, I slowly lift my body into a crouch. There are no dots on my knee or beneath where my foot was. Still crouching, I turn and look around behind me. My eyes look around the entire floor of the room. Unsurprisingly, I don't see them anywhere. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack, except they're not even as big as needles. They're more like needle-tips, really.

Panic begins to take over. Even while keeping my breathing under control, my head is spinning. I put my hand on my chest and feel my heart racing. It's going crazy in there… Like I've never felt before. I stay low, looking around as I advance slowly. It's starting to feel hopeless.

And then I see something.

A movement out of the corner of my eye. My head whips around to the leg of my bed. I get closer, squinting hard. It was just some dust, apparently. However, I see some tiny dots moving around a few inches from it. I bring myself close and lean in to confirm. Yes, those are definitely Lillis. My god, how did they get all the way out here? This distance must have been miles to them. 

Why? Why did they break one of my rules?

My relief quickly turns to anger. I could have crushed them. Their foolish decision would have cost them their lives and made me a murderer. How could they? Did they not agree to stay here of their own will? My face looms over them. They're motionless, staring up at my clearly frustrated expression.

I lay my finger down before them, resisting the urge to slam it. Honestly, it's taking all I have to restrain myself. 

"Get on… Now!"

The three of them quickly obey. Once they're safely on my fingertip I stand up, holding them out before me. I turn and walk over to the square, stopping just before its border, but never taking my eyes off the three tinies I'm carrying. A dark impulse urges me to make a fist. They'd be gone without a trace. I quickly push such horrible thoughts right out of my head. I will not abuse my power over them. 

I'm beyond furious. The look on my face must be expressing that clearly. I bring my finger closer--enough that I can make out their body language. The three of them are huddled together in fear. It seems like one of them is even crying. How angry must I look right now? Hopefully less angry than I feel.

My expression softens. I don't want to be scary. The fact that they think I'm going to hurt them is troubling. They clearly don't know me all that well yet. I would be afraid too if our roles were reversed.

I kneel and lay my finger in an open spot on their plot of land. They hurry off me before I even tell them to. I then pull my hand away and cross my arms over my chest. This time I show my disapproval without looking as angry.

"You know, if you wanted to leave you had the chance. You still can, just not like...that." 

I pause and think. How best should I go about this? It'll set a precedent.

"Let me be clear. I am not your owner, nor a kidnapper. Those who wish to leave can do so with my assistance. I'm aware that you may not trust me yet, but the rules are the rules. If you break them, there will be consequences."

Another pause to let that sink in.

"However, I think it would be unfair to assume the worst. Maybe you had a good reason? I can't know since I simply cannot hear you... Yet."

There's a small, kids' toy on my desk. I reach over for it and hold it out to show them. 

"This is a walkie-talkie I bought the other day. I don't know if any of you are good with electronics, but I was hoping that you could turn this into something more useful for me. I want to hear your voices. These one-sided conversations are so dull. Even I get tired of my own voice."

I smile, no longer angry.

"Thankfully no one was hurt. I won't be punishing anyone this time, but don't ever pull any stunts like that again. You had me worried sick!"

I place the toy down near the corner of the plot, away from any tinies.

"Once you've repurposed this thing, I expect each one of you to voice your complaints directly to me. No more sneaky business. Agreed?"

I uncross my arms and stand back up. 

"This was the last thing I needed after that class. Alright, I'm going to go cook and do some work. Like yesterday, I'll be leaving you all for a while. Same as yesterday, okay?"

I pick my bag up and leave the room. Despite my anger, I think I handled that well. I didn't do anything aggressive and I didn't yell. Frankly, I'm proud of myself. It was kind of regal and queen-like. Hehe...

The afternoon is spent working on my assignments, doing laundry, and preparing food for the next day. It's my usual routine, though I do miss working at my desk. I'm trying to give them lots of space and time to get used to me, but it's already becoming inconvenient. I'll need to reevaluate these living arrangements sometime soon. 

Whether they like it or not, it's my room and they're going to have to live around me. There will be an awkward period but that's par for the course. It can't be helped, really. Adjustments, transitions--they take time. I'll be patient for now, but not if it's going to disrupt my lifestyle.

"There must be something I can do. Something to move things along faster. Or to get closer to them… Meh, I'll think of something, eventually."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 8 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Never underestimate anyone...

POV: Jeannine


A noise from my phone jolts me awake. 

"Wha- what's...huh?”

My eyes are quickly adjusting to the light of my living room. My mind, on the other hand, is still swimming. I give my head a few shakes to regain my focus.

"Oh. I fell asleep at my desk...nice. What time is it?" I say to no one.

My phone reads '7:14pm'. How long was I asleep? I remember studying for a few hours and then... It's a blank. Must have dozed off, I was so tired. I stretch my arms and back, letting that familiar shiver rock my whole body.


A deep sigh escapes my lips. Well, at least I don't feel tired anymore. I doubt I'll be able to go to bed at my usual time, but it's no big deal. Tomorrow's class is an afternoon one, so I can sleep in. I look back at my phone and read the notification on the lock screen.


One missed call from ‘Sara <3’. Hm, I hope it wasn't urgent. She's so chatty and I don't have the mind for that right now. I'll call her back later.

Wait, its seven already?! I was supposed to feed the little guys two hours ago!

From the living room to the kitchen to my bedroom. I waste no time. It's such a negligent thing to do. I'm usually so on top of things. Okay, that's it, no more staying up late. From now on I'm going to have to rise to the occasion. Hopefully they won't mind their food coming a little late.

"Food time, everyone. What have you been up to today?"

As I'm depositing their food and water, I hear something unusual. My brows furrow in confusion. It sounded like a voice. A super quiet one, but nonetheless a voice. My head turns to look around and then behind me. For a moment, I almost think someone's in the room with me. 


The voice is gone, only to be replaced with low static. This time I easily locate the source of the noise. My eyes lock onto the now-partially broken walkie-talkie. The volume of the static seems to increase and decrease as though someone's testing it out. 

I look closer, leaning in slightly. The toy was switched off when I placed it there, I think. My hand begins to reach over for it when a clear, audible voice stops me in my tracks.

"J-Jeannine? Hi there. Can... Can you hear me?"

My eyes go wide. No way… No fucking way!? Already? It's only been half a day! It would be unbelievable. I'm so curious!


My deadpan staring and lack of response prompt the speaker to continue.

"Um, I think it's loud enough? Dad, should we boost the volume?"

"No, just give her a second. She's probably just surprised." Another voice answers him.

I finally snap out of my trance and respond. Suddenly I feel somewhat shy. How unlike me...

"Hello, mister. Are you the one who got that thing working so quickly? Who am I speaking with?"

My question hangs in the air for a while. Just as I'm about to assume something broke, his voice replies.

"It was a team effort. My dad and I have been hauling wiring and soldering things all afternoon. You can call me Icarus. My father goes by Daedalus."

My hand rushes to my mouth to stifle a gasp. I'm in utter disbelief. I'm speaking to a Lilli right now. I'm pretty sure the only Lilli voices that get heard are those of their political figures, but even they don't get to be heard by the everyday person like me. 

I doubt anyone my age can claim to have spoken with a tiny.

These guys sound older than me. For the first time, I'm kind of curious what they look like. Hearing their voices has made them 'real', in a manner of speaking. It's very...humanizing. Of course, I always knew they were thinking, feeling beings, but this is something else entirely. 

I'm struggling for words.

"Wow, that's awesome!”

"Thank you, Ms. Jeannine! We've also been wanting to speak with you. We're all very thankful! Even the escapees from earlier have come around. No one wants to leave anymore. They were moved by your gentleness and mercy." 

"Oh...were they now?" I blush. "They can consider it forgiven. I'm not one to hold grudges. And just 'Jeannine' is fine. Afterall, you sound older than me, Mr. Icarus."

"Alright then, Jeannine."

This is interesting, I think I'm going to be here a while, so I get comfortable. I sit down cross-legged in front of the square. It's as low as I'll go for them. I could always get down on my front but that would be so weird. 

Plus... Ouch. Better not, unless I absolutely must.

"Is there anything else?" He asks me.


"Is there anything else you'd like us to build? Communication was the priority, but we can do more."

His question catches me off guard. Never in a million years would I have thought that they'd be able to establish communication with me so soon. If it had taken months, I wouldn't have batted an eye. Clearly my little ones are more capable than I thought. 

Somehow, it fills me pride. I consider what else we could need.

"There aren't any other 'urgent' things as of right now. You should focus on yourselves. Build some homes, make some nicer clothes, and turn this place into a real home. Can you do that for me?"

There's another pause. Some unintelligible noises suggest he's talking with the others. The background noise suggests a large group. It's likely all ten of them are present. His voice returns, sounding astoundingly confident.

"Yes! It'll take some time, but it will be done."

"Good. I wouldn't want my little roommates living a worse life than I. Make me proud!"

I'm just about to get up when a different voice comes through the speaker. It's a woman's voice, and it's shaky.

"J-Jeannine! Wait, please! I have a question, if that's alright with you."

"Sure. What’s up?"

Sounds of fumbling with a microphone come through the plastic kid's toy. I hear her nervous breathing from her mouth being a bit too close to it.

"Why have you done this for us? I just want to understand. There isn't anything to gain from it, right?"

"Hm, I wonder?"

I put my finger to my lip and look away, as if lost in thought. 

It feels too soon to be revealing such things with them. Why spoil the fun? A little mystery never hurt anyone. It makes me far more interesting, especially to them. 

"There's a bunch of reasons, little miss. I want to protect you and allow you to live in comfort and peace. That should be enough, no?"

"Okay... Um, thank you. You're very kind to us and it's just so..."

"Unlike most Brobdingnagians?"

She goes silent, likely too afraid to say it out loud. Merely insinuating it has her expecting me to react negatively. I shake my head and sigh.

"It's alright, we don't have to pretend. Everyone here knows what people as big as me can do to you. None of you would be here right now if not for some giant person trafficking you on the black market."

"I didn't mean it like that. I'm very sorry!" She pleads.

"Didn't I say it was alright? You don't have to mince your words when you speak to me. Even if I got mad, do you think I'd squash you or something? Come on, I'm not a monster."

"..." She goes silent.

"Well, avoiding the title of 'monster' is a low bar. I hope to be called 'friend' someday. That, or even something nicer? I'm open to nicknames if they're cute!"

Sounds of laughter come from the speaker. A bunch of people, including her, seem to have found that funny. I start to feel self-conscious, but maintain my calm demeanour.

"J-Jeannine, I have a request to make." The woman asks me suddenly.

"What's the matter?"

"Could I...touch you?"

"W-What?" I look in her general direction in utter confusion. My mind instantly jumps to the worst conclusion. "I- Uh... No, sorry…" 

"N-N-No! I meant just your finger! Please, I know the risks, but...!"

My eyes look down to my arms, still crossed over my chest. My right index finger rests on my upper arm, tapping every so often. Against my better judgement, I'm considering it. It's so irresponsible but then again, I know I can be careful. If anything happens, I have nine witnesses too. The blame won't fall on me since it wasn't even my idea. 

"Okay, sure. Walk toward me."

I set my finger down in an open area, not too far from where I assume she is. It takes some squinting, but I soon see a tiny speck making her way to my nail. She goes around it and touches the skin of my fingertip. I might be imaging it, but I think I felt that. It's so indescribably faint, but it's something. 

"Oh, I think I felt that!"

Her response, if there was one, goes unheard without the aid of the speaker. I wait for her to move away so I can remove my finger, but she doesn't let me. Instead, she climbs onto the nail and sits there. I'm not sure what she wants exactly. I stare at the pink of my nail, patiently waiting for her to do something. Thirty seconds pass and there's no change.

What is she after? She knows I can't move until she's clear of me. Does she want me to tilt her off? No, that's ridiculous. She couldn't be that stupid.

An idea pops into my head. She's in the exact area I had them sit when I carried them. Does she want that? If so, she's got some serious guts. Okay, little one, I'll humour you. 

“You'd better hang on tight.”

Carefully, I lift my finger off the ground. I raise it all the way up to eye-level, holding my breath as it passes my mouth and nose. My eyes focus hard on the daring, little dot. I can vaguely make out her body, but not her face or other features. We've already taken a big risk by doing this, so I figure another won't matter. I bring my finger close, almost to the tip of my nose so that I can see her.

Long, brown hair goes down past her shoulders. A fair complexion with modest features gives her an unassuming appearance. She's wearing some sort of toga, clearly a product of the fabric I provided. I want to say she's tall, but I really wouldn't know without a reference. She seems to be smiling and waving at me. Her lips are moving, but I hear nothing coming from them.

Would I be able to hear her if she were closer? 

With my free hand I brush my hair over my ear. Keeping my eyes trained on her until I can't anymore, I move my finger to my ear, pressing against the cartilage. My voice becomes very soft, just to be safe. I've never been this close to a Lilli before, and I'm not taking any chances.

"What is you name, little one?"

"My name is Orina!!!"

I stifle a gasp. 

Oh my god, I heard her! That faint squeak was her voice. She must be yelling at the top of her lungs, but to me it's just barely audible. I focus hard so that I don't miss anything she says.

"I wanted to tell you that you're a beautiful person!"

Suddenly my face goes redder than ever before. I'm lost for words. I bring my finger back around to the front of my face. Her compliment is returned with a smile and a mouthed 'thank you'. She may not know it, but that meant a lot to me, genuinely.

"Okay, let's get you back down now. I hope that was what you wanted." I giggle.

She's just so small. 

It feels like I'm handling a butterfly, only far more fragile. As much as I trust myself not to, I worry about dropping her. My gaze drops to my lap. A quick mental calculation tells me that it would be a miles-long drop. Even if she landed on my legs, I have serious doubts she'd survive. 

How scary...

I lower my finger back down to the ground and she hops off. At last, I have my finger back. 

"I'm very pleased to have spoken with you two. Maybe I can chat with the others some other time? Yes, I think I'd like that a lot."

This time I don't get a response from the speaker. The dead silence suggests that they've turned it off. I guess that's all they wanted to say… That's totally fine. This was far more than I expected, anyway. They're doing well, as far as I'm concerned.

I stand up and wave at them from high above.

"I'm going to go take a shower and make some dinner. Lights out will be in an hour or two. See you guys!” 

I grab some clean clothes from my dresser and head to the shower.

While under the hot, steamy water I reflect on my interaction with Orina. In hindsight, that was terribly risky. We're both lucky I was able to keep my finger so still. In the future it might be best to keep from touching them directly or vice versa. 

Though, I can't say I didn't enjoy that.


It's coming along, slowly but surely. I can't wait to see what they do next!

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 9 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Internal conflict and a chat with a friend...

POV: Nick


"Over to the left. No, not that much. Slightly lower. Yeah...yeah...okay, stop! That's perfect, Jeannine! Ready for the next?"

"Of course. Just gimme a sec, my hand is cramping..."

The massive girl shakes her hand out above us. For over an hour she and the two engineer guys have been trying to construct our first building in the middle of the land. Fingers bigger than battleships are somehow dexterous enough to manipulate tons of wood and stone like building blocks. Voices softer than pin-drops guide our massive 'friend' via our speaker systems. 

It really is a sight to see.

A shadow darkens the area around me as her hand passes over. I involuntarily recoil at the sight of something so big moving so close. There's this voice in my head that's trying to convince me that she's going to drop something on me. It's silly, but I can't help it. As sweet and genuine as Jeannine seems to be, I'm still not able to fully trust her. Seeing all the others so cheerful and trusting has begun to make me feel like an outcast.

The man who sleeps with a machete is a fool every night but one.

I consider my skepticism my machete, in a sense. It's not sharp or even a deterrent but it might help me avoid trouble sometime. 


A loud crash a ways away from me snaps me back to reality. Dust and dirt fly toward me, showering me from head to toe. Once I rub it out of my eyes, I realize what happened. A log the size of a semi just fell in front of me.

My god, what if I had been sitting over there? Holy shit...Holy shit!

"Sorry! One of them seems to have slipped. Is everyone alright?", Jeannine asks us.

A few of the others rush over to me. My motionless body lying there must have made them panic. They help me up and quickly check for any injuries. They find none and brush me off. I'm honestly surprised by how relieved they all look. It's nice…

"Someone was close but he's alright. Shaken and dirty, but alright." The older engineer laughs over the speaker.

Jeannine's worried face looms overhead, her eyes focused on me alone. She leans in a little no doubt to get a better look at me. 

I shudder.

"What a relief. I'm so sorry, mister, that was horribly careless of me. How can I make it up to you?"

Gazing up at the gorgeous fem-giant, I find myself paralyzed. She's so damn cute but at the same time she terrifies me. I never wanted to speak with her one on one, that was why I actively avoided the speakers. 

I just... I just can't. It's so dumb of me, but her gaze just freaks me out. It feels... wrong. Eyes that big shouldn't be focused on someone so small.

She tilts her head curiously. When no answer is given, the older man replies for me. 

"Let's give him some space. I don't think he's much of a talker."

"Oh, absolutely. I'll be more careful, I swear!”

She winks at me and I feel my heart flutter. Feelings of guilt permeate my being and I have absolutely no idea why. I take those feelings with me as I walk to another, hopefully safer, spot to watch from. The others seem to be gathered watching Jeannine work, so I join them without so much as a word. Nobody talks to me either, being considerate of my mood.

As I watch yet another massive wooden pillar become firmly planted in the ground, everyone around me cheers. I applaud too. How could I not? With that last piece, the foundation of our town hall is complete. What would have taken weeks of manual labor, Jeannine finished in just under an hour. 

"Damn. That's just insane."

We look to the giantess who is now standing back up. She flexes her hands again and kicks out her legs. She looks just as happy as the crowd. This was the first time we cooperated to achieve something. No, it's more than that. We just saw a Brob build something for Lillis rather than destroy. Merely one week ago I would have thought that to be impossible.

"I think that's enough for me. The rest of the work is far too intricate for these hands, unfortunately. Best of luck, everyone!"

She then leaves the room once more. 

The rest of us disperse to go work on whatever it is we've been assigned. A few head over to Daedalus to continue work on the town hall. Others head south to the soon-to-be farmland to plow the soil. The rest occupy themselves with simpler, independent tasks. 

Everyone has a role now, even me.

Our 'visionary' father-son duo apparently have an amazing plan for this place. They gathered us all up this morning to present some rough sketches. Truth be told, I couldn't really read them all that well. Though, I was able to gleam the idea. It was a plan for a town, with a focus on solid infrastructure. Apparently, they have plans to upgrade into a city once new Lillis arrive. 

To say that I was skeptical would be an understatement. Firstly, how the heck were we going to build a town with the little manpower we have? Sure, they produced the tools for woodwork and masonry, but still! Not to mention the lack of key skills and organization. None of us have ever constructed anything before.

But they accounted for that too.

One by one, they had us introduce ourselves and tell eachother about our individual skills. They assigned each of us to a task that we could either do well, or quickly learn. After a lengthy meeting, each of us had a job. Apparently, I'm well suited for one...'specific' job. 

"Government of all things? So random..."

Governance seems like so unnecessary given how we're a population of ten. Plus, I don't like heavy responsibilities. Even back home I was content to play a supporting role. The kind of thing where you follow the lead of another, doing as you're told. A background character, I guess. But then again, that home is nothing more than a memory now. 

Maybe I could try something new?

"Jeannine did say she wanted someone to talk to about issues. I'm going to have to talk with her. One on one, probably."

The idea troubles me more than I'd like to admit. I'm not sure this is for me. I head straight to Daedalus. Approaching the man, I take a deep breath and try to speak confidently.

"Sir, I'm not sure I c-can do this Governing? I-It's not…"

Fuck me, what phenomenal delivery. I try not to let my physical cringing show. He turns to me and smiles patting my shoulder with a large, meaty hand. By the third pat it starts to feel sore. He's awfully strong.

"Don't worry. You'll do fine, kid, just trust me."

He gives me a nod and gives me this look of reassurance. It makes me too nervous to decline. I stand there waiting for him to continue but... he doesn't. Hmph. Somehow, I was expecting more? He's so weird. 

"Thank you? Um, I guess I'll start talking to the others. Info gathering and all that..."

"Mhm. Good luck!"

He seems convinced, like it's not even worth a discussion. I make myself scarce. This feels so forced to me. Why am I being put into this position? Have I displayed any of the skills it requires? He'd better not be screwing with me. No, I don't think he's the type to do that. At the very least doing as he says will give me the direction I was seeking.

"Fine then. I'll give it an honest shot."

I spend the next few hours reluctantly going back and forth between my fellow Lillis. I figure the best way to do this is to learn as much as I can about who they are and what they're doing for our community. Using some paper and a chunk of graphite I begin writing notes. 

"Of all the tools you guys made, you couldn't have produced some pencils…? Geez."

Though I have little confidence in my abilities, I try to take the job seriously. If I crash and burn, I can always give the responsibility to someone else.

By the time I've interviewed eight people, I'm already feeling drained. Reviewing my notes, it appears that I have enough information to relay to Jeannine, should she ask for it. Progress with the farm is going nicely. By Daedalus' estimates, the town hall should be done in two days. 

People have also begun work on proper houses instead of the makeshift tents we were using before. Slowly but surely, this place is becoming a full-fledged town.

"Alright, I think that's almost everyone. Just one left."

I head over to the woman from the other day. Her name was Ori, I think? I hope so or else this is going to be awkward.

"Hello again, Ori. Got a minute?"

"Hm? Oh, it's you. Yes, what's the matter?"

She gives me a toothless smile. It's one of familiarity, but not necessarily fondness. I don't think we're friends after just one conversation. Looking down at my notes, I begin as I did with everyone else.

"So it looks like I'm going to be the liaison between us and Jeannine. I've been asked to observe and gather information about how things are going down here. At some point I'll probably relay it all to her and stuff."

"I see, I see! That's a wonderful job, you're lucky."

"Not really. I just took it because they told me to." 

Orina then gets a little too close to me and stares into my eyes, causing me to flinch. She's so close that our noses are practically touching. Her expression is serious until it returns to a smile and she retreats.

"Definitely a good pick. You're the one for this job."

"How do you--"

"Just trust me. I know."

"I've been hearing a lot of that lately. Ah, we got sidetracked. Back to the main issue."

"Of course."

"So, Ori, I'll keep it brief. Three questions. You can answer them however you want. Ready?"

"Yes, sir."

I chuckle at that. No one's ever called me sir, least of all someone older than me. It feels kind of cool.

"First one. What have you been up to since arriving here a few days ago?"

"I've been trying things, here and there. I'm not particularly skilled so I just try to help however I can. Just this morning I was carrying wood over to the town hall. Later tonight I'm planning to help with making clothes."

"Very nice. Doing many things is nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, you're just helping more."

"Thank you, Nick, that's sweet of you."

"Anytime. Okay, next. It's about Jeannine-"

"She's great! I never imagined someone so pure existed, let alone a Brobby."

Technically I am only looking for first impressions, but her answer struck me. Her opinion of Jeannine is so positive that I'd like to know more. 

"You seem to really like her. It doesn't bother you that she's one of them?"

"No, not in the slightest."

I'm taken aback. Suddenly I feel defensive, almost as if her answer is too outrageous to simply accept. A 'Brobby' took my family and home from me. To me, they're all the same, even Jeannine. Deep down, I'm mistrustful of her, deserved or not.

"How can you say that? There's no way you ended up in that tank along with the rest of us unless you suffered at the hands of her kind!"

"Please lower your voice."

Her voice is stern, almost commanding. I instantly shut my mouth.

"S-Sorry... It's a sensitive topic for me."

"I understand. The answer to your previous question is yes. I've suffered...more than you know. Didn't I mention this when we first met?"

She did. It must have slipped my mind. A 'monster' or something? Either she omitted the details or I forgot them.

"I think so. You don't have to elaborate; I get the message. I'm sorry, that was so rude of me."

"It's alright. I'm not one to hold grudges."

When she doesn't elaborate any further, I decide to drop the topic. It must not be something she's comfortable speaking about. It could also just be me?

"Let's get the last question out of the way so that I can leave alone. Ahem. Is there anything you'd like to tell Jeannine? I'll relay it to her along with everyone else's."


"Take your time."

I wait while she thinks. She seems to come up with an idea only to ponder some more. I think she's looking for the right words here. There's no need for it to be this serious; This isn't an interrogation. 

After a short while, she shares her thoughts.

"Please tell Jeannine that she's doing a great job."

Again I wait for more but everyone it's like everyone is being super concise today. Must I beg for more than a sentence?

"Is that all? It's kind of basic. No offense, Ori."

"None taken. Sometimes it's best to keep things simple and genuine. I only hope she will appreciate it, coming from me."

That last part catches me off guard. I raise a brow in response.

"I'm sorry?"

"Oh, you know. I'm just one of ten, soon to be one of thirty or even a hundred. When we're so small and irrelevant to her I just wonder if this 'thing' we have now will last. There will only ever be one of her, but our numbers will continue to grow."

"I couldn't disagree more."

"Why is that?"

"If someone's special to you then it doesn't matter how many others there are. The place they take up in your heart won't disappear. In Jeannine's case, I think she's already taken a liking to you. Didn't she call you by name?"

"S-She did! Yes, I think so."

"Exactly. Don't worry about silly things like that. I'll get your message to her sometime soon. Thanks for-"

Suddenly Ori jumps at me, embracing me tightly. I'm taken by surprise, tensing up in response. The woman lingers there for a few seconds before letting me go. She gives me a smile, as she always does.

"Thank you, Nick. Really, I mean it."

"No problem... I just said how I feel."

"Mhm. I also don't think you should worry. This new job--you're very good at it. Keep it up!"

"I'll do my best. You have a nice day, yeah?"

Ori and I part ways again, going back to our jobs. With my notes now complete, there's only one thing left to do. 

Another shudder rocks my body.

"No use in turning back now. You've signed up for the full course, dude."

I look up to the bedroom window. It's still very bright. Based on that I estimate it's still around two or three in the afternoon. Jeannine will be back in about an hour.


Until then, I'll prepare for our first meeting.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 1 - Chapter 10 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine meets Nick for the first time...

POV: Nick


The sound of footsteps outside the room tells me that Jeannine is finally home. I say 'finally' as if it's been a long time but it hasn't. My nerves are just getting the best of me. Self-doubt starts to set in and suddenly I'm having second thoughts.

The man operating the speaker system with me seems to notice my trepidation. Is it that obvious or is he just good at reading me? I'd guess the former. I wipe some sweat from my forehead and grip my notes tightly.

"Relax, boy. She's just a girl. Treat her like any one of us." 

"But she isn't one of us. Never was, and never will be."

"If you take that attitude with new people then you're not gonna get very far, least of all in this place."

"I-I know that..."

"If you know it then don't do it. Don't be hardheaded, kid. It'd do ya good to keep an open mind. This is a first impression since you avoided every opportunity to speak with her prior. Think you can handle not offending our only patron?"

I don't answer him. I don't even meet his eyes, I'm so frustrated. He leaves me alone about it for now.

The footsteps get more intense as Jeannine approaches. She drops her backpack on her bed and stands at our border. Towering over us, she puts her hands on her hips and leans over slightly to get a better look. 

"Looking good, guys. I don't even need to get close to see all the progress you've made. Very nice! Do we need anything? I'm not busy today if you want me to help build. Daedalus, are you around?"

Daedalus switches the system on and speaks for us, as he usually does. He's had the most interaction with her in our short time together, hence why she knows him by name.

"Welcome home, young miss. Don't ya worry, we've got things under control for the moment. Actually, I've got someone here who wanted a meeting with ya."


He gestures for me to speak but I struggle to find my voice. It takes a smack to the back of the head from him to produce a responce.

"Hi, Jeannine. You mentioned wanting someone to speak with about issues." 

"Ah, yes I did. Rule four, if memory serves. Is that going to be you?"

"Uhm, yes. If that's okay! I mean, it should be. I'm..."

"I'd like to take this somewhere else. Would you mind coming with me?"

I freeze up. Doing a one on one with her was one thing, but leaving the village entirely? That sounds scary… Unfortunately, I don't have the confidence to refuse.

"S-Sure. How will we go about that, though?"

Jeannine kneels and reaches for the walkie talkie. In my panic I turn to Daedalus but he's already stepped out. He's waving at me with a shit-eating grin, that bastard. Her fingers make contact with the modified kid's toy and lift it high into the air. 

"This thing must be needing new batteries by now. Might as well change them, don't you think?"

The Brob girl carries me out of her room and to her dining table. It's a short walk, given her 'small' apartment. Though I'm holding on for dear life, the room inside doesn't shake all that much. Her hands are steady, careful enough not to jostle the tiny passenger. It's surprising.

She sets it down and takes a seat in front of me. Leaning forward, she places her elbows on the table and rests her head in her hands.

"You're nervous." She says softly. "I get it, really, I do. It would've been naïve of me to assume that all of my tiny friends would warm up to me. I thought maybe we could get some privacy and talk. What's your name, mister?"

Again, I take a few seconds to respond. From inside of the plastic structure, I can see her warm expression, patiently waiting. It makes me feel a little guilty.

"It's Nicholas, but I prefer Nick. And you're Jeannine, everyone knows that."

I cringe at my own comment. Why did I say that? How stupid of me. Thankfully she pays it no mind, in fact she giggles.

"Yup, that's me. Jeannine in the flesh."

There's a pause. 

Usually, I let others lead our conversations, but Jeannine keeps waiting for me to speak up. She's not giving me the luxury of following her lead. What is she up to? Never mind that, I have a job to do. Enough worrying! 

"It's nice to meet you, Jeannine. I mean, we've already met, but like, this is more personal."

"Likewise. Yeah, I get what you mean. So, tell me Nick… What have you got for me?"

"Uhm, yes, right away! Just a moment, sorry..."

I ruffle through my notes, searching for the right paper. Crap, this probably makes me look bad. Disorganized and stumbling over my words, I must look like such a fool.

But she doesn't comment on it.

Not a word.

"I f-found them. S-Sorry, Jeannine."

She gives me a silent nod. Looking through my notes I consider what to start with. There are personal messages, progress reports, materials lists, and more. 


"S-So I've been going around... You know, like gathering information and stuff. I s-spoke with the others and got some...other stuff to share too. Like, it' do I even start?"

Jeannine's expression turns to one of concern. She shifts in her seat, sitting up and moving her hands to somewhere out of sight, likely her lap. Crap, this isn't going well. Is she getting impatient? Am I making her mad? I should get to the point already. I'm going to start with the progress reports. 

Yeah, that's a good idea.

"So, the t-town is coming along pretty-"

"Nick." A powerful, soft, regal-sounding voice cuts me off. "Save the information for later. I want to talk about you."

"A-About me? Um, sure. Is there a...uhm...anything you'd like to know?"

"Why are you so afraid of me? Have I done anything to make you nervous?"

"N-No, you haven't."

"Have I said anything unsettling? Am I too close?"

She scoots her chair back a bit giving me way more space than I already had.

"No, it's not that-"

"Do you think I want to hurt you, specifically?"

"I-I'd never-"

"Do you have a personal issue with me? Or maybe it's-"

"No! It's none of that!" I yell. "It's because you're a Brob!"

I immediately cover my mouth, realizing what I just said. Not only did I interrupt her, I just said the worst thing possible. My body trembles in fear. 

"I-I-I didn't mean that! I'm so sorry. Please don't..."

"Don't what?"

The honest answer to that is not something I can bring myself to say. It would only dig this hole I've made deeper. 

"Don't be angry." I lie.

"That's not what you were going to say, Nick. Why don't you speak your mind?"

I hesitate. On one hand I could deny it but that doesn't sound too smart. There isn't anywhere to run or hide either. I sigh and prepare myself for whatever consequences will follow.

"Please don't hurt me."

Jeannine frowns. I'm sure she knew what I was going to say but hearing it makes her no less sad. Suddenly I feel a pang of guilt.

"I understand that you hate my kind... It's no wonder you avoided me until now."

"Suppose I do, would you blame me? If I said how I truly feel, would I be squashed under your finger? Get stomped on like a bug?"

"No, you wouldn't."

The tone with which those words leave her lips shakes me to my core. I felt like I was building to something, only to have my footing ripped from under me. 

Somehow, someway, I believe her.

"My dear Nick, what did they do to you? What sort of cruelty did you suffer?"

"It doesn't matter."

"It matters to me."

"Telling you won't bring the dead back to life. Nor will it make me feel any different."

"Please tell me anyway."

Why is she like this? She doesn't understand the pain it brings me just to remember. It was only a while ago; the wound is still open and bleeding. I'm not ready for this. It's unfair of her to ask this of me. Just because she's big and I'm small doesn't mean she's got any rights over me. 

I'm not her property!

"I can't."


"I can't, Jeannine!"

"You can."

My face is getting hot. If only I was bigger, I'd have left by now; simply walked away, leaving this worthless Brob to talk to herself. The fact that I can't just makes me angrier. There's no way out of this, is there? Fine, Jeannine, I'll comply. Dominance over 'tinies' must feel great, huh? 

"My mom, dad, little sister, best friend… They were all I had. In an attack that lasted less than a minute, I lost every last one of them along with m-my home."

I pause as my voice starts to break. 

"They were crushed. A giant foot came down on us. No one saw it coming and no one had a chance to hide. Repeatedly, until there was no trace of us other than red dots on the marble floor."

My eyes start to get watery but I don't stop.

"They were good people. Honest, hardworking, compassionate people who were just trying to live in a world that didn't want them. Do you know how it feels to live in fear? True fear--the kind that keeps you up at night and chokes you during the day?"

Jeannine stays silent, letting me continue until I'm done.

"I still have nightmares. The sight and smell of blood is unforgettable. And after surviving that hell I was sold. You hear me, Jeannine? Sold! Like property! Treated worse than animals and left to rot in a dark, filthy, decrepit place."

A tear falls down my cheek.

"Why, Jeannine? You tell me, for once! Why did this happen? Why did I have to be born lesser than you? Why don't I matter?"

Another tear falls, dripping off my chin.

"I should've died back there. If not, then certainly in that shop. I wouldn't be around to feel this pain! didn't have to...!"

At this point I begin to sob. 

I can't contain it any longer, the dam just bursts. Hot, stinging tears wet my cheeks despite my best efforts. I want to scream but I'd rather not make a bigger fool of myself than I already have. How must I seem to this girl? Not only am I a speck, but I’m also a speck that's crying like a baby. 

I couldn't be any more pathetic.

My stifled sobbing stops short when I hear Jeannine whimpering. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I raise my head to look up at her. Tears are falling down her cheeks. She's covering her mouth with her hand but it's doing little to hide the fact. 

She looks just like me.

"J-Jeannine? Why... Why are you crying?" 

"I'm so sorry, Nick." She tells me between sobs. "I had no idea. The suffering you Lillis endure--I thought I understood it. Hearing it from your mouth is just...heartbreaking. I'm so sorry!"

Why is she apologizing to me? She isn't part of my tragedy but now she's crying like she understands. Like she feels for me? Is this pity or compassion? It must be an act. It's got to be, right? There's just no way.

Seeing her beautiful face ugly-cry like this makes it seem almost genuine. She must know how unbecoming it looks, right? Although, I'm no different.

"S-Stop crying already! What's done is done. Your tears w-won't..."

My tears return and I stop talking to wipe them from my eyes. Dammit, why am I crying again? Why do I feel this way?

"You're right, it's just that... I can't help it. I wish I could make your pain go away. I wish I could heal that wound of yours. I know I can't...and that's why my heart is aching."

I close my eyes tightly. This frustration I'm feeling has no target. Aiming it at Jeannine is no longer possible. What do I do with this? How do I make it stop?

"Fuck you, Jeannine. W-Why did you..." I sniffle, "Why did you have to be so nice?"

My words cause the giantess to sob all over again, louder this time. Tears fall from her face, splashing down on the table. Although my tears have now dried up, I allow her a moment to let it out as well. Once she calms down a bit, I decide to confess something.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that to you. In the short time I've known you, you've only ever been kind and considerate to us. This pain I carry with me, I don't know if it will ever heal. Whether it does or not, you should know that...I don't hate you."

She wipes her face and sniffles. Her puffy, red eyes look at me with what seems to be gratitude. I'm not sure.

"I appreciate that. Maybe one day you'll even grow to tolerate me?" She giggles, lightening the mood somewhat. "Ah, I must look like a mess! How embarrassing..." 

"You look fine. Don't worry about it."

My willingness to so casually converse with her should feel wrong, but it doesn't. It's quite the opposite. This feels nice. I don't feel anxious, at least not right now.

"I guess we got pretty off-track with this meeting. Want to do it some other time? You seem like you could use a break."

She shakes her head.

"No, it's perfectly alright. This needed to happen, for you and for me. It's something I knew I'd have to face when I decided to become responsible for the ten of you, let alone a thousand. I alone carry that burden."

"You don't." I correct her. "You have me. I'll help you."

Her eyes go wide. She leans in, probably a little too close, in an attempt to see me through the window of the room.

"Are you being serious? I thought you didn't want anything to do with me."

"I didn't before, but now I think I'm starting to see who you are. I can't believe I'm about to say this but... I feel like I can trust you."

Somehow her eyes get even wider and she gasps loudly, hurting my ears a little. She's quick to cover her mouth and back away.

"Sorry. I never expected you'd to say that." She removes her hand, revealing a smile that just won't go away, "You don't know how much that means to me. Thank you, Nick."

"No, Jeannine, thank you. I've been terribly ungrateful for all you've done. All of the others realized it already. In fact..." I pull out my notes again. "They've each given me a message to pass on to you."

Over the next ten minutes I relay each message one by one along with the name of the person who said it. By the end of this, Jeannine is blushing. She's fanning herself with a hand.

"That was so unbelievably sweet. I need to thank them. Maybe I could-"

"There's no need." I cut her off. "I'm sure they already know."

She sighs and sets her hands down on the table again.

"Yes, I think so too." 

Her and I share a moment of quiet. I think we're both sort of 'stuck' conversation-wise. Thankfully, she's quick to realize that, speaking up first.

"Back to business then? How is the town coming along?"

I shuffle through my notes for Daedalus' report. There's a ton of technical mumbo jumbo so I summarize it as best I can. My tone is noticeably more professional and confident than earlier. 

"We're on schedule. The finished project will be able to host anywhere between a hundred and one hundred fifty people, depending on who moves in where."

"Excellent. And how about resources and food?"

"Says here the regular food schedule is 'satisfactory'. Once we get the farms working, we should be somewhat self-sufficient. As for resources, we could use some more wood and...copper wiring, apparently? That's for Icarus."

"Okay, that's no problem. Did he tell you why?"

"That' How long have you got?"

She raises a brow at me.

I spend a few minutes describing what Icarus told me during our one on one. He's quite the talker when he's passionate about the topic. Sparing the details, I tell her all about the plans for the city and its networks. As I explain, her eyes light up more and more.

"In his words it'll be self-sufficient, modern, and most of all, beautiful. I mean, it's a nice dream but we'll see how far we get. Personally, I think he dreams a little too big."

"Oh, don't be so pessimistic. The sky's the limit here--or I guess, my bedroom roof is?" She laughs. "But even that's pretty high up."

"I guess so. Still, something like that will take years even with your help."

She gives me a smug grin.

"I wouldn't be so sure. Soon enough your workforce will increase. I'm going to be saving more of you next month."

"A-Already? How can you afford that?"

"Leave that to me. I have my ways.", she winks at me, "Just be ready to welcome a bunch more people. Help them integrate into the town so the transition isn't as jarring as it was for you guys." 

"This is going to be a logistical nightmare. This is only my first day! Do you seriously trust me with this?"

"I have faith in you. Isn't that enough?"

"Thanks, I guess. I' my best."

"That's the spirit." She nods in approval. "Now let's get you back to the others. I've no more questions so this meeting is now officially over."

Jeannine reaches for the speaker but then pulls her hand back. She looks to be thinking about something.

"Say, Nick, would you mind if I carried you back? Not in there, but on my finger?"

The offers catch me totally off guard. Though I'm no longer angry at Jeannine, I'm no less anxious. Not that she'll try to hurt me but more like she'll do it accidently. She notices my silence and quickly changes her tune.

"What am I even saying? That was a lot to ask all things considered. Just forget it."

"No, don't. I'd like that, if you don't mind? Please... Um, be very careful with me."

The urge to faint hits me like a truck. As soon as I emerge from the room, I'm met with the vast expanse of wood comprising the tabletop. Across from me, seemingly a kilometer away, is Jeannine. Her eyes scan for me, locking onto my position after a few seconds. Slowly, as not to scare me, she brings her finger down a few meters in front of me. Just her fingernail is as long as a soccer field. 

"Turn back, turn back!" Is all I can think.

Without the speaker there's no way she can hear me anymore. This feels legitimately terrifying. Yes, I did it before, but that was hardly my choice. I take a deep breath and climb on. Finding the nail's surface too smooth, I keep going until I'm on the skin of her knuckle. It gives me something to hold on to. I shut my eyes and prepare myself.

"Up we go. I'll be slow for you."

The giantess' finger lifts off the table as she stands. I feel myself ascend and then stop. Her finger bounces slightly with each step, but not enough to put me at risk of falling.

"See? You can trust me."

When I finally open my eyes, I'm met with a curving wall of white. Above me is Jeannine's face beaming down at me. She must've wanted to keep me clear of her breathing, lower down. Based on where I'm being held...

My face becomes red as a tomato. I keep my gaze focused up.

And only up!

The ride is only twenty seconds long before we arrive back at the town. She kneels and allows me to hop off. She then checks that the area is clear before placing the speaker back where it belongs.

"Welcome home." She says softly, giving me a friendly wave from high above. "I'll see you later, I've got lots to do."

I wave back returning her smile with my own. Without thinking I repeat the word she used, the one I've refused to use until now.


End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 11 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

The second group arrives at the town...

POV: Aurelia


Bright light stings my eyes as we're picked out of her purse. We emerge, coming face to face with the Brob girl who bought us. I didn't get a good look at her before, but if I were to describe her with one word, it be would 'overwhelming'. The ten of us in the vial are frozen in fear. The sheer scale of her this close to us evokes a primal fear unlike anything I've felt before.

So, this is it then? I'm only twenty-seven. My wedding was just a few months ago. Spending the rest of my life with Sam was the only thing I ever wanted. How ironic. 

At least we'll get to die together.

I cling to my husband's arm and shut my eyes. He's trembling, but he doesn't want to show it. He's trying to be strong for me.

"It'll be okay, Aurelia." He pulls my head into his chest and strokes the back of my head. "I'm right here. No matter what happens, we'll endure it together."

He runs his fingers through my hair to calm me down. It works somewhat and I manage to calm my racing heart. He always knows what I need.

The giantess kneels and brings us to the ground. I was so afraid before that I didn't even realize where we were. It looks to be her bedroom. She's pinching the vial between two fingers, lowering it to the floor. She then tilts the vial sideways, ever so slowly, before popping off the lid.

"What in the world...?" Sam says. "This is a settlement. She's got more of us."

Still kneeling low, she clears her throat before addressing us.

"Hello everyone, my name is Jeannine. I'm sure you're all very scared and confused so allow me to explain." 

She sits down cross-legged just outside the border of this place. 

"Welcome to your new home, name pending. I've purchased the ten of you because I think you deserve better. Despite what my kind thinks, I believe your lives have value. You shouldn't be treated so terribly just because you aren't as big as me."

I'm speechless. This is the most unusual thing I've ever heard. This girl, Jeannine, is nothing short of an oddity. I look to Sam for his reaction. 

He's wide-eyed and unblinking. I've never seen him look so shocked in all the years I've known him. I turn my attention back to Jeannine.

"So long as you live here, you will be under my protection. No harm will come to you from anyone. Naturally, these conditions do come with some rules. Please turn your attention to my friend, Nick."

Outside the vial is a young man waving to us. There are a bunch more Lillis standing behind him too. He doesn't seem frightened in the slightest, despite the looming giantess behind him.

"Hey guys, mind stepping out already? That vial looks cramped as hell."

With some trepidation, our group steps out of the glass prison and into the open. I lean close to Sam and whisper. "This can't be real. What do you think?"

His eyebrows furrow and he gives me a tight-lipped smirk.

"Who knows? Either way, it's probably best that we do what they say. Stay close to me, alright?"

I nod and take his hand firmly. Together, we join Nick on the outside.

"Everything Jeannine said is true. She's a kindhearted person who takes every opportunity to make our lives better. Don't believe her? Just look at the rest of us. We were the first group, you're the second."

The crowd behind him murmurs in agreement. 

"Before we go any further, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. Bear with me, guys."

The young man breaks down Jeannine's ten rules for us. They seem fair, I think. Sam and I exchange glances. Yes, we're of the same opinion. This place, this anomaly in the status quo of this world, might actually be safe.

"That alright, Jeannine?" Nick looks up while tapping his ear. He appears to be wearing some sort of electronic device. "I think I covered everything?"

Jeannine taps her own earpiece and then claps her hands softly, applauding him.

"Very well done. Five stars, my tiny friend."

Nick looks back at us and gestures to the crowd.

"I know that this is all very sudden and you need time to process things. To that end, I encourage you all to mingle with our group. Whatever you're feeling, we've been there too. Any questions for me or Jeannine?"

The ten of us shake our heads. His introduction was very informative, honestly. I'm sure I'll have some questions later, though.

"Great. I'll be going around to speak with each of you sometime later. If you need anything, and I mean anything at all, don't hesitate to approach the rest of us. That includes Jeannine, of course."

"Yes. Please don't hesitate." Jeannine tells us.

We brace ourselves as the giantess stands back up and leaves the room. Now alone with only the other Lillis, we breathe a sigh of relief. 

"So…" Sam says to me. "Do you buy all of that?"

"I don't think she's malicious, I didn't get that vibe at all."

"Same here. It's almost like a dream... A Brob who doesn't want to squish us and a whole town of Lillis living in peace."

"I'm having a hard time believing it, but it's right here. I'm seeing it with my own eyes." I tell him, wrapping my arms around him. "Maybe...we will get to spend our lives together? This could be it, Sam."

He hugs me tightly and kisses my forehead.

"It might just be, Auri. Want to look around?"

I nod. If we're going to stay here, we should get familiar with the place. The two of us head into the town as the group disperses. 

To say that I'm astounded would be the understatement of the century. There are houses, some with two floors! Not shacks, not makeshift homes but proper residences. There are power lines running overhead like a spiderweb. Are those lightbulbs?! Oh my! Pipes run along the outside of buildings carrying water. Real, running water!

"They don't have to haul buckets around." I shake my head in disbelief. "No need for fires at night either. This is incredible."

"It is. It really is."

We're too busy gasping and gawking at the town's features to notice the woman approaching us from behind.

"Hello. How are you two settling in?"

"So far so good." Sam tells her, extending a hand to shake. "I'm Sam. What's your name?" 

"Orina, but most call me Ori." She shakes his, and then mine.

"It's nice to meet you, Ori. My name is Aurelia. This place is incredible!"

"Thank you very much. We built it together under the guidance of our engineers and some help from Jeannine. It took about a month."

"Oh my! What an accomplishment. And just ten people?"

"Mhm." She nods. "It wasn't easy, but it was well worth it. Everyone has a role here. Speaking of which, do you or your boyfriend have any useful skills? Actually, wait a tick..."

Orina gets closer, almost in my face and we lock eyes for a time. She then does the same with Sam. Appearing satisfied, she steps back.

"You're married. Not for very long, right?"

"That's exactly right. How did you-"

"It's a gift. I can usually read a person after looking into their eyes for a moment."

Sam and I exchange glances and then shrug. There's no harm in telling her about ourselves. He speaks for the both of us.

"I was an explorer. Like, a forager and a scout and whatnot. Our settlement was always low on food and resources. Auri here is a farm girl. She knows how to raise all kinds of livestock."

"How wonderful. We've been lacking someone with those skills. Both of you, I mean. You should tell Nick. He'll sort the rest out for you."

"We'll do that. Um, Orina?" I pause for a moment, considering how to ask my question. "Would it be possible to get some actual clothes? These rags are...yeah."

I blush profusely. The first thing that struck me when we arrived here was how nicely dressed everyone is. Back home we used to wear togas, mostly. These people have stitched clothing with buttons and nice colors, like the kind the Brobs wear.

"Of course. That's actually my responsibility these days, what a coincidence. I'll bring you some clothes as soon as I can, but please understand that I also have to do that for the others." 

"Take all the time you need. Thanks so much." Sam tells her.

"Yes, thank you. Oh, and my favorite color is baby blue."

"I will keep that in mind." Orina smiles. "Have a nice day, you two."

She walks away, leaving us to each other. 

"She's a bit strange. Nice, but strange." Sam tells me.

"Yeah. I don't dislike her, though."

"Same here. And what was that about baby blue?" He laughs. "Half an hour in this place and you're already making requests!"

I give him a light punch in the arm.

"Screw you. Let me be happy!" 

I laugh along with him. Huh, when was the last time I laughed? Like, genuinely laughed without a care in the world? It must have been when I was little; too young to understand how cruel and uncaring this world is. I think this was my first real laugh since way back then. 

Sam stops laughing when he notices my expression. Our eyes meet and his expression becomes concerned. It must be the look in my eyes, I could never hide how I'm feeling from him.

"Baby, that's all in the past. The doctors can't reach us here."

I think back to a few weeks ago when both of us were 'collected' from our settlement in the alleyway. Brob men and women carefully picked us out one by one and stored us in vials not unlike the one we just emerged from. Next thing we know, we're in some sort of lab. It was a medical one that made and tested drugs before approval for Brob use.

How hypocritical. 

The big people always claim that we aren't the same and yet they use us for testing due to our nearly identical biology. For three weeks we were intentionally infected with diseases and then given a motley of drugs to cure them. I say 'we' but it was mostly the others. 

By sheer luck, we avoided some of the harsher tests. Although, I still suffer from the side effects of one of their drugs. I'm often short of breath for no apparent reason; like I've smoked for thirty years. Sam gets terrible migraines at least once a week. He tries to hide it from me, thinking he's being considerate. The poor guy's definitely got it worse than me.

If I could take on both of our conditions, I would. Taking away his pain would be a dream come true for me. I'm sure he'd hate the idea. If anything, he'd probably do the same for me.

"I know. It's just that I often think of the others. They died like lab rats all so that the doctors could determine the lethal dose. Their agonized faces are hard to forget."

Sam brings me in and hugs me tightly. He then puts his hands on my shoulders and holds me out in front of him. His face is so serious that I tense up, worrying I've somehow upset him.

"Aurelia, I swear to you on my father's grave that I will NEVER let anything happen to you again. Whether it's Jeannine or this entire town, I'd fight them to my last breath for you."

"Oh, come on." I laugh. "Maybe the town, but her too? You'd take on that ten-kilometer-tall giantess?"

"If I had to, yes."

I surprise him with a punch to the gut.

"Ow! Hey, what was that for?"

"If a punch from me hurts, then maybe think twice about challenging the Brob."

I put my hand on his stomach and rub where I hit him, suddenly feeling a little guilty. He laughs, totally unfazed by my incredibly powerful blow.

"I don't know why but that punch made me kind of hungry. Let's get something to eat."

"Real food instead of crumbs? Yes, please."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. (seriously, I need feedback guys!)

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 12 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine and Nick catch up over a meeting...

POV: Jeannine


I must have been five years old when I first learned about Lilliputians. Back then my mom just called them 'the really little people'. Seeing one in person was rare so I settled for reading about them in books. As I turned the pages, I developed an unusual admiration toward them.

Their continent is… Or rather, *was* nothing less than a prosperous, technological marvel. When our peoples first came into contact a century ago, they had class IV drugs while we were still trying to figure out how diseases spread. Needless to say, our country jumped forward leaps and bounds once they shared their knowledge with us. 

We used them until we didn't need them anymore. Once we caught up with them, we began to 'outrun' them. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why things went wrong, but I'd wager that it's mostly due to greed. 

A nation far larger than our tiny island, hosting billions of speck-sized people? They don't need all of that space. We could use it better. 

More importantly, how will they stop us?

War broke out. I call it war, but it barely lasted a week. It doesn't take a genius to guess who came out on top. By the week's end, ninety percent of their people were wiped out. It would have been one hundred percent if not for their complete and unconditional surrender. Out of 'mercy' we left them with a small corner of the continent, claiming the rest for ourselves.

My city was built in that stolen land, now referred to as 'New Brobdingnag'.

"They renamed it hoping people would forget. And they did."

I sigh loudly. Despite all of that dark history, my Lillis are doing well. The once barren land I gave them is now starting to fill up with houses, farms, and more.

It's been three days since I brought the second group in and they've integrated seamlessly. Not only that, but they’ve also filled in the gaps in knowledge that my first group had. Of course, these are just the bits and pieces of information that Nick's been feeding me. Our formal weekly meeting is scheduled for later today. 

As a Brob, I only notice what's clearly visible to me. Even when I lean in close, and I don't make it a habit, I'm only ever privy to the surface-level features. A bird's eye view, so to speak. That's why I love Meeting Day so much. For an hour a week I get a window into their little world. 

It's unbelievable exciting!

I enter my room without a word. Since I come and go so much, there's no need to greet them every time. A check-in once a day is usually enough, along with a 'good morning' and a 'good night'. I do however glance over at them. I see little specks moving about, unconcerned with the giant girl just a few feet from them.

Standing near the bed, I give my back to them to change. I try to be quick about it since I'm in plain view. I strip off my top and promptly put on a new one. For the first three weeks this used to embarrass me, but now I don't care all that much. Of course, I'd never face them when changing. 

To have them all see me... Ew, just no. 

I'm told that they're courteous enough not to stare at my back, but even if they do I wouldn't be all that bothered. I'm comfortable in my own skin and confident enough to not care. There's nothing I can do to stop the ones who do, if any. I was the one who put them in my bedroom in order to keep a closer eye on them. That decision came with its drawbacks, but I prefer it over having them out in the living room.

Living so closely with a roommate is hard enough. Living with twenty of them is another thing altogether. We're getting used to each other, settling into a comfortable routine. Over time, our barriers are breaking down. I try to appear as 'queenly' as I possible but my silly side does show every so often, to my dismay. The only one who regularly sees that side of me is Nick.

Once I'm done, I turn and approach the town. Kneeling at the border, I speak softly as not to disturb them. 

"Hey, has anyone seen Nick? I know it's early but I would like to have our meeting now, if possible."

Sure enough, I hear a voice through the earpiece I'm wearing.

"Hi, Jeannine. Sure, I'm ready now if you want. Give me a minute to get there."

"Take your time~"

Soon enough Nick appears, or at least I think that speck is him, since it's running toward my finger. 

He's panting over having to run a 'grand' distance of three inches. I find that so unbelievably cute. Shortly after, he clambers onto my nail.

"Up we go."

Without further ado, I stand up and take him with me to the dining table outside. It's the place where we first met and it's been our meeting place ever since. By now I've gotten very good at keeping my hand steady while walking. That, or he's just not complaining about it. 

Hopefully it's the former.

I set my finger down and allow him to step off. Once he's on the table I take my seat, crossing my arms on the table and leaning forward eagerly. I smile at him without thinking, my eyes doing their best to focus on the little guy. It's not as difficult today. He wore black to contrast the white tablecloth. How considerate of him! 

"I apologize for doing this early. To be honest, I couldn't wait. Thank you for indulging me, Nick."

"Anytime. How could I say no to the person who literally saved my life? I can never repay that. Plus, you're my friend."

"There's nothing to repay. And likewise."

"I know, but the feeling's still there." He says, while audibly shuffling through papers. "Okay, where should I begin? Anything you're particularly interested in?"

"Hmm. Tell me about the town, expansion projects, and...the second group."

"Sure thing. Let's see here..."

Nick paints me a picture of the town in vivid detail. Thanks to the efforts of all twenty residents, the settlement is prospering. Water and gas pipelines have been set up below the ground. The electrical grid was designed in such a way that it can be built upon to accommodate a far larger settlement. What really impressed me is that it's all renewable energy. One hundred percent of their power comes from the sunlight through my bedroom window. 

As for the second group, he tells me that they've settled in nicely. Everyone is cooperating and sharing such that no one's needs are ignored. Apparently, one of the newcomers even asked for colored clothing, which prompted the others to do the same.

"And yet you chose all-black? How lame."

"Shush! Let me finish my report, this is important stuff." He clears his throat and continues. "By my estimates, I can confidently say that we're ready for the next ten or even twenty people, whenever you bring them. The new manufacturing facility could use the extra hands."

"Amazing. At this rate you guys will invent flying cars by the end of the year." 

"You know, Icarus did have an idea about those."

"Of course, he did. Why am I not surprised?"

"It's all just talk until we see it happen. But y'know what isn't just talk? Networks."


"Yup. Our next focus is electronics, once we're finished with the hospital. Many from the second group required medical attention so we prioritized that." 

"Please make sure everyone's healthy. You aren't putting them to work while sick, are you?"

"Of course not! Come on, Jeannine, give me some credit."

My eyes squint at him skeptically. I'm only teasing, but I find his reaction amusing.

"Alright, we will see. Back to what you said before--do you mean like Wi-Fi and LAN?"

"Yes, if all goes well. Of course, this is still a while away. Don't expect us to get working computers and smartphones by next week."

"It happens when it happens; there's no hurry. Honestly, the fact that you all went from the stone age to the industrial age in a month is a proud achievement."

"Thank the Visionary Duo. They're ridiculously smart as well as good teachers."

"We're lucky to have them. Hmm, did I have any other questions?" I ask myself aloud. "I think we've covered everything?"

"Actually." Nick says in a noticeably less confident voice, "I have a request."

"Yeah, anything you guys need. Shall I bring more materials tomorrow?"

"No, that's not necessary. The request, or rather, my request, is of you specifically."

My head tilts to the side in confusion. I wasn't expecting him to say that. 

"Okay. What's the matter?"

He hesitates, going silent for a time. I give him a few seconds but he still doesn't speak up. I'm starting to get worried.

"Nick, dear, is everything-"

"I want to see the outside world!" He blurts out suddenly. "I need to--I mean, I really want to know more about your world. I want to see things like a Brob does. Yes, I know it breaks the rules, but I won't be sneaking off on my own. I was hoping you could take me with you sometime."

My instincts tell me to shoot this idea down now. Just thinking of how many things could go wrong is giving me anxiety.

"I don't know... How would we even go about this? Would you let me stick you back into a vial and carry you around in my purse? I doubt you'd see anything from in there."

"Exactly. That's why Daedalus and I have come up with something way better. Totally safe and totally discreet."

"Okay, go on."

"An earring. He's designed a wearable accessory that's big enough to hold a Lilli inside. It's even got some stabilizer thingy that'll make it so that I don't feel the shaking from your movements. Oh, and I won't be seen from the outside but I'll be able to see from in there."

"That could work, I guess. Still, it's a crazy idea by all accounts."

"I know, I know. Please, Jeannine, it would mean so much to me. Just once is all I ask."

I consider the idea. It's interesting, that's for sure. He'll be a little close, though... 

"You don't mind hanging around with me all day in your little bubble? You'll be stuck in there until we get home."

"That's fine by me."

"And being in such a big world... That doesn't that scare you at all?"

"Not as long as I'm with you."

I feel my cheeks get a little red. He trusts me that much? Oh my, this is making me feel self-conscious. What happened to the little guy who hated my guts just a month ago? 

He's really grown.

"Your hereby accepted. We'll figure out the details once I see this earring-pod-thing built. Unless I feel it's one hundred percent safe, I'm not letting you use it. If anything were to happen to you..."

"Don't go showing favoritism, miss giantess! I might just get a big head." He laughs. "But seriously, nothing will happen. We'll be in contact the entire time through our earpieces."

"Promise me, Nick."

I extend my pinky finger to him, getting so close that I nearly run him over with it. With some concentration, I feel the slightest touch, confirming our 'handshake'.

"Fine. Let Daedalus know about my conditions. This stays between you, me, and him, until the day. Agreed?"

"Yes, ma'am. Now that that's out of the way, this meeting is officially over."

I nod and offer him my fingernail for him to climb onto. Lifting him up, I bring my hand close to my body and shield him with my other hand. For some reason I'm feeling overprotective of the little guy. We're both silent until I return him to the town once more. As I'm standing back up, ready to get on with my day, he calls for me.

"Hey, Jeannine, one more thing! I can't believe I forgot to write it down in my notes."

"What's the matter?" I say, hoping this isn't a confidential issue. The town can clearly hear me now that we're in my room again. "Is it urgent?"

"Sort of? It's about the town. It needs a name, don't you think? Calling it 'settlement', 'town', and 'land' isn't fitting for such a nice place. Wouldn't you agree?"

My eyes light up. He makes a very good point indeed. I strike a 'thinking' pose.

"Hmm. Do you have any ideas? Sadly, I've got none at the moment."

"You're in luck, we've come up with a name for you. It just needs your approval."

"Oh?" I get down low, sitting on my legs with my hands placed on my thighs. "Do tell."

"Magna Gratia! To show that our gratefulness is as big as you are!"

"Aww! Yes, I like that a lot. You have my approval." 

Suddenly I see tiny fireworks explode in the sky, or about waist height compared with me. I nearly jump at the sudden popping noises, gasping in surprise. There are all sorts of pretty colors and shapes, all easily big enough for me to see without straining my eyes.

"Scream it loud, people!" Icarus yells through the speaker system.

I hear both Nick and the rest of the townspeople cheering together.

"Welcome to Magna Gratia!"

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it!

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 13 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine goes on a field trip...

POV: Jeannine


"There we go." I whisper to myself. "In plain view for all to see."

I carefully place the folded note card near Magna Gratia's border, along with an uncapped vial of food. The note reads:

'Gone for the day, back later tonight.'

'Food for the day is here --->'

'Already missing you guys!'

Tiptoeing towards my closet I quietly grab some nice clothes and change into them. I check the time. It's five thirty in the morning, much earlier than I usually get up. Though, considering today's commute, I'd say I'm right on time.

I put on my backpack and check that I've got all my things with me. 

Most importantly, I confirm that my bus ticket is in the side pocket, right where I left it. 

"Okay! Time to go." I whisper, not wanting to disturb the town.

By five forty-five, I'm on the bus heading west to the capital of New Brobdingnag. It'll be a three-hour journey coming from the eastern side where I live. Long, boring trips like this are not something I do often. I've got no family or friends all the way over there, nor am I interested in their museums. If it weren't for this class trip, I'd be fast asleep in bed right now.

I quickly find my best friend, Sara, sitting near the back. She's got that “I'm only awake right now because I didn't sleep last night” look. I'll never understand how she manages to function on so little sleep. Honestly, it's impressive.

"Hey Sara. Mind if I take the window seat?"

"Sure, babe. You look like you need it."

She pulls her legs back and I shuffle over her to the seat on her right.

"Thanks. Wake me up when we get there, okay?"

"Yeah..." She yawns. "Will do."

I pop my wireless earbuds into my ears and play some music. It's a calm, six hour long playlist I made the night before. My sleepy head falls over to rest on the window as I passively stare out of it, not really focused on anything. Soon after, I doze right off.

Next thing I know, I feel a hand on my shoulder gently shaking me awake. I groggily blink my eyes and stretch my arms, letting out a suppressed moan. Once my eyes focus again, I'm met with Sara's tired face in mine. 

"I wish I'd slept last night. Seriously regretting it now." She groans. "Can't believe I'm halfway across the country just to hear some Lilli's speech."

"It isn't just any Lilli, Sara. This is the Lillia Brudeaux, the ambassador of Lilliputia. Give her some respect, will you?"

I grab my bag and follow her and the rest of the Poli Sci students out of the bus. I must have looked irritated since she suddenly changes her tune.

"Sorry, Jeannie. I know how serious you are about 'equality of the races' and all that."

She yawns again and smacks her lips. I'm sure she doesn't mean it, but she looks like she could care less. If I didn't love the girl so much, I would have just walked away. Instead, I simply roll my eyes at her.

"Just remember they're people too. That's all."

Our group gathers near the entrance where Dr. Lam is waiting. She looks slightly irritated. I can only imagine how she must feel coming to a place where Lillis have authority. Not only that, but she's going to have to sit through a speech given by a government official. The university probably pushed her to chaperone this trip since it falls under her department. 

Where's all that sizist talk now, Dr. Lam? You seem awfully quiet.

The sheer irony makes me smile. Who knows? Maybe she'll come around and see the light? Probably not, but at the very least, she'll have to be respectful. If her or any of us act up, it'll be serious. Government institutions are the last place you want to be causing trouble. Judging by the level of security, they mean business.

The Lilliputian embassy is one of the most carefully protected places in all New Brobdingnag. Despite the general public's dismissal of Lilli rights, they are upheld by the law. You can't publicly say or do anything that you couldn't also say or do to your fellow Brob. There wouldn't be a black market for trafficking Lillis if it were legal. 

Despite this, it's surprisingly easy to circumvent the law, just not in places like these.

Our government is very serious about maintaining their image on the world stage. After the war, the Gulliverans nearly broke ties with us for our crimes. You can't exactly annex another country, unprovoked, and expect the rest of the world not to react. They're no better than us in the way that they treat Lillis, but they spoke up and they spoke loudly. 

We had no choice but to listen.

Due to our size disparity, it's basically impossible to have a Brobdingnagian embassy in Lilliput. There are no Brobs living there for obvious reasons, whereas there a ton of Lillis living here with us. It's no wonder this place is so well protected; the most important Lilliputian, other than their president, is inside this place. If anything were to happen to her, it would be catastrophic. 

War would surely follow. Unlike before, the Gulliverans would likely take part. None of us want that, so even people like Dr. Lam will hold their tongue.

We line up single-file and walk through the metal detectors. I put my bag through the X-ray machine while a female guard does a thorough pat-down as part of the security screening. A few minutes later and we're all through. We gather inside around a smartly dressed man with a clipboard.

"Welcome, students. The ambassador's speech will begin in fifteen minutes. Please follow me to the conference room."

"Quietly! Let's not make a scene, everyone." Dr. Lam warns us.

Our group follows him to a large room unlike any I've ever seen before. It's big enough to fit fifty of us or maybe more. There are rows of seats all facing what appears to be a huge screen, almost like a movie theatre. I didn't immediately notice it, but there is a small glass box embedded in the wall, just under the screen. Our 'guide' takes notice of my interest.

"That's where the ambassador will give her speech. You see, this room was built to accommodate people of all three races. Through modern technology, even the tiniest of voices can be made as loud as they need to be."

"If we were meant to hear them then they wouldn't need to be made louder." A male voice from our group calls out.

"Who said that?!" Dr. Lam snaps. "Another comment like that and I'll have you suspended. Is that clear?" 

Some guys in the back snicker, clearly not taking the professor's threats seriously. How could they, given how she acts during class all year? It's such a joke. I turn my attention back to the guide. He seems visibly bothered.

"Do we have a problem, young man?" He says, staring straight at the culprit. "Attendance is a privilege, not a right. I'll be happy to escort you out."

Our group goes silent, shocked that the man was able to single out exactly who said it. He's sharp, that's for sure. 

"As I was saying, please take your seats. The speech will begin soon. I remind you to be respectful of everyone here. We have many Lilliputian and Gulliveran guests sitting just above you." He gestures to the other glass boxes along the walls. "As well as many armed guards around the room. They also have very good ears."

He leaves us with that warning hanging in the air. For about two minutes, none of us can muster the courage to speak. We all take our seats and I decide to sit next to Sara. She seems more sleepy than afraid, already leaning her head on my shoulder. I pat her head gingerly and turn my attention to the dark screen, waiting for it to light up.

A few minutes later, the lights dim and the screen blares to life. I see the face of a young woman with her short, black hair done in a bob. It's surreal, seeing a Lilli like this. It's almost as if I'm in a video call with a Brob. If I hadn't been told that she was tiny, I could have gone my whole life believing that she and I were of the same race. I strain my eyes, hoping in vain to spot her in the tiny box under the screen. My attention shifts back to the screen when I hear her begin speaking. 

"Good morning. Firstly, I would like to thank Police Chief Nolan as well the officers of the NBPD for their efforts. It's because of them that people like me can sleep a little easier at night. I feel nothing but admiration and pride."

The ambassador goes through the formalities, thanking everyone she's working with, giving them the credit they deserve. I hear a bunch of unfamiliar names followed by a lot of clapping. I'm astounded by the optimistic energy in the room, given the topic of her speech. I didn't misread it, did I?

Suddenly her expression changes and her tone becomes very serious.

"Just yesterday I had a meeting with your president to discuss the 'Equal Rights Act'. As many have already heard, there has been an alarming three-hundred percent rise in size-related crimes in New Brobdingnag, particularly outside the capital. Simply put, the rights provided by the ERA are not being protected."

The next few minutes are agonizing for me. Ms. Brudeaux goes on to explain in more detail citing specific crimes from all over the country from this year. She takes the time to describe of each one, no matter how tragic. I'd heard of a few of them, but I had no clue that it was this bad. Worse, three of the incidents took place in my city. 

And those were the ones that got reported.

"What can be done about this?" She goes on, pounding her fist on the podium. "I've been contemplating the issue since I was appointed to this office. The issue is complicated, stemming not from the law, but rather from the public's perception of the smallest race."

"Perception? How can I be 'sizist' when hardly I see them!" A girl behind me whispers. "She lost me at 'Good morning'."

"I know, right?" The girl seated beside her whispers. "Fuck the Lillis. Bunch of insects get a mic and suddenly they think they're people."

"They should just go home to Lilliput. It would be best for everyone involved." She replies.

Hearing those words pisses me off. I deeply resent people like them. If it were possible, I wish they could be made tiny for a day just to see how it feels to be downtrodden. I bet if they just took the time to speak to one of those 'insects' they'd realize how much we have in common. It makes me so angry that I can hardly contain it...

Sara notices this and puts her hand on mine. She leans over close and whispers quietly.

"Ignore them. There's no point in getting so worked up."

"I know, it's just-"

"If you know, then relax. Don't waste your energy, okay? We're missing the speech."

I take a deep breath and turn my attention back to the ambassador. She takes some time to talk about our history and how far we've come. It's a reminder that despite the problems we face today, things were a lot worse in the past. Even still, we're not where we should be yet. With the way things are nowadays, I wonder if we've stagnated or even regressed.

"For years we've been working tirelessly to make the capital a safe place for Lillis to live. Unfortunately, these efforts have not yet extended to the rest of the country, leaving an untold number of people left as 'Remnants'. They scavenge and toil for survival in a place that's not built for them."


I've heard the term many times, especially on the news. To call them displaced, forgotten civilians 'Remnants' is so degrading. If not for my essays and class presentations, I'd never use the term. Sadly, it's a title that stuck.

She goes on to encourage the Remnants to either come to the capital or consider returning to Lilliput. I understand where she's coming from, while wholeheartedly disagreeing. These people don't want to leave their home, even after it's been rebuilt for Brobs. They stay out of principle, not because they're stubborn, but because it's their right. 

At least, that's how I see it.

"The bottom line is that Lilliputians, Gulliverians, and Brobdingnagians are all people. We share this world. Big or small, all lives are sacred and deserve respect. I want to bring awareness of the problems we're facing with an emphasis on the sanctity of life. It's in our hands to improve life for all."

She closes off her speech with a famous quote from some philosopher and some more 'thank you's before the audience applauds. The screen then goes dark and a voice addresses us over the speaker system telling us to exit to the reception. Sara and I join up with our class and Dr. Lam once more.

"Truly inspirational. I hope this experience taught you lot a thing or two about the struggles of the other races. I expect a two-thousand-word report on the topic by Monday." Dr. Lam tells us.

Her assignment is met with many groans, the loudest of which comes from Sara. I chuckle, amused by the exaggerated expression, given how tired she is. I for one have a lot to talk about. Dr. Lam is going to have a field day with my paper. I'll be sure to make it as pro-Lilli as possible, just to spite her. 

We leave the embassy and gather at the entrance as Dr. Lam addresses us again.

"Alright, folks. The speech is over, but the bus isn't going to be back for another two hours so feel free to go have lunch or look around. I know many of you have never been to the capital before. There's a lot to see! Just be back here on time or else I'll have to come looking for you."

"Wanna get some coffee? I desperately need a cup." Sara asks me, nuzzling her face into my shoulder.

"Sure. It's on me this time.”

"Jeannine, I could kiss you!"

As we head over to the nearest coffee shop, I can't help but wonder how my little ones back home are doing...

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it!

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 14 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Ori meets the youngest member of MG...

POV: Orina


I wipe the sweat from my brow as I haul the tenth, and final, stack of timber across town. We ran out while building the fence, so I happily offered to go fetch more. By the third run back and forth I began feeling tired. Now I feel utterly exhausted, panting and drenched in sweat.

Waking up to Jeannine's message this morning was a less than ideal start to my day. It made me quite nervous. Her constant presence all around me has been rather comforting. She reassures me that I'm safe, simply by being there. From what I've gathered, her university isn't all that far away, meaning she can be back home in less than an hour at any given time.

Now she's halfway across the country...

I choose to deal with my anxiety by throwing myself into work. Distractions, distractions, distractions! Anything to focus my mind elsewhere unless she returns.

By the time I meet back with Aurelia and the others, my arms are trembling. They notice me struggling and rush over to me to take the load off my shoulder. Aurelia looks me up and down then gives me a concerned look.

"Don't push yourself, Ori. You've already done way more than what we asked."

"I-It's alright. I'm happy to help in any way I can."

"You sure? I really think you're in need of a rest."

"I'm fine, don't worry at all." I lie, putting on a brave face. "Believe me, I'm tougher than I look."

"Still... You were walking funny just now. Is your leg alright?"

"My leg?"

"Yeah. May I take a look?"

"You may." I lower myself to the ground and pull my dress up to my knee. "Is this enough?"

Aurelia kneels down and gently holds my foot by the heel. She inspects it, growing worried.

"Ori, your ankle is clearly swollen. Looks like you twisted it earlier. Doesn't it hurt at all?"

"Now that you mention it, I did trip on my fifth run. It stung, but I didn't think it was anything concerning. Seeing it now makes it hurt a little..."

"That does it. No more work for you, missy. Come, I'll help you over to the hospital." 

She puts my arm over her shoulder and walks me there. Now that I'm conscious of my injury it's starting to hurt. I groan whenever pressure is put on it. Thankfully, Aurelia is strong enough to support me. We arrive at the hospital in no time. I've never been here before. Seeing it now, it's difficult to call it a 'hospital'. It's humble enough to be a clinic.

We enter and check in with the receptionist. Apparently, there's only a single doctor working here. I'm not surprised, given how there are only twenty of us total. We're very lucky to have him--or her, for that matter. Aurelia helps me to my seat until the doctor is available.

"I'll check back with you later. No more work, Ori. Seriously. Got it?"

"Yes. I will take it easy. Thank you, Aurelia."

She gives me a grin before leaving me in the waiting area. Since this is my first time here, naturally I'm curious about the place. I look around for anything interesting, but the room is quite plain. The white walls and lack of decoration give the place an eerie atmosphere. My eyes explore the area until they land on a person. 

Across from me is a young boy. 

Was he sitting there this entire time? How did I not notice him until now? I glance over at him, which he catches. I give him a smile and a wave which is met with a blank expression followed by him looking at his feet. What a strange reaction...

He's certainly piqued my interest.

I rise onto my feet and limp my way over, taking a seat beside him. He keeps his gaze focused downward, refusing to acknowledge me. I clear my throat audibly which also goes ignored. Something is off about this child.

"Hello there. I'm Orina, what's your name?"


"I'm here because I twisted my ankle. It hurts when I walk, so I won't be able to do any heavy lifting for a while."


"Are you here for something specific? I haven't seen you around before. I thought I'd already met everyone."

He remains silent. I furrow my brows as I grow frustrated. He doesn't seem to want to talk, let alone look at me. It's quite rude!

"Young man, the least you can do is look at someone when they're speaking to you."

At last he looks up. Our eyes meet and I get a better look at his face. His eyes are red and puffy as if he's cried recently. A runny nose and dark circles under his eyes tell me that he isn't sleeping well. I lean a little closer to get a better look at his eyes. I expect him to recoil as most people do, but he doesn't. Instead, he continues to give me his blank stare, expressionless and disconnected. He's difficult to read. 

How very unusual...

All I can say for sure is that he's suffered, though anyone could have guessed that by just looking at him. Considering he's also here to see the doctor I can only assume he's not healthy either. I look him up and down for any physical injuries and find none as far as I can tell.

"I'm sorry." He says under his breath.

"Sorry? For what?"

"Being rude. I didn't mean it."

"Oh, that's alright. I'm sorry that I snapped at you."

"My name is Louis."

So, he does talk. That's good. Maybe he'll even be willing to tell me about himself? I push my luck and decide to ask him some questions. I do my best to seem unthreatening.

"It's nice to meet you, Louis. Would you mind telling me your age?"

"Six. And a half."

"That's awfully young! You might just be the youngest person in Magna Gratia." I coo. "Where are your parents? Don't tell me they sent you to the doctor alone."

He looks down once more, his expression unchanging. I'm sensing that I should not have asked that. I resist the urge to change the topic, allowing him a chance to speak first, if willing.

"They're gone." He finally answers.

"Gone?" I ask, already guessing what his next answer will be. "As in..."


"What about your other family? Any siblings or-"


I gasp, putting a hand over my mouth. How terrible. To be this young, left all alone in the world. I feel my eyes getting teary suddenly. The pain from my ankle must have made me more emotional today. I feel a lump in my throat as I speculate about his past.

Whatever his story is, it's clearly not a happy one. Despite that he's not breaking down or anything. His tears must have already dried up.

"I'm so sorry." I tell him, knowing full well how little my words will mean to him. 

I don't know what else to say. What does one say to someone like him? Words of encouragement? While I'm mulling over what to say next, Nick comes walking through the corridor. He sees me and comes over to greet us.

"Hello Nick. What brings you here today?"

"Nothing serious, just wanted to get something for motion sickness." He presents a small bottle of tablets. "Long story, don't worry about it. Ah, I see you've met Louis!"

Nick puts his hand on Louis's head and ruffles his hair.

"Hi, Mr. Nick."

"Come on, man, drop the 'mister' already. I'm not that old." He laughs. "Has the doctor seen you yet?"

"Not yet."

"I-If I may," I interrupt them. "What exactly is he here for?"

Nick's expression turns troubled. He steps over to me and leans in close to whisper in my ear.

"He's got some sort of condition. He gets sick if he exerts himself. You know how Sam and Aurelia got used in medical trials? He was the same. Probably picked specifically because of his condition. He's been through hell..." 

"Dreadful. It's simply dreadful." I whisper back.

"The doc says the condition itself is nothing serious, so long as he's careful. Considering he's been constantly running and hiding for days, I'm not surprised by his terrible shape."

"Are you the one looking after him?" I whisper back.

"Not exactly. I set him up with a place to stay and I check on him once a day, but that's about it. He's usually either here or at home resting. Any 'work', even the smallest things, are out of the question."

"I don't understand. How did a child end up alone here? Were his guardians left behind at the pet shop?"

"That's what I was wondering. I found him sneaking around my place when the second group arrived. Figured he was with someone, so I didn't think twice about it. Once I interviewed everyone, I learned that no one had a clue about him."

"Did you learn anything once you approached him?"

"Very little. He mentioned that he lost his parents a few months before Jeannine saved him. Other than that, he's a mystery. He's trying to put on a brave face for some reason. My guess is that he thinks he shouldn't cry. I used to think that when I was little too."

I glance over at the boy. He's staring at his feet again, unconcerned with us. Nick steps back over to him and puts a hand on his shoulder.

"It's gonna be okay, buddy. Listen to the doctor and come find me if you need anything at all."

The boy nods silently without raising his head.

"Wishing you both a swift recovery! Go easy on that leg, Ori."

"I will. Thank you, Nick."

Nick exits the building, leaving the two of us alone again. Again, I find myself at a loss for words. I want to say something and yet nothing feels appropriate. Thankfully, Louis saves me the trouble.

"I'm sorry." Louis whispers. "For being a problem."

I'm thrust into a difficult position. What should I do here? I'm certain Nick would want me to comfort him. What he did was reckless, but he was alone and afraid. He needs to be consoled, not chastised.

"What? N-No, of course not! You are not a problem. You made a mistake, but everyone makes those from time to time. No one is upset with you."


"Yes." I nod. "And hopefully the doctor will get you what you need and you'll be good as new very soon."


Suddenly Louis's nose start bleeding. He notices and wipes it off on his sleeve only for more to drip out. He's casual about it, as though it's something that happens every day. I reach for the nearest box of tissues and kneel in front of him, trying to wipe up the blood. I tilt his head back to help stop the flow.

"You're a tough one. The strength it takes to deal with all of this without complaining is very admirable."

"Fank you, Miff Owi." He tries to speak as I hold his nose. It's very cute.

"Don't mention it. I'm happy to help."

Once the flow stops, I wipe off the remaining blood from his upper lip. He stares at me apologetically. I can tell that he's about to say 'sorry' again, the poor thing. On impulse, I pull him into my chest for a hug, effectively shutting him up before he can say anything. I embrace him tightly, and feel my eyes becoming teary. I hold them back as best I can.

To my surprise, I feel Louis's little arms wrap around me, hugging me back. His embrace is shockingly weak, even for someone his age. It must be due to his condition. I'm hardly unwell, and yet he's trying to console me. 

It's too much!

My tears being to flow and I sob for him. It can't be helped. Thankfully, it doesn't last long. After letting it all out, I let him go and wipe my eyes, sniffling. I return to my kneeling position in front of him with my hands in my lap.

"I don't know what came over me. I'm sorry you had to see that."

"It's okay. Sometimes I cry too."

"Everyone does. It's the best way to get those bad feelings out. There's no shame in that."


I take his hand in mine and stroke it with my other. I give him a smile and gaze into his eyes again. There's something there that I couldn't see earlier. It's very familiar. It's the same thing that I see when I look in a mirror. A shyness and something more.

"Tell me, Louis, are you lonely?"

His expression turns sad. I can see his bottom lip twitching, telling me my intuitions were right on the mark. He can't seem to get the words out, so he simply nods his head. I give him the biggest smile I can muster.

"You're in luck! There's no better place to make friends. Everyone in town is exceedingly friendly. Have you gotten to know anyone yet?"

"Not really."

"Hmm. Is it because you're shy?"


"I see, I see. Well, here you are talking to me. You don't seem all that shy."


"I bet you'll make tons of friends if you try." I give his hand a light squeeze. "You weren't even trying and now you've got one."

His eyes light up as he gazes at me. It's a completely different look than before; One that's almost cheerful. It warms my heart, even if just for a moment.


"Mhm." I nod, mimicking the way he does it. "I'll be here if you ever need me."

Without warning Louis leans forward and kisses my cheek. I put a hand to the spot where he kissed, the feeling still lingering there. I'm sure the look on my face must be utter shock. More importantly, I feel an unfamiliar kind of joy.

"What was that for?" I laugh.

My tease causes his face to become very red. He covers it with his hands in a childish attempt to hide.

"Don't look so embarrassed, I'm not upset." I say, taking his hands into mine. "Just surprised."

A ding is heard from the receptionist's desk. I nearly forgot that she was here. It's fortunate we were out of earshot all the way across the room. She motions for Louis to come over.

"The doctor will see you now. Are you ready, Louis?"

He nods twice and gets up. Just as he's walking away, he turns around and hands me a small item. Before I can say anything, he heads over to the receptionist who leads him into the doctor's office.I'm left there, still kneeling on the floor, staring at the trinket in my hand.

"It's a locket..."

I pinch the item between my fingers and press on the side to pop it open. Inside I see a picture of what looks to be him with his parents. They all look very happy. It might just be me, but he doesn't look too much younger in this photograph. I wonder how long ago this was taken…

"Why did he give it to me?"

I'm left with many questions and no answers. I'll have to ask him again once he's done. With some struggle, I stand back up and return to my seat. All this kneeling has not been good for my ankle. I give it a rub to ease the pain.

I feel like I shouldn't complain. My ankle pain is but a fraction of what he's experienced in his six years of life. It certainly puts things in perspective. If only there was a magical switch I could flip to make his pain go away.

"What wishful thinking..."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 15 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine takes with her Nick out into the world...

POV: Nick


"You're all set, boy." Daedalus pats the cabin-sized accessory proudly. "One giant earring, as promised." 

"It looks great! I'm just worried about all the bouncing around. It is safe, right?"

The old man raises one of his bushy brows at me. I try to laugh it off as if it was a joke.

"It's stable, for the most part. A gyroscope will keep things upright even if it swings. The only problem you might face is if she starts to run."

"I'm aware." The giantess interrupts. She's been sitting cross-legged at the town's border waiting for me. "I'll be careful not to."

"Good. Now get in already. Let me know if anything isn't working."

Daedalus opens the hatch revealing the chamber within. I climb inside and he seals it behind me. I find myself in a small-ish room that reminds me of an observatory. The roof is a clear dome which gives me vision of everything around me. It's surprising given how the exterior was completely opaque from the outside. If I'm to believe the old man, it should also block out the deafening sounds of the outside, namely Jeannine's ridiculously loud speaking voice.

As for the interior, it's mostly empty other than a few seats, an emergency crate, and a console. I take my seat near the 'front' of the room and press the button to speak. Like my earpiece, this 'little' accessory serves as a means of communication for us. I decide to test it out.

"Hey, I'm in. Seems good to go. You ready?"

Without warning, I feel the room lurch. I hold onto my seat to avoid being flung. It takes a second for the stabilizers to get going before the room returns to normal. When I look up, I'm met with one massive, emerald eye.

"I am. Honestly, I can't believe you're actually inside of this thing. Are you alright in there?"

Jeannine's voice is heard entirely though the cabin's speakers. Damn, he actually did it. Looks like I have one less thing to worry about.

"Rough start, but I'm good now. The real test begins when you put it on." 

I feel movement once more. Thankfully, the room doesn't tilt this time. Jeannine moves me to her ear, securing the earring in place. Next thing I know, she's, or should I say, we, are standing up and walking to her mirror. It's a very strange sensation. She's totally in control while I'm merely an observer. She tilts her head around, checking out the earring front different angles with a slight grin on her face.

"It's cute. And it goes well with my outfit, don't you think?" 

Jeannine is wearing loose-cut jeans paired with a white shirt, white shoes and a beige cardigan.I look her up and down in the mirror. She's gorgeous, as always. It's a struggle for my eyes not to linger. 

Peering down from my position gives me a view down her top, which I quickly tear my gaze away from. 

Eyes up, Nick. Eyes up...

"Yes, definitely." I respond after a brief delay.

Jeannine grabs her purse and heads out of her bedroom ready to leave the house. That is, until she stops short just as her hand touches the front door to the apartment.

"Nick." She says in a far less jovial tone. "Last chance to back out. Are we doing this?"

"Absolutely." I immediately respond. "I know what I'm getting into."

My massive friend lets out an exasperated sigh. She's definitely exaggerating it for effect.

"Okay. Here we go."

We exit the apartment and head down the hall to the elevator. Jeannine calls it up and when the doors open I'm met with my first Brob other than her. Before me, standing even taller than her, is an older man dressed in a jersey and basketball shorts. He's not sweaty, meaning he must be on his way to the gym. He and Jeannine exchange 'hello's as she enters and the doors close behind her.

He must be a neighbour. I'm about to ask Jeannine but remember that it'll be difficult to communicate since she can't easily respond. Her earpiece could give the impression that she's on a call, I figure. It might be best to only speak when she can respond.

A ding signals that we've arrived on the ground floor. The doors open once more and the man exits first. Jeannine follows him out the building's front entrance and then they part ways. All the while, she keeps checking her phone compulsively. It's impossible to ignore.


"Hm? Oh, I'm just checking for something. We're sort of late for what I had planned."

"There are plans?"

"Of course there are, silly. You wanted to see my world so I am going to do just that. We've got three events on the agenda, staring with Sara."

"Okay... And who is Sara exactly?"

"My best friend of many, many years. She's...a character. Who invites someone out to lunch without telling them where they're going? Not that I'm surprised. You'll understand once you meet her."

Suddenly I feel my blood run cold. I repeat her words in my head. The image they depict is a scary one. Surely, she couldn't mean...? 

"M-M-Meet her? What do you-"

"No, no, no. I meant that I'm meeting her for lunch. You'll be safe and sound in there." She gently taps the cabin with a finger. "And she'll be none the wiser."

"Phew." I breath a sigh of relief. "I misunderstood."

"Yeah." She giggles. "You did."

At last her phone beeps as a message is received. When she goes to check the message, I end up seeing it too since my perspective is essentially the same from this position. I see what she sees, for the most part. It feels weird but I don't comment on it. I notice that Jeannine's earlier smirk has been replaced by a frown. 

"Is everything alright?"

"Mostly. Don't worry about it. It looks like she wants to eat at this high-end place I'm not really a fan of."

She doesn't elaborate so I drop the subject. I know that Jeannine's always short on money since she spends it all on rescuing us. It could be about that? 

It takes about ten minutes on foot from her apartment building to the restaurant. During the walk there we don't chat all that much. I'm too distracted by the 'big' world to converse. The scenery is amazing, especially to someone like me who grew up living in the most dark, disgusting places. It's silly, but I think what amazes me most is the sky. The clear blue sky and the shining sun are beautiful even on a cold winter day.

We arrive at the the place and one of the servers approaches us. She's a middle-aged woman, noticeably shorter than Jeannine and barely coming up to her shoulders. She must look up just to face her. 

"Welcome to Gigi's! Table for one?"

"Two, actually. My friend should already be here." Jeannine scans the place for her, spotting her in the far corner. "Ah, found her."

We head over to the table where I see a young woman approximately the same age as Jeannine. She's wearing a pretty, dark green dress with matching eyeliner and an expensive-looking necklace. Upon seeing us, she gets up to say hi. It's only then that I see her full height. She's just as tall as Jeannine, at least in those heels.

"Jeanie! How's it going?" She greets her.

Sara's face rushes forward, becoming all I can see. Both ladies make a 'kiss' sound before turning their heads and doing the same again on the other side. It's a common gesture even among Lilliputians. 

"I'm doing well. How are you? Your dress looks amazing." Jeannine looks her up and down. "I feel underdressed." 

"Haha! I know, right?" Sara gives us a quick twirl to show off the entire thing. "I bought it recently, and on sale too!"

They take their seats opposite each other just as the same server from before brings them their menus. 

"My name is Becca and I'll be your server today. Let me know when you're ready to order."

"Wait a sec, Becca." Sara points to her menu. "This menu is great, but I was hoping for something a little more...special."

"I'm not sure what you mean, ma'am." Becca tells her, looking genuinely confused.

Sara then pulls out a very shiny card. Almost immediately the server's demeanour changes. She gives a knowing wink and takes Saras's menu back.

"I wasn't aware that I was dealing with a card-holder. Please, enjoy our secret menu." 

She pulls out a smaller, single page menu from her pouch and hands it to her.

"Thank you very much! Give us a few minutes to look it over."

Once she leaves us, Jeannine finally speaks up. It sounds like she's irritated by her friend's actions.



"Please tell me you didn't bring us here so that you could order...that."

"Maybe I did. Is that a problem?"

"Of course it is. You know how I feel about this kind of thing."

"Yeah, but that's you. I'm not you. I'm not forcing you to do anything here."

"Sara, that's not the point and you know it."

"Okay, okay, how about this? Your meal is on me so long as you stop your whining. Deal?"

Jeannine huffs and looks away, crossing her arms over her chest disapprovingly. I'm trying to follow their conversation but it's so vague. Is that intentional? 

Something seems off. 

"Um, is everything alright?" I whisper into the mic, as if to be discreet.

Jeannine doesn't respond, simply bringing a finger to the cabin and tapping it lightly. I take it as a 'we'll talk later'. I keep my questions to myself, for now. Still, this tension in the air has me unable to relax.

"Do what you want." Jeannine grumbles. "It's not my place to stop you."

"Thanks, Jeanie. You know I've been wanting to do this for ages. I don't plan to make it a habit, I swear. Just once, never again."

"It's your money. My order will be from the regular menu."

The two of them sit in silence while they order. A few minutes pass before the server returns to take their orders. 

"I'll have the sirloin. Medium." Jeannine tell her. "And some water, please."

"I'll have the Number 2. With the special garnish." Sara says next.

"Excellent choices. Will that be all?" 

"Yes." They both say at the same time, unintentionally. Sara laughs while Jeannine hardly even chuckles.

This time Jeannine is willing to engage with Sara. She's not happy but she is chatting this time, which I think is good. 

I've never known 'best friends' to give each other the silent treatment.

About forty minutes pass until the server returns with the food. She places the most delicious looking beef I've ever seen in front of Jeannine. It's more than I could eat in a lifetime if I tried. It has me practically watering at the mouth at the sight of it. 

"Save me a piece?" I ask Jeannine, to which she gives a very subtle nod.

"You're the best!" I thank her.

On the other side of the table is Saras's order. It's raw meat, which is very strange to me. It looks to be red, but not beef or lamb. Whatever it is, I wonder how it tastes? While I'm trying to solve the meat-mystery, the server pulls out something akin to a saltshaker, only smaller. It's barely an inch long.

"Be sure to sprinkle them away from the sauce. In my experience, it's the best way to enjoy their flavor." 

"Will do. Thanks, Becca."

My cheerfulness turns to confusion and then horror. It suddenly dawns on me what I'm looking at. It's no wonder Jeannine was so upset before. How could I have been so clueless?

This restaurant serves Lillis.

"Jeannine." I say in a calm but no less serious tone. "That's not garnish."

I get no response from her. Though I can't see it clearly from here, I know exactly what's happening on her plate. Every time she jostles the shaker, a couple of Lilli's fall out and onto her plate. Most will be stuck in the juices and sauces, either glued there or left to drown. The ones who land on the meat itself will have a chance to run, though they have no chance of getting off of the plate. 

I put a hand to my chest, feeling my heartrate skyrocketing. This sensation... It's panic. I've felt it before. Closing my eyes, I'm taken back to the day I lost my family. The image of that cruel giant becomes clear as day, as if I'm seeing him right before my eyes. Sara, a girl who up until now I'd considered to be pretty and very pleasant, is revealed to be no different than him.

What are they seeing right now? How must they feel? 

I can't imagine being on a plate, looking up at a being who is not only going to eat me but is eager to do so. I'm reminded of the terror and cruelty of Brobdingnagians. Jeannine's example had simply made me forget.

"Ooh, this looks great. Let's see how many I can get in one forkful..."

The horror show continues as Sara pushes them around with her fork. She's playing with them before she eats them. I've never seen a more predatory display. I look to Jeannine who is acting, or trying to, act normal. She cuts a piece of meat and eats it, averting her eyes from her friend.

Sara's fork lifts up off the plate as she opens wide. Just as she does, Jeannine's hand moves to her ear to block my view. I know what she's doing. I'm furious but I refrain from screaming.

"Jeannine, please. Move your hand away. Don't shield me from this."

The giantess tenses up, contemplating whether to do it or not. She complies, giving me back the view of the slaughter across the table. Sara's fork is already back in the plate as her mouth chews her food. I have no doubt everyone in their died a gruesome death. Her and Jeannine continue to eat in silence for the most part, mainly due to how invested Sara is in the experience. 

I stare, unblinking, until her plate is clean. She scans the plate for any runners, confirming for me that no one escaped. There's a terrible feeling in my stomach, and I feel the urge to throw up. How can she look so satisfied?

"That was amazing. Although, the garnish is overhyped. Hardly tasted a thing."

"Mine was great. Thanks for paying." Jeannine finally speaks up.

The cabin does an amazing job of keeping things steady. It wasn't until I looked at her that I noticed her trembling. 

"Sorry, babe, I need to go use the bathroom. Be right back."

"All good."

Jeannine stands up and hurries to privacy. The bathroom here is small, the stall itself being the entire bathroom. Once she's inside, she confirms that the door is locked before saying a single word. It would seem that we are now completely alone.

I'd been holding it in, on the verge of busting. The emotions I'm experiencing are so varied and intense than I can hardly process them, being on the verge of tears.

I've been traumatized. 

"Jeannine... How could you?"

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

UPDATE: I'm looking to commission an artist to draw Jeannine. If any readers know of someone good, please send me a message. Thanks!

Part 2 - Chapter 16 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine and Nick have a serious conversation...

POV: Jeannine


What was I thinking? The moment I saw Sara's text, I knew she was up to something. She mentioned wanting to 'try tinies' before, but I never imagined she would go through with it! Worst of all, I gave Nick a front row seat to that horror. How can I call myself his protector, let alone his friend? 

I broke my promise.

Hunched over the sink, I twist open the tap to wash my face. The cold water helps me to recompose myself. He must think I'm heartless, or even apathetic, but he couldn't be more wrong. Watching that nearly broke me. I knew that people were enjoying the 'garnish’, but seeing it at my own table shook me. I'm ashamed to admit that in times like these, I'm thankful that Lillis are so difficult to see and hear. Their horrified shrieks would have kept me up at night. Unfortunately, most of my people don't think twice about it. That's reality.

I only wish he hadn't found out firsthand.

Twisting the tap closed, I grab some paper towels and dry my face. I take a few slow, deep breaths before I address this. As I speak, I gaze at the reflection of my earring in the mirror.

"Nick, I need you to know how sorry I am that I put you through that. When we left home this morning, I was looking forward to a fun day together. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

When he doesn't respond, I feel a sense of dread. This silence is painful.

"Talk to me, Nick. Please say something." I try again.

"I don't know what to say." Nick says. His voice is scarily somber. It's worse than when we first met. "Those were people, Jeannine. My people, my kind."

"I know, Nick. It's horrible, disgusting, and downright wrong."

"Then why didn't you do anything?"

I was waiting for him to ask that. I prepared a response that should calm him down somewhat.

"It wouldn't have made a difference. You see, the problem is-"

"No!" He cuts me off. "Don't give me that shit!"

His outburst startles me. The shift from shock to rage is so sudden. Directing it at all at me seems unfair. I only need a moment to explain, if he'll just grant me that.

"Nick, please give me a chance to-"

"You're the big one! You're the powerful one! Yet you did nothing. If I was big, I would have stopped her!" 

"You're right. I could have done that." I tell him sternly, my sympathetic tone gone along with my patience.

"Then why the hell didn't you?"

"Because it wouldn't have changed a thing! She would have done it next week, or maybe the next. Sooner or later she would have done it. I can't police her, nor any other paying customer. It's not my place to do anything but try to persuade her." I pause for a moment to calm down, considering my next words carefully. "As long as 'garnish' is in demand, places like these will serve it.”

Nick goes silent again for about a minute. I give him the chance to process what I'm saying. I know how hard it must be to be hearing this, most of all from my mouth.

"What if it had been me?" He asks me softly. "On Saras's plate. And she was going to eat me. Would you have stopped her then?"

What a ridiculous question. I'm sure he already knows my answer. It hurts that he feels the need to ask it in the first place.

"Absolutely. I would never let anything happen to you on my watch, least of all ending up on some Brob's plate."

"Ohhh, I get it now. So I'm special then, huh? Wow, how great!" He scoffs. "I guess that makes everyone else food for you."

There it is again. His anger at the world is being projected at me. I clench my fist, becoming more frustrated by the second.

"That's not what I mean and you know that."

"It isn't? Then what does it mean? Sounds to me like your 'caring' is highly selective, if not whimsical."

I frown, glaring at my earring in the mirror. What bothers me is that he's partially right. My justification is full of hypocrisy. In a way, I'm also part of the problem. Even so, he has no right to speak to me like this. We're friends, aren't we? 

With my right hand I reach to my ear and remove my earring. I hold it out in front of my face, close enough that I can see into it. There he is, a tiny dot stowed away inside of my accessory. 

More importantly, I want this to be as 'face to face' as possible.

"Nick." I begin. "I shouldn't need to point out how cruel the 'big' world is, least of all to you. People like me, people who genuinely recognize your kind as people, are a rarity. Sara actually isn't that bad, compared to the vast majority."

"When did mass murder become 'not that bad'?"

"You're right. She's wrong even if it was 'just one time'."

"Finally we agree on something."

"That said," I continue, through gritted teeth. I do nothing to hide the irritation in my voice. "You should have been prepared for the worst. I only brought you out on your request. I even warned you several times."

"N-No, that's not fair-"

"Actually, it is." I interrupt him, for once. "You said you were ready, insisting you could handle it. That means you were prepared for the worst, and I can't think of anything worse than this."

Nick finally goes silent, allowing me to continue.

"I have never harmed a Lilli, nor do I ever intend to. I'm not the monster here, Nick." I tell him, my tone becoming softer. "I'm doing my best. Despite all of that 'power' you think I have, I'm no goddess. I'm only one person. I'm sorry that I can't save everyone."

There's another pause. I hear him sighing through my earpiece. I think I finally got through to him.

"Sometimes I guess I forget that... You're right. I'm sorry for yelling, you didn't deserve that."

I give him a sympathetic smile.

"Apology accepted. Don't get me wrong, you're right to be angry. I'm furious too, but we shouldn't lash out at each other. We're on the same team. Oh, and I'll be giving Sara a piece of my mind later, don't you worry about that."

"Yeah. Let's head back to her, we've been gone long enough."


Knowing him, I'm sure he's using this as an excuse to end the conversation. I put the earring back on and leave the restroom. Upon returning to our table, I find Sara paying the bill.

"That sure took a while. Everything okay?" Sara asks as Becca walks away.

"Yes. Just needed to freshen up."

She stands up and together they walk out. They stand outside while Sara scrolls through her phone.

"Alrighty! I'm off to the wedding."


"Didn't I mention that? Yeah, my cousin's getting married tonight. Gotta be there a few hours early to help out, hence the dress. See you!”

Sara hails a taxi and leaves the two of us alone. At last, we can talk again.

"You know, I was planning to take you to the movies and then the mall. Considering all that's happened, maybe we should just go home?"

"I'm alright now. Still shaken, but alright. Those ideas are wonderful but the mood's gone. How about something quieter? I'd still like to see things, be they good or bad."

 I smile, impressed by his resolve. His ability to bounce back is astounding. If it were me, I never would have wanted to go out in the first place. A scene like at Gigi's would have broken me. I'd like to salvage this outing if possible. Somewhere that's quiet and full of interesting sights? I've got the perfect place.

"Let me show you the park. You're going to love this, I promise!"

Fifteen minutes later we arrive at our destination. The area is full of all kinds of people. Kids are playing on the jungle gym, some elderly folks are sitting on the benches, and some people around my age are hanging out on the grass. Even the sun has poked out through the gray sky to brighten the day. It's a picturesque scene.

"Wow..." He whispers under his breath. "It's really beautiful. Those flowers and that bird feeder and the fountain...and..."

I giggle. His sense of wonder is so cute, a stark contrast to his earlier mood, and a welcome change of pace. 

"I can get closer. Tell me what you want to see."

"That red flower, first. Please."

"Aye, aye, captain." I say, jokingly.

I lean in close to the flowers to smell them. It serves to give Nick a much better view as well. I linger there, giving him a chance to take it all in. Judging by his reaction to nature, it's clear that he rarely got to go out. These are all firsts for him. It must be so special! 

The two of us go around the park, exploring wherever he asks me to take him. I was only joking about him being a 'captain' before, but come to think of it, I am like ship or vessel to him. It's a funny feeling. Our walk continues along the mile-long, twisty loop of a trail.

"This has certainly been... A day." Nick sighs. "I didn't-"

"Hold that thought, my legs are getting tired." I interrupt him. "You've had me holding squats for two hours. Let's find somewhere to sit first." I tell him, taking a seat on the nearest bench. I slouch, letting my head fall back. Sorry. You were saying?"

"Yeah. I didn't think I'd learn so much in such a short time."

"I'm glad that got something out of it." I smile, relieved that he isn't regretting coming out with me. "I enjoyed your company."

"Same here. I wouldn't mind doing this again."

"I'd love to! I still owe you a bite of that steak, right?"

"Y-yeah, I guess..." 

He goes quiet. I realize I probably shouldn't have mentioned food, given what happened earlier. That was careless of me. I patiently wait for him to ask me to show him something else in the park, but he doesn't. I understand if he's not feeling as talkative as usual, he's so quiet that I could forget he's even there...

"Alright. Let me know when you want to keep going. Until then I'm going to relax a while."

I remain on the bench for another half hour, enjoying the pleasant weather. A gentle breeze blows through my hair as a shut my eyes and relax my body. This is nice. I hope Nick feels the same, even if he can't experience it from in his little cabin.

Out of nowhere, the events from Gigi's encroach on my peace, replaying through my mind. Thoughts of our argument spoil the mood. Was I too harsh to him? He's so capable and responsible that I often forget that he's only seventeen. They say trauma can force a person to grow up too fast. Come to think of it, I've never yelled at him before. Maybe I should say something?

"Hey, Nick. This is the last time I'll bring this up, but are you-" 

"Jeannine, hold that thought!" He cuts me off. 

I immediately shut my mouth, taken aback by his outburst after a period of complete silence. His tone isn't the slightest bit angry. No, he sounds serious--similar to how he speaks to me during our meetings. He pauses for a moment, leaving me to somewhat confused. I'm about to speak when his voice returns in my ear.

"That tree over there. No, it can't be... Can it?"

"What's the matter?" I ask, touching my earring gently.

"It's that tree in front of you." He explains. "Right there, on its roots. I might be totally off, but I think that's a Remnant settlement."

"No way. You're kidding..."

I get up and walk over to the tree. Kneeling, I inspect its base. Nothing seems out of the ordinary to me? Then again, some things are far too tiny for my eyes to see. I squint hard, looking closely for anything out of the ordinary. Still, nothing. 

"I don't see anything."

"Well, yeah. There isn't a sign that says 'Displaced Lilliputians Here!'. Jokes aside, it's only a hunch. My dad used to tell me stories of Remnants who would live in burrows around tree roots."

"That sounds..."


"That was the first word that came to mind." I admit, feeling guilty. "Sorry. I know it's awfully demeaning."

"Don't be. It's a fair comparison, all things considered."

"Wait, we passed a hundred trees on our walk. What about this tree is so special?"

"Like I said, it's just a hunch. All I know for sure is that the tree has to meet three criteria. It has to be near a source of water, have no animals or insect nests near it, but most of all, it can't 'stand out'. Can't have the big people snooping around, lest they..."

"Hurt you." I finish his sentence for him.


Looking around confirms all that he told me. A drinking fountain next to my bench is constantly dripping water, forming a small puddle in the grass. There are no bird nests or beehives or any immediate hazards that I can see. 

If he hadn't brought my attention to the tree, it would have easily blended in with all of the others in the park. I guess there are some things only a Lilli will notice.

Suddenly, I'm very curious. 

"Forget it. There's no way to know unless I get super close. I'm not going to ask you to get down on your hands and knees for that."

"Who said anything about that?" 

I stand up and walk over to the tree. Squatting down just off of the trail and look around for any moving specks, finding none. I am far too big for this sort of thing.

"Want to take a look?" I offer.

"Um. Yes, but-"

I remove my earring and set it down on the grass, right next to one of the roots. That should be close enough, even at the Lilli scale.

"Mm. It's... It's like a... Crap, I'm not sure. Possibly..."

"So?" I ask, slightly irritated by his cryptic demeanor. "What do you see?"

"I see traces of life, but they're super old. Lillis were here at some point. Whether they still are is the real question. How very rare..."

"That's incredible! Do you see anything else? I can move you if you need." 

"That won't be necessary. Leave the cabin, I'm coming out."

Nick's words trigger all the alarms in my head at once. I see no outcome to this where he returns unscathed. There are a million ways he could get hurt. No way... Absolutely not! 

"No." I order him. "Stay inside. The moment you leave that cabin is the moment your safety is compromised. Worse even, what if they aren't friendly?"

"Relax, Jeannine. Lillis rarely ever fight--we're too busy trying to survive. I'm switching to my earpiece. Just trust me, okay?"

My every instinct scream at me to stop him. All I would need to do is pick the earring off the ground. I can always take his choice away, if necessary, but it isn't something I would do. Abusing my power over tinies is wrong. Plus, I've never known him to take unnecessary risks. Against my better judgement, I concede.

"Fine. Please be careful."

"Thanks. I won't be long." 

I hear lots of noise as Nick explores the area. I put a hand to my fluttering heart, praying that nothing goes wrong. He pants and groans as he climbs what must be like five millimeters. My hand moves to help him on instinct, only to pull away when I realize how bad of an idea that is. He must do this on his own.

"Nick? Is everything okay so far?"

"So far, so good. I hate to disappoint, but I don't think anyone has been here for years."

Nick goes on to describe what he sees. There are a few carved-out rooms within the tree root, all of which are mostly empty. Some contain rags and what used to be makeshift beds made of leaf trimmings. Others contain small containers filled with polluted water after being stagnant for so long. Another area has been dug out beneath the root itself with an access tunnel leading into it. Unfortunately, it's long since caved in. I consider using my nail to dig it out, but ultimately decide not to. There's a very good chance that I'd kill him.

"So that's it then?" I ask, the disappointment in my voice clear as day. "Not even one person?"

"Seems so. I was highly skeptical but I wanted to be certain." He sighs. "I'm going to head back to the cabin now."

I wait until he confirms that he's returned before putting the earring back on. It feels as though an enormous weight just lifted off my back. I check the time and decide to start heading home. Our conversation continues as I walk back.

"What a shame. You managed to find a settlement only for it to be abandoned."

"Meh, it was good exercise. I had to climb so high up just to reach one of the rooms. Whoever built this place needs to learn a thing or two from our engineers. Terrible workmanship."

"Can you blame them? You all lived a similar life before meeting me."

"Some of us, not all. But yes, their quality of life looked bad. Being outdoors is a risk for us; that's why we tend to hide out inside, away from danger. 

Technically, I was a 'Borrower', not a 'Remnant'. They lead very different lives."

"How miserable. That's the epitome of struggle."

"It makes me thankful for what I have. Not everyone gets to be saved by a nice Brob and be allowed to live without fear."

I think about the thankfulness he described. Though it may be superficial, I am thankful that the mood is so much better. Both of us are in high spirits, able to make the most of the day even if it didn't go exactly as planned. As I walk, our conversation slowly dies down until we're both silent. Unlike before, it's a very comfortable silence. I don't feel the least bit anxious, and I suspect he feels the same way.

Around halfway home Nick finally says something. I nealy jump, startled by the unexpected voice right in my ear.

"Hey. Thanks for today."


"By the way, I was thinking about something. It's kind of crazy, if I'm honest."


"When we discovered that settlement it gave me an idea. What if you didn't have to spend so much of your hard earned money to save us? What if there was a way to save more of us at no real cost, other than time?"

"Okay..." I say, having an idea of where he's going with this. "Go on."

"What if we went around looking for Remnants? I can find the settlements where no one big person would look. You could bring them back to the town. Just one settlement could add over a hundred to our population. You said you wanted to make a difference--to stop being part of the problem. This is it."

"Are you suggesting I abduct them? We Brobs are terribly scary to your kind. Who says they'll want to come home with me?" 

"Let me handle that. Once they see the cabin and hear me explain, they'll be convinced. Nothing about our relationship would make sense if you were some evil and sinister giantess out for blood. Why else would I be vouching for you?"

The more I listen, the more I'm convinced. This idea of his is great. I wish I'd thought of it myself. It's something neither of us could have done alone. I really like it!

"I agree. Naturally, there will be problems, but overall, it's a solid plan."

"Does that mean what I think it means?"

"Yes. Let's do it."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

UPDATE: I'm looking to commission an artist to draw Jeannine. If any readers know of someone good, please send me a message. Thanks!

Part 2 - Chapter 17 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Ori meets the same young boy again...

POV: Orina


A few days have passed since Jeannine took Nick to the outside world. Being one of the few who knew about it, I made it a point to personally welcome them back. I had the chance to speak with Nick, albeit very briefly. He seemed to be in high spirits, though something As for Jeannine, speaking with her can be difficult. Unfortunately, any Lilli 'conversations' with her are fairly one-way ever since we decommissioned the speaker system. Nowadays, Nick is the only one who speaks to her directly. If there's an issue, he is the one to pass the information to her. I must admit, it makes me somewhat jealous.

"What a privilege." I mumble. "He's very lucky."

No, 'lucky' isn't a fair descriptor. Nick is our representative. He shoulders a heavier burden than any of us. Not only does he have Jeannine's expectations weighing down on him, but ours as well. Considering that, I suppose that earpiece of his is a well-earned right. 

"I hope he's doing well. Both of them, for that matter."

These are the thoughts that occupy my mind as I make my way to the hospital again. The doctor made me promise to come back if the pain got worse. Thankfully it hasn't, though the brace itself has been hurting me. It's the rough material, it chafes me constantly. We still lack the means to manufacture anything 'comfortable', prioritizing practicality over all else. In some ways our town is very advanced, while in others we are still very meagre.

I arrive at the building not two minutes later. Upon walking through the doors, I'm greeted by the receptionist.

"Good afternoon Ms. Orina. You're back sooner than expected?" 

"Good afternoon to you as well. Is Dr. Ross available?"

"He is, yes."

"I'm afraid I'm in need of another check-up."

"I'll let him know right away."

While she's peeking into the doctor's office, I can't help but notice a familiar face in the reception. The same young boy from before is seated in the exact same spot, staring at me from across the room. 

If I didn't know any better I would have thought he hadn't moved ever since. I give him a kind smile and a wave, which he returns with his own. I limp over to take a seat beside him.

"Hello again, Louis. How are you feeling today?"

"I'm okay." He tells me, his voice as soft as ever. He points to my leg and frowns. "Your leg."

"Oh, this?" I extend my leg for him. "It would seem I've sprained my ankle. It doesn't hurt so long as I'm careful and listen to the doctor."

"I hope..." He says, struggling to make eye contact with me. " get better."

Before I can thank him for his kind words, the receptionist calls for me. 

"Ms. Orina, the doctor will see you now."

She gestures for me, holding the door open. I turn back to Louis who has gone completely silent again. I want nothing more than to continue our chat but I can't leave the doctor waiting. Begrudgingly, I stand up and limp my way over to the office.

"That's very kind of you. Hold on, I will be right back."

"Mm." He nods, his gaze glued to his feet.

How refreshing. It felt like he was opening up to me. Something about the way he spoke sounded far less shy. It's only a feeling, but my feelings are rarely wrong.

I enter the room and take a seat on the bed as the door closes behind me.

"Hello again, Ms. Orina." Dr. Ross greets me, walking over. "You're still limping. How is your ankle feeling today?"

He holds my leg by the heel and moves it so that I have to shift positions. Now on my back, I lay with my legs stretched out. He then rolls up the leg of my pants to check my ankle.

"Better. I've been walking on it, exactly as you told me. It's the brace, I think."

"Hmm... Let's take it off and check."

The doctor proceeds to unwrap it, revealing a very red ankle. It looks bad, but he doesn't seem alarmed. He just moves my foot around, gently.

"Not too rigid. That's good. The swelling has gone down as well."

"I applied ice and compressions as soon as I got home." 

"Oh, we have ice now? When did that happen?" He asks me, looking surprised.

"Daedalus asked Jeannine for a can of propane. Needless to say, it was far more than we could have ever used." I laugh. "He sapped a small amount of it and build a refridgeration unit. Hence, the ice."

"Excellent. That'll do far more than the ointment I would have recommended." He turns his attention to the brace and frowns. "However, we should do something about this. The brace is doing it's job, but if it's bothering you that much then we can replace it."

He pulls out another brace, this one made of a softer material, and helps me put it on. This one has laces so it takes him longer to tie it up. While he does that, my mind wanders back to Louis. I know it isn't any of my business, but I have a burning question about him. 

I dare to ask it.

"That boy in the reception. Is he... Will he be alright?"

"Only time will tell." Dr. Ross sighs. "I haven't observed him long enough to make predictions about his condition. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious." I reply, not really sure myself. "I hope he overcomes this. He's too young to..." 

I can't bring myself to finish that sentence. The doctor seems to share the sentiment.

"It's tragic, but there's only so much anyone can do. Resources are limited and medical equipment is non-existent. We're lucky just to have painkillers. You know how it is."

"Unfortunately." I sigh. "Are you going to see him next?"

"No, I already saw him earlier today."

"What? Then why is he waiting in the reception?"

"I wouldn't know." He shrugs, finishing up with my leg. "Sometimes he just sits there. We don't have the heart to send him home."

"What about Nick?" I ask as I stand back up to test the new brace. It feels so much better than the other one. "Isn't he the one responsible for him?"

"Not officially. He does what he can, when he can. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him since I last saw you the other day."

I clench my fist. I'm not angry at Nick, I know how busy he gets. Rather, I'm frustrated with the situation as a whole. The fact of the matter is that Louis needs someone right away. No one deserves to be so alone. Least of all when they're in pain.

"Thank you, doctor. I'm sorry to bother you with all of this."

"Anytime. Take it easy, Ms. Orina." 

I return to the reception and immediately head over to Louis. He's sitting exactly as he was, only this time he seems to be swinging his little legs back and forth. Upon seeing me again, he surprises me with a wave. I approach and take a seat by him once more.

"Back again. Did you wait long?"

"A little."

"Good, good..."

I pause, unsure of what to say. A part of me hopes that he will speak up, but he doesn't.

"So, Louis, I heard you already saw the doctor. That means you're free to leave..." I put a hand on his shoulder. "Why haven't you?"


"You can tell me." I move my hand down to his back and rub it softly. "Really."

"...I'm scared." He whispers so quietly that I almost missed it.

"What's scaring you?" I ask him, feeling worried. Did someone hurt him? Was it something he saw? It couldn't be Jeannine, could it? Or maybe it's his condition? A thousand terrible ideas fill my head.

"I don't know." He shrugs. "Lots of things."

I consider how best to approach this. Playing the guessing game with him will get us nowhere. I'm inclined to do as I did in my teaching days.  Perhaps I can approach this similarly?

"That's perfectly fine. Everyone gets scared from time to time. Whenever I'm feeling scared I stay close to someone else, usually a friend."

He looks up in surprise, as if I said something astounding.


"Absolutely." I nod. "That's what friends are for." I then take his hand into mine and give it a light squeeze. "Wouldn't you agree?"

He nods silently. His gaze remains on me for a moment, as if studying my face. I resist the urge to look away, instead choosing to maintain it. He wants to say something, but he's struggling to find the words. I don't mind at all. He can take all the time he needs.

"Ms. Ori?"


"You said you were my friend."

"Of course I am!"


Another pause. I stay silent while he prepares his next words.

I dare not interrupt him, lest he close off like before. This is the longest conversation we've had. He hasn't opened up to anyone else yet, as far as I'm aware. I'll be a patient as he needs me to be.

"Everyone..." He begins, a hint of embarrassment in his voice. " really scary."

"Everyone?" I repeat, "Are you still feeling shy?"

"Yes. I only know..." He counts on his fingers before holding them up for me. "Three people. Mr. Nick, Dr. Ross, and Ms. Ori."

"That's a good start! Considering there are only twenty of us total, that's an achievement."

"What does 'achievement' mean?" He asks me, struggling to pronounce the word correctly. It's quite adorable.

"Achievement." I enunciate each syllable for him slowly. "It's something you did, despite it being very difficult. It's something you can be proud of. Do you understand?"

"Yes. Thank you, Ms. Ori."

"You don't have to call me 'miss'. Just 'Ori' is fine, okay?"

"Ori." He repeats after me.

"Yes! Just like that, okay?"

"Okay." He smiles. "Thank you."

"For what? It's my name, only shortened." I giggle. "It's the closest thing I have to a nickname."

Wait a tick... That gives me an idea. Louis clearly likes the idea of nicknames. His eyes practically lit up when he called me Ori. I wonder if he has a nickname? Most parents give their kids a nickname, or at least something like a pet name. I'll have to be careful how I ask it. Explicitly bringing up his dead parents is not something I want to do. 

I'll be taking a risk with this.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Um. Okay." He nods.

"Do you have a nickname? Maybe someone used to call you something other than 'Louis'?"

He thinks for a moment, his expression turning sad.

"My mom used to call me Lou." He says with a shaky breath. "Dad too."

My expression turns grim. I can tell he's trying not to cry. I'm not sure what to say now. I feel as though a single wrong word could make the dam burst. This was a mistake--I should have known better!

I'm about to be the reason a sick little boy cries. I cover my face with my hands in embarrassment and shame. I don't know what else to do.

A moment later, I feel a tapping at my arm. I turn to look, certain that I'll be met with a teary-eyed child. Instead, I just see a very confused looking boy.

"Ori? Are you okay?"

"Me? O-Of course I am. I thought you..." I trail off, losing my train of thought entirely. Did I misread the situation? He sounded heartbroken, or so I thought? "I didn't mean to..."

"I don't understand."

He continues to stare at me as if I'm crazy. I can't blame him. My actions must be very confusing to him. I take a moment to regain my composure before I can make an even bigger fool of myself.

"Never mind." I shake my head. "It's nothing."

He eyes me carefully, squinting his eyes at me accusingly.

"What?" I say, the offense in my tone all too clear. "Why are you glaring at me like that?"

"Never mind." He says flatly. "It's nothing."

I blink twice, shocked by his words. He's using my own words against me. Does he see through me? I didn't give him enough credit, he's sharp for his age.

"Fine." I sigh. "I was worried I'd upset you. I was trying to avoid the topic of your parents."

"I'm not sad." He blurts out. "Honest!"

"So you say..." I reach into my pocket and feel the slightly warm metal object I've been carrying. I've been meaning to ask about it, and this feels like an appropriate time. I take it out and open it in front of him. "Louis, are these people your parents? Was this your family?"

He looks at it for a moment as tears begin to well up in his eyes. There's my answer. I promptly close it and set it down in my lap.

"Why did you give this to me? It must be very special to you."

"Umm... I wanted you to have it. Because we're friends."

"I appreciate that, really I do, but you don't have to give me anything." I pick the locket back up and offer it to him. "Least of all this."

"No." He shakes his head and pushes my hand away. "I want to!"

The stubborn, pouty look on his face tells me that he isn't going to change his mind. Rather than argue with him, I have a better idea. I stand up and take him by the hand.

"If you're going to insist then isn't it natural that I give you something to? As your friend."

He stands up beside me, the top of his head barely reaching my hip, and looks up at me.

"It's time we get you out of this place. I'll be with you so there's no need to worry."


"Really." I nod. "Let's go for a walk around town, together."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

UPDATE: I'm (still) looking to commission an artist to draw Jeannine. If any readers know of someone good, please send me a message. Thanks!

Part 2 - Chapter 18 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Ori and Louis spend a day together...

POV: Orina


Louis and I leave the hospital, squinting our eyes as they adjust to the bright, midday sunlight. I shield my eyes with a hand and look up to the enormous bedroom window. The weather outside appears to be overcast, though the sun still peeks through here and there. Jeannine is still going out in her oversized hoodies and heavy jackets, which tells me it isn't all that warm yet. I wouldn't know, seeing as I've been 'indoors' for the past month or so. Thankfully Jeannine is considerate enough to keep the temperature in her bedroom comfortable at all times for us.

"The weather is nice today, wouldn't you agree?" I ask him, holding his hand as we walk.

"It's warm." He says, smiling. "Super sunny too."

"It'll get even better when the summertime comes along. I hear Jeannine will open the windows more often. You might even get to enjoy a breeze."

"Wow..." Somehow his smile becomes ever wider. "I can't wait!"

"Me too."

Our walk will take us in a wide circle around Magna Gratia. I mentally plot a route that starts from the hospital and will end at the residential area. I imagine we can see almost everything that way. More importantly, it will allow me to get him acquainted with new people. Once he realizes how nice everyone is, he won't be so shy anymore.

As me walk, I can't help but notice how short his strides are. It's not often that I walk with someone so small. I take much slower steps so that he can keep up with me. It doesn't bother me, since I'm exempt from work for a few days due to my injury. We can take as long as we need.

I'm in no hurry at all.

Our first stop is the agricultural zone, otherwise known as the farms. Crops have begun to sprout all over. I'm no expert but I recognize rice and corn. I have no doubt that was Aurelia's doing, with the help of Sam, of course. Their efforts are clearly paying off, they must be proud.

Louis on the other hand is gawking at the soon-to-be vegetables in awe. It's strange to me, seeing someone so fascinated by something so mundane. That childish wonder is something I haven’t seen in years, let alone felt. It reminds me of my childhood, when I was happiest.

I bend down low and tap his nose with my finger. He recoils, giving me an irritated look.

"Hey!" Louis complains.

"Hey, yourself." I coo.

"What was that for?"

"I felt like it."

His irritation turns back to confusion as he stares some more. His expression reminds me of someone struggling to solve a complex equation. I do my best not to laugh.

"Sorry. Why don't you go take a look around? Here," I let go of his hand. "go on, but don't wander off."


He turns, walking away slowly, unsure of himself. He walks over to a young corn stalk before looking back over at me. The distance between us is only a few feet, but even that makes him visibly nervous.

"It's alright." I reassure him. "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

Without a word, his attention returns to the crop and his touches the leafy bits with his fingers. He takes his time inspecting and feeling the surrounding crops while I keep an eye on him. I'm so focused on him that I don't even notice when Sam comes by.

"Ori! It's nice to see you. How's the ankle?"

"Oh!" I gasp, startled out of my trance. He comes over and we greet one another with a hug. "It's much better now. I hope to be working again next week, though I'm afraid I won't be able to put pressure on it."

"No problem at all. Aurelia's got loads of other jobs for you when you're better." He looks past me to Louis and cocks his head. "Um, is that boy with you?"

"Yes, he is."

"Oh, good. Would you mind telling him not to pluck the crops?"

I immediately turn around and call Louis over. I must have looked very cross given how guilty he looks. I take him by the hand again and try to hide my embarrassment.

"Sam, this is Louis. He's part of the second group, just like you. I'm showing him around, trying to help him open up. This is all very new to him, I hope you can understand."

"It's fine, I know he means well," He crouches down in front of Louis, offering a fist bump. "Right, champ?"

He nods but doesn't bump back, instead looking up at me for an explanation. In response, I help him make a fist and manually bump back. Sam makes an explosion noise with his mouth and ruffles Louis' hair.

"Perfect! You nailed it." He then stands back up and addresses the both of us. "I'm going to head inside now. Feel free to come here anytime. Oh, and do me a favour; If you see Aurelia on your walk, let her know that I can't make it. I'm not feeling so well today. She should be at the town hall, I think."

"Of course, we were headed there anyway."

Once Sam leaves, Louis tugs at my shirt.

"Ori? Is Mr. Sam okay?"

"He'll be alright once he gets some rest." I explain as we resume our walk. "Sometimes his head hurts a lot."

"Is he sick?"

"Sort of. It's complicated."

"Will he get better?"

"I'm afraid not, dear. It's something he has to live with."

"Oh..." He says, sounding disappointed. "He's like me."

I hadn't thought of it like that, but he makes a good point. What Sam suffers from isn't life threatening. It's akin to a medical condition, though unlike Loius, he wasn't born with it. I'm not sure which is worse. Regardless, neither can be cured, at least not at our hospital.

"I suppose so." I admit, choosing not to go into further detail. I'd much rather move away from this topic. "Did you see how thrilled he was to meet you? I don't think I've ever seen him smile like that before."

"Yeah. I like him."

"There are many more nice people for you to meet. Let's go see his wife, Aurelia, next."

It only takes a few minutes to get there. The building itself has been expanded, looking massive compared to it's previous incarnation. I allow him a moment to gawk before entering together.

Once inside, we're met with Daedalus, Nick, and Aurelia. They appear to be having a serious discussion.

"This is crazy! Do you even know how many people that is? That's a ton of mouths to feed." Aurelia argues.

"Daedalus, you tell her." Nick groans. "Maybe she'll listen to you."

"Miss, with all due respect, we've run the numbers. We can sustain it. I guarantee you the extra hands will do us all some good." Daedalus tell her.

"Exactly!" Nick yells at her. "We're not dumping this on just you and Sam."

"Still..." Aurelia sighs. "Oh, Lord, this is going to be such an awful headache. How does Jeannine feel about it?"

"Full support. Anything we need." Nick explains, no longer so exasperated. "We can't do this without you. Please, Auri."

"Things were going so well with just us twenty..." She moans.

"But it could be better. Aim higher! Dream bigger!" The old man laughs.

"Let's see what Sam thinks first. I won't make a decision until he gets here." Aurelia crosses her arms, defiantly.

I audibly clear my throat to announce my presence. The three of them look at me at once, making me feel somewhat nervous.

"Hello. Sorry, am I interrupting?"

"It's fine." Nick says, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I see you have Louis with you. Thanks for looking after him."

"It's no trouble at all, he's a delight." I then turn to Aurelia. "Do you have a moment to chat?"

"Not really-" She begins, only to be cut off by Daedalus.

"She does. I think all of us could use a break."

"I guess." She groans. She follows me out of the building so we can have some privacy. "Sorry you had to hear that." Her usual friendly expression returns. "How's life? Ooh and who's this cutie?"

Louis ducks behind me. The act clearly upsets Aurelia who then gives an exaggerated pout.

"This is Louis. Long story, I'll tell you later." I take a step to the right, revealing the shy boy behind me. "Go on, say hi to my friend."

He looks at her, then at me, then at her again.

Rather than speaking, he gives her a wave. A moment later he goes back to hiding behind me.

"He's awfully shy. My little brother was just like that, once upon a time. I'm used to it." She tell us.

"By the way, Sam told me to pass on a message."

I tell her about his migraine and how we were just with him. Her expression becomes worried, but not panicked. It's clear she's dealt with this many times before.

"Thanks for letting me know. I'll head back right away." She starts walking off, only to turn on her heel and face us again. "It was nice meeting you, Louis! Next time you're at the farm I'll give you a proper tour."

She leaves us with that kind offer and hurries back to her husband. Once again, Louis only speaks when it's just the two of us. He returns to my side, his hand never once leaving mine even when he was hiding.

"You know, it's perfectly acceptable to respond when someone speaks to you." I say softly. "Having me as your sole conversation partner will grow boring."

"Sorry." He mumbles, hanging his head.

"It's nothing be sorry over." I raise his head by the chin. "These things take time. You will get there."

He nods silently.

"She was nice too." He finally says. "And pretty."

"Careful. If you tell her that, she might just gobble you up!" I laugh.

As we leave the town hall, I notice that Louis's pace has gotten even slower. Only when I stop do I notice how exhausted he looks.

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Tired..." He sighs. I notice his nose is also bleeding again.

I grab some napkins and help him wipe up the mess. Exercise is good but I'd rather not push him. Given his illness, his energy must be very limited. It might be best to stop here for now.

"Ori." He says, with his arms extended toward me.

"Hm? What is it?"

He moves his arms about, unwilling to elaborate. It then occurs to me that he wants to be carried. I'm more than happy to indulge him.

"Let's give you a break. Come here."

I crouch down and give him my back. He hops on, wrapping his arms a little too tightly around my neck.

I move them to my shoulders to avoid being strangled. Once he's comfortable, I stand up and start showing him around.

The cafeteria is usually staffed with one or two people at a time. Given how Jeannine is providing our food until we're self sufficient, very little cooking takes place here. Instead, they're responsible for seperating, allocating, and storing the food that we eat. Obviously, the unprocessed portions our lovely patron provides are just a tad too big for us tinies. Once processed, everyone is entitled to three meals a day, which they can come collect whenever they please.

I planned to have lunch with Louis here, but I think it would be better if we ate at home. I'll have to bring him to my house first and return him to his once he's fed.

I head over to one of the 'cooks' and collect our meals for the day, six in total. It's awkward to carry both him and the food but I manage somehow, even on my bad ankle. It's a short walk from here to the residential zone. I can handle it.

"Our final stop will be my home. We can have lunch together, and I've got a bed if you want to rest for a while."

"Okay." He whispers into my ear. "Thank you."


We arrive at my house soon after. With some difficulty, I manage to open the unlock the door and enter despite both of my arms being occupied. We enter the cozy, wooden cabin and I set Louis down on my bed. He still seems very tired.

"How are you feeling?" I ask him.

"Mmn... Tired."

"More than before? Or less?"


"You can take a nap in my bed but only after you eat. Normally I would never allow food anywhere near where I sleep but for you I'm willing to make an exception."

I unpackage one of the food boxes and hand it to him. He doesn't seem hungry, but he starts eating anyway. It's probably because I insisted.

As he should--a growing boy needs his energy! I follow suit and enjoy a box with him.

The two of us are mostly silent while we eat. Strangely, I don't mind it. The company alone is more satisfying than any conversation I could start. Or perhaps it's the food? For some reason it tastes so much better today.

I finish my meal and look over to check Louis's box. He's eaten about half of it and doesn't look eager to continue. All that matters is he ate something. I take the box from him and wrap it up in case he'll want in later. I then go over to the bed and take a seat beside him.

"Feeling better?"

"Mhm." He nods. "It was yummy."

"Good." I say, lifting him up from under his arms and setting him in my lap. I wrap my arms around him and embrace him tightly. "Thank you for joining me on the walk. You made my day."

"Me too." He cranes his head all the way back, beaming up at me. "It was super fun!" He chuckles. Come to think of it, it's the first time I've heard him laugh. It's such an innocent and carefree sound; something I never expected to come from a child so weak and frail. It melts my heart.

And it gives me an idea.

"Hey, would you like to hear a story?"

"What kind of story?"

"A story from when I was little. Right about your age, I think."

"Yay! Storytime!" His eyes practically light up and he bounces in his seat. I feel his hands pulling my arms closer to him, as if asking to hug him tighter. I do exactly that, leaning back against the wall and letting him rest his head against my chest.

I close my eyes and picture the scene. I'm seven years old again, living in a tiny settlement with my parents and two older sisters. It was the first time my father and I ever did something together, just the two of us. Even at twenty four, I remember it like it was just yesterday.

"This may come as a surprise, but I used to love to dance." I tell him, sharing information I've never told anyone else. "My father was a natural."

"He only needed to see a move once to learn it. He and my mother would dance all the time. It was their 'thing'."

Louis stays quiet, not wanting to interrupt me. It makes me happy that someone is so captivated by something so personal to me.

"One day he decided to teach me. At first I was just happy to be spending time with him, but later on I grew to love it like he did." I say, picturing his face in my mind. "He taught me many types, though mainly the ones that require a partner. Neither of us were interested in dancing alone."

I go on and on about the learning process. I share how I would often trip over myself, lose my balance, and even step on my father's feet every so often. Eventually I lose the 'flow' of my storytelling, rambling on about this and that until I begin to confuse even myself.

"Oh dear, it would seem I got carried away." I giggle. "I hope that wasn't too boring."

I lean over to look at Louis' face. He's fallen fast asleep in my arms and I hadn't even noticed. Instinctively, I lower my head and plant a kiss on cheek.

"Right," I whisper to myself. "I should take him home now."

Carefully, I maneuver my arms under him to carry him. I stand up, taking my time so that I don't wake him up. With my free hand I grab the rest of his food and head out the door. His house isn't too far away. I only have to walk down the street to get there. Like every house in the area it's identical to mine, at least outwardly.

I twist the knob and find it unlocked. It would seem that he forgot to lock his door. Upon entering the cabin, I'm met with a relatively empty place. The only furniture in the room is a table, one chair, and a bed. Dirty clothes and discarded food boxes litter the corner.

"Has he been living like this? Left to take care of himself?" I mumble.

I approach the bed and gently lay him down on it. The temperature is slightly chilly so I cover him with the blanket, tucking him in. With that out of the way, I can now retire to my own bed.

Just as I'm about to leave, he stirs. Through sleepy eyes he gazes at me, blinking hard. It takes him a moment to realize where he is and who I am. Suddenly, his expression turns sad. He reaches out, grabbing the hem of my top. He gazes at me intensely, his eyes pleading with me.

"Don't go." He whispers. "Please, don't leave me."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

UPDATE: I'm (still) looking to commission an artist to draw Jeannine. If any readers know of someone good, please send me a message. Thanks!

Part 2 - Chapter 19 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A day in the life of one very frustrated engineer...

POV: Icarus


"God damn it! Piece of shit! Why won't you work? Why?!"

I clench my fists and look for the nearest thing to punch. My eyes scan the workshop for anything I can use to blow off some steam that can handle a good beating. After precisely two-point-five seconds of thinking, I lose my patience and punch the nearest wall as hard as I can. The following crack that comes from my hand only increases my overwhelming frustration.

"Ow! Fuck!"

I clutch it with my other hand and stomp a foot to the ground. The pain from my hand finally brings me to my senses. I grunt and flex my hand a few times to make sure nothing is broken. It seems fine, though it'll probably be swollen tomorrow. If it still hurts in an hour, then I'll go get it looked at.

I turn my attention back to my workbench, staring daggers at the device I've been working on. I want nothing more than to throw it at the wall. Ten straight hours of nonstop work and I'm no closer to finishing than when I started...

"You're cursed. I'm tired and out of ideas. Screw this shit."

I leave the workshop for some fresh air. I rub the back of my neck and roll my head around to relieve the built-up stiffness. On my way out I notice Dad working on a blueprint outside. Realizing he probably heard my outburst, I feel the need to explain myself.

"Hey Dad..."

"Let me guess." He says without even looking up from his desk. "You didn't take a break when I told you to?"


"This is what ya get for bein' a hardhead."

"I know, I know. Things were coming along and I felt like I was close to something... Something big."

"Clearly not." He sighs. "At least ya came to yer senses eventually."

"Yeah, no progress for six straight hours will break even the most stubborn engineer."

"Well said." At last, he looks up from his work and looks me up and down. He gives a hearty laugh and a smug grin. "You look like crap, bud."

"I don't doubt it." I grin back at him. "But it's all part of the process. I've never faced a problem I couldn't overcome."

"Mhm. You keep saying that." 

"Because it's true!"

"Whatever. Take a break and don't let me catch you punching any more walls. If you break any of my things, I'll kill ya."

"Yes, Dad. I got it." I concede. "I'm going for a walk. Need to clear my head and move my legs a little."

"You do that."

Despite his attitude, my dad gives good advice. I only realize it after I've made a mistake, though. It's been that way ever since I was a kid. Here I am, two decades later, still thinking I know better. I can't seem to break the cycle for the life of me. Despite my unwillingness to quit while I'm in the 'zone', there is one piece of advice of his that I've internalized. 

"Often times when you're stuck, all it takes is a break to clear your head." I recite aloud as I walk though town. "You'd be surprised how obvious the solution was all along."

Hopefully this break will do me good. All I need to do is avoid thinking about work. Given my pounding headache, it shouldn't be too hard. No need to force it. Anything else will do...

For some odd reason my mind decides to reflect on the events of the last month and a half. Ever since that day--ever since Jeannine gathered us on her desk and told us to live--I've been feeling supercharged! It's not an exaggeration to say that she's allowing me to reach my full potential. But it isn't just the resources she provides. No, it's most definitely her attitude. The optimism she radiates is infectious! She makes me want to believe that life can and will be better. 

"Even Dad is recovering..."

My father, the one everyone calls 'Daedalus', decided on that name after hearing Jeannine's introduction. It's not his real name, but it's the one he adopted. The reference is pretty on the nose--naming himself after the legendary mythological figure. When he suggested I go by 'Icarus', I didn't think twice. After what we've been through, we needed a reset. We needed to reinvent ourselves. 

Unlike most of the residents of Magna Gratia, my father and I were neither Remnants nor Borrowers. We were proud Lilliputian citizens living in a city not unlike Jeannine's. Provecta was a technological hub built on the Lilliputian coast--the kind that dreamers flock to, either for the opportunities or the beautiful view. Our family had been living there ever since I was born. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed there my entire life. Why would anyone want to leave the most technologically advanced city in the world? The Brobs would never admit it, but we were absolutely destroying them in all the scientific fields. We were developing things their big, dumb heads hadn't even dreamt of yet.

"Those were the days." I sigh. "My biggest worry was meeting my deadlines at work. I never imagined I'd be trafficked. The things we take for granted..."

When the news came that a Brobdingnagian mine had been dug up near the city, people got nervous. We suspected that it might still be functional. Given its size, it would've been tiresome to remove without assistance. We called on their army to come and extract it, even though we probably could have done the job ourselves. Personally, I think it was a matter of principle. The ones who caused the problem should be the ones to resolve it. To no one's surprise, their government was quick to send someone over. They'll do anything to look good when it involves us, the 'weak and downtrodden'.

A day later, a young soldier dressed in a military uniform and carrying some strange tools came by. I have no clue how military rank works, but she seemed too young to be someone distinguished. Clearly not someone with much experience as a technician. She went to work at the danger zone, just outside the city. For most, it was their first time seeing a Brob in person. This gal was so polite and careful around us that we weren't even afraid. She reassured us that she would deactivate and remove the half-buried device in no time. 

Looking back, I'm not sure who was to blame. Her, for her inexperience, or us, for refusing the job out to spite. Maybe it was our fault for building a city near land that was once a battlefield? It doesn't matter. Although the outcome could have been avoided, it's no use throwing blame now. What's done.

The young lady thought she'd deactivated the mine. As she went to remove it, the device went off. If her body had not been between the city and the mine, things could have been far worse. The explosion hit her first, killing her instantly. Her lifeless body fell backwards, crushing the east side as it hit the ground. The combined forces rocked the city, resulting in untold infrastructural damage. City block-sized chunks of land rained down from the sky, increasing the destruction as well as the death toll. My Dad and I had been on the west side when it all happened. Unfortunately, my mother had been at work on the east side, meaning she was probably crushed by the giant woman's corpse. Her body was never recovered.

News of the tragedy quickly spread. Politicians were quick to label the even a 'tragic accident'. They focused more on the dead soldier than the thousands of Lillis who'd died along with her. I wonder if that's the worth of one Brob life? If so, that's very sad. 

Soon after, more soldiers were sent to aid the survivors. The last thing we wanted was more Brob help, but what say did we have in the matter? Though the city had been decimated, a small percentage had been lucky enough to escape with only minor injuries. My Dad and I were part of that group. The giants dug us out of the rubble and helped prepare us for transport in capsules our government had specially provided them.

We were gathered up so that we could be brought en masse to the closest hospital with the capacity to take us. That was what we were told, anyway. Yet again, we were punished for putting our trust in Brobs. The soldier carrying our capsule had no such intentions. 

He took advantage of the disorganization so that no one would notice one missing, little capsule. A soldier's salary must not be that much these days. I guess he wanted to make some extra cash on the side? He shamelessly pocketed us and went on with his day, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Some time later, he sold us to a Lilli trafficker. From there, we passed through a few more hands before finally ending up with Jeannine.

The time we spent together in that accursed tank was eye opening. After all of the horrible events that befell us, I wanted nothing more than to curse my luck and wallow in sorrow. I'd lost my mother, my home, and almost everything I'd held dear in a very short time.

But I still had my dad.

I focused on what was important to me. Though Mom was gone, Dad was still here. Though my life was gone, I was fortunate to have enjoyed such a lifestyle while my Lilli brethren suffered as Remnants. While I was injured, at least I was still breathing. No matter what happened, there was something positive to keep me going.

"Dad tried to do the same." I mumble. "He's the strongest guy I know."

Losing the love of his life nearly broke him. The cheerful, charismatic man I'd once known had been reduced to a shell of his former self. He wouldn't speak for weeks. He didn't want to do anything but sleep. I could hardly even get him to eat. Hours of pleading with him only ever resulted in making him more upset. I was beginning to lose hope, until Jeannine came into our lives.

I'd nearly forgotten what his smile looked like. I think he knew it the moment she bought us--that she was different. She was a good person, and she was just what we needed. I hate to repeat myself, but what she gave him was greater than just the food and water. She gave him his hope back. That unrivalled inspiration, that drive, was back at last. He had new purpose. 

I turn my head and look up at Jeannine, sitting at her desk way up there, absorbed in her work. 

"I can't thank you enough for that."

This new life we've been given is something I treasure. Not everyone is fortunate enough to get second chances. You must make the most of them! That's what I believe.

"And that's why this has to work..." I mutter. "I know the calculations are right. I did them a hundred times..."

Even though Provecta was lost, its scientific knowledge lives on in us. Dad and I can make a real difference here, especially with Jeannine backing us. Lilli progress will never stop so long as I'm here. We can aim higher than ever before.

I stop short, just as inspiration strikes me like a bolt of lightning.

"That's it!"

I turn around and sprint back to the workshop. Dad was right, all it took was a break to set my head straight. It's all clear to me now. The solution had been staring me in the face this entire time!

"Can't talk! Need to work!" I yell as I dash past my dad. "No interruptions, please!"

I plant myself down at my desk and review my notes. My plan for an independent cell tower was never going to work. A structure that 'small' would never achieve a broadcast range wide enough to reach Jeannine's bed, let alone the next room. Lilli-sized devices simply cannot function across ranges on the Brob scale. Even Nick and Jeannine's earpieces, the only successful communication devices we've developed, only work when in close proximity. An arm's length distance is the observed limit before the signal is lost. 

But what if they worked together?

"The signal from her device is stronger. If we could build a tower to piggyback on that, multiplexing could be possible..." I think aloud. "The antennae would have to be high up, probably a quarter mile at least. Yeah.... Yeah, this could work!"

Scrapping the old model, I begin on a new one. I also pull up the schematic for Jeannine's earpiece and makes some changes to it. I put my head down for the next hour and work until the three new designs are complete. 

One final review of my calculations gives me the confidence to present the idea to Dad. I can't help smirk at my own genius. Everything is in order. Once he 'okays' the plan, we can get started on building right away. 

"Oh man, they’re going to be blown away by this."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

UPDATE: I'm (still) looking to commission an artist to draw Jeannine. If any readers know of someone good, please send me a message. Thanks!

Part 2 - Chapter 20 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine has a serious talk with Sara...

POV: Jeannine


A warm breeze blows through my hair as I leave my apartment complex. It's a pleasant change after so many days of rain and gloom. Spring must be right around the corner. It's about time! I've grown tired of having to wearing heavy jackets and scarfs. Maybe I'll even get to wear that new sundress I bought, soon? 

"Ah... I'd like that."

Just then, I feel my phone vibrating in my purse. Standing just outside the entrance, I pull it out and check the notification. It's a reminder to buy more wiring, at Icarus's request. I open the app and scroll through the rest of the list. There are more than ten overdue tasks.

"Things have gotten so busy these days! I can hardly keep up."

Between my studies, social life, chores, cooking, and most importantly, the little ones, I've been feeling overwhelmed. With so much to do all the time, it's difficult to find the motivation to do anything at all. I haven't been eating or sleeping as well as I used to, either. I worry that if this continues, I might begin to spiral. 

That's precisely why I decided to check the most difficult task off the list first.

I continue my way across the street and down the block. There's no need to catch the bus since Sara lives five minutes away. We haven't spoken for a week, not since the day we went to Gigi's. After what she did, I've been finding it difficult to be around her. I've been using my go-to excuse, 'I'm busy', so she'll give me some space. But I'm not busy, at least not too busy for her. Lying to her day after day has left me feeling upset with myself. Not only because it's untrue, but because she believes me without question.

Sara is my best friend in the world. She's a wonderful person and the closest thing I'll ever have to a real sister. Despite her flaws, I wouldn't trade her for anyone else. That being said, I was and still am deeply disturbed by what she did. I caught a glimpse of a darker side of her that I never imagined existed. 

It's that kind of sociopathy that pervades our culture, stemming from a warped sense of entitlement. It's like what I told Nick. Although I cannot change everyone, I will try to convince her.

"Magna Gratia was the first step. This will be the second."

I arrive at her apartment and take the elevator up to her floor. I point my finger to ring the doorbell, only to find the door suddenly opening. I'm met with Sara, dressed in oversized, baggy clothing. She's clearly enjoying her day off. Though, I wouldn't be surprised if she was skipping again.

"Took you long enough! I've missed you, Jeannie." She gives me a carefree smile. I step closer and greet her with the usual air-kisses and a hug. Though, this time I hesitate a little before closing in for the hug. She seems to notice, and as when we pull away from one another her smile fades. 

"Is everything okay?"

"No, not really." I tell her, struggling to hold her gaze. "Can we talk?"

Her expression goes from cheerful to concerned. I suspect she's trying to figure out what could be bothering me before I say it. Whatever she's thinking, it's probably wrong. 

"Sure. Come inside and tell me all about it."

I follow her inside and take a seat at the dining table. She heads into the kitchen and gets us both a drink. She doesn't even need to ask. She can tell when I want one. She just knows. Over a decade of friendship will do that.

"So…" She sits down across from me, opening her can. "What's got my Jeannine looking so blue?"

I look away nervously. It's not like me to shy away from serious topics, but I'm finding it so very difficult to initiate this. Why did it have to be Sara, of all people? Anyone else, and I would have happily given them a piece of my mind. I think about Nick and how her actions hurt him. What would Ori think of me if she knew? Or Daedalus? Or Aurelia? My confidence begins to swell. I take a deep breath and meet her gaze. 

"Sara..." I begin, voice shaky. I hate confrontations. "It's you."

"Come again?" She blinks, clearly surprised by my answer. "What did I do?"

"Remember last week? When we went to Gigi's?"


I wait for her to realize where I'm going with this. The confused look on her face doesn't change. Rather than play the guessing-game, I decide to be direct.

"That 'garnish' you ordered. Seeing you eat those people quite frankly sickened me to my stomach. I couldn't even finish my food."

She rolls her eyes at me and sighs.

"I apologized for that, didn't I? And I paid for your meal as an apology."

"Yes, you did. But you're missing the point, Sara."

"Enlighten me." She says, looking irritated.

"The point is that-"

"They're people." She cuts me off. "Yes, I know. How could I forget when you remind me every day in class? And outside of it, to boot."

"I'll continue to do so until you realize it. Despite what you're saying, we both know what you think of Lillis. The way you talk about them is one thing, but what you did crossed a line!"

"Jeannine, when you said you wanted to come over today, I pictured us ordering in and hanging out. Can we please drop this subject already?" She pinches the bridge of her nose. "I don't have the energy to placate you today."

Her unabashed dismissal makes me angry. It makes me want to slap her across the face. More than that, I wish it didn't upset me as much as it does. I'm becoming too emotional. My words clearly aren't getting through, but I won't back down. Not yet. This is too important to let go.

"I'm sorry for yelling." I do my best to keep my volume low going forward. "But I need to address this. It's important to me. Does that matter to you at all?"

She gives me an empathetic look. The irritation on her face is gone now, having been replaced by guilt. However angry my expression looked, It must have done the trick.

"It does. Fine, say what you need to say. I won't cut you off again." She promises. 

"Thank you. All I ask is that you listen with an open mind."

I take a moment to collect my thoughts. How best should I go about this? I could always guilt-trip her, but that wouldn't solve anything. If she only cares because of me then I've failed my mission. I need her to recognize Lillis for the people they are, whether or not I am involved. Perhaps I could borrow a page from Nick's book? Suddenly, I find myself repeating his words.

"If it had been me on your plate, would you have eaten me?"

"Huh? What are you even saying?"

"Exactly what it sounds like I'm saying. If I was a Lilliputian sprinkled on your plate, would you eat me?"

"Of course not."

"And why is that?"

"Because you're a person. More importantly, you're my friend."

"Were the Lillis on your plate not people?"

"No." She says without an ounce of doubt. "They weren't."

"Sara, what constitutes a person to you?" I press her. "What's the bottom line for personhood?"

She thinks for a moment before responding. It's clear that she never gave the idea much thought until now. A smug grin then appears on her face.

"To me, a person is someone who I can talk to, look at, touch, love, interact with, et cetera. I know where you're going with this, Jeannine. Those little creatures are no more than bacteria in my eyes."

"Bacteria don't share ninety nine percent of their DNA with you. Nor do they bleed or feel pain when you kill them."

"I suppose they're slightly more important than bacteria." She admits. "But still not people."

"Have you ever spoken with one?"

"No, haven't had the pleasure." She laughs. "Like I said, you can't even hear them unless they've got a mic or something."

"The ambassador had a mic. We never spoke with her, but you listened to what she had to say. Is she a person?"

"Okay, that's a special case." She shakes her head at me. "She is a distinguished person, unlike the rest. Someone like her is useful to society. Her position is important, so naturally I'll listen to what she says." 

I feel a tightness in my chest. I can't believe what I'm hearing. The sheer hypocrisy is baffling. It's like she's emotionally disconnected. Still, I have hope for her. I think we're slowly but surely getting somewhere.

"What if you were the tiny one? Should I look down on you because of your physical size?" I ask sternly.

"But I'm not tiny, am I?" She rebuts. "I'm a proud, Brobdingnagian woman. I never was, nor ever will be small. Same as you."

"You're dodging the question." I say through grit teeth. "Can't you put yourself in their place for five seconds?"

"No, I can't. And I won't." She crosses her arms over her chest. "Calling us 'big' just doesn't sit right with me. I'm not big, I'm normal. They're small. It's their fault for being that way. I'm not going to get down on my hands and knees just to see a bunch of specks at my feet."

"Fine, then consider this." I try once more. "What if there was another race larger than us? By that logic, you would be the small one."

"I guess so, but thankfully there isn't one."

"There it is." I put my hands together. "'Thankfully'. What is there to be thankful about, I wonder?"

"I mean..." She trails off. "..."

"Right there, you were beginning to see things from their perspective."

"It's still just hypothetical."

"But you understand on some level, right?"

She sighs, clearly growing bored of the conversation. Despite that, she stays true to her word and hears me out to the end. I respect her for that.

"I've always understood you, Jeannie, but our stances on the topic remain opposed."

"Wait." I replay her words in my mind, unable to believe what she just told me. Until a moment ago, I'd genuinely believed that she didn't understand. "So, it's a matter of choice to you? You're justifying the cruelty by choosing not to see them as people."

"Isn't everyone?" She fires back. "Yes, I'm aware that they think and feel, but so do all living things. Think about livestock. We use and eat them however we like. Why? Because we're superior." 

"That is an evil way of thinking. You should know that, seeing as you're a PoliSci major. Deciding that a certain group of people are inferior makes you a supremacist."

"How dare you!" She growls at me, slamming her hands on the table. "Take that back!"

"We're the biggest, and yet still the most narrowminded. In my opinion that is really, really sad!" I yell back.

"Well then what do you suggest? Should I try to learn the names of 'people' I can’t even see or hear? Or become their friends? While I'm at it why don't I go save some from the restaurant and set them free? Seriously, are you hearing yourself?"

We both silently glare at each other from across the table. We're at another deadlock, unable to convince the other. I expect the burning feeling from earlier to persist, but it doesn't. Instead, it's replaced by an overwhelming sense of disappointment. In Sara, in our culture, and most of all in myself, for being unable to change her views.

I feel my eyes watering up.

Is this the extent of what I can do? Maybe this is a lost cause? No matter what I say, it falls of deaf ears. Whether it's Sara or Mom or anyone else, it's all the same! No one understands. The harder I push, the more they resist. As I fight the current, I'm only being washed away.

"For the record." Sara speaks up, breaking the silence. "Brob or Lilli, I'd still treat you the same. You're my best friend. The last thing I want to do is upset you. I'm sorry for what I did and I'm sorry for always brushing you off when you bring up this topic." She reaches across the table and takes my hands into hers. "I realize now how important this is to you, which makes it equally important to me. I hear you. I swear I'll never hurt intentionally hurt a tiny--er, I mean, Lilli, again."

My frown turns into a weak smile and I wipe a tear from my eye.

"Maybe if I think of every Lilli as a tiny, little, itty-bitty Jeannine I'll find a way to be nicer to them." 

She pinches her fingers as if she was holding something really small. "Anything it takes so that we don't ever fight like this again. Okay?"

I sniffle and nod my head.

"Yes. That's all I've ever asked of you."

We both jump out of our seats and rush over to embrace each other tightly. I feel some more tears streaming down my face. Sara isn't crying but seeing me has her visibly choked up.

"I'm sorry too. For yelling and ignoring you and calling you those awful things." I tell her.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Yes. Anything."

"You've been acting strangely lately. Like, I don't even remember the last time we got angry, let alone fought. Did something, you know, change recently?"

I freeze up like a deer in headlights. She's right, I have been acting strangely. Taking care of the little ones, compulsively saving money, and staying home too often, it's only natural that she would notice. In my panic I go completely silent. I try to come up with a believable excuse. Anything would be better than revealing my secret. Nothing comes to mind.

"It's okay." She says as she hugs me tighter. "You don't have to tell me. But if something's wrong I expect you to come to me, okay?"

"I know." I whisper.

"Good." She lets me go and faces me with a smile identical to the one from earlier. Any trace of negativity from our argument has disappeared as if it never happened at all. "Now let's have some fun. I'm craving pizza and I've got a seriously bad movie for us to laugh at. What do you say?"

"I say..." I pretend to think, hardly able to contain my smile. "I'll pay this time. My treat."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2 - Chapter 21 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Ori's finally finds a new purpose in life...

POV: Ori


"Ori? Are you feeling alright?" Nick asks me. He waves his hand in front of my face to get my attention.

"What? Oh." It takes me a moment to snap back from my daydream. "I'm sorry, Nick. Would you kindly repeat what you said?"

"Sure..." He gives me a concerned look. "I was asking you if you're doing alright, but I think I just got my answer. Are you getting enough sleep? You look exhausted."

"I'm afraid not. I have a lot on my mind these days."

"Hm." He frowns. "Well, you'll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep after the meeting. Maybe speaking with your beloved Jeannine will get your mind off things?"

"Perhaps." I sigh.

The two of us walk together to the open field in front of the town hall. A wide, open space that was once ugly and barren is now a beautiful field of grass and flowers blooming. Most of the town has already gathered here, ready to begin. Nick does a headcount, confirming nineteen people are in attendance.

"Where's Louis?" He asks me. "He may be young, but she asked for everyone."

"He's tired." I tell him, unwilling to go into further detail. "I'll take responsibility if Jeannine has an issue."

"I see." He sighs. "Fine, then. I need to be with Icarus, so I guess I'll catch you later."

Nick heads through the crowd, taking his position at the front. I remain where I am, watching from the back. I hear people chatting with one another, passing the time until Jeannine arrives. They're speculating about this meeting's purpose, wondering why we've all been summoned so suddenly. I share their curiosity, but it's overshadowed by my concern for Louis. He's been constantly on my mind for the past few days. Ever since we spent the day together, I've been worried sick...

"Don't go." I whisper, repeating his words. "Please don't leave me."

I touch the spot on my top where he'd grabbed me before. I then repeat the words I'd told him just after.

"It's time I go home, dear. I'll visit again soon, okay? Have a good night."

That sullen look of his nearly broke my heart. The way he clung to me, so desperately begging for me not to go, has left me feeling terribly guilty. I'm aware that he isn't my responsibility, and yet, somehow, I feel like I've neglected him. I felt his attachment to me and I wasn't ready for it. Unsure of how to proceed, I didn't visit him the next day, nor the day after. Only this morning was I able to overcome my nerves. I entered his home expecting conflict, but I was met with none. There was only a little boy, sitting silently and alone on his bed. He looked terrible. His face was pale and his upper lip was covered in dried blood. There was more of it on his sleeves and pillow too. Naturally, I sprung into action, wiping up the mess and cleaning him up. I forced him to eat and helped change him into clean clothes. After that, I told him to rest and that I'd be back after the meeting.

"Poor boy. I hope this meeting ends quickly so I can get back to you."

Suddenly I feel a tugging at my pant leg. I turn and look down finding a tiny, but familiar, hand. I promptly kneel down and grab Louis by the shoulders.

"Lou, what are you doing here? I told you to rest."

"I'm sorry, Ori." He looks down at his feet. "I wanted to see you."

"But you're..." I trail off, shaking my head. It's too late now to take him back home. I won't be back before the meeting begins. Turning around, I take him by the arms and help him onto my back like before. When I stand back up I make sure to support him from below. "Okay, dear. If you're going to stay with me for this, I'm going to carry you. You need to save your energy."

"Okay. Thank you, Ori."

Shortly after, we feel the usual rhythmic tremors that accompany our titanic friend. Jeannine enters the room dressed in big, fluffy, turquoise socks, blue sports-shorts, and a grey tank top. She slowly lowers herself until she's sitting before us, cross-legged and comfortable. Her expression is cheery, even more so than usual. It makes me wonder what's got her in such high spirits. 

"Hello, everyone." She begins, her eyes trying hard to focus on us. "Thank you for indulging my sudden request. I've got some big news to share with you regarding the future of Magna Gratia, as well as an announcement from Icarus."

Her gaze falls on Nick, or rather, his location. He then says something into his earpiece in response. She nods and continues with her speech.

"As you know, I've been doing my best to rescue and safeguard as many Lilliputians as I can. Buying ten at a time from the pet shop will only do so much. Nick and I have been discussing options. We've come up with an alternative approach that will be both faster and help more people." She pauses, allowing herself a moment to consider her next words. "Remnants. Their settlements often house fifteen or more displaced Lillis. If they're willing to join us here, we'll find our numbers growing rapidly. We have the capacity, as well as a dire need for a bigger workforce. No city has ever been built by just twenty people."

A collective murmur resounds from the crowd. It appears that many have mixed feelings about the idea. Nick speaks up before the crowd becomes too noisy.

"Settle down, everyone. Nothing has happened yet. Although we're ready to move forward with this plan, Jeannine won't take action unless she has our support."

"Exactly." Jeannine nods. "I'd like to hear your thoughts. Each and every one of you will get a chance to be heard today." She then turns to look to her right, towards the corner of the plot. "Icarus, are you ready?"

Over on the roof of the workshop we see Icarus standing beside what looks like some sort of tower. It's very tall! I'd estimate it might even reach Jeannine's shin, which is no small feat. He switches something on, causing the lights near the top of the tower to glow brightly. 

"Ori." Jeannine calls my name. "Would you mind coming up to the front?"

The entire crowd looks at me at once. I tense up, feeling anxious before so many eyes. I wasn't expecting to be singled out. 

I make my way forward as the crowd parts for me, still carrying Lou on my back. Once I'm with Nick, he holds up a strange device and points it at me. I don't recognize it at first. It take a moment before I realize what I'm looking at.

"I-Is that a camera?"

"More than just a camera." Nick gives a goofy smile, keeping it steady. "We're broadcasting!"

"What? I’m not sure I-"

"Oh my, it really works!" Jeannine gasps. "So this is what you look like, Ori? You’re beautiful!"

I look up at Jeannine who is currently transfixed by her phone screen. She turns the screen toward us, and I see my myself on it. It’s a truly powerful experience. Her kind words leave me speechless. 

"And who’s that little cutie you’ve got with you?" She coos. "Is he your son?"

While I’m still trying to process what in the world is going on, Lou decides to respond on his own. He pulls himself up on my shoulders, resting his chin on the top of my head. 

"Hi Jen-een, I’m Louis." He tells her, struggling to pronounce her name properly. "You are really big."

"I suppose I am." She chuckles uncomfortably. "Is that a bad thing?"

Some laughter can be heard from the crowd behind us. Worried that he might say something rude, I finally snap out of my trance.

"He’s just trying to be friendly! You know how children can be." I cut in. "They say what’s on their minds without thinking." 

"Oh, think nothing of it. I’m only teasing him." Jeannine reassures me. She smiles and gives us a wave from high above. Lou waves back, excitedly. Her smile slowly fades as she adopts a more serious expression. "Okay, back to business. So, Ori, is there anything you’d like to discuss? You have the floor.”

"I... Well, nothing..." A sort of stage fright overtakes me, rendering me unable to find my words. I remind myself that I'm surrounded by friendly faces. Despite being strangers just two months ago, we've all become like family. Even Jeannine feels like the big sister I never had. 

Her genuine interest in my opinion makes me feel appreciated. The notion that we are all equal seems just a tad more believable now.

"I'm sorry, I'm feeling quite flustered at the moment." I audibly clear my throat and try again. "I have everything I need at the moment. To ask for more would feel...ungrateful. However, my friend Louis here could use some help. He's ill and Dr. Ross says that we lack the tools or medicine to properly treat him."

"I see." Jeannine frowns. "I've been looking into options, but I'll double my efforts. This is more urgent than I first thought."

"Thank you. So very much."

"Thank you!" Lou follows my example.

"And the proposal?" Nick reminds us.

"Oh, yes. I suppose I support it. Magna Gratia could benefit greatly from new residents."

"Let's get the next person up here, unless there's anything else?" Nick urges me. He's clearly trying to stick to a schedule. I'm not bothered, I'd much rather get out of the spotlight as soon as possible.

"No. That's all I have."

Before I can hand the mic back to Nick, Jeannine interjects. "No, don't go just yet. I haven't heard from Louis! As a member of this town, his opinion matters to me."

Her consideration is very touching. The crowd behind us seems to think so too, encouraging the little boy to speak, cheering him on. I hold the mic near his mouth so that he can be heard.

"Umm..." He starts, nervously. He's trying to muster the courage in front of so many people. As he looks to me for affirmation, I give him a nod. "I agree with Ori. Okay..."

"Thank you, Louis. Your vote has been counted." Jeannine winks at him.

Lou and I return to the crowd, passing Aurelia and Sam along the way. Aurelia grabs me by the arm and pulls me close to whisper in my ear.

"Very brave of you to go first. I'm proud of you!" Aurelia says, patting me on the back.

"Even if you didn't necessarily volunteer." Sam jokes.

"Thank you. I was only able to muster the courage because of Lou, here." 

I turn sideways so that she can see him better.

"Ah, of course! You two make a great pair. I think we'll follow your example and go next."

"Good luck." Lou tells them, surprising all three of us. It's not often that he speaks to anyone but Nick or me.

Aurelia kisses his cheek and makes her way up to the front with her husband. The two of them go through the same experience I did, although with much less anxiety. They request some specific seeds for the farm and for more water. They also decide to vote in favor of the proposal, just like me. As their turn ends, the next individual goes up, followed by the next.

One by one, Jeanine has each person come up and repeat the process. Everyone is given a chance to say what they want, without fear or embarrassment. Some have requests for Jeannine, mostly to do with construction or quality of life. Others don't ask for anything, content just to have had their voice heard. I think I speak for all of us when I say that having a say is very empowering. It provides us a sense of control that we never expected to enjoy. It strengthens the sense of community, bringing us all together and reaffirming our purpose. Once again, I have to wonder if Jeannine did this purposefully. She always seems to think ahead.

"And to think, I didn't want to take that chocolate, all that time ago..." I whisper under my breath.

If I were asked to describe the mood of the room right at this moment, I would call it 'hopeful'. Although life is not perfect, it continues to get better by the day. Optimism is something I was certain I'd lost forever, not too long ago. I've always hated how my darkest thoughts choose to resurface during my happiest moments, as if to spoil them. Seeing the kindness and warmth that Jeannine radiates causes me to remember the person who did the exact opposite. 

Her name was Céline. For every one of Jeannine's good qualities, Céline had a bad one. Growing up, I'd been taught that hatred was a terrible thing. A burden that only weighs only you down. Despite this, she made it easy. She was abusive, cruel, and exceedingly sadistic. She saw those smaller than her as nothing more than objects. It did not matter how many Lillis she mutilated; she would never care. The one time I thought I'd caught her experiencing guilt turned out to be her irritation at having expended too many 'toys' in one go. The joy that she showed when inflicting pain upon those who could not fight back was chilling. For the longest time, I'd believed that all Brobs were like her. 


I suddenly feel a sharp pain coming from my chest.

I tug at my neckline and look at the hideous scar above my right breast. It's a nasty line that continues over to my right shoulder. It's the spot where she impaled me with a special needle she'd made herself. One made sharp enough to gravely injure someone my size rather than crushing them outright. Such effort and attention to detail all for the sake of malice. The memory alone is enough to make the area sting. I have faith that someday she will get what she deserves, though not by my hand, unfortunately.

"Ori?" Lou whispers, catching me off guard. "Are you okay?"

I let the fabric of my top fall back into place, concealing the scar once more. I then realize I'm trembling. My cheek is wet, a tear having rolled down without my noticing. I promptly wipe it up and collect myself. I can't have Lou seeing me like this!

"I'm perfectly fine. Don't worry about me, dear."

I'm not sure whether he believes me, but he doesn't comment on it again. I try to think happy thoughts. I look to Jeannine, which automatically cheers me up. 

Once the last person has given their vote, Nick turns off the camera and switches back to his earpiece. Judging by the look on the giantess's face, she must be satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. She sits up straight and stretches her arms after almost an hour of sitting still. 

Come to think of it, she hardly even shifted around. I suppose that too was for our sake. 

"How very kind of her..." I say under my breath.

"That concludes our meeting. Thank you all for your input as well as your kind words. Although I don't feel worthy of your praise, I will endeavor to match your expectations." She puts her phone down and switches to her own earpiece. "It seems like the majority is in favor of the new plan. The split was eighty-twenty, which is more than enough for me to go forward with this. To the twenty percent who disagreed, I assure you that your concerns have been heard. I will take them into account, I promise you that."

We brace ourselves as Jeannine stands up. It's not the least bit scary, unlike with other Brobs. We all know she can be trusted. Once she's standing at her full height, she leans over slightly to look at us. 

"You may all go back to your daily lives now. I need to finish some work on campus, so I'll be home late tonight. Please take care of each other in the meantime. See you, guys!"

Jeannine grabs her backpack and exits the room. The crowd then disperses, all of us heading to where we're needed. There's plenty of work to be done in this peaceful, little town.

"Let's get you back home. I've work to do, but I'll drop you off first." I tell him.

"Okay." He nods. "Work at the farm?"

"Yes, actually. Sam is going to teach me how to operate a tractor. Isn't that exciting?"


I walk back slowly, dreading the moment I'll have to leave the little boy alone again. Doing so doesn't get any easier. If only he had someone waiting for him at home, I'd feel so much better. Spending one's days alone is no way to live. Loneliness is a pain like no other. Having spent the better part of my life alone, I understand his feelings better than anyone else here. In about a minute, I'll be subjecting him to that again. I don't want that, but I don't see an alternative. 

What in the world should I do? 

Upon arriving at the house, I help him off my back and turn to face him. The little boy hugs my legs and stares straight up at me. He's sad to see me go but isn't clinging as tightly as before. Previously, when I would stare into his eyes, I struggled to read him. Now it isn't as difficult. I'm seeing myself reflected back. Not as I am now, but as the young, frightened child that was met with nothing but misfortune. I was orphaned, sold, tortured, and nearly broken. I had no one. Every day with that monster could have been my last. I was living with a countdown, and I never knew how close I was to zero. 

I can't help but compare that to his situation regarding his illness.

"Bye, Ori." Lou says, finally letting go of my legs. "See you later."

Before he can go inside, I kneel before Lou and take his hands into mine. He's at eye level with me now, watching me carefully. He's waiting for me to explain myself, but I'm not sure what to say. What would Jeannine do? She's so beautiful, smart, caring, and sure of herself. She always seems to know best. It's hard to believe that we're so similar in age. She tells us to take care of each other, but I'm not sure if I can manage that. 

What can I offer this boy? I'm not his family, let alone a parent. I have no clue what I'm doing most of the time. There are so many others who would be better at looking after him. I was not the one who gave him his illness, nor was I the one who took his parents. He was never my responsibility, so why do I feel compelled to look after him? 

Suddenly, it begins to make sense to me.

It's because I can make a difference in his life. I spent so long being powerless, but that is not the case anymore. I have a say in what happens, in my life and in his. All it will take is the courage to try...

"Louis..." I begin, my voice shaky. "I'm sorry for leaving you alone. Please don't think I was avoiding you. My personal issues caused me to make some terrible mistakes."

"It's okay." He forgives me without a second thought.

"But that isn't the point, dear." I shake my head and give his tiny hands a gentle squeeze. "I've been thinking a lot about you and me. It's been troubling me for days, but now I know what I need to do."

"What do you need to do?" He asks me curiously.

I give him my warmest smile and kiss him on the forehead.

"I need to make my own decisions. It's time to stop waiting to be told what to do." I tell him, feeling my confidence swell with every word. "I've decided that I don't want to leave you alone."

"Am I going to the farm with you?"

"Well, yes and no." I tell him, which only further confuses him. "What I'm trying to say is that I want us to stay together all the time. You could move in with me and we could keep each other company. We wouldn't have to say 'bye' anymore. I think that would make me happy. Both of us, hopefully."

I let go of his hands and run my fingers through his hair. All the while, he never breaks eye contact with me.

"It won't be anything 'official', though that won't make it any less real! I'm not sure what this relationship will be, if I'm honest." I think aloud, beginning to ramble out of nervousness. "A 'legal guardian' seems far too impersonal. A 'friend' isn't right either. Perhaps an older sister? O-Or maybe-"

I'm interrupted as Lou leaps at me, burying his face in my chest. He begins to sob, his hot tears streaming down his face and onto my clothes. I wrap my arms around him and embrace him tightly. This is the first time I've ever seen him cry. At last, he's letting it all out.

"It's alright. I'm not going anywhere."

End Notes:

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Part 2.5 - Chapter 22 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine works on a group project with her peers...

POV: Jeannine


"Jeannine, what source did you use for those crime statistics?" Myra asks me.

"Chapter six from the textbook, under 'Methods and Measurement'. I'll send it to you now." I switch tabs on my browser and post it in our group chat.

Working from my laptop makes it easy to collaborate. I rarely do group projects, seeing as I do my best work alone, but this was mandatory. Dr. Lam assigned us into groups of three or four to research and produce a paper on one of a list of topics. In two weeks, each group will present their findings in a brief, fifteen minute presentation. The whole project is worth thirty five percent of my grade, so I'm taking it very seriously. 

"While you're at it, where should we read about the Remnant crap? I'm at my wit's end." Stefan groans.

"Sure." I sigh. "It should be in chapter eight, 'Refugees and Conflict', if I'm not mistaken."


The timeframe for the project is four weeks. Half that time has passed, and we've hardly begun our paper. I finished my research in the first week, but the two of them have been dragging their feet, even after much nagging. I'm not sure if it's because they dislike our topic or if they're simply lazy. While they continue to procrastinate, I continue typing away on our shared document. At my current pace, I should finish my part by this weekend, leaving me plenty of time to work on the presentation.

That would be the case, assuming they actually do their work.

I stop typing to scroll up on our paper. I feel a sense of frustration when I find both of their sections entirely blank. No, scratch that. Stefan's section has one, whole sentence written! What an achievement! Jokes aside, if they don't get serious soon, there's going to be a problem. I refuse to do three times the work because they won't do their part. I'm going to give them until Friday before I start to be mean about it.

"We're pretty behind schedule, guys. Can we please aim to finish the reading this week? I'm worried about our progress." 

"Relax, Jeannie." Myra brushes me off. "We've got this! I'm actually done with most of my reading."

"I'd prefer if you'd call me Jeannine." I smile, trying hide my irritation. That nickname is reserved for very close friends, as I've explained at least twice before. Yet, she keeps casually using it. "But that's good. Hopefully you can start writing soon."

"I swear I'll catch up by tomorrow night." Stefan chimes in. "I'd have finished already, but every time I pick up the book to read I doze right off."

"Would be nice if we could stop talking about Lillis for, like, one lecture. They're part of every topic, for some reason." She agrees, rolling her eyes.

"You can't escape them. Might as well call this class 'Lilli studies'." He laughs, shaking his head.

Myra and Stefan continue to complain about the class for the next few minutes. Their dislike of Lillis is nothing I haven't heard before. Rather than getting upset, I try to tune it out. I try, and ultimately fail. Sitting idly by as they spout such ignorant opinions on our fellow man rubs me the wrong way. I would never respond in class, especially in front of Dr. Lam, but here is different. It's just the three of us here in our corner of the library.

"Well..." I quietly join in. "Our histories are closely intertwined. Post-war Lilliputia is as relevant now as it was back then. Especially since New Brobdingnag began granting Lillis citizenship."

"Is that actually a thing? My cousin lives over there and he told me about that. I hear it's working out, somehow." Stefan shrugs. "I guess the people over there are pretty tolerant."

"More than over here, at least. I think it sets a good precedent for the rest of the nation." I tell him.

"Okay, but like, laws are just laws. The Brob zeitgeist hasn't changed." Myra adds. "They say that exposure can change the way you think. After dealing with Lillis, I have to say I disagree." 

Finding the conversation has shifted from mindless complaining to a genuine discussion, I close my laptop and decide to engage with them. Despite their attitudes, both Stefan and Myra are smart people. They may be sizist, but they're not nearly as bad as some people I know. Maybe I can appeal to their intellectual side?

"May I ask why?" I look her in the eyes to show my interest. "And how, for that matter. There are no Lillis here other than Remnants."

She looks both ways before motioning for us to come closer. Stefan and I scoot our chairs over so that we're sitting on either side of her. She answers my question in a hushed voice, almost a whisper.

"Okay, I think I can trust you guys with this. This doesn't leave the room, got it?"

Stefan and I nod, now more curious than before.

"Back in freshman year, my roommate decided to buy some Lillis off the black market. She had a vial of like five Remnants that were captured and sold at pretty hefty price. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked. Half because it's illegal and half because I'd literally never seen a Lilli before. They were fucking microscopic!"

"No way. Like, how small exactly?" Stefan asks. "Gimme a frame of reference."

"I'm not sure, it was a while ago."

"A Lilli is about half a millimeter tall. You could fit thirty of them on your fingertip with room to spare." I tell them, nonchalantly.

"How would you even know that?" She asks me, raising a brow.

"I did my research. I have a book at home all about them." I explain, having rehearsed this very excuse many times before.

"Fair." Stefan shrugs. "You were saying, Myra?"

"Oh, yeah. So basically, she brought the vial to our place and told me that she wanted to play with them. She said that we could do whatever we wanted, and that it wouldn't matter because they were just Lillis. I was against the idea at first, scared that someone would catch us, but she insisted." 

"So what did you do with them?" I ask her, growing worried. I've heard enough of these stories to know where this is headed.

"Nothing at first. Despite her excitement, we were both pretty nervous about the whole thing. She poured them out onto the desk in her room and we just... We watched them."

"Did they try to run away?" Stefan asks.

"Two of them did, yeah. They didn't get very far, though. Even at a full sprint, they weren't going anywhere. Like, it would've taken them ages to travel across the tabletop."

"Shit. That's kinda insane!" Stefan laughs. "And seriously pathetic."

"And after that?" I ask, paying no mind to Stefan. "You said 'nothing at first'. What happened after?"

"Well, she wanted to 'experiment' with them. Like, to see how they react to stuff. It was pretty sadistic, to be honest. I was also curious, but in a different way. We ended up splitting the group, two each, since we lost the fifth one. I think he might've fallen off the desk." She shrugs. "Anyway, we took them to our rooms. Within an hour, she'd accidentally killed both of hers. I did try to be careful, but they were just so fragile..."

"I bet. You can't be that durable you're that small." He tells her.

"I learned that the hard way. Trying to pick one up between my fingers crushed the little thing. I lost track of the other one and later found a tiny dot on my sleeve. I felt pretty bad after that. Neither of us were very interested in buying Lillis afterward."

I frown, feeling secondhand guilt after listening to her story. Five living, breathing people died unnecessarily. Those poor things. This is what happens when people like us aren't careful. I suppose I can't blame her all that much, since her intentions weren't malevolent. She made a genuine attempt at understanding them, even if it ended morbidly. That's more than most people would.

"But it did get me thinking." She continues. "About how different we are."

"How so?" I say, suspecting I'll soon regret asking. 

"When I was handling them, it was like..." She tries to find the words, pausing to think. "It was like they were nothing. I was using such little force and I still broke one. The didn't even feel it when I accidentally squished the other.

I'm pretty sure a literal ant would have survived that."

"Probably." Stefan nods.

"I was straining my eyes just to see them. Their voices were so quiet, I couldn't make them out at all. They reminded me of dust, they were so helpless. I'm not saying they don't experience pain, but I could hardly think of them as people."

"But they are people." I remind her. "That's why you felt bad about it."

"I know that. Sorry, I don't really know how to explain it. Someone who's never held a Lilli wouldn't get it."

"Mhm."  I nod, trying to hide my smirk.

"Yo Myra,  what would you have done if they'd survived? Like, after you got bored with them."

"I didn't think that far ahead." She shrugs. "I probably would have given them back to my roommate. Or maybe set them free somewhere."

"I would've just disposed of them. We don't need more Remnants running around."

"True." She agrees.

"I wonder if you'd feel differently if you spent more time around them." I tell her, trying to steer the conversation in a better direction. "Perhaps under different circumstances?"

"It's possible. They're more interesting to handle than to read about, that's for sure."

"Amen, sister." Stefan chuckles.

"Like, having one in front of you, knowing that you can do whatever the hell you want to them, is exciting. Their strongest man wouldn't stand a chance against my pinky. It's a nice feeling. Made me feel pretty powerful." She blushes slightly, realizing she's said too much. "To answer your question, handling those little people made realize that we just...aren't the same."

Both Stefan and I are silent for a time, processing what she told us. So much of her story was similar to mine. When I first handled Nick and Ori and the rest, I nearly killed them. 

I realized I'd have to be more careful, for their sake. It humanized them for me. Yet, Myra came to the exact opposite conclusion that I did.

I wish I knew why.

"Let's get back to work. We have loads to do."

The three of us spent the next hour more productively. For whatever reason, it's easy to shift back to work mode. Stefan is silent as he does his reading, Myra begins typing away on her laptop, and I put the finishing touches on my part of the paper. Aside from brief exchanges relating to the project, none of us are all that talkative. Myra's story left us with a lot to think about. 

"I'm going to get going." I put my laptop away and pick up my bag. "Good progress, guys. Let's keep this pace."

"Yes ma'am." Myra jokes. "We'll try."

"Same. The reading got easier after I started. I should be able to finish a good chunk tonight." Stefan yawns, stretching his arms. "Assuming I don't crash first."

"Thanks. Well, see you in class-"

"Jeannine, wait." Myra interrupts me. She zips her bag and walks over to me. "Let's walk together."

"Sure?" I say, surprised by her eagerness to accompany me. We may be classmates, but we aren't particularly close. "I'm headed to bus stop near the sciences building."

"Same! That's perfect." She beams at me.

We leave the library together and head to the stop. It's a short walk to get there. Upon arriving, we find no one else around, probably because the last bus just left. According to the electronic sign, the next bus will arrive in ten minutes. The two of us take a seat beside each other on the bench in the meantime. I look over at Myra who has been uncharacteristically quiet for someone who asked to walk with me. What was that about? I feel that I should chat with her, but she's busy staring at her phone. I figure it's fine if I do the same. Just as I'm reaching for pocket, she brings her arm over to show me her phone screen.

"Take a look at this." Myra tells me.

I see a blurry image on her phone. 

One that's been zoomed in on, to the point where it's difficult to make out what I'm seeing. It's so pixelated.

"What am I looking at?"

"Oh, I should probably have zoomed in after. My bad."

She pinches the screen, bringing the quality up drastically. Now I can see that it's a picture of a desk. There's something on it, but I can't make out what it is until she zooms in again. Now that I have the context, I'm able to understand what I'm seeing. This is a picture of a Lilli. 

"I took this picture a few months ago. I found this little guy wandering around on my desk. At first I thought that we had a Remnant infestation, but I soon realized that he was the fifth tiny that my roommate and I had lost." She explains, flipping to the next image on her phone. She does this a couple of times, showing me all of the photos, she took. "I suspect he'd been living as a Borrower in our flat, stealing food and living right under our noses. Probably even watching us while we sleep, the little creep." She cringes, a visible shiver rocking her body.

"Myra, why are you showing me this? I'd rather not hear about how you dealt with him."

"Are you sure about that? You might be surprised by my answer."

"Fine. Tell me, so long as it isn't violent."

"It isn't." She reassures me, flipping to one last image on her phone. It's a selfie, with other students in the background. They look to be in a classroom, likely one from our campus. "This is the 'Lilli studies' club."

I blink twice, replaying her words in my head. Surely I didn't hear that right. A 'Lilli studies' club? Like, one that's interested in understanding them? It doesn't sound real.

"I wasn't aware there was a club like that."

"I know, right? Technically, it's a culture club. The members are all super interested in our tiny brethren. Considering how hostile people are toward them, they're very selective with who they let in. It's exclusive, like that. So, what do you think?" 

"It's certainly interesting. Let me guess: You brought the Lilli to the club?"

"Bingo! Exactly right." She smiles. "I brought him over and they helped him out. I hear he's living comfortably in the capitol now."

"That's wonderful. Good to know that one of them had a happy ending."

"Right? I felt I owed to him after my slip ups with the other two." She then locks her phone and sets it down in her lap. "Which brings me to why I told you this."


"Would you be interested in joining our club? You seem to know a lot about Lillis, but there's always more to learn. I think you'd be a perfect fit."

I consider her offer. A club like this sounds really nice. I've never been around likeminded people when it comes to the subject of Lillis. It would be a nice change, and I do have the time for it. Thankfully, my Lillis back home are not as dependent on me these days. If I can help more of them, then why not? The choice is clear.

"I'd love to. Is there a formal way to sign up?"

"New members can only join through referral. That's where I come in. I'll vouch for you."

"Thank you, Myra."

"Don't thank me yet. There's a lengthy screening process and background check, assuming my referral passes."

"Oh. Well, how long will that take?"

"At least a month? Since we're about to end the year, you'd be looking at next semester, after summer break."

"That's fine. I can be patient."


Myra stands up and puts on her backpack. She quickly stuff her phone into her back pocket and begins to walk away.

"Where are you going? The bus will be here in five minutes." I say, gesturing to the sign.

"About that." She turns back to face me. "I drive to uni most days. My car's parked over in Lot five. I'll confess, I just wanted an excuse to walk with you. I couldn't exactly talk about that in front of Stefan."

"Oh." I say, surprised that she lied. "Okay, well, see you later, Myra." I wave to her with a friendly smile. 

"Bye~! I'll let you know when it's official!"

I wait until she's gone before looking back and forth to confirm that I'm totally alone. I brush the hair behind my fight ear, revealing the previously concealed earring I've been wearing, along with the earpiece above it.

"What do you think, Ori?"

"I'm not sure, to be completely honest with you, Jeannine." I hear her tell me. "It sounds nice. However, something feels off."

"Really? How so?"

"The look in her eyes wasn't right. I caught a glimpse earlier. She did not strike me as a kindhearted person."

"Hm. I guess I should be careful?"

"Maybe. I could also be wrong. I wouldn't want you to lose a potential friend because of some silly, baseless thing I said."

"Hey, I happen to take my friends' opinions very seriously. I won't have you speaking so lowly of yourself."

"Th-Thank you. That means a lot to me."

"Anytime." I smile. "I hope this wasn't too boring for you. I hoped we'd finish studying sooner so that I could show you more of my university."

"It was a wonderful outing. I enjoy learning almost as much as I do teaching. Though, I've never studied from a book that big before!" She laughs.

"I bet!" I laugh along with her.

"It was nice to see what your life is like outside of the apartment. I saw another side of you today. One that I respect very much."

"How do you mean?"

"It was when you spoke with your peers about us. You reminded Myra that we're people. That made me happy. I think you got through to them, if even a little."

"I'd like to think so. But who knows?" 

"If it means they'll spare the next Lilli they see, then it was surely worth it." 


The two of us sit in silence for a short time before Ori speaks up again. She's being quite talkative, which makes sense after sitting in silence for most of the day.

"I hope we can do this again." She says softly, almost nervously. 

"What's stopping us? I love your company, Ori. Maybe even more than Nick, since you're less complain-y!" I giggle. "Next time I think I'll have you attend a lecture. It'll be nice to have someone as angry at Dr. Lam as I am."

"I'm sorry. I don't know who that is."

"Then consider yourself lucky!" I shake my head. "She's not someone I'm very fond of."

"I see. I'll remember that. Also, Jeannine, would it be acceptable if I called you 'Jeannie'? Sometimes, not always."

"Certainly, Ori. I'd love that." Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the bus approaching. I stand up and put on my bag, making sure I haven't forgotten anything. As the bus comes to a stop in front of me, I hurry to wrap up our conversation. "I won't be able to-"

"I know." Ori cuts me off. "We'll talk more when we get home. Speaking of which, I hope Louis isn't getting into any trouble..." She thinks aloud.

I nod in response, going quiet as she continues to mumble in my ear. She doesn't bother me at all. It's quite cute, actually. Seeing her so cheerful puts a genuine smile on my face. I'm happy I decided to give her a turn in the earring. Now she's officially the second person to ever accompany me out into the world. I'll probably limit this to just her and Nick. They're my closest Lilli friends, after all. I board the bus, pay the fare, and promptly take my seat by the window. My thoughts drift back to Myra's story and the Lilli club. I wonder what projects they're doing. Moreover, I'm curious about how they go about helping the tinies they're so intrigued by. 

I'd love to find out more!

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2.5 - Chapter 23 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Nick and Jeannine seek out their first Remnant settlement...

POV: Nick


"I can't believe we're doing this. It sounded so good on paper, but I'm starting to have second thoughts."

"You have no reason to be nervous. If anything happens, just call for me." Jeannine reminds me. I watch her move finger move closer to her earring, stroking it gently.

The two of us are back in the park, walking along the trail that loops through the nearby woods. We chose to do this at night, when the park is nearly empty. That way she can talk to me without worry of standing out. It's also helpful to have less eyes on us when we find what we're looking for. 

"I know, but still..." I sigh. "My part is a lot harder than yours."

Jeannine is relying on me to lead her to a Remnant settlement. Once we're there, I'll try to convince them to come with us. All she has to do is carry them.

"Definitely." She nods. "But I believe in you. If anyone can pull this off, it's you, Nick."

"You put too much faith in me, dude." I groan, feeling a bit better about it. Something about her tone is reassuring. "But thanks. I'll try my best."

I notice her arm reaching behind her to feel her backpack. Her hand presses against the main pocket, feeling for our cargo. I suppose it's a nervous tic of hers, one I won't comment on. Better to pretend I didn't notice that to make her feel self conscious about it. More importantly, the thing she's been compulsively checking on is a 'small' case, modified by Daedalus for transporting people our size. Speaking in Lilli terms, it's easily as big as a city block. There are separate sections inside for cargo and passengers. The passenger side boasts a hundred seats, each fitted with and adjustable harness. The cargo side has a greater capacity than a freighter. Should they agree to come along, they won't have to leave a single one of their belongings behind.

"When should we leave the path?" She asks me, stopping to look around.

"Now's good. Do you know what to look for?" 

"Yes, I remember. Fresh water and any big trees without signs of animals or insects."

"Exactly. Think, 'where would I hide out if I was small'. It'll be easier for you to look for that. My eyes can't see as far as yours, especially from this high up."

My comments cause her to giggle. "Fair point."

The two of us go pretty quiet as Jeannine makes her way through the woods. Without the light of lampposts, we have to rely on her phone's flashlight as we go. She walks slower now, constantly looking back and forth for any signs of a settlement. I'm feeling incredibly nervous, imagining all the ways this could go wrong. She notices this and decides to chat about a different subject to distract me.

"I know it isn't meeting day, but I'd like to talk about the town if that's okay with you."

"Uhh, s-sure. Yeah, ask away."

"How are things going? I remember Daedalus saying that we're right on track."

"We are, mostly. Aside from a few hiccups here and there, we've set the foundations for Magna Gratia to progress from a town to a city. Though, it feels like we're jumping the gun."

"I can't say I agree with that." She grunts while hopping over a sizeable puddle. Her movements jostle my cabin somewhat, prompting her to apologize. "Sorry about that. You good in there?"

"I'm fine, don't worry." 

"What was I saying? Oh, right. I disagree because I'm expecting your numbers to grow very rapidly soon. You may just be twenty now, but you'll soon reach fifty. And then a hundred, and so on. Your humble, little town might be spacious, but it'll lack the resources to accommodate so many people. Just think about it for a second."

"You're probably right." I shrug. "It's because we're still twenty in total that I can't imagine anything else. Like, we were ten back in February. The next ten joined, making us twenty as of late March. Now we're in the middle of May. We haven't had any newcomers in ages, you know?" 

"Huh. It feels like Ori and I went out just yesterday. That was two whole weeks ago..." She thinks aloud. "That means exams are coming up..."


"Hm? Oh, sorry. I got distracted." She clears her throat and gets back to the topic. "The city plans you showed me looked spectacular."

"If all goes well you'll get to see the real thing in three months."

"No way. That's optimistic even for Lillis."

"Well, it won't be finished, but it'll be functional. A bigger population means a greater workforce. Plus, we have you for the heavy lifting."

"Are you comparing me to a heavy-duty crane?" She jokes.

"A crane with lots of personality." I tease her.

"Hmph. That's a little better." She laughs. "Looking at it like that, those projections are more believable."

Jeannine continues walking until we arrive at a creek. Both of us take a look around, confirming there are no animals nearby. The area is quiet, devoid of any activity that we can see. Apart from the sounds of crickets somewhere in the distance, it's totally silent. Enough so that I can hear both of us breathing. Without a word, she turns and begins walking parallel to the stream. We walk for a few minutes before coming to a large tree with many exposed roots. It looks strikingly similar to the tree from back then. 

"Do you think...?" She whispers.

"Only one way to find out. Let's get closer."

Jeannine moves to take a step forward, before pulling her leg back hesitantly.

"On second thought, I'll stay put. What if there are Remnants running around and I step on one? How close is too close?"

"Can't say." I shrug. "What I do know is that I'm not running twenty kilometers to get there when it'll take you less than ten steps."

"I'm going to wait sixty seconds and then move. If anyone's in the area, they'll have time to get out of the way." She looks down, scanning for any signs of life. "Can't be too careful, right?"

"Fair enough. I'll time it." 

We wait until a minute has passed. On my mark, she takes a careful step forward, making her way over to the farthest reaching root. She then stops and reaches for her earring. I brace myself as she removes it from her ear and brings it in front of her face. Her eyes try to locate me in the cabin, struggling in the dark. She gives me a determined look before lowering her body into a squat. Her fingers carry the earring forward, holding it close to one of the roots. With her free hand, she positions her phone to light up the area.

That's when I see someone.

To my right, near another root, I see a young woman making a beeline away from us. It's a Lilli, there's no doubt about that. My eyes follow her until they disappear into an entrance carved into the tree itself. 

"Found someone." I tell Jeannine, leaving my seat and heading to the cabin's entrance. "I only saw one, but she looked young. There's probably a family in there, if not more."

"Oh my... Okay, I'll set you down nearby."

With some guidance from me, Jeannine moves the earring to the entrance and sets it down. All goes still as her hand pulls away. My body moves on autopilot as my mind goes hazy. I zone out for a while, snapping back only to find myself out on my own, a considerable distance from the earring. In front of me, no more than a hundred meters away, is the tree root. To my right, rising high above me, is Jeannine. She's maintaining her squat, eyes focused on me, and me alone. That determined look has not changed. A lot is riding on this, yet she isn't nervous. Does she seriously have that much faith in me? 

I can't disappoint her. Not while she's looking at me like that.

"Here goes." I say, with a shaky breath. "Wish me luck."

Before I can make it to the entrance, a group of ten men and women emerge. They're dressed in simple clothing, sort of like the kind I used to wear. Unlike me, however, each of them is wielding a weapon. Their swords, spears, and bows are all trained on me. 

I instinctively raise my arms up to show I'm harmless. I wasn't expecting to be met with such hostility! When I try to take a step back, I feel something whizz by my head. I freeze in my place, not needing to look behind me to know that it was an arrow. One that probably didn't have to miss. Their message is heard loud and clear.

"I'm not moving! There's no need for violence, people." I plead.

"Nick? Is everything okay?" I hear Jeannine's worried voice from above us.

Their group cowers at the sight of the giantess. Some aim their weapons at her, though I doubt their arrows would even reach her ankles. With their attention off of me, I take the chance to lower my arms.

"It's okay. Relax, everything is fine." I reassure her.

She sighs and repositions herself into a kneeling position. She gives me a silent nod and continues listening. The group in front of me looks back and forth between us, totally bewildered. While the rest of them try to process what they're seeing, a man walks toward me. He looks to be forty, sporting a few gray hairs on his head. He's a foot taller than me and very well built. He stops an arm's length away and eyes me carefully.

"What is the meaning of this? Explain yourself, kid."

"Yes, of course." I clear my throat, trying to stay calm. "My name is Nicholas. I'm not looking for any trouble, so could we please put the weapons away? I'm unarmed and obviously outnumbered."

He waves a hand and the others behind him seem to calm down. One by one they each lower their weapons, gazing in awe at the Brob sitting so close to them.

"There. Now explain to me why there's a Brob near our home. How and why did you bring her here?"

"That 'Brob' has a name. She's Jeannine, and she's not-"

"Shut up." He interrupts me, grabbing me tightly by the shoulder. "I didn't ask her name. I asked why one of our own would lead one of them right to us. We saw you speaking to her. How can she hear you?" 

"I-I'll explain everything. Just calm down..." I say, wincing in pain. He's ridiculously strong and clearly doesn't like me. "I only brought her here because she wants to help you. Yes, she can hear me. I'm wearing a device that transmits my voice. She has one too. Look at her right ear."

He looks up at Jeannine who has conveniently turned her head, brushing her hair out of the way. When he sees her earpiece, he finally lets my shoulder go. I roll it a few times, wincing in pain.

"Can she hear us right now?" He asks, sounding less confident than before.

"I can, yes." She smiles, which freaks them all out. Her eyes lock onto us and she continues. "You'd be wise not to hurt my friend."

Her tone is threatening, to say the least. Even I shiver, despite knowing that she's got my back. She can be really scary if she wants to. I notice two of the people in the back fleeing back inside. Apparently her threat was too much for them.

"We got off on the wrong foot, but he seems cool." I say, unable to hide the cocky smirk on my face. "Right, mister?"

"It's Grant." He says, folding his arms over his chest. The look on his face tells me he's now willing to let me talk. "So what is this? Do you command her?"

Both Jeannine and I look at each other and burst into laughter. Suddenly, all the tension disappears.

"Seriously, dude? Me? Commanding her?" I say between laughs. "I can't command her any more than I can command you."

"I don't follow. None of this makes sense."

"Here, look. Jeannine, I order you to sing the chorus of that song you're always playing." I joke.

"You're such an idiot..." She shakes her head, giving me an amused look.

"See?" I tell him.

"I think I understand." He says as his body seems to relax. "You're an odd pair. I've never seen a Brob and a Lilli getting along before."

"Oh, man. You're in for one hell of a surprise."

Apparently our banter intrigued Grant. With him willing to hear me out, I begin to explain our purpose and about Magna Gratia. 

I take my time detailing how we met Jeannine, emphasizing all of the things she's done for us. I even embellish the details a little, which causes her to blush. She stays quiet, however, not wanting to interrupt my explanation. I explain the ten rules, how we coexist with her, and how I rode along in her earring. With great pride, I describe our town and soon-to-be city, a product of both Lilli and Brob cooperation. I tell him about my fellow townspeople. I even tell them about my past life as a Borrower. After several minutes of talking, I find that the rest of the group has gathered around us with curious looks on their faces. Some even have questions for me, but Grant doesn't let them speak yet. I thought I was pretty thorough, but apparently he isn't finished with me.

"This town of yours... Magna Gratia... It sounds like a fantasy. I would've dismissed it outright if not for her." He gestures to the peaceful titaness not too far from us. She responds with a friendly wave. "More importantly, what role would we play in such a place?"

"Believe it or not, it is very real. I'm honestly not sure how to prove it to you." I chuckle. "You could have any role you like, so long as it's useful to our community."

"Hm." He pauses to think. "I suppose your clothing is proof enough. No Remnant ever wore something so well made."

"Thanks. My friend Ori made these for me. She'll do the same for you, should you decide to accept our offer."

"Tell me, Nick. Would you limit how many people could join?"

"No. Everyone can come along. Feel free to bring as much as you want. We certainly have the space for it."

Without asking her to, Jeannine opens her bag and takes out the case. She places it down a safe distance from us, allowing the group to take a look.

"It's enormous." He says, slack jawed.

"That's kinda the point. How many are you, if you don't mind me asking?"

"We're three families, fifteen in total. The others are hiding inside." 

"That's great! The more the merrier."


"You can call me Nick, sir."

"Nick." He says, slowly. "May I speak to the giantess? Miss Jeannine."

Suddenly Jeannine turns to face us looking leaning over to get a better look. Thankfully, she has the sense to keep a reasonable distance, knowing they'll panic if she gets too close.

"Miss giantess, here. It's nice to meet you, Mr. Grant."

"U-Uhm. Yes, I-I-" He stammers, struggling to compose himself. It's almost funny seeing this behemoth of a man so scared of Jeannine. That girl wouldn't hurt a fly if you put a gun to her head. "I just have one question. Everything Nick said... Is it true?"

"It is, minus the flattery. He made me out to be some sort of saint."

"He seems very fond of you." He looks at me then back at her.

"The feeling is quite mutual."

"I will need to discuss this with my family. Would you two mind waiting?"

"Not at all." We both say at the same time, which elicits a smirk from him.

"I will be back shortly."

Grant walks back to his home in the tree root along with the others. Jeannine and I patiently wait while they do what their thing. Ten minutes pass and then twenty more. I start to get nervous again. I replay our conversation in my mind, looking for anything weird I might have said. Nothing comes to mind.

A minute later, Grant returns with two other men in tow. They approach me, each carrying a makeshift backpack.

"We've decided to decline your kind offer. Though we trust your words, there's a risk that you could be lying to us."

"What? Why would-"

"Wait." He holds up a hand to silence me. "Let me finish."

"Sorry. Please continue."

"You two now know where we live. If we decline, we run the risk of you returning later, or exposing our home." He puts a hand on my shoulder, gently this time. It's friendly, unlike before. "That is why the three of us have decided to come along with you. We wish to see this town for ourselves. Once we confirm it, you will return us here by tomorrow morning. If we don't return, the others know to relocate somewhere you will not recognize."

"That won't be necessary, you'll see." I tell him.

"Are those terms acceptable?"

"Yes." I say, speaking for the both of us.

"I'll have to miss my morning class, but sure. I find that acceptable." Jeannine agrees.

"Perfect! Follow me, guys."

I lead the three of them to the earring and help them inside. The cabin is spacious enough to accommodate many people, though only one person has ever used it at a time. Once the last guy is in, I close the hatch and head to my seat.

"We're in." I confirm for Jeannine.

The structure suddenly lurches as it's lifted off the ground. All three of them cling to their seats in fear as they watch the ground get farther and farther away. Though the force of our ascent isn't felt due to the cabin's technology, it's no less scary for them. Our rise slows as we're moved to the side of Jeannine's head. She secures us to her ear and stands up to her full height. If they were scared before, they must be terrified now. We're currently several kilometers above the ground now, on our scale.

"Is everyone okay in there?" Jeannine asks.

"Mostly." I tell her, trying not to laugh at men who look like they're going to piss their pants. "They'll get used to it. The first time is always scary."

"I'll walk slower than usual."

"I think they'll appreciate that."

"Alright then." She says as she returns the way we came. "Let's head home."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2.5 - Chapter 24 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine and Sara study for their final exams...

POV: Jeannine


"Hmm..." Sara groans. "Don't tell me! I know this one..."

The two of us sit on opposite sides of my couch. In my hand is a flashcard; a random one I pulled from the stack I prepared for her. Each one has a term on one side and its definition on the other. I hold the side with the term to Sara who is currently wracking her brain for the answer.

This is how we study. Although I'm sure she could just as easily do it on her own, I'm always happy to help. The faces she makes when she's trying to remember an answer are honestly so funny. It also serves as a review for me. I can never be too prepared, least of all when finals are right around the corner. I got so distracted with Magna Gratia and the Remnants that I forgot about my own life. Now that Mr. Grant and his settlement have agreed to join us, I've left matters in Nick's capable hands.

Now is the time to focus on myself.

"Come on, Sara. I know you know this one." I encourage her. "Do you want a hint?"

"No! I can do this. Give me a chance, Jeannie..." She pouts.

"You get one more minute." I sigh. "Remember, if this happens in the exam, skip it and move on."

While she continues to ponder the answer, I glance left, toward my bedroom door. It's been a while since I've had anyone over at my place. Sara is the first person in the three months since I first started my little 'project'. Bringing unfamiliar people into the house would've been scary for them in the early days. I already told them I'd be having a guest over so there would be no surprises. I even brought all of our study material out to the living room beforehand so that I wouldn't have to go in to get it. 

"Okay. Defining federalism." Sara says slowly, unsure of herself. "A compound government that combines a central one with...regional ones?"

"That's right!" I raise my hand for a high five, which she enthusiastically gives me. "Can you tell me the regional types too?"

"Ooh, I know this! Literally looked it up before coming here. They're provincial, state, cantonal, and..." 

She lets out a frustrated whine as she tries to remember the last one. Sparing her the headache, I finish the list for her.

"And territorial."

"Territorial! Oh my gosh, I forgot that one. Ugh, so close!"

"Hey, three out of four is great! The exam usually only asks for two."

"That gives me some hope." She gives me a pained expression. "Next card?"

I pull the next one from the stack and show it to her.

"Individualism? Umm... Pass." She waves her hand dismissively.

I grab the next card and show it to her.

"Nope. Pass." She says, frowning.

I then grab one more.

"..." She goes quiet.

"These are all from the same chapter. Didn't you study it?"

"I might've skimmed that one." She looks away, sheepishly.

"Mhm." I cross my arms over my chest disapprovingly.

"I'm also really tired. We've been at this all day, so cut me some slack."

"Feel free to make yourself a coffee. The pods are in the cupboard. The water's already in the kettle." I tell her as I get up and walk over to the bathroom. "In the meantime, I'm going to freshen up."

I shut the door behind me and twist the tap open. Leaning over the sink, I fill my hands with water and splash my face a few times. The summer heat has been dreadful lately. My apartment is so stuffy, even with all the windows open. It doesn't help that my AC broke down on me last week. The landlord has been dragging his feet with repairs. As a result, I've been feeling very 'sticky'. I have to wash my face twice as day or else it'll get oily. I twist the tap closed and wipe my face dry. Last but not least, I apply a cleanser to open my pores, especially around my nose.

When I step out of the bathroom, I notice that my living room is empty. The kitchen too. It's only when I look to my bedroom that I notice something is amiss.

The door is wide open.

An intense, sudden rush of dread washes over me. It doesn't take me long to put two and two together. 

"No way. She didn't..."

I rush over to my room as my heartrate starts to spike. As I enter, my suspicions are quickly confirmed. Sara is kneeling near the corner of my room, right at the border of the town. Once she notices me, she stands up and turns to face me. Her expression is one of shock, awe, and a bunch of other emotions I'm too panicked to identify. We stare at each other for a few seconds, neither one of us able to find the words to say. I'm sure she has a million questions for me. However, I only have one. Perhaps that's why I'm able to speak first.

"Sara." I say, softly. "Why are you in here?"

She blinks at me a few times and shakes her head without breaking eye contact. "You told me to reread that chapter and the book wasn't outside. I came in here to look. That's when I found..." Her voice trails off as she struggles to find the words. Instead, she simply points to the square of land by her left foot. "That."

Any hope of lying to her suddenly goes out the window. I don't think so little of my friend as to believe I could deceive her. She's sharp as a knife, it wouldn't work if I tried. The secret is already out. My hand moves to my neck, feeling my quickening pulse. I'm struggling to keep my breathing under control as panic begins to overtake me. My mind and heart race as if competing to see which can make me faint first. I take some slow, deep breaths to calm myself down. It works, to an extent. At least enough to allow me to form a reply.

I don't want to tell her the truth, but what choice do I have?

"What you see there..." I say slowly, doubting my decision with each syllable that escapes my lips. "Is Magna Gratia. It's a town of Lillis that I've been watching over." I would say more, but I want to gauge her reaction first. Depending on what she says next, I'll change how I approach this. More importantly, I don't like where she's standing. I'm sure the Lillis are terrified right now. "Can we talk outside?" 

I gesture for her to follow me out the door, but she doesn't acknowledge it. Her gaze has fallen back onto the town. She can't seem to tear her eyes away from it.

"Sara, please." I say, walking toward her. I take her hand and lightly tug her in my direction. "Can we move away from the town? You're probably scaring them."

"Them?" She says as she looks at me with a worried expression. "What do you mean, 'them'? Who is 'them'?"

Realizing she won't leave the room until she gets some answers, I decide on a compromise. I begin explaining to her as we step backward to my bed. I take a seat next to her, still holding her hand in mine.

"I'm talking about the Lillis. The same ones that built it, with some help from me."

Sara goes quiet for a moment, glancing over to the corner of my room every so often. "Is this why you've been acting odd lately?"

"It is." I nod.

I glance over to the town, wondering what my tinies are thinking as they watch me expose their existence right in front of them. I hope they understand that this wasn't my intention. I would never intentionally put them in danger. I would've locked the door, if it weren't made to only lock from the inside.

"What the hell..." She says, starting to come back to herself as the initial shock wears off. "I don't know what to say. I always knew that you cared about Lillis, but I never thought you'd go this far."

"It's because I care that I went this far."

"No, Jeannine. Not wanting to hurt them is one thing, but this..." She gestures to the town once more. "This is so far beyond okay. You bought Lilliputians! That's highly illegal. If anyone found out, you'd be facing jailtime."

"I know the risks, Sara. Give me a chance to-"

"Good." She interrupts me, standing up and taking a step toward them. "We need to get rid of them as soon as possible. I'll do it if you don't-"

This time I interrupt her by maintaining a tight grip on her hand. It stops dead in her tracks. She gives me a confused look, which I return with a dead serious one.

I will not let her set a single foot closer to my town. 

"Don't you dare even think about laying a finger on them." I tell her, making no effort to hide the anger in my tone. "I promised I would protect them from harm. If you threaten them, I won't sit by and watch."

"J-Jeanine..." Sara stares at me in disbelief. I've never spoken to her like this before, even when we had our argument a while ago. "I'm only looking out for you. I-I'm on your side, don't you know that?"

"If you really are on my side then sit down and listen to what I have to say."

Reluctantly, she sits back down next to me and gives me her full attention. I loosen my grip on her hand, holding it gently like before. 

"Alright. Help me understand why my best friend is risking her future for a bunch of specks."

I scowl at her, annoyed at her use of that term.

"I thought we agreed we would stop calling them that?"

"Yes, you're right. Sorry, force of habit."

"Is it, though?" I say, pulling my hand away from hers. "After our argument, you said you would start making an effort. I'm not seeing that."

"I am making an effort, but I have my priorities! If the choice is between your future and a bunch of tinies, I choose you. I want to stop you from making a decision that could ruin your life."

"Ruin my life? I've never been happier. Helping people is my life."

"Yes, but, these people...and yes, I'm calling them don't owe them anything. You aren't responsible for them and you have no reason to involve yourself with them."

"If I don't, then who will?"

Sara goes quiet for a moment. She sighs loudly and shakes her head.

"There's no talking you out of this, is there? I've never seen you so serious about something."

"You've got that right." I take her hand back between both of mine this time and scoot closer to her. This is my best friend that I'm talking to, not some enemy. I feel guilty for calling her a threat, but it needed to be said. 

I want to believe that she'll understand me, even if no one else will. "So, would you like to hear the full story?"

"I'm all ears, Jeannie." She says softly. "This better be a good one."

I sit up straight and think back to three months ago, when this all began. I start from the very beginning, when I first began my preparations. I tell her about how I saved up money for weeks, how I set up the plot of land, and how I went to buy them from that shady pet shop. Moving on, I tell her about the rules we follow and the promises I made to the ten individuals I've been sharing my home with. Every so often Sara stops me to ask a question.

"How many are there now?" She asks me.

"With the third group, nearly fifty." I say proudly. "But don't rush me. We're getting there."

Continuing my explanation, I tell her about how I cooked for them, bought them resources, and helped with construction. My ability to recall such minor details surprises me, though it's probably because they are such fond memories. I tell her about the walkie-talking which we turned into a communication system. That part really seems to pique her interest.

"So you've heard their voices? Like, you've spoken?!"

"To each and every one of them, yes. Well, the first twenty mostly. I haven't had the chance to interact with the newcomers much yet."

And so I tell her about the ones I'm closest with: Icarus, Daedalus, Ori, and most importantly, Nick. Though I don't mean to, I end up up talking about him more than the others since we spend so much time together. He's their representative, after all. However, this does little to wipe the growing grin from her face.

"A Lilli guy? Seriously?" She snickers. "I mean, to each their own..."

"It's not like that. Don't make things weird. He can definitely hear you."

"Oh, I bet." She glances over to the corner with that same stupid grin.

Ignoring her, I move on to my experiences with handling them. 

I tell her about how it felt to carry them on my finger, and how it feels to have one in my earring. However, I refrain from telling her about Nick's first outing. I make it a point to express how important it is to be careful around them. A single misstep is always fatal to them. This causes Sara to check the sole of her shoe for any red dots.

"Don't worry, they never leave the border." I assure her. "That's why I can walk around without looking down all the time."

"I see. That's smart."

Lastly, I tell her about our plan to expand the town into a full-fledged city and our efforts to bring in Remnants. After our success with Mr. Grant's group, we're feeling optimistic about our next outing. That leads us up to the present moment. I give Sara a moment to process what I've told her. It's a relief to see that she isn't hysterical. Rather, she seems very interested.

"So that's the story. You're the only person who knows my little secret."

"Wow. It's a lot to take in, but I kind of get it." She adjusts her position, leaning back on an arm. "You're crazy, you know that?"

"Maybe so." I crack a smile. "Would I be crazy to trust you not to tell anyone?"

"Oh, come on! As if I'd rat you out. Now that you've explained it so passionately and in such excruciating detail, I'm not totally against it." She shrugs. "If this makes you happy, then go for it. They seem to be nice, based on what you've told me. Especially that Nick guy-"

"Sara, don't even finish that sentence."

"Just teasing, sorry." She winks at me. "After hearing all of that, I kinda want to meet one. Like I said before, it's easier to see them as people when you can talk to them."

"That might not be the best idea right now. Maybe later?"

"Okay. Can I at least take a closer look? I promise I'll be careful."

Against my better judgement, I nod in agreement. Seeing Sara so interested makes me happy. Somehow, I feel like I'm getting through to her in ways I couldn't before. 

Together, we walk over to Magna Gratia and stand by its edge. Sara leans over to get a better look, squinting her eyes to make out the tiny moving dots below. I stretch my arm out instinctively, to stop her in case she gets too close. Someone who has never dealt with Lillis is likely more prone to accidents. My gaze drops to her feet, watching them to make sure she's not too close. It's in that moment that I realize that Sara is wearing a skirt. She probably doesn't realize the issue with that.

"Sara, you should probably step away. Think about what you're wearing."

"What do you mean?" She looks down at her clothes and back up at me. "Oh, right. Are there many guys in Magna Gratia?"

"Yes, there are." I tell her, noticing that she isn't moving back.

"Then they're welcome for the nice view." She smirks, giving me a silly face.

"S-Sara!" I gasp.

"What, afraid I'll steal your Lilli guy?" She laughs, finally stepping away. "Okay, okay. I'm far away, see?"

I slap her arm, giving her a disapproving look. She continues to laugh, apparently finding my reaction very amusing. I roll my eyes and forcefully push her out of my room. She cooperates, giving no resistance as we return to the living room. We return to the couch in the same seats as earlier.

"Your highly inappropriate actions aside..." I shake my head in disbelief at her lack of shame. "I'm happy that I finally got to tell someone about this."

"Meh, I always had my suspicions."


"No, but, I'd like to think I did. I feel like an idiot for not figuring it out on my own." She slouches back in her seat, groaning. She shuts her eyes and thinks aloud. "Magna Gratia, a town in my bedroom. Oh, the fun I would have with that."

"What a terrible thought."

"What? No!" She sits up suddenly. "People would love to live in my town!"

"Mhm. I suppose you calling them 'people' is a start..." 

"I'm hurt!" She feigns offence. "So a teeny-weeny-Jeannie wouldn't want to live in my Lilli town? You'd get the privilege of looking up at me every day."

The two of us are quiet for a moment before we burst out laughing. We're both so tired that anything is funny. She wipes a tear from her eye as she tries to catch her breath.

"Okay, okay, we got hella side tracked. We're supposed to be studying! At this rate I'm going to fail my final!"

"Ah, you're right." I manage to say, finally calming down. "Okay, back to work. Where were we?"

Sara gives me a dopey look which I realize is because she didn't reread the chapter. She went into my room and forgot to get the book. I get up and put a hand on my hip, hoping my body language conveys even a fraction of how silly I think she is.

"I'll go get it."

"And I'll wait here this time."

As I walk back into my room, I grab the book, but not before kneeling down by Magna Gratia. I have no doubt that our conversation was heard by all of them. Despite Sara's very cruel idea, she was only looking out for me. After telling her the truth, she came around quite willingly. It's the result of preaching to her about this for so long. Eventually, she saw the light. I trusted her to keep my secret even before asking outright. I did that so my Lillis could hear her. Exposing their existence would've caused a panic, since she's little more than a potentially dangerous stranger to them. I hope that they can come to trust Brobs other than me, eventually.

"That went about as good as it could have. I guess we have a new ally now?" I tell them, hoping they aren't too upset with me. "If she causes trouble, I'll be sure to keep her in line. I'm asking you all to trust me, okay? Your safety is my utmost priority. I'm a woman of my word."

As I stand back up and exit the room, I can't help but wonder how things will change going forward...

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 2.5 - Chapter 25 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Icarus and Daedalus invite Jeannine to help with construction...

POV: Icarus


My hand scribbles notes on the schematic as my mind wanders. The events of yesterday replay before my eyes. Though nothing actually happened, it's still left me feeling anxious. It was a close call with that Brob, Sara. It's been so long since I've seen one of them other than Jeannine. If she hadn't found her friend in time, I wonder what would've happened. I don't think she would have hurt us, but then again, that's just a hunch. I don't actually know her, or what she's capable of.

"Poor Nick. The man's probably working overtime to calm everyone down. Hopefully with Sam and Ori at his side they can restore the peace."

It feels like too much is going on all at once. My work keeps me distracted, but the scare remains in the back of my mind. I, like many others, don't have any time to waste worrying about her. Jeannine asked us to put our trust in her, so I will. She says she'll keep us safe, and I have no reason to doubt her. 

"She's got our back. That, I'm sure of."

Hopefully this unease will fade with time. I push my worries aside and remember what I should actually be worried about.

I've been tasked with designing a city. Compared to that, designing the town was nothing special. It wasn't as complex as it was time consuming. This land that we've been given was essentially 'blank'. It was sort of like a white canvas, just waiting for a painter to come along and put their brush to it.

A city is so much more than a town. It needs more organization and infrastructure. It wouldn't be an understatement to call the task of designing one monumental. There are decisions that have to be made, many I am not qualified to make. Scalability and maintenance are serious concerns. Not to mention energy usage, waste disposal, and transportation. All of these are merely infrastructural concerns. I haven't even begun to consider the task of construction!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

"One thing at a time, Icarus." I mutter to myself. "Focus on what's in front of you."

Neither Dad nor I are civil engineers, but we're doing our best. We used to be the only people in Magna Gratia who'd received formal education, but that changed with the arrival of the third group. They're a surprisingly friendly and cooperative bunch. Many are quite skilled, particularly in the trades. Considering they successfully built a settlement in the root of a tree, I'd say they're qualified to help us. To think, these guys had running water and rudimentary plumbing! Honestly, I wouldn't have believed if it hadn't heard it from Nick. Needless to say, we consulted with them before finalizing our infrastructural designs. 

"Icarus!" Dad calls to me from across the vast expanse at the town's edge. "Get over here. Don't keep the girl waiting!"

I look at him, standing out in the middle of nowhere, then up to Jeannine, who's sitting patiently by the town's border. Her form dominates the horizon.

"Be right there, Dad!" I yell, gathering my papers and hurrying over. 

Taking things one at a time, we decided to start with the power grid. Currently, all of our powerlines and water pipes are above ground. They'll need to be put underground, along with the natural gas pipelines. 

We're past the point of using NGL tanks in every home. That's too old-fashioned, in my opinion. In fact, a lot of what we've been using could probably go. Back in my old city, things were fairly advanced. I'd like to bring that kind of progress and quality of life here too.

When I get to Dad he hands me the earpiece Nick loaned us for the day. He was happy to let me use it when I asked. Even though I made it, I don't consider it mine. I put in my ear and stare up at the giantess. Her eyes seem to be looking our way, but I doubt she can see us all that well. For safety purposes, both Dad and I are wearing white to make us easier to spot against the darker ground. Ori insisted that we do this, and she is a difficult person to argue with. It's nice that she cares so much.

"Let's get right to it." I say, testing if she can hear me. When I see her nod, I continue with my instruction. "We're going to be digging our lines in a grid pattern. We've placed guidelines throughout the area for you. Can you see them clearly?"

"I can. I'm guessing you want me to dig between them?"

"Exactly. Dig out a line from one end to the other, being careful not to go too deep. We're not trying to scrape the base."

"I'll try not to." She says, leaning forward. Her face gets a little closer, giving her a better view of her target. Her eyes squint as she focuses on the guideline, and her hand moves over to it. Extending a finger, she slowly lowers it to the ground. A weak tremor shakes the town as it plunges into the land. "Here goes. You might want to hold on to something."

The weak tremor becomes an earthquake as she drags her finger across the space. Though she's going slow, it moves at breakneck speeds. In less than ten seconds, she manages to dig out just under four kilometers of trench. Dad and I approach it, peering over the edge. The depth's got to be at least thirty meters, which is more than we needed. The width is about double that, which is also way too much. 

We'll definitely need to fill it in and redo. 

"Hmm." Jeannine sighs, looking disappointed. "I think I might've overdone it."

"It's a lot more than we needed, but we can always try again. Would you mind filling it back for us?"

"Sure! Right away." We brace ourselves once more as she pushes the dug-up dirt back into place. With a few pats of her hand, she puts the land back, just like before. The way this woman terraforms the earth fills me with awe. It really is a sight to see. "Done. Shall we try again?"

"Yes, please. Maybe try using your nail instead? It might help." I tell her, trying to estimate the size of it's curve from where I'm standing. "But if your finger hurts, maybe a pen would be better?"

"My finger is fine. See?" She hold it up and curls it a few times, giggling. "It's like writing in sand. Maybe a little tougher?"

"I-I see! Then we have nothing to worry about."

Dad and I exchange glances. We're thinking the same thing. Digging through solid bedrock and metric tons of packed earth is no easy task. Not for us, at least. Knowing she has all that power in just one of her fingers is kind of crazy. I'm sure Dad is doing the mental math, trying to figure out how much force she can exert, or whatever. The number's probably astronomical.

"Second try." She says, lowering her finger again. "I have a feel for it now."

Another earthquake rocks the town as she digs out a trench of equal length. Once the shaking stops, Dad and I move around to inspect her work. She did a much better job this time. The depth is fifteen meters and the width is about the same.

"How did I do?" She asks us, hesitantly.

"Much better! I think we can move to the next line. Ease up the force a smidge and it'll be perfect." I give her a thumbs up.

I see her eyes light up. "Okay, will do! I'm sorry for the shaking. Tell me it becomes too much."

One by one, Jeannine digs out the trenches. She gets better at it with each one, managing to control her movements pretty gracefully. 

It takes her a few minutes to finish each line of the grid. When she finally draws her finger back, she rubs at it with her thumb to clean it off. She then takes the time to check her work. Her eyes scan all around, surveying the area for imperfections. A smirk begins to form on her face. It would seem that she's satisfied.

"You're pretty damn meticulous. I never knew."

"You never asked." She says, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "I hope this is enough. They look right to me."

"Masterful work, young miss." Dad tells her.

"Thank you, sir. That's high praise, coming from you."

"Well deserved, I say." He tells her, grinning from ear to ear.

He's right to be happy. She just took care of several months of work effortlessly. It took days to lay out all of those guidelines, but they did the job. We're so ahead of schedule, it's isn't even funny. Dad's idea to use Jeannine was genius. I thought she'd make a mess of things, being so massive and all, but she proved me wrong. By the look of these trenches, they're perfect. We'll be able to set up the pipelines and wiring later. When that gets done, probably later this month, we'll have her bury everything properly. I doubt it'll take her more than a few minutes. We would have loved to work with her back home. She makes life so easy! I can now mark task one out of two complete.

And now for the fun part...

"Jeannine, would you indulge me? I have something I'd like to try out."

"Sure. What is it?"

Dad and I turn around to the only feature in the otherwise barren land outside the town. It's a lone, towering wind turbine roughly two hundred meters tall. It's much bigger than any we had back home. That's intentional, since it's function is slightly different. Rather than converting the natural wind to energy, it'll be able to use the drafts from the air in her room to achieve much better outputs. Heck, having Jeannine walk past it would probably keep the whole town's lights on for an hour.

"You see that turbine?" 

"The thing that looks like a toothpick? Yes, I do."

"It's the first of many we plan to put around here. If all goes well, a wind farm could produce enough energy to sustain Magna Gratia as it develops into a city. Maybe even beyond that."

"Oh my! That's really cool."

"I know, I know." I chuckle. "It was my idea."

"Actually, it was mine." Dad grumbles.

"But I designed it."

"You got to it before me." He rolls his eyes. "Ya bum."

"Whatever. Details aren't important." I brush him off. "We're looking to test it out, but we'll need some wind. Like, concentrated on it."

"So, you want me to..." She trails off, not following.

"Blow on it. With your breath." I tell her, flatly. "Shouldn't be hard, right?"

She furrows her brows, looking unsure. I see her tapping her fingers on her leg.

"I don't know... That sounds dangerous. Will you two be okay?"

"We'll be fine behind the wind shield." Dad assures her, as we get behind it. "Dont worry yer pretty little head over us."

"I guess so." She agrees. I realize it's probably because she trusts Dad's judgement so much. "I'm glad I just brushed my teeth."

Jeannine leans forward, closer than before, until her mouth is positioned in front of the turbine. She purses her lips and lets out a breath. A gentle, minty breeze washes over us. It's enough to get the blades moving a little. I hear a very faint hum as the nearby transformer is powered by a current. After seeing Jeannine do so well with the digging, I'm surprised that she'd be unable to get the thing turning. At first, I question whether she was hitting it head on, but then I realize it was probably because she wasn't trying. Even when we assure her it's safe, she still wants to hold back for our sake. It's sweet, in a very frustrating way.

I step out from behind the wind shield and give her some encouragement.

"Come on! Is that all you've got?"

"Yes. Well, no. I mean, I'm being careful." She explains. "Was it that bad?" 

"Pathetic. My hairdryer could've done better." I joke.

"I just don't want to break it, you know?"

"Boy, the hell are ya doing?" Dad whispers to me, still crouched behind the shield. "It ain't funny."

I ignore him and continue egging her on. "Pfft! That thing is rock solid. You couldn't break it if you tried!"

"Ohoho, you're asking for it now." She smiles, devilishly. "Don't say I didn't warn you!"

She takes a really deep breath, her cheeks beginning to puff up. I'm too busy watching her to realize the danger I'm in. Thankfully, Dad grabs me by the shirt and yanks me down to the ground, and to safety. Not a moment later, a hurricane blasts through the plain. Our shirts flutter violently in the wind, even while behind the shield. A huge cloud of dust and dirt is swept up into the air. It's so loud that I can't hear a thing. It takes an active effort just to open my eyes. When I do, I see the turbine going nuts. The blades are spinning so fast that it could probably take off.

"That's got to be at least a thousand rpm!" I yell to Dad.

"What?!" He yells back, unable to hear me. I point to the turbine instead, which he looks at. His jaw drops when he sees what I'm seeing.

Suddenly the transformer makes a strange sound. A second later, the thing explodes with a fiery 'boom'. The flash and sound are enough to catch Jeannine's attention. She stops blowing when her eyes land on the ruined piece of electrical equipment. She grimaces, realizing it's her fault. 

"I'm sorry. That's on me, guys. I got carried away..."

"D-Don't worry about it! More importantly, my turbine is still standing, so I was right!"

"I can see that." She nods, staring wide eyed. "I'm honestly surprised. I gave that all I had."

"Oh, we know!" Dad laughs, trying to fix his hair after the wind messed it up. "We'll get a new transformer. No problem at all."

"I call that a successful test! Thank you for helping." I tell her, trying to be serious again. "Seriously, what a rush..." 

"Hehe..." She smiles wryly. "By the way, is there any reason you chose wind power? I feel like solar would've been better, being next to the window and all."

"We did consider it, but we don't get a lot of daylight at this angle, even in summertime. Plus, just look at the town." I spin around, gesturing to the lack of light around the area. "Every time you sit there, you cast the entire town in shadow. We'd have daily blackouts!"

"Oh." She looks around, somewhat embarrassed. "I hadn't realized. Good point."

"Yeah... Well, anyway, thank you for the assistance."

"My pleasure. Glad to be of help." She says, standing up to her full height. "If that's all, then I'll be going now. I've got to keep studying."

"Good luck! We know you'll do great."

"Thank you, Icarus." She says, smiling at me. "You're sweet."

Jeannine walks away, hopping onto her bed in the distance. She sits against the bedframe and begins working on her laptop. Even though she's right there, it's basically like she's not here anymore. I look at Dad and shrug.

"She's ridiculous. I built that transformer to handle anything! The parts that didn't explode fucking melted. What raw power..."

"That's a Brob for ya." Dad scratches his head. "They're something else."

"You could say that again. Good thing she's friendly."

"Ain't that the truth." Dad slaps my back. "Enough ooh'n 'n aah'n. We've got work to do, son."

"Right. Yeah. Back to work."

We've got a city to build!

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 26 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine and Nick talk about how far MG has come...

POV: Jeannine


"That last exam was surprisingly easy." I laugh. "I almost regret studying so hard."

"Happy for you. Meanwhile, I'm praying that I didn't fail." Sara groans.

My best friend and I ride the bus back from campus. After a week of intense exams, it's a relief to be done with all of that stress. Now that the summer break is starting, I'll won't have nearly as much to worry about until I begin my fourth and final year next fall. 

"I'm sure you did fine. You attempted every question, and the last section was worth a third of the grade."

"Meh. I was writing until they called for 'pens down'. I spent wayyy too long on those MCQs."

"But those were so easy!" I tease her. "Practically copy-paste from the homework assignments."

"You're assuming I did those assignments!" She half laughs, half cries. "Whatever. This is your stop, right? Go away already, you nerd."

"Alright, alright." I sigh, shuffling over her to leave the bus. "See you later, slacker."

I hop off and continue down the street back to my apartment building. I'm in an especially good mood today, not just because of the test, but because it's meeting day with Nick. He told me he had some kind of 'very serious discussion' planned, refusing to elaborate further even after I pestered him. It's been on my mind all week. The suspense is killing me. I ride the elevator up to my floor and hurry over to my apartment. As soon as I enter, I toss my bag onto the dining table and head to my room.

"Hello, little ones. I hope you're having a wonderful day! I know I am."

I approach the corner of my room, kneeling before the plot of land I made just six months ago. It's unrecognizable now, having grown from a humble village to a respectable town, and now a magnificent city. Miniature vehicles drive down an intricate network of roads and highways. Buildings, each many floors high, house hundreds of tiny residents. The former town hall at the center of the plot has become a city hall, the size of a baseball. 

There's even a wide-open park, located just south of the downtown area. Even the districts from the early days have modernized. Every bit of space I've given has been utilized to its fullest. It feels like it’s alive.

Magna Gratia, the city in the corner my bedroom floor, has become far more impressive than I ever could have hoped.

"I'm so proud." I whisper, smiling affectionately.

I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket, pulling it out to see a message from Nick. It reads, "I'm at the station. Pick me up?".

"Okay. I'll be right there." I say, not bothering to text back. It's not as if he can't hear me when I'm so close by. My eyes fall on the station, a building build specifically with a large, flat roof in the west side. Though we don't use it as much now, it used to be a place for me to drop resources for them. As the city grew, it became too dangerous for me to stick my fingers into it. There's no telling what kind of damage I might cause. Nowadays, I use it as the place to pick up specific tinies when I need them. My eyes narrow, trying to make out the tiny speck atop the roof. "Ah, there you are. Here, climb on."

I carefully place my fingernail on the roof, offering a ride. He climbs on and I take him with me outside to the dining table. I set him down gently and starting a video call on my phone. He's dressed smartly in a suit and tie. I can't help but notice he's sporting a goatee now too. It could use some work...

"Hey, glad you did well on your exams. We were all rooting for you."

"How did you know?" I ask him, taking my seat at the table.

"You seem in a cheerful mood, so I just assumed. Was I right?"

"Well, I won't know until next week, but I'm feeling pretty confident."

"Awesome. I expect no less from 'the goddess'." He teases me, knowing full well how embarrassing that title is.

I can't help but smile at hearing at. It's not the first time someone has called me that. 

Many of the newer citizens began referring to me as a 'goddess' upon arriving in the city. It would seem that my kindness has earned me a divine status. It's all very endearing, honestly. I only hope that the title is meant figuratively. I'm no deity, obviously, but it is nice to be appreciated.

"They're still calling me that. How silly of them."

"I'm just teasing you." Nick chuckles. "Those who know you better just say it to flatter you."

"It's kind of them, if not a bit over the top."

"Yeah. I mean, jumping straight to 'goddess' makes me feel like they've got little imagination. I mean, there's 'saint', 'angel', 'paragon'..." He stops himself abruptly, clearing his throat. "Err, sorry."

"No, no, please continue!" I laugh. "That was great."

"Heh. Okay, let's get back to business before I make that head of yours any bigger."

"Hehe. Alright..." I say with a cheeky smile.

"Okay..." He flips through his notes. "Here's the information you requested last week, and some other stuff I thought you should know."

He goes through the topics one by one, updating me on the status of the city. His delivery is concise, but not lacking in detail. He doesn't waste any time, nor is he reluctant to share any bad news with me. I appreciate that a lot. He's become very skilled at his job, despite his silliness. Not only do I trust him as my main source of news, but I’ve also grown to deeply respect him as a person. Nick is someone I'm proud to call my friend. His presentation covers the most important issues of the week, as well as updates from the last few months. It's a lengthy info-dump.

Par for the course when you're managing an entire city. 

He tells me about the population, which has grown too big for me to keep track of anymore. The exact number is 5736. That sudden explosion is the product of our hard work. 

Every weekend, he and I would venture out to different place in search of Remnant and Borrower settlements. It was slow at first, but we quickly picked up speed over the last few months. With his guidance, we were bringing in over a thousand a month. So many people, once displaced and struggling, are now hard-working citizens of the city.

He moves on to the integration process, which has not been without its troubles. The last arrival of Lillis found it especially hard to get used to urban life after spending so long living as scavengers. It's no surprise, given how it's been this way for every new group. The first 'new' group after my original twenty had a rough time, even though they were only fifteen people. It's a slow process, but everyone finds their place here one way or another.

We don't have a city slogan, but I believe, 'Magna Gratia, the city of New Beginnings,' has a nice ring to it.

The part when he talks about advancements in technology is always my favorite part. While I'm certainly no 'tech person', I do appreciate their incredible inventions. Icarus's lab is always pushing the boundaries. The city's wireless network, renewable energy system, and mobile phones are just a few of the projects he's completed. Once upon a time, I remember him joking about inventing flying cars. Now I'm starting to think he just might do it. Lilli technology tends to be very advanced, after all. He described their network as both 'independent' and 'dependent', since it uses my home wi-fi, but also doesn't? I know better than to try to understand it. All that matters is that it has given me convenient access to Nick when I'm not home. Now I worry less when I'm out and about, since I'm only ever a call away.

In terms of resources and food, the city is as close to self sufficient as can be. They produce ninety-percent of their food and recycle sixty percent of their waste. Those numbers put my own city to shame. 

A month's worth of their garbage is less than what I throw out every few days. It's truly remarkable. Each new group of Lillis brings new talents and ideas that the city lacked. The knowledge gaps that the first twenty suffered from have been more than compensated for.

"That about sums it up. If there's anything you need me to clarify just give the word."

"Excellent work as always, mister representative. I have no further questions."

"Cool. Meeting over." He says, switching off from work-mode. He puts his notes away in his briefcase and loosens his tie. Usually, he's the one to end the call. I'm inclined to end it myself, until he continues talking. "Since you've got none, can I ask you something?"

"Of course. Is it business or personal?"

"Umm, a bit of both? Depends on your answer, probably."

I give him a curious look, encouraging him to go on. He's silent for a time, which is very out of character. Just as I'm about to speak, he lets out a long, exasperated sigh. He follows this with a groan and a series of quiet mumbles I can't quite make out.

"Nick?" I ask, starting to be concerned.

"Sorry." He finally says, scratching the back of his head. He's struggling to make eye contact with me through our screens. "It's just that I'm trying to find the right words. I don't want it to sound like a complaint."

My expression becomes serious. I sit up in my chair, leaning forward slightly. A complaint? What could he have to complain about? His report was overflowing with good news. I can't imagine what there would be to complain about. Unless... Is it about me? That might explain why he's suddenly become so nervous. I'm not someone who is easily offended. He knows he can tell me anything, doesn't he? I would hope so.

"It's about this job. The role of 'representative', as we've been calling it."

"Oh. Yes, that." I sigh in relief. Somehow, I expected it to be far worse. I have a bad habit of assuming the worst possible outcome. "What's the issue, exactly?" 

"Well, as you know, the city has undergone rapid growth in the last few months. With the help of people far smarter than myself, I've managed to keep things under control thus far. The problem is that I don't think I can continue like this. It's too much for just one person."

"I wasn't aware you were under so much stress. I'm sorry for not realizing sooner." I say, making no effort to hide my guilty expression. "Are you asking for some time off or...?"

"Don't get me wrong, this isn't me stepping down. I love this job, especially getting to work so closely with you." He confesses, winking at the camera. "What I'm trying to say is that I think another person, or even persons, could help reduce the load on my shoulders."

"That's perfectly reasonable. You have my approval." I nod in agreement. "What kind of structure were you thinking?"

"I believe a council or parliament would be best. It'd be ten to twenty members, though I'm unsure if they should be appointed or voted in. If it were up to me, I'd appoint those from the first twenty of us, since we practically founded the city. Plus, we know it best."

"Mhm, that's tricky. We wouldn't want people to think we're playing favorites. Seniority only goes so far, especially with politics."

"Yeah, that's exactly why I'm having such a hard time. These are big decisions. I can't be making them alone."

"A mayor or Prime minister would be responsible for those."

"Yeah... It's looking like they want me in that position, unqualified as I am."

"You're too hard on yourself. I can't think of anyone who'd do the job better."

"I guess..." He groans, shrugging indifferently. "It is what it is."

"We do what we have to. Everyone has a part to play. Yours is just bigger than most, being in charge and all."

"The position just means I'll be managing the city. When people think of 'leadership', I'm not the guy who comes to mind, you know?"

If not you, then who else?"

He simply stares at me through the screen, giving me a funny look. It takes me a moment before I realize what he's insinuating.

"Me?" I blink twice, wondering if I misheard him just now. "You can't be serious. Do you guys really think that way? I'm not looking to become 'Mayor Jeannine'."

"Eh, not quite. They see you as more of a 'Queen Jeannine'."

"That's a new one." A blush forms on my face and my smile from earlier returns. "I did say I was open to cute nicknames."

"It's just one of many the newer arrivals came up with. Us OGs prefer just Jeannine."

"If it's between 'goddess' and 'queen', let them know I'd prefer the latter. As for leading them, I'm not interested."

"Really? Huh." He nods. "Can I share something with you? Purely hypothetical."

"Sure, I'm listening."

"In my time managing the city, I've mostly just kept things...organized. Well, even that might be a stretch. I've been keeping things stable. It's been sort of a 'Rubber Bands and Chewing Gum' situation, if I'm honest." He sighs, taking a seat to rest his legs. He rests his head on his hand, keeping his phone camera aimed at his face as he explains. "Ultimately, the ten rules you gave us do more than I ever could. Do you know why that is?"

"Because they're fair?"

"Yes, but it's more than that. It's because you set them." He points a finger at me through the camera. "You're the reason the city exists in the first place. Every one of us owes our life to you. It's not an exaggeration to say that the people here adore you. But more importantly, they respect you. That grants you a level of authority that I don't."

"Authority, huh? I never considered that, to be honest." I think aloud, finding truth in his words. "But my role in caring for the city and its people has always centered around nurture. I help when I'm needed, but I don't ever take the lead. The city wouldn't be nearly as amazing if I'd designed it, let alone told you how to build it." 

"It's more about guidance than leadership, really. Poor choice of words on my part."

"How do you mean?"

"Back when we were still a humble town, there was this sense of unity. It still exists, but to a lesser extent. Everyone knew each other, and you, personally. Bringing in so many new people has made that kind of thing unfeasible. Not to mention, we brought in entire settlements. Once upon a time, we were all on the same page about everything. Nowadays, everyone and their dog seems to have a different opinion on what should happen in the city. An opinion from you is all it takes to sway people, given how much they look up to you."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that..." I cross my arms over my chest, tapping my finger on my arm. Even hypothetically, the idea seemed ludicrous, but now I'm beginning to see his point. The way he describes it, I'd be something of a figurehead. Considering I set the ten rules that govern their people, it's impossible to deny that my role has been an active one. The system he's suggesting is every bit as interesting as it is needed. And I don't believe in rejecting a proposal unless you have an alternative. "Is this still hypothetical, Nick?"

"Mostly. What I'm trying to say is that you're very influential. That has nothing to do with any titles."

"I suppose I am." I laugh. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I take it that my role isn't going to change?"

"Not really. Your opinion might be needed every now and then, but we can govern ourselves."

"There are a few things I need to clarify." I clear my throat and count them on my fingers. "I'd prefer if you'd elect the members of your council, since I'm against the idea of appointing people. Also, I'm hoping you'll remain my representative? Elected officials may join us in our meetings, but I prefer to deal with you directly."

"Aww..." He coos, making me feel embarrassed. "I wouldn't have it any other way. And yes to both."

"That settles it then. I humbly accept my new title of Queen." 

Despite trying to seem serious, merely calling myself royalty elicits a goofy smile. I can't help it. It's the same feeling I get when I'm compared to a goddess. These titles that the little ones give me are oh so flattering, but I try not to let them go to my head. That wouldn't be healthy.

"Oh, and would you please tell everyone to quit calling me 'goddess'? Jokes aside, I think it's gone on long enough. I wouldn't feel right if they started genuinely believing it."

"Sure, I guess. Though, I hope you know that we're not so primitive as to believe you Brobs are 'ascended beings'. Anyone who genuinely does probably has a screw loose."

"I would hope so. We're all just people, after all."

"But you know... I can't blame them for thinking that way. Like, just look at you."

"Thanks. I'm flattered." I roll my eyes.

"No, it's not like that. Ugh. Let me just show you. Would you mind standing up for me?"

I raise a brow at him. Without jostling the table, I push my seat back and stand up. My phone is still in my hand as I stare at him curiously through the screen, not quite sure what he's up to.

"Okay, I'm turning the camera around. Look at what we see from down here. It's the closest thing I have to the 'Lilli perspective'.

As he points the camera up at me, my screen becomes filled with a view of something huge. It's so big that I can hardly make it out. It's a wall of color in the distance, possibly fabric? I squint at my phone, at which point it becomes clear what I'm looking at. That 'huge' object is my leg. My left thigh, to be exact. It stretches well beyond the width of the screen. Nick then pans up to show the rest of me. It's difficult to get my entire body in the frame, for obvious reason. I'm massive, bigger than anything I've ever seen. I always knew that the Lillis were small, but this view is ridiculous! It almost feels like a trick of perspective. 

Without thinking, I slowly extend my arm toward Nick, watching it move on my screen. His entire sky becomes filled with the palm of my hand. Not my entire hand, just a small section of it.

"Oh my. I never imagined... I am so..."

I'm at a loss for words. The true scale of things is far greater than I thought I understood. That Lilli-sized camera lens is giving me a window into Nick's world. It makes me wonder what the city might look like from street view. This could teach me a lot about the Lilliputian experience. I doubt any of my kind have ever had a window into their world, at least not like this. I'm surprised neither of us thought of it sooner. It gives me an idea; something I might have Daedalus or Icarus look into for me. I make a mental note of that for later.

"Yup. You are definitely very... Big."

My moment of wonder is unceremoniously ended as Nick aims the camera straight at my chest. I lower my phone and glare at him, my other hand resting on my hip impatiently. He takes the hint and switches the camera back to face him.

"Sorry." He laughs, not sounding the least bit apologetic. "I couldn't resist."

"Mhm." I give him my side and bump the table with my hip. I watch the tiny pervert fall hard on his butt. "Resist harder next time."

"Message received." He gives me a genuinely apologetic look through the camera, getting back on his feet. "Won't happen again."

"We'll see." I smirk, ending the call and switching to our earpieces. I'm not even that upset, but it's better that he doesn't know that. I'm not embarrassed by my body, nor do I care who stares. I offer him my fingernail for him to climb on. Once he does, I lift him up to my face more roughly than usual, just to give him a scare. I then hold him in front my eyes. Although we have our video calls now, it's nice to see him 'properly' occasionally. He appears to be yelling at me, but I pretend not to see it. It's funnier that way. 

I then lower my finger until its hovering by my blouse and walk back into my room. 

"There you go." I say, kneeling by the city's border. My finger touches down on the station's roof, allowing Nick to climb off. As I retract my hand, I move it to my mouth to blow him and everyone else a big kiss. "Have a wonderful day!"

I stand back up and turn, giving the city my back as I leave the room. As soon as I turn the corner, I fall back against the wall and slide downward until I'm sitting on the floor. I put my hands on my face and close my eyes. Images of myself from Lilli perspective fill my head. It was so surreal... As much as I hate to admit it, I now understand how the 'goddess' title came about. I'm well aware of how much stronger I am than them. That power is something I'm very careful not to take lightly, let alone abuse. Everything is relative. I'm not some divine entity, I know that well. And yet, many of my kind believe themselves to be just that. If not gods, then at least genetically superior. I'm not sure which idea I hate more.

But it also makes me feel very special. To be seen as benevolent, powerful, and transcendent as a goddess. I mean, what person wouldn't blush at the idea? It's empowering!

"What am I saying? Nothing has changed. Not really, anyway."

Despite my new title, it's not as significant as I first thought it would be. If anything, it's more like a symbol. I'm not expecting anyone to address me as 'Her Highness' and bow. That's not the relationship I want with the people I share my home with. Naturally, there may be some tough decisions to make, but nothing I can't handle. I've been doing well so far, despite a healthy amount of self doubt. Every new step is scary until you take it. This is no different. I'll continue to be as patient, gentle, and more importantly, careful as I've always been. 

I will not disappoint Magna Gratia.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 27 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

A new character shares her views on Magna Gratia...

POV: Saverine


"I'm going for a walk. Does anyone need anything?"

"We're good, Mom. Do you think you'll be out long?" My daughter asks me, cheerfully. 

The eagerness in her tone is hurtful, though she doesn't seem to realize that. Thankfully, Robin is far better at reading the room.

"Sophie means to ask if you'll be coming home before dark." He looks at her, then back at me. "Right, honey? Ma?"

"Y-Yes! Exactly that, Mom."

"Mhm." I make no effort to suppress my wry smile. "I'll suppose I'll take my time..." 

I quietly shut the door behind me as I leave, knowing full well what will be going on while I'm away. Any young, newlywed couple wants their alone time. I only wish she'd communicate that with me, rather than patiently hoping I'll choose to leave. Having her mother in the same house is stifling, I know, but the three of us agreed to live together. I'm a reasonable person and I respect boundaries. Being treated this way makes me feel like a nuisance, and as her mother, I deserve better. If not for Robin being there, I would have given her a well-deserved verbal lashing.

"She's lucky to have him. He probably could have done better." I joke to myself.

Her husband, my precious son-in-law, is one of a few people that I respect. He's strong, both physically and in character, with a type of charisma that reminds me a lot of myself. Most importantly, he loves Sophie and treats her well. As a parent, I couldn't ask for more. 

But I am not just a parent. I am the Matriarch of the Sablé clan. After over two decades of leadership, the time for a new leader had arrived. Robin was the best candidate, and I would have loved nothing more than for him to succeed me. But that was before we came here, to this city founded by a Brobdingnagian.

"Magna Gratia." I say, the words feeling strange on my tongue. "How grandiose."

"Ori, what does gran-dee-oos mean?" A child's voice repeats after me.

I stop in my tracks, not realizing I'd been been speaking aloud. 

As does the young woman whose hand, he's holding. We stare at each other for a moment. She seems to be gauging my reaction, wondering if I've been offended somehow. Meanwhile, the little boy just stares at his mother curiously, waiting for the answer to his question.

"It means 'over the top'." I tell him, matter-of-factly. "As in very impressive."

"Ohhh..." He nods. 

"That's a big word! Say thank you to the nice lady, Lou."

"Thank you!" He beams at me.

"It's no trouble at all." I smile.

"Where are my manners? My name is Orina." She extends a hand toward me. "It's very nice to meet you."

"I'm Saverine. And likewise." I shake her hand. "Are you his mother?"

"No, not exactly." She puts her hands on his shoulders, pulling him close. "I look after him. We aren't related but he's family."

The two of them look at each other. It's clear to me that they're very close. The way she describes their relationship reminds me of my clan. 

"How sweet. Family is far more than just blood, I say."

"Definitely." She nods enthusiastically. "We were just on our way to city hall. Would you care to join us?" 

I'd intended to walk to the end of the street and turn back. Come to think of it, I'm sure Robin wouldn't mind me staying away for a while longer. And I haven't yet had the chance to explore the city properly either. 

"I'd like that. Good company is always welcome."

Following the two of them out of the neighborhood, we head toward city hall. It doesn't take long to get there, since the streets are relatively empty. People here are allowed to rest on weekends, which is such a foreign concept to me. There was hardly a day I didn't work back home. The lack of activity is somewhat uncomfortable.  Those thoughts occupy my mind until we arrive at the plaza.

The square is wide and spacious. In the middle sits a rather large white building with columns and eye-catching architecture. 

The street transitions into an intricate path leading up to the building's steps. Along it are two rows of trees with flowers of various colors in full bloom. I look down at my feet at the path, taking note of the expert masonry. Whoever was responsible for it deserves praise. Their effort really shows in every brick and tile. The building itself is no less fancy. A large, white dome I can only describe as 'proud' sits atop the structure. The façade is covered in sculptural elements depicting figures such as people, animals, and nature. As we approach the entrance, I notice more overhangs and eaves embellishing windows. The more I inspect, the more I discover. Although I generally prefer practicality to flair, this place is surely a treat for the eyes.

A true work of art.

"What do you think?" Ms. Orina asks me, smiling gleefully. "Beautiful, isn't it?" 

"Yes, very. We never had anything like this where I'm from. Then again, we never stayed in one place for long."

I approach one of the columns and place a hand on it. The marble is smooth to the touch, and slightly cool. Each column is a single piece. Placing each one using only manpower would have been an impossible task, even with my clan's numbers. We never had machinery to help us when we built our settlements. I'm curious if we would have been able to do the same, given the resources. Looking past the pillar, I peer into the building's entrance. There are no doors, as if to say, 'come right in'. In the middle of the reception, I notice a large statue in the middle of a fountain. It's a figure of a woman with her hands out, holding a heart-shaped stone. The statue is very detailed feels rather symbolic in nature. I soon realize who it is.

"That statue in there." I point right at it. "Is that the Brob girl?"

 "It's Jeannine, yes. We wanted to commemorate her for all of her kindness." 

"I've heard stories. I can't say I've ever seen so much affection for a Brob." I shake my head. 

"Our kind typically views them with either scorn or terror. For those feelings to have changed, and in so many people..."

"Well, Jeannine is a very special person. I doubt any have as much compassion for us as she does. 

"Could be. But I wouldn't bet on it."

"She gave me chocolate!" Louis chimes in. "I love her!"

The fact that a child as young as him can say such things affirms my suspicions. This girl must be quite the character. This city's love for her is real. 

"Ms. Sablé, may I ask you something?"

"You may."

"Does it bother you that she's a Brob?"

I consider my next words carefully. My feelings towards the giants are not uncommon among our people. In fact, I'd argue the majority share my beliefs. As Jeannine, it would be unfair to make a judgement at this time. I'm not sure how I feel, to be honest. While I'm busy deciding how best to respond, a man walks out of the building toward us. I recognize him immediately as the Brob girl's representative. He was with the giantess when they offered us a place in this city, riding along in that accessory of hers.

"Good afternoon, Nick. How have you been?" Orina greets him with a hug. She's being friendly with him. I take it that they must know each other. "Lou and I were here on time. You're late, as usual."

"Yeah, yeah. Sorry for having meetings literally all day. Maybe next time I'll tell the city to manage itself." He fires back, sarcastically. He kneels by Louis and the two of them bump fists. After that, he stands up and turns to me, extending a hand. "Hello, Chief. Have you and your people been settling in nicely?"

"Slowly, but surely. It will take some time for everyone to integrate."

"I wasn't aware that the two knew each other." Orina adds.

"Seriously? How could I not know the Matriarch of the Sablé clan? She's sort of a big deal!" He laughs. "They're the biggest group we ever brought in. A whopping seven hundred Remnants." 

"Seven hundred twenty-three, to be exact." I correct him.

"My apologies." He bows his head for me.

"That's incredible. I've never heard of a settlement that big before. What an achievement..."

"It's my life's work. Bringing people together, expanding our family--it's something I'm proud of.

"I can imagine." She applauds me. "Over seven hundred individuals..."

"Is that a lot?" Louis asks, innocently.

"It's more than you can count on your fingers, buddy." Nick chuckles.

"I should get going now." I tell them. Standing here with the three of them is nice, but it's about time that I head home. Before that, though, I believe Ms. Orina and Mr. Nick had business together. I'm curious about that. "I wouldn't want to barge in on your meeting here."

"No, that's perfectly alright. The news is going to be public tomorrow morning, I just wanted to tell Ori in person." He opens his briefcase and presents each of us with a flyer. It's an ad for an upcoming election. There are openings for several seats on the soon-to-be city parliament. After giving us a few seconds to read, he proceeds to explain in further detail. "As you know, things have been getting pretty crazy over here. Jeannine and I had a long talk about what to do about it and we agreed it would be best to establish a proper government in the form of a council. Seats are open to anyone. Those with the most votes will have a seat, meaning they'll get to play a part in managing Magna Gratia's affairs. I was wondering if you'd like to run, Ori?"

"Me? Thank you, but I must decline. A position such as that would be far too stressful. I have enough of a headache dealing with Lou."

"Hey!" He objects, glaring up at her.

"Hey, yourself." She ruffles his hair.

"I thought you might say that. Thought I'd give it a shot anyway." He shrugs. His then attention turns to me. "And you, ma'am? You've had years of experience in leadership. The role would fit someone like you really well." 

"Mm. I'll give it some thought." I tell him, folding the paper in half. "Thank you."

"No problem. I've got a long day ahead of me, so I think I'll head home now. Take care, ladies. And Louis!"

"You too, Nick." Ms. Orina tells him as he walks away. She checks the time on her watch. "I think we should be heading home as well. It's almost dinnertime, and Lou's been walking for too long already."

"That's a shame. It was nice meeting you, Ms. Orina. Thank you for showing me around."

"You're very welcome. We live in Block A, by the way. Feel free to swing by."

"I live with my daughter in Block W. I'll be sure to, if time allows it."

"Have a safe walk home."

The two of them leave, heading in the opposite direction. I head back the way we came toward my daughter's apartment. Indeed, it is getting late. There's still daylight, but the sun is setting and the streetlights have already come on. Despite that, I take my time walking back. Sophie is lucky to have a mother as considerate as me. While I walk, my mind drifts back to about a month ago. I reflect on the events that led to my clan's migration, specifically the day we met Jeannine.

We were a nomadic group. We would move from place to place in search of food, resources, and other settlements. Sometimes we'd take shelter in the city, other times we'd invade a Brob's home. Our latest settlement had been in a forest. I'd picked a spot that no giant could ever notice. We'd been there for only a few days when she came. I remember the panic that followed. A young, Brob woman in her early twenties had found us. She crouched down by the tree we'd made our home, studying it curiously. It scared the children and the adults alike. How had she singled out this one tree out of the hundreds in the area? There are things that the Brob eye simply cannot see. It made no sense. The chances of such a thing were astronomical. 

That was what I'd thought, until she placed her earring down on the ground. Out from it emerged a fellow Lilliputian, who thoroughly explained their intentions. Most were too shocked by the giantess to process what was happening. I, however, listened with bated breath. What he told me sounded too good to be true. I was skeptical, to say the least. But he came prepared. Out of his pocket came a photograph of the place he'd been describing. Their offer came at no price, either.

Being part of the Sablé clan means being comfortable with change. Nothing stays the same for long. You must be ready for whatever is thrown your way. While many of the clan's senior members objected to the idea, I was intrigued. A lifestyle like ours offers safety, but at a cost. We're quite primitive, especially in the area of medicine. Moving the sick, old, and wounded is a challenge. Nothing in this world matters more to me than them. Everyone must be comfortable, healthy, and happy. That was the approach I took as I grew our clan bigger than anything either of my parents could have dreamed of. Although this would be a drastic change, it felt right.

So, I accepted the offer.

A day later, she returned to take us to her home. We gathered everything we had and gathered in each of several glass vials she had on her person. A short time later, we found ourselves in a place unlike anything we'd ever dreamed of. It was like we'd been thrust out of the dark ages and straight into the future. Most of the objectors from the other day quickly shut their mouths. The next month was spent allocating homes and food rations as we settled into our new home. Due to our numbers, we were told to group up in homes to ensure everyone had a place to stay. Hence, why I live with my daughter.

Personally, I've some trouble settling in. Now that everyone is being taken care of, I have far less to think about. Any plans I had for succession have become obsolete. It's a good thing, I suppose, but it leaves me without purpose. I feel I could be doing more. Leading a clan was one thing, but a city is something else altogether. I don't know these people, nor their stories. The populations is also many times what I was responsible for. If I am to even consider running for office, I would need to do some research first. As I am now, I am grossly unqualified.

"I need to observe." I say to myself. "Listen, learn, and understand. And my clan too..."

I realize that whether I or not, my clan will always look to me for guidance. I won't be able to provide that without a firm understanding of this place and its people. This could serve both purposes. My approach to campaigning would be going door to door talking to strangers. I'd be seeking their vote, while also hearing their stories. They will provide me a window into many things, particularly what I'm most interested in.


Although I don't dislike the girl, I would be a fool to blindly believe what I'm told. I've observed her for long enough on my own. Ms. Orina's impression, although positive, was just one of many. It's time that I find out from others. Once I do, I'll discover what kind of person she is. Only then will I be able to give Ms. Orina's question a proper answer.

There is much work to be done.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 28 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Saverine continues to explore her new home...

POV: Saverine


"Thank you for your time." I tell Head Chef Francois, while Robin adds to his notes. "Your story was a real eye-opener."

"No, thank you for listening to me ramble on! I haven't seen any of the other candidates taking the time to come out and get to know people." The man tells us, half focused on his cooking. The flames of the stove are licking up the edge of his wok. The smell of mouth-watering food permeates the air of the restaurant, even from across the counter. He finally looks me in the eyes when he says, "You've earned my respect, Chief. And my vote."

"I'll hold you to that!" I point a finger at him, smiling.

Robin and I exit the establishment and pull out our list. He then checks the time on his wristwatch, a recent purchase he made after saving up the money. It was made by Lilli in this very city, and it's got his name engraved on the back. He gives it a wipe, removing a smudge on its otherwise crystal-clear face.

"Okay, this is great progress. If we keep this pace, you'll meet today's quota before sundown."

In an attempt to learn more about the city and its people, I'm visiting twenty inhabitants per day, for a week. This is day three, and we've already spoken with fifteen individuals since leaving home this morning. Our current goal is to speak with at least two houses in each of the residential blocks, as well as each of the business owners in the city center. Given the short time until elections, this is the best we can do without wearing ourselves out. I'm not as young as I used to be, nor can I ask Robin for any more of his time. I would have done this alone if he hadn't appointed himself my unofficial campaign manager. 

"Good. I would like to head back to the residential district next. Where did we leave off?"

We are making progress, reaching out to lots of people, asking them about their history. I have learned so much in such a brief time. It is partly due to how open the residents of the city are. 

The benefit of the doubt is not something I would personally give a stranger. I have always been wary of others, it is in my nature. Until I'm certain I can trust someone, I keep them at a distance. Such caution is practically non-existent here. 

Perhaps my line of thinking needs to change?

"We've hit blocks A through L. Block M is next, if you want to keep going alphabetically."

"Why not? What we don't finish today, we will resume tomorrow."

Robin sighs loudly, rubbing the back of his neck as we walk. He shakes his head, staring at me with a funny look on his face.

"What is it, dear?"

"I'm amazed. I don't know how you do it." He gestures to our list, displaying it for me. "It's not just the number of people, but the attention you gave each and every one. Some of those stories were very difficult to hear."

"They certainly were."

"Yet, you're unfazed. You knew just what to say to make them feel understood and acted so sympathetic. I was ready to flip a table, I was so mad."

"People want strong leaders. One can display compassion without breaking down in tears or exploding into a rage. It's not a good look, you know."

"Clearly I've much to learn."

While our talk with the Chef had been pleasant, most of the stories we've heard weren't. He'd come from a peaceful little settlement in a storage room on Jeannine's university campus. She brought them here, and the rest is history. Hearing him tell us that was like a breath of fresh air after what we'd heard. Some people are so fortunate. Others do not know the meaning of the word. 

I am loath to refer to myself as anything other than a proud, Lilliputian woman. Using Brobdingnagian terminology, I would be considered a former Remnant. Semantics aside, I'm well aware of the struggles people like us face. Our stories share a similar theme. Many of us managed to avoid interacting with Brobs altogether, thankfully. The people who endured Lilli trafficking, however, were not so lucky. 

I think the stories that struck me the most were the ones about Brob culture. It's no secret that they consider all smaller life inferior. The lives of Lillis wouldn't be nearly as tumultuous if only they gave a damn. I will not claim that all Brobs are terrible monsters, but their size certainly makes them a threat to our existence. They trample and crush without even realizing it. For that, I do not blame them. What reasonable person would be careful of every step they took? No, it's the intentional cruelty that I am condemning. You would think that abusing Lillis had to be done in private, since we're 'protected' by the law. Apparently not. As I've recently learned from a neighbor, there are numerous cruelties that take place in broad daylight. 

There are three stories that will definitely haunt my dreams.

The first involved their social media. A Brob girl, around Jeannine's age, was a so-called 'influencer'. She'd been losing followers due to putting out low-effort content and was looking to do something 'controversial' to regain internet fame. Apparently, there had been a short-lived trend involving tormenting Lillis through challenges. Sometimes she would force them to run through obstacle courses of stationary on her desk while she recorded them with her phone. They would go hours without rest. Other times, she would chase them with around with her pen, threatening to run them over with the tip. Every so often, that 'threat' would prove to be very real. The worst of these challenges had her dropping people into a glass of water while she tried to drink it without swallow them. I have no doubt that many lost their lives in that freezing water. Such an end would've been preferable to disappearing down her throat, I suppose. The trend was met with intense, but short-lived backlash. Although it's mostly stopped, those who partook in it still benefit from the new followers it had earned them. 

As the young man from Block F told us his story, he was shivering. By the end of it, he was a mess.

The second story involved their advertising campaigns. According to the woman from Block B, it's a little-known fact that toothpaste companies use Lillis to give their actors whiter teeth. To achieve the illusion of a better product, they place teams of Lillis on their teeth, scrubbing their teeth until they're pearly white. They spend hours in a place that's hot, humid, and generally very disgusting. It is dangerous, given how they are only secured by a flimsy harness around their waists. Each breath produces a draft that could blow them away or suck them in. It is free labour, so many take advantage of it. Those poor Lillis must comply, else they be promptly disposed of. She told us that there was a time when her client licked his teeth, knocking her off. She hung there, dangling above the giant's cavernous maw for two hours before they brought her back to safety. I can only imagine the terror she felt in those painful minutes.

The third story is extremely rare compared to the other two, but it is by far the most egregious. The couple from Block G told us about how their town had been massacred for entertainment. The use of Lilli-built props had been becoming increasingly popular in Brob movies. Due to the costs of special effects, it was much cheaper for production companies to use practical ones. Their entire town was scooped up from the countryside, a place where Brobs are forbidden from going, and taken to a studio. Once there, each part of it was carefully destroyed in different ways to produce impressively realistic shots. The 'model' city, as they called it, was flooded, burned, crushed, and buried. The terrified screams and panicked reactions of the residents seemed authentic because they weren't scripted. Lives were snuffed out without any regard for Lilli rights or common courtesy. 

They told us that after the filming had been completed, less than twenty people had survived out of the thousand that had lived there. They'd lost their only child to collapsing building, as well as other friends and family. I didn't dare ask them to share the details. The survivors were sold and the rubble that was once their home was swept away like dirt. Robin couldn't even hear the full story. He politely excused himself halfway though, and understandably so. I can't think of a more appalling disregard for the lives of those who can't defend themselves.

That nightmare of an experience nearly broke me. As I listened, I imagined the same thing happening to our clan. I imagined losing the people I am responsible for, powerless to do anything to save them. And to lose my only daughter, Sophie, or Robin, for that matter... I don't know if I could go on. Everyone has a weakness, even me. I don't know how I would carry on living without them.

Suddenly, I stop walking. I gaze at Robin fondly, who looks at me with confusion. I am normally not a very affectionate person, but those stories have made me quite emotional. I beckon him over, putting my hands on his face when he does. I pull his head down and bring my lips to his forehead to kiss it.

"I love you, son. You and Sophie are everything to me. I hope you know that."

"I do. So does she..."

His confused expression has become even more confused after my actions. It begins to irritate me, so I let go of his head and try to push him away. He stands up straight, unmoved from his place. The look on his faces then changes to understanding. He is piecing it together, slowly.

"Good. But don't expect me to say it everyday. Words lose their meaning when they're overused."

"Is that so?" He laughs, shaking his head at me. "We love you too, Ma. I'll pass the message to Sophie for you."

I roll my eyes and resume walking. He is quick to follow suit, rushing to my side like usual. 

Despite my best efforts not to act on my emotions, I find myself walking close to him, almost leaning. There is no exchange of words as he offers his arm to me. I take it, holding tightly to him as we make our way through the city. 

I am grateful for my family. Not just them, but my entire clan. I am even beginning to care for the people of this city. Though it means little, I take a moment to mourn those who perished. They were real people. Parents, friends, and co-workers that did not deserve to what they were subjected. Any yet, none of them claim to be victims. Rather than blame the world for dealing them a bad hand, they are constantly moving forward. Even after losing their old lives, they are proudly making new ones for themselves here, in a city that defies all reason. I look up at the sky, far beyond the borders of the city, to the young woman sitting on her bed, engrossed in her studies. None of this would have been possible without her.

"I'm beginning to see that now." I whisper, quietly.

I've heard a lot about Jeannine from others. I have a clear picture of what people think of her now. It's obvious to me why everyone adores her. To be honest, she's beginning to win me over as well. Almost. Though, despite what I've heard, I do take issue with the way she runs things. She's neglected some key safety precautions, likely unintentionally, and City Hall seems to be an utter mess. I must give Mr. Nick credit for shouldering such responsibility alone for so long. Moreover, this city has enormous potential. I would hate to see if wasted when I can do something about it. Many of my questions have already been answered, but there are just as many that remain. I need to continue speaking with the citizens. By the end of the week, I'll likely have reached the limit of what can be gleamed from others. After that, I will need to change my approach. What I am seeking to understand will be much more...personal.

The time for her and me to formally meet is quickly approaching.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 29 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine and Nick celebrate her good grades...

POV: Jeannine


My eyes light up as my final’s grades appear on my laptop screen. I must hand it to my professors for delivering them so quickly. It's hardly been a week since the last of my exams.

"Straight A's, even in that one class I thought for sure I'd get a B in!" I cheer, my clasped hands pressed firmly to my mouth. I can't contain my smile! I'd be jumping for joy, if not for the city of people nearby who probably wouldn't appreciate the resulting earthquake.

From my seat at the desk, I lean over to my left, looking over to the corner of the room where Magna Gratia resides. It looks peaceful, as it should be. I'm sure most of the tinies are enjoying a relaxing weekend, not unlike myself. Summer break began last Friday, but I never really feel 'free' until I get my grades. Now that I have them, it's time to kick back and relax. It was a tough year, academically speaking. Next year will be my last before graduation. The way things are going, I might even get some award.

I feel like celebrating. I'd call Sara, but she's probably busy. Despite her worries, she ended up passing all her finals except one. Retakes will be sometime this week meaning she has a lot of studying to do. I bet she'd come out if I asked, which is why I'm not going to. Unfortunately, it was a core requirement, and I'd prefer to continue having my bestie, with me in my future classes.

Since Sara's unavailable, that leaves my other best friend. I pick up my phone and send Nick a text.


"im going out to celebrate my grades."

"want to come along with me?"

I wait a few seconds before I see him come online. He's usually very quick with his replies.

"Sure! I'll be in the cabin in 30 minutes."

"See you soon."

While he gets ready, I get up and do the same. Heading over to my closet, I pick out a nice, blue sundress with a yellow floral pattern and change into it. 

I grab a pair of open pumps that complement the outfit nicely as well as a cute, matching purse. I tie my hair into a ponytail with a ribbon. Having my hair on my back in this heat would feel unpleasant. While I usually don't wear much makeup, I feel like it today. Nothing too fancy, just some mascara, lipstick, foundation, and concealer. Finally, I polish my nails and toenails as well.

I check myself in the mirror, satisfied with my look. It's pretty, without being provocative. A massive improvement from the stay-at-home look I've gotten far too used to. 

Exiting the bathroom, I head over to the city and carefully kneel. I put my earpiece in and look for Nick on the roof of the building where the earring is currently resting. 

"I'm inside. Ready when you are."

I give a silent nod and pick the earring up, putting it onto my right ear. Once it's secure, I stand up and head out of my apartment. 

"Someone looks especially nice today." He tells me. "I like what you did with your hair."

"Thanks! I just felt like it, you know?"

"It works! That's for sure. By the way, where are we going?"

"To the movies. They've got a great ice cream place there." I tell him while walking through the busy street. It's a Friday night, so I'm not surprised by the crowd. Thankfully the mall is only a few minutes away. We still have half an hour before the movie starts so there's no rush. "I'll be getting three scoops with extra toppings. I've earned it, haven't I?"

"You most certainly have. I'll be having some of that too."

"Of course. I wouldn't bring you along just to watch me indulge." I laugh. "I hope you like mint chocolate chip."

"I don't even know what that is."

"Really? Okay, we have to change that!"

A few minutes later we arrive at the mall. Squeezing past the hordes of people, I manage to make it to our destination. I approach the vendor and order my movie ticket, along with my ice-cream. 

Before I take a single spoon of it, I discreetly remove my earring and place it onto one of the scoops in the cup. I figure it'll be easier for Nick to open the hatch and take a taste than for me to try to offer some to him. I see the tiny door open as he steps out to collect some.

"Wow. That's amazing! I didn't think ice-cream would be so cold!" He laughs.

"It's literally in the name." I smile.

With my other hand, I grab the spoon and dip it into the same scoop he's on. I take a nice chunk of the stuff, careful to avoid taking him or the earring with me as I bring it to my mouth.

"Hey!" He complains. "Let me get back in before you start eating!"

"Sorry, couldn't wait any longer." I give him a cheeky smile. "Better hurry before I go for another spoonful."

Once he's safe and secure, I take the earring back and wipe it off with a napkin. I put it back on my ear and chat with the little guy while eating. I take my time, enjoying the taste and company until just before the movie is set to start. Throwing the empty cup away, I then head to screen five.

The next two and a half hours are relatively quiet. Nick comments every so often, though I can't respond. When the noise is loud enough, I do manage to sneak a word or two in. It's his first time seeing a movie, so I completely understand. This must be an experience for him. I'm happy he's enjoying it so much, even if it is some silly action flick, I'll forget about by next week. By the end of the movie, I find myself craving more ice-cream, but ultimately decide to hold off. I can't be eating that much in one day, lest it affect my figure.

I hurry out since I'm sure Nick has a lot he wants to say. We walk and talk as I head to the mall's exit.

"What a day! I never knew movies were so… so… wow.” Nick laughs. "Please tell me we can go again sometime. I managed to capture some of it on my camera to show the others, but the perspective is terrible. Everything on your scale just looks distorted." 

"I'm glad you enjoyed it, and sure, we can go again! I think you'll just have to deal with the perspective, though. I doubt I could make anything out on a cinema screen your size. Maybe next time we can compromise and watch a movie on my phone together?" I reply with a laugh of my own. 

I try to imagine what it must have looked like for him. It's not the first time I've tried to understand how Lillis see the world. In fact, the idea has been on my mind a lot lately; ever since I saw myself through his camera. It's just us now, so... Maybe I can finally bring it up?

"Though, what do you mean by distorted?" I ask him, curiously. "I thought we were just big to you."

"It's kind of hard to describe. It's a Lilli thing, I guess." He pauses to think. "Like, if you were just 'big', it wouldn't be so extreme. But you're massive, at least to me. You caught a glimpse of that when we video chatted, remember?"

"Right, yeah. It's easy to forget what I look like to you guys. I think I looked quite stunning in that video call, at least." I giggle. "Rather, however much of me you could fit in the frame."

Once we leave the mall, I decide to take us somewhere quiet, where I won't have to worry about being seen. I spot a bench and take a seat. There's no hurry to get home. Plus, I'd like to continue this conversation with him. I have more questions and I don't think I'd be comfortable asking anyone else.

At the risk of making things awkward, I decide to make a request.

"Hey, Nick." I begin, nervously. "Could you tell me what I look like to you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Describe me. I don't get to see myself from your perspective, so I'd like you to be my eyes into your world."

"Where'd that come from? Weird request, but okay." He chuckles. "I can't see much of your face from here, though. Just your cheek and hair."

"Oh, sorry! Here, hold on..." I quickly take my earring off and hold it about half an arm's length from my face. "How's the view now? Better?" 

"Well, at this distance I can see your whole face. It looks normal, unlike the one time when I was staring at your cavern of a mouth. It's like I'm seeing an actual face rather than some..." He trails off.

"Some? Some what?" I give him a warm smile. "It's just me, Nick. Be honest, I'm curious."

"...some strange, geological feature." He finally says.

"First you call me a heavy-duty crane and now a geological feature?" I laugh. "You have such a way with words."


"No, it's perfectly alright. I asked for honesty, didn't I?" I try to encourage him. "I find it fascinating to hear how you guys perceive me. Sure, you could just film me on your phone so I can see for myself, but that's not the same. I want to know what it's actually like from your perspective."

"Considering you've been showing me the world from your eyes, I guess it's only fair I do the same. I'll give it a shot. No filter, right?"

"Just don't get too carried away. I trust that even without a filter you can still stay respectful." I can't help but smirk a little as I move the earring a bit closer to my face, now just an of inch away. "What's the view like now? Getting closer to geological features again?"

I hold my breath as I await his response. I can't help but feel self-conscious right now. Though it was my idea to do this, I worry about what he might say next.

"Well..." He begins. "I'm getting pretty well acquainted with your nose, if that's what you mean. Looks like something jutting off a cliffside, but I can still tell that it's a nose. Oh, and nice pores, dude." 

"I see, so things change from normal to unrecognizable quite quickly, sort of the opposite of how I see you. From far away, Lillis and their structures don't look like anything special, easily mistaken for dust and pebbles. Lean in close, and you can actually make out what everything is." 

"Yeah, exactly. Put me too close and your lips become all I can see. Like, a wall of pink that just goes on and on. Same for your eye when you investigate the cabin to see me. One big pool of color."

I pause for a moment again before continuing. His answers are making me more curious by the minute. I feel like I'm starting to understand him better.

"Really?" I hear him laughing heartily. "Are you trying to show me your nostrils? I think I can see some hair-"

"Hey, don't look up my nose!" I blurt out, quickly moving the earring away. I bring my other hand to my nose to cover it, feeling embarrassed. He probably didn't appreciate being jerked around like that. Calming down, I put my other hand down and apologize for being unintentionally rough. "Sorry, I didn't mean to move you like that. Are you okay in there?"

He's silent for a few seconds before responding. "Y-Yeah. Doing fine. Umm..."

My gaze falls downward to my right hand, which I hadn't realized had been dangling the earring so, very close to my chest. I feel my face turning red. My first instinct is to move him away, but I don't. In moments like these, I feel it best to make a joke out of it. It's better than making things awkward, I think. I'll pretend it was intentional. 

"What's the matter? You were so eager to tell me how 'big' I was last time we had this talk."

A second silence comes from Nick, followed by an uncomfortable laugh. "Can't say I expected that, but sure. Let's keep this going." He clears his throat. "Big is an understatement. I'd look away, but it'd be pointless since it's all I can see. It's a good thing I'm not afraid of heights, because that canyon looks pretty...deep. But it sure beats your nose." 

I feel my face grow a deeper shade of crimson. Being in a dress like this means that I'm showing more skin than usual. It's not like I meant to dangle him there. What kind of perverted sights am I subjecting him to? Even so, his descriptions are flattering. 

"Don't worry, I think this is as far as you'll get. You're cute, but not that cute." I tease him. 

"Ouch!" Nick pretends to be hurt, unable to hold back a chuckle. "Fine, I prefer Lilli girls anyway. Too much woman for me to handle, realistically." He fires back.

I move the earring around and underneath my chest, eventually setting it down on the sundress' cloth in my lap. 

"Pfft. So, you can manage a city, but one girl is too much for you? Figures..." I poke at him. "Jokes aside, I'm sure a cute guy like you will make some lucky Lilli girl quite happy."

"Here's hoping I don't have to look up past a mountainous shelf just to see her face." He chuckles. "Seriously, it's hard to believe you're several kilometers away now, even though I've only moved down a little."

His comment gets a genuine chuckle out of me. Maybe it's the absurdity of this situation, but I found that comparison funny. "The only thing several kilometers away is my face. Technically, both that 'shelf' and the ground you're on are also still me. Is that part of the 'distortion'? Not quite taking it in that all that area around you is just one single person?"

"I struggle to wrap my head around that. In my mind I know that it's just you, Jeannine. My ridiculously big, stupidly kind, Brob friend. eyes are telling me that I've gone off to some alien world. Your lap looks like a blue and yellow plain that just goes on endlessly. Your torso rises far beyond any building I've ever seen. The 'distortion' gets really bad now that I'm on you, like this. It's like zooming in too much." 

"It's amazing to think about. I think differences like these are so interesting. They ought to be appreciated more." Grabbing the earring again, I place it down onto the bench next to me before standing up. Satisfied with this admittedly odd conversation, I adjust my dress and prepare to walk home.

"Now there's a moon-sized rear right in my face. Just when I thought I was taking you all in, you suddenly 'grew'. You're towering, quite literally."

I turn around and put a hand on my hip. As much as I want to yell at him for that, I suppose I had it coming. I should've made it clear that 'this' was done.

"You can stop now. I get the message, I'm very big. Now stop ogling me already."

"Alright, alright. Sorry if I went overboard." He laughs, awkwardly. "How about I ask you something this time? What's it like to carry us? Like, having twenty lives all fit on your 'little' fingernail. I'm also curious." 

I hadn't expected him to ask something like that. I think for a moment, searching for the right words to describe the feeling. No one's ever asked me how I feel in these situations.

"Sure. Mentally, it's quite stressful because I don't want to hurt any of you. Having to be so careful with someone so frail, it can be daunting. Physically, it's easy. I barely even notice that you're there, which is part of what makes me worry." I pause again to think, before continuing. "If I'm being honest, it can be enjoyable too. Though, I try not to let it get to my head. Knowing I can effortlessly lift a whole group of people makes me feel powerful. Like, I matter."

"But you do matter! I'd like to think we'd have been just as good friends if you were a Lilli, or vice versa." Nick's tone becomes more sincere as he continues. "I sleep better knowing that someone as powerful as yourself uses it to help those who are weaker. 

I kind of understand why some Brobs think so little of us. We're weak and fragile, compared to you. You've got more strength in your pinky finger than fifty of us combined. Yet, you're humble about it. I respect that. Seriously, I do."

"Aww, Nick, don't be like that! Physical strength isn't everything, look at how much you guys accomplished in such a short time! You built a better city in less than a year than we've Brobs done in decades! It's easy to be destructive, but it takes real dedication to be constructive. I think you guys are still way ahead of us in that regard. I only wish the others would see it..."

I pause again, pondering the situation as I stare down at the earring on the bench.

"Do you have any more questions?" Nick asks. "I think I can do one more before this gets to be too much for both of us."

"Well..." I say, picking the earring back up "There is one last thing..." I crouch down to gently place the earring on the ground, between my sandal-clad feet. Afterward, I stand back up at full height, using my hands to hold my dress close to my legs. After my carelessness a moment ago, I'm not going to give him a view up my dress too. "I know this is your guys' usual perspective, but I never really got a description of what I look like from all the way down there. Last time you were on the table. So, one last description please."

"Yes, ma'am." Nick takes a good long look before speaking. "Well, your chest is in the way again. That's about as high as I can see. It gets blurry after that, to be honest. I can see fuzzy shapes, but no details. From down here, you look much more imposing. Your legs just go on and on... Your foot's the size of the plaza and you've got this powerful, otherworldly presence. I feel like I'm standing before..." He goes quiet for a moment, trying to find the right word. "...a goddess." 

However red my face was before, it was nothing compared to this very moment. I can't even look in his direction, I'm so flustered. Not because of the word, but because I know that he's being totally honest.

"Don't start with the goddess stuff now, I thought we already discussed that!" I huff in annoyance as I bend down to pick her earring back up. "Yes, I might be strong and big but that's where the comparison ends. Maybe you just can't think straight after so much excitement in one day." I continue while putting it back on my ear. "That aside... Thanks for being my eyes into the Lilli world Nick, I enjoyed it. And I'm pretty sure you did too, one way or another."

"Y-Yeah, sorry. That's what happens when I turn off my filter." He apologizes. "You're very welcome! Honestly, it was funny when you held me over your-"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence."

"Yeah. That might be for the best."

"And not a word of this to anyone." I say softly.

"Wouldn't dream of it." He promises. "Shall we head home?"

"Yeah. I think we've both learned enough for one day."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 30 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Ori and Louis enjoy a quiet afternoon in the park...

POV: Ori


"Oriiiii!" Louis whines at me.

"Patience, Lou. We're almost done."

"But Ori..." He pouts, crossing his arms over his chest defiantly. "It's boring. I want to go play."

Wherever did he learn that? Not from me, surely. I wiggle my pen in front of his face, guiding his attention back to the notebook we are studying from. 

"Louis, stop being difficult. As soon as you finish the page, I'll let you go play."

"But whyyyy..."

We've been doing this for a while now. Ever since he came to live with me, I have been doing my best to teach him when I'm not busy making clothes for the town. I am used to tutoring kids, especially young ones like himself. We're starting with basic reading comprehension, as not to overwhelm him. He's a sharp one, and I want him to live up to the potential I see in him. Whether he's cooperative or not seems to depend entirely on his mood. Even on the best of days, his health is also a factor, since he tires so easily. He has been doing better lately, but I would rather not push him. Playing outside for an hour a day has been doing wonders. Sunny, days like this are especially nice, hence why I decided have our lesson in the park.

I hadn't considered how much of a distraction it would be. Today has not been very productive.

"Because I said so. It is for your own good. You are almost seven years old! Big boys like yourself must learn how to read." I tell him, bringing his football out from my backpack. He has been obsessed with it ever since. "Didn't you want to show me those new tricks you learned?"

"Maybe..." He tries to lie. I can see in his eyes that he's coming around. "Okay, I'll read."

He shuffles close to me on the bench, looking at the book in my lap. I put my arm around him and tap my pen twice by the word 'house'. "How do you say this word? Sound it out like we practiced."

"Ha. Oo. Sa. Eh. Um..."

"Take your time."

"H-House?" He whispers, unsure of himself.

"Yes! Good, now can you read the whole sentence for me?" 

"The blue... m-mouse... lives in the... red... house."

"Excellent!" I clap for him, proudly. "Okay, now you may go. Have fun, but don't run too far."

He happily takes the ball and scampers off to kick it around. I put our notebook away and watch him from the bench. The park is not very busy today, which is unusual given the nice weather. It has been warming up lately as we approach the summertime. I have even begun wearing dresses. I recently got a cute yellow sundress. I couldn't help but notice Jeannine has done the same, wearing such pretty outfits. She's partial to blue, I think. I've nagged her to try yellow, since it would highlight her eyes, but she's stuck in her ways. Those baggy clothes do her no favors. Someone with her figure should not be so shy. It simply baffles me. 

Suddenly, a loud 'click' is heard from across the apartment. It is the telltale sign that Jeannine is home. She usually comes straight to her room to drop her bag and greet us. After that, she'll either study or relax on her bed. We've grown pretty used to her routine by now, especially the ones who been around the longest like myself. This is our 'ordinary'. 

"Hello?" A voice calls out from the other room, as the door shuts. "Jeannine, are you home? I let myself in with the spare key."

My blood runs cold when I hear the stranger's voice. That is most certainly not the voice of Jeannine. It is a woman's voice, possibly older. There shouldn't be anyone in this apartment, least of all when Jeannine isn't home! Who could it be, and how did they know about her spare key? This does not make any sense. Looking around the park, I can see that everyone has stopped in their tracks. Turning around to the street, I can see that traffic has also come to a halt, as drivers step out to look at the sky. The city has come to a complete standstill, as we all ask ourselves the same question.

"What in the world is going on?"

We listen anxiously, wondering where she will go. Or what she will do. 

Her footsteps grow louder as she approaches. There's no mistaking it, she's headed for the bedroom. I snap out of my trance and run to Louis. I grab him and hold him close to me. He's trembling, gazing beyond the city's skyline. The unwelcome giantess then enters the room, standing at the foot of the bed. Only then do we get a good look at her. She's a Brob woman, probably in her fifties by the look of her face. She's slightly shorter than Jeannine, dressed in floral sundress with thin straps that ends around her knees. Her dyed-blonde hair is falls just past her shoulders. Her eyeliner and lipstick borders highlight her best features. Her looks are eerily familiar. Few would be able to make the connection. I have seen her before in one of Jeannine's pictures. I know exactly who this is.

It is Jeannine's mother.

"Hm. I thought she would be home by now..." She crosses her arms over her chest, tapping her foot impatiently. "Guess I'll wait here."

She takes her seat on the bed and pulls out her phone, likely to text her daughter. Sitting just a few kilometers from the city's border does not put us at ease. It would only take her two steps to close the distance. Unsure of what to do, the citizens of Magna Gratia remain still, frozen like statues. We silently watch her, praying she'll leave without noticing us. After a few minutes, she grows impatient. She puts her phone away and gets up to pace around the room. Standing near her daughter's dresser, she wipes a finger over the top. She makes a disapproving face.

"Filthy." She frowns. "She must not be cleaning."

She then walks over to the desk, coming dangerously close to the city. She wipes another finger and is met with the same result. Without another word, she looks around the room as if scanning for something. She does not seem to find it, and promptly leaves the room. 

I finally take a breath. I had not realized I'd been holding it this entire time. I have become rather lightheaded. Suddenly, a different voice is heard throughout the city. It comes from the decommissioned speaker system, at a volume no louder than a Brob's whisper, but easily audible to us Lillis.

"Citizens of Magna Gratia, this is an emergency announcement. Seek the nearest shelter immediately. Do not leave until it is safe. We've contacted Jeannine, and she is rushing home as we speak."

The message repeats once more, but I have already begun to move. I put Louis on my back and hurry home. Thankfully, we live right across the street from the park. Everyone else does the same, going indoors. Those who cannot get to their homes quickly enough are welcomed into the homes of other citizens. Within minutes, the streets are barren. To any outsider, the city would look positively desolate. Still hugging Louis close, we sit by the window and look out from there. Though our house does little in the way of safety, it's better than being outdoors and exposed.

A short time after, Jeannine's mother returns to the room with a broom and dustpan. She begins sweeping the floors of the bedroom while innocently humming a tune. She begins on the opposite end of the room and works her way to the other, taking her time with each area. She's meticulous, getting under the bed, behind the dresser, under the desk, and even the room's other three corners. 

Finally, she arrives at our corner. She stands close to the city, moving the broom toward it. I hold back a scream as the giant bristles loom by our city's border. Each one is thicker than an oak and taller than several buildings stack on top of one another. The buildings we've taken cover in would give no resistance in the face of such an overwhelming force.

Her next motion will casually wipe our city away, no different than the dust in the room.

"Ori, I'm scared!" Louis begins to cry. 

"I know. It's going to be okay, just close your eyes." I tell him, as he buries his face in my chest. He is scared for his life. I'm no different, but I'm trying to be strong for him. I manage to avoid crying, but I can do nothing to stop the trembling. I stroke his head and whisper to him. "Shhh... Everything is going to be okay."

I shut my eyes and brace myself for what's to come. I hope it will be quick. This reminds me of Céline. I have not felt terror like this since I was with her. No, if these are to be my last moments, I refuse to spend them thinking about her. I instead think of Jeannine, who must be worried sick. If she finds her beloved city in ruin... It will devastate her. She will certainly blame herself.

I embrace Louis tightly as we await our annihilation.

"What's this?" 

Rather than sweeping us away, the giantess instead moves the broom away from the city. Stepping back from the border, she begins to lower her body. As her knees hit the ground, the entire city suffers a violent earthquake. I use my free hand to hold onto the windowsill, as our house shakes. Even our furniture slides out of place. From her kneeling position, she leans over, bringing her head dangerously close. Her face dominates the sky, becoming all we can see. Every feature and little detail are visible from so close. Every pore and blemish magnified and exposed.

"Too close. Far too close! Please, stay away!" I yell in my head.

 Her lips part as she speaks again. "How very strange..."

Being so close to the city makes the situation far worse. The natural volume of her voice, making no effort to hold it back, explodes through Magna Gratia. A crack appears on the wall of our home, stretching diagonally onto our ceiling. Several windows shatter as well. She is now close enough to make out the details of what she's seeing. Her giant eyes then widen as the realization hits her. She sits back up, still on her knees, and simply stares. Her expression is a mix of awe and confusion. 

"I didn't know Jeannine was interested in models. It's so small... Lilli-sized, probably." She thinks aloud, trailing off at the end. "I wonder if..."

We are left wondering what she was going to say for exactly two seconds, before she purses her lips and blows out.

Windows rattle violently as a hurricane moves through the city. The force of the gale is disastrous. Cars slide across the streets, some even lifting off the ground. Garbage containers and mailboxes alike are launched through the air at disturbing speeds. Trees bend as the powerful gusts push them to their limits. I see at least two snap cleanly in half. Miscellaneous smaller objects smash against buildings causing varying degrees of damage. It is utter chaos.

And it was a single woman's breath!

The artificial disaster ends as the giantess's lips come together once more. I begin to cough when I smell the polluted air coming through the window. It reeks of her breath. Whatever she ate earlier has now permeates the air down here. The temperature has easily gone up five degrees, as I feel myself begin to sweat. Though I am fairly sure I had already been sweating beforehand. I then shut the window to preserve what little clean air remains inside the house. The titanic woman inspects the city curiously, unaware of the damage she's caused. I'd never seen such a casual display of power. It's scary to think that she could have done far more if she'd intended to harm us. Up to this point, she hasn't done anything particularly malicious.

I come to regret those thoughts when she continues speaking. 

"This has to be Lilli made. Only they could make something this detailed. I do not see any, though..." She frowns, her eyelids droopy as she folds her arms over her generous chest. It's a look of pure disdain, bordering on contempt. "Lucky for them. I'd been itching to put some specks in their place."

I take a shaky breath as I let her words sink in. Despite her relation to Jeannine, she isn't her. 

There is no compassion in those eyes. The warmth that Jeannine emanates is entirely missing. Her words evoke a primal fear in me, no different than with my former owner. I'm thankful that we all hid indoors. I don't even want to think about what she would have done if she caught one of us. All we can do is hide and wait. So far, the illusion of an empty, model city remains.

"Just go away. Leave us in peace and never come back." I whisper, praying for it to come true.

"I'll never understand why she's so obsessed with things so small and fragile." She shakes her head, disapprovingly. Her frown turns to a grin as she gets an idea. "If this were a real city, it'd be so pathetic. If I wanted to, I could just..."

The giantess suddenly goes quiet. The city and the bedroom go completely silent. I stare up at the woman's face. She is swishing her tongue around her mouth. It is almost as if she's...

"No. No, she wouldn't." I say aloud. "Please. Don't."

Once she collects enough saliva, she purses her lips like before. Instead of blowing, she decides to spit it out onto the city. We see the mass of saliva leave her mouth in slow motion. It falls from the sky, appearing to grow in size as it descends upon us. It impacts the residential zone, flooding the streets between the apartment buildings and spreading through the park. Cars, trees, and street signs alike are washed away with the rapid currents. I manage to shut the window before the torrent hits our building. Thank goodness we were indoors, or else we surely would have drowned in the lake she cruelly dropped on us. The water levels rise high, at least three stories. Some of it leaks through our window even as I brace it with all my strength. 

I pray that it holds.

Shortly after, the glob of spit begins to spread out until the water levels become low enough to let go of the window. From what I can see, she covered several blocks with her disgusting spit. Buildings drip with sticky, foamy fluid. 

There is just so much of it! I can hardly believe it came from the mouth of a single person. It is a surreal sight. One that makes me feel dreadfully small, before this towering titaness. The feeling of powerlessness is not something I ever wanted to feel again. She can and will do whatever she pleases. There is not anything I or anyone else can do, and that is more frustrating than I can properly express.

I know it's selfish, but I do not care if anyone else is okay. I'm only concerned about myself and the little boy in my arms. As the situation worsens by the minute, I feel my scar begin to hurt. It throbs, as if a wound has been reopened. It's a physiological response to this terrifying monster of a Brob.

In a surprising twist, the woman's expression softens. She wears a look of concern, though I have no clue who it's for.

"Oh no! What have I done..." She presses her finger to her lips nervously. "Jeannine is going to be furious. This must have been awfully expensive. Umm..."

She turns around in place, grabbing her purse from behind her. Setting it down in her lap, she begins searching through it. Judging by the look on her face, she cannot find what she is looking for. After some frustrated grumbling, she pulls out a tissue. One that looks to be either used, or simply old. It must have been in there for a while. She clumps it into a wad beyond the city skyline. Without warning, she then brings it down onto the city. 

The sky becomes snow white as the tissue descends. Her hand brings it down to the area where she spit, and she moves it around to soak it up. Her actions do clean up some of the saliva, but they take the streets and much of the park with it. Thankfully, she realizes this, and promptly stops. Her panicked expression tells us that she is not thinking straight. She stands back up, forgetting to remove the filthy tissue as she backs away from the city. It sits there, looming over us like some otherworldly hill. 

"Please, Jeannine. Get home, already! Save us from your mother!"

As if on cue, we hear the apartment door burst open. Not a moment later, our beloved caretaker arrives in the room. I do not think I have ever felt so relieved just to a see someone. Jeannine rushes over to her mother. She's out of breath and drenched in sweat, likely from running. Upon seeing the city, her expression becomes grim. 

"Mom! Step away from that city! Right now!"

Her voice is so loud that I must cover my ears. In her panic, she must not have realized that she was yelling. Her mother is also surprised by her outburst. Jeannine has never been the type to overreact, let alone yell. Her mother begins to step back, turning to face her. 

"That's no way to greet your mother, young lady. I have not seen you in months! I thought you'd be happy to see me."

"I-I am, Mom." She calms down, beginning to catch her breath. Her voice becomes quieter now, but no less on edge. "Please tell me you didn't touch my..." She tries to come up with a word, while keeping the secret. Perhaps it's because lying does not come naturally to her. The word she chooses is the same as her mother used. "My model. It was very expensive and it's extremely fragile."

"Fragile is an understatement. I tried to dust it off and nearly toppled a building!" She laughs, lying through her teeth. Rather than telling her what she did, she tries to change the subject. "Why do you have that? It's very odd, even for you."

Jeannine pauses briefly. Unlike before, she is calmer now. She speaks confidently and respectfully, even though her words are untrue. "As a Political Science major, I spend a lot of time studying the other nations. I purchased a Lilli city to help me understand how they live."

"Okay. I'd rather you use the money I send you for other things. This is rather exorbitant for a study aid."

"Maybe so, but I did ace my last exam. Do you remember? It was because of my research." 

"Whatever." Her mother shrugs, walking past her and out of the room. "Let's catch up. I want to hear all about your university life!"

"Sure. Just give me a moment to freshen up."

Jeannine steps over to the city. She's visibly trembling now. All of the confidence from a moment ago has melted away. As she kneels down by the city's edge, her eyes widen in horror. She carefully removes the tissue, only to find ruined roads beneath and buildings covered in spit. Her other hand covers her mouth, suppressing a gasp. She begins to piece together what happened. 

In a hushed voice she whispers to us, "Is everyone alright?"

The speaker system comes online once more, broadcasting louder now that it's just us and her.

"There was no loss of life, but the city has sustained some damage. People are...understandably frightened."

Jeannine whimpers, closing her eyes tightly for a moment. She takes a shaky breath and looks at the damage more closely. 

"Jeannine, are you coming or what?" Her mother calls to her from the living room.

"Yes, Mom. Be right there." She turns her head away from us, trying not to yell while so close. She then looks back at us with an apologetic look. "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry, everyone. I'm going to fix this."

With that, she stands up and exits the room, quietly shutting the door behind her.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 31 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine deals with the aftermath...

POV: Jeannine


I don't remember the last time I felt this angry. The closest thing would be when Sara and I had our argument, but even then, I didn't feel this way. My face feels hot and I feel like screaming. 

I was out shopping for groceries when my phone started going off. Text after text kept pouring in. At first, I figured Nick was just excited about something again, or maybe he had some last-minute request for me. As they continue to develop the city, they are always asking for more resources. Knowing better than to ignore him, I pulled out my phone to see what he was saying. I felt my blood run cold as I read his messages.

"Jeannine, did you invite a guest over?"

"Are you home?"

"There's someone in your house."

"They are coming into your bedroom."

"She doesn't see us. Yet."

"Magna Gratia is in danger." 


I dropped my basket and hurried out of the store. Once I was out, I broke into a full-on sprint all the way home. I was only five minutes away, but I didn't want to waste a single second.

Who could it be? Was there a break in? Could it be the landlord? No, Nick said it was a 'she'. Did I drop my keys somewhere? I check my purse, confirming they are still with me. I know for a fact that I never gave my spare key to anyone. I keep it outside my door, hidden inside of the potted plant by the welcome mat. It was Mom's idea when she helped me move in. I didn't tell anyone about it, not even Sara.

That only leaves one person that it could be. Someone who I know for a fact harbors a deep hatred of Lillis.

"Oh no. This couldn't be any worse!"

I don't think I've ever run that fast in my life. If I'd timed myself, it would have probably been a new personal best. By the time I made it to my building, rode the elevator up, and entered my apartment, it was already too late.

And now I am here, shutting the door to my bedroom. I am horrified, in utter disbelief, and extremely anxious. But most of all, I am furious. I glare at Mom from across the room. 

She's sitting on the couch now, facing away, waiting for me to join her. The way she casually brushed me off after doing what she did is unbelievable. I made it very clear that if she was going to visit, she should tell me first. Even if she had her mind set on surprising me, that is no excuse for going into my room and destroying something of mine. What she did was unacceptable!

"She's still your mother. Try not to explode all at once." I remind myself. "You know how defensive she gets."

I come around the couch and take my seat next to her. I force a smile and try to keep calm, despite how I'm feeling. Mom scoots over and wraps her arms around me, bringing me close for a hug. She sighs deeply, sound very content.

"I've missed you, baby. You hardly call anymore. I haven't seen you since Christmas!"

I love my mom, really I do, but I'm finding it difficult to hug her back. She doesn't deserve it. Yet, I find my arms instinctively embracing her anyway. I embrace her, only for her to return the squeeze twice as hard. The two of us then pull away and face each other. She's smiling from ear to ear, she's so happy. She must have missed me far more than I realized.

"I missed you too, Mom. It's been ages. Time flies."

"Maybe for you, miss university girl! Some of us work jobs. Very boring jobs that are no fun at all. But they pay your tuition, so they're worth it. You know, I never did get to attend university..."

"Yes, Mom, I know. You've told me this a million times."

"Oh, have I? Well, then you know how important it is to do well in your studies. You're very privileged."

I'm well aware of that, considering I deal with some of the most underprivileged, neglected, and abused people in the world. It would be ungrateful to complain about the little things when I know how people like Nick, Ori, and the rest have suffered. Compared to them, I am beyond blessed.

"I take nothing for granted, you know that." 

"Good. That's the girl I raised. And here I was worrying that university would change you! And with Sara's influence, oh my..." She laughs. "How is she, by the way?"

"She's good. Slacking as usual, but good."

"So, tell me." She says while taking my hands into hers. "I want to hear all about your second year! What you've learned and seen, who you've met and where you've been." She then gives me a suggestive look. "Are there any boys? You can tell me. I won't judge."

I wish we could have had this conversation under better circumstances. When I was younger, we used to love to gossip. We were much closer then, before I learned about her sick, twisted tendencies. As much as I love her, I cannot overlook how she treats those smaller than her. Whereas Sara did what she did out of apathy, Mom enjoys hurting them. I see it on her face, plain as day, when she crushed them between her fingers. I saw it again when I entered my room. She takes pleasure in it.

Suddenly, I don't want her hands touching mine. These hands were used to destroy my city. I can even see some dirt under one of her nails, likely debris that got caught under there when she was trying to clean up her mess. That dirt could just have easily been blood. We got lucky.

"Mom, we need to talk." I say, taking my hands back. "We can gossip all you want later. First, we need to address what you did."

To my surprise, her expression turns apologetic. Almost remorseful, if my eyes aren't playing tricks on me.

"You're right."

"I... I am?" I ask, confused by her instant agreement.

"I was hoping I could play it off like it didn't matter, but I should've known better." She sighs. "While I won't apologize for letting myself in, I am sorry for touching your things. Especially something that expensive. I hope you can fix it."

I stare at her in disbelief. This is so unlike her. My mother is the definition of stubborn. She never apologizes, either. What has come over her? I don't understand. 

"I'm not sure if it can be fixed. That's beside the point, though..."

"I don't see why it can't still help you with your research. I only broke a small part of it?"

Explaining why her actions are so much worse than she realizes will be impossible unless I expose my secret. She has no idea that my 'model' is home to an entire population of Lillis. I shudder at what she might've done if she'd discovered that, or worse, if I had taken longer to get home. My entire city would be gone! My friends, our effort, our meticulous planning, all gone with one stomp of her foot. But that didn't actually happen. The damage was minimal and no lives were lost.

So why am I so angry?

"I guess so." I finally say, unable to meet her gaze. "Just, please, never do that again. Don't go in my room and don't touch things that you know are fragile."

"Yes, dear. I swear I won't, okay?"


I take a deep breath to calm myself down. It does little to change how I'm feeling. Despite hearing her apologize, I am still upset, only now I'm not sure who to be upset at. If not her, then who? I suppose the only one who could be responsible is me. This happened before with Sara. The only difference was that she kept her hands to herself. I'd been meaning to put a different lock on the door, one that can be locked from either side, but never got around to it. Thanks to me putting it off, this happened. It could have been prevented if only I'd taken the time to protect them better.

It's all my fault.

"Jeannine, are you okay? If I knew it would bother you this much I never would have come near it. I said I was sorry, baby."

I feel a pain in my chest. The feeling of guilt is growing. I'm no longer angry at her, but the look on my face must say otherwise.

"Mom, can I ask you something?"

"Jeannine, you can ask me anything. I'm not a stranger." 

"Do you still hate tinies?"

She makes a guilty face, nodding. "This is because I spat on your model, isn't it?" 

"Why, Mom? What did they ever do to you?"

"I just don't like them, plain and simple. As long as they stay in their little corner of the world, I have no problem with them. They can build their little buildings and live their little lives, like real people."

"And what about the Remnants?"

"I say they're fair game. They know that this nation is no longer theirs, yet they stay out of some backwards principles. They lost the war, didn't they?"

"They did-"

"Then they should leave. Those who stay are stubborn, and it's our job to remind them who's in charge. They forget that what's left of their nation only exists because we let it. It was a gift. Remnants spit in our faces by remaining here, creeping around just under our noses. I felt like spitting back."

"That's terrible." I tell her, shaking my head. I'm not surprised by her answer, only disappointed. She hasn't changed at all. "I don't expect you to treat them as kindly as I do, but is it too much to ask for you to live and let live?"

"Nope. I stand by my principles. Though, you'll be happy to know that I don't do it like I used to! No more drowning in boiling water or spraying them with insecticide. Just one, quick, merciful stomp of the foot. No more unnecessary suffering."

I look at my mom, who seems to be very proud of herself. Does she expect me to praise her? The way I see it, she's gone from being a psychopath to just plain cruel. Now she's no different than the vast majority of our people. What an improvement...

"I don't know what to say."

"Oh, come on! Wouldn't you rather I tell you the truth? It's better than telling you what you want to hear."

"After hearing all that, maybe it would be better if you just lied to me."

"Hey." She says, raising a brow at me. "You were the one who asked."

Rather than answer her, I get up and head to the kitchen. I turn the kettle on to make myself a cup of tea. I could really use it right about now.

"Whatever. Can I get you something to drink?" 

"That's sweet of you, dear, but I'll have to pass." She gets up, putting her purse on her shoulder, and walking over to me. She gives me a peck on the cheek. "I wasn't sure when you'd be free, so I booked a room at the hotel two blocks down. I was on my way to visit a friend, but I figured I'd drop by here first."

"How long will you be in town?"

"Three days. It should be enough to do my shopping, see her, and most importantly, catch up with you. I'm expecting you to answer all of my questions when you're in a better mood."

"Sure, Mom. I should be free tomorrow."

"Lovely! I can't wait to hear all about it." She then pokes me in the side, causing me to flinch. "Especially the boys."

"Mom! There aren't any boys!" I exclaim, losing my patience with her.

"Still ticklish, I see." She giggles. "Alright, Jeannine. I'll see you later. I love you, baby."

"Love you too. Have a nice time."

Mom leaves, closing the apartment door behind her. As soon as I hear the click, I exhale loudly. This is how she usually is. She always tries extra hard to cheer me up when I'm down. She tried twice as hard because it was her that upset me in the first place. I appreciate it, on some level. I can't believe that someone with so much hate in her heart can have just as much love at the same time. It doesn't make sense to me.

Thoughts of Mom and our conversation replay through my head while I sip my drink. I drink it there in the kitchen while standing over the counter. I can't sit right now, not while my precious city and its people are suffering. 

"Queen Jeannine." I repeat my honorary title aloud. "What a joke."

Once I'm done, I wash my cup and promptly head back to my room. With each step I take toward the city, my anxiety seems to grow. I notice that the tissue is still there on the floor, no longer damp, but peppered with bits of dirt and concrete. I lower myself into a kneeling position, just outside its border. Now that I'm alone, I can assess the situation better. 

With a shaky hand, I reach for my earpiece on my desk, and put it in my ear. Almost immediately after, I hear a familiar voice.

"Hey." Nick says. "I'm guessing your mom left?"

"She did."

"That's a relief. Err, sorry. No offense."

"None taken. I completely understand." I tell him, while my eyes take in the sight of the damage. At least three blocks sustained damage, and the park is completely gone. That's all I can tell from up here, at least. "How bad is it?"

"Uhh... Are you asking about the damage or the state of panic?"

I feel another intense pang of guilt in my chest. My voice is quiet, my tone so soft that the mic almost doesn't pick it up. "Both, I guess."

"Well, we'll live. The injured are being moved to the hospital. I think seeing your face put people at ease." He tries to cheer me up. I'm afraid it's not working. Not at all. "And you removing the tissue was a big help. Lots of debris went with it, so that aids cleanup. We can always build back what was lost, right?"

"That's good to hear. I'm...relieved." I try to force a smile, but it doesn't last for even five seconds. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Yes, but not right now. We're still evacuating the area. Once it's clear, I'll let you know. Shouldn't be more than fifteen minutes. Twenty, at most."

"Mhm." I say, only half listening to what he's saying. I look at the city all the time, but I rarely look at the area around it. I notice dust, some dirt, and even some of my hairs on the floor. When was the last time I cleaned the floor? I suppose I was so worried about getting close that I neglected to do that. Add that to the growing list of things I've been too lazy to do. I've been slacking, and it shows. 

I notice that my broom is out of place, for some reason. That must've been Mom's doing. I reach for it, only to pull my hand away before grabbing it. On second thought, I'll use wet wipes. It will take longer, but it'll be less scary for the Lillis. 

I go to the kitchen and come back with them, getting down on my hands and knees to clean. I'm so distracted that I forget that Nick is still on the line with me.

"Jeannine, this isn't your fault. You know that right?"


I don't respond. Instead, I continue to clean around the border, making sure to collect every last speck of dust. I need the floor to be spotless. If my tinies can see even a microgram of filth, then I've failed. Again.

"People may be worried, but they know you never intended for this to happen. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that everyone will forgive you."


Another silence. Though I feel bad for ignoring him, I just can't bring myself to speak. There's nothing I can say right now that will fix this. It's not about how I feel. I'm not the victim here. If anything, the real victims have every right to distrust me. It's only natural. When Sara discovered them, I asked for them to trust me. I assured them that nothing like that would ever happen again. And what did I do with that trust? I allowed someone who deeply resents Lillis to wreak havoc on their home. Whatever illusion of protection I used to provide has been shattered.

"Jeannine. I know you can hear me." He says, sounding more worried than frustrated.

Finally, I give in. I say the only thing that feels right in a situation like this.

"I'm sorry."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 32 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine has a heart to heart with Nick...

POV: Jeannine


"Your mom really did a number on the North side. It's not terrible, though! We'll fix it in no time. Right, Ori?"

"Of course. Buildings can always be rebuilt." She replies, smiling.

I stare at the two of them through our video call. I hold my phone in one hand, while the other hugs my waist. 

"I'd like to see for myself." I tell them. I glance over to my right, looking down on the city as I stand between it and my bed. From up here, it looks as if there is no damage at all. Looks can be deceiving. "Please. I need to know."

The two of them look at exchange worried looks. Nick then turns the camera around to show me. He pans around to give me a full view of the scene. I see the city street, which has been dug up completely not too far from where they are standing. Large fissures and cracks run along the sidewalks and up the sides of buildings. One of the apartment complexes seems to have been cleaved in half, by a fingernail. The park is practically gone, replace by debris and a deep crater. The more I look, the worse it gets.

And the worse I feel.

 "The residential area and the surrounding streets suffered structural damage. The park is...well, gone." He scratches the back of his head, as he always does when he is feeling nervous. "But hey, no one died! A few broken bones are no big deal."

"Nick!" Ori snaps at him.

"What? I'm trying to tell her that it's okay. They will heal!"

"Jeannine." Ori says, taking the camera from him. She gazes at me intensely though the phone screen. "This may look bad, but it could have been so much worse. Please remember that."

Nick then takes then camera back from her, returning into frame. "What she said. It's not worth beating yourself up over."

"If this isn't, then what is?" I ask him. "I can't believe I let this happen. I can't even help you guys without risking more damage."

I watch the feed become shaky. The two of them seem to be struggling to maintain their balance, suddenly. 

One of the fissures seems to grow, snaking along the street behind them.

"Jeannine, please, calm down. You're causing an earthquake down here!" Nick pleads.

Only then do I realize that I had been pacing back and forth. I had not been treading as lightly as I usually do. That was careless of me. As if they need more to worry about today!

"I'm sorry. I think I should just..." My voice trails off. I cannot think of anything to say, so I move my thumb to the red button and simply end the call. I then walk over to my bed and fall on it, burying my face in a pillow. I just need some space...

Dark thoughts swirl around in my head until my mind goes blank.

I wake up to the sound of my phone ringing. I blink my tired eyes, waiting for them to adjust to the light. 

"Must've fallen asleep." I mumble, sitting up in bed. 

I check the time. I only napped for about an hour. Turning my attention to the phone, I grab it and check the screen. Nick is calling me. I run my fingers through my hair and sigh. It would not be right to ignore him. Reluctantly, I swipe my finger and accept the call.

"Hey, Nick. Listen, I am sorry for-"

"Come take the earring." He instructs me. His tone is not as carefree as it was earlier. "I'm already inside. Let's talk in your living room."

"O-Okay..." Before I can say anything else, he ends the call. I hop of bed and walk toward the city. I retrieve the earring and collect my earpiece from my desk. I put them both on my right ear, like I have done so many times before. I head to the living room, closing the door behind me for privacy.

"Hey." He says, softly.

"Hey." I answer, just as softly.

"I'd like to talk to you. Face to face, if that's okay." 

"Mm." I nod, reaching for my earring. I unlatch it and bring it around to my face, holding it a few inches away.

"I meant like actually face to face. I'd like to be in the open, like we sometimes do in our meetings."

I am usually very reluctant to let him roam around in the open. 

Feeling too exhausted to argue, I agree to his request. I place the earring down on the table and take a seat while he makes his way out. I support my head with my arm, curiously wondering what he wants to talk about.

"There we go. This is a lot more personal. Wouldn't you agree?"

"I guess so." I say while setting my phone up nearby. While he may be able to see me, I cannot without the aid of another video call. Soon enough, his smiling face appears on my screen. I alternate between looking at my phone and looking in his tiny form.

"Jeannine..." He says calmly, his tone almost soothing. I've always liked the sound of his voice, especially when he isn't so excited. I feel like it might have gotten deeper in the last few months. I'm not sure, to be honest. "I'm sure you're tired of me saying that this isn't your fault. What's done is done, and I'm not going to dismiss your feelings like before. You feel like you messed up. It makes sense, knowing how high of a standard you hold yourself to. You want everything to be perfect, and it shatters you when it's not. Am I right?"

I crack a smile, just for a second. "You know me so well. Too well, honestly..."

"Don't I? You know, Ori gave me a lot of crap about that. She said that I should talk to you, since I'm the only one who can cheer you up."

"She may be right." I mumble.


"Nothing." I lay my hands on the table and lean forward. Despite how I am feeling, I don't want to seem uninterested. It is clear he is trying his best here. "I'm not the one who needs to be cheered up right now. I don't deserve it."

"Cut yourself some slack. You managed to get this far without a single incident. You kept your word and so much more. People are more forgiving that you think. Especially your people."

"First it was Sara, and now Mom. Tell that to 'my' people who will be camping out in tents because my mom wrecked their homes. Or the injured, who are going to spend weeks recovering." 

Nick exhales loudly. "Look, I won't pretend there are no consequences. You saw the damage with your own eyes. I don't need to tell you how bad it is."

"I don't think I'll ever forget it." I close my eyes, remembering the sight of utter destruction. "It's forever burned into my memory."

"To be honest, neither will I. I don't think I've felt so terrified in my whole life. Not since the day I lost my family."

"I'm so sorry, Nick..." I say, feeling an intense pang of guilt. It is as if I got punched in the stomach. I feel tears well up in my eyes. "I didn't-"

"Hey hey hey! I wasn't finished." He says, stopping me before I can cry. "...I also never felt so relieved. When you stormed in and saved us, it was amazing. The moment I saw you, it was like I knew that everything was going to be okay. Later, when I remember what happened today, it'll be how you protected us yet again, not how you 'failed', if you even want to call it that. Living as a Lilli in a Brob's world was never easy. I used to live in fear every day. The fact that I can rest easy now is such a blessing. The worst I've had to deal with these last few months was your mom. To me, that's lucky!"

"That means a lot to me. Thank you, Nick." I slowly slide my hand closer to him, my finger extended in his direction. "But that's just you. Who says the others feel the same way?"

"Oh, trust me, they do. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty confident of that." He nods over and over. "While you were away, all of us went out to check on each other. Everyone helped. Ori, Icarus, Daedalus, Sam, Aurelia, Dr. Smith, Mr. Grant, and Mayor Saverine to name a few. The people we spoke with all had the same thing to say. Wanna take a guess what that was?"

"That they felt relieved to see me?"

"Not quite. They were ridiculously worried. But not about what you think."

"What in the world could they be more worried about than their own wellbeing?" 

"You, Jeannine. They saw that mortified look on your face. It nearly broke my heart. Don't tell Ori I shared this, but it made her cry. Imagine that; she was right in the thick of it, but was only brought to tears when she saw her friend was upset. She embodies how we all feel. You should know that none of us want to see you sad. Ever."

I watch him walk forward, stopping at my fingertip. He places a hand on it, his touch just barely perceivable, yet so meaningful. Nick's kind words make me feel better. At the very least, my citizens aren't terrified. They still trust me, assuming what he's saying is true. I have no reason to doubt him. He wouldn't deceive me, even if it would make me feel better. Still, the fact remains. This only happened because of me. I am guilty, even if no one wants to blame me.

"You're such a sweet guy, Nick."

"Meh. Only to those who deserve it. You wouldn't believe how mean I can be when I want to! Truly scary stuff." He laughs.

I stare at Nick for a while, lost in thought. When I look at his kind, I feel this intense urge to protect. I am compelled to shield them from the harshness of this world, and occasionally its people. I want to cup my hands over him, blocking any threat. I do not care if my hands get cut up in the process. That is how I feel. That's what I want to do. And that's why I'm struggling to let this go. 

His whole existence is no more than a dot on my table. It's still difficult to wrap my head around the fact that so much personality, humour, and kindness is contained in such a small package. One that is so incredibly delicate that it could be wiped out in an instant. He is someone I rely on so much. He is someone who helped me realize my dream of building Magna Gratia. If he'd been hurt, or worse, died, because of my negligence... I would not be able to live with myself. 

"Nick." I say softly, gazing at him rather than the face on my screen. "I'm so grateful you're okay."

"I know." 

"No, I don't think you do." I lean in a little more. "Seeing you unharmed made me so happy. You are one of my closest friends. I love you with all my heart, Nick. You don't know how worried I was!"

I squint my eyes hard, letting my tears run down my face. I do not care about how I look. There is no such thing as 'pretty crying'. Come to think of it, he is the only one who's seen me cry before. I usually act tougher than I am for the others. Surprisingly, I do not mind being vulnerable around him. 

Nick stays quiet, allowing me a moment to let it out. Once I'm finished, I compose myself and wipe my eyes dry with my other hand.

"I needed that. A lot." I half chuckle and half sob.

"It's okay. Perfectly understandable, my friend." He says, touching my finger again. "I feel the same way. You, Ori, and the first twenty aren't blood, but you're the closest thing I have to family. I'm lucky to have you."

For the first time today, I smile. 

"I feel a lot better now."

"Glad to hear it!" Nick cheers. "From now on, please don't feel as if the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. Mine might be smaller than yours, but I carry my weight. This partnership is a two-way street. I should have reminded you about that lock ages ago. If there's going to be blame, it should be shared. You may be Queen, but this city is just as much mine as it is yours."

"You're right."

"My ears must be playing tricks on me! Did I hear that right? What did you say?" He jokes, putting his hand behind his ear like some cartoon character.

"You're right." I repeat.

"Ah, I didn't quite catch that! Again, please. I need to record it."

With extreme care, I tap my finger on the table, knocking him on his butt. "I've said it enough, okay? Don’t push your luck..."

"Sorry, I was just messing with you. Glad to see you're back to normal."

"My nap did me good."

"Excuse me? This was all me."

"Mhm. You're free to think that." I tease him. 

"Such disrespect! This conversation is over. I'm getting into the cabin. Take me home, already!" He huffs in mock annoyance.

"Yes, sir." I pick up the earring and stand up, only for him to stop me before I can reach my room. 

"Oh! I almost forgot. With everything that happened today, it totally slipped my mind!"

"What did?" I ask, raising the accessory up to my face.

"The mayoral elections. We just finished counting the votes. I wanted to tell you before we made the official announcement."

"I was meaning to ask you about that. So, who won?"

"Chief Saverine. Or, I guess, Mayor Rin, as her campaign posters read."

It takes me a minute to remember who that is. Her name rings a bell, but I can't remember much else. We have been bringing in so many Remnants that I lose track of individual people. 

"Please congratulate her for me. Hopefully this means you won't be drowning in responsibility anymore?"

"I'm a free man, mostly. And I'll do you one better. How's your schedule looking tomorrow?"

"I'll be out with my mom. Why?"

"She wants to meet you. She insisted on it. I'll let her know that'll have to wait another day."

"Please do. I would like to know who the new mayor of my city is. Is she a nice person?"

"She's...something. Better to let you find out for yourself than to paint you a picture."

"Sure? Now you've made me curious."

I re-enter my room, placing the earring down in its rightful place atop one of the larger buildings. Once I stand back up, I make sure to put on a smile. There are countless eyes on me right now. I need to let them know that I am okay; that things will be okay.

"Attention, everyone." I say, allowing a moment for everyone to look my way. I see that some of the moving dots, likely vehicles, have come to a stop. Entire lives have come to a temporary standstill to hear what I have to say. While I am not fond of interrupting daily life like this, but sometimes it's necessary. This is one of those times. 

I take a slow breath, ensuring my tone is as confident as it is serious. "I want to apologize for what happened. While no one lost their life, it does not make this any less serious. No citizen of Magna Gratia should ever have to feel afraid, while I am here to protect the city. I solemnly swear that I will never let anything like this happen again. I want you all to know that."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

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Part 3 - Chapter 33 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine spends a day with her mom...

POV: Jeannine


Calling the car ride with Mom 'awkward' would be putting it lightly. Despite her cheerful mood and near-giddy smile, I cannot stop thinking about what she did. It hasn't even been twenty four hours since she gave me and the tinies the biggest scare of our lives! I haven't had a chance to process these emotions yet, so I'm feeling incredibly anxious. This isn't the first time I've felt this way, either. Ever since I started this secret project of mine, I've been finding it more difficult to be around her. I have such a personal relationship with the kind of people she's so fond of hurting. Reconciling my love for her and my hatred of her choices is tearing my heart in two. There's a rift between us that continues to grow, even if she doesn't see it.

I glance over at her without moving my head. She's humming along to a song on the radio, her glee plain as day. I know she's happy to see me, her only child and daughter, and it pains me that I can't match that energy today.

"It's alright, Jeannie." Ori reassures me from inside of my earring. "For all she knows, you two had a fight, but you worked it out. Wearing that frown will only make her worry, or worse, cause her to be suspicious."

My expression softens when I hear that. Partly because she is right, but mostly because I don't want her to see me upset. It came as a shock when Ori asked to accompany my Mom and I this morning. After what she went through, being close to the 'monster' who nearly killed her was the last thing I expected her to want. Knowing her background and past trauma, her request didn't make any sense. I feel there is cause for concern.

Unable to speak, I give a subtle nod. It's enough to get the message across. Even the subtlest movements on my part are easily noticeable to my little friend. 

"Don't worry about me." She says, as if reading my mind. She has always been very perceptive like that. "I will be okay. Try to have a nice day with your mom. If not for her, then for yourself." 

I respond by raising my finger and stroking the earring lightly. I suppose I can allow myself to forget about all my worries for a day. Whether I'm actually having a good time or not is irrelevant so long as Mom thinks I am. To that end, I try to focus on the positive. I remind myself that she's my mother, someone I love very much and don't want to disappoint. I should break the silence.

"Hey, Mom?" I say, softly.

"Yes, Jeannie?" She glances over at me momentarily, before focusing back on the road. Her hand moves to lower down the music, her smile refusing to disappear from her face even as she speaks.

"We've been driving for a while, and you haven't told me where we're going."

"It's a surprise!" She says, winking at me. "But I'll give you a hint. It's a place I've been wanting to visit for a long time."

I look out the window, checking for anything I recognize. We have been driving for at least an hour, having left the city a while ago. We are now on a dirt road in seemingly the middle of nowhere. There are not any street signs to help either. It is my fault for being so distracted until now. If I'd been paying attention, I'd probably have an idea. Sure, I could always pull out my phone and check, but I think that'll upset her.

"I've no clue."

"You don't? I'm sure I mentioned it at least twice before." She pauses to contemplate something. "Oh well, you'll know soon enough. We're only ten minutes away now."

I spend the next few minutes trying to recall anything from our past conversations but come up with nothing. I'm usually very good at remembering the things people tell me. Looking out the window, I finally see a street sign in the distance. Once we're closer, I'm able to read what it says.

'NB Memorial'


Suddenly, I feel a discomfort in my stomach. Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she did not tell me. There is no way I would've come along if I knew this is where she planned to take me.

"Mom." I say, sternly. My tone is slightly accusatory. 

She looks at me with a guilty, yet cheerful expression. "S-Surprise!"

"The New Brobdingnag Memorial? Seriously, Mom?!" I glare at her. "You're taking me to a place that commemorates the war with Lilliputia?"

"It's a world heritage site. I wasn't going to leave before seeing this place, especially when you live relatively close." She explains, her expression slightly more serious now. "Knowing how interested you are in those specks, I figured you'd be able to learn something while we're here. Plus, there is a museum!"

"Mom, I..." My voice trails off.

"It'll be fun, Jeannie. Don't you always tell me that I should be more open minded to new things? Who knows, I will see something here that'll change my mind?"

"I can't argue with that." I return her smile with my own.

A brief time later, we pull into the parking lot. The area is busy, which makes sense considering how close we are to Independence day. Places like this will become absolutely packed next week. I'm sure Mom would've preferred to visit on the actual day, if only her vacation days aligned better. The two of us get out of the car and begin walking to the site.

"Eep!" Ori's sudden squeal causes me to flinch. I feel Mom's hand on my right shoulder, and subsequently very so close to Ori. It must have startled her. I make a mental note to stand on Mom's right side from now on.

"Here, take this." She says, handing me a ticket. "I already bought ours online so we could skip the line at the entrance. It's valid for three hours."

"Good thinking. Thanks, Mom."

"Anytime, baby." She says, removing her hand. "Let's check out the memorial first."

We get our tickets stamped at the entrance and enter without any delay. I follow Mom since she seems to know where she is going. The chatting of strangers creates enough noise to allow me to speak to Ori. I have to whisper, though, since Mom is still close.

"I'm sorry, Ori. If I had known we were coming here, I would've warned you. How are you holding up?" 

"I'm doing well. You mother gave me quite the scare just now, otherwise I'm fine."

"Good. Let me know if things get too intense for you. I'll excuse myself if you need me to."

"You worry about me too much. I'm tougher than you think, Jeannine." She explains, sounding genuinely relaxed. "But since you're such a worrywart, let me tell you this. I asked to join you today to help overcome my fears. When your mother attacked us, she reminded me of Céline. I realized that I still haven't overcome my trauma. I don't expect to in a day, but I hope that exposing myself to her might be a necessary step."

"I wish you'd told me. I support your decision one-hundred percent."

Having Ori observe Mom from the safety of the earring might just be the perfect way to help her. She is exposing herself without actually being exposed. There is no danger, so long as she's with me. Despite how I feel about being in a place like this, I'm happy that Ori's benefitting from the experience.

"So, what do you think? It is magnificent, isn't it?" Mom asks me.

The two of us slow to a stop as we reach the foundation of a tall, snow-white tower. I crane my head back following the enormous thing from bottom to top. I recognize it from pictures in history books and news stories. The massive obelisk before us is the New Brobdingnag Monument. It was built shortly after our victory over the Lilliputians, during the establishment of this nation. It's ridiculous size is meant to symbolize our dominance over the races of the world. You're supposed to look at it and feel small, like how the Lillis look at us. I admit that it does make me feel that way, but they're way off. I've seen how we look from a Lilli's eyes. Using the videos of me that Nick shared as reference, I'm fairly sure this thing wouldn't even reach my knee.

"It's very showy." I shrug. "You know how I feel about the message it's meant to send. So much for equality." 

"That's just what the sightseers say. Its actual significance comes from its location." Mom reminds me, pointing at the ground.

My gaze falls to the gray marble we're standing on. I scowl, realizing what she means. This place in the middle of nowhere was chosen for a reason. Back when Lilliputia still had most of its land, this is where their capitol city was. I try to picture it now, as it was so long ago. There were millions of people living here. Our army quite literally wiped them off the map. And while all of that happened long before either me or my mother were born, it is no less tragic. I feel a sense of guilt that is difficult to shake.

"How many specks could I get with one stomp of my foot." Mom says, lifting her foot and dropping it slowly. "It was a populated area. I'm terrible at math, but I bet it'd be at least ten thousand."

I give her a disapproving look. If she were asking out of morbid curiosity, I might not have been so irritated. Judging by the look on her face, she is clearly imagining how it would feel to do it for real.

"Probably a lot, Mom. Why does it matter?"

"I've crushed a few Lilli groups before. I tried counting them, but they were so small. My record was two hundred in one shot, I think."

"That's terrible. I wish you'd keep those kinds of things to yourself."

"Considering they were living under my sink; I had every right. So says the law." She tells me, without a hint of remorse. "But even that's nothing when compared to what the soldiers were doing during the war. Statistics weren't as accurate back then, but new findings say that five hundred million were being wiped out every day."

Hearing those numbers make me want to vomit. I physically cringe, just thinking about it.

"How terrible. May they rest in peace." Ori says, her tone somber.

"What a heartless disregard for life." I shake my head. "Call them specks, insects, or whatever. They were still living beings who had a right to life." 

Mom steps closer to me and looks me in the eyes. I reluctantly meet her gaze, trying and failing to hide my disgust.

"Jeannine, I'd like to tell you a story. It's not one you'll read about in history books."

I look at her skeptically. "Is it graphic?"

"No. In fact, it's not about the violence." She says, knowing that will pique my interest. "You wouldn't know this because I never told you. Your great grandfather, my grandfather, fought in the war. He wasn't even ten years old when the world learned of Lilliputia's existence."

As much as it disappoints me to learn that once of my ancestors participated in the genocide, I cannot help wanting to know more. "Really?"

"Mhm." She nods, proudly. "Foreign media likes to focus on the killing, but they never ask why it happened to begin with."

"Everyone knows it's because we wanted their land. It was imperialism, plain and simple."

She shakes her head at me. "No, it wasn't. My grandfather told me the truth when I was a little girl. We took their land because, if we didn't, there wasn't going to be a future for our people."

I look at Mom with pure confusion in my eyes. I have never heard this view on history. Even people as sizist as Dr. Lam still admit that we took their land simply because we could.

"Tell me more."

Her eyes light up as I take interest in her story. "As you know, Brobdingnag, Gulliveria, and Lilliputia are nations of vastly different sizes. Just before the war broke out, we were experiencing terrible overpopulation, poverty, and inequality. There were simply too many of us to fit on our tiny, little island. Society was on the brink of collapse. Even with the advent of innovative technology from the other, more advanced nations, things weren't looking good. A now-unnamed person proposed that taking the Lilli's land would not just ensure our survival, but provide a future in which we could thrive. We did what we had to do."

"Is that how you're justifying our actions? Because 'we had to'?" I scoff. 

"It was a matter of survival, Jeannine. None of us would be alive right now if our predecessors hadn't done that." She explains, without a hint of remorse. "Our family was incredibly poor back then. They could barely afford a place with a roof over their heads. After the war ended, my grandfather brought his pregnant wife here and enjoyed a fresh start. No more hardship."

"The way I see it, we invaded our neighbours house because we couldn't get ours in order." I tell her, my chest becoming tight. "Now the Lillis, or rather, the Remnants live worse lives than we did."

"Such is life." She shrugs. "If it's me or them, I choose me."

Mom and I stare at each other in silence. I cannot help but look away. As much as I'd like to yell at her, this isn't the time nor place. Looking around at the other visitors and seeing their smiling faces reminds me she isn't alone in her thinking. Most of the people here think like her. There may even be some who are more malicious. It makes me feel incredibly out of place. I feel so much like an alien that I might as well be green.

"Whatever. I wonder if that's what you tell yourself when you kill every Lilli unfortunate enough to cross your path."

For once, Mom does not respond. It seems I hit the mark with that one. The cheeky smile on her face is not endearing in the slightest. 

"I think we've spent enough time here. We will head to the museum next, but first..." She stands closer to me and holds her phone out for a selfie, with the monument behind us. "Say cheese!"

I quickly flash a smile, just before she takes the picture. Obviously I'm in no mood for this kind of thing, but I know that if I don't she'll just make me take the picture again. She checks the picture, and once she's satisfied, we make our way over the museum.

"Your mother is wrong, you know." Ori tells me.

"Clearly." I whisper.

"No, I mean that her story is inaccurate. We Lillis know our history better than you. I mean no offense when I say that."

"I know, Ori." 

"She mentioned your great grandfather. I find that interesting, since I also have a story from one of my predecessors. Would you like to hear it?"

"Certainly. I need to be quiet now, but please go on."

Mom and I enter the museum together. It is a small building consisting of a continuous walkway past various exhibits. Once you've walked through, you'll enter a gift shop before returning to the outside. It's courtesy to be quiet in places like these, out of respect. While we did not suffer too many casualties in the conflict, the lives of the fallen are honored here. We slowly make our way through, stopping for a short time at each exhibit.

"My great grandfather used to live in the capitol. I have no doubt someone outside is standing where his home used to be right now." She tells me, without any sadness in her voice. "Our nation knew of the struggles your people were experiencing. We shared our technology with the hope that it could fix some of your problems. However, it became clear that the Brobs coveted our land. No one was surprised when they attacked. In fact, our coastal cities had already been evacuated. Given their nation's population at the time, we speculated that they would only need a fifth of our land to fix most of their problems. Considering how low our population density was, we could afford to move people. Nonetheless, we wouldn't simply lay down and let them take it. We fought back as best we could, but it did little to stop their overwhelming force."

I listen to Ori's story as I walk past old pictures from the war. Most of them show our forces, but a few of them do show Lilli cities. They serve as a visual aid as she continues explaining. While I try not to linger on any one thing, some of the old photographs catch my eye. 

One depicts a soldier throwing a grenade at a small town. The small explosive must have been like an atomic bomb, minus the radiation. Pieces of shrapnel can be seen embedded in the streets and partially in buildings. 

Another shows a group of soldiers dumping buckets of water onto a large city. The ensuing flood washes away all traces of civilization, drowning the inhabitants. It's so cruel, I wish they'd just stomped on them instead. At least then their deaths would have been swift. No, I suppose that must have been too boring. They wanted to get creative to make it more fun. 

I am utterly disgusted. I can hardly bring myself to look any longer.

"Many of us were relieved by the time they'd taken what we'd expected them to. Fatalities, while inevitable, had been greatly reduced. We offered them a peace treaty at that point, hoping to resolve the conflict once and for all. We were shocked when they ignored it. Their advance continued.

The fifth of land they had stolen grew to a third, and then half, and so on. Eventually, they had taken ninety percent. Our population had been reduced by just as much, if not more. Though, that excluded the displaced people who are now referred to as Remnants. The Brobs of old were greedy. They did not attack us out of necessity. Please don't believe the words of your mother, Jeannine."

"I don't." I whisper, so softly that even I can barely hear it. I wish I could say more, but I cannot right now. I'll have to save it for later this afternoon, once Mom drops me back at home. 

I look at Mom with a frown on my face, disappointed in her. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. She believes that false history. I'm privilege to know the truth, especially from the lips of an actual Lilli. The two of us continue through the museum until we reach the end. This puts us in the giftshop. While, I'm not interested in buying anything, it seems that she is.

"Fascinating, wasn't it? It makes you appreciate the sacrifices of those who came before us."

"It was very eye opening." I tell her, though my words are directed at Ori.

"Do you see anything you like? Pick one souvenir and I'll buy it for you."

"No, thank you. I think I'll pass." 

"Oh, don't be like that!" She grabs my hand, leading me to the other side of the store. "Fine. I'll just have to pick something for you."

She takes me to a booth that appears to be selling hourglasses, strangely enough. I get that we're at a historical place, but that seems pretty random to me. She approaches the man running the thing and asks the same question that's on my mind.

"Hi there! I noticed you're selling hourglasses? I'd like to know more."

"Of course." The man at the booth smiles, presenting one to her. "These aren't your typical hourglasses. Instead of sand, we use something much more special. Take a closer look."

My Mom brings the item up to her eye and gasps. The man then hands another one to me.

Curious, I raise it up to my eye as well. Ori and I gasp at the same time when we realize what is inside.

"These exclusive items use debris from the old Lilli capitol instead of sand. Those tiny bits and pieces of buildings, street signs, and the like have been treated with special chemicals so that they won't disintegrate with time. They were collected at this very site when the memorial was being built. What you're holding right there is a real piece of history!"

"I can't believe what I'm seeing..." I think aloud, too shocked to care. 

"I-I..." Ori stutters, experiencing a similar shock.

"Amazing!" Mom cheers. "But there's no way these things actually work, right?"

"Actually, they do!" The man says, taking out a third one to demonstrate. He tips it over, allowing the tiny structures to fall through like sand. At this distance, it is difficult to tell the difference. "It takes exactly seventy nine seconds for all the 'sand' to flow through. As you might've guessed, it's a reference to our Independence day, the Seventh of September."

"Oh my!" Mom giggles. "How patriotic! I'll take two."

"M-Mom!" I protest, only to be silenced by her.

She proceeds with the purchase, handing both of our display versions for proper, sealed versions from the man. 

I hurry out of the giftshop before her, as the uneasy feeling throughout my body reaches a peak. As I step outside, I find the nearest wall and lean on it, my breathing now ragged. I don't even want to look at the thing in my hand. It's an affront to all things good in this world!

"Jeannine, take a breath! You need to calm yourself down." Ori instructs me. She takes a slow, deep breath, before exhaling. She has me do the same until I am calm again. "That was horrifying, but I can't have you fainting. That just won't do."

A moment later, Mom joins me outside. "Don't tell me the hourglass bothered you too? I swear, Jeannie, you are far too sensitive sometimes..."

"Can we please sit down somewhere? I could really use a glass of water."

"Me too." She nods. "The prices here are ridiculous! Plus, I think we have seen all that there is to see here. Let's get lunch on the way home."

At last, the two of us leave the memorial, and not a moment too soon. Those items in the giftshop were the last straw. I wasn't going to be able to maintain my composure any longer. As we get back on the road, Mom turns up the music and I go silent. It's no different than how it was on the way here. 

"Thanks for coming with me, Jeannie. I know that this stuff bothers you, but I hope you got something out of it. At the very least, I hope you're enjoying spending a day with me." She leans over and kisses my cheek, somehow keeping her eyes on the road at the same time.

"I'm always happy when we spend time together." I tell her. It is the truth. "I just wish that we could agree on...this."

"Sadly, Jeannie, I don't think we ever will. You're a grown woman now, and you have your views, but so am I." She glances over at me, her expression serious. "We each have our reasons and beliefs, after all."

"You've got that right. Finally, something we can agree on..." I sigh. I feel the need to say something final. I have a bunch of ideas in my head, but I can't settle on one. Before I know it, my feelings start pouring out my mouth. "You're free to believe what you want, but that doesn't come without consequences. I don't... No, I can't have a relationship with someone who does such horrible things. Know that if you continue in your ways, you'll only be pushing me further away. If you want me to continue being in your life...then don't make it so hard for me. I'll always love you, Mom, but that doesn't mean I don't also hate the disgusting things you do."

Mom stays silent for a time, probably surprised to hear me speak to her like that. I don't think I've ever been so harsh with my words to her, but I don't regret saying them. "I will try to remember that."

That is all she says. Her tone is deadpan, difficult even for me to read. It leaves me feeling anxious. The rest of the ride is relatively quiet, after I singlehandedly ruined the mood. I turn to look out the window, both in frustration and guilt.

"You can't change everyone, Jeannine." I hear Ori say. "If she wants to be stuck in her ways, then let her. For every Lilli she kills, you will just have to save two!" 

Her encouragement makes me smile. I give her a subtle nod to acknowledge her. I suppose there are just some people that will never change. They refuse to, no matter how much you try. There comes a point when there's nothing more you can do. I have to learn to accept that she isn't my responsibility, I shouldn't blame myself for her life choices. She serves as an example of what not to be, whether she realizes it or not.

Ori then continues, "You know, I've learned something after coming here, watching you two. Despite your mother's views of us, you never inherited her feelings. I used to think that such things were unavoidable, but clearly they are not. I often worry that my trauma, my fear of Brobs, may be passed on to Louis. I would hate for that to happen. He's so young; he hasn't had the chance to become afraid yet. I can't think of a better example to be around than you at this critical time in his life. He is quite fond of you! It warms my heart when I see him look at you without fear. I hope that he never experiences what I did. We'd be failures if we passed our fears onto the next generation. Thank you for letting me join you today. I doubt I would have realized that if I hadn't tagged along."

I am so thoroughly impressed with Ori that I respond to her in my usual voice. 

"You're very welcome."

"Hm?" Mom hums, looking confused. "What was that, dear?"

"Nothing, Mom. Just talking to myself."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 34 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Saverine finally gets her meeting with Jeannine...

POV: Saverine


"Please watch your step, Ms. Mayor. The stairway isn't always stable." Nick warns, offering his arm to support me. His concern brings a smile to my face. 

"Thank you, Nick. I am fine walking on my own. I appreciate the gesture, but I'm not that old yet."

"H-How right you are! My apologies, ma'am." He says, lowering his gaze.

The two of us step out of the cabin together. I must say that I am happy to be on solid ground again, even if we are merely on Jeannine's dining room table. The ride over from the city was quick and stable, just as he'd reassured me. That engineer Daedalus really is a genius, not to mention a handsome fellow, but I digress. My focus should be on this moment. I pushed awfully hard for this meeting to happen, after all. 

I walk forward, leaving the cabin behind. Nick leads me to a spot some distance away. I have no clue why he chose it, so I assume the decision was arbitrary. My gaze travels forward to the wide chest that stretches far to my left and right. It then moves upward until I see her face up in the sky. This is the closest I've ever gotten to her. It might even be the closest I've ever gotten to any Brobdingnagian. If I were to guess, I would say she's hardly thirty centimeters away, on her scale. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stick up and I unconsciously become tense. I cannot ignore my instinct to flee from those that tower over us. While she may be kind, she is the exception, not the norm.

"It's nice to finally meet you, Jeannine." I say, testing the device Nick provided. "I've been waiting patiently for this day."

"Likewise. It wouldn't be right of me to ignore a request from my city's new mayor. Congratulations, by the way."

"Thank you. I hope to serve this splendid city as best I can."

"I'm looking forward to it, Ms. Mayor."

"Call me Saverine. I have never been fond of titles like 'Chief' and 'Mayor'." I explain to both. "Or just 'Rin', if you prefer." 

"Sure, Rin." Jeannine nods. "I'm fine with that."

"Same here." Nick confirms.

"I trust that Nick already briefed you on your new responsibilities. I'm sure he's doing all he can to make the transition go smoothly."

"He did. I made sure of that." I tell her, casting a knowing smile toward the young man. He looks away again, unable to meet my gaze. It's clear that he's intimidated by me. I suppose that's fair, especially after what I put him through. I can't forget the look on his face when we first met to discuss the city's organizational structure. I was very critical, and for good reason. It was a mess and I made that abundantly clear. He definitely wasn't used to strictness, least of all my of being so straight forward.

"Good." Jeannine smiles. "Well, Rin, the floor is yours. What is on your mind?"

I take a moment to gather my thoughts. There is much to say. The giantess waits patiently for me to begin. Though her eyes struggle to focus on me, her expression is calm. It's different than how other Brobs look at us. She's looking at me as she would anyone her size. There isn't the faintest sign of prejudice in her gaze, let alone her body language. It's clear that she sees me as her equal, if not her senior. It feels so strange, considering how right it is.

"You're an odd one, Jeannine."

She cracks a smile. "I've been told. Hopefully you mean the good kind."

"I most certainly do." I nod. "In the short time I've been living in Magna Gratia, I've been observing you. I needed to find out what kind of person you are. The residents of the city speak so highly of you. I'd never known a Brob to be so kind or so loved by Lillis."

"They're too kind." She blushes, averting her gaze and brushing her hair back.

"I wholeheartedly disagree." I tell her, which draws her gaze back to me. "I can honestly say that you are one of the most conscientious people I've ever met. It shows in all that you do. You've earned their praise, and my own for that matter." 

"Thank you, Rin."

"There's no need for thanks. I am not the type to throw compliments around on a whim. In fact, I many consider me quite harsh." Nick glances over at me as if he has something to say. I glance back at him, prompting him to look away once more. Mhm. That's what I thought. "Criticism is rarely met with appreciation, but it comes from a good place."

"Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts with me." Jeannine says, her smile slowly fading. "After the incident with my mother two days ago, I was reminded that that I could be doing a whole lot better."

"It takes a strong person to admit when they're wrong. I respect you for not shifting the blame on your mother." I tell her, partly in admiration. "Even if she was the one most at fault."

"She's always that. I still hope that one day she'll change."

The subject of her mother gives me an idea. Suddenly, there is something I would like to share. I think it will be useful for her to hear it.

"I'd like to share a story with you. And Nick, of course. We have time, don't we?"

"You have me for as long as you need. I freed up my entire day for you." Jeannine shifts in her seat, pulling her chair closer to the table. Her hands emerge from somewhere below, coming to rest in the open space between us. She clasps them together, interlacing her fingers loosely. "You have my undivided attention."

Nick sits down, crossing his legs. He stays silent, allowing me to speak uninterrupted. He is respectful, as always. A little stiff, but otherwise courteous.

I clear my throat and begin to tell a story from my younger days.

"When I was a little girl, the Matriarch of our clan was my mother. She was a strong woman in both body and spirit. If there was ever someone to model yourself after, it was her. She was not without her flaws, but even those were few. I learned so much about leadership just by watching her. 

I learned to be strong, but not rude; to be kind, but not weak; humble, but not shy; and most importantly, to be proud, but not arrogant."

"What an amazing woman."

"She was special in ways that I cannot put to words. Sadly, she did not get to lead us for long. I was about your age, perhaps a few years younger, when she passed away suddenly. One day she got sick, and then next she was gone. I could hardly believe it. I was not given long to grieve because our clan needed a new leader. That weight fell on me. It was...very heavy."

"I'm so sorry to hear that." Jeannine frowns. "I can't imagine how it felt." 

"I hope that you never have to." I shake my head. "Losing someone you love is never easy. Compared to that, being thrust into a position I did not feel ready for was child's play. Despite my anxiousness, I was well prepared. My mother made sure of that." I continue explaining as I pace around. Nick's gaze follows me as I do. "Every time I felt unsure of myself I would ask, 'what would mother do?'. That would provide clarity, most of the time. Over time, I would ask that question less and less, until I stopped asking it altogether. With time came experience, and with experience came confidence. Eventually, I became sure enough to ask myself, 'what do I think I should do?'. Tell me, Jeannine, do you ever ask yourself similar questions?"

"Sometimes I do. Though, not in the same way."

"Go on."

"I often ask myself, 'Is this the right thing to do?' and 'How would I feel if this happened to me?'." She shrugs her shoulders. "I never make a decision without carefully considering the impact it'll have. At least, I try not to."

"Hm. I find that very interesting."

"You do?"

"I do. Your answer confirms my suspicions. You and I are more similar than I expected." I nod, approvingly. "I don't think you're a good leader. That comes with time and experience, which you lack. However, you are a wonderful role model. In that respect, you're more like my mother than me." 

"She's right." Nick finally speaks up. "I've been saying this for ages."

"When you declared that Brobs and Lillis are equal, I have to admit that I didn't believe you. A race as proud as Brobs would never 'lower' themselves to the same level as mere Lillis." I pause for a moment, considering my next words. "I've wondered how others might act in your position. I have also wondered what having absolute power over an entire city of tiny people would do to them. I am inclined to think they would get high on power. They might even begin to think themself a god on Earth."

"I can think of a few people who fit that exact description." She says, shaking her head in disgust.

"I suspect you mother may be one of them. When she discovered your 'model', it terrified us. We knew that no matter what we did or how fast we ran, we could never stop her. If she wanted to destroy the city, it would have been gone. An army of soldiers, perhaps a million or more, would be nothing in the face of her descending boot. If we tried to run, she'd easily catch us. No conceivable vehicle would escape her reaching hand. There would be no resisting whatever she feels like subjecting us to. I shudder to think what someone like her would do with a city of Lillis."

"I don't even want to think about that..." She answers, softly.

"It's always seemed unfair to me that one race holds so much power over another. As the saying goes, 'might makes right'."

I notice Jeannine's finger beginning to tap nervously against her knuckle. Nick's somber expression tells me he understands with what I'm saying. Knowing his past, I'm sure he shares my frustration.

"...I suppose the world is cruel." Jeannine says, looking at me with guilt in her eyes. She's so very soft for someone with such presence. 

"I wouldn't say that. The world is not inherently cruel or merciful. While it might seem that way, it's important to remember that the world is the product of people. Even those people aren't inherently one way or the other. Becoming cruel is a choice. Cruel people are bound to make a cruel world."

"Yes, you're right." She nods.

The room goes silent for a moment. I am satisfied with the direction of the conversation thus far. It dawns on me that I have not addressed something important.

"You invited me to share my thoughts with you, particularly ones that could help you do better. Instead, I think it would be best if I asked you a question. Or rather, three."

"Please, ask me anything."

I decide to ask my questions in order of difficulty. She’ll be able to answer the first two, but the third will be difficult.

"While I don't personally blame you for what happened the other day, I cannot speak for everyone else. I know for a fact that many are now doubting 'Her Majesty's' ability to protect them. While you did address the situation, it's done little to calm the public. It goes without saying that this event won't be forgotten. My first question to you is, what are you going to do about it?"

Jeannine takes no time to answer. She has clearly given this plenty of thought already.

"First thing's first, I'm removing the spare key from outside and putting a new lock on my bedroom door. I will not wait for the landlord. Second, I'm going to dedicate as much time as it takes to help repair the damages. Third..." She hesitates. "...I'm going to add a new layer of protection to the city. I'm can't say what it will be yet, but it'll likely be entirely on my part."

"Hmm..." I cannot say I am surprised by her response. Those are the obvious solutions. Though, I am curious about the last part. I glance over at Nick, who seems just as curious. Has she not shared that information with him? That is a shock. "That's a good answer. I trust you'll do good on your word." 

"If you're talking about energy and resources, then yes." Nick cuts in. "We're self-sufficient as we'll ever be, given how we can't trade with or import from other cities. We still rely on her for food every so often. We also do not have room to bury our nonrecyclable waste. Jeannine helps out with all of that."

"I see. That leads me to my second question, have you arranged for the city to be taken care of if something were to happen to you?"

Jeannine takes a moment to think this time. It looks to me like she is considering options, meaning she hasn't. A few seconds later, she speaks up.

"While I have no intention of disappearing on you all, I admit that I didn't arrange for someone to take over. It isn't because I've put it off, though. Naturally, I can't trust just anyone with this. I have a few candidates, but I'm still working on it."

"I heard you have a friend who knows about us. What was her name, again?"

"Sara." Nick says, his face becoming pale. "She's-"

"She's on the list." Jeannine stops him before he can say any more. "But I wouldn't trust her. Not yet anyway."

I look at Nick, who clearly has something he wants to say. He's visibly agitated now, but he makes an effort to remain calm. For some reason, he doesn't comment on the girl again. I eye him curiously, wondering what that could be about. I heard the story of her suggestion to dispose of the city and its residents. Though, Jeannine immediately shut her down. I might have to investigate that later.

"And your third question, Rin?"

"Ah, yes. Forgive me, I was lost in thought." I audibly clear my throat. "My third question to you is, where is this going?"

Her eyebrows furrow as she hesitates. "I'm sorry, I don't follow."

I notice both her and Nick's confusion from my question. Perhaps I should elaborate.

"Magna Gratia." I say, flatly. "It's a wonderful place. I'm certain the city will continue to thrive for many years under your care. However, cities have far greater lifetimes than you or I. 

What will happen to it once you can no longer care for it? Young lady, you will eventually grow into a woman. You might be married, perhaps with children. Will you still be with us then?"

A cold silence freezes the two of them solid. I expected that sort of response from Nick, but not Jeannine. For someone so careful, did she really neglect to think that far ahead? I find that hard to believe. Unfortunately, her body language gives it away. Her fingers are clasped tightly now. She is also breathing faster, stirring up powerful winds over the tabletop. It blows my hair around.

"It's alright." I assure her. "You don't have to respond now. I know these are tough questions. That was intentional." I walk over to Nick and extend my hand to help him up. "This was a very productive meeting. Thank you for arranging it, Nick."

He takes my hand and I pull him up to his feet.

"It was my pleasure, ma'am." He says, clearly still distracted by my questions. He is hardly focused on me anymore.

I turn to Jeannine and address her as well.

"My mother left me with a golden standard, one which I hold myself to. It's because you remind me of her that I will hold you to that same standard. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"I do. You've left me with a lot to think about."

"Good. I'm confident that when the time comes, you'll make the right choices." I give her an encouraging smile. "That's all I have to say. That concludes this meeting."

I walk closer to her hand and extend my arm. Knowing she probably can't see it; I make it known. "I never end a meeting without shaking hands. This is no exception." 

She hesitates but doesn't deny me. Her hands unclasp, and her right pointer finger extends toward me. Slowly, she lowers it to the table, before sliding it toward me. It stops a short walk from where I'm standing. I walk over to close the distance and touch the wall of flesh to complete the gesture. Her finger then retracts, moving far away.

"Now that the official matters have concluded, I'd like to say something 'off the books'."

"Please go ahead." Jeannine's calm expression returns.

"I am thoroughly impressed with the both of you. Despite your inexperience, you've managed to produce results. It isn't possible for one person to do everything, though many will try to regardless. Gathering and appointing people on the basis of ability is in itself a powerful skill. While you are not a leader, you are very good at rallying people. So are you, Nick." I acknowledge him with a slight nod. "That is why I will help you. Leave governance to me and the rest of the council so that you two can worry about the bigger issues. I will keep this city organized as it continues to grow, and I will do my best to put our citizen's worries to rest after the incident. In other words, Jeannine, you can lean on me."

"Figuratively, of course." Nick adds.

"Obviously..." The giantess sighs.

With my final remark, I've now said all that was on my mind. I begin walking back the way we came, gesturing for Nick to come along. He hurries to my side and the two of us walk back toward the cabin, all while Jeannine's gentle gaze follows us there.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 35 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine opens up to Sara about Magna Gratia...

POV: Jeannine


"I still can't believe you've got a whole city in your bedroom. It's crazy no matter how you look at it!" Sara throws her hand up in the air.

"If you think that's crazy, wait until you see what the place used to look like. It was nothing more than a barren plot of land just a few months ago." I tell her while brewing two cups of our favorite teas. Chamomile for me and peppermint for her. I am in the kitchen and she's on the sofa, laying on her back with her legs stretched out. She's made herself comfortable despite being in someone else's home. Not that I mind, since she's always welcome here. My home is her home too. "They literally built it up from nothing, almost entirely on their own."

"They're pretty advanced. I can't deny that." She admits, pausing to think. "I've got a bunch of questions. For starters, how do they get water? I didn't see any tiny rivers or lakes."

"Mm. Good question." I tell her as I bring over the tray with our drinks. She sits up, giving me a place to sit next to her on the sofa. "I help out with those kinds of things. Every so often I bring them half a cup of tap water and pour it into their reservoir."

"No way. Their entire population only uses half a cup?" Sara speaks between sips of her tea. She holds her own cup in front of her, gauging its contents. "So, this tea would be enough to sustain them. It would be like a lake, or something..."

I cannot help but laugh at her sudden realization. "Naturally. I thought that much was obvious?"

"It is! It's just that I never really thought about it before." She shrugs.

"I don't blame you. I only recently got to see the world from the Lilli perspective. Most people don't think on the Lilli scale."

"Except for you." She pokes me in the side, causing me to flinch. I manage to keep my hand steady, avoiding spilling my tea. I give her a disapproving pout which causes her to laugh.

"I thought I did. That changed when I saw actual footage." I tell her, putting my half-finished glass down. 

I reach for my laptop on the coffee table in front of us and open it up. It takes me a minute to connect it onto my living room TV. Soon enough, I see my desktop mirrored on the big screen. I navigate to a folder called 'MG' and open it up. Inside it are two subfolders titled 'pics' and 'vids', respectively. I think it will be more fun to start with the pictures, so I open up the first file.

An image of a city street appears on the TV. It was taken at ground level, probably sometime in the early afternoon based on the lighting. People can be seen walking on the sidewalk on the left while cars drive by on the right. I can just barely make out the dome atop city hall in the top right corner of the frame. It's difficult to see past the trees, but it's there. I am not sure where this was taken. If I had to guess, it would be just outside the commercial district.

"So, this is the Lilli city? Magna Gratia." Sara says, staring at the image curiously. "You’re telling me this was taken by a camera? A Lilli camera?" She pinches her fingers to signify something tiny.

"Bingo. I had my top engineers, Icarus and Daedalus, develop one specifically for us. That's why I asked you to wait so long before I could invite you over again. I wanted you to see this. The pictures and video clips were taken by my good friends Nick and Ori."

I notice a hint of amusement in her expression when she hears that name, but she does not comment on it. "Honestly, it looks a lot like the cities of New Brobdingnag. If you hadn't told me, I probably would've just assumed."

Her observation elicits a smile from me. That is exactly what I was hoping she'd say. Rather than focusing on the differences, she's identifying similarities. "I know, right? Even the people look the same."

"Eh, mostly. Their fashion sense is kinda off, you know? Looks pretty foreign and outdated to me."

"Maybe they should take notes from you?" I joke. 

"Maybe they should!" She says, gesturing to her carefully selected outfit. She looks great, as usual. Of the two of us Sara's always had a much better fashion sense. I never go shopping unless she is with me.

"Seriously, though." She says, becoming serious again. "They really do look like us. Yes, I know that should've been obvious, but the only Lilli I've ever seen was the ambassador."

"That changes today. Strap in because we are just getting started!" I say, cheerfully. "I haven't looked at any of these yet. This'll be a first for both of us."

I scroll through the gallery, stopping whenever she asks me to. Some pictures are more interesting than others. We take our time with the shots of important landmarks and skip the ones of random strangers walking around. The population has grown to a point where I don't recognize most of the citizens, but my eyes light up every time I see someone I know. Sara stops me from time to time to ask questions. It surprises me just how many she has! She is clearly interested.

"Ooh! Stop here." She says, prompting me to pause my scrolling.

We both gaze at the image on the screen. It's a shot taken from atop one of the apartment buildings, looking up at the sky. It shows the rest of the room, beyond the city's border. It's hazy, but various things in my bedroom can be seen. A pair of shoes in the corner, my desk to the left, my bed in the distance, and so on. Everything seems so astronomically far away, even though I know these distances don't exceed a few meters.

"Gosh, they're small! Like, really small!" Sara laughs. "Your old shoes look like a mountain range from way down there."

"Yeah, I guess they do." I say, feeling embarrassed for some reason. "Let's move on."

Pressing the right arrow key on the keyboard cycles back to the first image once more. It seems we've reached the end of the picture gallery.

"Aww, that's it? And here I was just starting to enjoy the show..." She pouts. 

"There were over three-hundred pictures, Sara. For your information, I only asked them for thirty." 

Typical Nick, going above and beyond just to impress me. 

"Fine, fine!" She brushes me off. "Now for the good stuff. Let's see those videos!"

"Yes, ma'am." I giggle. "Let's see here..."

I navigate to the other folder and pull up the videos. To my surprise, there are few. The total file count is three, and no clip exceeds a minute. I wonder whether that was deliberate or a limitation of their current technology? I'm inclined to think it was the latter. I can't tell what the videos will be about by their thumbnails either. I click on the first video and let it play on the screen, raising the volume so we can hear.

After some fiddling with the camera, I see a face come into focus.

"Should I hold it vertically or horizontally?" A feminine voice asks from behind the camera. She is aiming it at a smartly dressed Lilli with a familiarly bad goatee.

"Uhhh... Let's go with vertically! That was she'll be able to see all of me." Nick says, giving us a goofy smile. He clears his throat and begins to address us. "Hey, Jeannine! As you can see, the camera is working. I hope the pictures turned out okay. This is our first clip, so I'll keep it short. Ori, do you want to say hi too?"

"H-Hello!" She says, nervously.

"No, I meant while showing your face. Here, let me have that."

The footage goes out of focus as Nick takes the camera. There is a scratchy static resulting from his hand brushing against the mic, but it only lasts a second. He then turns the camera around, revealing a timid woman who just can't seem to look directly at the camera. She gives a wave and Nick zooms in on her face. A moment later, the video ends. 

Personally, I found that to be incredibly cute. Ori can be very shy, so it means a lot that she was willing to appear on camera for me. Nick is just being himself, of course. I look at Sara for her reaction.

"I'm guessing those two are Nick and Ori." She says, unable to hide her growing smile. "You didn't tell me he was cute!"

"He'd be cuter if he'd listen to me and shave." I scoff.

"What? No. It totally suits him."

"No. No, it doesn't." I laugh. "Anyway, let's keep going. We have two left.

I pull up the next video. Not a moment later, my smile disappears as I realize what I'm looking at.

The screen shows the wrecked part of the city. It's not nearly as bad as I remember it, so this must have been taken a few days later. Most of the rubble has been cleared away and the area has been cordoned off with yellow tape. There are people on large vehicles with rotating brushes on the bottom, sort of like the ones used to clean basketball courts. They seem to be clearing away a clear slime, which can only be the remains of my mother's spit after she flooded them.

"As you can see, we're already recovering. The damages should be repaired by the end of next week, ideally." Nick says, standing in front of the camera with his back facing us. Beside him are Icarus, Daedalus, along with a group of construction workers. "And I've been working extra hard to get people to shelter. We have got the best community. The kind people in Block U are sharing their homes with the ones who lost theirs. No more tents, see?"

Indeed, there are no more tents. There isn't a single injured or displaced person in sight. Nick then whispers something to Daedalus, who whispers back. 

"I'm going to unmute in a sec. As you can see, things are much better now! So, cheer up!" He then taps his earpiece and continues, looking up to the sky. "Alright, we're ready. You're good to go!" 

I get a sense of Deja vu when I hear him say that. Suddenly, two pale pillars enter the shot. They descend upon the city, like the hand of god. Painted nails clamp down on the sides of a damaged building, pinching and pulling on it. Sounds of the foundation creaking can be heard as it tries and fails to resist the upward force. The building is then plucked out from it's place disappearing out of shot. Shortly after, the video ends.

"Jeannine?" Sara asks, looking at me in awe. "Was"

"It was." I shrug, thinking nothing of it. "I was helping them to fix a part of the city that got wrecked. The building would've been demolished, so I just, you know." I make a plucking gesture with my fingers.

"Oh my gosh..." She stares at me, wide-eyed. The look on her face tells me she is imagining some strange, likely inaccurate picture of me. "An entire building?"

"Well, yeah. I wasn't going to remove just half of it." I say, half jokingly.

"That'" She says, shaking her head in disbelief. "Talk about power!"

"Power for the betterment of those weaker." I say, hoping she does not get the wrong idea. "Never for abusing them."

"I get it. The little ones are your friends. I wouldn't want to hurt them either." She smiles, nodding in agreement. I trust she means what she is saying. "Seeing them on video was pretty humanizing. It's funny to think that someone like your Nick is smaller than a bread crumb."

"That's why I have to be so careful around them." I explain, ignoring what she's insinuating. "A careless flick of my finger and I could topple one of their buildings."

"Woah. That's some goddess of wrath level stuff right there..."

"Call it what you want, but it doesn't change the fact that we have to be considerate."

"Mm. Makes sense." Sara crosses her arms and leans back on the sofa. "I'm guessing you learned that the hard way?"

Her question catches me off guard. "Come again?"

"You said that part of the city got wrecked. I'm guessing you had an accident?" 

"N-No, not exactly." I sigh, the awful feelings from last week bubbling up to the surface. I try to remember Nick's encouraging words, both from our heart to heart and the video just now. Mayor Saverine's harsh words help too. "Last week, when my Mom was in town, she let herself into my apartment when I wasn't home. Long story short, she found the city and caused some serious damage."

"Seriously?" Sara sits up straight in her seat. "I thought I was the only one who knew your secret? Don't tell me she killed people?"

"Thankfully, she didn't realize the truth. I convinced her that it was a 'model for research purposes'. And no, nobody died. There were casualties, but somehow everyone survived."

"What about Nick and Ori?" She asks, looking genuinely worried about their wellbeing.

"You saw them just now, didn't you? They're both fine."

"That's good." She nods slowly. "I know you'd be devastated if anything happened to them."

"I'd be devastated if anything happened to any of them." I correct her. "They're my responsibility. I have to make sure my citizens are safe, happy, and at ease."

"Ohhh, I see." Sara grins mischievously. "Forget goddess Jeannine, you're more of a... mommy."

"Oh, stop it!" I say, a blush appearing on my face. "It's nothing like that."

"I know, I'm only teasing." Sara blows me a kiss. "Anyway, there's still one video left. Shall we?"

"We shall." I nod.

I click on the last video and watch it on the TV. The shot appears to be from a roof overlooking the plaza outside city hall. The camera pans upward, aiming beyond the skyline to my bedroom. Unlike the other videos, this one has no sound. I raise the volume to max, which produces only the faintest of noises. That changes when I hear a rhythmic booming that gets louder every second. I move to lower the volume back down as the noise gets to be uncomfortably loud. Suddenly, the source of the noise appears. It is me! Based on what I'm wearing, this must have taken place just yesterday. 

I walk over to the city, causing light tremors throughout the city as I step over to its border. The camera pans upward, struggling to capture all of me in frame. The view is distorted, making my legs seem enormous, while everything above the waist seems smaller the higher you go.

"Hello guys! I hope everyone is doing well today." I say, my voice booming from the heavens in a way that I struggle to put to words.

I then begin to kneel, as I usually do. Another tremor rocks the city as my knee touches down. It looms over the northside like an oddly shaped hill of denim. The camera adjusts to focus on my face high above. The cameraman, who I'm pretty sure is Nick, struggles to capture my face from his position. For once, I cannot blame him. At his angle, my chest is blocking the lower half of it. Still, I can't help but cringe even harder, covering my face with my hands in embarrassment.

"What a lewd angle!" Sara reaches over to pause the video, bursting out laughing. "The cameraman deserves a raise."

"Moving on!" I yell, reaching to un-pause the video. 

Thankfully, I lean over slightly, allowing my face to be seen better. I smile and continues speaking, my voice becoming noticeably softer. I do not even need to adjust the volume this time. "I'm looking forward to hearing about things. I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow, so don't forget to send in your requests."

The camera then turns to a large, spherical object to the right. A hatch opens up, revealing the interior. It's the cabin, or rather, my earring. The video becomes shaky as we're taken inside. The hatch closes and Nick moves to the front, close to the viewing window. The camera is aimed upward again, putting me back into the shot. My gaze is now fixed on the cabin as I reach for it. There is no shaking as it's lifted up high into the sky. My huge, smiling face can be seen just before the video ends. 

"I'm starting to understand why Lillis fear us." Sara says. "If I ever saw a woman that big looming over this city, I might just faint."

"Even if you knew she was nice?"

"Well, that would help, but still. It's scary to think about. You were like one of those titans from myth."

"I'm just an ordinary woman, Sara. Same as you."

"My brain knows you're right, but my eyes refuse to agree." She says, taking the laptop from me. She goes back to the second video and pauses at the part when I am plucking up the building. "No 'ordinary woman' can do that."

"Funny you should say that..." I reach over to the table, picking up the tiny object near its corner. I bring it over to Sara, holding it before her eyes. "...because that entire building is just this little thing. Anyone could have done what I did. It was easier than plucking a hair."

Sara gasps when she sees it. She reaches to take it but stops herself. "Um, can I..."

"Absolutely. I would've thrown it away, but I kept it specifically for you." I say, handing it to her. She holds it gently, turning it around to inspect it. Bits and pieces crumble away like dust, but that is only natural considering it was already in bad shape. "What do you think?"

Sara continues her inspection for a while longer before answering me. "I can't believe that this is an apartment building. It fits in my hand! Yes, sure, it's probably on the smaller side, but still! People used to live in here. Actual people..."

Hearing her say that warms my heart. She has not referred to any of the Lillis as specks today. That is progress! Sure, she may not see things exactly as I do, but I'm sensing a growing compassion in her. It makes me very happy, if not proud. 

Just as I'm beaming with pride, I see her reduce the building to dust. The structure snaps in half, most of it crumbling away into her lap. She looks at me with a shocked and very guilty expression. "Sorry! I wanted to test it and I squeezed too hard. It is more fragile than I expected..."

"Don't worry about it. Like I said, it was due for demolition anyway." I reach over and sweep the remains off her lap like fallen crumbs. "It's more important that you understand how fragile these things are. If you can't handle a building with care, what do you think will happen if you try to hold a tiny?"

"I see your point. Probably best that I don't do that anytime soon."

"And that's assuming they want you to hold them. Most Lillis don't go around looking for Brobs to lift them several kilometers into the air. Them being small doesn't mean we can pick them up and drop them whenever we please, either. They're not toys. "

"I wonder if any of them would let me?"

"Considering their first interaction with you involved the suggestion of 'disposing' of their city..." I remind her.

"Oh, right." She frowns. "I wish I hadn't said that. They must think I'm a monster."

"To be fair, the population was fairly small back then. Most of the citizens have never seen you before." I remind her.

"Are you saying I should make a new first impression?"

"I'm not saying anything. What you do is up to you, so long as I'm there with you." I tell her, standing up and gesturing for her to follow. "Speaking of which, it's time for the best part. I think you are ready to see the city for yourself. Properly, this time."

I expected her to seem more excited, but it seems that she's still hung up on what she did last time she was in my room. With some anxiousness, she stands up and follows me inside.

"Don't worry, I already told them you would be coming over. So long as they know that you're supposed to be here, it won't be scary. Just watch your step. We're not trying to cause an earthquake." 

She nods silently, a slightly happier expression appearing her face. I am sure my words bring her relief. The two of us approach the city, standing by its border. We keep our distance, just in case. If there's any debris still on Sara's clothes, it could fall on the city and hurt someone. Slowly, we kneel until we're low enough to see things better. I remain quiet as Sara surveys the tinies' home. She can't help but smile, appreciating the complexity and detail of it all. She's never been one to stay upset for long. While that can be a bad thing at times, it perfectly fine today. I want her to be as comfortable and friendly around the Lillis as I am. In fact, I need her to be. Mayor Saverine made that abundantly clear to me.

"Magna Gratia really is beautiful." She whispers. "I'm amazed."

"I know what you mean. I never get tired of looking at it."

She leans in closer, and I stop her before she gets too close. Her long hair threatens to fall into the city, which would be catastrophic. She realizes this and promptly holds her hair back. "My bad."

"It's alright. That's why I'm here." I reach my arm around and pull her close for a side hug. I turn my head and whisper in her ear so the Lillis don't hear me. "Thank you, Sara. It means a lot to me that I have someone to confide in."

She looks at me and smiles back. I turn my head to allow her to whisper back.

"Your secret is safe with me."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 3 - Chapter 36 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine addresses the city for the first time in a while...

POV: Jeannine


I kneel on the floor of my bedroom, a short distance from the city's border. Looking down from above, I see a sizeable group of people gathered in the plaza outside city hall. I hold my phone in my hand, switching between glancing at it and the people below. I'm currently connected to a broadcast from down there, where Mayor Rin is currently giving a speech about the future of MG. The same footage is playing on TV sets in the homes of those who aren't attending in person. She takes some time to address the incident with Mom, but doesn't dwell on it. That isn't to brush it off, but rather to acknowledge it and move on to more important things. It's proven effective, to my pleasant surprise. Nick is beside her, commenting whenever she invites him to. True to her word, she is doing all she can to ease people's worries. Her delivery and tone practically eliminate any doubt, as if it's impossible for anything she says to be wrong. Despite my own self-doubt, I can't help but believe her. It's amazing. Hopefully one day I can speak with half the confidence she does.

As she nears the end of her speech, I prepare to address them as well. After spending the last week thinking hard about the Mayor’s questions, I've come to a decision. Several. Some of which I've shared and some I haven't. I've been uncharacteristically quiet recently. Not even Nick knows all that I'm about to talk about, only that I have some important announcements to make after the main one. I hear applause coming from my phone, indicating that my turn has come.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to Jeannine. I'm told she has an important message to share with us today." She gestures to the sky, several heads turning to follow her hand. "Whenever you are ready, dear."

The broadcast puts me in frame, zooming in on my face. I put on a friendly smile and give everyone a wave before beginning.

"That was a wonderful speech, Mayor Saverine. 

Thank you for all the work you and the council do."

I pause while the audience applauds her until the crowd is quiet again. "Magna Gratia holds a very special place in my heart. Having watched and often taken part in its growth has been an absolute pleasure. I love the community we've built because of our peaceful way of life. Our city is a testament to Lilli-Brob cooperation. I hope that one day this can be the norm rather than the exception."

I pause to collect my thoughts, which invites another round of applause. My serious expression softens briefly as I glance at my phone, seeing the cheerful faces of my citizens. It means a lot to me that they so easily forgive me.

"After what my mother did to you all, I worried that many would want to leave. I've given my word that anyone may leave, at any time and for any reason, so long as they tell me first. I'm...pleased to see that you've all decided to stay." I clear my throat, before I can get too emotional. "We've learned a lot about each other through exposure. There have been bumps along the way, some bigger than others, but nothing has stopped the momentum we've built. We continue to grow not only as a city, but as people. I've thought about that a lot lately. How can I be better? How can I do more? I thought that those questions were mine alone to answer. I couldn't have been more wrong."

I stand up and move to stand beside a newly bought piece of furniture behind me. It's a modular, floor shelving system with three shelves.

"Earlier this week, I asked you all what would make you feel safer. We held a vote, and your voices have been heard. It's clear that you want to be off the floor, some place higher up and less prone to danger. After discussing the idea with our engineers, I've received confirmation that moving the city is possible, due to its strong foundation. Apparently, using a tray as a base was a much better idea than I'd originally thought." 

I turn my attention to the shelves and give them a shake. I even give the base a light kick. The whole thing is solid as a rock, as I clearly demonstrate. I tightened the loose screws, but not too much, as Daedalus instructed.

"I wouldn't have even considered the idea unless I was sure that it was safe. I had this thing custom built especially for us, with dimensions large enough to house the entire meter squared area that is your home. And I spared no cost on the material!" I nod proudly. "I plan to move the city in a few minutes. Before I do that, there are some precautions that we must take. Now then, please turn your attention to Mayor Rin. She will explain what to do."

I listen to Saverine on my phone, taking a seat on my bed in the meantime. She explains that everyone needs to move to an open space at ground level, preferably away from any buildings. No matter how careful I am, the act of moving an entire city is going to cause an earthquake. Damage should be minimal, but on the off chance something goes wrong, we can avoid a loss of life. There's also the matter of if I can do it. I may be a Brob, but the nearly completed city will weigh much more than the barren plot of land did, once upon a time. The engineers calculate that the entire thing shouldn't weigh more than what I can carry on my own. I suppose there's no way to know until I try.

Fifteen minutes pass before I receive a text from Nick, confirming that everyone has moved to safety. All eyes are on me now, as I get down on my knees and lean over the city. The streets are now full of tinies. They've gathered into groups of varying size, the largest of which are in the park and plaza. I have no way of counting them, but if I had to guess I'd say there's at least two thousand people in each of those places.

"Alright. Please hold on, everyone. I'm going to be as careful as possible..."

I reach over to the east and west sides and gently slip my index fingers underneath the tray. 

The entire city tilts as I temporarily set the entire thing at a slight angle. It's not much to me, but I'm sure the Lillis are noticing it. One by one, I slip the rest of my fingers underneath, sliding my palms underneath it until I feel I've provided enough support. Bringing my thumbs to the edges, I'm careful not to press hard, just enough that I can maintain a grip on the entire thing. I tense my fingers, testing the city's weight. I can't budge it with my fingers alone, it's too heavy. Hopefully it's not too heavy for one person to lift. Slowly, and with more care than I've ever put into an action, I tense my arms. I feel the base lift off from the floor, no supported by nothing but my hands. I can feel its weight now. It can't be more than 20 kilograms. I push off my right leg, bringing my left knee off the ground at the same time. It's a delicate motion, requiring me to balance on one leg for a moment while also keeping the city as still as possible. 

I stand up straight, holding the city out before me. I take the chance to look down, scanning for damage. There's none that I can see, which is a good sign. Though, that only confirms that there's no major damage. It could be a lot worse than I realize. I can't help but wonder what the Lillis are thinking right now, watching me lift them into the air. It's so strange to think about. No single person should be able to pick up a city, and yet here I am doing exactly that. Metaphorically speaking, I've always held their lives in my hands. I just never thought that would ever be so literal. I'm holding a world, one inhabited by thousands of people, some I know and some I don't. It's a fragile world, more brittle than glass. One wrong move on my part and it could fall to the ground, so many lives shattered. I suddenly feel an increased pressure on my arms, as if the weight has doubled. 

I take several small steps, essentially shuffling over to my desk. By now, I can feel the muscles in my arms trembling. My shaky hands must be causing tremors for them. I consider bracing the north side against my waist, since it might lessen the load, but decide against it. There's no telling what kind of damage that could cause. Still, I'm going to need a moment to rest, which I already anticipated. Bringing the city over, I lower it down slowly to a space I cleared out earlier today. As I slip my fingers out from underneath, I ensure that the base touches down extremely gently. This adds a few more seconds, though I don't think anyone is complaining. I step away to admire my work.

"That's step one of three..." I whisper under my breath.

I flex my wrists back and forth, allowing my arms a moment to recover. In the meantime, I turn my attention to the shelves. Pushing against it with my shoulder, I slide it across the floor into place. I then adjust it against the wall, right on top of where the city used to be. It only takes two minutes, which is sufficient for my arms to rest and recover. It's time to finish the job.

I stand in front of my desk and move my hands into place, like before. I repeat the process, bringing the city off the desk as slowly as before. I make my way over to the shelf and plant my feet firmly in front of it. There are three shelves, hence, three options for placement. The top shelf is at eye level with me, the middle is at my waist, and the bottom is just below my knees. Considering I don't plan to move the city again, this choice will be final. The citizens never specified how high they wanted to be, leaving the decision to me. I don't think the lowest level is very different from the previous arrangement. The top level would work, but it will make it difficult to interact with them. My arms move forward and I crouch a little to get into position. I lower my body until I'm in position to place the city on the middle shelf. 

I bring the entire thing forward, just as my arms begin to tremble again. I can feel a burn in them, which I power through for the tinies' sake. Setting the base down, I realize that it isn't sitting against the wall. Using just my thumb, I carefully push the corner, adjusting the entire thing so that it's properly positioned. I lean to my left and right, inspecting the city one final time. I won't be satisfied unless it's perfectly in place. I take a step back and look at the new arrangement. 

"Finished. Welcome to Magna Gratia 2.0: Shelf edition." I sigh in relief. "How is everyone doing? Hopefully well?"

I bend my knees a little and lower myself to get a closer look. I'm pleased to see that there still isn't any major damage. I take the earpiece from my desk and put it in, switching it on.

"Hey." I hear Nick say. It's hard to hear him over the cheering. 

"How are things on your end?"

"Not bad, actually!" He yells, trying to make himself heard. "Apart from the nonstop tremors, I'd say we're alright! We won't have a full report for a few days, but you'll be happy to know that no buildings were toppled!"

"Is anyone hurt?"

"Not that I can tell! I think we're good?"

"Perfect." A joyful smile spreads across my lips. I then clear my throat loudly to get everyone's attention. I listen through my earpiece and wait for the noise to die down. I've still got one bigger announcement to make. I stand back up and take a step back so that I'm fully visible to everyone.

"I hope everyone is satisfied with the city's new place in my room. I like this a lot better, now that I'm seeing it." I close one eye and tilt my head, holding my hands out to form a rectangle, as if I'm putting them in frame. "Moving the city was just one of two big changes I'm planning on making. This one might be easier to show than tell..."

I turn to face the sliding glass door of my terrace and open it. 

I leave them for a moment, only to return with a large, clay pot. It's probably about half the size of the city, if not a little smaller. I haven't had the chance to measure it yet, having bought it just this morning. It's the kind that you fill with dirt for the larger plant variety. Though, this particular pot is empty. Despite that it's quite heavy, so much that I struggle with it. I bring it inside and slide the door shut behind me.

"I know that the outside world is dangerous and largely inhospitable to Lillis. Having my room, a place that's safe and comfortable, is nice, but I realize that many probably miss the outdoors. Feeling the sunlight through my windows just isn't the same. That's why I'd like to help you build a second, mini settlement in this. It'll be something I can leave outside permanently. I'm thinking it can be like a resort, with pools, restaurants, and the like. A place that you can use as a getaway."

I pause for a moment to collect my thoughts. I can hear excited chatter coming from Nick's end, which is reassuring. I didn't run this by anyone, hoping to surprise them with a new idea. No one knew about it. Well, that isn't exactly true. One person did know about it.

"This idea originally came from my good friend, Ori. We've been talking about it for some time, coming up with ideas. Neither of us are qualified to design such a place, but hopefully our engineers might be willing to take this new project on. It goes without saying that I will help in any way I can, be it through providing the necessary resources or aiding construction."

I let my words sink in, hoping I'll get enough support to make this idea a reality. I can't force them, seeing as most of the work will be done by them. Considering they'll be the ones using it, I don't stand to gain anything from its creation. It's entirely for them. Providing their most basic needs, security, shelter, food, and water is important, but I feel like I could be doing more. 

I don't just want my little friends to survive, I want them to prosper. Life isn't just about making it to the next day, it's about living. It's my hope that a place like this can provide that 'fun' element that many of them never got to enjoy. There are so many things that I take for granted without realizing it. Little pleasures that I've always had in abundance. They deserve the same, don't they? If it's within my power to give that to them, I absolutely will. I told them to live their lives to the fullest, once upon a time. It's been a long, difficult road up until now, but I think we're at a point where we can be indulgent and carefree. They've been working so hard every day for months. Yes, it'll take some more work, but I think it'll be more than worth it.

"I hope this idea will receive support. A formal vote will be held this week to see what you all think."

I know that sliding my little comment in will likely sway them, but I suppose it's fine. In the end, everyone has the right to voice their opinion, including me. I think it's a fair trade, considering I don't get a vote in the matter. I know these people. They're going to go for it, if only because it's something interesting. Ori's company will receive a lot of business through selling swimsuits. Daedalus and Icarus will see it as their next challenge. Sam and Aurelia will want to try growing new crops in a different climate. Mayor Rin and her family will use it for a family vacation, along with many of the other families. And, of course, Nick will probably enjoy ogling the Lilli girls enjoying the pool.

"I can see it now. It's going to be wonderful!" I think without speaking. All that shows outwardly is my cheerful expression.

I push the pot against the wall and out of the area I usually walk. I wipe my hands against each other to remove the dust from touching it. Before any work can be done, I'll have to prepare this thing extremely carefully. It's been ages since I did something like this. 

I close my eyes and remember the time when I first build the city's foundation. So much work went into that. Back then, I had to do it all on my own. Now, I'll have the help of the little ones, as well as Sara, if she's interested. I think she will be. She's been increasingly interested in the Lillis ever since I showed her Nick and Ori's gallery. It's a nice feeling, having people to rely on, to support you. It makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world.

"That concludes the announcements for now. Thank you all for listening! Please enjoy the rest of your day."

Having concluded the meeting, I put my earpiece on my desk and leave my room. I don't do it for any particular reason. I just feel like giving them some space. I plop down on my sofa and take out my phone. I pull up my calendar and go through my to-do list. I've got registration for the next semester soon, another Remnant search with Nick this weekend, plans with Sara, more plans with Sara, another meeting with Mayor Rin, and the list goes on...

"So much to do..." I giggle. "I'm not going to have a moment to myself!"

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 4 - Chapter 37 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Icarus tests out his newest invention...

POV: Icarus


Time sure does fly when you are running the best and only lab in the city. I have had my schedule fully booked for months. Being the workaholic I am, that does not bother me. I love giving lectures, running workshops, overseeing research, and developing personal projects. It is what I do.

I like having others rely on me. I can manage the pressure and responsibility is nothing I shy away from. Sometimes I think that is why I'm here, why it was me, Icarus, who was brought to this city, and not some other engineer. I know my purpose. It is to share knowledge and put it to use in a way that only I can do. Well, Dad and I to be exact, but same idea. Lately I have been taking on more of a 'doing' role, as he prefers to teach. We have students now, former Remnants that want to better themselves through education. They are like my old students from Provecta, except way more motivated. I do not have to kick them in the butt to make them focus, they do that all on their own. I find it interesting how those who never had the resources use them so much better than those who always did. 

My job gets easier every day. Dad and I used to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Now we can trust those we work with to shoulder the burden with us. It is both a relief and a source of great irritation. I do not want to run out of things to do. Dad tells me I've more than earned a break, but who says I want one? Nothing bothers me more than sitting still. I do not do well with boredom. 

In other news, not much has changed for Magna Gratia lately. The last big event was Jeannine moving the city. It is hard to believe that was six whole months ago. Feels like just yesterday. In the time since then, Jeannine's summer break ended, and she entered her final year of university. We do not see her as often, due to her increased workload. The unfinished parts of the city were also completed. We have expanded our borders to the shelf above us, upon which sits a small, industrial settlement. 

There is a freight elevator that carries both people and cargo between the 'levels' of or now-vertical city. Our power grid also benefitted from the increased elevation. The drafts through the bedroom allow the wind farm to generate nonstop power. We renovated older buildings, built new ones, and completed construction on every district. Special focus was put on expanding the residential district, to accommodate our new arrivals. Our population was sitting at around ten thousand, last I checked. We even built a new park over the ruined one, with loads more beauty. I cannot claim much credit for that since I was busy with other projects at the time.

One of those projects involved building a working computer. I had to develop it literally from scratch, but with help of my team, we got it done. I cannot describe the feeling of seeing it boot up for the first time. It was magical. Call me a nerd or a geek or whatever, but I rode that high for a week. Suffice it to say, I took most of the credit for that one, going as far as to name the operating system was developed, 'IcarOS'. Why yes, I am incredibly humble. That prototype did not have the ability to connect to networks, but we overcame that issue with the second model. The same network Nick uses to communicate with Jeannine, the one that uses her local network, also worked with our system. I was so proud. Nothing felt out of reach to me.

But for the first time ever, Jeannine was not happy with something I had made.

Nick walked into the lab one day and pulled me aside to discuss 'security issues'. He asked me if our new computer could be used to access the internet. I proudly told him that it could, and that we were aiming to mass produce them for our citizens to use. He was not too happy about that. Apparently, he had relayed the news of our computer system to Jeannine. She worried that someone could potentially use one to communicate with the outside world, potentially revealing the secret of MG's existence. 

I honestly had not thought of that. Though it would be in no one's interest to do that, it is certainly a possibility. I had been so caught up with if I could make something, that I had forgotten about if I should. We were blessed with so much freedom that I forgot that we are an illegally situated territory in the bedroom of a young Brob woman. While she has never made a claim of ownerships over us, I doubt the authorities would see it that way. MG would be destroyed, we would all be relocated, and Jeannine would be arrested. What a nightmare scenario. I like to think I am a smart guy, but I can be very stupid sometimes. I am glad there are reliable people to reign me in from time to time.

After some lengthy dialogue, I managed to convince them to allow us to keep the project from being shut down. That came with the assurance that information could only be downloaded, never uploaded. It was not easy, but we made it possible. Additionally, Mayor Rin banned the mass production of our systems. Only certain individuals can use them, and they can only be stationed in certain places, such as our lab. While I did not like the restrictions, I was not in a position to argue. The council makes the rules, I merely follow them. What is important was that I proved that I could do it. Hopefully, others will still benefit from my creation.

The other project I had been tasked with was leading the design team for Elysium, the state-of-the-art resort that Ori and Jeannine produced. It sounded like the stuff of dreams, at first. I had no clue how we would make it possible. MG can only exist because it is in a controlled, predictable environment. Putting a settlement outside seemed impossible. Dad, as well as many others on our team, agreed. Thankfully, I do not know the meaning of the word. I am the type of man who is motivated by challenges. Pushing boundaries, proving people wrong, that is my kind of thrill! 

And so, we made it happen. While my role ended after the design stage, the construction team has been hard at work turning our concept into a reality. Every morning Jeannine carries workers, construction equipment, and materials in her hand, down to the pot to work. Every night, she brings those same workers back up to us. That has been the routine for a while now. They tell me that it will be complete in three weeks. I cannot wait to check it out. Those of us in the city can see it, sitting on the floor far below. It is looking fairly good if I do say so myself.

"Alright, enough patting myself on the back. Back to work." I laugh, talking to myself like I always do.

I am on the roof of our lab now, standing beside a large, spheroid vehicle. I must have zoned out for a while, as I was pouring the third bucket of fuel into its tank. Tossing the bucket aside, I screw the lid onto the fuel filler neck and secure the seal. I walk around the body of my newest project, a pod that is roughly twice the size of an automobile and press a button on its exterior to open the entry hatch. I climb inside and get seated, strapping in and pressing another button to close the hatch behind me. It lowers automatically, making a sharp sound as it seals itself airtight. I reach above my head and flick a couple of switches, starting up the onboard systems. The dashboard in front of me then lights up, prompting me to run diagnostics. I confirm, waiting a few seconds until a dynamic table of information presents itself on the digital display to my left.

"Okay. Let us see here..."

I programmed the system to alert me if anything is amiss, but I know better than to trust the system blindly. Never trust a computer to do a human's job. I run through all the checks manually, checking and then double-checking that everything is functioning as intended.

"Cabin temp: check. Fuel: check. Life support: check." I whisper under my breath. "...and navigation: check. Seems we are good to go!" 

I put my hands on the yoke and grip it tightly. I flex my fingers, hearing my knuckles crack as I do so. I take a deep breath, pray that I did not forget anything, and press a button on my right to start the primary engine. I feel the vehicle rumble as it seemingly comes to life. Nervously, I press the button beside it to engage the two secondary engines as well. Another, louder rumble is felt as it starts up. I move my right hand back to the yoke, pulling at it while looking out through the windshield. The entire vehicle tilts upward slightly, as if it is being towed by some invisible vehicle in front. I carefully push my hands forward, which returns the vehicle to its previous position, flat on the roof. of the building.

"Controls are more sensitive than expected. Might need to lower the sensitivity later."

Keeping my left hand on the steering device, I move my hand to a lever by my leg and begin to pull on it slowly. The previously quiet primary engine now joins its siblings and makes some noise. I feel an unsteadiness as the entire vehicle begins to lift off the ground. I leave the lever where it is before the pod can go any higher, coming to a stable hover a foot off the roof. 

"Holy shit... I'm flying."

I sit in my seat, in awe of my invention. Nothing like this existed back in Provecta. Sure, we had theories and concepts, but nothing of substance. The issue was never about building a flying vehicle, but rather how to power it. I had been collaborating with my team to produce a fuel energy dense enough to achieve lift. While synthesis is difficult and time consuming, not to mention quite unrenewable, the product does in fact work. I glance at the fuel tank, seeing that I am still at ninety-eight percent capacity. My testing already used up a little. At this rate, I probably will not have more than fifteen minutes of flight time at best.

"Oh well. Guess I should make use of it while I can." 

I guide the pod forward, moving to the edge of the roof. I try turning around, then left, and then right. The vehicle responds flawlessly. It is even better than I had anticipated. It makes me want to go for a full-on test drive, if only that were possible. I am not going to fly this thing over a populated city. It is unsafe, and quite frankly I am not looking to disturb people. This thing is not exactly quiet.

"Then again..." 

My gaze goes out, beyond the border of the city, to the room beyond. All I see is a wide, open space, practically beckoning me. It is so tempting. Irresistibly so.

"Jeannine's rules forbid us from leaving the border for any reason, but a bunch of exceptions have been made. She obviously doesn't want to accidentally step on us, but I won't be anywhere near the ground." I weigh the risks against the benefits, slowly convincing myself that it is not going to be a problem. "She's in her living room right now. Am I willing to risk her coming in and seeing me?"

Deep down, the answer to that question is a resounding 'no'. Despite that, my excitement gets the better of me. Before I know it, I have gotten one hand pulling on the lever and the other guiding the pod into the skies. 

It only takes me a few seconds to zoom out of the city's airspace. I go higher but remain low enough to avoid the shelf above us until I am clear of it. Once I am far enough away, I slow the craft, cruising at a constant altitude. The system tells me I am currently over five kilometers high, slightly higher than the city's elevation. I can go higher. I guide the pod up, higher and higher, until the system tells me I've climbed to a whopping eleven kilometers of altitude.

"Wow. I am higher up than Jeannine is tall. I would be comfortably over her head..."

I look up at the ceiling, seeing that there's still more sky to claim. I will surely go higher, but for now, there is something else I want to evaluate. 

I fly the pod forward, increasing the speed to about half its maximum velocity. I do not go anywhere I should not, out of respect for Jeannine's privacy, enjoying a view that no Lilli before me ever has. As much as I would like to take my time, I am limited by the pod's fuel. Checking the tank again, I notice that it is depleted to ninety one percent. I decide to hurry up, increasing my speed to sixty five percent and continuing on my way. 

I fly across the bedroom, taking a lap around the walls. The trip begins at the glass door of her balcony, and I take in the view of the streets below. I see impossibly large cars, no different than the ones we have, parked way down there. As a Lilli, I appreciate getting to look down at something, rather than up. It is a refreshing change. I wish Dad could see what I am seeing right now, or any of my friends for that matter.

I follow the wall around to the side opposite the city, flying over her bedside table. I notice an outlet with a charging cable plugged into it, as well as a half-finished plastic bottle of water. A quick mental calculation tells me it is about the same amount of water in the city's entire sanitation system, but significantly less than what Elysium will use. Quantities on the Brob scale never cease to amaze me. Think about them too much and you will give yourself a headache.

I continue around, now flying over the largest object in the room, Jeannine's bed. I fly lower now, hovering over the sea of sheets. To my right I see a mountain range of pillows, two to be exact. One has a gigantic indentation resulting from Jeannine's head resting on it every night. I do not take too much time staring at it, continuing on my way as I climb to my previous altitude. Even at my current speed, it takes a while to cross the enormity that is her queen-sized bed.

Coming around the next corner, I pass by the door to her bathroom, which is slightly ajar. 

I keep my gaze focused forward; fairly sure I will catch a glimpse of something I should not if I glance through the crack. I pass her closet next, before coming around yet another corner. Below me is a trash can, and not too far from that is the door to the room, neither of which are particularly interesting. The door is shut, but as I fly by it, I think I can hear Jeannine on the phone somewhere beyond it. I continue on my way, now seeing the shelves straight ahead. Before it, lower down, is Jeannine's desk. I guide the pod down to it, eager to visit the place where I first met our friendly giantess, so long ago. I come to hover above it, cruising slowly as I check out her laptop, various papers, and some pens, all of which are big, obviously. I turn the pod to the left, so that I can look out at the bedroom. From this position, I am essentially in the same position as that day. It is a funny feeling.

"Alright, I should probably head back now. Fuels at fifty percent already."

I begin to climb up to the altitude of the city, gradually making my way toward it. Having proven my invention not only works, but is easy to use, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Several months of development have bore fruit. While I do not see these things becoming available to everyone, I am curious what Jeannine will think when I present it to her. I will probably want to do something flashy. I have a good track record when it comes to impressing her, and my fellow Lillis for that matter, and I wouldn't want to ruin my perfect record. Maybe I could do a lap around her? I would need to be going faster than I have been going, though. Likely eighty or ninety percent if I want to approach her walking speed. I am not sure that is possible.

"Only one way to find out."

The pod suddenly swerves left, heading back out toward the room. I push the controls forward, causing all three engines to roar. The noise startles me, but I maintain my grip on yoke even as I zoom forward. I keep my eye on the dashboard. 

I have hit ninety percent speed. I climb higher, reaching the eleven-kilometer mark like before. Something inside of me, something impulsive and rash, spurs me on. Before I know it, I am zooming up toward the ceiling at ninety six percent speed, now almost fifteen kilometers in the air. The pod begins to shake as the engine temperature rises rapidly. 

"What is that?" A voice suddenly asks.

I look over to the source, seeing Jeannine standing at the doorway. Her gaze is focused on me, trying to figure out if the strange tiny object is an insect or something more. Distracted by her, I do not realize where I am going. As my gaze returns forward, I realize I am on a collision course with the bright, hot bulb of her light fixture in the middle of ceiling. Unable to react in time due to the blinding light, the automatic life support system ejects me from the vehicle and into the air. I watch as my beloved project continues toward the bulb, crashing into it, and bouncing off. Smoke emerges from the pod as it plummets, before becoming engulfed in flames and ultimately exploding. 

As I fall from incredible heights, I do my best not to succumb to panic. I am wearing a flight suit equipped with a parachute. I just need to pull the string to deploy it. Reaching over my shoulder, I yank at the cord as I tumble through the air. The chute deploys, slowing my fall with a force akin to being punched in the gut. It knocks the wind out of me, causing considerable pain. I wince, my vision blurry from all of the motion, waiting for my vision to focus once more. I feel two of the cords snap, causing my fall to pick up speed. The next thing I know, I am on the ground. Unprepared for the landing, my knees buckle and I fall forward, flat on my face. 

"W-What the...?"

The ground is soft, and there is no way I reached the ground that quickly without dying. It does not make sense. 

I lift my head up, body still on the ground, and try to figure out where I am. As my vision finally focuses again, I see that I am in the middle of a palm. Apparently, Jeannine caught me in her hand. I raise my head higher, to meet the gaze of my savior. Her expression is a mix of confusion, worry, and anger. I remove the remains of the parachute from my body and clamber to my feet, stumbling slightly. It would seem I have been caught red-handed.

"The only person I know who's crazy enough to pull a stunt like that is you, Icarus." She says, in a tone that is not as angry as I had expected. "I just have one question for you. What were you thinking?"

I remain silent, partially because I have nothing to say in my defense, but also because there is no way she will hear me. She stares at me, her expression becoming more irritated by the second. Her eyes close and she sighs loudly, blowing hot air in my face. When her eyes open again, her expression has softened.

"I'd be really mad if I wasn't so impressed." She cracks a smile. "A flying car... I never thought I'd see one." She looks down at the ground, to the many pieces that were once my invention. She then looks back at me, frowning. "That's a shame."

I fall to my knees as she begins walking, bringing me over to the city. She raises her hand, close to her lips so she can whisper. "I'm going to overlook that you broke a rule. Do not do it again, okay?"

Her hand then moves away, carrying me over the roof of a random building. She holds her hand still, allowing me to climb off to safety. "Stay safe, Icarus."

With that, she gives me a friendly wave and walks over to her bed, where most of the debris landed. She cleans it up without a word, tossing the project I spent so much time on into her trash can with a smile. I suppose that is her idea of a punishment. Needless to say, the message came through. I do not think I am going to take to the skies again.

"Maybe it's time to slow down. Breaks...can be a good thing."

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 4 - Chapter 38 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine is accepted into the Lilli studies club, Nick tags along...

POV: Nick


The sound of Dr. Lam's lecture echoes throughout the hall. I can hear her words as clear as day, and yet I can hardly make sense of them. It's like she is speaking an entirely different language. There are so many terms, most of which I have never heard before. I suppose that is only natural. I never got a formal education, instead learning things from my family and friends back when I was a Borrower. Since meeting people like our engineers in Magna Gratia, I have gotten interested in learning. I figure I'm a smart guy! It's never too late to learn new things. It made me think, maybe I should attend Jeannine's lectures and learn a thing or two?

Ahh, if only it were that easy.

University is on a whole different level. This is the fourth lecture I have attended, but I feel like I have hardly learned a thing. Without a solid foundation in the subject, I'm struggling to follow along. It's so frustrating! I wish I were not so lost. I suppose it's not my fault; if given the chance, I would have gladly gone to school. It makes me feel like I have missed a critical part of life. Then again, it's unfair to compare myself to them. I have lived a vastly different life. I have been through things that none of them ever will. In fact, I have been through more than most Lillis have. The ones that lived to tell the tale, at least.

I realize I'm zoning out again. I shake my head and try to refocus my attention on the lecture. I can just barely see the slides since Jeannine chose to sit in the second row. It's huge, but it does not compare to the screen at the movies. Now that was truly massive. I manage to follow what is being said for about one minute before I become completely lost again. 

"Ugh! Speak English, your monotone, old bat!"

I suddenly hear Jeannine chuckle, struggling to hold back laughter. My face goes pale as I realize my mic was unmuted. I know that I'm supposed to be quiet during her lectures as not to distract her. 

"Sorry." I whisper. "That wasn't intentional."

Jeannine moves a hand to her mouth to cover it as she whispers. Despite two people sitting directly next to her, she decides to respond to me.

"It's okay." She then fakes a quiet cough and clears her throat. "But please mute."

I do exactly that, ensuring I do not make the same mistake twice. Then I sink into my seat, groaning loudly in frustration. I wish I could talk to her. If we were not in public, I would be bombarding her with questions. She would happily answer them, as she has done many times this past week. She is patient with me, even when I ask such dumb questions.

"It's more important that she learns. She's the student who'll have to take the final exam, I'm just a guest."

With that in mind, I check the time on my watch. I watch the seconds tick by, seemingly slower than normal. While it feels like we have been here for hours, it has only been an hour and a half. There is still thirty minutes before the lecture ends. I sit up in my seat and try to concentrate one final time. I push myself to think, hoping that I can go home today a smart guy than I was this morning. To my surprise, I do recognize the diagram on the current slide. It's called a histogram. I'm familiar with that, since Daedalus taught me how they work when we were analysing the skills of our citizens. They use those to show information. This example is showing something to do with laws.

"What's a 'soft law'? Sounds familiar. Guess I'll have to ask her later."

The remainder of the lecture goes by faster than I expect. Some of the other students pause the professor to ask questions, which she answers in simpler language. It's clear enough that even I can understand. Before long, the students are dismissed. Jeannine collects her things and leaves the lecture hall. She must squeeze her way past some students, but eventually makes it to a place in the hallway with less people. At last, I can speak. 

"That was an interesting lecture. Sorry again for forgetting to mute."

"It happens." She raises her finger to stroke the cabin. "I nearly laughed out-"

"Jeannine!" A girl's voice calls to her from behind. "I've been looking for you. How are you?"

Her finger quickly moves away as she turns to face this mystery person. "Hey, Myra! I am doing well. And you?"

It occurs to me that maybe she does know this person? Funny, she never mentioned her. I thought Sara was her only friend. Come to think of it, that does not make much sense. A smart, pretty girl like Jeannine must be popular. If not with other girls, then the guys for sure.

"Can't complain. The first weeks of the winter semester are laidback. No need to study or stress about deadlines."

"True. Same here."

"I have good news for you. The president of the club approved, meaning you are now a full-fledged member!" Myra smiles, reaching for Jeannine's hand. She holds it between both of hers.

"Wow! Thank you, I am honoured."

"Was this your last class of the day?"

"I've still got another in the afternoon. Why?"

"Then I say we visit the club now, during the break. Our meeting schedule tends to be all over the place, but we are active today. Everyone's there, so I think you should introduce yourself." She then begins to walk, pulling Jeannine along. "Unless you've got somewhere to be?"

"Nope, I am free. Lead the way!" She smiles.

The two of them go along, with me as a spectator. Jeannine's behaviour while in public almost makes me feel like she is forgotten I'm here. She is so good at keeping up appearances, that girl. I'm impressed! The other girl, Myra, eventually brings her to a room that requires a key card to enter. There is a door with a small, glass window which is too blurry to see through. An electronic pad is mounted on the wall nearby. She pulls a blank, white card from her pocket and scans it, unlocking the door with a 'beep' sound. 

Upon entering the room, I see that is it a lab of some sort that has been partially remodelled. Some lab benches remain, but the larger equipment is nowhere to be found. The other students in the room greet Myra as she enters, each of them busy chatting or working on their laptops.

"Everyone, meet Jeannine." She gestures to her. "Jeannine, everyone."

"Hey guys. It's nice to meet you all." Jeannine waves at them. "Thanks for letting me join. It's so nice to be around likeminded people for a change."

"We're happy to have you." A male voice says. Jeannine turns to look, as one of the guys in the room walks over to her. He is about the same height as her, but much wider. He is well-built and particularly good looking. He has Almond colored eyes to go along with his brown, curtained hair. He extends a hand. "I'm Luca, the President of the Lilli studies club. Myra spoke very highly of you. Nice to finally meet face to face."

"Did she now?" Jeannine smiles at Myra, who responds by looking off to the side. She then shakes his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Luca."

He does a half turn and begins pointing to the other group members around the room. He goes around, starting from the left.

"The guys working on his laptops over there are John and Trevor. They're our Secretary and Treasurer, respectively."

"Yo!" John acknowledges her with an upward nod.

"Welcome to the club." Trevor says without looking up from his screen.

"The redhead sitting on the lab bench is Lani, our Historian."

"Sup." Lani says, before hopping off the bench and going over to speak with the two guys.

"...and Myra is our Vice President."

"You never told me you were the Vice President, Myra."

"That's because I wasn't until this semester. I got promoted after our old Vice Prez graduated."

"Is this everyone?" Jeannine asks, gesturing to the others around the room. 

"All five of us. Six, now that we have you." Luca explains. "Five members is the bare minimum for a club to be recognized by the university, as well as to fill the necessary roles. Speaking of which, we need a Publicity Officer. Are you interested?"

"I might be." Jeannine nods enthusiastically. "Let me think about it?"

"Shouldn't you be telling her about the club before you ask her to accept the position that literally everyone else didn't want?" Myra rolls her eyes. "You're unbelievable, Prez."

"Excuse me for trying to finally complete our club!" He says sarcastically, walking over to a poster on the wall. The two girls follow close behind. I see the silhouette of three people, each of distinct size, superimposed on one another. The phrase, 'All Sizes Matter' is written on the bottom. I suppose the figures are supposed to represent the three races. The symbol is familiar. I must have seen it during one of Jeannine's lectures. "This is what we're all about. We believe that the people of this world are strikingly similar. Despite what we look like, we all experience joy and excitement, pain and grief, all the same. Anyone with a shred of biological knowledge knows that. The science doesn't lie."

"That's why we're interested in Lillis." Myra cuts in. "They're really interesting! If they were as feeble as most people think they are, they certainly would not have lasted until today. Like, looks at all those Remnants out there. They are resilient!"

"Definitely!" Jeannine agrees. "I think we could learn a thing or two from them. Speaking of which, is this club more interested in culture, or history, or...?"

"All of the above." Luca tells her. "It really depends on what you want to do. We all study what we like and share it with the others. Do you happen to have a preference?"

"Umm. I already know quite a bit about their culture and history. Maybe I could start by sharing that with the others?"

"Excellent idea. I think that would be great." 

"I agree." Myra smiles cheerfully. "Something tells me you've got loads of stories to share. Do not hold back on us!"

Jeannine hesitates, but they do not seem to notice. I can guess how she is feeling. This might be the first time in her entire life that she is around people like this. She is dying to share her stories, but she cannot, as they must be kept secret. I suppose she could alter the details, but she will have to be careful. Despite how nice these people are, we do not know them all that well. Maybe she could share more somewhere down the line, but not on the first day, you know?

"It's mostly things I've read in books or watched in documentaries. I wish I could visit Lilliputia myself, but that isn't possible."

"Oh my gosh, same! It would be a dream come true." Myra sighs.

"Have you ever interacted with the Lillis in the capitol?" Luca asks.

"No, I haven't. Have you?"

"I have, actually. The little folk are ridiculously nice. It can feel forced at times, probably because they're afraid."

"It's understandable." 

"How about Remnants?"

"I have seen my fair share. My Mom and I used to find them in our kitchen a lot, when I was little. She would always kill them, which never sat well with me."

Luca and Myra exchange glances, with a similar look of pain of their faces.

"I'm sorry you had to witness that. It's too common these days." Myra puts a hand on Jeannine's shoulder.

"I never found any in my parent's house, but I am sure they would have done the same thing." He shakes his head slowly. "Let's change the subject. I have some exciting news to share."

"Ooh! You're going to love this." Myra bounces on the balls of her feet.

"Guess what we found in the forest behind this building? A Remnant settlement! If anyone got word of it, they might have destroyed it. We managed to save all fifty Lillis before that could happen." Luca explains proudly.

"That's wonderful! Where are they now? What do you plan to do with them?" 

"We've got them in that plastic container. While it's not the best accommodation, it's all that we could provide. We've given them plenty of food and water too." He says, gesturing to it, sitting on one of the lab benches. "Truth be told, we're not sure what do with them yet."

"You should contact Lilli affairs. They're better suited to overseeing these types of cases."

"And risk some greedy officer trafficking them? There is fifty of them. That's easily a couple thousand dollars on the black market, Jeannine." Myra explains. "We can't trust just anyone with so many undocumented lives."

"You might be right..." Jeannine frowns. "So, what will you do?"

"We plan to take them to the right people ourselves next week." Luca tells her. "It's the only way to guarantee their safety."

"I see. Then they're in good hands." Jeannine cheers up. "If there's anything I can do to help, please let me know."

"Definitely. Hopefully these people can start new lives in the capitol, or in the worst case, be returned to their land."

As I listen to Luca speak, I cannot help but smile. He seems earnest and caring, just like Jeannine. It's like there is this glowing, warm aura around him, though not as radiant as my giantess friend. Myra is the same, I think. I already like them a lot. 

"Hey, Jeannine." I speak to her after being quiet for so long. "Can you ask them if you can take a close look? I'd like to see them."

She gives me a subtle nod, complying with my request. "Would it be okay if I took a look at them? I promise not to touch."

"Sure. We trust you'll be careful." Luca says. "But try not to scare them. You may not realize, but we're a lot bigger to them than we realize."

"I will keep that in mind." Jeannine says, trying to hide her smirk.

She walks over, leaning over so that she is eye-level with the container. She turns her head slightly to allow me a better view. At this distance, I can make out several large groups of people sitting around. 

They seem nervous, beginning to move around when Jeannine gets close. It's nothing new to us. After rescuing so many settlements together, this kind of reaction has become the norm. From what I can tell, most of them look well, if not slightly dishevelled. The members of the Lilli studies club have been treating them well. They have even brought in a large part of their settlement, likely dug out from the dirt. Everything seems to be good until I do a headcount.

"Wait a minute. Something is not right..."

"What's wrong?" Jeannine whispers, her back to the others so that they do not see her lips moving.

"There's a lot more than fifty here. I see at least seventy-five people."

"They probably miscounted. Cut us Brobs some slack, we aren't as good at seeing the little things as you are."

"I guess? Still, that is a lot more than they mentioned..."

"You worry too much, Nick." Jeannine touches her earring, affectionately. "Isn't it better that there are more of them? That's even more Lillis who will be saved."

"You make a good point."

Despite what I say, I cannot shake the feeling that something is off. I don't have any logical reason. It's merely a hunch. It's clear to me that Jeannine is over the moon right now. She is so happy that I cannot bring myself to spoil her mood. Seeing her smile like this is precious. I will keep my unfounded suspicions to myself. At least, I will for now. Jeannine stands up straight and walks back over to them.

"They look well. You clearly did a good job in transporting them."

"That was all Myra, I can't take any credit." Luca admits.

"Thanks, Jeannine. I did my best not to injure any of them." Myra says, checking the time on her phone. "Oh, Prez, I've got to go. I'm meeting up with someone in a few minutes."

"You're dismissed. Lunch is almost over and several of us have to get to class so let's lock up for the day." Luca raises his voice to address everyone in the room. "Alright, people. Let's clear out." 

Myra leaves, followed by Jeannine, the others, and lastly, the President. He locks up the room, waving everyone off.

"I'll see you on Thursday, Jeannine. Please consider the position. We're desperate." He laughs awkwardly.

"I certainly will! See you soon, Prez."

With that, Jeannine walks to her next lecture, with a noticeable skip in her step. Though it jostles me a little, I don't complain. In fact, I couldn't be happier for her.

End Notes:

Thanks for reading! Don't hesitate to leave a review, or several, if you want. If you have an idea you'd like to see happen in the story, feel free to share it! I love interacting with my readers, and I will do my best to respond to you.

I've decided to launch a Patreon where supporters can gain access to chapters early. Chapter uploads for MG and short stories are weekly. If you are eager to see what's next or just a fan of my work please consider checking it out!

Part 4 - Chapter 39 by GTS33
Author's Notes:

Jeannine spends more time with the Lilli studies club...

POV: Jeannine


"Hey, Jeannine, I think I'm finally starting to understand these lectures. I understood most of what Dr. Lam was explaining today."

"Did you now? Perhaps I should test you." I chuckle, while exiting the lecture hall. There's enough noise that my voice is drowned out by the crowd.

"Go for it." He says with the utmost confidence. "I've been studying hard."

He's so sure of himself. I like it! While I could easily ask a question that would stump him, I don't have the heart to do that. Instead, I come up with a question that is not too difficult nor too easy.

"Okay then, try this. What is meant by 'comparative governance'?"

Nick takes little time to think. "It means to look at how other governments work and compare them to yours. It focuses on structures and systems."

"Wow, I'm impressed!" My reaction is one of genuine surprise, without exaggeration. "I didn't think you'd get that."

"What can I say? I'm smarter than I look. Never underestimate me."

"I will remember not to." I laugh as I make my way down the hallway. 

Having finished my final class of the day, I head for the Lilli studies club. Myra texted me earlier, asking me to swing by for a club meeting. I happily agreed, of course. I have to play my part now that I am a full-fledged group member. I've made the President wait a week for my response to his offer, but I know he will be pleased when I accept. 

I arrive at the room a few minutes later, but cannot enter due to the electronic lock. I knock on the door, peering through the frosted glass. I can tell that the lights are on, but am unsure if anyone is inside. I don't hear any noise. Then again, I suppose the other members aren't a very rowdy bunch to begin with. I step back and wait for someone to open up for me. Before long, I hear a 'click' and the door opens slightly, revealing Myra. She squeezes out from behind it, blocking my view of the inside. 

"Hey, Jeannine. Glad you could make it!" She says, stepping outside. She holds the door open with her foot to prevent the lock from reengaging. "This is going to sound super lame, but I'm going to need any electronics you've got. Please let me see your bag too."

"Umm, okay... First, may I ask why?"

"It's a security thing." She says, collecting my phone and rummaging through my backpack. "The President has a strict 'no recording' policy while meetings are in session. Hence, this lame search. Sorry."

Myra kneels and proceeds to pat me down. I flinch upon suddenly being touched without warning.

"I-I see! Rules are rules."

These precautions make me feel like I'm back at the embassy. I find them a tad excessive. Once she finishes, I try to take a step forward, but she stops me again. "Hold on. I'll need that earpiece too."

I suddenly tense up. I am willing to part with my phone and laptop, but not my earpiece. That is my link to Nick. Without it, we cannot communicate. Muting it is one thing, but this is another entirely. I am sure he feels the same way.

"I don't think I-"

"It's okay!" Nick interrupts me. "Give it to her. It'll be fine. I'm not going anywhere."

Hesistantly, I reach for it and turn it off. I place it in Myra's waiting hand. "Never mind. Take it, but be careful with it. It was...expensive."

"You don't say?" Myra raises it to her eye to inspect it. "Huh. I've never seen one like this. Where did you get it?"

"Myra!" The President calls to her from inside. "Get Jeannine in here already!"

"S-Sorry, Prez!" She yells back. She quickly forgets about the earpiece and beckons me inside. 

The first thing I notice upon entering the room is the energy. All of the group members are here and they all seem to be in a very good mood. The lot of them are gathered around the lab bench with the Remnant settlement, engrossed in some activity. Myra and I walk over and join them. I choose to stand beside Luca and Myra does the same on the opposite side. 

"Now that everyone is here, we can begin." The President grabs the plastic container housing the Remnants, pulling it closer to him. He then hands Myra and I a small, glass container and a blank notecard, each. He looks at Myra, then to me. "You two can help us divide our tiny friends into groups. The rest of you, please watch and learn."

I look at the items curiously as he removes the lid of their container. Before I can ask why they need to be separated, he proceeds to flip the container on its side, sending both the Remnants and the broken chunks of their settlement out onto the countertop. 

"Hey! Be careful!" I snap at him, watching the scared, little people panic. "That was far too rough..."

"Relax, they're tougher than they look! You said so yourself last week." Myra reassures me.

"I was referring to their resilience. Mental fortitude and spirit, certainly not their physical durability..." I look to the other group members for support, but none of them seem all that bothered. I lean in, holding my breath as I get close enough to make out the finer details. I can see that they are unharmed for the most part. I move away before I speak again, keeping my voice soft. "Okay. They seem fine."

"Come on, did you seriously think I'd break them? You don't find a Remnant settlement every day, let alone one this big. Now, please group them up. Show the others how experienced people handle Lillis. I'd like for there to be a fifty-twenty split, give or take a few."

I watch as Myra use her notecard to herd the Lillis toward the container. In response, the tiny specks flee in the opposite direction. No matter how fast they run, there is simply no escaping her notecard. Their choices are simple: run into the container or be ran over. I'm both confused and shocked by how we are treating these poor people. 

"Hold on. Please, hold on a second." I do my best to stop this before she call accidentally bulldoze anyone. "I don't understand. Why don't we place your containers down and simply ask them to gather inside of them? They are certainly capable of dividing themselves up. This feels unnecessary, not to mention dangerous!"

"As if they'd cooperate with us." John laughs. "They're terrified of us."

"Yeah. Just look at them! They're already trying to escape." Trevor gestures toward the table. Indeed, the crowd of people is dispersing. They are fleeing in all directions, though, they are not getting far.

"They shouldn't be this afraid. I know Remnants are generally wary of Brobs, but a reaction like this is extreme. Haven't we been treating them kindly?"

"Myra." The President shoots her a frustrated look. "Did you forget to explain the plan to Jeannine?"

"Umm, about that..." She mouths an apology. 

"No wonder she's so lost." The President sighs, shaking his head disapprovingly. He then turns his attention to me. "We're splitting them up so that we can make the best use of them. There are about seventy, I think. Fifty will go to the administration and we'll keep the remaining twenty."

"I thought there were only fifty Lillis in the settlement?"

"That's the 'official' story. We told the administration the same thing when they found us digging around that tree." He winks at me. "That way, we can keep some for ourselves. Not that anyone is actually going to count. Actually, Myra, do you think we could get away with thirty?"

"That might be pushing it." She shakes her head. "Five more, at most."

"I thought we wanted to help these poor people." I tell them, my tone serious.

"We do!" Myra assures me. "We're literally going to be helping fifty Lillis. That's huge!"

"And the other twenty? What about them?"

"Whatever we want." The President responds for her. "We'll put them to work, play with them, or ultimately sell them. 

That's usually how it goes. We do a majority vote on what we want to do with the group, and if we're unable to agree, we split them up amongst ourselves. That is why we're doing this. John and Myra want to play with them, while Trevor and Lani want to sell them. As President, I'm not allowed to vote. Now that you're here, you can tip the scales. What do you say? Should we keep them or sell them?"

I look at him in disgust. I look to the rest of the members, hoping someone will object, but they don't. I cannot believe what I'm hearing. I don't even grace his question with an answer. "When I came by the other day and spoke to the both of you about treating Lillis equally, was that all an act?"

"No. Well, not entirely. This club exists to study Lillis. We can't do that without having a few." Myra explains. "We use our funding to buy them, so we get, like, a few dozen a month. We've never gotten our hands on so many at once, not to mention for free. It's a total gamechanger!"

"The ultimate goal is learn something, preferably while having fun." The President cuts in. "Sadly, they don't last long."

"You should have seen what Myra put them through last month." Lani rolls her eyes. "Talk about sadistic."

I look to Myra for an explanation. She holds my gaze, trying to contain her enthusiasm as she explains.

"I put five tinies on one end of the lab bench and told them to make it as far as the could in three hours. I told them that the slowest two would be squished. And they believed it! As if I'd actually kill them. Where's the fun in that? They ran and ran until all of them just dropped dead. They managed to make it more than halfway across. It was easily fifteen kilometers on their scale. Imagine that?"

"That is terrible." I tell her. "It's like you don't even see them as people." 

"On the contrary! None of this would be worthwhile if they weren't people." Myra corrects me. "I know that each and every one of those tiny specks is a living, breathing, sentient being. They have feelings and they feel pain too."

"Then don't you feel any remorse?" I ask her, practically begging for her to feel some sympathy.

"Sometimes, but I try not to think about it." She shrugs. "What I'm trying to say is that we enjoy bossing them around because they're people. They understand us when we command them and they fear us when we threaten them. We have absolute power other their lives, like gods."

"Did you seriously just call yourself a goddess?" Trevor laughs. "Okay, miss five-foot-two."

"Like it matters." She sneers at him. "I'm still gigantic to them."

"Settle down, everyone." The President snaps at them. "We've got seventy specks running around on the table. We can chat after we've collected them."

"Speaking of which," I begin, directing my words at him, specifically. "what makes you think that I am any good at handling Lillis?"

"Because you bought a bunch last year." He tells me. "At least ten, from what I've heard."

My blood runs cold upon hearing him say that. I stare at him intensely, ignoring everyone else in the room. I study his expression, trying to figure out what he is thinking. The confident look on his face tells me he believes what he is saying. He does not appear to be bluffing. Then again, I could be wrong. I must be wrong, given that there is no way he could know that. I made sure that there were no cameras in that man's shop. There was no one else there when I went in. Despite that, the number is spot on. I decide to feign ignorance.

"I have no idea what you are talking about. I have always and will always care about Lillis. They aren't toys to me."

"Oh, really?" The President chuckles. He leans in close, getting close enough to whisper in my ear. "The man you bought them from is my uncle. You fit his description." 

Suddenly, I feel my confidence drain. I try not to look at unsettled as I feel, as Luca pulls away. His smug expression turns into one of understanding, and he puts an arm around me.

"I wasn't trying to call anyone out. There's no reason to be nervous. We're all friends here!" He hugs me tightly into him, which I find very uncomfortable. "Jeannine is just nervous because she thinks this place might be bugged. Trust me, it isn't. What is said in here, stays in here. Right, guys?"

A collective murmur of agreement is accompanied by nodding of heads.

"See? You can drop the act now. Just be yourself!" Myra encourages me.

Looking around at the others, I see nothing but friendly colleagues. To any onlooker, they are just ordinary students. No one would ever guess that they revel in sick activities in a place where they will never be caught. They think I am like them. They could not be more wrong. I try to reinterpret what they've told me, searching for some alternative meaning. It isn't that I don't understand what is happening, but rather than I don't want to believe it. I don't want to believe that I have so terribly misjudged these people. I don't want to accept the fact that they are just like everyone else.

I force a smile and do my best to appear relaxed, at least outwardly. I even sigh loudly as if greatly relieved.

"Oh my, that was getting tiring! You guys saw right through me, huh?"

"Of course we did!" Myra beams at me. "We already knew. Why else would we have invited you here? Duh."

"Terrible acting, dude." Trevor adds.

"Agreed." Lani nods.

"Prez," I tell him. "you asked me to vote on what I want to do with the specks. I think I'd like to play with them."

"Alright then! Since it's now three-to-two, we'll go with the majority." The President declares, finally moving his arm off me. "Let's round these guys back up."

"Ugh. Lame." Lani folds her arms and frowns. "We could have made a killing." 

"What sort of study are we going to do this time?" Trevor groans.

"Glad you asked!" Myra enthusiastically answers. "John and I want to make them fight to see who's the strongest. We'll put a bunch of them on top of a water bottle and have them shove the others off in a ring-out style contest!"

"It'll be awesome." John says, taking out a water bottle to show us. "Like a final battle at the apex of a mountain. Only the strongest will survive!"

Hearing them describe their plans makes me sick, but I manage to keep that to myself. I don't so much as blink, lest someone gleam my true feelings.

"I guess that means we'll have to keep them together until then?" I ask them.

"Yup. We'll do it tomorrow. Is that okay, Prez?" He asks.

"It's fine by me. It sounds like a fun time." He says, turning his attention to Myra and I. He takes their original container and sets it right again. "Ladies, will you please collect our tinies? You should guide them into your containers and then transfer them to the big one."

"I have a better idea." I tell him, taking my container and setting it on its side in the middle of the lab bench. I clear my throat and soften my voice. "Little ones, please make your way into this container. I'd rather not chase you down. Comply, and I promise no harm will come to you."

Whether it is due to the sincerity underlying my words, or simply their fear of disobeying a Brob, all seventy of the specks begin moving toward the container. It takes them some time, but they all follow my 'command'. While I hate what I am doing, I know that it is preferable to the alternative. I do not trust Myra not to hurt them. Once the last of them enters the containers, I very gently carry it into the large container. I make sure to make the ride stable, which I've become quite good at. Once they are inside, they begin to disperse throughout the larger space.

"That was..." Lani trails off.

"I've never seen them obey like that. Like, ever!" Myra looks at me as if I've performed a miracle.

"To be honest, I didn't know if it would work. I just gave it a shot."

"Ooh, we've got ourselves a Lilli-whisperer, apparently!" John teases me. 

"Now that they're back, I think we can wrap up for today." The President announces. "Be sure to be here tomorrow, people. Same time, don't be late."

Everyone gathers their things, collecting their confiscated electronics from Myra as they exit. I take back my earpiece, glad to see that it has not been damaged. I immediately turn it on as I head out. I go down the hall and turn the corner, checking that no one followed me. Only then do I speak.

"I hated that. I hated that so much, Nick..."

"I know. Those people are awful." He tells me. Hearing his voice again does wonders for me. I immediately feel less tense. "There was no other choice. I heard what that piece of shit said. You were forced into a corner."

"We need to do something. We can't let those Remnants die for their entertainment."

"Agreed. Do you have a plan?"

I pause, considering how to respond. From the moment I learned that those people were in danger, I'd been thinking of a way to save them. It won't be easy, especially after nearly outing myself as a Lilli-sympathizer. There is no way I can do this alone now. I will need his help.

"I do, but you may not like it..."

End Notes:

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