"Hope and Forgiveness"
Astin left Cascabel with
memories of its monuments --
walls covered in poetry and
a slim spire pointing to infinity.
Xe left with a hold full of
medical supplies and games
and assorted other goods.
There were crates of
seedstock for the Gardener:
bush beans, winter squash, and
potatoes that would keep well,
grapes and peppers that could be
dried or powdered for storage.
Further scouting around had
turned up additional options.
Xe took primroses of
pink, purple, and white
which were beautiful and
also edible candied or fresh,
a silent symbol of hope.
There were pots of white pine
whose lush green needles gave off
an uplifting scent and could be used
to make tea rich in nutrients.
Bright red beebalm was
both edible and medicinal,
its festive flowers representing
forgiveness of harm done.
Several vanilla vines twined up
their poles, white flowers promising
flavorful pods later -- as long as Astin
remembered to pollinate them, a task
xe was eager to hand off to the Gardener.
Each vine would yield anywhere from
fifty to a hundred pods per year, enough
to keep the whole Lacuna in extract.
Astin whiled away the long hours
of space travel by making things.
Xe painted the bonsai pots of
the pine trees with verses from
the memorial poem and other quotes,
then spliced together some spare parts
to replicate the ground zero spire that
went on top of the vanilla poles.
In the Lacuna, xe passed the word
that Cascabel wanted z-balls, in case
anyone cared to start making them.
Formerly Carinan crewfolk speculated
about what else Cascabel might need,
and Astin gently warned them about
how overwhelming it was to be asked
when you had grown used to being told
what you were getting instead.
Sam the Gardener clapped his hands
and danced around the crates, earning
grumbles from his crew-brothers as they
grunted their way through the process
of unloading all the supplies.
They fell silent, though, when they saw
the little mementos that Astin had added
along the way, quiet reminders that Cascabel
like the Lacuna was stealing life out of death.
At Sargasso Base, the Minotaur laughed
and said that there was a whole cargo barge
full of z-balls somewhere in the floating mass of
wrecked ships, so word went out to the scavengers
that Astin had found a market for such things.
Nobody laughed when xe added a pebble of
slagged glass from ground zero to the pile
of items waiting for the Minotaur to weld them
onto the tower of his own war memorial.
The Massacre of Cascabel had been
the end of the world for so many,
but not for others; beyond the sky,
the whole cosmos went turning on.
Astin went on with xyr deliveries, and
Operetta was delighted with the medical gear
and updated the list of items to seek.
When Astin made it back to Trunnion,
xe had two plants left -- a white pine
for Spalling and a beebalm for V --
knowing that neither of those
were to be found locally.
The veteran's hands shook as he took the pot
and read the words that Astin had painted there:
It glared across the suddenly far too thin and fragile barrier
separating us from the dawn of our starfaring culture,
finding none who would return its gaze.
Astin rescued the pot before Spalling
could drop it, and turned it around
to show him the other inscription:
Where there is wrong, I may
bring the spirit of forgiveness.
In this way our memory is purified,
our hearts are made serene, and
our gaze is clearly fixed on
what the truth demands.
V took the beebalm and admired
its scarlet blossoms, the color
of an explosion on a plant
with healing properties.
Then V returned for the pine
and found a place to put it where
they would see it when passing by
on the way into the warehouse.
V came back dragging
a wheeled pallet of supplies
to trade for what Astin had brought.
By then Spalling had settled enough
to whisper thanks for the delivery.
Astin handed him the last copy
of Crazy Cargo Hold IV.
Though much of the galaxy had been
broken by the crushing grip of the Arms,
there were still people determined
to put the bits back together
into something resembling peace.
* * *
Hydroponic systems can be used to grow a variety of plants. Potatoes do best in a medium like perlite. Squash do nicely as long as they have something to climb. Notice that folks in the Lacuna are aiming for multipurpose plants as much as possible -- things which share some combination of edible, medicinal, psychological, and other benefits.
Primrose has edible flowers, which can be eaten plain or crystallized. They symbolize hope.
Pine can be grown as bonsai. Its essential oil is cleansing and uplifting. The buds can be made into winter tea rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients. It stands for hope in adversity.
Beebalm has medicinal uses and edible flowers. Although best known for culinary purposes, vanilla also has uplifting and aphrodisiac qualities. It represents forgiveness.
Vanilla is an orchid that grows edible pods. Like other white orchids, it symbolizes forgiveness, but also sincerity and the long-lasting nature of an apology.
Hope is an emotion of positive anticipation in the face of uncertainty. Hardship can make people lose hope, so understand how to resist that. Finding hope is also vital; know how to do that.
Forgiveness is distinct from related topics and can be challenging to understand. This is important because revenge rarely works. There are ways to forgive even the unforgivable; understand how to forgive your enemies. However, to reach peace you also need to forgive yourself, so follow the steps for that too.
War memorials may follow certain design principles to make them effective. I spotted the one in the Lacuna first, and LJ user Ng_moonmoth found the ones on Cascabel, on the Carinan side. I haven't found a matching one on the Orion side yet, but they've probably made something.
The first quote comes from "The Conscience of the War" by LJ user Ng_moonmoth.
The second quote comes from this essay.