“What is all this?” Alma asks at the sight of the small avalanche of clothing items falling from Cpl Kaur’s arms.
The mortal officer shrugs, letting go of whichever clothes still remained under her grasp. “Oh, that other sergeant said I should get plenty of changes of clothes for the Bunnies and I really didn’t argue,” she explains.
“But... there is enough here for a small army!” Alma says in exasperation as she goes through the pile.
“Yeah, he’s a great guy, that Dion,” the corporal says with a dreamy smile.
Alma looks up from the small mountain of fabric on the floor and straight into Kaur’s eyes, raising an eyebrow. The look she gives her could freeze a burning flame. “You mean, Sergeant Gwydion.”
Under the icy gaze, Cpl Kaur immediately checks her words. “Uhh...yeah, that’s what I mean. He’s a great guy...Sergeant Gwydion.”
“That remains to be seen,” Alma replies under her breath as the Bunnies begin to approach the textile offering.
Rosemary is the first to dive in in search of something better to wear than the old, oversized Guardia Popula tunics. She comes out of the pile holding a pair of trousers in each hand.
“Hey, look Cherry! Pants!” she cries, rushing to put them on. “And these actually fit!”
Cherry reaches into the pile and pulls out a short, plaid pleated skirt. “Try this skirt on, Merri! It’ll look great on you!”
“Ooh, you’re right!” the green-eyed Bunny replies as she gets out of the trousers and into the skirt. A small bump on the back of the skirt catches Alma’s attention.
“Come here, Rosemary,” she beckons her, making the Bunny spin in place in order to have a better look at her. “Hmm... I do think we have a problem here.”
“Lemme see that,” Cpl Kaur takes a look at Rosemary’s skirt, noticing where it rises to accommodate the Bunny’s fluffy tail. “Yeah, I figured this would happen...shouldn’t be tough to fix. Good thing I stopped by my place and brought my sewing kit back with me.” She pulls a wicker basket decorated with felt flowers out of her backpack. “Oh, and I know just the person who can help us with that too! Wait a minute and I’ll come right back.”
Without any further warning, Kaur leaves the room, leaving Alma and the Bunnies to sort through the pile and choose which items to put to use now and which to save for a later date. The corporal comes back moments later, accompanied by a large woman capable of filling a room with her presence alone, also dressed in Guardia Popula blue, yards and yards of Popula blue. They chatter noisily and happily as they approach Alma.
“This is Constable Cala Lamore,” Cpl Kaur introduces the woman. “She’s the closest thing we have to a lawyer and she’s pretty good with a needle and thread too. Cala, this is Sergeant Alma.”
Cala waves a hand in a friendly greeting. “Hi, there!” she says and then looks around at all the Bunnies, whistling quietly as she sees them. “I can see we’ve got a full house now! And who are these cute little critters?” she asks.
Cherry jumps at the opportunity and starts introducing everyone. “Well, I’m Cherry, this is Rosemary, that over there is Mayumi with the younger ones and this is Sage.”
As he watches Cpl Kaur unpacking her sewing kit, Sage looks at the various sewing instruments in fascination. Slowly, silently, he picks up a needle and a length of thread. He threads the needle on the first try and starts hemming the legs on the pants that Cherry is now wearing, making her jump in surprise.
“Hey, what’re you doin’?” she yells at him. “Stop that!”
“No, no,” Cala tells her. “Leave him be. He looks like he knows what he’s doing.”
Seeing how easily Sage is working, Alma picks up a box of pins and opens it to get one, eager to get started. As she tries to use one to mark the place where a blouse for Mayumi will need to be hemmed, she immediately stabs herself, releasing a soft, low complaint. Seeing the goddess struggle with the unfamiliar task, Alyiah and Cala exchange a knowing and sympathetic look.
“Here, dear,” Cala gently takes the pin from her. “Let me show you how it’s done.”
Watching intently as the constable exemplifies the proper and safest way to wield a pin, Alma says, “Thank you. I don’t want the two of you to be left with all the work.”
“Don’t worry ‘bout that.” Aliyah waves it off. “We wouldn’t expect a high-class goddess like you to know anything about sewin’ your own clothes.”
“How did you learn?” Alma asks.
“Oh, too many siblings and not enough money to buy new clothes,” Aliyah quickly explains. “We just have to take ’em in and then take ’em out and adjust the hemming, so that everyone gets to have clothes that fit.”
“Yes, we have this old shirt that’s been used by over three generations of Lamores!” Cala claims, with a look of uncontained pride.
Alma looks at her in something close to shock. “That is both endearing and frightening,” she replies in a careful tone.
“Here, dearie, along the seams is always the best way to go if you’re looking to do alterations in clothes,” Cala tells the goddess, quickly dismissing all the possible negative implications of her words. Looking up at the spot where Sage is quietly working away, she says, “Oh, and I can see you’re all fired up, Sage! Very good needlework! Looks like we’ve got a natural, here!”
“Thank you. I... am doing... good?” the bunny asks in a small voice, clearly still struggling with speech.
“You are doing well, yes,” Alma gently corrects him. “But I am afraid we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
“Oh, we’ve tackled worse, haven’t we, Cala?”
“Yeah, I remember that time with all those kids at the orphanage. This is, like, nothing compared to that!”
“An orphanage?” Alma inquires. “There is an orphanage nearby?”
“Well, not as close as you might think but, yeah. Still within the Three Rats area.” Aliyah explains. “Right where it borders with Little Falls.” She shrugs. “But you probably don’t want to know about sad things, like orphans and gangs.”
“Actually, I do want to know more about the people and places of this neighborhood,” Alma replies with honest curiosity. “And you two seem to be just the people to enlighten me.”
“Wait, you want to know about us mortals?” Alyiah asks in disbelief.
“Well, that’s very nice for a false goddess,” Cala says, nodding in slow approval.
Hmm, a monotheist, I see. Of course, there will be enough of those walking these streets and not all of them will be as nice as this one. Something to keep in mind, the next time I go out, Alma quickly figures. To Cala, she says, “In my family, we make it our business to know about people. Even the ones who believe we are false gods. Unfortunately, though, I have only had the chance to explore a small area around this station before coming in this morning.”
Cala and Alyiah once again look at each other, exchanging a knowing, nearly telepathic, look. Alyiah is the first to speak.
“Oh, well, if that’s the case, then here goes nothing...”