The universe is a vast place, filled with stars and planets that many creatures called home. Almost anywhere one travels there will be planets that house different species together, with one race standing dominant above all else. But on the rare occasions there will be a planet suitable to sustain a diversity of species, of which would never be seen together, let alone be able to co-exist with their environmental needs clashing head to head. These planets are a rare gem that travelers consider an honor to visit, and an unforgettable experience. With so many different cultures and faces all mixed in one, a single visit is a year's worth of travel. On these planets there is no higher race, no dominant. Every species is equal, even when many fail to admit it.
On one of these planets our story begins, a story of friendship, trust and sacrifice. A story that proves love is the strongest magic around and nothing is impossible if you work and stick together.
On the far side of the universe, past asteroid fields and black holes, rested the small planet of Culturn. Culturn is one of the few planets spread around the galaxy that was considered multiraced, able to house a number of species in one. This particular planet was made up of families who already had roots, with the remaining percentage made up of the occasional refugee and traveling folk who want to start a new.
Some parts of the planet divided into sections, creating neighboring villages that refused to communicate unless absolutely necessary. One of these sections stood out from the rest, changing the environment so drastically it created a village that could house a variety of species so opposite to each other that it was a miracle they managed to co-exist.
This village was made up of many diverse citizens, but they all had made a silent agreement to only socialize with their own. For years this continued, not a single soul daring to break the functioning chain. That was until four children decided to ignore the agreement and re-write their own.
Wander stared curiously outside his window, or as much as he could outside his window. His seven year old body was not made for grownup windows, but what he lacked in height he made up for in willpower.
Today wasn't anything special, just another day passing like the others with nothing interesting. The only difference was instead of him running around outside he was kneeling on the top of his couch gazing out the window.
A pair of footsteps creaked along the wooden floor as a tall figure entered the room and looked at the sadden child. "Wander? Honey, why aren't you playing outside?"
Wander tore his eyes away from the window to look at his mother. Her soft, peach colored fur shining against the sun's rays entering from the outside. Her onyx eyes stared lovingly at him with a hint of concern.
Wander looked back at the window and put his head down. "No one to play with."
His mother walked over to the couch. "That's not true, why don't you go and play with the other Nomad kids?" She asked as she sat down.
Wander slid down from the top and landed right next to her. "They don't want to play with me. They say I do too much. I'm too eno- enorgetik."
"Energetic, dear, and who says being too energetic is a bad thing? You're a child, of course you'll have bundles of energy, right?" She said as she attacked him with a hug and caused a mass hysteria of giggles.
When the fun died down a bit she stood up and fixed her fur of wrinkles. Wander looked at her questioningly. "Mama? Will I ever have friends?"
"Of course you will. One day you will have the most amazing friends in the world, so amazing that those who didn't want to be your friends will be jealous."
"I don't know, sweetie that depends on you. They will find you or you will find them. Just be yourself and I'm sure your friends will be waiting."
Wander nodded and put his head down, slightly disappointed with the answer.
"Why don't you go play outside and show them that having too much fun isn't a bad thing? Who knows, maybe your friends are outside just waiting for you to find them. I'll fix up your favorite for dinner, how does that sound?"
Wander jumped with joy. "Can I have the red berries too?"
"Yes you can have the red berries too. Now, off with you, and remember stranger danger."
He nodded eagerly and ran to the door, remembering to put on his sneakers before bolting outside, leaving his mother with an amused and relieved smile. However, once outside and gaining a fair distance from home he started slowing down to a stroll and found himself without a clue on how to start.
He made his way over to the spot where most Nomad kids hang out to play, spotting seven he knew personally without a beat. The seven Nomads were the ones who told Wander to leave them alone, and even after all his attempts at being friends they ignored him without a second glance. It was alright though; they were too slow compared to him. His mama said to be himself and if the Nomad kids can't keep up than they weren't meant to be his friends.
Wander continued walking, passing the spot and going further across the village. He liked exploring around; it gave him new discoveries and new adventures to find. New sights, sounds and smells always got him excited. There was just so much that he didn't know!
Suddenly he remembered he discovered a pond the other day just outside of the village. A huge pond that he was sure could pass as an ocean. There must be hidden treasure just waiting to be discovered there. Without a moment to waste he ran, using the energy many claimed was too much and made it to the pond in record time. The pond's surface glittered as ripples reflected the sun's rays everywhere.
Just looking at it was amazing and Wander could stay to watch it for hours, but he didn't come for that. Looking to the ground he started to search for anything interesting, making sure to avoid walking too close to the pond's sides. The last thing he wanted was wet shoes and socks and having to explain why he was outside village boundaries.
Before he knew it the sun had passed the straight up point his mom told him meant 'time to come home.' He looked at his discoveries that consisted of three spiral shells, a shiny blue, red, orange and green stone, and a near perfect star shell. Even though it wasn't much Wander felt he was on top of the world. The only problem being his mom couldn't see the shells; otherwise she would know he was outside the village.
He quickly buried the shells again, but couldn't find it in his heart to bury the stones. Deciding on taking them home he placed the stones in-between his palms, somewhat hiding them from view but not completely. As he made his way back home he spotted a group of kids huddled near the center of the village, a group of Zbornak kids to be exact. Wander stopped to stare. He had seen Zbornaks before but never actually talked to them. His mother always said to stay near the Nomads.
Besides just walking together Wander had never seen how Zbornaks interact, what they do for fun or if they are mean or nice. Curiosity won him over and he tried inching closer to the group while keeping from sight behind a corner of a building. He spotted six Zbornak children, five of which were ganging up on a blue one.
"Why are you such a- such a boy!" A pink Zbornak screamed at the blue one.
"Why can't you leave me alone?! I don't like girly things, big deal! I'm not bothering you." The blue one screamed back.
"Because only a loser plays alone. Not even the boys want you near them. You don't want friends?"
"If it means I have to like the things you do than no, I don't want friends. I can survive without them."
The pink Zbornak rolled her eyes "Whatever, loser, stay alone for all I care" before turning around and making the other four follow her.
Wander could hear the blue one mumble something to herself before she grunted and abruptly turned around straight at him. He didn't have enough time to pretend he was looking at something else and was caught red handed by her.
"You!" She shouted at him.
"Eeek!" Wander squeaked.
She stomped over to him. "Were you snooping?"
"N-no, mam! I was, uh- I was heading home when you and y-you're friend h-happen to stand by and I-"
"They're not my friends!" She interrupted him.
"O-of course! I d-didn't know I-" Suddenly Wander bowed down. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to snoop. It's just that I was mighty curious since I hardly ever see Zbornaks outside of- of, and I- I-"
Something he said along the line of the apology must have done the trick because the Zbornak stopped glaring and gave him a curious look. She confessed, she'd never actually talked with a Nomad kid before, are they all this formal? He doesn't look like someone who wants trouble.
Wander looked at her confused. "Wha-?"
"I said forget it. I don't have time for this, I have to go home." Without a goodbye she turned around and followed the same path taken from the previous group of Zbornaks.
Wander watched her go, feeling extremely guilty for snooping on her conversation. The feeling would bother him for the rest of the day unless he properly apologized, but how? Suddenly he realized the answer was in his hands. He looked down at the stones. Perfect.
As quickly as he could he caught up with the Zbornak, who heard him coming and turned with a surprised look on her face.
"I'm sorry for snooping."
"Forget about it."
"No, it wasn't right of me." Wander stood firm and reached out a hand to her. "This is for you."
She looked at the hand before looking back at him. Wander waited patiently until she decided to trust him and cautiously took whatever was in his hand. She opened her palm to see a beautiful, blue stone that glistened as she moved it.
"Please accept this as a gift." When she didn't say anything Wander continued. "I'm Wander."
Finally she looked back from the beautiful stone and saw a huge, genuine smile on the Nomad's face. Was this how all Nomad kids act? Or just this particular one. "Sylvia." She said.
"Sylvia, what a lovely name. I'm sorry again for snooping and hope you can forgive me."
She didn't know how to reply so she just settled with a "Yeah."
"I better head home now; maybe we can see each other again sometime." Wander said as he strutted off back home.
Sylvia watched him go, a smile crawling on her face. "What a strange kid." She looked back at the stone and had to admit, it was quite beautiful.
Wander arrived home with a smile that wouldn't disappear and a great mood. His mother managed to sense this off the bat and came over to hug him. "Welcome back, anything interesting happened today?"
"I met someone new!" He cheered.
"Oh? Did you make a friend?"
Wander's smile vanished a bit. "I don't know. I didn't ask her if she wanted to be my friend."
Wander and his mother walked together towards the kitchen where she fished out two plates for them both. "Well, sweetheart, usually you don't ask them if they want to be your friend, it just sort of happens. Maybe you can invite her to play with you next time? I'm sure she'll say yes."
"Do you really think so, mama?"
The next day Wander couldn't sit still. He was so excited to go outside and find Sylvia, eager to know if she would be his friend, that he didn't realize breakfast had passed and he didn't remember a single thing of it.
"Are you off to see your friend?" His mother gently asked.
"Can I, mama?"
"Of course, be careful alright?"
Wander nodded and ran out the door, running to the center of the village and searching every corner for the blue Zbornak, but as time faded away disappointment started growing. His smile disappeared and his back slouched. He continued his search though, looking between houses and cabins of the sort.
Finally he looked across one particular path in-between two grand houses and spotted a blue figure, a puffy blue figure with a stubby tail facing him. His smile grew back instantly and he ran across the path, reaching the Zbornak in seconds.
The Zbornak turned her head and sure enough it was Sylvia. Wander was standing right behind her at this point and the Zbornak was surprised that he managed to sneak up on her at all.
"You remember me, right? We met yesterday, I was snooping on you and severely apologized for it, gave you the stone."
"Yeah, I remember you. Kind of hard to forget someone like you."
Wander smiled, taking it as a compliment. "I was wondering, you wanna play with me?" He stretched out a small, orange furred arm at her.
To say a Nomad child asking a Zbornak to play together was shocking was an understatement; the entire thing was a downright unexpected astonishment. Any adult around the area would have had their mouths wide open at the very idea, and they will in the near future because Sylvia did something even Wander didn't expect.
She smiled and happily took the hand. No second thoughts, no questioning his sanity, and no hesitation. "Sure."