Jefferies knew this meeting was Very Important. She could tell by how Daddy was holding his mouth tight, and how Missy was extra calm. So she held her chin high and walked into the room with the three grownups, squeezing her plush beargon Master Chief in both arms. This was a sneaky kind of test, Jefferies knew, and she'd have to pay very careful attention to know how to win at it.
"Go ahead and sit down here, Jefferies," the goblin said. "We have some juice and cookies for you." Jefferies knew goblins at Remnant, and more at school, and his ears said he was friendly. So she climbed into the big soft chair that the goblin pointed to and sipped at the juice box. She felt like she was supposed to remember something, and after asking Master Chief, she remembered.
"Thank you, Mister Kardo," she said to him. Kardo smiled at her - Jefferies knew he was using a human smile by his ears, and not baring his fangs to her, so she grinned back.
She looked to the other two grownups, and her grin faded. The elf lady looked very serious and a little scary. But the human man was looking at her in a way that made her feel worried and bad at the same time.
Jefferies had to remind Master Chief that Daddy was in the next room, and if the human man, Mister Nurmi, started to hit her, she could punch him between his legs and scream really loud. That made Master Chief feel a little bit braver. But only a little bit. Jefferies fidgeted while she waited for the questions to begin.
"Do you like living with Jyarl?" the elf lady, Miss Aliswyn, asked.
Good! This was an easy question. "Mhm. He is big and strong and keeps me safe and neber hits me and der is lots of food."
"Do you like it better than where you lived before?"
"If I try to 'member before, it hurts here," Jefferies said, indicating a spot on her head. "I like living wif Daddy, and being a Remnants."
"Does he give you rules to follow?" Kardo asked.
"Mhm." Jefferies starts ticking them off on her fingers. "No eating dogs or people. Orcs is people. Dun hit people unless they hit first. Dun break tings. Dun bite Gorgutz. If I get mad, hit de punching bag. If somebody touch me where my underwear is or try to hurted me, I hit dem and scream really loud. I has to go to bed when Daddy says." She squeezes her beargon harder. "I forgetted if der are more. But if I forgetted, Daddy tells me."
"What happens if you break the rules?"
"I has to go to time-out or sometimes I lose minutes of boxing."
"Why do you call Jyarl Daddy?" Mister Nurmi asked.
The worried-bad feeling got even stronger, but Master Chief reminded Jefferies to be brave. So she looked directly at the human when she answered. "Because him my Daddy."
"Did he tell you to call him Daddy?"
"Nuh-uh. I figured it out my own self," Jefferies says, straightening a little. She's proud of this, and sneaks a glance at Mister Kardo to make sure he's listening. "Cause I had a mommy and daddy one time, but dey was orcs, and dey died in the fire. I dun remember dem, but I knowed dey are dead. And so I thoughted I couldn't has another mommy or daddy. But den Lottie telled me about how she got a doption, and it made Mr Stonethrower into her daddy. And den I remembered hearing Jyarl talking to Missy about a doption, and I knowed then that Jyarl would give me a doption and be my daddy. So I started to call him daddy and it maded him happy."
"But wouldn't you rather have a Daddy who is an orc, like you?" Mister Nurmi asked.
"What's wrong with orcs?"
"Nothing's wrong with orcs! Orcs is just as good as humans. I know dat, because Jyarl says so. I didn't know orcs was people before, but Daddy said dey is."
"Then why wouldn't you want to live with orcs?" His voice was nice, but it was pretend-nice. She didn't know how she knew that, but she knew, and she shrunk a little and squeezed Master Chief tighter. Pretend-nice people were scarier than people who were all the way mean. So she figured out the first part of this test. Dis was the guy she had to beat.
"Because dey isn't Jyarl. Jyarl is my Daddy and I live wif him."
She looked at Mister Kardo, and his ears still said he was friendly. Then she looked at Miss Aliswyn. She was still very serious, but Jefferies thought she was the kind of grownup who did time out for bad kids instead of hitting them. Jefferies hated time out, but she wasn't scared of it.
But what if the mean human tries to hit you while you are in time out? Master Chief asked. And Jefferies didn't know the answer. She wasn't supposed to do anything in time out, so she probably wasn't supposed to hit and scream if she was there. And that would mean she would lose the test.
"Tell us about Missy," Miss Aliswyn asked
"Missy is the lady who came wif us. She helps to take care of me and teach me stuff and she helps me wif my hair and to buy dresses. And she gived me Master Chief." Jefferies held up her plush beargon and made her wave at Kardo. "And sometimes she kisses Daddy when dey think I is asleep."
Kardo chuckled. "Do any other ladies kiss Daddy?"
Jefferies shook her head. "No. Sometimes Dizzy comes over and sometimes Tracey and sometimes Charity, but none of them kiss Daddy. Only Missy does dat. Sometimes when Daddy has to go and fight bad guys udder Remnants stay at night, but dey sleep in the guess room. Not Daddy's room. Only Missy sleeps der. Or sometimes me when I has nightmares."
"Do you like Missy?"
Jefferies nodded. "I wished she would give me a doption and be my mommy, but maybe doptions are only for getting daddys. I asked Lottie but she didn't know."
"Does Jyarl ever do anything you don't like?" Miss Aliswyn asked.
Jefferies knew this one. "Mhm. He makes me eat veshtables. I dun like dem, but if I dun eat dem, I not allowed to eat ice cream. I hate veshtables! Acept for corn on the cob. I like dat one."
The human leaned forward, and Jefferies started to feel worried-bad again. "What kind of nightmares do you have?"
Jefferies shrunk back in the chair completely, hugging her knees and squeezing Master Chief between her legs and body. "I has nightmares dat der might be a fire and dat Jyarl dies and dat I forget him. I dun want to forget him."
She didn't want to cry in front of Mister Nurmi and Miss Aliswyn. She wouldn't! That's when Master Chief reminded her of what Daddy had said - that she didn't have to answer any questions she didn't like. That's how she would beat Mister Nurmi and win the test. "I dun want to talk to you anymore. I want my Daddy!"