Petaybee was growing up. Day by day the sentient planet was learning to recognize and understand the meaning of outside stimuli, to respond to those stimuli, to communicate its own needs and desires...even to use human speech.
But few outsiders truly cared for the feelings and intelligence of what they perceived to be a giant hunk of rock or a mere oddity to be gawked at. Some came to worship the newly awakened soul. Some came by invitation, but without comprehension, to harvest the almost magically curative native plants. Big game hunters came chasing rumors of fantastical creatures that simply gave themselves up for the killing. And tourists came in droves, many of them searching for long-lost relatives who had relocated to Petaybee during its colonization phase. The Petaybeans had their hands full trying to protect their beloved planet from the sudden influx of visitors.
Then some of Petaybee's staunchest champions - Yanaba Maddock, Marmion de Revers Algemeine, Bunny Rourke, and Diego Metaxos - were kidnapped. The perpetrators wanted Petaybee for its incredible mineral wealth and were determined to force the Petaybeans to make a trade: the planet for the people. They simply didn't understand that such a bargain was impossible. For the only one who could speak for Petaybee was Petaybee itself - and no one knew what a living planet could do once it found its voice.
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