How NOT to Save the World (S1 E5)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry, consensual violence

The triumphant heroes took their bows, and the screen faded to black. Wu shook zir head. “That was…”

“Classic.” Tracey spoke quietly, trying not to wake the child curled up in her lap.

“Not the word I was looking for. And I’m not sure how it got on your ‘Evil Overlord’ list. That trash compactor was never intended as a death trap.”

“Come on, the explosions? The laser beams you could see? The aerodynamic starships? You don’t see vids like this anymore.”

“For which blessing, I will make a large donation to the next artistic fundraiser that hits you up for money.”

“Ha.”

Tracey shifted, preparing to stand.

“Would you like me to take them to bed?”

Tracey shook her head and pushed herself up out of the person-eating couch. Ho’neheso stirred, opening their eyes to look at her a moment before snuggling back into her arms. “You’ve stood in for me too often the last few years. I’m grateful, but Ho’neheso needs me to step up and be their father again.”

Wu followed her as she carried Ho’neheso carefully to their new—and well protected—bedroom. “You never asked them to change their name.”

“No.” Tracey laid her child on their bed and pulled the covers up. “They lost so much already. As long as I could keep them hidden…”

“And what of you? You no longer need to hide who you are.” They started back down the hallway towards Tracey’s rooms. “Taking an Anglo name made sense when you wanted to move unnoticed in North America. Even with the tribes reclaiming so much of their land, Anglo is still the ‘norm’ north of Mexico.”

Tracey grunted. Wu only stated the obvious when zi was building towards something big.

“You will be remaking the world in a new image. As you once remade yourself. But is Tracey Frederickson the person who should be remaking the world? Or Ameohne’e?”

“Does it matter? I’m me, whatever I call myself.”

Wu shook zir head. “Deborah has some interesting things to say on the importance and meaning of names. And I believe some of the First Nations have similar beliefs.”

Tracey let herself collapse on her bed. ”Wu… just drop it. I can’t think about this right now.”

Wu said nothing. Zi knew that sometimes it was best to sit back and let Tracey argue with herself.

Which is exactly what Tracey did. Argued, and remembered. Her thoughts circled endlessly until arguing stopped and only memories remained.

Setting up Tracey as a fake identity. The last time she saw her father. The day she read her obituary. The… No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t push the pain and the memories away. A sob caught in her throat.

With hard-learned patience, she steadied her breathing. I control nothing if I cannot control myself. Stepped back from the painful memories and watched them, like clouds scuttling across the sky. She looked for the meaning that tied them together. The belief behind the pain.

“Ameohne’e is dead,” she finally whispered, “They named her dead and did the rites. I walked away from that name, from that life. I killed her. There is nothing to go back to.”

“We live in an age of magic. Your servant would be honored to find a necromancer to resurrect her.”

“Ha. Ha.”

Wu knelt beside her, hand outstretched. Tracey sat up and rested a hand on Wu’s head. “What would you ask?”

“Only this. Does your soul bleed for the loss of who you were? Tell your servant it does not and I swear by the heavens I will never speak of it again.”

“I…” Tracey couldn’t say it. “I can’t answer that.”

Wu’s head bowed further, hir hand pulled back to hir heart. “As you will.”

Tracey’s fingers tapped against the bed, quick and discordant. Never before had she refused Wu an answer. It was her right. But she had never…

She pushed herself up and began pacing the room. On her third circuit, Wu stood.

“With permission,” the dragon said, “your servant will retire for the night.”

Pacing wasn’t helping. The buzzing in her head grew worse.

“Yes, go.” Another circuit before Wu reached the door. Quickening her steps brought her to the door as Wu opened it. “I’m sorry.”

Wu bowed. “Your servant will do all zi can. But I cannot fight your demons for you.”

“No.” Tracey smiled. “Zi can only precipitate the battle.” She stepped back from the door. “You can go if you want. But I would rather have you with me while I fight them.”

Wu closed the door. “Then I will stay.”

Tracey had been right — she did not have the time or energy for a crisis of identity. Certainly not one that kept her up and cost her sleep. She had stolen two hours from a too-short night already to spend time with her child.

But Wu was also right — she could not do what she must if she was not sure of herself. And that meant knowing who she was — and who she would be.

It was when she found herself wishing she could seek out the medicine woman who had guided her on that long-ago vision quest that she realized it had never been a question. Tracey was a mask she created. She was — had always been — Ameohne’e. She had come to believe the mask was the truth, like an actor playing a role for too long. It was time to take it off.

It was far too late when she finally crawled into bed. Wu climbed in behind her and wrapped hirself around her. Zi had been a supportive but silent presence throughout the night. Now Ameohne’e murmured, “One day you are going to be wrong, and I’ll be there to see it.”

“I have been wrong often. But not tonight.”


Note on names: You might recall from episode 1 that our Evil Overlord went by Trevor in the newsleter and Tracey on here. Similarly, there he reclaims the name and identity of Ma’evoto and on here she reclaims the name and identity of Ameohne’e. To the best of my knowledge, Ma’evoto (like Tracey) can be gender neutral, but I decided to continue the split naming, and Ameohne’e is explicitly a woman’s name. Feel free to mix and match names in your personal headcannon.

Sorry folks, don’t have the spoons to footnote this one. I’ll try to come back and update later, but no promises. FWIW, this episode was rather light on the tropes iirc.

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