“Okay group, let’s stay together,” the smiling Amazon in the blue suit-uniform waved her hands, directing the group as they walked about the street, “I know, it was a long bus ride - it will be good for everyone to stretch their legs.” She cleared her throat for a moment before raising her voice, launching into her prepared speech. “Welcome to beautiful Tours, capital of Gaule. It is not the most populous city, but this is due more to the fact that King Francis the second relocated the seat of the monarchy five hundred years ago in an attempt to wrest power back from the parliament established by his grandfather, Francis the First… yes, you probably know him as Francis the Little.” She frowned at some of the foreign Amazons who laughed at this, but the Littles in attendance were listening raptly. King Francis the Little was arguably the most important historical figure in all the history of all the islands, of course Genevieve admitted she was a little bit biased, given that she was from Gaule herself and their attitude toward the Little population was vastly different from the majority of the islands of Europa.
“For those of our international guests who may not be aware,” Genevieve continued, gesturing to the statue of a Little confidently riding a full-sized horse, "King Francis established the constitutional monarchy we enjoy today by voluntarily limiting his own power, in what many consider one of the boldest and most visionary political moves of the time period… "
“He was a Little,” one of the Catalon guests whispered to another, “his Amazon probably made him give up the power and he obeyed.”
“Excuse me,” a Little woman standing next to the pair of men spoke up, “It’s well documented that King Francis never had a caretaker, many Littles didn’t - though most entirely free communities were insular and secluded. The fact of the matter is, that while Amazons might be bigger and stronger, to ignore the contributions of Littles is to lose out on a lot of culture and creativity.”
“It’s true,” Genevieve agreed with the Little woman, stopping the angry-faced Amazon man from responding to the Little directly, “There’s a reason that Gaule is the entertainment capital of the world. Many of the screenplays that are made into movies are written by Littles, and many of the songs that your Amazon pop-singers perform are written by Littles. And I’d like to point out that you are, in fact, speaking Gaulish like nearly every other Amazon in Europa, it’s only been the dominant language for four hundred years. And we have this Little King to thank for it.”
“Well,” the Amazon man grumped, gesturing to an Amazon pushing a well-diapered Little in a stroller, “Some of your people still know how to treat a Little.”
“Sir,” Genevieve responded politely, “That is almost assuredly a consensual relationship. Adopting a Little against their will is illegal in Gaule. Tours is actually home to the largest percentage of Adopted Littles in the entire country - nationwide around 20% of Amazons have adopted a Little, but here in Tours that number is closer to 60%. The open culture here is a contributing factor, many Amazons and Littles seeking this kind of relationship move or visit here for that reason. Littles outnumber Amazons here on Gaule nearly three-to-one, and the law is on their side so the ones who want an Adopted lifestyle basically have their pick of parents.” She waved politely to the stroller-bound Little, who smiled and waved back, his Amazon waving as well.
“I think we’ve dallied here long enough,” Genevieve smiles and makes a sweeping gesture, “Let’s keep moving - the Entertainment museum is up ahead, where we’ll learn more about the contributions Littles make to Gaule’s society, hand-in-hand with Amazons… the two races working together are what makes Gaule a world leader.”
Cammi looked at the clock for the ninetieth time today, the seconds ticked by so slowly… she had to be put down for three naps, the caretakers just couldn’t deal with how wound up she was. Of course, the third nap was really just enforced quiet time in the crib… she couldn’t blame them, even the other Littles were getting sick of hearing her excitement about the vacation. You didn’t have your fifth anniversary every day, and her mommy Joanna was determined to make a big splash with this one. The waystation in their hometown of Tours had opened a new tourism program, and Jo had managed to get her hands on some of the very first tickets… and Cammi would not shut up about how she and her mommy were going on vacation.
Cammi bounced on her diapered bottom in the crib, gripping the bars and giggling, wishing the clock would go faster. Jo was finishing up her work for the week, it was Friday afternoon… soon she would come through the daycare doors and they would be off. Tours had several Little daycares, an uncommon thing in Gaule in general, keeping a Little was expensive here… but Tours had the highest Adopted Little population of any city on the island and with that came businesses catering to that lifestyle.
“Cammi,” a small voice called with a complaining tone from the next crib over, “will you please stop bouncing? Some of us are trying to sleep. I need to write tonight, for the love of cake.”
“Sorry Paul,” Cammi replied without a trace of sorrow in her voice, but she did stop bouncing. Paul was a novelist - he had a bestseller a few years ago but hadn’t had a big hit in a while. His books more than paid for the daycare though, so his mommy was happy. Paul liked to sleep a LOT during the day because he stayed up most of the night writing when he had an idea. He played with his mommy when they got home, they ate, and she went to bed while he wrote in his crib. Paul had a good life that he enjoyed quite a lot.
Both Cammi and Paul, like most Adopted Littles on Gaule, were volunteers. Littles had it hard in this world, they were at a constant disadvantage - Amazons were bigger, stronger, and smarter in every way and a Little had to really struggle just to get by. Not all Littles loved the idea, but Amazons had a need that most of them couldn’t fulfill… they needed someone to love. They were just wired differently, they needed someone to care for and many of them were infertile… not so many that the species was in danger, but they weren’t going to overrun the globe due to unchecked population growth either. But one thing that was near-universal to Amazons was a desire to care for a tiny, helpless life. And Littles generally fit the bill. Other islands had barbaric laws, where Littles could literally be captured off the street and forced into babyhood… Gaule was different.
Cammi hadn’t worked in years, she had sold paintings for a while after Jo adopted her, but Joanna had continued to climb the corporate ladder and eventually it was just easier for Cammi to do nothing at all, well… nothing productive. She had been a mural painter when she was still Independent… that was how the two had met, she had been painting a nursery for one of Jo’s friends… and then she got a gig at Jo’s office, and they just hit it off. The pair of them were two peas in a pod, and were madly in love within the year and had been inseparable ever since.
It hadn’t been Cammi’s plan in life to get Adopted… she had slid gradually into babying, one little step at a time. At first it had been Little silverware, then a bib, then a sippy cup… and every little step into regression had made Jo so happy and Cammi so comfortable… before long she was diapered and cuddled, and she never wanted to look back. Cammi hadn’t used a toilet in years and honestly couldn’t if she had the opportunity to now, it made Jo feel complete to care for her love in every way. Some Littles thought the Adopted lifestyle was strange and demeaning… Cammi maintained that they didn’t know what they were missing.
“Camille,” an Amazon caretaker frowned at the bouncing girl, speaking softly, “You got put in there because you were too energetic, now you’re keeping your neighbors awake? What am I going to do with you?”
“Sorry Miss Adele,” Cammi said sadly, looking down for a moment and rubbing her index fingers together in a contrite gesture. She waited just a moment… and looked up again, a pout on her lips and her eyelashes batting.
The reaction from Adele was immediate and obvious… Cammi could practically hear the younger woman’s ovaries cry out. A split second later, Cammi was out of the crib and in Adele’s arms. Amazon’s just couldn’t help themselves, and a clever Little knew how to exploit those urges.
“How could anyone stay mad at you?” she asked softly, carrying Cammi out of the Quiet Room, “You are just so darn cute! Your mommy is so lucky.” Adele booped Cammi on the nose and the Little grinned. “But, my little cutie, you’re driving everyone crazy today.”
“I’m sorry, mommy and I are-”
"Going on vacation, yes, I know. Happy Anniversary for the tenth time today, you silly Little. But seriously, what are we going to do with you? You won’t sit still for naptime… "
“That was my third nap!” Cammi said defensively, “Nobody can take three naps in one day except Paul.”
“Well we need something to keep you occupied! We have ten Littles and three Amazons, if you’re eating up a third of the caretakers’ attention, that’s not fair to the other Littles.”
“Have you ever been to another dimension?” Cammi asked, ignoring Adele’s perfectly reasonable logic entirely.
“No, sweetie… very few Amazons get to do that in Gaule, we have incredibly strict rules on dimensional travel… The main reason for traveling is getting yourself a Little! You’ll have to tell me what it’s like.”
“Oh I will,” Cammi promised, “I just wish I had a better idea of what it would be like. Mommy says she picked a place on a tropical coast, she’s actually going to get to relax for a change. There aren’t too many tropical cities in our whole world, it’s hard to even imagine!”
Adele just shook her head, Camille was incorrigible and everyone knew it.
“Here, hold this,” she said, handing Cammi off to Louis and walking back into the quiet room.
“Louis,” Cammi started, “Have you ever been to another dimension?” He looked toward the Quiet Room door… and realized the stunt Adele had just pulled.
“You and your questions!” Louis laughed, “You asked me this same question this morning, and what did I say?”
“You said the same thing everyone says! How is it that we’ve had dimensional travel for years but no one has ever used it?”
“Silly Little, we learned quickly that very few dimensions out there had anything worth seeing… except for cute Littles like you! The portals are pretty much only used by countries with fewer laws about Little protection and only to bring Portal Littles back here to be cute little babies like you. Now, I have Littles to change,” he stated, ignoring her question but giving her diaper a squeeze, “And you aren’t one of them. How about you sit down and color a picture for your mommy, and I come find you when your friends have fresh diapers?”
“Yes, Mister Louis,” Cammi said sullenly as he sat her down in a highchair and gave her a coloring book and a box of crayons. She flipped through the book and found a page that had a picture of a tropical beach and set to coloring. The workers knew to always give her the big box of Little-hand sized crayons, she was still quite a talented artist and even when the medium was crayons on lineart, she inevitably made something beautiful… and it would keep her occupied for a good long time, whenever she was engaging in something artistic, she turned into a little perfectionist.
After a while Cammi had entirely lost track of time and was startled when she heard a voice commenting on her work.
“That is really beautiful,” the older man’s soft voice was soothing and wonderful. “You always make the most beatiful pictures, Cammi.”
“Julien!” Cammi squealed, “Have you ever been to another dimension?” She was sure she hadn’t asked him yet. Julien laughed, the man was slightly older than Joanna and was friendly to a fault. He was the darling of the daycare (as far as Amazons went) and ever Little loved him. He was always patient and kind, and had lots of knowledge to share.
“No, Little Camille… I’ve never been to another dimension, but I’ve met many people who have,” he pulled her out of the highchair and sat down on the floor, placing the Little in his lap, “Would you like to talk about it?”
“Yes please,” Cammi batted her eyelashes at Julien, who only chuckled.
“Well, when I was younger, I travelled a lot. I’ve been to every island in Europa,” he was quite proud of this, and it showed as he spoke, “And while Littles are treated fairly and equally here, there are many places where that isn’t true, as you know.”
“Oh, I know - it’s why mommy and I have never gone on vacation anywhere else! Nowhere is safe enough, she says.”
“And she’s right, you’re too cute, Little one. But I’ve met many Portal Littles in my travels, brought from worlds where they thought they were Amazons, like in the movies.”
“They really come here thinking they’re the same?”
“They do,” Julien assured her, “They often think they’re better than the Amazons who bring them… but what’s interesting is-”
“Camille!” Miss Adele’s voice rang out from across the room, and Cammi looked at the clock. 5:30! It was time for mommy to come get her.
“Sorry Mister Julien!” she cried as she scrambled out of his lap and ran to the gate. “I gotta go!”
Julien wasn’t upset, of course, he was quite used to Cammi and her excitable attitudes. He waved to her as he picked himself up off the ground, shaking his head.
“Mommy!” Camille bounced at the gate. There was Joanna in all her splendor, the intimidating lines of her suit as sharp as ever. “I missed you! I can’t wait to go on vacation! We’re going now, right!”
“She’s a bit excited,” Adele smiled as she opened the gate and watched Cammi tackle the love of her life’s legs.
“You don’t say,” Jo laughed, picking up the Little girl - anyone who watched the two of them together knew that Jo was a big softie, but that was not her reputation in the professional world. She had gotten to where she was because she was intimidating and ruthless… but all of that got set aside the instant she was with her precious Little girl. “Yes sweetling, our bags are packed. You’re going to be one of the first Littles ever through the portal. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Oh, I can’t wait mommy, I’ve never been anywhere tropical before. Will there be tropical birds? And tropical fish? And we’ll go swimming?”
“Yes to all of those things, my precious girl,” Jo answered.
Adele shook her head, the Little was spoiled beyond belief and the woman swore that she delighted in asking the same question over and over. She had witnessed essentially this same exchange when Cammi had been dropped off that morning. Cammi was a handful, but she had a heart as big as the world. She would be missed while they were gone… but the entire daycare would also enjoy the brief peace. All three of the regular caretakers expected a very sedate week without Calamity Cammi.
“Come sweetling, the beach awaits,” Jo smiled to Adele and carried her Little away to the car.
“Bye Miss Adele! Bye Mister Julien! Bye Mister Louis!” the Little waved frantically as Jo walked them out, but the instant they were out the door, she was practically vibrating with excitement. "I want to swim, and look at fish, and touch a starfish, and eat a coconut, and… "
She rambled for quite a while, and Joanna was very happy listening to her Little’s excitement.