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Pearl practically kicked open the door to the strategy room. Mermista, bent over a bunch of Bow's old figures scattered on a map of Etheria, didn't look up as she stomped over.

"We haven't heard from Bright Moon lately," she said. "That's weird."

"No," said Mermista. "It isn't."

"They just had a fire."

"That Sea Hawk started."

"Shouldn't we send a letter or something? An entourage?" Pearl was waving her hands at this point. "Mitch usually stops by by now!"

Mermista can't help it. She snorts into her coffee. "Pearly, if you wanna go see your gal pal so much, you coulda just said so."

A bright red blush blazed across her daughter's face. "That is not the reason! I wouldn't waste military resources on- on a. You know."

"Crush? Girlfriend?" She tilted her head to look at her with one eye. "Are ya'll engaged yet or nah?"

Pearl's mouth gaped open like a fish. Eventually she realized she needed to blink, and did so. "I never said I liked girls."

"Yeah, and? You can like whoever you like."

The girl decided she needed to sit down. Immediately. And did so. On Mermista's map. The woman let out a low, frustrated grumble. "Do... you?"

Mermista flicked an ice golem figure to the side. "Eeyup."

"Oh."

"That's cool, you know. If you do. Or if you don't. It's, like, your choice."

"Oh," repeated Pearl. "I kinda thought that... I dunno. I didn't think you'd disagree or anything. But what about kids?"

"First off, trans women exist, so jot that down."

"What if I don't want that, though? To get pregnant, I mean."

"Adoption?"

"But they won't be blood relatives."

Mermista blew some air out the side of her mouth in a half-sigh, half-raspberry of boredom. "Look, this is gonna be all, like, hypocritical or whatever, but blood doesn't make someone a leader. Your grandpa is a shitty human being. He left me in charge. I've done... alright? I mean, we've blasted a lot of stuff, so there's that. You set fires and cause fights like your dad. I didn't pop you out just so you could pop someone out." She reached out and ruffled Pearl's hair. "With Sea Hawk's genes I just knew I was birthing a little demon."

Pearl leaned into the touch. "So... you don't mind?"

"Pearly, you're sitting on my war table. Interrupting my coffee time. If anything, I mind that." Mermista took a swig, stood up, and leaned against the table next to where Pearl was sitting. "You don't have to choose basically anything right now. You're a kid. Set fires. Fight shit. Flirt with cute girls. Do whatever."

That got a chuckle out of her. "Wow, mom. You almost sound... with it."

"Hey, I was hip once too."

"Were you, though? 'Cause it sounds to me like you did nothing but fight."

"Hey, I also kissed lots of cute boys. Cute girls too." Mermista shot her an unenthusiastic finger gun. "I dunno if you know this, but your Aunt Perfuma is smoking."

"Ewwwwwww. I regret this conversation."

"Big same."