Tyriksheer, or should I say ShineSheet, became a smash hit.
Within weeks we had garnered the attention of the automated news-hunter bots, and in a few months the people who ran them began to take notice.
Our fabric was selling like wildfire - once the word got out, anyone who had any sort of bot that used cloth came to us and gobbled up our stocks almost as fast as we could produce.
The money flowed in; I was able to put down my deposit for school by month three.
Our family split the profits, as is custom. Even Uncle Hebert and Umbra received their sizable cuts every week when payout time came around. Uncle would always look at his Wrist Assistant whenever it would ping about his bank account having received new money; he would grumble as he pressed the "transaction confirmed" button on the screen.
Umbra didn't talk much. She didn't stay around the house much either (which we sold to move into a very nice tiered affair somewhere not so busy with city traffic). I didn't pay much attention to where she was going during that time, but I probably should have.
If future events meant anything, then I would have to guess she was visiting some Tyrik acquaintances. She certainly had the money now to fund constant FTL travel.
My mother and I were the duel heads of the ShineSheet bot company; dad was still trying to keep the talking armband bot alive (good old Yohan), so he was fairly absentee. The rest of the family took up positions as designers, secretaries and PR. A couple of cousins made very good marketing people; they always wore the luminescent ShineSheet on their person and were smooth-talkers to big business people whenever they were out.
The abundance during that time was staggering. Other bot moguls came to us and asked to purchase, but we turned them down; their offers were always so meager compared with what we were earning on a weekly, nay daily, basis. Fashion Magazines were a constant stream around me, as I recall. "Imba, Imba," I remember hearing from all corners of the world.
...and I don't remember much else. It's all a blur, a swarm of people swirling around me and talking and wanting every piece of me that I can offer. "No, we can't do that now," "Yes, the pedigree of your E-Mag is very noteworthy," "Where's my mother?" "Excuse me one moment," "We will not sell," "ShineSheet is no fad, it's here to stay," and so many other statements that maelstrom around my brain in one big blurry mess.
Everything was so fast and tumultuous in those days I couldn't tell you when specific events occurred or even if they actually did happen. I'm sure they did, but that time feels like a long remembered dream; images and snippets that make sense individually, but as a whole feel cobbled and junked together; impossible to sort out a coherent meaning.
Things would mellow out eventually. Not fast enough for me to stop and pay attention to what was going on around me, but eventually. Running the business with mother was all I could turn my time towards - I put down the deposit for school and kept putting off attending, the needs of the ShineSheet bot was so strong.
Mother had a nervous breakdown - overstress - and I had to take charge of the company all by myself for some months while she recovered. I couldn't tell you whether that happened during year one, two or three - It's all a hideous mesh of time to me. But it happened.
Things died down when I had my breakdown. I say "breakdown," but the truth is I had a heart attack one day while speaking with an ocean of people about the future of ShineSheet. I pitched forward into the crowd, then I was being tended to by a medbot in the comfort of my bed.
On the medbot's orders, I retreated to the family manor. Okay, compared to some stuff that would actually qualify as a "manor" our home looked pathetic still, but we had a very sizable backyard that we'd never had before. I spent most of my recovery time there, feeling the real grass, climbing and sitting in the real trees...
SynthFlora had nothing on the real thing.
It was during one of these days, where I had climbed the giant oak far to the back of the property, that an actual Tyrik arrived.
It looked weak as far as Tyrik go; I don't know how it got to the backyard - or to Earth for that matter - but it was there nonetheless, having seemed to materialized from the air itself. Speaking through a universal translator, it said in a feeble voice, "Help us," before collapsing at the foot of the tree.
I swiftly climbed down from where I'd been lounging, instantly alert. Beside the alien creature, I couldn't help but feel the colliding emotions of pity, fear, revulsion and utter confusion. I looked around the estate to see if any of my family were around; no one was.
I moved the poor creature into the shade, gripping its soft, spongy legs. I kept thinking I should call someone, but moving it out of view seemed like the correct course of action. I felt around the clothing it wore while deftly avoiding the Tyrik skin secretions. I was trying to find a clue, some indication of what this alien was doing here.
I found it in the form of a datastick. It was of human make; something that immediately piqued my curiosity; I hurried to hook it into my wrist assistant.
What I found was indecipherable to me at first; a mish-mash of symbols and swirling circular patterns, starcharts and what I could only guess were schematics. And so I did what any decent human would do when they came across something they couldn't comprehend - try my darndest for a few minutes before giving up.
I moved the Tyrik into the real bushes and walked back to the home, forgetting it and what it had given me during my first steps. It occurred to me to give the creature some sort of burial, but no one else came this far back in the property - the real bushes would be secure enough for the time being.
It should have been the sort of thing that gnawed on me every day until I was overcome with the explosive curiosity to do something about it; but I finally made plans to attend the Design Institute of Earth. That adventure washed away whatever niggling curiosities were hidden in the real shrubs in the backyard.
Suffice to say, I did find out what was on the datastick one day - purely by accident, I might add. I wish I'd known before we'd started up the Tyriksheer bot.