Dec 12, 2018 7:09 AM
in color amentans meet hazel
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Afen is disappointed in the universe. He bounds back and forth across his room explaining why to his wife, his infant granddaughter, the end table, and a reporter flabbergasted by her good luck and cringing silently against the wall in the hopes he won't remember she's there.

"There is no reason to suppose that a species evolving independently of Amentans, with their own evolutionary history and living mammalian species likely related to theirs, would end up looking like us. None. Every explanation every scientist has ventured to the press has been unimaginative and unconvincing retroactive refitting of bad models to baffling data. Aliens shouldn't look like us but with different hair colors. Aliens that are not made out of carbon at all would be unsurprising; aliens with only as much physiological dissimilarity as exists between us and animal species on our planet would be mildly surprising; aliens with opposable thumbs would be truly remarkable. This is not remarkable and biologically enlightening; this is just inconsistent with everything we understand about the universe. It doesn't teach us new things about evolution; it should make us rethink evolution. - don't quote that part, they'll take it out of context."

Reporter nods rapidly.

"All of that said, I've picked up three of the languages and I'm working on building a good machine translator, it's a challenge with as little as they've produced in the way of electronic records. I'm absolutely going there to meet them as soon as the politicians figure out what to do with themselves."

     "Do you have any predictions about that?"

"About politics? Why would I have predictions about politics? They deliberately obscure relevant information, for one thing, and for another it's deathly boring."

     "- I mean, sir, surely you hear from your son about -"

"I have seven children and some of them are very dense indeed but not quite dense enough to try to interest me in politics."

      "I was referring to -"

"I know who you were referring to. If you want a statement from Aitim go bother Aitim."

      "Thank you for your time."

"I did not alter my activities in response to your presence and therefore you can't yet be said to have wasted any of my time though you should go before you do."

...out skitters the reporter.

 

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"It doesn't make any sense. On television black-haired aliens were a narrative convention for people who were visibly not Amentan but still had body language we could parse and the physiology to use the same kinds of spaces and buildings and technologies as us, no one thought we'd find people on another planet who were literally just like us with black hair. - I know the verdict's still out on skeletal structure and things but they're more like us than makes any sense."

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"Sweetheart, slow down for a minute and ask yourself if that was the part of your conduct I was most likely to be mildly objecting to."

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"Aitim will appreciate that I wasn't making political statements on his behalf!"

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"That's not it either. Slow down more."

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His tablet chimes. He switches languages for the benefit of the grandbaby, who is here for exposure to Cenemi and Tapap. "I wasn't rude to her. Blunt, yes, but not rude."

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"Still wrong. In any domain aside from the interpersonal you are surprised when you make several wrong guesses in a row! It prompts curiosity about what is wrong with your model!"

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"There are aliens!!!!"

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"I think it would have been appropriate to mention that we don't really know all that much about the aliens yet and the planet seems too close to its sun for us to season properly and that calls to conquer and govern them are premature."

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"They're not sure about the planet, it's borderline. - but yeah. I should maybe have mentioned that." He sits down and reaches for the baby.

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Baby Sisheka, purple-haired and rosy-cheeked. "Aitim would find it really helpful if he could occasionally send you things to say to make sure we're presenting a united front but he doesn't do that because he thinks you'll resent it or complain about it to a reporter or something."

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"Nose," says Afen solemnly to Sisheka, who is trying to grab it. "My nose. Your nose. Grandma's nose -" and then on through the Cenemi third-person pronouns by caste, that-purple's nose and that-orange's nose and that-yellow's nose. "I might complain about that to a reporter. All this work was meant to cut myself free of politics, not to give it even more grounds to press in on us."

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"I know. And it might really be that conquering the planet is the best thing. But - you give people a tool you owe some thought to how they're using it."

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"Aitim'll figure it out."

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The planet had more land area than theirs and a preindustrial population. Just under a billion worldwide. They hadn't invented birth control. They mostly hadn't invented castes. They hadn't invented sanitation, though they were otherwise more sophisticated than what you'd expect of a people content to live in their own sewage - gunpowder weapons, astronomy, mathematics. They were gripped by nationwide superstitions and wars over them.

 

And they had so much land.

 

The ship that discovered it was an international venture, a cooperative project of fifty different countries, launched from one of the moons. There'd been a few fistfights aboard the ship on the way home, predictably. Everybody wants it.

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Aitim feels like Anitam has the strongest claim, what with having invented FTL and also having a track record of successful handling of pollution problems in a humane and responsible manner. If there are two species there are probably more of them, and some are likely to be unimpressed if Amentans have a track record of mass slaughter of anyone weaker than them who they run across. 

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Other countries feel like if Anitam wants to be responsible for managing a native population in exchange for first planet this is not wholly unreasonable but given that their whole species's galactic reputation is on the line they should have foreign observers and should not get second or for that matter fiftieth planet even if it turns out most habitable planets are more seasonable and less infested.

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(They do some quiet estimation of how likely most habitable planets are to be more seasonable and less infested.)

 

Subsequent international expeditions will of course be prioritizing other countries with no current outlet for emigration but if their own explorers find some place they'll of course settle it themselves. 

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Cene reminds them that Cene was promised second planet and this one is counting as first planet even if Anitam finds the next one all by themselves.

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Fine. 

 

International observers are going to have a bad time until sanitation is set up, the new planet's cities might literally all be unclean. 

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They can wear those Orvaran hazmat suits.

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Anitam can't guarantee the safety of observers in Orvaran hazmat suits (but would obviously appropriately prosecute anyone who causes them harm), the aliens are likely to resent being conquered at least for the first couple years and the imposition of population controls has no chance of being popular.

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The observers accept this risk and probably won't usually be out in the streets where there would be violence.

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Anitam announces that they have a planet. It seems like some people may season there fine and some may not; once the planet is clean it will be straightforward to go find out. They're going to be building a lot of infrastructure for a long time, it's a lot of landmass and low tech. Persons interested in immigration can apply online and describe relevant skills; the planet will have a separate credit auction because it's going to need a different caste balance.

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They are swamped with millions of applications.

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