« Back
Generated: May 15, 2018 8:27 PM
Post last updated: Mar 11, 2018 1:55 AM
I've got a list of names
in color amentans meet hazel
Permalink Eye

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.

 

Permalink Eye

"Dear."

Permalink Eye

"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."

Permalink Eye

"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."

Permalink Eye

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

Permalink Eye

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

Permalink Eye

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."

Permalink Eye

"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!"

Permalink Eye

"There are aliens!!!!"

Permalink Eye

"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."

Permalink Eye

"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.

Permalink Eye

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."

Permalink Eye

"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."

Permalink Eye

"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."

Permalink Eye

"Aitim'll figure it out."

Permalink Eye

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.

Permalink Eye

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. 

Permalink Eye

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.

Permalink Eye

(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. 

Permalink Eye

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.

Permalink Eye

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. 

Permalink Eye

They can wear those Orvaran hazmat suits.

Permalink Eye

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.

Permalink Eye

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

Permalink Eye

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.

Permalink Eye

They are swamped with millions of applications.

Permalink Eye

"Tempted?" he asks his wife.

Permalink Eye

"I'd have to manage the domestic business remotely and everything'd be polluted and what about schools for the girls - but I'm sure there are a million inefficiencies in all their production lines..."

Permalink Eye

"I know, right."

Permalink Eye

"Is your father going? He can probably just tutor them in everything they can't learn from written material."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, they'd have quite a time stopping him. I bet he'd be delighted to tutor the girls."

Permalink Eye

"And if they want music - well, is Makel going, I don't see that he has any reason to -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so. No internet, he'd perish of lack of attention. We could probably find some music tutors who'd be ecstatic to come along."

Permalink Eye

"Or art, if they want art. Hala's never cared much for it but Kaloa might decide she likes it more than as an occasional hobby at any time and who knows about Sisheka. Who knows? Who knows, not me and not you!" (This last to Sisheka, who is across the room in Hala's arms making Hala's first spring much pleasanter.)

Permalink Eye

"I bet we'll have our pick of both if we can get them clearance to go be colonists. Though there'll be a lot of turnover while people figure out who seasons properly. I was thinking we could stay most of this year even if we don't get lucky with the seasons, spring with Sisheka'll be fine."

Permalink Eye

"That makes sense. I can bring a bunch of my more promising yellow staff, leave any who season right behind even if we have to go."

Permalink Eye

"Sounds good!"

Permalink Eye

Isama picks out staff who will be able to assemble Assemble by themselves on a colony planet even if she leaves and want to go.

Permalink Eye

Afen gets his machine translation working adequately and teaches French classes to packed auditoriums with a million people following along online.

Permalink Eye

"What do you think, should we go?"

Permalink Eye

"It's certainly interesting but I don't know that blue credits in particular will be any cheaper there than here and they may not have much demand for judges. I suppose we could apply and let them make that judgment - I doubt credits are more expensive there -"

Permalink Eye

"I was thinking land would be cheaper, one might end up more or less owning a whole country if they administered it well and had cousins in high places. And we'll need to enforce the laws for the locals, right?"

Permalink Eye

"...yes, land's probably going for next to nothing, there's so much and only so many ni in the economy... The locals don't have castes, it'll probably be structured all differently. I suppose retraining sounds interesting and I might as well get in on the ground floor."

Permalink Eye

"We're probably gonna caste the locals once we know how but I'm sure it'll be interesting in the meantime." Kiss. 

Permalink Eye

"I hope we season correctly or Asame'll spring unpredictably."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe we can see about putting the resources together for a third credit around the time when she might."

Permalink Eye

"I'll be eighteen. I hope it comes together by then."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, we have the money, right, just wouldn't have anything to leave them. If we have a country to leave them..."

Permalink Eye

She nods.

Permalink Eye

"I want to run it."

Permalink Eye

"Really? They're gonna hate you."

Permalink Eye

"The locals? Yeah, but - doing it well will be a substantial difference."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

 

It's nearly bloodless. 

 

They do a country at a time; they have planes fly in low and in formation and drop letters in the local language, explaining. 

In Portugal the planes go down. The locals shouldn't have had weapons that could do that. Greys who follow up on foot die; it's not apparent of what.

Anitam calls in an airstrike on the palace. It is neat and has no casualties outside it and there are no further problems.

(In Paris Elio feels suddenly unwell and leaves without explanation.)

 

Permalink Eye

Which is rather the last thing on his mind. He Portkeys home holding the French version of the explanatory note.

 

Permalink Eye

"You look like you've seen a ghost. Who had an explanation."

Permalink Eye

He sputters for a few seconds, gives up, hands her the note - "do you read French -"

Permalink Eye

"No."

Permalink Eye

"Someone else conquered France. An hour ago. They - they flew in with very fast high-precision metal things which I think were just to intimidate us and drop the notes, which say that -" takes the note back - "there's a new government, its agents have colored hair and will be installing infrastructure and landing fields for their devices and distributing payment to laborers who show up to assist with this and to advisors who show up to cooperate with the transfer of the work of governance to their control, they will execute people for acts of violence against their operatives, distinguishable with the colored hair, they have advanced medicine and technology and expect that they can greatly increase lifespans, decrease disease, and make our cities safe, stable and peaceful. Local laws should be understood to remain in force."

Permalink Eye

"...colored hair."

Permalink Eye

"No idea whether that's just so they'll be visually distinct or what. Didn't see any - seemed unwise to be hopping around, they've got to be wizards or have wizards assisting -"

Permalink Eye

"Who are they? Like - where are they from -"

Permalink Eye

"Says 'Anitam'. I've never heard of it. Perhaps there will be future clarifying notes falling from the sky."

Permalink Eye

"I've never heard of it either. Is that all it says, not - where they're going to install things, or what's next, or why -"

Permalink Eye

"It has where they're adding things" he reads her sites in France. "Airport, railroads, medical clinics, spaceport, administrative center, temporary housing where the population of these specific neighborhoods of Paris can be relocated while they replace infrastructure - ...doesn't say why."

Permalink Eye

"Replace it? - does temporary housing sound to you like something that might mean 'show up and get shot' -"

Permalink Eye

"A little. - more than a little."

Permalink Eye

"Is it the same people causing the weird news from everywhere -"

Permalink Eye

"- what other weird news have you been hearing -"

Permalink Eye

"Karen's family has a portrait who can travel to one in South Africa, Nnenne Flooed to say she was asked to send the children home from school early by the Ministry who'd heard from Canada - that's three continents -"

Permalink Eye

 

"Well. Maybe we should expect raining letters pretty soon - how -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know!"

Permalink Eye

"It doesn't make any sense to conquer the Muggle world and leave us out of it - most of their interference is going to be wizards -"

Permalink Eye

"Both Canada and South Africa it was just the flying silver things and the dropped leaflets. No contact to the Ministries at all."

Permalink Eye

" - could they not know - they can't be Muggles but -"

Permalink Eye

"- why exactly can't they be -"

Permalink Eye

"A wizarding society that was working on it and waiting for Statute relaxation could pull the flying things off. Muggles just couldn't."

Permalink Eye

"It's not even that relaxed yet! If they were waiting -"

Permalink Eye

"Why stop waiting? I have no idea. What do they need Muggle laborers for? I have no idea. Why do they want to replace parts of Paris? - might be worth collecting a bunch of the letters and figuring out common features of the places whose people they are displacing -"

Permalink Eye

"I guess we'll get more news soon - doing anything before we know what's going on could be really dangerous - have they hurt anyone?"

Permalink Eye

"Hadn't when I left. The note says they'll execute people for violence against their operatives, though, and that's going to - some people are definitely going to fight back -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"And they don't need to, if they have the capabilities they're suggesting they have, they could comfortably imprison them - guess they might be lying -"

Permalink Eye

"Could be a bluff, could be they know about wizards but aren't letting on but don't want to bother trying to contain us."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not going to try anything. Unless they start killing people indiscriminately, I guess."

Permalink Eye

"Indiscriminately in particular."

Permalink Eye

"France was already guillotining everyone they were presently annoyed with, I didn't intervene in that."

Permalink Eye

"If they decide they want to kill specifically all the black people in South Africa -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, all right. If they're killing anyone who breaks their laws, we - figure out what to do. If they're just killing people, then I guess we - coordinate a response. - Elio went home. Looked really unwell, it wasn't at the top of my mind but it'd be useful to have his help - unless he had something to do with it -"

Permalink Eye

"Unwell like how?"

Permalink Eye

"He didn't get a note or anything just - collapsed - his people took him home I was distracted it didn't look like poison but I don't know -"

Permalink Eye

"Hrm."

Permalink Eye

"I'm going to go to my grandfather's."

Permalink Eye

"Be safe."

Permalink Eye

"Uh huh."

 

 

 

Britain gets a flyover and notes. They plan on 'replacing infrastructure' in most major cities, apparently.

Permalink Eye

"But nothing over Hogwarts, nothing addressed to the Ministry -"

Permalink Eye

"I want to write my family and see if they'll come here to ride this out - is there room -"

Permalink Eye

"Of course there's room. We'll make room if we need to."

Permalink Eye

She squeezes him and goes to write a letter.

Permalink Eye

"Maybe they are time-travelling Muggles. You could do flight with just technology."

Permalink Eye

"Are you sure?"

Permalink Eye

" - no? Yesterday it was more in 'hey, anything's possible' territory - but I think so -" he glances at Finis.

      "Well, birds exist and aren't magic."

Permalink Eye

"The things were gliding."

Permalink Eye

"Gliding's easier than flying. I don't know."

Permalink Eye

Rebecca comes back with a letter for her family.

Permalink Eye

"Want me to go drop it off? I feel like an owl won't be appreciated."

Permalink Eye

"They wouldn't know what to do with an owl. Be careful - I love you -"

Permalink Eye

"I love you. I'll be very careful and stay well away from colorful-haired people."

 

He goes.

Permalink Eye

Rebecca's family are very nervous and don't answer the door.

Permalink Eye

Note under door. He lingers to make sure they don't immediately burn it or something.

Permalink Eye

There is a muffled yelp. No fire.

Permalink Eye

And no colorful-haired people! He lingers a while longer, anxiously.

Permalink Eye

There is some brief and quickly stifled yelling. The doorknob jostles but doesn't turn.

Permalink Eye

Stupid evil colorful people.

Permalink Eye

John scurries around the side of the house tugging a six year old by the hand. Holds up a finger to his lips.

Permalink Eye

...nod.

Permalink Eye

John pushes the six year old at him.

Permalink Eye

- well fuck.

 

Michael Disapparates with the kid.

Permalink Eye

"Are you the fair folk," says the six year old.

Permalink Eye

He pushes open the gates of the house. "No. But we might be able to keep you safer from - from the bad people who are threatening everyone."

Permalink Eye

"The sky people with color hair? I want to meet a sky people! I want to go in the sky!" she exclaims.

Permalink Eye

"Have you seen them? Or just heard about them?"

Permalink Eye

"There was notes. I want to go up in the sky! Can you take me up in the sky?"

Permalink Eye

"When it's safe, sure." Inside they go.

Permalink Eye

"Where are we?" asks the little girl.

"Hi - Judith?"

"..........Beth?"

"- no, Rebecca. Don't remember me?"

"...no..."

Permalink Eye

"Rebecca is your biggest sister. She moved in with me when we got married. This is my house."

Permalink Eye

"Why am I here?" asks Judith.

"So you'll be safe from whatever's going on with the people who dropped the notes."

"I want to go meet them."

"- Michael, why only Judith -"

Permalink Eye

"No idea, John shoved her at me and gestured to be quiet."

Permalink Eye

"...well that's not good."

"I want to go in the sky."

"Michael can take you in the sky later when it's safe."

Permalink Eye

"The sky people might hurt you. They said in the note they would hurt people who hurt them and we don't know what they'd count as hurting them."

Permalink Eye

"But I won't hurt them! I want to go in the sky!"

"Maybe John handed her over because he wasn't sure they could stop her from running off to grab one," murmurs Rebecca.

Permalink Eye

- nod. "Well. We can ask the elves to keep an eye on her - what's the plan, do we have a plan -"

Permalink Eye

"We make sure we have accurate information. If they're sticking to what they said, we let them do it, watch very carefully, figure out why they're leaving wizards alone, act only once we have full information. If they start mass murder - I don't know. We take a lot of Felix and coordinate something internationally."

Permalink Eye

"Should you lay groundwork for that now?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah probably. I want to check on Elio, he got suddenly sick and left."

Permalink Eye

"...weird coincidence..."

Permalink Eye

"Isn't it just. Gonna wait a bit to make sure international Portkeys are still allowed and not attracting unwanted attention and then I'll go find him."

Permalink Eye

"Good luck."

Permalink Eye

He squeezes her hand.

 

 

 

He waits for signs of problems with international Portkeys.

Permalink Eye

Colorful aliens show up in places where the population seems least restive and start giving out instructions on how to build temporary housing and railroads and airports. They pay laborers in their own currency, which can be used to buy things at their stores. They are not impeding the operation of normal stores, at least not yet. 

 

They do not shoot people who show up as instructed for temporary housing. They do not shoot the people who hide, either, though they go through the targeted areas door-by-door in bizarre suits of a bizarre material, move people out, and then demolish things and bury the material and run a contained fire and then rebuild.

 

Some people attack them. These people are dragged away and don't reappear.

 

They give no indication they care at all about international Portkeys or in fact have heard of such a thing.

 

Timothy goes to Italy and finds Elio's organization.

Permalink Eye

Elio's organization is quite headless and confused.

Permalink Eye

What's going on with Elio?

Permalink Eye

He said he was sick and all operations were suspended and fucked off to no one knows where! says his minion staffer Erica.

Permalink Eye

"Very odd timing. I think that while his original vision is - challenging given the current circumstances, the lines of communication he had with the entire magical world are going to be critical. It would make sense to maintain those even if operations specifically on the Statute were suspended, don't you think?"

Permalink Eye

"We're hardly going to tell all the owls they should return to the wild, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"Not what I meant. I mean, instead of cancelling meetings they could still happen with a different focus and a broader range of attendees."

Permalink Eye

"Signore, I think it is premature to make decisions like that without Elio's input."

Permalink Eye

"I think someone sabotaged Elio at a critical time, and that it'd be dishonoring the things he's accomplished to let it all grind to a halt until we're sure that's what he wants."

Permalink Eye

"I think if Elio may have been sabotaged taking direction from anyone who wanders by and has ideas would be a very poor choice, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"You know I've been working with him."

Permalink Eye

"He works with many people, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"I would accuse them all of being disappointingly incurious about what caused his collapse but most of them have the excuse that it's presently difficult to travel to Italy."

Permalink Eye

"Please come back another time when Elio is feeling better."

Permalink Eye

"Did he say when that might be?"

Permalink Eye

"I am sure if he wishes to contact you when he is well again he will make that clear, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"Did he have contingency plans for you all for the case of some tragedy?"

Permalink Eye

"Signore, please go."

Permalink Eye

"I know you care about him, Erica. But someone did this. Is everyone in the organization here, are there any close associates of his who also vanished..."

Permalink Eye

"Someone did this and we do not know who. Signore."

Permalink Eye

"I'd be much happier to abandon my inquiry if I had assurance someone else was looking into it."

Permalink Eye

She stares levelly at him.

Permalink Eye

That doesn't do it either, if you're trying to stop giving me information, he does not say. 

"Erica, the quickest way to get me out of your hair is to point me at whoever is leading the effort to investigate what happened."

Permalink Eye

"Please leave, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"No one is."

Permalink Eye

"It is none of your business, Signore."

Permalink Eye

"We're going to have to disagree on that. Elio didn't have contingency plans and no one is figuring out what happened."

Permalink Eye

"Signore, it is none of your business."

Permalink Eye

"I think he'd come back for you if he could, you know."

Permalink Eye

Dubiously polite massively irritated staring.

Permalink Eye

"The fastest way to get me out of your hair is to tell me who I should be talking to," he says again, cataloguing things about the massively irritated staring.

Permalink Eye

"Signore, I do not tell everyone who asks anything they wish even if they ask many times."

Permalink Eye

He starts guessing names of Elio's staff members.

Permalink Eye

She turns and goes inside and makes to shut the door.

Permalink Eye

Interfering with that would be a bit much. He leaves.

 

He goes home.

Permalink Eye

"Any luck?"

Permalink Eye

"Elio's disappearance is as suspiciously timed as it sounded. He didn't have any kind of chain of command for if he was killed or incapacitated, which seems like a glaring oversight but I will have to wait until he's well to take it up with him. Some of his people are investigating, but independently - they don't trust each other - and not all that effectually, there's not much to go off and it's very different than the skillsets he adopts them for. They're wary of outside assistance, for the obvious reasons, and in no position to pivot towards using his contacts to coordinate a response to a colored-people invasion. They didn't know anything about the colored-hair-people invasion and haven't really been staying on top of it what with trying to figure out what happened to Elio. They refused to answer any questions so that's all I've got."

Permalink Eye

"Why don't they trust each other -?"

Permalink Eye

"I think people were more loyal to Elio than the mission? Or, if they were loyal to the mission, it was specifically the Statute thing that's now been obviated in the most dramatic way possible, not to - general internationalist humanitarianism - this is the problem with building narrow coalitions... anyway, they're loyal enough to Elio that he said 'everything on hold' and everything's on hold."

Permalink Eye

"Well damn."

Permalink Eye

"The only thing they have done which is at all wizard-related is take out Elio. Unless anyone's heard anything new -"

Permalink Eye

"More of the same is all... they've leafleted almost everywhere."

Permalink Eye

"They're using machines to do the construction near London. Could be magic integrated with machinery, like the Hogwarts train, but I couldn't detect it. They don't run on coal."

Permalink Eye

"Which has what implications exactly -"

Permalink Eye

"No idea. I wanted to go ask them but I didn't. - their English is not very good and their native language doesn't have many voiced stops, I don't think."

Permalink Eye

"Are the ones working in other languages better?"

Permalink Eye

"I haven't left Britain. If they're really doing the same things everywhere that they're doing here they have - god, they must have half a million people - they've got to mostly be Muggles -"

Permalink Eye

"Unless there's been a secret wizard society under Antarctica for centuries."

Permalink Eye

"And no unicorns in Antarctica so they were stuck for birth control."

Permalink Eye

"Apparently. And developed in complete isolation and - flying things - and decided to take over the world - thinking they were the only wizards in it -"

Permalink Eye

"...well, it fits the data."

Permalink Eye

"And what, whatever happened to Elio was completely unrelated coincidence?"

Permalink Eye

"It could be? He might have any number of enemies, someone may have just cursed him. The flying people have been at work for a while, you'd think it was related if he'd fallen ill any time in the last month, wouldn't you -"

Permalink Eye

"Yes but not as strongly, it was right during the takeover."

Permalink Eye

"Which takeover?"

Permalink Eye

" - it was like an hour before France but I think they hit a lot of Europe at the same time -"

Permalink Eye

"Well, if international travel's safe maybe you should go around everywhere and figure out where they landed when and what differences in the notes there were and what they're doing now and how proficient they are with the languages and so on."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, maybe."

Permalink Eye

"If they think they're the only wizards in the world they shouldn't have gone to so much trouble to make it seem like it could be fancy technology, is there any way that would just happen to be convenient?"

Permalink Eye

" - I mean, maybe it lets them have mostly Muggle labor, maybe it scales better, but - I can't imagine that what they've got is optimized for any goal a secret wizarding society would reasonably have. ...we could ask them how it works."

Permalink Eye

"Minor, they're killing people who throw rocks at them."

Permalink Eye

"And I didn't suggest we throw rocks at them!"

Permalink Eye

"Be careful anyway."

Permalink Eye

"I know. We'll do the languages-and-what-are-they-up-to thing first."

Permalink Eye

"Is there any sign of what their own language is?"

Permalink Eye

"Doesn't have many voiced stops, I think it's got fewer vowels than us, does have 'dh', which is pretty rare - I'd need to actually hear them speaking it to get more than that."

Permalink Eye

"Isn't it typical for conquerors to impose their own language?"

Permalink Eye

"They seem to consider replacing the sewers the top priority. Maybe that's step two."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. I wonder why sewers."

Permalink Eye

"We need more information."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. No new leaflets so far, do we know what they're telling people who work for them -"

Permalink Eye

"Didn't hear anything interesting."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. So - who's going to go poke around -"

Permalink Eye

"Do we know of them killing anyone who didn't throw rocks at them -"

Permalink Eye

"There's a little crater in Lisbon where the palace used to be. Apparently they were shooting at the planes and hit one and the colored-hairs retaliated."

Permalink Eye

"Cratering a palace would produce - lots of unrelated casualties - do they not know or not care?"

Permalink Eye

"Seems like it would be hard to not know."

Permalink Eye

"We may be talking about isolated Antarctica wizards who have never seen a palace and could think they're autonomous artillery."

Permalink Eye

"In that case, someone should probably tell 'em - maybe either way someone should tell them, so we have more information."

Permalink Eye

"A languages person to incidentally pick up languages information or someone else?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, if we're doing that in Portugal it kind of has to be someone with good Portuguese, they'll be confused about how English people even got the news."

Permalink Eye

"Muggles do have some international news, although I suppose it might not have gotten around yet."

Permalink Eye

"I can go to Portugal and sign up to help build things and ask a colorful-hair alien what happened to my sister who was a servant in the palace and see what we get."

Permalink Eye

Miranda squeezes his hand.

Permalink Eye

Squeeze.

 

He goes to a place in Portugal where people have been invited to show up and build an airfield. He tries to meander towards the colorful people.

Permalink Eye

There are grey-haired people with fancy guns. There are purple-haired people who are showing locals how to build things to their standards and doing some of the work themselves. There is a yellow-haired colorful person who is running around apparently translating.

Permalink Eye

What are they speaking among one another -

Permalink Eye

A language with very few voiced stops and no R but lots of L. This is mostly discernible among the greys; the purples aren't talking much. The greys eye him warily.

Permalink Eye

Those guns might punch through a shield charm. He tries to look unlikely to throw rocks. Asks in Portuguese "excuse me, do you know where the people are who in the palace -"

Permalink Eye

One of the greys calls the yellow over. The yellow comes and looks at him attentively.

Permalink Eye

Slower. "Excuse me, do you know where all the people are who were in the palace - my sister worked in the kitchens there - lots of people -"

Permalink Eye

"I'm sorry, I do not know. This is a build site."

Permalink Eye

"Who should I ask?"

Permalink Eye

"If you would like to submit a written query we can send that up. If you are willing to wait until I am less busy I can write it for you if you cannot read."

Permalink Eye

"I can read. I can't write in your language, does it have to be in your language?"

Permalink Eye

"No, we can translate it."

Permalink Eye

"How?"

Permalink Eye

"The same way I translate for the workers here, but in an office dedicated to that."

Permalink Eye

He writes a note in Portuguese.

Permalink Eye

The yellow feeds it into a slot in the lid of a large box and resumes translating for purples and workers.

Permalink Eye

He lingers listening.

Permalink Eye

The purples and yellow and greys all have different dialects but seem to understand each other if they moderate them a bit towards some fourth standard.

Permalink Eye

And none of them are doing any magic.

Permalink Eye

Not a speck.

Permalink Eye

After a while he leaves. Reports all of this back at home.

Permalink Eye

"...was the box magic? That the letter went in?"

Permalink Eye

"Not noticeably so but of course it could've been - I want to take a look at their weapons but that seemed risky -"

Permalink Eye

"A bit, yes."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not taking chances, promise." Kiss. "But I think they were Muggle weapons."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, if they only expect Muggle rock throwers..."

Permalink Eye

"With a wand you can stun them."

Permalink Eye

"They clearly want to be more punitive than that, Muggles you can also just lock up."

Permalink Eye

"It'd be really nice to know the underlying philosophy, if it's 'people who throw rocks deserve to die' we're really not going to get along but if - no, actually, I can't think of a justification."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose it's loosely possible they'd say if asked - do they take regular mail -"

Permalink Eye

"If nothing else you can bring 'em letters for their boxes."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose if they just put them in boxes that also postpones the conflict enough that they probably won't whisk you away for impertinent questions."

Permalink Eye

"She was - not friendly exactly, but not looking for someone to make an example of either?"

Permalink Eye

"Someone could go Polyjuiced if we want to be safe."

Permalink Eye

"If they decide to whisk you away and then it wears off..."

Permalink Eye

"Then we've got more of a problem, yeah. I'm pretty sure if we're whisked away we have a problem regardless - have they released anyone -"

Permalink Eye

"We have really really incomplete information."

Permalink Eye

"They're being really polite as conquests go but they could stand to make more announcements!"

Permalink Eye

"If I were an amoral colorful-hair conqueror I don't think I'd make a lot of announcements on, like, the long-term plan or governing philosophy. Just lets people decide they're against you, whereas if you keep it concrete and moment-to-moment there can't be much confusion and you can't really get ideological opposition."

Permalink Eye

"Should we actually assume amoral - except for harsh laws against rock throwing and the palace -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know. They're not killing people who haven't done anything but there are strategic reasons not to do that -"

Permalink Eye

"The paying people in their own currency is potentially kind of scummy, means they can pull out the rug from under them any time - or just inflate prices in their stores - but on the other hand, they are paying people -"

Permalink Eye

"Most people would consider 'conquering the world' inherently a kind of immoral thing to do."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe I should write a letter asking them to abolish slavery."

Permalink Eye

"That would be interesting."

Permalink Eye

"Safer to bribe someone else to deliver it, you think?"

Permalink Eye

"...maybe not? Bribery's traceable and then it makes us look like we're hiding something."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

 

 

He writes a note. It says that the conquerors should please consider abolishing slavery worldwide, slavery is terribly cruel and it would be a great step forward for human rights. 

 

He visits a London construction site.

Permalink Eye

Purples and locals are building a water treatment plant.

Permalink Eye

Translator?

Permalink Eye

Yellow, over there, talking to grey guards but not about anything important.

Permalink Eye

He heads over. 

Permalink Eye

"Can I help you?" asks the yellow.

Permalink Eye

"Is there a way to communicate with the new government? I want to petition them to abolish slavery."

Permalink Eye

"I can take a note or take dictation if you can't write."

Permalink Eye

He hands her the note. "Who reads the notes?"

Permalink Eye

"These escalate to the regional coordinator." Box.

Permalink Eye

"Who is that?"

Permalink Eye

"Miloli Aptan."

Permalink Eye

"Will responses to inquiries be published?"

Permalink Eye

"There's not currently a setup for that."

Permalink Eye

"Can we help arrange one?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm sure if we build a publishing operation we'll solicit local labor there too."

Permalink Eye

"Can I bring you another note?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

Permalink Eye

This one petitions the government to post publicly on walls outside townships their answers to selected inquiries so that people know that anything sufficiently important and valuable they raise to the attention of their rulers will in fact be read and considered, while giving them good examples of what kinds of inquiries are actually important. 

 

He puts a Tracing Charm on it.

Permalink Eye

It goes in the box and stays there.

Permalink Eye

He leaves, stays close enough he can follow the trace.

Permalink Eye

 

It doesn't go anywhere until eventually it is discarded.

Permalink Eye

He reports this. "I guess that's one way to handle public opinion."

Permalink Eye

"Nobody read it first?"

Permalink Eye

"Nope. Put it in the box and then it stayed in the box and then was shredded. - I guess they could've glanced at it before shredding it."

Permalink Eye

"And they're closed boxes." Sigh.

Permalink Eye

"It could duplicate the contents somewhere, I guess."

Permalink Eye

"I guess."

Permalink Eye

"Or they could really not care what local Muggles think or not have the resources to read it all or something. 

I think it might be worthwhile to find one of the not-busy ones and get them to teach you Anitami, Father - or Minor -"

Permalink Eye

"I think I would be rude to condescending conquering colorful-people," says Finis. 

Permalink Eye

"Dear, would you be rude to condescending conquering colorful-people," says Miranda to Minor.

Permalink Eye

"I was not great at following stupid rules at school but they wouldn't straight-up murder me for it. I bet I can avoid being rude to condescending conquering colorful-people."

Permalink Eye

"Would it help if I went along - or Karen, who has even fewer impulses to be rude -"

Permalink Eye

" - yeah, you can come along and glare at me if I'm being rude to the condescending colorful conquerors."

Permalink Eye

"Both of us?"

Permalink Eye

"Honestly I'm confused that everyone doesn't badly want to learn Anitami."

    "I do," Finis says, "I just don't want everyone to be dead ten minutes later."

"We will be such obedient subjects of the colorful conquerors. We just want to learn their language because it's obviously better, like them."

 

Permalink Eye

"Too risky to bring the magic dictionary but I'll take notes and we can copy it in later."

Permalink Eye

"Sounds good."

 

They shop around for a yellow-haired person who does not look busy.

Permalink Eye

This one staffing one of the large stores where you can spend ni seems bored.

Permalink Eye

"Hi! I was wondering about your language. Are there books written in it? Can we buy those here?"

Permalink Eye

"- we're not selling Anitami books here right now. Maybe after the upper floors are finished, I don't know, I don't operate the store, I just translate."

Permalink Eye

"Oooh. Can you teach us Anitami?"

Permalink Eye

The yellow looks at them dubiously. "Not fast, I don't think."

Permalink Eye

"If it's descended from Latin or Greek I expect I can pick it up in an hour or two. If not I suppose I won't be fluent but still, passing familiarity would be great!"

Permalink Eye

"It's not descended from Latin or Greek."

Permalink Eye

"Cool!"

Permalink Eye

The yellow sighs at him and starts talking in Anitami. "This is a sentence. You probably have terrible childhood nutrition and won't be able to remember any words. Who do you think you are, Afen Kisantami? Why are there two brown people with you, I thought that phenotype was rare here."

Permalink Eye

He repeats it back near perfectly, transcribes it with a quill onto a piece of parchment. "Okay, what does that mean."

Permalink Eye

"Look, maybe there will be classes later."

Permalink Eye

"This is a sentence? Is this a sentence? Remember any words? Is words a sentence?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not a teacher."

Permalink Eye

"I just need you to say things and then tell me what they are in English. Or French, or German, or Portuguese, or Igbo, or Mandarin Chinese, or Swedish, or Italian, or Greek, or Latin, and I could probably make do if you felt the impulse to say them in Spanish or Polish or Russian or Danish or Arabic."

Permalink Eye

"This isn't my job. There will probably be classes later."

Permalink Eye

"Your job is to translate for people shopping in the store?"

Permalink Eye

"Mostly the other way round, but yeah."

Permalink Eye

"I have questions about the products in the store, will you translate them for the benefit of the cashier I am going to ask?"

Permalink Eye

Sigh. "Yes."

Permalink Eye

Minor picks some items off the shelf. "How long will this last?" he asks. "What is this made of? When will you restock? Which of these items is selling best? Is it legal to plant the seeds from this? Should these be stored cold? Is this safe for children? Can you recommend a good present for my wife?"

Permalink Eye

The yellow translates and the purple answers. Minor's companions help think of questions. Miranda has on her a little magic sound transmitter for the folks back home.

Permalink Eye

"Is it legal to trade ni for pounds at whatever exchange rate both parties agree on? Is it legal to resell things from your store? Do you get the money from your store or do you pay it to the government? Can I have this for eight instead of ten?"

Permalink Eye

Yes. Yes. The finances are complicated. They don't haggle.

Permalink Eye

Haggling can increase producer surplus by introducing a mechanism for price discrimination, they should reconsider that.

 

After an hour of questions Minor switches to asking them in Anitami. He's not fluent but he can make himself clear. Under what conditions do these grow well? How were the products to sell here chosen? Do colorful people and English ones seem to have the same tastes in food?

Permalink Eye

The purple looks confused. The yellow flings up his hands and stalks off, leaving the purple to answer her own questions.

They are rated for local growing conditions and they're a basic selection until they have more consumer data and they have different tastes but probably just because they're used to different things.

Permalink Eye

Is there a way to order things not rated for local growing conditions, to try in greenhouses and so on? He has to do some circumlocutions to get 'greenhouses', is there a better word for that? Do colorful people dye their hair or does it grow like that.

Permalink Eye

If he wants to pay in advance for stuff the purple can order them to the store. They have a word for those. They only dye it if it's the wrong color.

Permalink Eye

"Wrong color?" Does Karen want to go get pounds at Gringotts (if it's not directly offering ni yet) and then find some people with ni who'll exchange for pounds?

Permalink Eye

"If somebody's purple but it doesn't grow purple they dye it."

Karen will run and do that.

Permalink Eye

"What all the colors - see purple, yellow," gesture for people with guns -

Permalink Eye

"The ones with guns are greys, there's orange and green and blue too. Usedta be red, not any more though."

Permalink Eye

"Not any more?"

Permalink Eye

"Nah, they're other things now instead."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. Orange is?"

Permalink Eye

"Teachers and shrinks and doctors and daycare workers."

Permalink Eye

This requires some clarifying and he still doesn't know what a shrink is. "Sorry, no books to learn Anitami right."

Permalink Eye

Shrug.

Permalink Eye

"Green?"

Permalink Eye

"Artists and research types."

Permalink Eye

"Blue?"

Permalink Eye

"They run stuff. And own stuff."

Permalink Eye

"- but what do they do for work."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, and judges, they can be judges."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. Blue decide conquer England?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Why?"

Permalink Eye

"You've got a lot of space and you're barely using it and it's just criminal how your sewers worked and everything."

Permalink Eye

"- no could come visit not conquer?"

Permalink Eye

"I guess not? I dunno, I'm not blue. I just came to run a store and be a colonist."

Permalink Eye

"Just curious. They okay aside not explaining machines, killing people. Sewers nice. Store nice."

Permalink Eye

"They're probably gonna open schools later. The oranges probably aren't learning the languages as fast as translator yellows. We did drop the leaflets explaining not to attack us, I dunno what people attacking us were expecting. I guess it's kinda mean the places where nobody can read."

Permalink Eye

"Some places no one can read, some places do what king say even if king say stupid thing, some places no kill women, many places no kill children - not know if colorful people kill children, just example -"

Permalink Eye

"We don't kill kids. Uh, in most court circuits, I guess I dunno which circuit this counts as."

Permalink Eye

"How advanced of those court circuits."

Permalink Eye

"This place was real barbaric all by itself, we're fixing it up nice."

Permalink Eye

"If you say, you have slavery, slavery bad, we stop it, you have terrible prisons, we have better prisons, then people might say all right. If no say no slavery, if kill people for things we not kill people for, doesn't seem nice."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, slavery's bad, they'll get to it."

Permalink Eye

"Good. Killing people also bad."

Permalink Eye

"Prison's expensive. Just, you know, don't commit crimes."

Permalink Eye

"You have machines like that, kill people because prison expensive?"

Permalink Eye

"There's prison for some stuff - look, I'm not blue, I dunno."

Permalink Eye

"Can English be blue, change things that no make sense for English?"

Permalink Eye

"They haven't figured out how to caste you guys yet."

Permalink Eye

"How to caste us?"

Permalink Eye

"To put you in, uh, colors."

Permalink Eye

"...not just give us dye, explain what colors mean?"

Permalink Eye

"Oh, no, it's not like that - well, it kinda was for the ex-reds, I guess, maybe they will, I dunno. Not blue."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you explaining anyway."

Permalink Eye

"No problem."

Karen comes back with ni.

Permalink Eye

Minor buys alien seeds and alien machinery-things to disassemble and asks if he can buy one of the light fixtures lighting the shelves.

Permalink Eye

"...I haven't got those priced..."

Permalink Eye

...rest of the ni Karen got?

Permalink Eye

"...I mean, I guess I can replace it for less than that... it's not easy to uninstall... do you care which one, nobody's been interested in the stuff back on that shelf."

Permalink Eye

"No. Will it light uninstalled?"

Permalink Eye

"No."

Permalink Eye

"How it work?"

Permalink Eye

"It's electric - I'm not an electrician -"

Permalink Eye

"Electric mean -"

Permalink Eye

"Ummm. Zap!"

Permalink Eye

...for some reason this delights him and he turns to his wife, chattering excitedly in his own language and jumping up and down and then kisses her.

Permalink Eye

Giggle, kiss.

Permalink Eye

"Are all the machines things we can learn with enough time? No thing we can't do because we're different?"

Permalink Eye

"Uh, I think so, yeah. Unless you're just not smart enough or something I guess? I dunno."

Permalink Eye

"Don't think colored hair people smarter."

Permalink Eye

Shrug. "I didn't say that, that's just, like, a reason somebody might not be able to, I can't think of any others."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you very much." He hands over the money for the light fixture.

Permalink Eye

She unscrews it and hands it over.

Permalink Eye

And he leaves with Miranda and Karen, translating the whole conversation from his notes.

Permalink Eye

"Well, I guess that's informative."

Permalink Eye

"Gonna reverse engineer the light?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah of course. And - it's not magic, or at least she didn't think so -"

Permalink Eye

"That's interesting. Unless they have previously conquered some other place we've never heard of and she's a purple-dyed local from there and doesn't know what's really up or something elaborate like that."

Permalink Eye

"They could have wizards who aren't widely known, sure, but  - the reason we were postulating wizards at all was the tech, right - is your recording thing still transmitting, Timothy, get the Ministry and all the other Ministries to wait on introducing themselves to the new government -"

Permalink Eye

"Hopefully none of them have quietly moved on that already, wouldn't necessarily have heard."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah - luckily the new government does not make itself that easy to contact -"

Permalink Eye

"Complete with shredding what goes in the suggestion box, yep."

Permalink Eye

"They might just be really advanced Muggles."

Permalink Eye

"From where?"

Permalink Eye

"Under the sea! Antarctica! The Moon!"

Permalink Eye

"The Moon?"

Permalink Eye

"I mean, it's rock. Technically if you didn't need to breathe I think you could live there."

Permalink Eye

"If you didn't need to breathe, he says."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know if that's a harder problem than the flying metal things, by technology standards. - I guess probably because you have to fly to the Moon and it's really far. They could be from Antarctica. They could be from the colonies somewhere, there are lots of places Europeans haven't been."

Permalink Eye

"I wonder if they'd say if you asked."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe. I might go talk to more of them, get - diversity of perspectives - but we should make sure Timothy knows to shut the wizarding governments up if it's not too late.'

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, let's go home."

Permalink Eye

"I should probably go to my house, my parents'll worry if I'm absent a lot with all the stuff going on."

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense." Hug. "Be careful."

Permalink Eye

"Will do."

And Ways go home and Karen goes differently home.

Permalink Eye

"I can tell everybody but they don't have to listen to me."

Permalink Eye

"If they're Muggles then doesn't matter how fancy they are, wizards have the upper hand. But if they find out about us we should assume they'll use it. Make them listen to you. Somehow. Convince Grandfather to help -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. It might be too late."

Permalink Eye

"Do you know any wizards who would go write a letter to put in one of those boxes? Forgetting the thing where the boxes do nothing."

Permalink Eye

"Somebody might. We did."

Permalink Eye

"Well, the letters do get shredded. And we didn't tell them 'hey, we are wizards, you have been ignoring us are you going to keep that up'."

Permalink Eye

"True."

Permalink Eye

"I am worried about the thing where they are going to try to fit us into the color system - it sounds really stupid -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think I get it."

Permalink Eye

"I'm unclear on whether it's 'we have social roles associated with certain jobs', which, fine, whatever, or 'you are at birth designated a color and only trained to do the things related to your color', but some of the things she said were vaguely suggestive of the latter. And that would be really stupid."

Permalink Eye

"I wanna meet sky people!" exclaims Judith.

"No, sweetheart."

Permalink Eye

"They're also more ideologically pro-executions than I'd like," Finis says, "it'd be more reassuring if it were a resource issue or something."

Permalink Eye

"They said it was expensive, but compared to everything else..."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, that's nonsense. They could send them to Australia, that's free."

Permalink Eye

"Do people usually survive being sent to Australia?"

Permalink Eye

"I think so. It's perfectly habitable and stuff."

Permalink Eye

"I have occasionally wondered if it's secretly nice there."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe the aliens are secretly not executing people but for deterrence reasons feel like claiming they are."

Permalink Eye

"I guess that's better."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know if that's it but if it is I forgive them for conquering the world and being rude to me."

Permalink Eye

Pat pat.

Permalink Eye

Signs go up on bulletin boards outside England's towns. The signs have responses to frequently asked questions. 

Are the conquerors Anglican?

Anitam plans to enforce their laws without concern for membership in any of the religions practiced in England. Local laws all remain in effect.

Are the conquerors really executing people for attacking them my son just threw a rotting tomato.

Anitam is really executing people for attacking them, obviously including attacking them with garbage. Residents are advised to inform any relations or neighbors of theirs who are not informed of this.

Are the conquerors letting priests do last rites for people they are executing?

They will talk with priests about that. 

Did God send the conquerors?

He seems not to have impeded them.

Is this the second coming?

Anitam possesses no particular information on the subject.

Collected inquiries about the wellbeing of the royal family:

They are alive and well and under house arrest.

Permalink Eye

Karen notices and goes to inform the Ways.

Permalink Eye

Ways are tensely at home, planting potions ingredients and planting colored-hair-people plants and planting regular plants and practicing dueling and whatever else works off the nervous energy. "Hi, Karen. Timothy's out, he's trying to get everyone agreed to lay low until we know more."

Permalink Eye

"They put up frequently asked questions bulletin boards."

Permalink Eye

"Oh? Are the frequently asked questions really dumb?"

Permalink Eye

"Some of them are, yeah. Is Minor home?"

Permalink Eye

"Duplicated and is disassembling his thingy, I think."

Permalink Eye

She goes looking for Minor and tells him about the FAQ.

Permalink Eye

"Think they thought of it independently? Or think they're reading the things before they shred them somehow?"

Permalink Eye

"It could be either but the timing's pretty close."

Permalink Eye

"Well. It's a good sign if they're taking advice. Right?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I thought you'd want to know."

Permalink Eye

"I should go back out and ask about where they're from. Maybe not at the same store, I don't want to start attracting attention. Let's go find Miranda -"

Permalink Eye

Miranda is entertaining Judith, who is frightened of house elves. "Hey."

"You met sky people!" cries Judith. "No fair! I want to!"

Permalink Eye

"I can get out if they start something. You can't. - we should learn Memory Charms," he adds to Miranda. "I know it's horrible but I am envisioning some circumstances under which the alternative would be 'the conquerors find out about us' and -"

Permalink Eye

She shivers.

Permalink Eye

"More options are better."

Permalink Eye

"How much harder is it to make it reversible?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know but we could look it up."

Permalink Eye

"I'd feel better about it."

Permalink Eye

Hug. "Okay. - anyway what I came by about is that Karen says they put up bulletin boards."

Permalink Eye

"...like the ones Timothy suggested?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. WIth the note he had a tracing charm on, which got destroyed after sitting in the box awhile."

Permalink Eye

"So I guess they're copying them somehow or independently came to the idea."

Permalink Eye

"Karen thinks the timing is suggestive. I want to go out again and ask one of them where they're from."

Permalink Eye

"Company?"

Permalink Eye

"Please! I trust you to tell me if I look likely to get myself dangerous attention."

Permalink Eye

So off they go to a different store. It has a purple who has apparently learned enough English to do without a yellow onsite.

Permalink Eye

Minor looks at the offerings, waits for purple to not be too busy. "Excuse me?" he says in Anitami.

Permalink Eye

"Hi what can I - wait - how'd you -"

Permalink Eye

"Bothered someone to teach some! It seems important and I like languages. Your English is good."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, thank you."

Permalink Eye

"Do you sell anything about Anitam here? Maps and things?"

Permalink Eye

"Somebody liked the concept of flags and made an Anitami flag, do you want a flag?"

Permalink Eye

"I kind of specifically wanted maps, actually."

Permalink Eye

"I don't have any."

Permalink Eye

"Could you draw one?"

Permalink Eye

"It'd be a pretty bad map, I'm not good at drawing."

Permalink Eye

"It'd be better than wondering if it's Antarctica or the Americas or the Moon."

Permalink Eye

He snorts. "No, it's not that."

Permalink Eye

"So sell me a bad map that's more useful than that. Or is it a secret?"

Permalink Eye

"Nah, it's not a secret. Anitam looks sorta like -" He sketches a wiggly national border.

Permalink Eye

"And where does it fit."

Permalink Eye

"Uh - Tapa's that way - coast is there - I think if you go south enough it's Oahk - I don't remember a ton of geography."

Permalink Eye

"...I think the answer I want is a different kind of answer. How do you get to Anitam from here?"

Permalink Eye

"Oh, you have to fly."

Permalink Eye

"How long does it take?"

Permalink Eye

"Couple days. Longer if it's a cheaper flight for cargo or whatever."

Permalink Eye

"We've travelled the whole world."

Permalink Eye

"- oh, it's like, you guessed the moon, it's farther than your moon."

Permalink Eye

"Oh."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"And it had too many people? So when you found us you wanted to come live here?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, you've got more land than our planet and you're not using it efficiently at all."

Permalink Eye

"Could have just - asked. I bet most countries would have let you come live in them."

Permalink Eye

"Well, I'm not blue. It wasn't clean, though."

Permalink Eye

"Is this - related to the rotted tomato -"

Permalink Eye

Shudder. "Ew."

Permalink Eye

"They had a sign up saying they killed someone for throwing one. We think - ew - but that's all, ewwww, not an important kind of thing."

Permalink Eye

"It was moldy."

Permalink Eye

" - yes? It's not dangerous - is it dangerous for you, do you not have - the thing where your body stops you getting sick of minor things?"

Permalink Eye

"We have immune systems but we shouldn't have to think about them."

Permalink Eye

"Then I think you should stay home instead of coming here and killing people who make you think about immune systems."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not blue, I run a store."

Permalink Eye

"If the people who ran stores didn't think their kings should do that their kings would stop eventually. They want to be popular."

Permalink Eye

"But why are you telling me?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, if I tell the people with guns maybe they'll shoot me because you think that telling people things is violence and you just forgot to mention! No one knows the rules!"

Permalink Eye

"Telling people things isn't violence. You'll be fine if you don't touch anybody - with anything - without permission and depending on details maybe even if you do."

Permalink Eye

"But they didn't say that, they said violence and then started murdering people for tomatoes."

Permalink Eye

"The tomato was thrown."

Permalink Eye

"Throwing a tomato isn't violence."

Permalink Eye

"...I'm not a translator either."

Permalink Eye

"If you were really good at it would you be allowed to change your hair color, or not?" 

Permalink Eye

"They're talking about it since the reds got to but I don't think it'd be a good idea."

Permalink Eye

"Why not?"

Permalink Eye

"People'd do it for dumb reasons."

Permalink Eye

"I guess whatever works for you as long as they don't try to make us do it."

Permalink Eye

"You guys are just kind of all over the place. You're doing the same thing with gender. Badly."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, colored-hair people don't do that? It does make sense if you're Catholic or whatever and have fourteen kids and their mother's always pregnant or nursing. People who have less kids don't do it as much."

Permalink Eye

The purple sighs.

Permalink Eye

"But I agree that we should stop doing it at all. Not impose more categories to do it by, which would be stupid and terrible."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know why you're telling me this."

Permalink Eye

"Practice with the language!"

Permalink Eye

"You're pretty good."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you! Are they going to teach everyone soon?"

Permalink Eye

"Probably, I guess."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you for explaining about where Anitam."

Permalink Eye

"No problem."

Permalink Eye

He finds Miranda and Karen. Translates.

Permalink Eye

"Wow."

Permalink Eye

"I guess it - explains it? Sort of? Muggles there could just be a couple centuries ahead of ours, that might do it."

Permalink Eye

"I guess to some people the ability to fly between planets would seem like an opportune time to conquer some."

Permalink Eye

"If there are nicer people who are inclined to leave other planets alone we wouldn't be meeting them."

Permalink Eye

"If there are nicer people who set up trade relations instead we'd meet those."

Permalink Eye

"True. We barely bother trading with Muggles, though, I understand why people from other worlds wouldn't."

Permalink Eye

"If they want space they could have bought land."

Permalink Eye

"I said that to him. Got "I'm not blue" and "it wouldn't be clean"."

Permalink Eye

"Clean."

Permalink Eye

"It kind of seems important to know what the aliens mean by that, yeah."

Permalink Eye

"You didn't ask -?"

Permalink Eye

"I asked if it was related to their killing someone for throwing a tomato and then we argued that a bit."

Permalink Eye

"It was moldy, he says..."

Permalink Eye

"As if that justifies killing someone."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, we send people to Azkaban and Muggles aren't loads better, it's just really tempting to expect better of - sky people."

Permalink Eye

"And we don't send people to Azkaban for throwing rotten tomatoes."

Permalink Eye

"No, but someone could get challenged to a duel over a tomato and die in it."

Permalink Eye

" - yeah, true.

 

 

If they're Muggles we could let them install all their water treatment plants and then make them leave. Or make their government leave and let the colonists stay."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, we could. Do you suppose all the magical governments are just going to ignore them -"

Permalink Eye

"Don't know. I can't imagine any of them taking well to being condescended to but if we're ignored  - unless the sky people keep close enough track of people to notice when a dragon kills a bunch of Muggles, or when we invite Muggleborn kids off to school..."

Permalink Eye

"They'd have to keep pretty close track but maybe they do..."

Permalink Eye

"Doesn't seem likely, I can't think what would justify all the expense and effort. 

We have a lot more options before they learn there are wizards. If they're really Muggles."

Permalink Eye

"Does that mean we ought to be in a hurry?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know. Maybe in a hurry for forms of information gathering that only work if the enemy doesn't know about invisibility - but it's still a risk, they could still have wizards -"

Permalink Eye

"Their wizards could be secret like we are. Not involved in all this but still around."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. - let's go home and catch everybody up -"

Permalink Eye

Everybody is caught up and vaguely apprehensive!

Permalink Eye

He is back from dragon reserve. "I think we should absolutely Disillusion ourselves and go get books of theirs and learn less filtered stuff about their society and then make decisions off that. Might help with figuring out whether they have wizards, too."

Permalink Eye

"They'll kill us if they find out."

Permalink Eye

"Muggles, Michael. I am sure they'll try."

Permalink Eye

"We don't know if shield charms hold up against their weapons."

Permalink Eye

"So we duplicate one and check."

Permalink Eye

"Can you do that unobtrusively enough?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

" - be careful -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't have a death wish, I'm just not gonna sit here wondering what they're planning to do to these people."

Permalink Eye

"Take a transmitter."

Permalink Eye

"Sure thing."

 

 

He goes looking for people with guns.

Permalink Eye

There is no shortage. They peer at him.

Permalink Eye

Do they ever put the guns down? How often do they change shifts? Are they ever alone?

Permalink Eye

They sometimes have them holstered. They work twelve hours, with staggered breaks. The less trafficked areas may have only one guard.

Permalink Eye

Where do they go at the end of their shifts?

Permalink Eye

Buses collect them and take them to tall residential buildings.

Permalink Eye

If you're invisible can you go poke around those.

Permalink Eye

Yup. You have to follow someone in to get past the lock but that's hardly impossible.

Permalink Eye

Do they ever leave their guns in their rooms and go out?

Permalink Eye

Nope, when the greys leave they bring their guns along even if they seem to be off duty. And they mostly don't seem to want to do much touristing. There is, however, a weapons locker with spares.

Permalink Eye

Alohomora?

Permalink Eye

Pops right open.

Permalink Eye

Are there different varieties.

Permalink Eye

Yup, there's little pistols and sleek rifles.

Permalink Eye

He duplicates both. Closes and re-locks the weapons locker. Goes home.

Permalink Eye

They can Shield Charm some things for him to shoot.

Permalink Eye

He figures out the skypeople rifles and shoots charmed things.

Permalink Eye

The pistols don't go through. The rifles break the shield but the bullets slow down to plausibly nonlethal levels on the way.

Permalink Eye

"But they could fire twice. Is there a stronger shield charm -"

Permalink Eye

"That was definitely covered in fifth year."

Permalink Eye

"I didn't drop out because I'd learned it all, I dropped out because I sucked at it."

Permalink Eye

"I know all the shield charms there are from my dueling problem -" She puts up an elaborate one.

Permalink Eye

Boom boom?

Permalink Eye

This shield can hold off three rifle shots before it breaks.

Permalink Eye

Wizards who don't know that one set to learning it. The rifle stops working. Theodore is puzzled.

Permalink Eye

"Probably it ran out of bullets. That's a lot more than our Muggles but I guess it can't really be infinite, they've got to put them somewhere."

Permalink Eye

"Was there ammunition where you got it?"

Permalink Eye

"There were boxes that were probably ammunition. It was a storage locker, it'd be easy enough to go back if we want."

Permalink Eye

"Don't especially need it unless we think of more tests."

Permalink Eye

Minor starts reverse-engineering the gun. "They are good at precision manufacture."

Permalink Eye

"They'd pretty much have to be, wouldn't they?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, definitely, but it's cool to look at - and they somehow scale it - look at this, this is clever -"

Permalink Eye

Peer.

Permalink Eye

Tiny machined parts! When he grows them you can see exactly how tiny. "I should show Aaron too."

Permalink Eye

"We could let them stay and teach us all this stuff and then shoo them."

Permalink Eye

"We do not, actually, have a good idea of how to shoo them."

Permalink Eye

"Don't you know the Imperius?"

Permalink Eye

" - okay, we have a way to shoo them if we're really desperate and their command structure is convenient enough and we can get close."

Permalink Eye

"You know the Imperius?"

Permalink Eye

"I didn't say that, did I?"

Permalink Eye

"Why do you know the Imperius?"

Permalink Eye

"If I knew the Imperius it would presumably be because I had occasion to learn how to throw off the Imperius and was an attentive student."

Permalink Eye

"...does Occlumency not do that..."

Permalink Eye

"No."

Permalink Eye

"Oh."

Permalink Eye

"Bracelet may cover it, Cricket may be able to detect it."

Permalink Eye

"And it's really hard to cast for the purpose of helping someone learn to throw it off, inconveniently. Doesn't matter, if they're Muggles we're not at risk."

Permalink Eye

"Until some wizard decides this world domination thing sounds fun and they've already done half the work."

Permalink Eye

" - okay, true."

Permalink Eye

" - yeah, if the world is run by Muggles ignorant of us then it's really just a question of who gets to it first."

Permalink Eye

 

"Well, Timothy owes me a continent."

Permalink Eye

 

 

"Minor, why don't we all start learning Anitami."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds like lots of fun but I'm actually not clear on why you'd start there."

Permalink Eye

"We need more information, hanging around their operations centers seems like a decent way to get it, the language helps with that. We might at some point want to impersonate them, polyjuiced or just with hair dyed; the language is necessary for that. If we want to take some of them off and ask questions, we can't assume the important ones speak English or any Earth languages."

Permalink Eye

Miranda Accios the magic dictionary.

Permalink Eye

Minor and Finis can do language lessons!! Finis has some theories on the different color dialects which Minor adopts immediately and which are hard for everyone else to remember!

Permalink Eye

Theodore leaves again to go spy on skypeople in their tall building house complex. "I'll wear a wire, you can get more vocab off it. I'm never gonna get fluent enough for impersonation schemes so I don't see how it matters."

Permalink Eye

"It might matter if you ever end up eavesdropping without a transmitter but it's probably not that big a deal, yeah."

Permalink Eye

Theodore sneaks into skypeople complex behind a skyperson and parks close enough to talking skypeople that his transmitter can transmit.

Permalink Eye

There are some purples with some purple babies hanging out chatting! There are greys playing something in the tennis genre! There are yellows practicing English, with a green along for good measure!

Permalink Eye

On the other end wizards listen to chatting purples with purple babies.

Permalink Eye

"So I said sure they mostly want construction and shopkeepers now but they'll have room for everything soon enough, there's room for proper cities in hundreds of sites across the planet, I said he can work in a shop for now and open a restaurant later -"

"I'd feel weird going out to eat here, it's not clean yet -"

"Are they going to make the natives shower properly at some point once the infrastructure's all up?"

"I hope so. I wear gloves and don't let them behind the counter but once a drunk one lunged at me -"

"It's always men for some reason, have you noticed, I don't think I would have noticed except they have such funny facial hair styles and it's conspicuous."

"I hadn't noticed that actually, but yeah, now you mention it, always men getting too close."

Permalink Eye

"Their women barely wear any clothing," Minor mutters on the other end. "Not that I'm judging them but."

Permalink Eye

"What does that have to do with anything?"

Permalink Eye

"That would be why men are staring or getting weirdly close."

Permalink Eye

"That and the drunk part, reportedly."

Purples have changed the subject. "The moon is so big."

"I know, right? There's only one but they make up for it. I heard they think there are total solar eclipses here!"

"Total, like -"

"Like if you wait enough the moon will just go smack dab in front of the sun, bam, no sun, just like a little tiny bit around the edges."

"Wow!"

Permalink Eye

"They're kinda sweet. Maybe they can stay even if we make their government fuck off."

Permalink Eye

"How'd you pick this assignment, anyway?"

"I like it cloudy, and, y'know, islands are neat. You?"

"Oh, I let them send me anywhere the wife and kids could fit in. My best friend's in, wosscalled, Jong-gwo?"

"China!"

"That's just stupid, it's one thing that we can't pronounce Olvala's real name and have to swap some consonants but where in the fuck did 'China' come from if the people there call it Jong-gwo?"

Permalink Eye

"Why is that -"

 

       "Unclear etymology," says Finis regretfully.

Permalink Eye

"And apparently in Jong-gwo they're shorter -"

"Worse nutrition or just a phenotype thing? These people phenotype all over the place."

"I don't know, I guess we'll see in a generation when they've had population controls and a decent food supply for long enough. And they all have black hair, that's a phenotype thing, and that eye thing that Nama Peshi has, you know the thing -"

"They all have that?"

"All of them. Phenotyping all over the place."

Permalink Eye

" - when they've had population controls? Have they said anything about population controls?"

Permalink Eye

" - no."

Permalink Eye

One of the babies starts fussing and gets passed to its mom for nursing. "Nama Peshi was so good in Tam Wandering."

"I haven't seen it."

"Well, it's good."

"Yeah - you'd like it, it's the same director as Aftermath -"

"Oooh."

Permalink Eye

"The fuck do they mean population controls."

Permalink Eye

"We don't have a way to control their topic choices," says Miranda.

"I wonder when Cene's going to get its planet."

"I hope it's not nicer than this one, I'd feel so ripped off -"

"We get a head start."

"Sure, but they get to learn from our colonization experience - they've got those observers prowling around -"

"If theirs is nicer they won't benefit that much from the colonization experience, if they get a nice planet they won't have to build them sewers -"

Permalink Eye

"Has anyone noticed observers wandering around - what are they observing for -"

Permalink Eye

"Is Cene one of the places we've heard mentioned -"

Permalink Eye

"No. Heard of Oahk, Tapa, Olvala which apparently isn't really called that but it's more similar than 'China', now Cene -"

Permalink Eye

"I hear Pa-ree didn't have too bad sewers for the tech level."

"Yeah, for the tech level."

"I know, I know."

"Do you know if you're seasoning right here yet?"

"Nah, we'd be reseasoning still anyway. You?"

"I've been here long enough that I'm sure I'm not but it's fine as long as Noame's little. Who's so little? You're so little! I've got your foot! I've got your little foot!"

Permalink Eye

"This country claimed the planet and Cene has observers - that's a little bit more excusable, if someone was going to conquer the planet and they thought they'd do it better -"

Permalink Eye

"They could do it well and not murder people and the fuck are population controls -"

Permalink Eye

"Have you read Malthus -"

Permalink Eye

"Is that one of your Muggle inventors? No."

Permalink Eye

"Not an inventor. Muggle, though. Populations grow exponentially, stuff you need to supply populations will grow with the tech level but not exponentially because you don't have the feature where the returns increase proportional to what they currently are, therefore poor people are always gonna starve to death unless they stop having so many kids."

Permalink Eye

" - they don't have birth control. If they did they'd probably be like wizards and wizard populations are barely growing - and without Muggleborns I think might be shrinking."

Permalink Eye

The purples coo over their babies enthusiastically.

Permalink Eye

"Probably they just mean they're going to invent birth control for Muggles, that would be good."

Permalink Eye

"Lots of Muggles are religious."

Permalink Eye

"So they'll ignore the public education campaign, who cares? As they keep saying, we're not anywhere near out of room."

Permalink Eye

"Do you think credits will stay this cheap?" one asks when they are momentarily done cooing.

"They're supposed to get even cheaper. My cousin's friend said she was waiting because she doesn't want ten and the cheap ones ought to go to people who are older now."

"If we permaspring here..."

"I think some people don't and the ones who do can go home."

"Yeah, my friend in Pilipinas says he's fine, he's in autumn now."

"Isn't that equatorial?"

"They're based on the north end of it."

Permalink Eye

(Wizards debate the best translation of the word 'credits'.)

Permalink Eye

 

"Michael, do you think people who conquered the world and execute people for throwing tomatoes are gonna do a public education campaign..."

Permalink Eye

"What else are they going to do -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know - shoot extra people -?"

Permalink Eye

- hug.

Permalink Eye

" - or sterilize them - we shouldn't jump to conclusions, they haven't said anything about this -"

Permalink Eye

"They might just not want to panic anyone."

Permalink Eye

"Or inspire a lot of resistance - right now people are mostly going along with it, if they start killing people that's gonna change -"

Permalink Eye

"Killing more people."

Permalink Eye

"I don't wanna be sterilized."

Permalink Eye

"Not going to happen. They don't even know we exist, we'll have as many kids as we want, if they try Timothy will change their minds -"

Permalink Eye

"I love you."

Permalink Eye

Miranda doesn't even wince at the suggestion.

Permalink Eye

Purples talk about their friends and their families and their jobs and their new homes here ("it's not like they're inherently really swanky but everything's so new") and politics ("I wonder how in the long run they're going to structure the place, is Earth just going to be the job of whoever holds that council seat or will they spin it off") and sports ("my hometown bell and stick team -" "you watch bell and stick?").

Permalink Eye

"Whoever holds that council seat. So there's currently one person in charge, that makes our lives easier."

Permalink Eye

"If only we knew anything about them at all."

Permalink Eye

"The thing I want to know is actually not about them - they ordered people executed for tomato-throwing, morally we can do whatever we need to with them - it's about oversight - if they start acting erratically what's the mechanism to remove them, if they declare there won't be any kind of population controls then what..."

Permalink Eye

"So we need to know about the observers from Cene."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. 

 

I want to learn that reversible memory charm now."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

Eventually Theodore comes home and is apprised of things. "Why is your first priority here a memory charm -"

Permalink Eye

"Maybe there's a book somewhere conveniently titled 'our official and unofficial lines of oversight and what would happen if our leadership declared an end to the executions and the population control thing'. But if there's not, the thing I'm tempted to do is find someone important, grab them in their sleep, question them under Veritaserum for a few hours, and then send them back."

Permalink Eye

"Yikes."

Permalink Eye

"They started it."

Permalink Eye

"I wasn't objecting, just, fuck."

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

"Fortunately 'important' is apparently color-coded."

Permalink Eye

"Uh huh."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think they're gonna be walking around on our insufficiently-clean streets."

Permalink Eye

"Judges are blue. If we put a tracing charm on someone they're dragging off to execute -"

Permalink Eye

"Judges might not be, uh, blue enough, but it could give you an idea, you could trace the judge home, yeah."

Permalink Eye

"They don't drag that many people off, we might have to wait around awhile to catch one."

Permalink Eye

"We can go in shifts, maybe."

Permalink Eye

"Can't actually bother a blue until we have the memory charm down anyway. - and Veritaserum, do we have Veritaserum -"

Permalink Eye

"You could tell if they're lying anyway, right - I do think we have some but if we want to save it -"

Permalink Eye

"Probably but I can't make them talk in the first place. Threatening them seems less kind than Veritaserum."

Permalink Eye

"I could make it or get Dad to but it takes a long time."

Permalink Eye

He checks. "We have some. Okay, let's hang out in London on shifts waiting for someone to be violent at the skypeople and study memory charms and that actually-adequate shield charm in the meantime."

Permalink Eye

"Anybody already know both things and wanna go first?"

Permalink Eye

"I might have the memory charm in a bit. I want to bring Fredrick and Iris in on this, we can cover more ground and I trust them." He frowns at his father.

Permalink Eye

"Sure," says Finis, "fine, as long as they don't get in the way."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you."

Permalink Eye

Miranda sets her demonstrative stick to work.

Permalink Eye

Wizards work on memory charms.

Permalink Eye

He gets a summary of construction projects (on schedule) and civil disturbances (some people gathered around relevant palaces, some in churches, spontaneous riots in several locations in response to the news that the conquerors hadn't been arranging prisoners last rites) - "Fix that."

        "Slows everything down, sir, and it's nonsense. And now more people are dead - we should have just lied -"

"They know who their priests are, they could ask around. Look, can we get it into place fast enough if we just tell everyone to go grab the nearest priest or do I need to order a 24-hour hold on executions -"

       " - I don't see how we can get it into place that fast."

"Then I'm ordering a hold." 

      She winces. "Cene'll -"

"Twenty-four hours, we've been well under the maximum, it's of cultural significance, I'd be happy to discuss it with someone. Maybe get out in front of it and tell them that now." Reading, reading..."I want to talk to Efatsi Ahtem, half his projects are behind schedule."

      "He wrote you - "

"I read it, I want to talk to him." He reviews an announcement for the second phase of infrastructure projects. He reviews the next batch of question answers for billboards in two hundred and eighty regional cultural groups currently being handled separately. "Lim Tsai isn't giving me enough information to evaluate his region's communications."

     "Yes, sir."

"Our translation from Malay is terrible."

      "There's some kind of problem with -"

"Make my father do it."

      "He declined."

" - don't tell him 'fix this', tell him 'this is unfixable because whatever-the-problem-is'. I want a two-hour meeting tomorrow to talk about the Catholic Church with Seta and Liem and Ashatai and Kalavel -"

      "- none of whom have two hours tomorrow -"

"It can wait till midweek but not longer and I won't compromise on length, there's a lot to cover."

      "Mmhmmm."

He reviews a visual summary of human letters and then ten actual randomly chosen human letters and then a summary of Anitami constituent feedback so far - flips through by country - 

- goes home for dinner.

Permalink Eye

"We're delaying the justice system to give the humans priests, huh."

Permalink Eye

"Is it on the news already? Not a hard call, even if it's an expensive one. They care about it."

Permalink Eye

"I noticed."

Permalink Eye

"How was your day -"

Permalink Eye

"Long. We don't all get lucky on spring, you know -"

Permalink Eye

"We can have two more now, if you want, I think their mothers would be delighted and we've plenty to leave them. Thank you for reviewing the next round of communications for me -"

Permalink Eye

"I wish those were more universalizable, it'd save so much time to approve one thing instead of two hundred-something."

Permalink Eye

"Someday. We get to announce schools, next week, that's more exciting than announcing rules. They're mostly doing okay - someone forwarded an analysis arguing that we've already halved the death rate everywhere we've finished infrastructure -"

Permalink Eye

"I am looking forward to ending slavery."

Permalink Eye

"End of the month, want the resources to reunite families and the local governments insist we should expect violence -"

Permalink Eye

"From the ex-slaves or against them?"

Permalink Eye

"From them - I don't believe them but I figure if we're cautious wherever the humans insist on being cautious the price is an extra month to abolish slavery and an extra year before we do population controls and an extra day before executions proceed normally, if we aren't - well, eventually we're going to step on something important."

Permalink Eye

"The executions thing is important."

Permalink Eye

"It's such a horribly unhealthy religion, I hope they abandon it once they have good educations and lower infant mortality and so on. But yeah, important for now."

Permalink Eye

"I think the kids should wait. Maybe I will get Isel and her baby to visit or something - it just makes more sense to wait until we're slightly less busy -"

Permalink Eye

"Well, until we're nine months away from being slightly less busy. Honestly, it's going about as well as could have been expected, I think we might be nine to twelve away from schools everywhere and decent infrastructure and internet and then things can coast until the scientists think they have birth control good enough it makes sense to impose controls.

Permalink Eye

"....so babies now?"

Permalink Eye

"I love you. Yeah, I think we could go ahead and start now if it'll help. And Isel and Almin can still come visit."

Permalink Eye

"-do you want to be related to the babies - I know it's my turn but if we're going to have more, you're the one who's nineteen -"

Permalink Eye

"One of each? I'd say 'and we don't even need to know' but with my luck one of them will have green hair, poor baby. And then both of the ones next year can be yours."

Permalink Eye

"Not poor baby, lucky baby, to have such wonderful green relatives who figured out planets for us. Lucky babies who will get lots of kids themselves."

Permalink Eye

Lean. Giggle. "They're vaguely optimistic they can figure out what the hormonal difference between people who permaspring here and people who don't is and come up with something that makes one likelier to not. But I like you like this."

Permalink Eye

"You are a terrible person, Aitim Neli."

Permalink Eye

"Ssshhhhh." Kiss. "Don't tell our billion new subjects."

Permalink Eye

They get the memory charm down and the shield charm down and hover around London waiting for someone to break the aliens' rules.

Permalink Eye

"Think there's a way to be annoying enough to get dragged in front of a judge without getting executed?"

Permalink Eye

"Probably but we're not taking chances. Waiting is fine - the stuff they're doing right now mostly isn't the stuff we're going to stop - presuming they're not doing the population control secretly by something in the water -"

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

"We have our own well for water - is that likely, Timothy -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know! They've been publishing lots more stuff but none of it mentions population control - there's a schedule and proposed locations for schools and clinics, we can elect a human regional coordinator who will get to work alongside the skyperson regional coordinator, planned completion dates for infrastructure projects are this-and-that, Bishop So-and-so said such-and-such about cooperation - nothing about population controls -"

Permalink Eye

"I want to work aside the skyperson cordnator," says Judith.

Permalink Eye

"When you're grown up."

Permalink Eye

She looks devastated.

Permalink Eye

"Maybe we should think about other angles on finding a blue to interrogate. Can we do a point-me towards the authors of announcements or something -"

Permalink Eye

"Are they signed?"

Permalink Eye

"They are not."

Permalink Eye

"Then no, not readily."

Permalink Eye

"I'll write James, he can check the Hogwarts library or bother his Charms teacher or something."

Permalink Eye

Before this investigation bears any fruit, a tanner whose business has been suspended for sanitation reasons takes a flying leap at a purple.

Permalink Eye

Tracking charm. 

 

 

Permalink Eye

And a few hours later, invisible observer.

Permalink Eye

A pregnant woman with sky-blue hair up in a twist talks to the tanner about his grievances, asks if he was aware of the rule about attacking colorful hair people, asks if he was aware that the person he attacked had colorful hair, takes down his family's name and addresses in case any remittances should become available, and briskly sentences him to death. She occasionally resorts to a translator but the translator is not physically present, just receives snippets electronically and phones back translations.

Permalink Eye

He moves the tracking charm.

Permalink Eye

She sees several more cases - apparently she's covering much of Britain and some of Ireland - and does things to a device for a bit and then goes home.

Permalink Eye

He goes home too. "What callous horrible - Veritiserum doesn't cause complications with pregnancy, does it -"

Permalink Eye

"No..."

Permalink Eye

"Then we've got a blue to talk to and I just watched her sentence a bunch of people to death for no reason and don't think there's much reason to wait."

Permalink Eye

"What are you going to ask?"

Permalink Eye

"What the plans are with respect to population control, who is in charge of this conquest operation and where they are, and confirmation they don't have any idea about wizards yet."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

Invisible wizard follows his tracing charm.

Permalink Eye

She goes between work and home and is usually with other people but he can catch her alone on a slow day at work.

Permalink Eye

He locks the door. He spikes her water. He waits for her to drink it.

Permalink Eye

Sip.

Permalink Eye

"Petrificus Totalus." He stays invisible. He steps closer to hold her upright if she loses her balance.

Permalink Eye

She tips over, eyes wide.

Permalink Eye

Stabilizing hand on her shoulder. "You're going to answer a couple questions and then you can get right back to executing innocent people, okay?" Wand twitch - now she can use her mouth - "what's your name."

Permalink Eye

"Shasali Aven."

Permalink Eye

"Is your government planning to impose some kind of population controls."

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

Permalink Eye

"Tell me about those."

Permalink Eye

"Voan system. Waiting on invention of birth control for your species."

Permalink Eye

"What is a Voan system."

Permalink Eye

"The system they use in Voa."

Permalink Eye

There is an invisible exasperated sigh and then someone invisibly picks up her water bottle and raises it to her lips and tips it.

Permalink Eye

She coughs but swallows some.

Permalink Eye

"Voan system."

Permalink Eye

"Two per family and a permissions based third-child distribution arrangement on top but we may use a credit auction system on top instead. I haven't studied the edge cases for when families are not clearly defined."

Permalink Eye

"What is the goal of doing that, exactly."

Permalink Eye

"To prevent population overrun due to uncontrolled exponential growth."

Permalink Eye

"How many skypeople are there?"

Permalink Eye

"There are thirteen billion members of the species and six hundred million Anitami as of the last estimates I heard, which have not taken into account the boom associated with achieving faster than light travel."

Permalink Eye

"But you're not gonna let us grow to thirteen billion before we worry about population controls, because..."

Permalink Eye

"We're planning to settle here and we also have to comply with international regulations about allowable population growth."

Permalink Eye

"Who is in charge of the conquest of this planet?"

Permalink Eye

"Aitim Neli."

Permalink Eye

"Would they have the authority to change the executions thing?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm not sure."

Permalink Eye

"Is there someone who definitely would have that authority?"

Permalink Eye

"No single person."

Permalink Eye

More water.

Permalink Eye

Cough cough swallow.

Permalink Eye

"Who would definitely have the authority to stop the executions?"

Permalink Eye

Cough. "Aitim could probably convince people if it were his first priority but he'd have to convince both the rest of the Anitam ruling council and the international community responsible for population control."

Permalink Eye

"Where does he live."

Permalink Eye

"Canada. I couldn't find it on a map. I would take a shuttle."

Permalink Eye

"Do skypeople carry identifying documents that would be checked if they were getting on a shuttle? Does he ever leave?"

Permalink Eye

"Not documents, electronics. He sometimes visits satellite locations for meetings but most people come to him."

Permalink Eye

"Why are population controls a secret from Earth's population? Are there other secrets?"

Permalink Eye

"They are unlikely to be popular and would create unrest we can't afford while we're working on more immediate priorities and might prompt people to have children in a boom now before we can implement them. There are no other things that we are actually forbidden to tell humans but there are many things we are choosing to deemphasize."

Permalink Eye

"Tell me those."

Permalink Eye

"We're not emphasizing the extent to which we plan to densify and settle the planet, the existence of non-Anitam countries back home or the fact that we must answer to the international community, our preference to stay away from polar and equatorial regions, the base on Mars, the history of the red caste, the exact extent and detail of our technological superiority, our disrespect for local religions, and the travel time necessary to get home."

Permalink Eye

"Is there anything you can tell me about those things that Aitim Neli will not be able to tell me."

Permalink Eye

"No."

Permalink Eye

"Were you previously aware, including rumors you dismissed, that there were humans with capabilities locally glossed as 'wizardry', mythical animals, a secret society of magic-users, anything like that -"

Permalink Eye

"No."

Permalink Eye

"I'm going to erase your recollections of this conversation. I can return them at some later date if relations between our people improve. Is it important to you that I do that if it's an option?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

Permalink Eye

He takes the water bottle, duplicates it, refills it with ordinary water. 

"Is there anything else you want to say?"

Permalink Eye

"Will this hurt my baby?"

Permalink Eye

"No. Anything else you think I'd want to know?" He cancels the paralysis, sits her down in her chair.

Permalink Eye

"What will I think happened in the missing time -" She shivers. "Am I missing anything else - I might have to account for my time to someone -"

Permalink Eye

"This is the first time I've done this to you. I can implant whatever I want but not to great detail; you can have been reading your correspondence but you won't remember it."

Permalink Eye

"I am least -" shiver, "likely to notice a problem I or anyone else escalates if I spent the time looking through pictures of my children."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you. Obliviate." 

Permalink Eye

She blinks glassily at her device.

She pulls up some pictures of her children.

Permalink Eye

Timothy leaves.

 

 

He goes home. They should have already been listening.

Permalink Eye

"Well, it's not 'shoot the extras'..."

Permalink Eye

"You didn't ask if they were going to put it in the water supply or do a public education campaign, are you saving that for Aitim Neli?"

Permalink Eye

"Someone could've walked in. I want to get Neli overnight, have a couple hours to get through everything we might possibly want to know."

Permalink Eye

"Do they definitely sleep like humans?"

Permalink Eye

"They spend a human-like amount of time off, I guess it's possible they don't spend any of it sleeping. Either way, there's going to be more security on Neli - might make more sense to Imperius him and instruct him to do whatever will least suspiciously get him unobservable for a couple hours -"

Permalink Eye

"Have you ever even cast it on a person?"

Permalink Eye

"No. I like most people. This guy I do not like."

Permalink Eye

"I still vote against casting a spell you've never tried on a person in a situation like this."

Permalink Eye

"I guess we could probably substitute for it with really good surveillance. - medium term, though, Imperius is probably the way to go if I can do it, get him and whoever decides when the birth control is good enough."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe after you've got him kidnapped try it then, just don't kidnap him with it."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "We can track him now that we have a name, right?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, 'point me Aitim Neli' should work fine."

Permalink Eye

"Let's talk through everything that could possibly go wrong, sleep on it, find the place tomorrow."

Permalink Eye

"They have magic after all and Aven just didn't know about it. She was being covertly surveiled. You can't get him alone."

Permalink Eye

"They have some other kind of surveillance that flags disillusioned people. He probably does account really closely for his time. He doesn't drink things."

Permalink Eye

"You can't get on the shuttle, you get on the wrong shuttle, you get stranded in Canada."

Permalink Eye

"I think we should Portkey. Too much risk to use their shuttles, even Polyjuiced with duplicated credentials."

Permalink Eye

"You cast a spell too close to a computer and spritz it."

Permalink Eye

"You don't know where to Portkey to."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, we may take a while to find the city. I still think it's safer than shuttles."

Permalink Eye

"We? Are you bringing people?"

Permalink Eye

"This is important and complicated and I definitely want backup, yes."

Permalink Eye

"Who?"

Permalink Eye

"Who wants to come? We are mostly going to be staying invisibly out of the way until we get a sense of his routine."

Permalink Eye

"I'll come if you think I'd be useful."

Permalink Eye

"I'll come if Minor does."

Permalink Eye

Squeeze. "Yeah, sure."

Permalink Eye

"I really don't want to die, having recently become attached to the idea of having twenty kids specifically because fuck the aliens, but if you think it's safe-"

Permalink Eye

"I think I can acquire Felix and I have never heard of things going that wrong on Felix."

Permalink Eye

"Then I'm in."

Permalink Eye

"Twenty?" giggles Rebecca.

Permalink Eye

"God willing!" Kiss. "I also like Catholicism more because the skypeople hate it!"

Permalink Eye

Kiss!

Permalink Eye

Minor raises an eyebrow at Miranda. "I feel like maybe four or five is enough to get the point across? Once the skypeople are obviated, though."

Permalink Eye

"I could do four or five, although I don't feel an especial need to express disdain through childbearing."

Permalink Eye

"It's not that, the emotionally appealing thing is... that if someone tries to threaten you then as soon as it's safe and reasonable you do the exact fucking opposite of that so that it is never, ever in someone's interests to threaten you."

Permalink Eye

"I can appreciate this principle to a point but I do not hold it as strongly as you. But unlike twenty, four or five does not strike me as excessive given the availability of elves."

Permalink Eye

Presently unmarried parties frown consideringly. 

Permalink Eye

"I think we have more satisfying avenues of retaliation, like extracting all this nice infrastructure and then making them all go home."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, I will find that very satisfying."

Permalink Eye

He finds Felix.

 

He takes a sip before setting the Portkey to somewhere that feels right in the middle of Canada.

Permalink Eye

It leads to the top of a mountain.

All down the slope of the mountain is a shining forest of buildings, looking out over an airfield at the base and a lot of untouched forest.

Permalink Eye

Maybe they like the wilderness. It is very pretty. 

 

Disillusioned wizards walk closer.