Dec 15, 2019 9:15 AM
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"...you'd be in a pretty complicated situation on Barrayar looking like Miles as you do and being a not a human, but there's the rest of the galaxy, I s'pose."

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"I'll take 'complicated' over 'literally every living thing I meet wants to kill me'," he says.

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"...yes, the domestic quail Vivienne's parents keep in the backyard will be quite harmless to you, I will give you that without reservation."

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"I mean, I might reconsider, especially since I bet you don't have many underground cities and I'm not sure how I'll take to sky. But at this point, even that sounds better than meeting more darkspawn, exciting-sounding magic weapons or no."

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"Again: not magic. What's the matter with sky?"

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"Common wisdom has it that if you don't hold onto something you'll fall in, but I think common wisdom is probably wrong because you never hear it from someone who's actually been to the surface. Still, though. Nothing above you but air? I'm a dwarf. The Stone is my home. Some of us can adapt, I just don't know if I am one. I've never tried."

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"Well, you could live indoors. You could move to - not Komarr specifically, I think, that's one place where looking like Miles would get you in trouble, but on Komarr all the inhabited parts have roofs and there's probably other planets that have arcologies too. The roofs are transparent, though."

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He makes a face. "Why are the roofs transparent?"

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"Sunshine. Useful for things like keeping warm. Komarr has a bit of a sunshine scarcity."

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"Down in Orzammar, we have lava."

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"They do not," says Ivan, "have lava on Komarr."

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"Poor Komarr."

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"A bit." Pen-woggle. "Miles, what's keeping you, did you decide to bring half of Impsec with you to Vivienne's parents' house, that's not going to go over well?"

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"Not everyone drives like you drive, Ivan," comes Miles's weary response. "I'll be there in a minute."

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Okay then. Ivan pockets his pen again. "If you do want to go from Barrayar to any other planets there's a lot of sky in the way, fair warning," he tells Stalas.

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"...In... what sense? I admit I'm a little vague on what you mean by 'planet'."

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"Do... you not live on a planet? I am not sure how you'd get lava in some kind of... non-planet. Planet is a big ball of rock with stuff on the surface of it like trees and water and volcanoes, exact parameters depending on the planet. Planets go around suns, which are like stars, but nearer by."

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"I don't live on the surface of a planet," Stalas reminds him. "I've heard of sun and moon and sky and stars, but I've never seen any of them. Unless you count whatever that is, I guess," this with a wave at the Observation Window. "So, yeah, big ball of rock, lava and optional darkspawn in the middle, surface-dwellers around the outside, I'm with you there. Rock, I understand. It's past that where things start to get iffy."

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"...Do you bother with days and nights or are you on some sort of Dwarven Standard Time there? Seasons?"

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"I mean, we talk to surfacers, trade with them and so on, and we sleep on the same kind of schedule, so it's convenient to work with the same day cycle as nearby surface kingdoms. Seasons, not so much. Seasons affect what kind of fruit and other plant-stuff they trade to us when, and that's about it. We do count years and ages the same way, though."

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"Okay, so a year is how long it takes a planet to go around the sun." Ivan produces a makeshift gestured astronomical diagram of this. "A day is how long a planet takes to spin around. Sun's shining on about half the planet at once at any given time."

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"Okay, sure. And all these objects are traveling through what? Lots and lots of sky?" He looks mildly uneasy at this prospect.

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"Well, sort of - depending on what you're thinking when you say 'sky', not exactly. Air falls down like anything else does, so around planets that have got air, it's just a few miles thick. Above where the air is there is Literally Nothing. Vacuum."

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"...And people go from planet to planet by, what - falling into the sky voluntarily and flying through the horrifying void until they hit air again? Humans are fucking crazy," says Stalas.

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"It's not like we do this stark naked. There are spaceships! They hold in plenty of air and fly around quite competently in the horrifying void."

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