Dec 15, 2018 5:47 PM
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He tastes it, tentatively at first. "Oh, that's excellent. Thank you. What's the fruit in this called?"

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"...Lemon? Do you also not have lemons? My god, what do you eat?"

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"Onions, maize, grilled onions, cornbread, strawberries, fried onions, carrots and potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, occasional jellywing or chicken, pickled onions... For some reason onions grow really well here. We have pepper, too."

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"I will export food. I will export a lot of food."

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"I'm sure people will appreciate it. I'd say at least two thirds of us farm in one way or another. You saw my greenhouse."

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"What's a jellywing?"

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"...Big, roundish, bloated lighter-than-air critter. Completely harmless unless one dies and falls on you. They eat floatgrass, bladesquid hunt them. They make a great fuel source if you can kill one without popping its gas sac, but they're not terribly domesticatable."

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"I assume bladesquid are a bigger lighter-than-air critter which look like squid and have blades."

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"Yes. They mostly leave people alone. And everything native to here is immensely afraid of fire, if you ever have to fend critters off make heatless smoke and they'll bolt."

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"Good to know."

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He keeps eating the fish kebab and piloting the ship. It doesn't need much active effort, the sky's pretty open here, but maybe he finds it relaxing.

At one point he retrieves a book full of neatly written charts and a stick of charcoal from a cabinet.
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"What's the range of habitable altitudes?"

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"Approximately 100 kilometers to approximately 300 kilometers? There's some flex, but below 120 or above 250 begins to be uncomfortable. The atmosphere is mostly the same at every point between those altitudes despite not having an immediately apparent reason to work that way."

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"How peculiar. It doesn't thin noticeably as you ascend? Then how do you maintain a position within it?"

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"It does thin, just not as dramatically. I meant the temperature and relative composition of gases is consistent in that range."

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"Oh. I wonder why. I could probably figure out but I think it is less important than making sure everybody can have lemons."

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"Lemons are a critical life experience, are they now? By the way, you will probably object to many towns' governments. They vary widely in several respects. Effectiveness, morality, structure. That's why I fly between them."

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"Then I will just have to outcompete and/or harpoon them, won't I."

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"And it's pretty hard to outcompete making stuff from nothing."

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"I will exploit this unfair advantage."

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"Can you turn my library, such as it is, into something less combustible? Possibly attached to a compiter?"

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"Computers run on electricity. They're not, in advanced forms, particularly prone to catching fire, but you definitely should not open one up, get it wet, or subject it to mechanical stress. If that seems like an improvement, yes, I can render your library as a computer file with a computer to match."

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"Stone-age here, remember. The computer will be competing with paper that's been recycled dozens of times and ink that eventually devolves into unrecognizable smudges. Thank you."

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"They also need to be charged. I can make you a solar generator or a wind powered one?"

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"Let's say solar. Sun is easier to come by than a wind differential sometimes."

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