Sep 26, 2021 7:50 AM
imrainai, ves, and stts are thrown into amenta's past
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She frowns at him and shakes her head. She asks a different question, still in the same language, apparently aiming it at Zada and Kairda.

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She isn't positive she knows what's being said - the pronunciation is different from modern Voan in ways she thinks she recognizes, but she's missing every third word entirely. Still, it's enough to prompt her to timidly respond.

"We're, uh, from the city? We were trying to visit someone, and we got lost. Could you tell us where we are?"

It's not clear that the woman understands all of what she's saying, either, but her face brightens and she waves them inside, saying something about cities and visiting and some kind of food that Kairda's never heard of. Probably food, anyway. She thinks she knows what verb it's being matched with.

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He follows them inside, pulls out his everything, and glances at it -- now that they're in the house, there should definitely be internet, although he may need to go through a relay to get the password, and then he'll be able to at least roughly understand what everyone is saying.

There is not internet.

He looks at Zada, pausing for a moment to deliberate between asking for a translation and bringing up the unnerving lack of an internet connection. Maybe his Purple Culture class had simply neglected to mention internet access issues in rural communities? He wouldn't have expected the professor to know, and the purple assistant had, as far as he can remember, been from a city.

"Can you understand what she is saying?" he settles on, adding, a moment later, "My everything isn't detecting a connection. Do you know of any purple families that don't have internet access?"

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"Everyone has internet access. Fucking reds have internet access. Unless they're like - I dunno, some kind of weird hardcore historical reenacting community?" 

It seems like this could be true - the house has a fireplace instead of a modern heating system, and the floor appears to be well-packed dirt. No television, no computers. No couch, just a set of wooden chairs. The window on the far side of the room has shutters, but no glass. There's a spindle in the corner.

She frowns at Kairda. "How're you - ?"

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"It's um. It's middle Voan. I don't know it, but I recognize the vowel rules it's following. Uh, if you've ever tried to read the original text of the Song of Darivia, it's a lot like that? I don't know half of what she's saying, and I don't know which words she knows, I'm just trying to stick to traditional Voan and leave out loanwords? Please don't ask me why she's speaking middle Voan, I have no idea why she's speaking middle Voan."

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"OK. Uh. Kairda thinks she's speaking middle Voan. Doesn't know why. She says it's sort of like the Song of Darivia - dunno if they cover Voan classics on the Island of Jakav, but it's from like, two and a half centuries ago? Which lends a lot more credence to the weirdo reenactors hypothesis, but I have no idea why she isn't breaking character, and I can only understand, like, a tenth of what she's saying."

The woman pours the three of them some kind of meat stew and offers them a plate of what looks like plain rye bread. She says something that sounds apologetic. Zada really wishes she could understand it, but she can't really fault herself for learning Tapai and Anitami and not a language that literally nobody speaks.

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"Who would allow this much space to a historical reenactment community, though?" he asks. "Maybe they use modern agricultural techniques to grow the crops, although the wagon would seem to contradict that hypothesis."

At least Kairda speaks Middle Voan; it could be worse. "Can you ask her to ask for an explanation? Even if they're heavily invested on remaining in-character, they should be willing at least to inform us where we are, and I suspect that most reenactors would explain their reenactment group when asked."

While he's waiting for a response, he takes a piece of the bread and nibbles on it.

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"I don't speak Middle Voan," sighs Kairda, after Zada relays this, but she dutifully asks the woman where they are. That question she understands - they're west of Goamo, which Kairda gathers is the nearest city. The woman doesn't know 'state' or 'province', and 'region' returns 'Voa'. 

She asks them when they are, hoping that if she's a reenactor she'll at least be willing to explain which period, precisely, she's reenacting. After a few rephrasings, she's given the day of the month. It's a different day of the month than it's supposed to be. She thanks the woman, relays this to Zada, and dips a piece of bread in the stew before trying it. It's unsalted and unspiced. Good would be overselling it, but it's edible, and she compliments the cook anyway. 

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"Is Goamo a city name you recognize?" he asks. It's not a name he recognizes, when this is relayed to him, but he wouldn't recognize anything that isn't one of the two or three biggest.

He pauses for a moment, thinking.

"I think I have an idea of what may have happened. Some time has clearly passed from when we arrived here -- actually, we should check on when the last date we remember was, given the discrepancy -- and electricity-based devices don't seem to be working properly. Perhaps there was some sort of weapon or natural disaster or something of the sort that prevents electricity from working properly." He frowns. "I think a magnetic --" he pauses, groping for the word "-- a reversal of the part of the planet that makes magnets could cause it, although I'm not certain. I can't think of any weapons that would do this, but it's not as if I worked in weapons development, and there might be secret weapons with the same effect.

That doesn't explain how we arrived here, but maybe whatever caused electricity to stop working also causes amnesia."

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"That's a lot of maybes," observes Zada. "And it doesn't explain the way this place looks, unless you think Amenta's magnetic field reversed and then we just happened to run into a historical reenactment group immediately afterwards. And you wouldn't get mass amnesia just because the magnetic poles reversed. Even if you did, which you wouldn't, it'd affect everyone, including the reenactors. And even then, that's not enough to explain us being brought here - you'd have to believe that someone dumped us, and only us, in a random field somewhere, and left the reenactors untouched for some reason." Frown. "I think Goamo's in Tova Province? That's, like, four hundred miles away from Solgatan, where we were. Pretty sure it was the fourteenth."

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"It was the fourteenth for me as well. Maybe, if it was a weapon of some sort, we all had previously decided, for some reason, to come here, and then the weapon struck, and that's why we don't remember how we got here. That still doesn't explain why this place looks like it does, although some forms of brain damage and amnesia can interfere with the formation of new memories, so it's also possible that there was a weapon strike on the fourteenth, we decided to come here, and then we forgot about it. At least, that's my understanding of what is possible."

He pauses.

"You're right, though, that this electricity-free infrastructure would have taken time to set up. It's possible that rather than being a couple of weeks, it's been a year, or perhaps multiple years. I don't actually know if the future-affecting type of amnesia can affect memories for that long, but it wouldn't shock me, and normal assumptions about -- brain biology -- wouldn't necessarily apply if this is the result of some sort of weapon."

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This sounds super implausible, but given that the entire situation is super implausible, it seems like it'd be kind of mean-spirited to make fun of him for it.

"And the post-apocalyptic weapon survivors are speaking Middle Voan because....?"

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"I am neither a linguist nor Voan, but if we assume for a moment that there was a weapon used, that implies that there was a war. Sometimes, after wars, secession movements will use languages to mark out a distinction from whatever country previously controlled them -- Libeki, my roommate who is studying to be a historian, says that after the Oahk Empire collapsed, there was a country that declared the local purple dialect standard because it was the least similar to Oahkar."

He pauses.

"Admittedly, Middle Voan would be a rather strange choice for that."

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"Even if they had picked Middle Voan for some reason, this purple's, what, thirty? And apparently doesn't know modern Voan? I'm pretty sure we haven't been out for thirty years, that's insane."

She copies Kairda and tries the stew. She makes a face after eating it. Kairda shoots her a warning look, so she smiles at their host and puts on her best 'mm, good' face.

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"Do you have any other hypotheses?"

He's hesitant to try the meat, given that it was apparently cooked over a fire, but he eats the bread and some of the broth. Eventually he caves and eats some of the meat; he doesn't want to go hungry. It's not as good as anything he or any of his roommates cook. Perhaps she lives with someone else, a spouse or a roommate or a child or something, who normally does most of the cooking. Or perhaps this is the inevitable outcome of cooking your food over a fire after whatever disaster caused this to happen.

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"Money's on historical society given some excessive grant to study historical living conditions. Possibly a really wealthy reenactor group. Dunno how we got here, maybe we were abducted for some reason and given drugs that made us black out for a few days."

She can, in fact, think of a reason why someone might want to abduct her and keep her out of a city, but she feels like anyone willing to go to that kind of trouble would either be straight with her or just straight-up murder her, and she's not about to volunteer the information.

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She does her best to gather more information while her niece and the stranger - she should really ask Zada for the green's name at some point - talk about whatever it is they're discussing. Finding words they both know isn't easy, but the woman doesn't seem deterred, though she notes that they must be visiting from very far away. Kairda agrees - she grew up in Dezar Arin. The woman hasn't heard of it. 

Her five children (five!) and numerous grandchildren are apparently planting grains today, and will return for the midday meal shortly. The one-year-old is her daughter's daughter's daughter's son - apparently they use the same words for family in Middle Voan.

She relays this information to Zada when she's sure of it.

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"Maybe they're a group of blue reenactors." That would explain the wealth, and the lack of cooking ability.

When Zada relays him the information about the family, he furrows his brow. "Are you absolutely certain that she said that we're in Voa?" He pauses. "I suppose if they're reenactors her children could just be five other actors, although a sufficiently serious war might result in a relaxation of population controls."

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"I mean, they could be lying," she points out, "but if we're going to throw out everything she's telling us, then we might as well just focus on getting to the nearest city as soon as possible."

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"It seems highly unlikely that someone would lie about having five children while being Voan. I suppose she could be extremely unintelligent, but it's the sort of lie that anyone who thinks about it for a moment could catch.

Her guess --" a nod at Kairda "-- is probably far better than mine with regards to her honesty, though."

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Sigh. "Kairda? Do you have, like, guesses on what's going on here? Simurika's waffling between worldwide apocalyptic EMP weapon and eccentric blue reenactor group. How fake is she?"

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"Non-fake. She seems like she's genuinely puzzling through modern Voan words about the same way I'm puzzling through her language. She'd have to be both a gifted linguist and a gifted actor to pull it off. We could double-check with the child - a one-year-old wouldn't be able to act that well, and nobody'd raise a child only to speak Middle Voan. In terms of guesses, uh... if we were in a book I'd put time travel on the table?" She ducks her head when Zada frowns at her. "I'm not saying I think we've actually traveled back two and a half centuries. Just. I'm a historical science fiction author, Zada, I have to mention the possibility."

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Sigh. "Kairda doesn't think she's an actor. She thinks the way she's puzzling through her language would be really hard to fake. You'd have to be a gifted linguist and a gifted actor, which is I guess possible but it seems unlikely. She's gonna check if the one-year-old speaks modern Voan, you couldn't get a one-year-old to pull off the same thing. Her guess is time travel. Not, like, her actual guess, because that's dumb and impossible, but it'd explain everything we've observed if it weren't, you know, dumb and impossible."

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"That seems incredibly unlikely, but so does everything else about this place. Can you have Kairda ask her what year it is? A reenactor might just give the year they're reenacting, but if she gives us a year in the present we can at least rule out time travel as a possibility."

He rubs his forehead.

"Libeki would have a much better idea than I would. There are always going to be differences between even the most convincing reenactment and the actual past, but I couldn't pick up on them. There isn't anything obviously wrong with the house, but a good reenactor wouldn't get anything obviously wrong, and it would have to be incredibly obvious for me to pick up on it."

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"Kairda's a total nerd about ancient history stuff, I'd honestly be pretty impressed if the house didn't have anything wrong with it that she could pick up on. Kairda, can you ask them what year it is - ?"

     "How're we going to explain not knowing that?"

"I don't know! Handle looking weird! Take one for the team!"

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