Jul 20, 2019 11:41 AM
Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
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Cloudbank is a beautiful place, from a certain perspective. Blue sky and white clouds above, all around, and misty white clouds below.

Here is an island of solidity in the sea of sky. The wind is a steady breeze, the floating island sitting just barely on top of a dense, foggy layer of air. It's not an especially large island, perhaps two hundred feet wide and three hundred long all told, curved slightly like the back of some giant beast.

The sandy soil is thin, and wears straight through to a porous-looking sort of rock in places. There are grasses and weeds and shrubs and a few trees, plus a few small creatures. Some familiar, like the wild onions. Some alien, like the thickets of not-quite-grass with flimsy, transparent, bulging seeds straining upwards against their mooring.

A songbird casually swoops from its nest and catches one of these seeds in its bill, while something with tentacles and a large gas-bag clings to the island at the edge, nibbling on the alien leaves of something reminiscent of mangroves, a three-dimensional web of stems and flaxen roots.

And then someone else arrives.

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It's sort of like a jellyfish with actual complex organs and so on! It doesn't have a face, but it does have eyes - six of them, in all directions. Two eyes watch her as she approaches. A tentacle shifts languidly towards her. It makes a whistling sound that sounds oddly... Happy?

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She touches the tentacle tentatively with her little finger to see if it stings.

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No sting. It's soft like cartilage. The tentacle tries to gently wrap around her hand.

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Aww, okay.

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It makes the happy whistle again and then lets go.

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She attempts to pet it.

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She can pet it on the green camo covering, which proves to be soft and slightly scratchy, like thin fur! It makes a slightly different happy whistle, almost like a trill.

She can not pet it on the softer underside of the tentacle anywhere past the spoon-shaped tip - it will curl the tentacle defensively with a warning click in that case.

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Tarinda can respect its boundaries! Pat pat. It probably eats too much to be worth encouraging to stay but it's nice to have something friendly visit.

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The giant jellyfish-thing will enjoy pats placidly, trilling, for a while! It did only eat the non-edible floating seeds so far. It swats at a bird that tries to peck at one the little bumps on its main body, but otherwise appears to be resting.

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It's cute.

She scatters more onion seeds and evaluates branches for sail- or glider-worthiness.

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Good, solid branches can be easily found. The five trees are a little thin but otherwise healthy. She couldn't make a cabin with just this much, but a glider is doable without even necessarily killing the trees.

(The jellyfish thing gets up, eats some more floatgrass seeds, and floats off after a couple of hours.)

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Bye, jellyfish thing.

She makes small model gliders to get an idea of how they might fit together, and then, lacking glue or nails, gets underway with elaborate carving-only joinery and carefully Page-delineated design.

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More time passes. Her supply of fully grown onions is getting low. And the mice have decided to nibble on her water-tassels.

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She eats mice. Two birds, as it were.

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Mice are slightly harder to catch than alien critters, but not that hard, given boosts.

 

There is a towering thundercloud in the distance as night approaches once again.

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Grand. She sleeps under her sail again, and not under a tree, in case they're lightningy.

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The towering thundercloud kicks up the winds some more and rains on her, but the bulk of it is passing by to the north (north if one is assuming the sun rises and sets in the east and west, anyway), the next morning.

A couple of hours after sunrise, finally a stroke of luck. There is an airship much like the first one she saw heading straight away from the storm - and straight towards her.

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Time to go yell at it and wave her arms!

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They see her! A man leans out the side of the ship in a rope harness and waves a pair of red flags at her in a code she has no way to understand.

The ship turns using little wings and rudders, aiming for an intercept course, but it looks like they're fighting the wind awfully hard.

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Hopefully they know what they're doing and will make it to her.

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It looks like they're gonna make it!

...They don't slow down all the way, the ship clearly difficult to control in this weather. They're coming in about fifty feet above her. The way the island is bucking back and forth in the turbulence might have something to do with that - a collision would not be fun.

The same man who deployed flags descends in his harness carrying a thick coil of rope, hanging precariously under the gondola and now within shouting distance.

In heavily accented but understandable English, "Cap doon't want to tie down! We'll crack like eggs tryin' to moor, or fry in the firestorm! Ye have to grab the rope an' haul in!"

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That's English! Weird!! Well she's been wearing all the gear she landed with so she doesn't have to gather anything up to go take a flying leap and catch the rope. She climbs up it with no trouble.

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The sky-sailor hauls himself back aboard after making sure Tarinda gets to somewhere stable.

"Breathin' steady, miss? Glad we could catch ya." The ship shudders as its course straightens again.

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"I'm so glad you found me! I saw another ship the other day but it was too far to see or hear me. My name's Tarinda."

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"Darien. Well, you're found now. Ye look in good form fer a castaway."

Darien... Has not had the benefit of Sing-quality medicine. Or any kind of modern medicine, probably. He smiles crookedly and holds his scarred hand out for a shake.

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