Jul 16, 2019 4:23 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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"I didn't find any either! It was a joke."

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Probably not all of them really believe it's a joke, she's pretty fantastic, but most do.

Their boss comes in and tells everyone to get to work already. The gossiping crowd disperses rapidly.

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Tarinda gets back to work. And when work is done she looks for long-term-affordable lodging.

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Cheap apartments in the seedy part of town will barely even ask for her name. Slightly nicer apartments want some paperwork from City Hall. City Hall wants her to pass a written exam on the law and pay processing fees.

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How steep are the processing fees?

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There's a fee for taking the test, for borrowing a copy of the legal code so she can study for the test, for getting the residency paperwork, for getting the tax paperwork, and one fee apparently just because.

They add up to about four and a half coppers. Four if she can skip borrowing a legal code copy somehow.

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Yeah she's gonna just stay in a sketchy place for the time being.

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Sketchy place is happy to have her money. The landlady recommends keeping her sword nearby (and doesn't blink at the sword).

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"I'll sleep with it strapped on, ma'am."

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Stern nod. "Here's your key. If you break stuff I'll kick you out. We don't collect trash here, you gotta take it to a place."

The sketchy place does have sketchy characters of various sorts, but nobody actually works up the nerve to bother her.

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Good. She doesn't want to have to hurt anybody. She asks where trash should be taken and for grocery store recommendations.

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There's a few trash places. Some take it for free and sort it and recycle it. Some pay you small amounts for sorted and clean trash, especially usefully recyclable kinds. For cheap groceries she wants Magda's on such-and-such a street.

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Cool. She buys some food. She notes what kinds of trash are useful recyclables.

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In descending order: Anything metal, usable wood and cloth, broken glass or ceramic shards, plastic, paper, compost.

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Good to know. Can people buy things directly off them or is it all processed and marked up?

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Sure, she can buy stuff direct. 

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Good to know.

Are there any lost technology items around here?

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There's a rumor that Mr. Griffing, who owns one of the merchant houses and a bunch of other stuff, has some tucked away in a study somewhere.

There's a rumor that she has lost technology, but she probably already knew that.

There are various other rumors that are either obviously crackpot or obviously scams.

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Well, if anything obviously crackpottish is easy to follow up on she might do that - can't be too careful.

She swings by the merchant house to scope it out.

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The police mind control device and invisible smuggler ship will be hard to check up on. The man who claims to have a portable sun has... Something bioluminescent.

The merchant house is basically a mall, though leaning more to catering to visiting ships selling and buying bulk goods.

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Tarinda swings through it, looking for useful information to bring to its operator to justify his time. Queuing and traffic theory if it's crowded, maybe. Mold control? Are they already using floatstone chunks to make elevators?

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There are elevators! Heavy duty cargo type ones with thick ropes and pulleys.

Some traffic theory wouldn't go amiss. Or the sort of psychology of color and placement that makes people spend more on average, maybe. There's at least one argument about the weight of someone's coins, perhaps better scales?

It does have mold problems. The climate control is kind of janky, too hot here and too cold there and too damp in that corner.

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Page assembles some recommendations and she looks for a customer service location to ask where she can submit them.

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The customer service desk can forward suggestions to management if she leaves them here.

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She doesn't offer everything at once. She writes a note saying she's from somewhere else and they organize queues differently, for example thus and such, she'd be happy to meet to share more.

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