Dec 15, 2018 5:36 PM
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She'll start with across the city as proof of concept. Only as many stations as she can find staffing for. Page assists her in the very best spaced repetition curriculum for the station monitors.

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Most of her hires are children and young adults who either don't have much else to do or are attracted to the shiny newness of the telegraph. Her initial round of recruitment will get her enough people to staff three locations.

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Then people can send information around in her made-up phonetic representation of the language! For novelty and any applications for the service they happen to think up - emergency services, business applications, whatever.

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A lot of the initial message traffic is just the kids sending mostly nonsensical messages to each other. Whether this is because of their inexperience with the cipher or in-group joking will no doubt become a subject of much future scholarship. The Bei Fongs, a major merchant clan, begin having their daily local reports delivered via telegram. Others in the city who are slightly more constrained in their resouces are more skeptical of the system's usefulness compared to simple couriers, as the time savings over single-city distances does not seem to warrant so much investment. There are additionally questions of privacy; a courier can deliver a sealed letter, but are there similar options with the telegraph?

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Well, you could always encrypt the message before you submitted it for delivery!

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Grumble grumble that sounds like a lot of work grumble.

The Bei Fongs are interested in getting telegraph stations in other cities. It is correct that the transit time will remain low over longer distances, yes? What do they need to do to enable this?

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They'd just need to invest in wire of the right sort and its installation! She has the figures here for each of the point to point pairs they have in mind.

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Excellent. They'll start with the line out to Li Ran while they work out extended logistics. They're also interested in getting some of their own people trained as telegraph operators.

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Sure thing. They can work out fees for that.

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Fees are paid. Does she have facilities for the training?

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She can probably find space to rent if it's going to be a big class!

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The Bei Fongs are paying for four students in an official capacity. Several others have expressed personal interest and are willing to front their own costs.

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Then she can do a whole classful in a rented room. Page provides the finest in spaced repetition.

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One or two of the people who chose to attend seem to pick it up more easily than the others.

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Good for them! Bellcurves: a thing.

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After one class they come to her with a proposal for a way to directly encode the written word, without having to take a phonetic detour.

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"Hmmm, that's a good idea, although it does mean that anyone who learns to transmit this way has to know all the characters that might get used first and makes it harder for laypeople sending messages to do amateur cryptography with phonetic transforms. There's no reason you couldn't use this code between yourselves, but I'd want to see it in practice before declaring it the standard."

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People should just not say something they need to hide, that just needlessly complicates the exercise. But they will practice the code. And maybe work up a reference book.

The class has all learned the standard code by the time the inaugural intercity line is completed. Most of them haven't picked up their fellows' alternative.

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She will turn them loose! And manage her money as best as she (well, Page) can.

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She's building up a respectable amount of wealth and influence. By the time a proper wiredrawing facility is up and running, she's on the invitation list for all the best parties.

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That could be handy! She'll go to some parties and see what there is to see.

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Lots of fancy robes and canapes. Very elegant dancing, sometimes to live accompaniment, sometimes with a record player. Bending displays, different from the ones she saw in the Fire Nation, more like wrestling matches. The daughter of the main branch Bei Fongs is a small blind girl, and her family seems to dote on her.

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Poor kid. Tarinda might not be in time to let Sing fix that.

She dances and eats canapes and wears nice robes and watches wrestling.

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And life goes on.

Tarinda gets enough capital to invent cameras, and then the photocopier. By this time she has typed up the entirety of Sing's seed code in binary, in the hopes that one day when there are computers someone will OCR the assembly code and run it for fun, as a failsafe if anything happens to her.

She runs the binary through the photocopier. Flips through it and has Page check it for errors; it's fine.

Packs it up, packs up some other gear, and tromps out into the desert.

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The desert is vast. And dry and more than a little hot during the day. And sandy, lots of sand. The fastest way to travel through the desert is to engage the service of a sand skiff and a team of native earthbenders to power it. They call themselves sandbenders, for their specialized manipulation of their particulate environment. As a whole, they have a reputation of being somewhat shifty, and there are persistent rumors that they either strand people and rob them or hold them for ransom.

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