Oct 20, 2018 9:20 PM
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Aly among space debris
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Aly is on her scooter, rolling its wheels along under her to bump and roll through the streets of Lapis, to pick up somebody's unwanted sackful of kittens. They're sinking their entire materials budget into startup costs for Aydanci's medical golems, which need to hold up and self-sterilize and can't be made out of twigs, and once those are up and running they should bring in some cash and they'll be able to get more storks in the air now that the proof of concepts are flying, but right now things are tight and kittens are free and petted ones will sell.

She scooters around a pothole, and turns a corner, and scoots straight into the maw of a thing, if you can call it a maw, and, blank with shock, appears - somewhere.

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She finds herself in a pristine white room. Roughly cubical, maybe three meters across.

The third most interesting thing about the room is that its walls, floor and ceiling all appear to be padded. It's hard to say at a glance, without actually drawing close and poking at one, but they certainly have the shine typical of rubbery cushioning.

The second most interesting thing about the room is that she isn't alone in it. There's another person, currently facing away from her, suspended in the middle of the room by a series of cables (one anchored into each of the room's corners).

The most immediately engaging thing about her new surroundings, however, is certainly her current state of weightlessness. She's freefloating, more than a dozen centimeters from any solid surface. And, moreover, in her weightless state she is currently drifting slowly towards the aforementioned mysterious personage in the mysterious room's epicenter.

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??!?!?!??!!??!!?!?!!!!?!!?!?!!!!

She's never seen a rubbery cushion before in her life, such things not having been invented where she is from. Neither has weightlessness: that is new.

?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!?!!?!!?!?!?

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The other person in the room is, upon closer examination, definitely clad in Various Other Things Not Yet Invented. No cloth would cling to a person in quite that way, the various doodads protecting the neck and other joints have a rather alarmingly foreign look to them, and the cable plunging down from the ceiling and into a gap in this person's flesh between their shoulder blades definitely does not parse as anything reasonable!

 

Before Aly has too much time to puzzle over all this, though, the two of them collide bodily.

 

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The strangely dressed woman suspended in the room's center makes a quite alarmed sound!

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"Ahhh I'm sorry!"

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The woman sputters out some syllables that would probably a disjoined mess even if Aly did understand her language.

Their general meaning, in context, is pretty obvious though.

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"I'm sorry! I don't know what happened!" She is trying, even more physically awkwardly than usual in the weightlessness, to avoid thwacking the woman with her scooter.

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The woman looks her over for a couple seconds, still very baffled and a little frightened, saying more words but not making any more sense.

At length she turns around partway in her harness to point at Aly, moves that hand to grip one of the tethers supporting her in a meaningful fashion, and then gives her a somewhat impatient are you getting what I'm saying look.

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Aly reaches tentatively for the nearest tether.

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Suddenly, their surroundings stop being weightless.

She doesn't feel quite as heavy as she's used to, back where she came from, but it's certainly an amount of weight sufficient to throw an unready person quite forcefully into one of the walls.

 

The woman in the room's center, naturally, is barely jostled by this change of circumstances. In matter of fact, she seems to be sleeping through it? Her eyes are closed, her head tilted back, and her body hangs limp in its harness.

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Aly is in no way ready for this. She slams into a wall.

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The walls are, in fact, padded!

She is pretty sure she does not break anything.

 

A few seconds later, the force pressing her to the cushioning eases up... and then reverses... and there are no handholds within reach, so...

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She flings the arm clutching her scooter handhold-ward and spins the scooter around - the woman's probably not paying enough attention to notice how it does this without any outward physical force - and uses it to yank herself cableward again to get a firmer grip and hang on for dear life.

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The direction-of-apparent-gravity does not change again.

 

The room trembles for a moment, as though caught in a minor earthquake, and then goes still. The woman in its center snaps back to alertness.

She says something vaguely reassuring sounding, reaches back over her shoulders, and yanks the cable out of her back and lets it drop away.

She then presses a buckle on her harness, slips out of it, and drops gracefully to the new 'floor' of their surroundings.

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Aly stands up, wobbly with stress and dizziness, leaning on her scooter for balance.

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The woman gives Aly one last Am I Hallucinating look, walks over to one of the walls and turns a knob recessed away into the cushioning.

A ladder of sorts then springs forth, which allows her to climb to a trapdoor on the current 'ceiling' of the white room.

She motions for Aly to follow.

(Aly and her possession currently weigh about a tenth of what they used to, so getting herself and her scooter up the ladder won't be particularly difficult).

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Aly and scooter climb carefully up.

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Beyond the hatchway on the ceiling there's a narrow crawlspace and beyond that crawlspace there's a transparent cylinder forged from not-quite-glass.

 

And beyond that glass...

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...there are stars.

 

They resemble the night sky she knows in all respects but three:

(1) their constellations are all wrong

(2) they don't twinkle, they just stare down icily

(3) they stretch endlessly in every direction: constrained by neither sun nor horizon

 

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EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION IS SO CONCERNING.

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The woman from the white room does not seem concerned by the situation in the least.

She continues up another ladder, this one set into the wall of the not-quite-glass cylinder, without sparing a glance at the strange starscape around them.

 

Above the transparent passageway there's a Huge Thing. Not a vehicle. Not a building. More like a Metal Island floating without any apparent adjoining sea.

Lights across the [underside? surface? it's hard to know what words to use for orientation here] flick on. They're aimed not at the two women in the tube but rather at the space they just emerged from.

 

Which is another Huge Thing. Not as huge as the Metal Island, not nearly, but still a bigger expanse of steel plating than Aly has ever seen assembled in one place before in her life.

It looks... sort of like a suit of armor. Only thirty meters across. And they're crawling out from between said armor's shoulders. In the new light, she can see thin silver tethers anchoring the smaller Huge Thing to the larger Huge thing--and can only wonder at what those threads must be made of, to so easily bear such a terrible weight.

 

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Some kind of huge golem? It is pointless to speculate; she does not know. She follows the native.

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And then they're in a hallway.

And apart from being wrought from absurd quantities of steel, and the lanterns illuminating it having a rather strange quality to them, it looks like a Perfectly Reasonable Hallway.

Which is probably a nice change of pace.

 

(Granted, there are occasional windows-on-the-floor. Which does not seem reasonable. But if she doesn't look at those, or at the starscape spinning by below them, she can perhaps pretend that she's in a place that makes sense?)

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Pretending the place makes sense is not her interest at the moment. She assumes it makes some kind of sense to someone. She just needs to get her bearings and learn the language and then figure out how.

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The native starts speaking, at a rapid clip, in the language in question.

First she speaks into a wall. Then, when a couple other women who look generally-kin-like to her show up, she speaks to them to.

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