Oct 20, 2018 9:28 PM
you can't warm the stars with your hands
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alteriverse!imrainai lands in sanity
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Houses Festri and Tellari have been trying to get the gate working for months. Their Liar work crews have finally gotten it to do something, but none of the Alteri ships have been able to use the gate for long-distance travel. They simply pass through to the other side.

The Alteri order the Liars to fiddle with various pieces of the structure, hoping that one of them will be able to determine the problem. Imrainai passes through the gate purely because it's the shortest route to the piece she's supposed to fiddle with.

She finds herself unable to see the gate, the support ship, or the sun. There’s a sun, and also a planet, but she’s pretty sure it’s not the sun or the planet that are supposed to be there. She’s also pretty sure this ends with her slowly suffocating to death between the stars - or worse, if they somehow get her back and decide it was an intentional escape attempt - but just in case, she fires up her spacesuit comm and starts broadcasting.

“H-hello? This is Tellari spacer 97816. Visual contact with previous support ship has been lost. Can anybody hear me?”

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The planet has substantial shuttle traffic! Four shuttles hear this and hurry over and then stop so they can discuss who should pick her up. None of them are super equipped for it. They've never had to rescue someone before. They check their external airlocks to see if they even work. 

One of them does! It hurries towards the person.

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Ohh boy, OK, this is fine, this is fine fine fine. She's moved through space to a different system, somehow, and now she'll be picked up by a different house and she'll never ever get to see Taz or Ves again but that's - not fine at all but she's going to cry about it later.

When the shuttle is in position, she identifies the airlock and maneuvers towards it.

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How could this even happen? There is muttering about the irresponsible experiments some other planet must be running. They send a couple of people down to greet her.

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She's standing in the airlock trying to look vaguely compliant. When she sees people she greets them in Confederate One, using hand signs.

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They don't know that language! They look vaguely surprised not to know that language. They try six or seven of their own.

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She doesn't know any of their languages. Since they seem to want to talk to her, she tries Etra La and the language of her homeworld and a few words of English, with progressively less hope that they're going to understand her.

(They should understand Confederate One. Everyone understands Confederate One. Exactly how far from home is she?)

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They seem as confused that she doesn't know any of their languages as she is that they don't know hers. 

 

After a few minutes one of them shrugs and introduces herself as Lindë and gestures for the stranger to follow her.

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She follows. She's... sort of worried about how casual they're being and about the fact that there aren't any Alteri around, since it means these Liars are given more autonomy and she doesn't know their rules, but she's certainly not going to make things difficult on purpose.

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Their ship is large and elaborate, with a garden in the center. It's full of people, most of them apparently families with children; tiny faces peek at her over the edges of their seats. 

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- OK, OK, it's a work community, they're taking her to a work community, that's OK, she can handle that until there's time to get to a closet and sort through whatever it is she's feeling. A very fancy work community. Wow. Maybe they're domestic servants or something for someone extraordinarily important. Oh no.

She waves at the children (just a little bit, not a threatening motion, mostly just one open hand), and tells herself that if she oversteps her bounds then someone will activate her implant. And then she'll know.

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Some children wave back. Now that it has been determined that she is all right, people start singing. 

They are weirdly spectacular at singing.

The person who introduced themselves as Lindë sits down and gestures at the empty seat next to her. She looks concerned and points out the window and tries to indicate that they'll be there very soon.

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Oh wow.

She - doesn't understand what's happening, but that's at least not something she reads as a hostile action? But - they should probably be taking her to the Alteri, unless maybe the Alteri are busy (is it possible that they have the whole ship to themselves?), except maybe they are and they're just - trying to calm her down first? Or they just really like singing? It's possible that they just really like singing, not everything has to be about her. They are so good at singing. She - she hopes they assign her to a different crew after processing, because whatever this one is doing is probably too important for her to survive doing it, but she hopes the singing is a cultural thing and that lots of people around here are like that, because it's pretty great. And she'll be able to appreciate it more later, when she isn't battling an anxiety attack.

She nods at Lindë and clasps her hands in her lap and focuses on her breathing.

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The poor thing is probably miserable on a ship this small. There weren't bigger ones to pick her up, though, and they'll land in an hour. Lindë nods back worriedly and sings and keeps the window transparent so it's obvious when they're approaching the planet.

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If Mathrael were here, she would tell her that the ground under her was never solid, and her safety has always depended on her ability to land on her feet when it vanishes. She isn't here, so Imrainai's just gonna have to land on her own. It's good that Mathrael isn't here, Mathrael is with Taz and Ves and everyone else she knows who needs looking after. So she doesn't have to worry about them. She just has to land.

She's sure that the planet must have people who know Confederate One, so after they land they'll probably be able to process her right away. She supposes they'll probably want to know how she got here, and she doesn't have a comprehensive explanation for that, but - she'll tell them what she knows and she'll hope that that's enough, and if it isn't, then - 

Deep breaths.

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They land in a canyon, with enormous, colorful, layered cliffs on both sides. In the distance there's a waterfall with a perpetual rainbow hovering over the foam where it crashes into the canyon. There are hawks soaring overhead. They let her get off the shuttle first since she's obviously in distress. 

The people here are singing to greet them.

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Oh, OK, her brain informs her, slightly hysterically. I get it. We're dead.

She is - probably not actually dead but if she turns out to be she won't be shocked. There are - probably some Alteri somewhere and they're just keeping people in this place for - reasons, OK, they could have reasons, she shouldn't assume that she can instantly imagine every reason that someone might have for keeping people in some kind of giant massive beautiful canyon without any Alteri and also giving them their own spaceship.

She smiles as calmly as she can and waves slightly at the people.

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Everyone else gets off the shuttle; some of them have people to greet them, and those people run up for hugs. Lindë has people to greet her; she waves them back a little and says something while gesturing at the stranger. Someone has a colorful bird perched on their shoulder. Someone else has a snake.

No one seems in any hurry to tell her what to do.

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Well that's terrible.

She stands around awkwardly for a bit and tries to think. She is - probably not dead, this would be a weird afterlife processing method too. She might have been found by some kind of weird social experiment group, she's heard of social experiments set up in places that're isolated from their Alteri observers, but if they were supposed to be a secluded experimental group then it'd be super weird for them to have a spaceship. They could be the descendants of some group that was conquered by the Carthons, but the Carthons don't leave people alone like this and they would surely have been able to pretty immediately contact someone who knew Confederate One.

It's also possible that this is another Earth. It's not actually Earth, the stars were wrong for Earth, but if it can happen that there's one planet of free Liars without any Carthons or Alteri around, then it can happen that there are two. And it'd make sense that a planet of free Liars would have at one point had access to the other planet of free Liars, even if they eventually lost contact when the gate broke down, and that now the gate is working again.

Meaning the Alteri could follow her through at any time.

Oh man.

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A shimmery-feathered bird lands on Lindë's shoulder. Lindë smiles at her and clumsily attempts to ask whether she'd like to go to the buildings or the trees or the river.

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She gets the three places being indicated, but - she doesn't want to talk to anyone or have to make any decisions or do anything particularly more taxing than hiding in a closet somewhere right now, but - but if the Alteri are going to show up then she does actually need to find a way to explain this to these people before it happens.

She motions to the buildings. Buildings sometimes contain people.

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Then they'll escort her up to the buildings! They're built into the cliff face, very cleverly, so from a distance it's hard to tell that most of this cliff face is buildings. They're beautiful. Everyone around her is still singing.

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Her brain is resolutely screaming in the background of all of her thoughts at this point. She's - not really very sure what she was intending to do once she got to the buildings, actually, so she smiles up at them. They're very very pretty.

Aaaah, why couldn't they have gotten someone competent to warn them of possibly impending doom?

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There's a complex network of pretty carved tunnels winding through the cliffs connecting the buildings. People mostly peaceably continue on their way without gawking at her, except small children, who stare and sometimes point. Shoulder animals are popular - birds and snakes and one lemur. 

 

They bring her to a room with a bed and a dresser and a viewscreen and a indoor hot spring and a balcony full of flowers and attempt to ask whether this one will do.

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She's not going to comprehend that one. Her first guess is that someone very important lives here and is out at the moment. Which is good, maybe she'll be able to explain the impending doom thing to them when they get back.

She will just. Wait here. For someone better at figuring these things out.

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Lindë has already contacted the capital and let them know that there's a strange person here with a language no one can speak. It'll take Prince Fëanáro a few hours to arrive, but he's sent a flurry of language questions ahead of him. She tentatively tries them though really this is an awful lot of questions and maybe the stranger would prefer to be left alone.

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