Oct 20, 2018 10:36 PM
you can't warm the stars with your hands
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alteriverse!imrainai lands in sanity
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"Yeah, that seems like a good idea. If we have time then maybe limit it to one a day so I can, uh, digest them and stuff, but I don't know how much time you were planning on having."

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"I mean, the situation is horrible and allowing it to continue is painful but it seems like we should do precisely that for as long as it increases your odds of success. And at minimum we're waiting until we've fetched your family."

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"Then I guess if you don't have anything better to do we're watching a lot of sad plays."

This sounds tiring, but on the bright side, they're really good. And if you're going to be killed by one of your own poems, then watching plays with your last month of life seems like an aesthetically correct thing to do beforehand.

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They watch a lot of sad plays!! About siblings who are trying very hard but just cannot, actually, tolerate each other very well, and who hurt each other trying; about a gay woman who married a man before it was acceptable to do anything else and now has a lonely marriage pining over someone she can't have, while her husband tries to fix things; about someone who cheats on an examination and is forever expelled from the mathematics society which was their only real family.

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The plays are really sad. Sort of heart-wrending, honestly - she's sort of glad that none of the stories touch on things that are really familiar, because if they were any closer to her experiences then they might hurt in ways that she didn't know how to immediately process. She is occasionally unsure whether she can compose something that rivals them, but if she can't, then she's not going to let it be for lack of trying. 

She skips a period. It's probably stress. Probably, probably, probably. She doesn't bring it up to anyone, just watches plays during the day and composes poetry in her room at night and writes a sixth letter and waits for her crew to arrive.

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They haven't done something like this before so they take a while making sure they get it exactly right, but eventually - it looks to observers like one shuttle abruptly explodes.


It looks to the people on the shuttle like they're suddenly inside a much bigger shuttle.

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Well this is new. Sorta terrifying, if she were a person who let herself be terrified by stuff, but you can't say it isn't new, and Parael is a big believer in the virtues of novelty. There are certainly much more boring ways to die.

She checks the thoughts of everyone in the room at once. She can't process everything that way, but she gets emotions, and in a couple seconds pretty confident that none of the other Liars were expecting this any more than she was. Mathrael silently asks for a report and then is instantly directing people into a more defensible configuration. The youngest two psyons on the ship are too startled to do anything useful, and the third one is sifting through thoughts person by person, convinced that there's a traitor in their midst. The visle and several of the kriale draw their weapons, pointed outward, indicating that they don't immediately think the Liars are to blame (not that this will last, if no other explanation can be found). The other psyon relaxes slightly when she notices Parael noticing this.

If it's not a Liar and it's not the Alteri, then it's someone else. She concentrates on determining whether there are any new minds within telepathic range.

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Nope! Well, yes, but she won't detect them. 

The shuttle settles down onto a nice field of grass. 

 

Excuse me, a booming voice says cheerfully to Mathrael. I'd like your advice on how to introduce myself without startling anyone more than necessary.

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Parael, are you getting that? Anything recognizable?

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"No new Liars within telepathic range," reports Parael, to no one in particular. "Picking up telepathic activity through 572061 Atekri. Not psyon."

 

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"Well, say hello," says Karaka, aloud, a series of screeches and chirps that some but not all of the Liars will be able to understand.

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"Hello." Identify yourselves and your objectives immediately.

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My name is Varda, and I am a member of a species called the Valar, which I believe to be unknown to the Alteri and to the Liars. I moved your shuttle - giving the impression to others it had been destroyed - because I learned of your existence and wanted to speak with you. I can remove the telepathic people from within range of everyone else if that will be helpful. I - pause - have disabled the chips which the Alteri use to control their slaves. I am shielding everyone present against physical violence but confusing and frightening things will still happen if it is attempted. 

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Do you believe that for two seconds?

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Doubtful but not entirely disbelieving shrug, insofar as those are attributes that she's capable of giving to a shrug.

"The voice says - " says the nine-year-old psyon.

Come on, let her talk, thinks Parael.

She's going to mutiny and get everyone killed, thinks the other girl.

The situation is volatile and 572061 is best equipped to handle it.

" - that they - "

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Leave the psyons; move the Alteri.

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From the perspective of the humans they vanish.

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"That's all right, I asked for it," says Mathrael, to the rest of her crew. "Our hosts claim they've been moved. Just keep calm and don't do anything stupid." 

The nine-year-old psyon sits down on the grass and pouts.

"Now we're just gonna talk. How did you learn about us?"

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A Liar came through some kind of gate technology unfamiliar to us and arrived in our space, fortunately near one of our planets.

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"So 97816 is alive, then. Good for her."

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"I KNEW it!"

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"All very proud. What did she tell you about the situation?"

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She explained that the Alteri have slaves and are at war with another people not known to us, and gave us as much context on those species and that conflict as she knew, and thought it would be good if we fixed it.

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"Well that sounds very nice," she says, not bothering to keep the skepticism out of her voice. "I'm sure I can tell you more about how one might go about doing that when I have a better understanding of your abilities."

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We're hoping so. Is there anything that should be resolved immediately before we start discussing that?

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