Dec 17, 2018 5:01 AM
New Dover gets bigger
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Some of the things they try fail, and fail painfully, but eventually they end up successfully restoring some frostbitten nerves and missing teeth and... the limb regrowth method that gets the best result is painful, very slow and some people find it disgusting to watch happening at all or horrifying to watch happening to themselves. But if anyone's willing to stick it out it eventually ends up with a functional limb. The scientists are so glad there are so many immigrants with old injuries to test things on!

That's great for those associations but this guy's independent! Are they going to pay him personally not to use any slaves?

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The Order of Mercy does their best to keep everything happening as friendly and ethical to the volunteers as possible. They analyze and write up studies and reports on it all. Most people drop out of the best limb regrowth method! Those that abandoned it halfway through worry about whether they're going to be worse off then before. A few don't drop out! The doctors mutter about a less painful way to do it. A couple people who didn't initially volunteer are interested in having it done after it turns out it works the best out of all the options tried!

Probably not. If he comes up with an interesting and valuable study all on his own and promises to share the results, or if he works with them to test something, they'll pay the volunteers themselves up to a reasonable amount, though.

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The people who drop out should be safe leaving it half-done. Probably.

While they're still getting a good sample size and looking for side-effects they'll continue to pay people to get their limbs fixed. After a while it should be the other way around, though.

Fine. But they're clearly bad at judging how interesting and valuable a study is. As evidenced by the fact that they don't think systematically checking to see what every human gene does is interesting and valuable.

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They'll do follow-up observation of all the people they treat. (Speaking of which, how is Echan getting along with her multiple sclerosis treatment?)

Investigating the human genome is indeed interesting and valuable! But not worth killing hundreds of babies, and that is totally what it would come down to. He can test the effects every human gene - in cell cultures. They'll even provide all the materials for it and actually pay him to do it. He can test specific genes that he has a good reason to test and that probably won't horribly hurt the baby, in consenting informed volunteers looking to have a baby.

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One of the second wave of limb-regrowth volunteers seems to be a bit of a hero to these people. They look up to her.

The pain is not fun but she seems pretty unaffected by the body horror aspect of the whole thing. It's definitely worth it for the prospect of being whole again, though.

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The side-effects mostly seem to be what you'd expect from any procedure that takes a lot of time and is very stressful. Some people get the shakes, some people feel wrung out for a day or two. One limb has a problem with the cartilage, but they can redo that, that's simple and quick and mostly painless. Nothing more serious happens.

Echan goes back to work and just manages to pay her rent on time (and doesn't eat for two days to manage it) and doesn't have to sell Isava. She shows up to church services.

Liane might find that it's way more comfortable than some things she's been through. It still sucks, though.

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She has all her arms and legs again! It's almost a miracle! Except that magic and doctors did it, not God. (What did God ever do for her, anyway...? Well, she's still alive and things are getting better and maybe that's God's doing, there's that... But that the winter came at all is a bit harsh of God...)

She doesn't go into shock or get the shakes, though she does have to rest for most of the day after doing it. It actually feels really weird. The returned arm more than the leg - she's been without it longer. She's wobbly and uncoordinated at first and dedicates a lot of time to just getting used to doing things with two hands again.

...She hears about the airship works that are being built. Some very, very cool machines are being worked up using a combination of Frostlands expertise, Milliways knowledge, and Hari magic. Sleekly aerodynamic things that can cruise at 70 knots and don't need to carry any fuel, giant tubular constructs with immense amounts of useful lift manufactured with defense and void magic. Magic airships. Of course, she immediately goes and gets herself hired as a test pilot.

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Some people inquire with Valanda whether the land originally set aside for an airship-airport is still available. And also, if Riuhiu could maybe use a subway system like the one New Dover has just finished building? There are quite a few kinks to work out still, but it's very very useful for making an accessible and pleasant city.

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The land for the airport is still available!

Riuhiu is still too small to really need public transit but it could grow! Might as well get in at least one city-center stop now before something else is taking up that space, right? Might be harder to retrofit than to just start now.

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Some people would like to buy that land and build an airport on it now.

It would probably be harder to retrofit, yeah... They can put in the skeleton of a single station now pretty cheap and have it be ready for if Riuhiu gets big enough to need a whole system.

With force mages, the cost of tunneling and laying track is actually pretty manageable. Still expensive, because they have to put in wiring and ventilation and do defense magic in an earthquake-safe way and stuff, but manageable. A future project might be a Riuhiu-New Dover railway, which would be faster than the force mages and automaton-buses people are currently using to get here and there. Something for the future, maybe.

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There's some interest in faster Riuhiu-New Dover transit, but maybe not enough to make a railway profitable any time soon.

Some people think the airships are very cool and want to try them just to see what they're like. Some people want to know if they'll be offering transoceanic flights back to Mar Geru.

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These are just prototypes. Hmm... For a small fee and signing a waiver they can ride along with the test pilots, sure.

They're probably going to do transoceanic flights sooner or later! Airships are expensive to build but won't drop out of the sky if the force mage screws up (and might end up being cheaper to run than force mage transit too).

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Private air carrier Lanadi's Flights is interested in backup lift systems that could allow just one force mage to handle a flight, since people wouldn't die if the one force mage got distracted or had a heart attack. Is New Dover selling anything like that?

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They could probably design something like that. The easy and cheap-to-develop option would be to strip off the engines of one of their airship frames and use that. They'll only charge the cost of the frame for that, fairly cheap.

A custom development project for something that stays compressed and then deploys in an emergency - they'd want to charge a fairly high fee to develop it. But it'd probably be cheaper once invented and also better suited for their needs, barring the usual caveats about reliability, etc, etc.

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They'll test out the easy option and see how they like that for now, but maybe they'll be interested in something custom later.

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Their airship frame turns out to have nice aerodynamic and stability properties, as well as useful navigation instruments on the bridge. The failsafe dumps a whole lot of ballast out if a sudden descent or other issues are detected, and might have a false positive if their force mage pilots move too quickly. They also might want to strip out some of the seats in the cabin area to make room for people other than humans and caralendri.

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They fly that for a while. It does reduce personnel costs! They're tentatively happy with it but they'll wait a while before they decide whether to get more.

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A couple of months pass. New Dover is up to a lot of things all at once. Everyone has new lives here, now.

Liane Hunter spends a lot of time thinking about her past, how she got here. She grew up as a snot-nosed tomboy, flying airships, cleaning and doing household chores and running down the streets as a messenger girl. It wasn't a great childhood, but it was... Safe. Nostalgic, thinking about it now. Her parents loved her and all was right in the world. When the Great Frost came, of course she volunteered. She could do no less. It was satisfying, being able to contribute.

And then the betrayal. The elites of London taking all the evacuation transports for themselves. They had been lying about creating enough space for everyone the whole time. Hard but noble work became grim endurance. She was crippled twice, but oh, she made such a difference... Milliways might be the real miracle in the end. Maybe she should have stayed there. (Bah, can't change the past.)

...The second accident was awful. Trapped down a deep crevasse of ice, in constant pain, barely able to move. She couldn't start a fire. She could barely make a little snow hollow to keep in a bit of warmth. She knew in her bones she was going to die in there. That turned out to be wrong in the end, but she still thought about her life a lot. Reminiscing about growing up. She saved a bunch of people. Maybe she's dying, but they're not. She saved little kids, with their eyes full of hope and their minds full of wonder...

After that, she realized she wants a kid. It's not something she can pick apart or reason about, but it's definitely there. But she'd hate marrying and being dependent on someone. Besides, who would want to marry a washed-up twice-cripple? But once she got to Har... The world is full of possibilities. They're not all going to eventually freeze in the cold, there's a whole new world with lots to do and actual magic.

There are single parents here. She didn't even really think about it before - but no, she doesn't actually need to marry someone to have a kid. She doesn't need to find someone who'll tolerate her, and take vows to serve him as a wife...

There's another part to her tail-chasing musing. She knows about sex, vaguely. Sometimes other women talk about it. It sounds like something she wants to try. But unwed sex is a sin, everyone says so. She hasn't done anything more than kissing and naughty wandering hands with Timothy Farlane, a baker's son, for a couple of weeks. She got her airship job right after that and when she got back, he was engaged with someone else. But she liked that feeling, his hands on her...

The church can't be correct in all things. God left them to freeze to death. Maybe it actually was the End Of Days. She doesn't know - she used to listen to priests on this kind of stuff, and now... She just doesn't know.Whatever. She wants a kid. She could hire a doctor to do that for her, she's heard of that being a thing, but that doesn't feel right. It's not how kids are supposed to happen. They're just supposed to happen when you lie with a man, if God or chance or whatever wills it.

...This seems like something she can compromise on. She wants to have sex and see what it's like and turn her imagination into reality, but it's a sin. She wants a baby, but she doesn't want someone else's baby, or to have a doctor magically put one inside her. So. She can have sex with people, and if she gets pregnant, having a kid was meant to be. 

The thought is exciting - both halves of it. She finds it hard to stop thinking about it. She can't very well do it with other men from New Dover - well, a few of them probably would have sex without marrying her, but then it'd get back to the town rumor mill and she's still vaguely mortified - on the other hand, who the father is doesn't actually seem that important when she thinks about it. And if she has a kid from a Hari man maybe they'll be more likely to have magic?

She can't make that plan sound bad in her head. She's nervous about it, but... She's never been one to come up with a plan that sounds good and then not do it. She does her level best to become one of the pilots on intercontinental flights. The first few flights she spends a lot of time checking over the airship, studying the job, making sure everything runs smoothly.

Eventually she starts wandering around the cities she finds herself in and wondering who she should, ah, approach for this. (It's a little terrifying to consider!) They don't find it awkward. They don't find it awkward at all. After wandering around for most of an afternoon she sees a few people openly ask each other if they want to have sex, and a couple of people selling it (or who own slaves and are selling them, which is just - ugh, but it would be a Terrible Idea to try and do something about that).

...She still can't bring herself to just. Find an attractive guy and walk up and say 'I want to have sex with you'. It's - it's - mortifying is the right word. Maybe someone she knows from the city after all...? Someone who doesn't hold the church strictures quite so dearly and won't talk about it far and wide? But, no, everyone she can think of that she knows and likes is married, or so young that it would be weird.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

...She knows the governor of Ira Sani, Valanda, a little bit. They talked about Hyrule and the other her and Milliways and a few other things during the evacuation. He would probably keep it quiet. And it's not a big deal here, right? And he knows another her, so maybe he'd know the best way to- But how would she- What would she even say to him?

Aaaaaaaah.

Still, that's the thing she can think of that makes her want to crawl into the ground and hide in shame the least.

She flies back to Ira Sani. She gets a couple of days off. She goes to find Valanda and says she wants to talk about something in private when he's not busy.

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He can see her today if it's just going to take a couple minutes, tomorrow if she wants him to block out half an hour or so for whatever this is about.

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"It's either going to be a very short conversation or a pretty long one. Tomorrow's probably, uh, best, I guess?"

(She's oddly nervous.)

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Uh-huh, she probably wants help with a project and expects a quick no if he's not going to help. Maybe she thinks she has a plan to end slavery.

"Okay. I'll look forward to seeing you then."

And tomorrow he's waiting for her. With snacks, would she like an apple?

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"Sure, thanks... Sorry to bother you, you seem really busy... It's just... You're one of the only Hari people I really know at all? And-" It's not awkward for them, it's not... This was a terrible idea...

"T-This is so awkward, I'm sorry, I promise there's a reason I want to talk to you - do you mind if I ramble a little bit before asking my, uh, ask?"

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"Go ahead, we've got time."

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Deep breath. It's not awkward in Har, it's not forbidden. Put on your big girl pants and lay out your reasons in as few sentences as possible and get it over with.

"...Ever since I got hurt, uh, the second time, I've wanted a kid. But I don't want to just - I don't want to adopt or have one with magic or doctors, it just feels wrong, I don't know if that's greedy. And I also want to - to - see what sex is like." She goes tomato red. "I think I want to do those kinds of things. I, uh, imagine it. But I can't go ask someone from the Frostlands about that. I've decided I don't care if God says we shouldn't have sex without marrying, but I think they all still believe that. Anyway it seems right to - start to indulge and if I have a baby that way then I get a baby but - I've never - I tried to make myself ask people in Anavel Sani City but couldn't do it. I think if I - do it - with someone I know - I won't be so hesitant any more. Sorry to ask you this but - I wondered if you'd be okay, uh... Helping me? I'll just go away if you don't!"

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"I don't have a lot of people to recommend... maybe Mahan, he wouldn't be interested but I can pay him, is he someone you know?"

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