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Nov 17, 2019 3:37 AM
A new Val and Mica meet the happiest Maki and Valan
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"I'm Kevin, and this is Samuel. We were told you're visiting from another world using advanced technology of some kind. That's very exciting news and we'd love to hear a bit more about it. Would you like to come inside and have lunch?"

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"What do you want for the lunch?"

He even manages not to sound nervous this time!

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"We'd like to learn about where you come from and how to make things that go between worlds. That could be extremely useful to a lot of people - resources are scarce here because the surface of the planet is uninhabitable. Of course, the lunch is free as a token of good will."

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He makes a face but only barely.

"I don't actually know how to make them but I can tell you what I do know."

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"Ah. Well-"

The nervous one, Samuel, whispers something to Kevin. Kevin shakes his head and continues, "Well, we'll be glad to host you anyway. Perhaps something could be worked out. It would be a shame to send you away when this seems to be a rare opportunity for everyone to benefit. If you can go to other worlds, you might be able to fetch us iron, for example - and we would be glad to trade finished machinery, or food, or water, for iron."

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"If I find what I'm looking for, I can see if there's any iron there. Or... I guess some of the worlds without water had iron, yeah, I could bring some here."

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"We could probably rig up some sort of mining equipment if that's needed. None of us have ever mined anything ourselves, but we're good at equipment. Ships, engines, food processing, tools, you name it. Anything like that you might want in return? And, would you like to head inside now?"

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"How much iron for the meal?"

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"...The meal is really, actually free. Or, uh, the cost of the meal is talking to us during it. Does that work?"

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"...Yeah. Okay. That works."

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"Great! Let's head down - this way." He indicates a little path. The nervous guy seems less nervous now, but still watchful.

"Though if you do want more meals later, just a little bit would do. Thirty grams would be plenty. Iron is much, much more scarce than food here, and that's how supply and demand works. Low supply of iron, and high demand for things made of iron."

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He'll follow. "I'm not sure what I'd want yet, and if I'm bringing iron it'll definitely be more than that."

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They go to a wooden shed which opens to a small storage area full of baskets, aprons, and tools - identifiable and non. It all looks neat and well-crafted. Lots of stuff is made out of a strange shiny glass (which has some almost plastic-like properties if one can tell that much). There's a staircase down.

"Maybe seeing what we have will inspire you. The biggest thing we make is flying ships, but those take a lot of time and effort to build and you usually need at least four, five people who know their stuff to use one safely. I'm guessing at what you might already be familiar with of course, but that's a powered thresher-" He points at one of the machines. "It separates wheat and chaff efficiently. We have some heat-powered engines you can hook it up to so you don't even need to turn the crank handle yourself. Anything that spins or moves with muscle power can probably use an engine and save you a lot of sweat."

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And then he could trade these to either Clear Spring or Azan. "How much per?"

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"Mmm... I'd want to talk to some others to be sure, but at a guess I'd say ten kilograms of iron would cover one. A Stirling engine big enough to reasonably drive a thresher would, again guessing, be covered by twenty kilos of iron."

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Nodnod. "What else do you have?"

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"There's more farming tools. There's pumps for moving liquids around, and things for handling gases. We can make clocks. There's looms for weaving fibers into cloth. What do you need?"

The staircase ends in a large storage room. A little light is coming in through some windows in the corner, but it's fairly dim. A doorless opening shows a wide hallway of smooth 'stone' beyond, with a few doors here and there.

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Shrug. "I'll know by the time I get the iron here."

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"Fair enough. Oh, please don't appear with a whole lot of weight all at once - it could mess with the buoyancy and structure of our island. And other metals could be valuable too. Copper, silver, and gold are the most obvious there. I think aluminum and titanium are hard to work with and maybe less immediately useful. I'd have to find an expert to know what else is good, for alloys... Nickel, I think?"

Samuel speaks up for once, "Yeah, it's nickel. It makes carbonized iron stronger and a bit lighter too. Chromium, boron, zinc are all good stuff. I'm not sure how you work them into alloys, but someone will know. Lithium is good too, but you need to do something special with it because it explodes when exposed to air."

"Then how do you even get it- Never mind." Kevin shrugs. "Anyway, I don't have anything hot and ready at my place but you can have the run of my pantry and I can heat up leftovers, or we can buy something from Magda's for you. What would you rather, Micah?"

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"Whatever's simplest for you. You said the surface is uninhabitable, does that mean no one can go there or no one can live there?"

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"My place it is. This way. No one can survive going there. It's as hot as an oven down there and full of acid. If you descend far enough, you start getting traces of acid in the air and it can eat through your ship - and your skin - sending you into the deeps for good. We're not sure why it's safe high up in the sky despite being like that on the surface."

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"Oof. Bringing things a little at a time is going to be harder than bringing everything at once, but I'll see what I can do."

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"You, your device, and a few hundred kilos more - we handle that much change whenever it rains. Just, not multiple tons at once, if that makes sense."

They pass a few others in the hall. Most of the adults are wearing the same style of clothes as these two, or the style that the farmer girl wore. Kids, teens, and elders have more varied styles.

Kevin nods confidently at passers-by. People's body language is respectful and deferring to him, getting out of the way and such. He seems to be in charge or at least respected.

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"That sounds workable."

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Kevin makes small talk about the people they're passing. They get to his place eventually - the front room of the house is a very spacious kitchen/dining room combo with nice furniture and cabinets. There's a mirror near the roof that is scattering light from a narrow window around the room. A big part of the kitchen is covered in that glassy stuff.

"My wife's working right now and our son's in school or they might like to meet you. Have any seat you'd like."

He fills a pot of water from the sink tap, pours some oil from a jar into a miniature stove sort of thing, and then twists a knob on it forcefully to start a flame burning in a little glass case, and finally puts the pot of water on top.

"So, leftovers. There's apple pie, a salad, pancakes, or noodle soup. I have crackers and bread and some jelly if you'd rather that."

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