Sep 15, 2019 1:35 AM
Dion and Valanda in Milliways
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"...I think you might be confused about the definition of 'people'," Dion says. "People are the ones that can think and talk and make plans and fall in love and stuff. As opposed to animals that can feel but not think, or computers that can think but not feel. It's kinda hard to tell the difference between people and computers if you can't see them, but it's not hard at all to tell the difference between humans and animals." 

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"But they can't do any magic? How can they be people? Magic is supposed to be why people are people."

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"Says who? Maybe that's how it works in your world..."

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"So in yours they have feelings and do logic and just don't have magic? That's horrible."

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"Why? What's so terrible about just not having magic, if you were somewhere your magic didn't work you'd still be you, right?" 

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"That would be horrible and someone might enslave me."

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"Depends on the place," Dion says with a shrug. "But you'd still be you?" he presses.

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"I guess so."

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"So what's the difference between someone whose magic doesn't work right now, and someone who was born without any?" 

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"What's the difference between a baby that's born without a heart and lungs and someone whose heart and lungs were just ripped out?"

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"...I'm confused," Dion admits.

"Are you saying you think you'd die without magic?" 

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"I don't understand how this is confusing. It's like... imagine if you were talking to someone and then somehow they got cut on something sharp and it turned out they didn't have blood. Wouldn't that be creepy?"

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"...it would maybe be a little weird? But, like, I know there are sapient species without bones, I'm sure there's one out there without blood, it's not logically impossible or anything." 

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"Okay, I think your world is weird, but moving on. Since you don't have very many, do you need anything that some mages could do if I hold my door open for you?"

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Shrug. "Not really. My door opens on Coruscant, it's the centre of the galaxy and it's got pretty much everything you could ever need. We've got technology for stuff where you use magic, remember? And we're way ahead. I mean, obviously it would be super great if everyone in my world suddenly became mages like in yours, but we don't need it." 

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"What else can your technology do, besides space travel? Are there medical applications?"

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"Yeah—oh, right, we were gonna get books on stuff. Bar—" 

He asks Bar for books on a variety of subjects. Computers; it doesn't sound like Valanda's world has those and they're really good for letting technology advance in general. Bacta revolutionised medical care in the Republic, but Bar refuses to give him a sample of the bacteria so they'll just have to hope it grows somewhere in Valanda's world. Medical scanners! Tissue cloning! Repulsion coils are probably less useful if they have a lot of telekinetics to float stuff about, and it doesn't sound like they're in desperate need of comlinks or hologram tech. Here, have another medical textbook! 

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This is going to be so useful back home, he'll make a killing selling the information and maybe be able to quit his job to found a city.

"...Do any of these books say whether there's a way to change a human's sex?"

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"Yup, that's in, uh, this one? Wait, you probably want lower-tech ways..." 

Artificial sex hormones! A variety of surgeries! Much knowledge! 

 

"...so, should I ask which pronouns you prefer? We're kinda lucky Basic isn't gendered in the first or second person—I'm exactly as much of a boy as I look, by the way." 

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"...I'm a man, but what do you mean about what pronouns I prefer? I hear you speaking Ilan and I've never heard of asking anyone which Ilan pronouns they'd like to be called, usually other people choose for you."

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"I'm speaking Galactic Basic...Bar, is there some kinda magic translation going on?"

Everything you hear or read in Milliways will look or sound like your native language, Bar napkins. 

"Huh. Anyway, in Basic third-person singular pronouns are gendered and it's rude to use the wrong ones? The standard sets are he, she, or they. Does...Ilan...have something like that?" 

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"Wow. Ilan has... twelve pronouns for the third person, some of them are gendered but they're also for how close you are. You use different pronouns for friends and enemies and sometimes they're different for adults and children. ...Which we have in the first and second person, too, I hear you saying you don't know me well but aren't my enemy and I'm saying the same thing."

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"Yeah, that sounds about right. Wonder how it does that. Anyway, I'll use 'he' if I'm talking about you in Basic, that's simple enough, and the translation magic can just do its thing." 

More science? 

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More science! ...After a while he can't retain much more.

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"And if you take any of this stuff home with you it'll stop being in a language you can read...you could make notes, I guess? Get a few more things down that way. But if I write 'em they'll still be in Basic."

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