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Aug 24, 2019 9:39 AM
a Cameron falls on Hearth
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"Very well."

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Tegan nods.

"...actually," she says, "if it – dripped – fell – then that would seem to argue against the buoyancy theory of the spheres."

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"So it would."

Cameron brings up the video, the first frame showing Tegan and the Doc standing outside the gravity shade in 4k HDR. She turns the tablet around and sets it on her knees.

And frowns. The screen is pretty small.

A pair of duplicate Camerons briefly appear on either side of her, pick up her chair with her in it, and move her forward until her knees are just barely touching the Doc's.

Then she hits play.

 

(She commentates during the part where she meets the godish, summarizing the key points of that conversation: that she is confirmed not a prophet, that prophets are a known but not completely understood phenomenon by the godishes, and that the godish didn't know what would happen when she broke through the shell either.)

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After the time-lapsed ascent and the near-collision, there's not much happening onscreen: there's the view from under the crater, and then the starscape refracts into a humanoid outline, and then a couple of relatively visually uninteresting minutes pass while Cameron narrates.

"I think," Tegan says softly, "that I had imagined gods as being somehow... grander, than that. More. From that conversation, it sounded... it didn't sound equal to what I know of divine magic, or of prophets."

"Most religions make the world better, in some clear way, and even those that go wrong aren't malicious, and they're not obvious mistakes. Prophets, and gods as the prophets describe them, aren't... petty, the way humans are. Not like kings and emperors. I don't claim they're perfect, but they're consistently wiser, and more good, than the human norm."

"I don't understand how that comes from what you described."

Her voice is starting to hitch.

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"There's no reason to think I met a particularly remarkable, example of these beings," Cameron offers. "It told me that it had never interacted with your world. The ones you've heard of, would be the ones with... altruistic ambitions and accomplishments. They don't have human-shaped minds and human-shaped concerns, and did seem... positive-sum-inclined on a more basic level than humans are. That much was obvious from the thought-sharing."

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She shivers and pulls the scarf-shawl more tightly around her. "Maybe."

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"You're going to be okay," he murmurs, resting his palm on her scalp. "You're going to be okay. Everything you know is still true. The world still has good people in it. The sun will come up tomorrow, and you'll see that the world is full of light, and we have those we can lean on when we need."

"And if you still need reassurance in the morning, you can go to the temple and give service, and you'll remember."

        "Yessir. Thank you sir."

He smiles, warmly. "Good girl."

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That's sweet. (Cameron kind of wants to give Tegan a hug, but the Doc seems to have it in hand.)

 

The video continues, now, to the part where Cameron breaks through the shell.

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"I find," he says, "that it is difficult to see this without thinking of what came of it, below."

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Cameron winces. "At least it is not a mistake I or anyone who hears of this will ever make again. Because now we know."

(In the video, the shell begins to break apart, large shards falling onto a suddenly-there shield in front of the view.)

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"...does quartz normally look like that when it breaks? The cleavage seems – off, somehow."

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(It promptly becomes obvious that they aren't looking at quartz. The video pans around as it ascends through the shell, showing the eldritch fecund crystal in stark detail. A lot of it is same-y, so Cameron skips through it to focus on the clearest, most stable views, cutting twenty minutes of ascent down to just a few.)

Cameron does her best to describe the whimsical, nonthreatening Horror aura of the upper expanse without actually using either of those words. "It was like everything was a metaphor for something else, like the fabric of reality was suddenly in a really symbolic mood... like stuff that's normally inside your head was instead outside, painted on space... and the stars were eyes that were laughing at me without knowing I was there... or something."

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"Sounds like a cross between divine magic and the ravings of a madman. The ravings of a mad god, maybe."

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"I heard a theory, once, that more distant spheres are progressively less hospitable to human life. Considering this in that light, I find it interesting that the inhospitability is less – physical – above than below."

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(The video concludes with a spectacular view plummeting down towards the planet.)

Cameron closes the video and sits back in her chair.

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Doc leans forward, hands clasped under his chin, looking thoughtful.

There is a silence.

 

"I think," he says eventually, "that my first impression is that this – show – was originally conceived in a different spirit than it would now be seen, and that there are signs of that origin in it still. I would suggest that, rather than trying to adapt the original show to the new circumstances, it might be better to begin by considering the circumstances and asking what sort of show would be appropriate."

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"It's... your point of view," says Tegan softly. "And you didn't know what was going on, until after. But the audience knows from the beginning. So that changes it."

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Cameron groans under her breath, and sighs.

"I agree, but, the alternative is worse, isn't it? A bad thing happened. It was no one's fault, but it was less not my fault than anyone else's, so talking about anything beyond the simple facts of what happened is inherently suspect."

Defending herself just validates the blame. "I can't ask people I've hurt to trust my word."

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"I... understand the impulse. But this," he gestures at the tablet, "is not mere fact. It... leans. Perhaps it was meant to lean, originally."

"It could still be used to present the facts. But I would suggest that, when you narrate, you might do so in a way that leans in the opposite direction, to counterbalance. Let the audience know that you don't still feel as you did when..." he gestures at the tablet again.

"I would suggest that you acknowledge what happened, because the image does not."

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Cameron isn't quite following the Doc's intended logic, here.

"Well," she says, in tones of thoughtful resignation, "it wouldn't be the first time I've had to paint myself as the villain."

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"...I don't think that's necessary." He pauses, to collect his thoughts.

"You said that you want to present the facts. The truth of the matter is that you made a mistake, and that you regret it. I only mean that you should let that be among the facts that you present."

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Cameron's expression darkens momentarily at what it seems like he's trying to pull, before she stops and realizes, "You... actually think there's a difference."

Heh. Wow. That kind of faith in humanity is actually kind of refreshing.

"I don't believe for a second that everyone who lost their home today would take any sort of... apology... from me as anything but self-serving, if not outright insulting or even possibly threatening. It would be like standing up and declaring that, that I made a decision to destroy their homes and might make the same decision again, and they'll just have to trust me not to 'cause I'm powerful and they're not. That, that what happened to this town is a fact about me rather than, than about your bizarre cosmic fishbowl planet."

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"This sounds like another cultural difference, perhaps," he says diplomatically, "like the deceptive contracts."

 

"...In both cases, it seems to me that we have more – trust, than you do. An expectation of good faith, even if that is not always upheld. It is not considered normal, here, to be callously selfish."

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Cameron did not mean to start ranting. Oops.

"Sorry. You can imagine what a society like mine does to someone who works in a profession that it is political suicide to admit is inhabited by real human beings."

Pause.

"And callously selfish really isn't the problem with it. It's almost the opposite. Callous selflessness. Whoever is most correctly outraged and righteously offended gets their way, even if it destroys innocent lives... even if the supposed beneficiaries are among those lives destroyed... Public opinion doesn't care about what you meant to do; they only care if they can twist what you did do to in any way resemble evidence that their pet cause is right(eous) and that it is their moral imperative to permanently silence all who disagree with them. I spend time in places where the culture is not like that. I should really know better."

She sighs.

"Maybe I should just leave it alone, wait for people to ask, or figure out how to leave the information accessible somehow..."

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"Making the information available seems a perfectly reasonable approach." He pauses; then, more softly, "I wish I could say that we were entirely free of that sort of – false righteousness, but... there are many people here who like to take performative outrage at one thing or another. They would condemn me for taking sexual advantage of my patients, for example."

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