This post has the following content warnings:
Aug 22, 2019 6:57 PM
a Cameron falls on Hearth
+ Show First Post
Total: 383
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Cameron starts giggling.

"Oh fuck. My country can't ever be allowed to make contact with this place. You would literally be invaded. And probably killed. By at least three different factions of social justice terrorists. It really isn't even funny." She's still giggling.

Permalink

"Shame. Woulda been nice to get some trade going, learn how you make stuff."

Permalink

"In more ways than one, your country sounds... not so much like Burners, as like a dystopian story invented to satirize them."

Permalink

One eyebrow. Massive altitude. "I can hardly argue the dystopian point, but I do feel a sudden urge to get a Burner's perspective, here."

And to Tegan, "My country would tell you it's the center of human civilization, but it really isn't. Jovian technology is more advanced anyway, and the people are much less hypocritical about sex. Uh," Cameron taps at her tablet a bit, and pulls up a map of the solar system. "My country's on Earth, here, which is where humans originated," scroll scroll scroll, "but out here at Jupiter, there's three worlds with large populations and dozens more occupied by industry, with thriving trade and travel between them. They started on Ganymede, this one, with The Grid powering their cities. There's more contact between the Jovians and the inner system than there used to be, but they're still very far away, very powerful, and outnumber the inner inhabitants by a lot."

Permalink

"—oh. Solar system."

 

"You think – Jovia? Ganymede? – would protect us from California? Or just not tell them about us, because I wouldn't count on that unless you know something I don't."

Permalink

"I think they wouldn't need to. Other aspects of Ganymese culture are at least as incompatible with American---my country's called America, California is a sub-polity and territory of about fifty million people---with American values."

Zoom in on Earth, highlight country and state in different colors. Zoom out, scroll back to Jupiter, zoom in on Ganymede. Zoom in all the way to the surface and into a neighborhood in one of the smaller arcologies. (There's a hiccoup, as the app switches modes, but the cached graphics load in mostly intact.)

"It's actually really hard to explain just how silly that sounds. The scales involved are too large, and I don't just mean the literal distance. I mean the... the ambient information density? I'm not saying you'll stay secret. I'm saying it won't matter how ardently a few million morons light-hours away will unleash the caps lock. Uh, that's an idiom for yelling in writing, sort of."

Permalink

 

"Your world is so big. —The world, I guess I should say; we're just a little corner of it."

Permalink

"I find myself... wondering... about the values of this vast and powerful civilization, and what it may make of us if we should come in contact."

Permalink

"I'm not sure I can answer that. I've been there, but I've never lived there. I never grew up there. But I can tell you for sure that they don't just have different controversies. They have fewer controversies. In a civilization where community is almost entirely unconnected to physical location, where you can share your life with someone in all the ways that matter without ever physically meeting, the culture either gains vast breadth of ways-to-be, or it fractures, fragments, turns on itself. The latter is happening in my country right now, only held back by the lack of convincing sexual telepresence, at this point. But for them? They've got all that and still kept to the former to a remarkable degree."

Cameron pauses thoughtfully.

"I not actually confident to what extent your world is in a corner of mine," Cameron says to Tegan. "You could be. There are elaborate ways to hide your crystal sphere with magic, but it seems extremely unlikely given the resources that would be required. My first guess is that this," Cameron taps on the solar system map, "is not what one will find if they keep going up until they break out of here entirely. Unless we're just, really, really far away, I guess. But my partner did the math and the Crossroads doesn't reach other stars..." Cameron trails off.

Permalink

"'Other' stars? ...I have so many things I want to ask about."

Permalink

 

"It is not uncommon to find," he says softly, "that the flaws of one's own country are more apparent than those of others. Many have traveled long ways, only to find that their new home was not what they had hoped."

Permalink

"Well, there's no accounting for taste," Cameron allows with a smile, "but I think that's different. People are the same everywhere, more or less, but they're shaped by circumstance. And the gap in circumstance is a little overwhelming even for me. They have freely available mundane medicine nearly as effective as my healing magic... moreso in some ways. They have nearly complete freedom of experience... I'm essentially obsolete, there."

Not that Cameron plans on retiring before she's completely obsolete, everywhere.

"How much cosmology would you like me to explain?" Cameron asks Tegan after a moment.

Permalink

        Doc nods, thoughtful.

 

"I thought I was following, but – what do you mean by 'other' stars? Is there a star in here somewhere?" She gestures at the map.

Permalink

...she highlights the orbits of the planets, to keep the scale clear, then... zooms out. Way, way out. The individual lines of the orbits shrink into a small disc, and then a dot as uncountable more points of light (each tagged with a name or number when flying close enough to the viewpoint) condense to form an arm of the galaxy on the screen. Cameron stops where actual astronomy gives way to procedural generation.

Permalink

So... it's not a solar system, it's an astral system.

...except, as the view telescopes back, it becomes clear that the stars form the rough shape of an arc, circling some unknown center.

Moons around earths around stars around – the sun? – "your world has so many epicycles."

Permalink

That word-choice was weirdly and unexpectedly adorable.

"Yes, it really does, doesn't it. It all comes from gravitation in the null reference frame. Everything falls towards everything else, but there's enough stuff that most things are being tugged in more than one direction, so after everything that's gonna collide collides, what's left is everything that reliably misses everything it's falling towards. Which just happens to produce a lot of circles. We call that kind of falling-in-a-circle an orbit."

Permalink

 

"It occurs to me," Doc says after a lull, "regarding your – presentation," he nods at the tablet, "that you might consider taking it to the Scribes. Their vocational expertise includes organizing information and balancing the needle when making it available to those who wish to know."

"I suppose I should mention – if they accept, the information will be added to the permanent record. I don't expect that to raise an objection, but."

Permalink

"That's probably what I should do. Who are the Scribes and where can I find them?"

Permalink

"High-level clergy of the Path of Charity. You'll want to go to the temple."

Permalink

"After everyone is less busy, presumably," Cameron agrees.

Cameron sets her tablet down on her lap. Tegan seems obviously comfortable in a subspace-y way, but the Doc is persistently illegible. He barely sends signals and when he does they're mixed. Cameron doesn't want to overstay her welcome, but she can't actually tell if he wants more of her company or not. So she cheats, and focuses on him with her magical senses, reading his biology.

Permalink

He's had sex quite recently – within the last hour – but is somewhat more aroused and less sated than one might expect given that, though not much so in an absolute sense.

He seems to have a few additional types of organelles beyond those she's familiar with, present throughout his body but especially concentrated in the white matter, arcuate fasciculus, and right anterior insula, apparently exchanging energy and information with... either something that doesn't show up on her scan, or possibly with each other via some mechanism she can't perceive. There are also a few novel neurotransmitters, apparently produced by the conarium, which mostly but not exclusively interact with the unfamiliar organelles.

His feelings are, as is typical for a human, a complicated and ever-shifting cocktail.

When he looks at Cameron, he's less relaxed but has only marginally higher cortisol, and he has more of the various indicators of sexual arousal. Changes to his hormone balance include reduced lutropin and testosterone; and increased dopamine, orexin, serotonin, and vasopressin. Changes to brain activity include increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, ascending reticular activating system, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, medial orbitofrontal cortex, thalamus, and ventral tegmentum.

When he looks at Tegan, he's more restful, and has more of the various indicators of sexual satisfaction. Changes to his hormone balance include more anxiolytic entactogens, lutropin, oxytocin, prolactin, and testosterone; and less norepinephrine. Changes to brain activity include increased activity in the descending reticular activating system, dorsal striatum, pars compacta, and tuberomammillary nucleus.

A third case, not obviously correlated with any particular outward sign, includes higher cortisol, mesocortical dopamine, norepinephrine, prolactin, and activity in the novel organelles; and lower endorphins, mesolimbic dopamine, and serotonin. Changes to brain activity include increased activity in the amygdala (but not the basolateral amygdala), hippocampus, locus coeruleus, mammillary body, precuneus, and thalamus; and decreased activity in the frontal eye fields, pontine tegmentum, and tectum.

 

He seems to sense her attention on him, and a pleasant frisson runs down his scalp and spine as he meets her gaze, arousal stirring.

Permalink

Having an empath to spot for her when she usually tries to read people like this means she's had a very high quality sort of practice at it. He wants her, that much is obvious, but it's harder to derive that he has somewhat complicated feelings about her.

There's a tension in him. She's not sure what it means, but she can trace the way it pulls on his attraction to her.

More importantly, she can trace how it's not pulling directly on any nonsexual stress reactions at the moment. She can be reasonably confident that he is not in any way waiting for her to leave.

Cameron's lips quirk as she slides her tablet back into her Pocket, leaning back in her chair to offer him a wry smile. "I suppose I have to assume that room Sunny promised me is thoroughly occupied by now. I hardly need a roof over my head, but I enjoy a soft bed as much as the next girl."

Permalink

He is so, so confused. Did she change her mind about him, or was she no longer in the mood after the disaster? Or is she playing hot-and-cold?

...well, regardless, it's probably not wrong to just follow her lead and see where she goes.

His demeanor softens subtly, and he looks at her from under fluttering eyelashes. "If you are in search of a bed, then I should be honored to offer mine." Up to her whether he'll be in it.

Permalink

She almost makes a crack about 'honor' not being the response she's hoping for, but resists. It probably wouldn't land across the culture gap.

"How big is your bed?"

Permalink

He smiles, softly. "Big enough for one or two."

Total: 383
Posts Per Page: