Aug 19, 2019 3:00 PM
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"Do you at least know whether I appeared suddenly or came here as a statue and then started moving?"

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"You appeared suddenly," says the tablet, but only after the console asks T'Mir something and she replies.

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"That's probably better than the alternative. I'd like to get home soon, if I can, but... what work needs to be done while I'm here?"

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"Isabella T'Mir's work is looking at things like GS56-89U2K. I will ask her to put a picture of it on the screen and you can say what kind of thing it is in your language." It relays this suggestion and Isabella pokes her console again; the stars are replaced by a picture of a gas giant, purple and white swirling across its surface.

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"I can't tell from the picture but a verbal description might help."

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T'Mir says, "Sorry, I wasn't sure how blind you are," in Echan's language. "It's big, many millions of times bigger than you, and round - round in all directions - and this one is purple and white but we use the same word for ones that are other colors."

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"That could be a sun or a world or a moon - if it's turning the smallest element into the second smallest, it's a sun. If you can walk on it it's one of the others. If it has air with the... eighth element, I think, then it's a world."

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"You can't walk on this one but we use the same word as for ones you can walk on. It goes around a sun. You can name your elements with their numbers and the translator will remember them."

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Echan can give numbers for hydrogen, helium, carbon, oxygen, chlorine and iron. "Other than that I don't remember any specific numbers. I'm the wrong kind of person to have studied much chemistry."

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"That's okay. What's two hydrogens and one oxygen?"

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"That's water."

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There's some more vocabulary elicitation and finally T'Mir can say, "You appeared suddenly for no apparent reason in my ship."

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"I didn't do it. I thought you might have brought me here until you seemed as confused as I am. Does this mean you don't know how to send me back?"

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"I'm afraid I don't unless you happen to be able to tell me enough about the planet you came from, and I recognize it well enough, to be able to take you there."

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"One inhabited continent, eight species of people, politically unified? I don't expect you to recognize it, if you knew where to find us we would at least know you existed."

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"You might not."

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"Oh, have you hidden your entire civilization? We only hide things that are private."

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"Our civilization is hidden from some other civilizations. What would be a good way for you to recognize your planet, since you cannot see?"

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"If you have recordings of people speaking local languages, I'd be able to recognize at least three of them, this one included. I don't know what information you would have access to if you had any information about my world."

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"Are they common languages on the planet?"

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"The one I'm speaking now is the official language of our imperial government. If you have recordings of any of our languages, you would have this one."

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"Okay. I can start playing samples from planets with eight species of sapient."

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"That works. It's also possible you'd have us down as having seven, if you missed the anemones. They're easy to miss since they don't live on land or speak."

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"Yes, that might have been missed, I'll include ones with seven. The computer will probably be able to check the samples as it goes through on its own to see if they match your language, but it'll play them aloud anyway to let you check in case it's thrown by a dialect issue or something."

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She listens, but none of them seem to be familiar.

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