Oct 21, 2019 8:17 AM
Amenta meets r-selected mermaids
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"...It doesn't seem terribly enormous to us--we still have a lot of sea floor and other rock formations to build on--but we're working on slowing it. That's, ah, not our area of expertise, though, we're five astronomers and an aerobiologist."

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"Amentans cannot have more than fifteen pregnancies per female in a lifetime without doing some unpleasant hormonal adjustments," the Amentans say. "We had a period in our history when that was still too many. It was very important to our history to invent birth control and enforce its use to keep our population stable."

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"Oh, we almost never have females go through multiple pregnancies, unless the first one ended in miscarriage."

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They don't reply for a while, reading over old translations and muttering amongst themselves, then say:

"How many children usually survive?"

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The mermaids look things up. 

"The latest figures on my suit's archives show an average of 71.6%," one of them reports. 

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"We want to help you," say the Amentans. "Have you already tried things to get smaller clutches?"

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"Oh, yes--that's the strongest thing they eugenically select for, you can actually get a sentence of sterilization commuted if you have few enough biological siblings--we try reductive abortions, sometimes, but that often leads the body to flush the whole batch so not everyone is willing to do it." 

"I have a cousin in pharmaceutical research who says they've been working on drugs to reduce numbers at conception for ages," one chimes in, "but they've been stuck in animal testing for decades because they keep having detrimental side-effects on the children." 

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"We'd like to send everything you have on that whole area of research home for our scientists to look at," say the Amentans.

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This sparks some furious discussion between the mermaids for a few minutes before they come to a consensus and the leader says, "We brought six landsuits even though there were babies along and someone was going to look after them; you can have the spare. If one of you wants to come into the water so Aoaekikek can show you how to operate the suitboard computer you should be able to access the archives that way. Getting more specialized information will take longer since we'll have to send someone back to get it."

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"What we really need to do is to copy all of it to our computers. We can send for a bigger team."

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"How long will it take your bigger team to get here?"

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"It takes three days for a round trip between here and Amenta, but it might take longer for the team to prepare."

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"It takes less than three days for a round trip to the nearest city." 

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"Do you have a way to convert your files into files our computers can use in your city?"

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"No, but we have lots more files in our city."

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"We noticed that you do not send signals we could detect in the frequency range from around twenty thousand times per second to around three hundred billion times per second. Does this mean you must travel to your city to get the files or do you have another way?"

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"From the city, we can get files from anywhere on the planet, but we don't have Internet out here. We can start laying cables to get Internet up to the surface as soon as we convince the right people it's a good idea, but free-floating cable tends to cause problems."

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"We can bring the machines that send signals in those frequencies, and the signals can travel through air, so with the right equipment we will be able to get files anywhere once there is something sharing the files up out of the water."

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"Agreed." 

One of the mermaids crawls back into the water, removes their landsuit, folds it up, and then starts swimming back in the directions the mermaids came from. He's out of view shortly. 

"With any luck, the files in Kekaoke's suit will be enough to convince the government we're not lying about first contact." 

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"We weren't observed coming in by enough people to make it obvious we were really here?"

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The leader gestures at the choppy surface of the water. "Seeing things above the water is hard, from down where the city is. We're here because we had instruments for observing the stars which caught your ship."

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"We're happy to offer any proof you'd find useful. We have some spare objects that might be interestingly different and survive the water."

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"That might help!"

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They provide the merpeople with a pair of pants, a pair of shoes, a scrunchie, somebody's hard copy of a photo of their family (that they assure the merfolk can be printed out again and replaced) in a plastic bag, a can of beans that will not survive unlimited water pressure but should be okay for a ways, and an abacus they brought to try to start from math in case the aliens were less easy to talk to than the merfolk turned out to be.

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A second mermaid swims off to deliver these items to the first and/or the relevant authorities. 

The aerobiologist would like to know things about Amentan biology!

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