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Sep 23, 2019 8:15 AM
citizens of two nations meet
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Lieutenant Anastasia Shoreman is sitting in a bar, sipping a drink and staring off into the middle distance. 

Three things are unusual about this:

--Lieutenant Shoreman does not drink, and consequently is generally not to be found in bars.  

--There is a pile of napkins with writing on them by her right elbow.

--This bar is neither onboard the ISS Ajax, where Lieutenant Shoreman is stationed, nor on any planet on which the Ajax has ever docked. It is, if the napkins can be believed, in its own little pocket universe. 

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The door opens, and in walks a wiry boy of about seventeen; he looks Asian. He's in uniform too, brown trimmed with white, nametag reading KYEO SEBE LUK and one spiral-teardrop shaped pip below it. He flinches back from the unexpected sight only to find that the door has ceased to exist.

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That isn't a uniform Anastasia recognizes. It could be that he's Resistance and the Resistance hands out uniforms, but given the contents of her napkins, it's much more likely he's from a different universe. 

"At ease, kid, I'm not your superior officer."

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He frowns at her in confusion. "Of course you aren't. Where is this?"

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"A transdimensional bar called Milliways. It steals doors."

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"And where did you come from?"

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"The ISS Ajax. Long live the Empire," she says, saluting. 

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He recoils slightly, clunking into the wall again. "The way of Ibyabek is bright," he retorts.

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"What's Ibyabek?"

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"What do you mean, what's Ibyabek? - Oh, foreigners sometimes call it 'Inner Sohaibek'," he acknowledges after a moment.

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"Never heard of that, either. We're probably from different universes, the Resistance doesn't like Terrans much."

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"Terrans? What, people from Earth? Ibyabek's nowhere near Earth."

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"Terran doesn't mean you weren't born on a colony world, it just means you're, y'know, human."

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"Everyone in Ibyabek is human."

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"And so is everyone in the Terran Empire, or at least, everyone who matters."

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"All right," he says. "Different universes, so you don't know anything about Ibyabek, not even the lies foreigners tell. Wow."

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"I do not. Do foreigners tell a lot of lies about you?"

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"Yes, all the time. They don't like to admit that we're outpacing them."

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"Oh?"

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"Ibyabek has the best standard of living and the best technology and everything, so foreigners make things up to make themselves feel better about that."

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"Why don't they just conquer you and get your stuff for themselves?"

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"Sometimes they try, but we can always fight them off."

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"But you can't conquer them?"

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"Ibyabek is our home. We want reunion with the Outer planet one day so they can follow our way, but we are busy protecting our home."

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"Outer planet?"

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"There are two settled planets in our system. The Outer one calls itself Outer Sohaibek now."

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