Aug 21, 2019 2:47 PM
Margaret among space debris
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Margaret is on her way to work, walking instead of flying today so she can drink her coffee without spilling it, when she sees the cryptid. She's a truly far-out one, no limbs to speak of, just a long snaky body with a mirror for a face. Margaret smiles at her and goes to walk on by, but the cryptid slithers right at her all of a sudden and--hits?--Margaret with the giant mirror. Except she doesn't experience getting whacked with a sheet of glass.

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She finds herself in a white room. Roughly cubical, maybe three meters across.

 

Rubbery padding composes its walls, floor and ceiling. These surfaces are uniform... apart a few gaping, ragged holes with bits of splintered metal and torn wiring poking out from them.

 

The space is near-weightless.

A humanoid figure hangs limp in a harness anchored in the room's approximate center by eight elastic cords.

All is dark. All is quiet.

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What in the world did that cryptid do? "Woah, zero gravity" turns into "ooh, zero gravity" turns into "zero gravity in a dress is kind of annoying, but no way am I potentially disabling my danger sense with pants."

The limp humanoid over there is concerning. Margaret appears a long plastic rod in one hand and shoves off the nearest wall, then uses the opposite wall to stop herself next to them.

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The limp, concerning humanoid turns out to be inanimate.

 

Margaret’s proximity causes the figure to ragdoll back and forth a little in its harness, but its eyes remain blank and its gelatinous body remains lifeless.

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That's much less concerning! But now she's all alone in here, and that's pretty concerning too. At least her danger sense isn't going off. She looks around for anything that might be an exit.

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"Learn the language of the scions from the videotapes," she announces to the empty air. Okay, she's somewhere they don't speak English, which isn't surprising since this isn't any space station she's ever heard of, and she needs to find videotapes somewhere. There clearly aren't any in this room, though, so she returns her attention to getting somewhere else.

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A hatchway on the wall behind her hangs slightly ajar.

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Margaret pulls the hatch as wide as it'll go, pulls her wings close to her back, and tries to fit through. She doesn't, quite, so she momentarily has a belt squashing her wings against her back a little harder than she can manage without. (It doesn't occur to her to take them off, any more than it occurs to her to take off her legs.) Now she is through the hatch.

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She emerges into a much larger space, cluttered with strange machinery. The white room she just exited is near the larger chamber’s center, surrounded by support scaffolding. The scaffolding is damaged and the battered metal cube containing the white room tilts off to one side relative to the floor below.

 

Micro-gravity conditions continue to prevail. There are several passages leading away from the chamber but most are blocked by wreckage. One of the less obstructed passages emits a distant, ruddy glow.

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Light means more functional machinery and maybe people. She's not sure what kind of people, since this situation is not entirely unlike what she'd expect of being abducted by aliens, but she heads that way anyway.

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One of the walls (the ceiling?) (the slight pull of gravity tugs in the opposite direction) stretches transparent for a five meter stretch midway down the corridor.

 

Outside shine a field of stars—not twinkling, not blinking, but just staring down icily. A sun of sorts shines upon the window as well, but it isn’t like the one orbited by the planet Margaret came from. It’s a small, timid thing colored dull red. 

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Oh, wow. Wow. 

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She's completely alone in outer space with no way to get home and she'll probably never see anybody she cares about again.

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Well, nothing for it but to keep moving down the corridor. The last ten minutes of staring blindly at the stars didn't help anything.

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Further along, several rooms branch off from the corridor. The first couple have no contents—just barren walls forged from the same featureless black material as the hall.

The third room has a door, wrought of corroded iron not unlike the ruined machinery in the first chamber she emerged into, whose hinges look to have been attached in a rather haphazard fashion.

The door hangs ajar. There’s a human-sized bedframe beyond it. On that bed frame a slim hinged device. A laptop.

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Okay, the humanoid statue in the first room could have been aliens, but if this is aliens they're the low-budget television kind. She goes straight for the laptop, praying to whatever governs her current bizzare reality that it has charge and something useful on it. Maybe it has the videotapes her prophecy mentioned.

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It doesn’t have charge. None of the keys below the screen cause the device to light up or produce sounds. The hardware’s overall design doesn’t match anything from Margaret’s home—it has a different keyboard layout, its plastic casing is absurdly durable, and apart from one port that looks sorta-but-not-quite like it’d fit a USB none of the indentations along its edges resemble familiar manufacturing standards.

 

There’s a rubbery cord on the ground running up from a haphazard mass of metal on the wall. At the end of this cord is a jack that looks like it might plug into one of the aforementioned indentations.

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She plugs the cord in; it's not like she can brick it harder if that didn't turn out to be the problem. Also, do the keys have single characters on them and do they resemble in any way any of the Roman, Cyrillic, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean alphabets? Those being the only ones she would have a prayer of recognizing.

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Most of the keys have single characters, a few have doubles. They resemble simplified chinese/japanese logograms, but don't quite match up to Shinjitai or the PRC official alphabet.

One of the buttons is definitely a power button. Pressing it, this time, causes the screen to light up.

For a second, hundreds of lines of text flash by too quickly for the unaided eye to follow. After that, a login window appears. A cursor blinks in what is probably a password field.

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She's not going to get the password unless she gets a prophecy about it; she packs up the laptop and its cord in case she finds a way to get into it and moves on.

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As she starts to stow the laptop, a face appears on the screen: a boy about her age. He has pale skin and platinum blond hair and is dressed so fashionably that, were he a magical girl, he'd probably be entitled to a spell or two.

 

He says a bunch of words. About a third of these words are recognizable, though not all from the same language and many of them ambiguously pronounced.

Legible tidbits: somethingsomethingsomething special access mode, somethingsomething history and culture and art, somethingsomethingsomething royal library?

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She's so surprised she almost drops the laptop. It looks like a recording rather than anything live, and possibly like the thing her prophecy was about. For lack of a better idea, she transcribes what she can of the speech and then tries parroting bits back in case there's a voice interface.

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The recording continues a minute longer, with the boy making an apparent attempt to describe the planet earth (possibly to an audience he doesn’t expect to be familiar with it?)

 

Then the recording concludes and the screen displays a desktop. There are many folders containing many icons, some of the latter resembling movie logos that Margaret has encountered before but other ones looking quite alien. (The folders and icons are all labeled in the same not quite familiar logograms as the keys and login screen.)

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Looks like it's time to sit down and watch all of these movies!

Interestingly, none of them feature or even mention magical girls. Even more interestingly, one of them is the original Star Wars movie. There are a couple more she recognizes, and several set in the same science fiction future which don't seem to have anything to do with each other continuity-wise. "Some sort of weird alternate future" ends up as her dominant hypothesis for where she's landed, as she figures out the language from the subtitles.

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Many of the films—especially the recognizable older ones—have subtitles in languages she’s fluent in. By cross referencing these subtitles she can learn how to say phrases like “may the force be with you” or “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in the weird alternate future language.

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One of her arms acquires a bracer with a scroll mounted on it; she takes copious notes on endlessly appearing paper.

After a while she gets rather insistently hungry, but looking for food here seems like a losing gamble. Instead, she grits her teeth and deletes her wings. It's not pleasant--it's bizarre and jarring and puts her both physically and mentally off balance--but it takes her far enough from the cryptid threshold to let her safely sprout a small plant from her arm. She eats her way through several rounds of fruits and nuts of various kinds, and stashes more in her pockets so she doesn't have to do this again any sooner than necessary. Then her wings can go back on and with a sigh of relief she can return to watching movies.

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