Dec 09, 2019 10:19 AM
Foresight and Cherish in the Honor Harrington universe
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Oh dear. "No, the reality. Would you like to see a small, harmless demonstration of my magical powers, as proof that I'm not just completely insane and wearing a lot of makeup?"

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Skeptically raised eyebrow. "Sure."

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She turns her horns purple, then radically changes their shape (in a way that doesn't disrupt the jewelry hanging off them), then puts them back. "I can do something else if you know a way to fake that."

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The woman's silent for several long moments. "Holograms, maybe," she says, slowly. "But you are - changed? From - first human."

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"If you mean, did I start out as an ordinary human and then modify myself, yes. Should I just explain from the beginning, or do you want more proof?"

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"I mean... There are ways, to make a baby not like parents. Edeneras."

"Our leader will want a - fuller explanation. They are very interested. But basics are good now."

She seems vaguely uncomfortable, still.

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"I don't know what Edeneras are, but I'll explain my thing first. In the time and place I'm from, a small fraction of girls get the option to do magic sometime between the ages of eight and sixteen. It starts out as just the shapeshifting ability. If you use it to get far enough from human, you get the ability to shapeshift your clothes and some other powers unique to you. If you go too far from human, it scrambles your brain. We also have swarms, which are these little black bugs that appear out of nowhere and combine into monsters and attack people."

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"We do not have that." Her eyes go unfocused for a few seconds - "There is no quick search for that in history. Edeneras have changed DNA, are less human."

Her accent's getting less, whatever translation software she's referencing getting better, or her getting more used to the pronunciation. 

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"If you don't have any records, that suggests I'm in some sort of parallel future, rather than my own. But either way I don't know how to get back. I should probably assume I'm stuck here and get a job and things, and then if I snap back to my own time or something it can be a pleasant surprise."

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"Our leader will provide for your needs."

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That's the most ominous offer of free stuff she's ever heard. Possibly the translation's fault. "That's very nice of you. Still, I'd like to help out where I can rather than freeloading. Is there somewhere I should talk to about getting a legal identity?"

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"You will be provided one, yes."

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"Okay, good. Any reason I shouldn't go do that now? Or I can just wander around a bit if I need to wait for something. Oh, maybe you could give me directions to a library?"

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"You are not free to go."

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"Huh? Why not?" And who are you, anyway, when you were just a random person dealing with a stranded time traveller it wasn't important but now that you're claiming authority it is.

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"Our leader has expressed interest in you, and all modified humans must be in service to the nation."

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"Who is your leader? Are you part of the government?" What sort of messed-up future has she wound up in?

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"Our leader is Premier Marian Yashagoro. I am the chief of police of district eighty-seven."

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So the criminals are the government, or at least think they can convince her of such. Figures.

"What do you want? In the short term and the long term."

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"Personally? I'd like to follow my orders without resorting to violence, and retire eventually to somewhere nice. As a state? We seek the flourishing of our human population. Premier Yashagoro also seeks to know all things."

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"Those are good things to want," she says in a conciliatory voice. "Can you tell me more about what you expect my future to look like?" (It looks like learning a lot and then running off to somewhere else at the first opportunity, if she can manage it.)

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"We will test to see how your talents are best turned towards the common good, and then you will use them in service of that good."

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"That sounds good." And she's going to want to know what her comparative advantage is when she runs away to somewhere not run by kidnappers. Though she should probably pretend to be worse at things than she is, just for the sake of knowing things they don't. Relatedly, "Can I get something to eat first, though? I hadn't had breakfast when I had the magical accident."

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"Of course. We take care of our assets."

And food and water - fairly plain, tasting off compared to the food Margaret's used to - can be brought.

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She wasn't expecting future food to taste familiar, but she was sort of expecting it to taste better than this. Hopefully this is just her captors failing to make an effort, rather than extreme stagnation in food technology. But it's free food and she can tell it isn't drugged, so she eats it.

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