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May 11, 2021 10:33 AM
An ocean hivemind walks into a bar and meets a Franklyn and other friends.
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An unusually small door in the bar opens, and a coconut crab the size of a dog stands outside the threshold. It pauses, then disappears behind the door for a minute on its side (one claw still latched onto the edge of the door). Through the doorframe, a gray-blue sky looms hangs above a beach of pink sand, with a strip of blue ocean behind it.

Then the crab reappears, and crawls into Milliways. Its antennae and eyestalks wave furiously in all directions.

...

The 108 stay still and silent for a while. In all of their memory, they have never seen a structure such as this. It rebels against their intuitions. Why rectangles?

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Who knows what mysteries the rectangle hold. Or even not just the rectangles, how about this truly bizarre bipedal creature? That's too little feet!

Whatever it is it turns around to face them. "Hi, there little fella."

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Antennae go up! After a few moments and a little psychic white noise, it emits a lucid but tremulous telepathic voice, directed at the big biped.

Hello. Where - what is this place?

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Big biped is confused for a moment then smiles again. "Oh. Oh. Welcome to Miliways! It's an interdimensional bar where people from different universes hang out."

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Ah! This is a... food and refreshments location. For beings of many universes. And its entrance is... in my farm, suddenly.

Its antenna wave around some more as it processes this.

Who are you? Are you responsible for this?

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"Nah. No one knows what causes the doors to show up, but it's safe to hangout in here and the door goes away if you leave. My name is Franklyn Grayward."

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I see. That is very interesting. I am fortunate beyond measure to be, to my knowledge, the first of my world to be in such a place.

It is good to meet you, Franklyn Grayward. My name is Landfarmer Cooperation Blueviolet-108. Although, given present circumstances, I am no longer a Landfarmer and may now be more of a Voyager.

...That does seem lengthy, though. And as there seem to be no others from my
world here, it may be convenient for you to call me Blueviolet-108 or 108.

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"Hello, 108! You can call me Frank if you rather. Or friend. A Voyager is someone that has discovered a place?"

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Oh yes. It is a fanciful role. In ancient times, before the world was mapped, voyagers set out to discover new places and bring back knowledge of them. Or did so by accident. But the world has long been mapped and there is little voyaging of substance anymore. 

...But perhaps not none, anymore.

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Nod nod. "This is sort of another world? In between worlds."

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Understood. Believe it still applies. The possibility of not merely alternate planets but alternate universes has been speculated by our people before, but not such an in-between place or doorway.

Are you also here on accident?

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"Yes? I found a door too, and I am hanging out. There are places like this in my world, and they are meant for socialization. So I am doing that, but with interdimensional people."

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Fascinating. This is a common hobby in your world?

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"You could say so? I am not sure I have seen people describing it that way. Yours don't have anything like it?"

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We have something like it, however.... ...Please do forgive my prurient curiosity. There has been much scholarly speculation on the possibility of a sapient singleton, and whether such a thing could evolve. You are the first that I or anyone from my world have ever encountered. I have much to learn.

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Oh - a mind made of one brain, rather than many. Do not fear! I am something of a singleton expert myself. We are fortunate that it is I who found you.

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"Oh, oooh, that's very cool. How many do you have?"

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Gratitude! A large singleton is also very cool. I am one hundred eight at present.

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"Thank you, I got my largeness from my mother. At present? Is it a mutable number?"

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Certainly. I tend to gain or lose a few every time I return to the capitol, although one hundred and eight is a good working number for my profession. Do hiveminds on your world come in strict numbers, or is it possible that are no hiveminds there?

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"We don't have hiveminds. What is like when... the bits come and go? Why do they come and go? Do they die?"

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Oh, no, that's rather rare. It's more of a swap - I tend most often, for instance, to do knowledge exchanges with other landfarmers - or to send some to the Emperor for accounting and management purposes. A few come with the crab. The like.

No hiveminds at all? Strange! We had assumed that the evolution of telepathy would certainly lead to the development of some hiveminds. And yet here you are, telepathic and no hiveminds in your tree of life.

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"Oh. My species is not naturally telepathic. Milliways is handling that through translation. Some of us are telepathic, or sort of telepathic, but that isn't a result of evolution. How much information each brain holds? Can you put specific information in specific brains?"

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Truly! Dear me, I thought that as you moved your mouth and produced sound, this was facilitating your telepathy, but I understand now it must be the language itself. Forgive my assumption - my singletons also vocalize and I should have considered this. Quite resourceful, if I may say.

How do telepaths come about on your world, then?

Each brain holds... well, a rather scant amount, I'm not sure how to quantify it objectively. One star on its own is capable of little and can remember little. A group of 4 or so can do basic figures
and reasoning. And the memory and processing available with telepathy in play scales up scales up greater than linearly, if you follow, so even a hundred and eight like me can do more than a few tricks.

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"Oh, there is magic. In the form of spells and magical gifts. I am sort of telepathic, I can communicate with animals. Do you know if it's a function of the possible connections between stars? And what do you mean with stars?"

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