Oct 15, 2019 2:50 PM
Ms. Frizzle and Promise
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"Can you describe where your tree is relative to here? Or the Bus can go off the sense-of-place in your mind, but she won't look unless you say it's alright."

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"I appreciate that. It's north, it'd take me a few hours to fly it, that's probably not precise - if she can look only at the sense of place that will be fine."

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"That's enough of a start that I can probably find it with the mokoscoper." She pulls a lever and a screen unfolds from somewhere; pressing some of the many unlabeled buttons brings up an bird's eye view of the area a couple hundred miles to the north. "Recognize anything on here?"

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"That river. If you followed it west from there for maybe twenty miles and then turned right you'd reach my tree soon after."

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She pans; she zooms; a tree loaded with haws comes into view.

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"That's the one. I just need a branch to plant wherever I wind up."

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"Right-o! And how's twenty years ago, for the time?" The image on the screen time-lapses back twenty years over several seconds; without earthlike days and seasons this looks less dramatic than one might expect.

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"Twenty years ago should be fine."

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"Off we go, then! No need to strap yourself in, this will be a very short jump." She pulls some more levers with extreme gusto, and the view out the windows starts spinning in a set of directions that ought to cancel out but instead add up. Before Promise can get dizzy, the blurred scenery slows down again and resolves into a different patch of forest, with her tree just ahead. The door folds open, accompanied by a cheerful "beep-beep!" from the horn.

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Promise flutters out of the bus. A tree branch bends down to her and comes off in her hand.

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When Promise gets back on, the bus has remodeled her interior. There's now a large patch of grass on the floor with a cleared space in the center, and the ceiling is a glass geodesic dome letting in sunlight at a different angle from outside.

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"Oh, this is pretty. What's the gap in the grass for?"

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"I believe it's for you to plant your tree in. She's taken a liking to you."

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"- um?"

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"She's hoping you'll stick around and explore the multiverse for a bit before settling down somewhere.  But if you'd rather not, you'd rather not."

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"We've barely met."

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"From your perspective, yes. You see, the Bus operates in more temporal dimensions than even I can really understand. She might like you based on something you did years ago, or something you're probably going to do years from now, or something you would have done had circumstances been different. And she doesn't tend to go in for more linear beings' social norms about it," she adds with a chuckle.

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"- if she likes me for something I did years ago - that is, a thing that from my perspective I have already done - that implies surveillance of some kind."

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"I suppose you could call it that, though that implies a level of deliberate effort. The Bus trying to see someone's present but not their past or future would be like you trying to notice only the left half of a person's body."

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"Someone might also choose to wear clothes on the left half of their body, if they didn't plan on it being observed."

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"Yes. It's not ideal, having someone be closer to omniscient than anyone else expects. She's usually better about keeping it ignorable--this is the most I've seen her actually act on her knowledge of someone's world-lines in centuries. Perhaps she concluded you would rather know, even at the cost of making it obtrusive."

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"Well, yes, if she's in the same information state either way I'd sooner know about it, but how'd she know that?"

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"Quite possibly from you saying it just now! Time is a funny thing."

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"Apparently. I'm not sure how to think about this."

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"I expect if you stick around you'll pick up an intuition for it, but I can get you a book on the math if you like."

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