Sep 24, 2019 4:52 AM
Bruce and Jennifer in Redwall
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This was a bizzare idea and Bruce and Jennifer are having a bizarre time.

"Come explore the Stata Center with us," they said. "Grad students deserve to have fun too," they said. "It's better than anything else you could be doing at 3 AM," they said. "Sure, bring your visiting cousin," they said. Well now they've gotten separated from the group and ended up in a room with, and he has counted several times, seventeen sides and nineteen corners.

He can't tell which door they came in; worse, they're all locked. There's a window, but it doesn't open, and all he can see out of it is a different exterior wall of this same damned building. 

Bruce looks up at the ceiling, or at least at the point where all the walls converge, and his head swims, and he should have gone to sleep a long time ago, and it feels like he's about to fall off the floor into . . . 

There is a series of sense impressions that fail to resolve into a model of the world, and then Bruce and Jennifer are somewhere else.

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And also something else.

"What the fuck shit?!" says a talking badger.

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"I'm a rabbit! And you're a badger, and I dunno what the fuck shit."

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"I think you're actually a hare but we have so many other problems I don't think that one makes the shortlist." They both look around, hoping their surroundings contain some clue to what the fuck shit.

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They are in a forest! The plants and trees are, oddly, not gigantic, despite Bruce and Jennifer now being putatively small woodland creatures. In fact, their perspective seems to imply they've grown a foot or so taller. They're also still bipeds with opposable thumbs, despite neither badgers nor hares historically being any such thing.

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"Actually it's more like we're some sort of hybrids, your head is a hare's but your limbs are different. And I can stand on my back legs fine even though by rights that should be a lot harder for me than for you. Weird."

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"Well, let's wander around and see if we spot anyone who looks like a mad scientist. Or a mad wizard. One of those."

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Wandering doesn't reveal any mad scientists or wizards, but after a few minutes they run into a rat, similarly bipedal, who is holding a crude spear.

"H-hey," he says in a mildly grating, high-pitched voice. "I-I don't want any trouble!"

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"Neither do we," says Jennifer, displaying her empty let's-keep-calling-them-hands. "We're very lost. We were humans an hour ago. You in the same boat?"

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“The fuck’s a human?” blinks the rat. “And I’m not lost, I live here. I just thought you were here to chase me out of Mossflower. Overstayed my welcome, or summat.”

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"Hoo boy," Jennifer mutters. "Uh, we're definitely not trying to chase you anywhere. Can you tell us how to get to the nearest . . . town? Group of people? Somewhere it's a good idea for very lost people to go."

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"Whatever a human is, you look like Abbeyfolk, so your best bet's probably, well, the Abbey. It's due west of here, just follow the sun. And don't tell them where I live."

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Jennifer really wants to know more about whatever species or religious or land-use-related tension she's just stepped in. "I won't tell anyone where you live. But since we're going to be walking right into them, would you mind telling us what about the Abbeyfolk has you worried? We don't want to cause offense to them or to you." Bruce nods seriously behind her.

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The rat sighs. "I'm a rat. They're mice - and badgers and moles and otters etcetera etcetera, but what they ain't is vermin. Rats, weasels, foxes - we're vermin. They think we're bad at the core, coming to take their land and food away from them."

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"I've believed a lot of weird things in the last hour, but I'm not about to start believing anyone is bad to the core. Thanks for the warning." She wishes she could offer to help, but it would sound like an empty gesture--she can probably do something useful as a dimensionally stranded small herbivore, but it's not yet clear what.

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"Cheers," the rat says. "They'll like you, hares aren't Abbeyfolk per se but there's good history. And they love badgers."

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"Oh, joy," she mutters, "the racists will like us." She smiles at the rat. "I guess we'll be off, then. Hope to see you 'round again sometime. Good luck out there."

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The rat laughs and waves goodbye. 

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They set off in the indicated direction. After they've gone a ways, Bruce says, "I'm a bit worried about our reception."

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"We'll be alright," says Jennifer. "Sure, their society has some problems, but so does ours. We'll find some way to settle in and make ourselves useful."

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"I hope you're right--and you usually are. Though I wouldn't want to be an undocumented person dumped on Earth either. Say, I wonder what tech level they've got. Maybe we'll be able to import some inventions. Or they'll have cool sci-fi shit. Or both."

Hike hike hike.

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"Yeah, most places on Earth are various levels of bad at handling unexpected people. But we got the local language, somehow, so we're already ahead of the game. And I'm definitely in favor of importing inventions or cool sci-fi shit or both."

Hike hike hike some more.

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Eventually they come to a road continuing to the west. It's not paved, just beaten through the forest by countless paws. Following it takes them to a walled fortress of red sandstone, its gates standing open. A white mouse stands outside the gate, holding a quarterstaff and wearing a blue robe. He's significantly shorter than Bruce and Jennifer, maybe five feet tall, but he radiates calm authority.

"Hello, strangers," he says, his voice surprisingly deep. "What brings you to Redwall Abbey?"

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Bruce cannot exactly hide behind Jennifer given his bulk, but he can approximate it.

"We're very lost," says Jennifer. "We can't get home, so we're looking for a new place to live."

Now that she hears the term Abbey again, she wonders if this is a religious community. She's a lot less atheist and a lot more confused than she was yesterday.

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The mouse nods. "Our gates are open to all those who seek shelter, provided they are able and willing to abide by our laws. If you wish to stay for more than a few weeks, then we'll want to find out what you do best and fit you into the work schedule."

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"We're glad to hear it, and we definitely want to find useful work to do. Can you summarize your laws?"

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