Oct 15, 2019 3:14 PM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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The secrets of Delver technology could not resist decryption forever. While the tools they wielded are deeply weird, jealously guarded, and immensely complicated, living beings built the tools that brought aliens to the dragons' first world. The great calamity left ruins aplenty behind, and once grown the Seeker gathered these old tools as their very favorite sort of treasure. Dragons are not intelligent in quite the same way as a No-Tail, but they are far from stupid. They live forever and can be very determined if they set their mind to it.

The Seeker brought all its tools and treasure along with it when the world was evacuated ahead of the Tailless's relentless growth and hunger for resources. It studied under the great elder Darktooth on the new world, studied together with Darktooth (an arrangement not very common with dragons, as they are not particularly social), for a very long time. And eventually, by application of the hard claws of experiment and calculation and theorizing, the universe revealed its workings, cold and precise and mathematical. Creating more and more tools of the highest sophistication, and teaching others of its kind in exchange for wealth, and even spawning offspring a few times and guiding them to adulthood, was all satisfying for a long while, but eventually... He got bored.

And so, the Seeker wondered if the long sleep for the journey between stars was really necessary, and got to work seeing about making it not. He managed it eventually, and built a starship, and went exploring. Stars come in a beautiful variety of kinds, and the worlds around them do too, but very, very few bear any sign of life. They are mostly barren and empty.

...Oh, this one is emitting curious amounts of low-frequency light. Worth investigating. Pushing a starship faster than light requires a touch of magic (at least for now), which he provides.

In the outer solar system of a certain star, well above the plane of the ecliptic, a black sphere the size of a city block appears and has a look around with powerful telescopes.

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It takes four minutes for the planet and the nearest moon to start screaming at it.

Well, if screaming is the word you want to use for radio.

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They have some very keen eyes down there. The low-frequency light is probably communicative, or there'd be no patterns in it and there would be less reason to scream it into the void like so.

...He was hoping to have more than a little bit of time to look around. He knows nothing about whatever lives down there except some things that can be assumed from distant low-resolution images of the surface, namely that there are probably a lot of them.

Now the starship is over there, behind the gas giant, so he can have some time to see if any of that noise was particularly easy to understand.

After half an hour, it leaps back in the same spot as before and beams back the sequences of numbers that was about the only thing he could understand with his RADAR, with some minor variations. Prime numbers, various interesting sequences, addition and subtraction and multiplication and division.

There are dozens of different transmissions doing different things. Where's the one that went with simple numbers? Probably a better place to start understanding than anywhere else.

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The simple numbers came from over there!

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And now it's just out past the further moon. Wow, there sure are an awful lot of them. The whole planet reminds him of some kind of busy anthill.

And now it's descending through the atmosphere towards the island that was sending him primes, emitting '6827' over its RADAR.

And now it's landing slowly, slowly, in the ocean a few dozen miles offshore of a little island. (They live on land; Their power will be more dilute out here. And he likes oceans.) The ship is not quite featureless from up close, slightly oblong and with a few dozen circular ports dotted around it.

He'd like to stretch his wings over an alien sky. That sounds satisfying. So he has a quick flight around for about five minutes before landing on top of his ship and waiting for this busy, busy hive to turn its attention to him.

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It takes another fifteen minutes for a group of boats to approach. They slow down as they get closer.

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...They're tailless. He can see one on the deck of that boat, grey-haired.

They might not be the same ones that cheerfully overran all of nature and forced the dragons off their ancestral homeland, but the similarities are rather striking.

He growls when he realizes this, showing teeth, then retreats inside his ship and sends a blue-white glowing thing out in his stead. It flies towards the closest boat.

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The boats halt. The crew of all the boats all hold very still, waiting for the blue-white glowing thing to do whatever it's going to do.

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It lands in the ocean next to the boat, teeth hidden and limbs held close, floating like it weighs almost nothing, and then very deliberately opens its mouth and makes an almost-purring sort of sound followed by a click, and tilts its head.

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Someone on the boat scrambles with a device and plays the sound back.

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Yes, yes, purr-click. It nods at the person with the device. Purr?

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They also repeat the purr. And say, "Hello."

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"Hello."

...Aha. He sees one of the patterns in the dense buzzing echoing through the air, now.

The projection closes its eyes looking thoughtful for a minute, then plays ten seconds of the clearest unencrypted voice signal radio channel it can hear from here, and tilts its head inquiringly at them again.

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They chatter at each other excitedly: "Is that Bring Home My Beloved -" "Yeah, it's the hook from - maybe it's picking up radio -"

Someone repeats the snippet of song. By singing, not by finding it on the air.

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He has the projection let out a happy trill. Music! It's very weird music, but it is recognizably music.

He sings a short phrase from the middle of the snippet, then makes another new sound. This one is something like 'klirrk'.

Then it asks, "It's, is?"

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Everybody looks at one of the green haired people. Somebody elbows her. "Is," she repeats. "It's. It is."

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Perhaps she is the wisest one here. He runs the feathers on top of the projection's head vibrant green in mimicry. Learning a sound-only language is going to be difficult. Interestingly difficult? Yet to be seen.

"Is that, is'hat? That is, that's? It's the, it's'he? Hook from, hook'rom?" He plays another few seconds from the same radio station. "Klirrk?"

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Some people in the other boats are taking pictures; they take another burst when the feathers change. "You sang the hook from a song," says the green. "He sang the hook from the song too." She points at the green who sang it.

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Pointing strange devices is not very reassuring, but this is a projection. If those turn out to be weapons, he is safe.

"'Is'. You is-" claw-gesture at feathers. "He is-" pointing at a sailor, the feathers run grey. Pointing at the ocean they turn pale blue, "It is?"

He repeats the hook again, and then a whole verse - "It's klirrk!"

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"I am green, he is grey, the ocean is blue."

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The feathers cycle through the rainbow to collect all the color words! Perhaps the no-tails have a way to tell that when they go to a slightly dimmer white they're emitting lot of infrared.

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Nope, they just repeat "white".

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Useful information.

He tries to collect words for 'good' and 'bad' by repeating his happy trill and fluffing up the feathers and giving off a hiss that shows teeth in turns.

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This takes them a little while longer to be confident in, but eventually he gets words for those.

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He solicits a bunch of nouns via pointing, like various boat things and the shiny devices everyone has.

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They will happily name nouns!

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