Dec 02, 2022 11:45 AM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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Bloom and Seeker are both incredibly popular all across Amenta, if that matters to either of them.

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After a season they hit a pair of nice, announcable milestones with work on the pseudomagic effectors and sensors and the unique chip architecture that's needed to run them fast enough. Seeker commissions looots of abstract and semiabstract art about space exploration and the power of learning and Two Species Working Together and generally tries to push the idea that Amentans would come help out the Draak if they get invaded some time, right?

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Yeah, of course! If somebody invaded the Draak then helping defend them would be both just recompense for PLANETS AND FTL AND GENETIC ENGINEERING and also just good sense, nobody wants invasively inclined space-neighbors who might turn their eyes on the Amentans next.

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Dragons that aren't the Seeker have gotten to importing more things, paying with magic doodads or money gotten from other dragons or sometimes precious metals at the commodity price. Lots of art and shiny trinkets, but aside from that computers, the equipment and expertise to build a giant subway, various light industry. The meat-producing plants get better and a bunch of dragons do their best to push them as a replacement for livestock. Bloom heritably desprings more people and her students manage it too, with a small smattering of side effects.

An Amentan made FTL physics demonstrator goes into orbit and the readings look good, though it doesn't go anywhere. It's a testbed. The dragons' ships ferry surveyors and groundbreakers to that one desert-y planet they've already found. They find some more nice candidates.

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It's really convenient that the dragons will buy art, it fixes some of the crazy skew in the green labor economy caused by FTL-related developments. Giant subways are a fun engineering problem, and people are excited about how clean and efficient meat plants will be once they're ready to scale up and fully replace the animal species Amentans eat. The desprung people are, ironically, popular gamete donors.

The desert-y planet is exciting even though - or perhaps because - there is nothing on it, though it would be nicer if there were local water available in quantity. What are the other candidates like?

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The deserty planet has oceans and, like, algae, just not much of a water cycle. Other candidates found so far include a thin-but-viable atmosphere iceball, a planet mostly covered in ecologically simple swamp that averages 50 degrees Celsius, one that has really really big mountains everywhere and kind of low gravity and a 39 hour day but is otherwise pretty good.

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Ah, it's much easier to set up desalination than to haul enough water for everybody through space. None of these are wish-fulfillment perfect but all of them are livable with some work and Amentans are nothing if not eager to put in all that work. They're not sure how the 39 hour day will interact with seasoning but some people can be rustled up to try it out.

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Terraforming is interesting work! Dragons are pretty fascinated with the idea of using engineered organisms to do it.

The pair of hatchlings that were adopted out- A girl to a green pair of ecologists in a national park, and a boy to a blue couple- Grow up more slowly than an Amentan, but they are growing. The boy is introspective and quiet and interested in music and philosophy, the girl is fascinated by ecology and has a bit of a bad habit of hunting things.

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Well, hunting isn't illegal, but they'd prefer she stick to certain species.

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These arguments go a lot better when - phrased as not threats but just as 'this is what will happen' - like that they're rare and will be gone forever if we're not careful, or she will lose privileges for doing this, or that her parents and maybe the entire country of Tapa will be mad and sad at her. The two hatchlings occasionally receive dragon visitors who are mostly extremely weirded out and kind of rude but not actually inclined to step in or mess with the situation. Gawking that varies from curious to vaguely disgusted, mostly.

(Dragons who are allowed to visit Amenta are still being pretty heavily filtered for 'not likely to actually hurt Amentans' and 'very sternly impressed that if they go rogue and mess with Amentans Bad Things Will Happen', but there's been a few incidents. Most dragons are vulnerable enough to guns. It's not clear if they would work on really big old ones. Thankfully, those are pretty sparse and also tend to be a lot calmer and more deliberate.)

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Sunwind is still here! He did have to go hibernate, but he's back! After the whole cannibalism thing he's been visibly scrupulous and scrupulously visible about being polite and reasonable and definitely complying with all the pollution stuff. He gives people dragonback rides, admittedly mostly the stunt greys, and pretty patiently goes along with whatever various directors or producers or handlers or whoever they are have him do. The colony planet sci-fi movie is going to be so cool! Maybe they can bug engineers for realism checks on the shiny tech part of the story.

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They do bring in engineers for realism checks, and then ignore some of them, and once the whole thing is shot and in post, they start tossing around ideas for a sequel about exploring another continent on the same planet.

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The first real prototype is ready for a short hop to another planet in the same star system and back. Draak ships stand ready to rescue them if anything goes wrong.

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They go to Katme! And throw a quick party and send lots of messages and go back!

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And now... The Seeker thinks they can handle the rest. He's been powering through the need for a long hibernation for a while now and there's politics to deal with at home. Amenta is, apologies, kind of exhausting. Any last business before he leaves for at least a whole season, probably more like a year or two?

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They think they will be okay. They are so so so grateful for all he has done for them! They would love if he would swing by again when he wakes up to see how they're coming along!

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May They Be Blessed, may they explore and exult, and may light and hope and new creation shine on the future forever more.

The Seeker departs.

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The Draak learn enough diplomatic tact to, a year later, warn Tapa and Voa with the proper channels and in advance that the Great Elder, Guardian of the Green is coming to discuss a possible solution to the red caste. The Guardian's ship is a fairly ridiculously large white sphere - it would be easily visible from the ground, if it could get to low orbit without being at risk of collissions, which it can't - with abstract minimalist artsy patterns all around the outside. Its name is Egg Carrier. Tapa and Voa were chosen for this proposal based on the Seeker's recommendation, but the initial talk would of course be just a proposal.

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They'll hear them out, though if it's going to be about reds they might not televise it.

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That's probably a good idea. Also, the Guardian is a bit ... Different than most dragons, having taken a much different path in life than the Seeker, diving into the world of spirits and dreams. They may want to the meeting to have unusually telepathy-tolerant people.

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There are plenty of telepathy-tolerant Amentans; it's been a nice-to-have in sensitive positions for a while now.

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The Guardian of the Green is, to all appearances, made out of wood with a palpable telepathic presence even when not saying anything. That this is the deep wilds, something Old and strong and more alien than usual.

 

 

Gratitude that my audience is received. I offer sincerity in this approach. A promise: I will not do anything rash; I will only discuss today, and the topic at hand is perilous.

Reds - a niche that formed once but is awkward and tense - the web is strained and it sours the pure joy of the new age. I have heard much of the pollution urge and the eddies it casts. They are a thorn in the collective consciousness, an ugly scab that must be carefully avoided and carries the potential to bloom into various disasters. An issue that could be a long, drawn-out tragedy unless carefully excised. We observe that the Draak-Kin are not proponents of leaving nature completely alone, but of guiding it, and correcting imbalance. We observe also that this one, deeply meshed in the Great Green, does not know what it is to be you, what thoughts flow naturally and which stick and shudder.

What do you know of spirits?

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They don't know much about spirits; they haven't come up much.

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Amentans are beings of flesh alone; Dragons beings of flesh and magic; Spirits beings of magic alone. Spirits are fundamentally entities of concepts, patterns, or ideas. They are capable of memory and thought, but are more alien than we are to each other. The largest spirits have bodies that stretch across the whole planet. I know this because I carried a seed of the Great Green to salvation, and nurtured it in all the years since, growing from a fragile ember to the great web of life it has become again.

The great project which we two Elders have been working on ever since Amenta was discovered is a ... Focus for the Great Green. With it I am capable of extremely powerful magic within a limited domain, by calling its attention and imploring action. To give some examples: Bloom's efforts, magnified- With sufficient examples of the work to draw from, I could cast it over hundreds of thousands. I could greatly accelerate plant growth even in hostile conditions. I could undo grievous injuries and eradicate diseases across cities. I could give dreams to every sleeping Amentan at once. I could call forth great storms, fires, floods- or dismiss them. 

I could call upon the concept of creation-destruction-cycle to both create a new body and destroy the old utterly simultaneously, moving the mind in the process. An extreme and dramatic effort, easier than actually curing the worst-off because of the great similarity to the True Song of Healing, a well-established pattern that responds easily and almost never fails. I have done this to animals already, as a method of particularly extreme healing of parasites and diseases. This is what I would propose offering the reds.

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They consult some theologians about this. The theologians agree that if it were performed under sanitary conditions it would work, though nobody's sure what they'd do with the reds afterwards. In theory they could drop them off on a planet but none of the planets are livable without a fair amount of technological support.

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