Oct 15, 2019 3:22 PM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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'Fine' is not 'comfortable'. I was imagining a plastic-covered section of boat... Perhaps this was the best you could arrange on short notice. Very well. Thank you, and whoever else helped, for arranging it - it would have been terribly incomplete to visit and not see a red the entire time, I think. I don't imagine they know Tapap...?

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I don't think so, no. Reds don't usually pick up second languages.

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What language do they even speak in Doet, he wonders? There are far too many of them to learn in a week.

...I have been asking before using telepathy at first because it can be overwhelming. He tells the green, I think I am used enough to Amentan minds now that it's not strictly necessary.

He swims a bit closer to the bucket and looks at the red. Hello. Can you understand me?

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The red nods, wide-eyed.

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I have spoken to some of each caste, except red. I want to understand all of Amenta's people, not just some of them.

They see you as disgusting, they separate you from them for their own comfort, they seem to disregard you almost entirely. That's concerning to me, and seems unpleasant.

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...It's because we're polluted, offers the red.

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I read about pollution, but I don't feel it. I don't truly understand it yet, I think. It seems... Silly.

 

The overall impression I get is that the average Amentan - needs reds, but they don't like you. That's unstable. Imbalanced. Imbalance is dangerous. Does that sound about right?

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- I don't know very much about the opinions of average Amentans.

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Neither do I. It seems obvious, but I could be wrong. You are all strange to me. I don't want to break things by accident, by not understanding. I wish I understood reds, but you are nervous. If you don't want to talk to me, perhaps they should have chosen someone else.

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Reds are pretty nervous around strangers as a caste, I think. I volunteered.

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Thank you for volunteering. I am learning a difficult truth here, and that's important. I was told using the internet would be better, but words are difficult and not what I am used to. More than one set of them? Perhaps I will learn them properly in a season or two. I can't even send the projection, which would be easy to clean to anyone's satisfaction, because I can only use telepathy in person!

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That sounds really frustrating.

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Something rubs him the wrong way about that. Not quite a lie, but something like it.

It seems like you don't actually want to talk to me. Understandable, if so. I will not impose myself on those who want privacy. I will leave you in peace. Before I do, have you any questions for me, about me or my kin?

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I wasn't expecting to get the chance to ask questions, sorry.

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Why would anyone not ask questions? -No, no, plenty of people aren't as curious as he is. But still... Nervous, noncommittal. And he never refuted that first claim, though he was careful not to accept it either. Seeker could almost imagine doing that sort of thing while cowering before an elder he did not know how to avoid giving offense to. He could have demanded a straight answer, but he is not rude. People have their secrets and it's better to steal them with cleverness than threats.

Concerning indeed. And now, with a contused head-tilt, the alien is no longer telepathy-ing at that poor red. He thinks for a few moments, then looks back towards the green he first spoke to.

I don't think continuing my conversation with him would be productive, but no matter. Instead, what questions do you have for me - and should I speak to your blue instead of you?

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Talking to me is fine! says the green. We'd like to know if there's much chance of access to travel ultimately coming in a form that small countries can't unilaterally use, so we can get started on forming a coalition now.

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I don't have a clear picture of what access to travel will end up looking like yet. I'll know more when I return. I don't see a reason small countries in particular would be disadvantaged, though it will likely be expensive, however the politics are decided.

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Expensive in what kind of resources?

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Things that Draak will want. Land, gold and silver and gems, art. Access to travel is overwhelmingly likely to at first be limited to any Draak willing to pilot ships for Amentans. Such a thing will be much faster and easier for the Draak, politically, than revealing the secret enough for Amentan FTL technology programs to begin. Also, I am the inventor of the FTL method and I plan to profit very much from it.

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That makes sense. It'll probably be wise for small countries to go in together, then.

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I think so, yes. Also worthy of note is that I have discovered no other habitable planets, and few terraforming candidates, in my explorations so far which have lasted several years before I found Amenta. A more focused search with more than one ship may turn up habitable planets empty of residents, but again the political details are unclear.

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We can parallelize the search a lot, if we can build ships for it.

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Yes. But once Amentans are building starships, the Draak have a powerful neighbor species that will always, always, need more land. We were driven from our home planet by such a species. Thus, the political difficulty.

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We have some prospect of being able to cut down the urgency of growing by finding a way to make our springs milder through genetic engineering or something like that, and then we'd be stable.

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Some of us are noted for skill in modifying life. I think I will try to convince one of them to come with me when I return in a month or two.

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