Nov 25, 2020 5:44 AM
yeerk ma'ar in golarion
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"Some of them might, for strangers spending a lot of money. And Lawful Evil probably isn't gonna rob your magic shop, Neutral Evil might."

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<That makes sense. I think the reasonable plan is for me to stay outside, then. I will obviously have some kind of guard force around the area, in case you try to run away, because I do not wish to give you the incentive to do so. It seems preferable if, instead, the incentive I offer is that I will give you huge quantities of money to buy all the spells and magic items you want. I think we ought to just be able to mine for gold, either in the asteroid belt or in some remote region on the planet, and make coins that imitate the local currency, this seems less fraught than attempting to steal it.> 

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She nods. "I would like that." People might wonder where she's getting it but if that does happen it seems likely to create opportunities for escape, so. 

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<Then we can arrange it. In a few days, because I have some other work to finish. You can consider the itinerary and which spells and items you want in the meantime.> 

Mhalir needs to send a message back to the the Yeerk Council. It's irresponsible to continue keeping this find to himself, at this point, especially if he's going to be taking more risks to get Carissa spells or recruit additional wizards. He wants to send the other less powerful wizard back, maybe along with some of the captured sailors, and he'll draft a detailed message. 

He's not, at this point, ready to go back himself. He'll do the hyperspace jump back - they need to make sure they can get back, anyway, they're in a very different situation if the routing here doesn't work in reverse - and rendezvous with the nearby courier ship, transfer the new hosts and the message, and then go back for further exploration. Waiting for Carissa's response, he's already thoughtspeaking his other staff, requesting that the ship's hyperspace engineers work out the jump back. 

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"Can I have something to write with -"

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<Yes, of course.> The Yeerks do not have any prohibition on sharing technology. They get her a basic computer tablet and show her how to use it to write up notes for herself. They can also get her paper if she prefers that for some reason, some of the Yeerks who have human hosts from Earth do, but the tablet can store all of her notes in one place. 

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She will use the science notepad and start listing spells she needs. "Can you also get me the metals for magic weapons and armor - we call it spellsilver, it's silvery-looking but very soft -"

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Huh. He asks her to describe it in a lot of detail, while looking up a table of different metal elements, and then shows her pictures on the computer of different elements they know can be mined from asteroids. Does any element they know of match, or is this some special magic-world metal? 

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She can pick out four elements off the table that look right though she'd have to hold them and run a spell through them to know for sure. ...also, what a cool table. She mostly tries not to be expressive about this because giving people a guide to what you enjoy is very dangerous but what a cool table. 

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Mhalir notices anyway, less because of anything her face and body is doing, more because he's been in her head, he knows how she thinks, and it's not hard to predict that someone who enjoys learning and intellectual discovery would be delighted by an alien civilization's science.

She can have a copy of it on her tablet! Maybe the less-sophisticated translation software that the shuttle computers have is even going to be up for translating it into Taldane for her, by now.

He asks one of the researchers he brought along with the crew to look into what sorts of asteroids might have the elements she needs. The ship is small but pretty well-equipped, given its exploratory mission and the fact that they weren't sure they would be able to get back again without further research. 

Are they, in fact, ready to attempt the hyperspace jump back to their departure point? 

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They are. 

(Alloran roots for it to fail, quietly but with more fervor than he usually manages these days.)

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They have the coordinates for their accidental destination, now, and will be able to make their way back to it eventually even if the jump fails in a way that strands them somewhere random again. 

Mhalir gives the go-ahead for them to jump. 

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It works fine.

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Mhalir transmits a message to the waiting courier ship, says that they've returned safely from a star system that wasn't their intended destination but was actually a lot more valuable. He has a more detailed encrypted report on it for the Yeerk Council and wants them to convey it back along with some hosts taken from the planet they visited, which he'll send over on a shuttle. 

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They send confirmation and congratulations and announce that they're ready to accept the hosts.

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He's going to send the wizard and another sailor. Not the cleric. Partly because he's worried that doing so will anger Sarenrae even more, if she can tell, and...partly because it's possible the message Sarenrae was trying to send wasn't even hostile. He still has no idea how to interpret it. He does, however, want to maintain avenues of communication. It might give him warning if she's working against him, and...it's not impossible that it could be valuable for something else. Clerics can convey messages back to their god, he thinks. He doesn't want to do that right now, but his head is still full of niggling confusion and some part of him just wants to keep as many options open as possible. 

- for some reason it was tempting not to send a report back at all. It would be irresponsible and stupid to keep risking himself without sending a message back, though. 

It was also tempting not to share the coordinates for Golarion. Mhalir doesn't fully understand why - because he wants to keep his juicy find all to himself? He does include them, because it would be very conspicuous not to. 

He doesn't, however, specify anything at all on the ship's experimental design or extraplanar routing, which is less notable to exclude, but is nonetheless necessary to actually reach said coordinates. Probably there's someone among the Yeerks who can reverse engineer the ship and the route, if he fails to return. But...he's not sure what, exactly. It feels like it buys him some breathing space, and he doesn't know why he wants that.

As soon as the encrypted message is transmitted and the hosts have been transferred, he orders the jump back. 

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Alloran is upset and consoling himself by being smug about how when Mhalir encountered a world where he couldn't possibly blame the Andalites for his bad reception and where he could've offered to help the starving babies or something in exchange for hosts he immediately enslaved a bunch of people anyway.


Carissa, on a video feed, is cheerfully listing every spell she has ever heard of on her tablet. It's a long list.

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...He honestly kind of wants to help the starving babies. And maybe that's part of why he didn't give the Yeerk Council an easy way to actually find him, why he wanted breathing space in the first place. This way, if he miscalculates and gets himself stupidly murdered by a god, and his morph-tether immortality method doesn't work, then someone somewhere else in the universe will have a way of knowing what happened - but he'll have time here, to figure out the situation, which is what he said in his message he intended to do. And maybe there is just a way to openly offer their technology and aid in exchange for hosts, because there's no way the Andalites know this place exists, and so operating openly wouldn't be revealing his hand too much. 

Still, it goes against all his intuitions to do that without scoping out the land first. So that's what he's going to do next. 

Once they're back, he instructs the ship's engineer to look for some mineable asteroids, to try to get them some gold and silver to imitate local money, and also the four candidate elements for what Carissa needs. 

Then he goes to find the Yeerk who has the cleric of Sarenrae as a host. 

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He's pacing off the jump-disorientation. "Visser."

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<I wished to find out how your host is doing. And perhaps to speak with him, if he is willing to do that. You can let him speak now if he wants.>

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There's a minute of quiet. Then "Well, what do you want?"

Angrily.

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<I am still trying to figure that out. My people are at war - I am not sure if your Yeerk has spoken to you of it - and we fear for our survival as a species. I want to ensure our victory in any way I can, and I will not hesitate to do anything if it might help our cause. But...separate from our war needs, I would prefer not to harm you or your people. And, right now, what I want is to hear more about your god and her goals.> 

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"I follow the Dawnflower, goddess of healing and the Sun. Where they write things down they call Her Sarenrae.

Lots of people go to war. Lots of people are scared. It's not an excuse to do evil."

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Mhalir just watches him, impassive, though the Andalite face and body language are probably illegible to him anyway. 

<Can you tell me> he says finally, <what you mean by Evil, and Good, and by Law and Chaos? I am curious how much of the philosophy taught in Cheliax is also believed elsewhere. And - the story of your goddess murdering her own followers, in the city that turned to worshipping Rovagug - how do the people who worship her rather than Asmodeus describe it?> 

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"Evil is hurting people. Enslaving them. Beating them. Cheating them. Letting them go hungry, if you have anything to spare. Calling the law on them, if the law is unjust. Standing by and watching other people hurt them, if you could step in, or if you could've learned the things you'd need to know to step in. Good is healing people. Teaching them, and protecting them, and sheltering them, and arming them, when necessary. You know what good and evil are. Not everyone learns how to listen to their heart about it, and some people get very good at thinking around it, but everyone knows what good and evil are. 

Law is - rules. You need them. They keep society running. You can't have bread if no one pays a baker. You can't have big things, cathedrals and hospitals and aquaducts, unless everyone pitches in for them. You can't have safety in the streets if you don't have a watch and you don't enforce the laws. 

But law isn't - flexible. It can't be. Rules that only count sometimes end up only counting when they don't matter. You need - something other than law - to actually decide what's right for people. Sometimes that comes from imagining yourself in their place, and thinking what you'd need. Sometimes it comes from - letting people do what they want, even when it's a bad idea, because maybe they're not the one missing something, maybe you're the one missing something. Sometimes it comes from just blindly trying to stop hurting people without the slightest idea where it'll lead. The chaotic gods mostly believe that it's the most important thing in the world, people being free to figure that out however they come to it. Sarenrae is a neutral god. You need both. You need the law, and you need to break it where it breaks, and see what you can fill in the cracks with. 

In Cheliax Hell has them, and Asmodeus tells terrible lies."

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