Kyeo's head hurts very badly. He doesn't remember how he got that way but he can guess that he's taken a blow to the head. That doesn't explain why he's not on a spaceship any more but he should probably not expect to figure that out right now. He looks confusedly at the non-spaceship around him for a minute before closing his eyes.
"I haven't been to Earth. I do know it to... exist... so they must have handled it somehow..."
"I... guess...?" he sounds doubtful. "Well, here most women struggle with some form of infertility. In Cascadia we've hit a TFR of 2 and we're working on reaching full replacement soon."
"The owl did not teach me 'TFR'."
"Oh, sorry, total fertility rate. Average number of six-month-old babies per woman."
"...six month olds in particular?"
"Yeah. Sometimes people want to keep their babies when they turn out to have disabilities incompatible with life instead of euthanizing them, so we have to count from a point where all the babies with those disabilities are definitely dead."
"The owl did not teach me all of those words either."
"Oh, sorry. The bitoxiphosphene means that some babies are born too sick to live more than six months after they're born. Normally we kill them right away but sometimes the parents don't want us to. So we have to count from a point where all the babies too sick to live are definitely dead."
"Oh, I see. That makes sense. What a tragedy for your people."
"Yeah, it's-- not great. --What were you, before, I don't suppose you know anything about keeping babies alive--"
"Star Cadet. Junior space-side military rank."
"You can help us build spaceships!"
"I've helped assemble one but I am not in fact an engineer or a physicist."
"Well, that's an improvement on the zero knowledge of interstellar travel we currently have."
"So, uh, things that are unusual about Cascadia compared to other countries both historically and in the present day"-- he ticks off on his fingers-- "we're a democracy, teenagers can vote and have jobs and have kids, women can do anything men can and saying that they're fundamentally different will piss people off, you can have sex before you get married, no one cares if you're gay or trans, polygamy is legal but some people do care, sex work is legal and unionized, most newborns either have multiple legal parents or will acquire them when they get older, we keep pigs and chickens as pets and people usually eat them, a bunch of drugs are de facto legal and the rest are legally equivalent to a parking ticket, disabled people usually commit suicide when their lives aren't worth living anymore, health care is usually paid for by the government, you can get public housing for free by walking into any public housing building and asking for it, no one is allowed to arrest you for anything you say or think, no one is allowed to arrest you for your religion or for not having a religion at all, there's no official government religion-- uh, feel free to ask questions about any of these--"
"I am missing some of those words from the owl. - how is 'gay' spelled, I might recognize it from the Kularan."
"Okay. I still don't have some of the other ones - 'suicide' and 'religion' and 'trans' and 'polygamy' and 'facto' and I don't know if that was all of them."
"'Suicide' is killing yourself. 'Religion' is-- uh, that's philosophically complicated-- do you know 'philosophy'-- it's basically what God you believe in? 'Trans' is a person who is changing gender. 'Polygamy' is being married to more than one person. 'De facto' is Latin, it means that factually it is true that they're legal even if the law says something else."
"I know 'philosophy' but not 'god' or what it would mean to change gender or how something can be legal while the law says otherwise."
"Uh, God is-- an all-powerful all-knowing being that loves everyone? Except it is more complicated than that. Changing gender is when you ask people to treat you as a different gender, and sometimes take medicine that makes you biologically more like your preferred sex-- it's weird that you don't have that, it seems like your technology for that would be better. And in the case of drugs it is illegal to buy, for example, drugs that make you see things, unless you go to a nurse and have the effects and procedures for safe use explained to you and sign a form saying that you understand and consent to the risks. So everyone can get them legally anyway."
"...okay. I think I understand."
"Anyway, regardless of whether you think there is an all-knowing all-powerful being that loves everyone, or what their other qualities might be, or whether there is not a single one but instead several less powerful beings that can still do things that break the laws of physics, or you think that all of this is nonsense, no one is going to arrest you."
"There's no official position on it?"