In a little house in a little suburb a man and his sub are having chicken and mushrooms in cream sauce for dinner. The latter is kneeling, mouth open to receive forkfuls.
"Interesting. Why are the villages 'hidden', are they like actually magically hidden somehow -"
"When they formed their locations were secret. That grew out of the Warring States era, you kept your home base a secret and ideally moved it a lot. Keeping the locations secret eventually became impossible, but the naming system stuck."
"I'm at all worried that - hm - so this planet has a history of colonialist behavior between populations which is mostly not very good, and you have the advantage of being quicker to get transportation sorted out, and you probably want to lean on that to set the tone, early on, make sure you screen people before you send them whichever way, and mages will catch up but not for a few years."
"Yeah that sort of behavior is one of the reasons we'll want to limit movement."
"I'd also like to get an idea of expected diplomatic behavior, here, and how signaling works, and also who we'd even talk to for diplomacy and for making it very clear we're a sovereign land. Also ideally figure out how 'somebody violently objects to us being a sovereign land' would shake out."
"We're unlikely to do colonialism, at least in my lifetime. Not something we're geared towards culturally, not something that'd benefit us, and also not something we have the right infrastructure to even attempt. But we'll screen our outgoings pretty thoroughly, and probably rotate anyone stationed here a lot - if nothing else, we don't want criminals deciding to dodge extradition here, or people trying to defect."
"I'm not a diplomat or even a particularly sociable person, but I can at least, uh, recommend you books once you've learned to read - shouldn't take long, you're bright and already speak English - do you have a lot of people interested in defecting, normally?"
"I could read some of the signs that weren't English at the airport, actually - they were in the other major language on our continent."
"And kinda depends on how you define 'a lot' and also on what's going on? Time's we're at war with people very interested in bribing defectors tend to have more of that, and places that're internally unstable can hemorrhage people fast. But it's not really - a problem, right now, we're not in conflict, and there was a general amnesty after the cataclysm for... Actually basically everything, people got amnesties for behavior a lot worse than 'ran off with state secrets' or 'ran off to be a bandit somewhere.' We still keep track of shinobi, because we're not stupid, and abandoning your post will still get you a court martial, but it's - laxer, and you can ask permission to join another Hidden Village's command, now, and it's easier to actually retire."
"What's the other language?"
"Huh. Do you - somehow write English in Japanese characters - or do you just not happen to know how to read English but both speak and write Japanese - or have a separate vernacular and literary language -"
"Combination of 'this is a minority language' - so anyone who speaks it is usually bilingual or part of a remote community; 'Japanese was the official language of the Empire' - and they did a lot of cultural imperialism, honestly, so stuff they disapproved of that's easier to ban might've vanished; and 'nearly everyone is illiterate' - if you have the free time to learn to read, you can learn Japanese, which I guess in some areas ends up as the third of those. And some of the first, too, in areas this is closer to a majority language - though we might also have a weird adapted script for it by now. Not all the types of symbols we use were on the signs, and we only use the one script system across all languages."
"Well, a lot of Wikipedia pages will have Japanese versions, though I'm not personally able to vouch for the quality of the contents."
"It might help, though. What's Wikipedia?"
"Do you have computers?"
"So, we have ways for computers to access content that is on other faraway computers, and this whole network of information sharing is called the Internet, and Wikipedia is a repository of information on the Internet which is user-editable and, surprisingly enough given that, is really high quality."
"We have some internal networks like that, but nothing generally publicly accessible. That seems - impressive."
"I like the internet. It's got icky parts but they're part of it being generally freely usable, you know."
"Icky parts? ...Actually, given humans I'm guessing a lot of that's porn. Or bizarre takes about reality. Or really fundamentally horrifying moral opinions."
"What do you mean 'or'?"
She snorts. "I'll avoid the icky parts, then."
"Wikipedia's largely safe. At least English Wikipedia."
"I'll make sure to head back there if I accidentally wander into icky parts, then."
"How do you get to non-Wikipedia places? - And is activity on the internet tracked at all?"
"There's search engines, most quintessentially Google, which you can use to look up whatever you want, and - mostly no, and the tracking is largely advertisers and not shadowy agents, and I have some anti-that software, but it wouldn't hold up to a really determined NSA agent if one were interested."
She nods, thoughtful. "NSA?"
"National Security Agency, they do domestic spying things. Our country has many fine qualities but also stuff like that."