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Jul 25, 2021 6:06 PM
Riley goes adventuring
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"You've probably watched my conversations and gotten more than I did. Robyn is as best I can tell someone who would fit in well as an envoy. She seems to care about people. Ironwood is a professional paranoid right up there with long-term planning. I didn't really spend enough time with the guard detail to form an impression."

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"Yeah, that's about what I got." She switches to an encrypted radio channel instead of saying the next sentence out loud. "It's possible Robyn would defect if we gave her a good enough reason but I don't see why we'd want to force that choice on her."

Siobhán looks up articles on the other kingdoms and on Menagerie. How do they differ how are they the same.

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Riley on the other hand wants more information on the Grimm. Specifically theories on where they come from and how intelligent they are.

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All four kingdoms are officially governed by an elected council, though the council's influence varies in different locations. 

Vacuo is the least organized, the chaos to Atlas' order. Its main source of governance is Shade Academy. The inhabitants live in a mostly desert part of the largest landmass, with a few scattered towns and small cities near water. Its folk are hardy and have the highest ratio of awakened-to-unawakened Auras, relying mostly on skilled warriors and powerful Semblances to defend against Grimm attacks. Its main natural resource is Dust mines, the strip-mining of which has further desertified some parts of the continent.

Mistral, the largest by landmass, is an eclectic mix of biomes and cultures. They rebounded after the Great War in the opposite direction from Atlas, becoming a center of arts and cultural mixing. Prejudice against the Faunus remains a major problem there, however. A Faunus group known as the White Fang, centered in Menagerie and led by Ghira Belladonna, has been peaceably lobbying Mistral for better treatment for years. 

Vale is the most politically influential of the kingdoms, and its Academy produces some of the most renowned Huntsmen and Huntresses. The Headmaster of Beacon Academy has a "first among equals" sort of authority with the other Academy leadership, whose influence in their respective nations is second only to that of their ruling councils. Vale has declined in population after some recent disastrous attempts at colonization (Grimm, again) but remains a formidable world power thanks to its well-organized force of Huntsmen and Huntresses. 

There are several legends describing the origin of the Grimm, but little in the way of concrete facts. Mistral legends favor ancient "demon magic" (read: Faunus) gone awry. Old Mantle legends speak of a punishment on humanity. Vacuo claims vengeful gods. Vale myths blame a progenitor Grimm, one of the legendary unique Grimm that can spawn all others. (Though they say nothing about where that came from). Grimm are difficult to study in the wild, being prone to attack anyone who tries to get near. They have never been witnessed breeding, nor has anyone ever reported seeing a baby Grimm, though a few of the largest Grimm have been reported to spawn lesser adult Grimm from their bodies. Larger and longer-lived Grimm seem to possess more cunning than their smaller cousins, increasing with age. While lesser Grimm like Nevermore and Boarbatusks will attack on sight, herds of Goliath have been known to frequent the edge of civilization, waiting for a mass panic before they strike. They display some coordination in combat, especially pack varieties like Beowulfs and Morrigans, but they don't appear to have any sort of language. Grimm will maul and eat their victims, but they don't seem to need sustenance in the usual sense (they don't eat animals or plants) and they leave behind nothing but soot and the occasional bone mask when they die. In the end, the only ironclad fact that has been established about Grimm is that there are always more of them. 

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It sounds from various articles like the world is mostly at peace. Are there significant tensions between the nations? She'll go looking for any signs of that but it seems like the kind of thing that might be censored. After talking with Atlas's people she'll probably go to Menagerie next. If she's reading between the lines correctly they seem like the people most likely to need help urgently. It'll also send a political message.

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Having self-preservation instincts isn't sufficient for Starlight to have problems killing animals if they're killing people. The Goliaths are suggestive of something though. What's this about legendary Grimm?

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"At peace" is a bit much for a world where outlying settlements are routinely massacred by Grimm. But at least they mostly aren't fighting each other, yes.

Atlas thinks the other nations are backward and insufficiently prepared to protect their citizens from Grimm, though they seem to have a grudging respect for Vale. The other nations' perspectives may be harder to find on the Athenaeum. A bit of digging might find some folks in Atlas who think that Mistral thinks that Atlas is full of stuck-up regimented corporate asshats, that Vale thinks they're better than everyone else, that Vale thinks Atlas thinks they're better than everyone else, that the Schnee Dust Mines are a travesty, that Vacuo is full of hooligans and criminals, that Mistral security is a joke, that those jerks calling the Dust Mines a travesty are secretly Vale plants trying to stir up trouble who never saw the Faunus starving before they were offered work in the mines...there's some coherent stereotypes but not much coherent opinion

Ancient records suggest that some truly gigantic Grimm exist. This is confirmed by the occasional Hunt that penetrated deep into the wilderness (and even more rarely, returned) though little else is known about them. There are tales of sea monsters larger than the largest ships, which scholars hypothesize as explaining the lack of communication among the nations before modern Dust-powered flight was invented. Jormungandr, Leviathan, and even the island whale Fastitocalon. A couple of sketchy old sources reference a massive flying Wyvern near Vale. Other sources mention monsters sighted on land: a many-headed Ananta, snakelike Meretseger, horse-bodied Nuckelavee, or the earth-shaking Gamera. Still others have no names at all. Not all these sources are credible, but since no one has observed a hard limit on how big Grimm can get or how powerful they can grow, most reports are taken seriously. 

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Well that's about to be expected. Everyone stereotypes everyone else. That thing about the dust mines bears looking into. It seems that even without their intervention this world isn't about to collapse which is good. Hopefully their presence won't make things worse in the short term, or the long term but that seems less likely. Siobhán spends the rest of the night paging through various articles to get more specifics but doesn't start any new major topic of research.

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Massive Grimm are certainly a threat they'll want to watch out for. It's possible they're more intelligent but it's similarly less likely that they could manage to convince one to talk.

Riley decides to sleep for at least a few hours now that her immediate curiosity is sated.

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And morning followed; the second day.

(Or, well, more of the first anyway).

Ironwood, it appears, has been busy. Riley's scroll now includes a tentative agenda for the day (visiting the engineers and scientists, mostly) and a way to contact Riley's escorts when they are ready. 

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"Do you think Ironwood knows you're here? Also should I signal for the escorts?"

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"They're at least pretending that the room isn't bugged. That's polite of them. And yes let's get this day started."

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Riley laughs and sends the message.

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Shortly thereafter, Po and Gerain of team POGO arrive, resplendent in their gleaming armor. Po is carrying a breakfast tray. "I say, good morning! I hope you enjoyed your stay. May I offer you some tea? I have a selection of the finest brews imported from Mistral." He peers through his eyepiece at Siobhan. "And who might this be?" 

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"I'm envoy Siobhán Ionbhá also of Starlight. General Ironwood requested my presence."

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"Sure, thanks for the tea and for breakfast." She takes the tray.

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"Delighted to make your acquaintance, Siobhán Ionbhá of Starlight." Po tips his stovepipe helmet politely, his armor emitting a puff of steam. 

Gerain wears a nervous smile, tapping absently at a device on his hip. "We, uh, weren't expecting to guard two people..."

"Oh pish tosh, Gerain, we can adjust our arrangements easily," admonishes Po. "I'll just get in touch with Dr. O and we'll have this sorted in a jiffy. Madame Ionbhá, would you prefer to join Madame Clearsky?" 

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"It's nice to meet you as well. From what Riley said, you're Po and Gerain? It's nice to meet you too. As for accompanying Clearsky, I wouldn't mind, her research is important, though it's not what I'm centrally here for."

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"We can accommodate your more central interests if you wish," assures Po. "Given your diplomatic status, I imagine the Headmaster can arrange a meeting with the ruling council at the drop of a hat." 

"But we won't need to drop any!" Gerain comments hastily. "Hats, that is." He pauses, as if nonplussed by his own words. 

"As for breakfast, if I may suggest - there is a lovely picnic area atop the Academy, convenient to the transport hub. It has quite the view. Though the view from your own rooms should be quite spectacular as well, should you wish a bit more privacy." 

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"I'd love to see more of your Academy. And if you could let Ironwood know I'm here I'd appreciate it but I'm not in a rush."

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"I'm fine going wherever. Eating food other than rations on a field assignment is a nice treat."

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Po graciously continues to pretend that Ironwood has not bugged their room. "Of course!"

He and Gerain lead the way through the Academy's vaulted corridors to an elevator, which takes them to more corridors and eventually a balcony overlooking the flying city, shining brilliantly in the morning sun. The view is, indeed, spectacular. 

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"You have a nice city here." And it is a nice city, she hopes they'll find a solution to the Grimm that isn't evacuation.

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Riley has seen it all before but she looks around politely before starting to eat.

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