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Jul 25, 2021 6:59 PM
Riley goes adventuring
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"Ooh, do you have truth detection magic?" Riley takes her hand and repeats herself.

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Riley's arm glows a bright green, Robyn's a fainter yellow-green. Robyn stares at the light as though it were a snake.

But something like excitement glimmers in her eyes, too. She drops the handshake. 

"Well, either you're telling the truth or you're crazy enough to think you are. It's my Semblance. Do you have Semblances in Ikoria?" 

They have space stations. They have interworld travel. They could save Atlas, maybe. They could save everyone

No jumping to conclusions, Robyn. Especially not ones you really, really want to believe. Evidence first. Still have to distinguish the crazy from the real miracles. 

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"We don't have abilities which reflect the nature of the person who possess them. Which is how my translation magic is parsing that word. Most realms have a unique collection of exotic effects supplementing baseline physics."

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"Translation magic, oooh. Well that does explain how we're chatting while being from different worlds."

 

 

"...do you have Grimm in Ikoria. Giant maneating monsters, attracted to suffering, bone masks, puff into mist and soot when killed?" 

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"We do not... that sounds like a candidate explanation for the high death rate on this world and the low population relative to your apparent level of technology."

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"That would be the Grimm, yep. Well, there's also the occasional warfare, but I think we'd survive that a lot better if it didn't attract so many Grimm. I'm a Huntress, it's my job to use our...exotic effects supplementing baseline physics, that's one way of putting it...to kill Grimm and keep people safe. Well, it was, until I mouthed off to the wrong official and got stuck with cable guard for a month." They also may have been upset when they caught her unlocking the Auras of her friends in Mantle, but that wasn't technically illegal, just frowned upon. Hence the argument and subsequent mouthing-off. 

She muses for a bit. "I'm surprised your world exists without Semblances, those are a feature of Aura and everything alive has Aura...unless you don't have that either? What about Dust?" 

("Aura" translates roughly as "innate life essence and center of personality capable of protection and healing in activated state", and "Dust" as "crystallized resource holding magical power of specific elemental natures.")

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"It's hard to know if we have Aura as you understand it. We have exotic effects constructs that form around people with biological bodies that fall within certain bounds and only the people those constructs form around can become Magecrafters. I don't know if those constructs are related to what you call Aura or not. If we do have auras, they certainly aren't activated. We definitely don't have anything like Dust."

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"Huh. Maybe they're your world's equivalent of activated Auras? It's hard to imagine not having Aura, the only things that grow and don't have Aura are Grimm. Can you tell me more about Magecrafters?" So maybe she can think of a test that a Semblance couldn't mimic, and finally get some evidence against Hypothesis 1: Extremely Thorough Delusion. 

"I'm Robyn, by the way." 

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"I'm Riley. Magecrafters are people who can activate magical arrays. Arrays are effectively instructions to tell the magic what to do."

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"That's kinda broad and it sounds a bit like computer programming...can you give some examples of what Magecrafters can do?" 

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"Let's see what do I have in my staff right now..." Her eyes go slightly glossy. "I have a simple telekinesis effect, a reactive shield that's currently running to protect me against kinetic weapons, a light emitter, five different analysis arrays, water filtration, a simple healing magic, a chemical synthesizer, and you just asked for a few examples."

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"So there's a lot more, about that level of utility? Some of those sound pretty helpful and others could be downright lifesaving if they go far enough. Would you mind demonstrating a few of those? Telekinesis, healing, uh, small-scale synthesizing? I can prick my finger or something for the healing test, if I coax my Aura into letting it happen." All three of those are rare as Semblances, and getting one that does all of them is nigh unheard-of. 

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"Sure," she looks around for something to lift. "A pinprick is well within my ability to heal. The array is designed to treat some kinds of infections and to repair tissue damage. As for chemical synthesis, I should clarify that I'm rearranging matter not creating it, and it is a bit slow but..." she focuses and holds out the hand not holding a staff. A diamond begins coalescing it'll be about an inch wide in a minute.

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After a bit of poking and admiring, this satisfies Robyn on the synthesis front. She hands over a small cobblestone to levitate for the second test, then concentrates briefly, poking a fingertip with a crossbow bolt and offering it for the third. 

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Riley sets the cobblestone flying in a figure eight and then heals Robyn's finger while it's still flying.

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Yep, that's healed, and faster than Aura could normally manage, too. Well, Hypothesis 1 is now looking sheepish and huddling in the corner. But she had to test it. On to Hypothesis 2: Worldshaking Discovery. 

"Thanks for humoring me, Riley. Wanna talk bigger picture? What would you like to accomplish while you're here? Any friendly polity back home?" 

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"You've partially resolved my highest priority task by explaining the Grimm though I'll need to know more about them to make a complete report. My next highest priority is understanding local magic... it sounds like there's two kinds you're aware of and perhaps that's all there is. Beyond that diplomatic relations are a priority and so is general precept work but I have a lot of flexibility there."

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"Three kinds if you count the Grimm, they break all sorts of physics. And just so you're aware, if you call Aura "magic" you're going to get some funny looks even from the scientists and Dust engineers, it's like calling language 'telepathy.' Not that it's wrong, exactly, just, indicative of foreign-ness. 

"I can give you the 101 on Auras and Semblances - I know how to awaken Auras, it's skill-intensive and requires a pretty close connection to a person - but for Dust you'll probably want the engineers or theorists. Atlas" she points upward at the giant floating city, "is home to both the de facto ruling elite and all the fancy laboratories, so it's the place to be for diplomatic relations and magic study. I'll see if I can get you a fast track to visit the relevant authorities. Maybe you can convince them to be less dickish to Mantle while you're up there. What's general precept work?" 

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"That sounds helpful, and yes the Grimm do probably qualify as magic. The group I work for calls itself Starlight, a long time ago before the crisis times and before we discovered magic they were an educational institute and they still frame themslves and all our work around two central precepts 'Learn all there is to learn' and 'Teach those who would be taught.' Over the years, those two precepts have come to be interpreted pretty broadly and we've accumulated a number of official derivative precepts. Those derivatives can be summarized as making sure people are in a state conducive to learning and protecting diversity and uniqueness because of the lessons that diversity and uniqueness can teach us. Precept work means doing things that fulfill or advance one or more precepts."

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"I like this group. Are you recruiting?" She draws a small handheld device from her coat pocket. With a quick touch, she activates it, extending a small holographic screen with which she fiddles for a minute. "This is a scroll, a combination communicator-and-sundry-other-things. I'm going to call somebody, if you don't mind holding tight a bit."

She waits a few beats, then holds the device to her ear, speaking firmly but quietly. "Bastille, this is Huntress Robyn Hill at Cable Post Six, confirmation code Pabilsag three-twelve-naught-seven. Please get me Headmaster Ironwood. No, I am not going to tell you why, that is why we have Huntress confirmation codes, this is for the Headmaster's ears only. Tell him it's a security issue and an Academy one, that'll get him out of bed in a hurry." She rolls her eyes. "No, not Chief Cordobin. I remind you I am not part of Chief Cordobin's chain of command, however many strings she can pull to dump me at Cable Post Six. I don't want to speak to the Mantle Chief of Domestic Preservation, and I am not asking for Colonel Ironwood either. I am exercising my right to speak with my Headmaster. Yes, Bastille, now, do I have to repeat my Huntress confirmation code...Good, thank you, Bastille."

Another pause, then: "Headmaster Ironwood, this is Huntress Robyn Hill. There's an... out-of-town visitor to see you. It's something unique. I thought you would want - what? A - a staff? Yes, sir, how did you...? R-right away, sir. Of course. Pickup at Cable Post Six. Robyn out." 

 

 

 

Robyn stares at the dead screen as though it were a live snake. 

 

 

"How in the Leviathan's loving embrace - even if he bugged the robots - we've been talking for minutes! And he's been asleep!" She shakes her head in mute frustration. "No one is that good. Which means..." she bites her lip, pondering. "Something." 

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"We're always recruiting, though travel to and especially from Remnant is restricted until a risk assessment is completed."

She waits while Robyn makes her call again itching to invoke her analysis magic.

"I did appear out of nowhere on a street in this city in the last twenty minutes or so. Maybe someone saw me."

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"Honestly it wouldn't surprise me, we have security cameras all over the place, but we haven't done anything else visibly interesting or illegal and Ironwood sure sounded like he'd just woken up...and he had to ask where we were, which means he was either unaware or wanted us to think he was...ugh, I have got to find out what's going on here, this is going to bug me forever if I don't. Do you mind verifying that you've spoken truthfully and without deceptive intent throughout this conversation?" She holds out a hand again. "I believe you, but it's a cheap test. I wish I could offer you a similar reassurance, but all you've got right now is my word and that I'm the sort of person who has truth-verification shining through their Aura."

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Riley takes her hand again. "I didn't intend to reveal being from another realm so I was trying to phrase things to lead you to conclude I was just from an obscure settlement but I wasn't otherwise intending to be deceptive. Truth arrays are possible to create but they're restricted due to how invasive they can be so I don't have one."

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Shiny green affirmation. 

"Thank you. There's a Bullhead - a flying transport - on its way to pick us up in a few minutes. The man you're about to meet, Headmaster Ironwood, is in charge of the technically civilian Atlas Academy and also a ranking member of the Atlas military, which complicates diplomacy somewhat, but he's also the most knowledgeable and reliable person I can reach on short notice, and the most likely to be able to speak for Remnant instead of just Atlas.

"We're in the capital of Atlas, by the way, or under it at least. Atlas is ruled by an elected council but controlled in large part by military and corporate interests, notably the Schnee Dust Company. The government's first priority is maintaining order and preventing the sort of mass panic that draws Grimm attacks; its second priority is fighting off said Grimm attacks; and thanks to the knowledge that we all die if it fails, it tends to be impressively competent in those two areas. It is notably less effective in the general-welfare-of-citizens department - there are indentured and badly-treated Faunus working in Schnee Dust mines, for instance - and a lot of people would benefit if you could use your otherworldly leverage, once you have some, to nudge that priority higher without sacrificing the first two. Some of the higher-ups will try to downplay that," she adds. "Entrenched interests and all. 

"There are three more inhabited continents on Remnant, none as technologically advanced as Atlas and with varying internal cohesion. Cultures vary significantly between them, since until recently, Grimm attacks made it difficult to communicate very far. That tower," she points at the tallest spire in the floating city, "is one of four recently-built relays that form the Cross Continental Transmit System, or CCTS, letting us communicate with the other major civilizations on Remnant. It's considered one of, if not the most important accomplishment of our age. Atlas will be reluctant to give up its military research advantage, but access to CCTS will likely be crucial to any knowledge-distribution you want to try. My scroll is connected to the same system, for local communication. You can get one too, if you like." 

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"I think we're more likely to help by providing resources than exerting diplomatic pressure. That said if you're still mining with manual labor we can help you create automation to handle that and I expect we can launch satellites to supplement your CCT towers. As for getting a scroll, I'd love to get a few, I'd want to deconstruct at least one to see if I can use my hardware to interface with your communication systems."

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