Jun 23, 2021 7:08 PM
an otome heroine in a red district
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"No, but if someone asks a lot of intrusive questions, they're probably a reporter."

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"Will they say yeah if we ask if they're a reporter?"

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"If they work for a newspaper then they have to say yes if you ask or they aren't legally allowed to publish. If they're a freelancer, on the other hand, there's a lot more wiggle room."

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A couple of bolder reds decide to go for walks Right Now.

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It's a bright sunshiney day! There are streets with even less non-pedestrian traffic than on Amenta. There are skies that are conversely well-populated. There are pedestrians! Some of them have red hair. Some have black or brown hair. Some of them have yellow or orange or silver hair. A few people have blue or purple or green hair, but not very many.

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They are a little shy of the ones who have clean-Amentan-like hair but they keep reassuring each other that they are pretty sure that "grey" has big teeth or that "yellow" is weirdly tall and is probably a human.

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None of the ones who have clean-Amentan-like hair take any more notice of them than any of the others, nor of the ones who have not-clean Amentan-like hair. 

Some people have children with them. The children vary wildly in age; if there are any discrete cohorts they aren't immediately discernable. 

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When they get back from their walk around the block they ask Solace how long years are here.

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"Do you mean the length of a solar year on this planet, or a standard 'year' across Villarosa for timekeeping purposes."

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"The first one."

"The kids didn't seem to be spaced, and we were told there was a risk of permaspring."

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"Humans do not experience the 'springing' phenomenon," Solace-delta-sexta explains. "Male humans are fertile at all times, and female humans are fertile on a personal monthly cycle of varying regularity. For the latter purpose, a local solar year is approximately half an Amentan year long."

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"What season is it now?"

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"It is the beginning of summer."

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"I noticed the microwave meat thing said it was grown in a vat. Why do you grow meat in vats?" Peka asks.

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"Many reasons. It is, at scale, cheaper. Vat-grown meat has zero pathogens or parasites even when raw. Also, if you assure people that they can avoid food that used to be cute fluffy animals at no cost to themselves, then they can go look at pictures of cute fluffy animals and pat themselves on the back for being a good person."

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"Then why isn't all the meat vat meat, and they still have to print it on the box?"

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"The overwhelming majority of meat available for sale in Villarosa is vat meat, but there is a niche market available for 'authentic' meat sourced from artisanal farms or places where it is legal to hunt."

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The next day, Linda comes in with a black-haired woman in a labcoat. 

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The reds have made themselves a little communal feast out of the contents of the kitchen and are all sitting around and eating it. The one year old is sitting on the table.

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"Hello!" the woman with alien hair says brightly. "I'm Maria Hargraves, I'm here to take medical scans."

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"Hi, Hargraves," say a few reds in unison, forgetting how Villarosan names work.

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"Doctor Hargraves," Linda corrects. 

"I don't think it's necessary to stand on formality," Maria demurs. 

"It's the right thing to say!" Linda protests. "I called all my doctors doctor whatever when I was a kid, it's not some weird upper-class thing." 

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"Doctor Hargraves," amend a couple reds aloud politely.

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"Is this everyone?" Doctor Hargraves asks briskly, calling up the diagnostic spells. "I can do everyone at once, if you'd rather, though I'd prefer to go one at a time, I'll get more precise results that way."

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"One at a time is fine," someone says.

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