Jun 23, 2021 7:42 PM
Bubblehead aliens meet Amenta
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Sure, splitting the project sounds good. The artificial islands are their favorites, what great islands!

There are coming up on fourteen billion Amentans these days and a few dozen countries, but this ship is a representative of the biggest country, Tapa.

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(He will talk about the engineering challenges of building artificial islands! Beauty of Life will chime in about ecological concerns as well.)

The bubbleheads don't have anything exactly recognizable as a "country", instead they have an overlapping web of regional, global, local, occupation and social role-based agreements. They created a body capable of making pan-species agreements when they started properly exploring space, though, and Coordination Minister will report back to that body. Though it is again not quite a country.

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The Tapai reported to the other Amentan countries as soon as they found the Bubbleheads! They have a few representatives from other countries aboard.

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Which countries? What are the differences between countries? Does being the first country to find them give Tapa an advantage like how Many-Water-Surveyor is very rich and desirable now even though the encounter was mostly down to luck?

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They have some Anitami (the inventor of warp is Anitami) and some Voans (the next largest country) and some Cenemi (also pretty big).

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Anitam must be very proud of their scientific achievement. Warp is considered the culmination of a huge collaborative project for them. They'd like to do the in-person crew visits now if that's still possible!

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Anitam's representatives confirm that they are very proud!

How many Amentans should go over? Amentans are THIS big. How big are Bubblehead bodies?

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Up to five would be fine. Bubblehead bodies are less tall than that but longer, since they're hexapeds. Particularly tall Amentan bodies might have to duck under doorways on their ship.

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The Amentans choose five not-too-tall people to go over and think they can accommodate six or seven Bubbleheads. Do the Bubbleheads have a better idea than getting the ships pretty close together and then doing tethered spacewalks and undoing the tethers once they're secure on the other side?

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They have this tube thing they use for collecting samples, it can stick to their hull and provide an enclosed transit space. Tethers are a good secondary precaution, though. Also, they want to bathe the outside of the suits in UV radiation as a decontamination precaution, will that be a problem?

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The suits protect the occupants from UV so that's fine and very sensible of them, they should do that in both directions.

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It takes a little while to make all the arrangements and do careful slow maneuvering. Then the bubbleheads scoot a cage-like structure covered in intense UV lights into their airlock and scour the suits worn by five bodies, before they move into the tube's artificial-gravity-free zone and wait for the Amentans to clear their own airlock.

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They are clear to come across! The Amentans are standing by to go the other way.

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A bubblehead waves cheerfully at the Amentans as they carefully make the crossing! They've learned the gesture from the art exchange.

And then the Amentans can come into the opposite-side airlock and get UV shined on them and then the pressure equalizes and the inner door opens onto a plain metal corridor, just a bit less tall than the Amentans would build it. A bubblehead is standing there in a bright blue uniform and holding an oversized pocket everything. It says something and is translated into Tapap, "Welcome to our ship! It's very exciting to welcome the strangest strangers I have ever seen! I can lead you to the common area, which is probably best for talking!"

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Amentans wave back! They sent across three greens, a blue, and a yellow. "We'll know soon how worried we need to be about crosscontaminants!" says a green cheerfully.

"Is it all right to take photos?" asks the yellow.

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"Yes, we need to be careful. I'm sure most of Beauty of Life is working on it already. It's fine to take photos and videos and sound recordings! This way."

The bubblehead turns and walks down the corridor, past a bulkhead that opens up when they approach and closes behind them. From this angle it has something that looks like personal electronics stuck to the end of several of its bubbles. Then another bulkhead opens and leads to a large and mostly open room where several other bubbleheads are waiting, with varying numbers of bubbles on their heads. The room has things recognizable as couch-like furniture in a circle, a kitchen, exercise equipment, and a series of wall screens showing video of crop fields. Uniform colors include light blue, green, a different shade of green, grey, and purple.

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The yellow records avidly. "What do the uniform colors mean?" asks one of the greens.

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"At home each colony present wears a different color or pattern or symbol so as to be uniquely identifiable, and today we chose colors meant to be legible to Amentan castes, though of course we don't actually specialize the same way. Light blue is Elegant Coordination Minister, light green is Science Eater, dark green is Beauty of Life, purple is Many Water Prospector, grey is Climbing Engineer Scout."

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"I'm Kaska Tuanke," says the blue, "and these are our xenologer Osika Mai, our astronomer Shian Dekanti, our linguist Ten Tahmu, and our documentarian Ito Atamsho."

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A purple uniformed body says, "These bodies are all loaded for communication and intelligence, so we can understand you better. Please be aware that if you encounter bodies with few bubbles on their head they may be unresponsive or easily confused."

A grey one asks, "What is your role, Kaska Tuanke? And can you describe the role of a xenologer briefly?"

"We don't have linguistics as a field," one of Science Eater says to Ten Tahmu. "The closest equivalent is cryptography and data compression, I think!"

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"Tuanke means 'outreach'! I'm here as the government oversight into the project and also coordinated the international representatives aboard our ship," says Tuanke.

"But you did use to have multiple languages, isn't that right?" says Tahmu.

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"I serve a similar role," Coordination Minister says.

"-Hundreds of years ago, it makes the study of languages ancient history, not science. Everything I know about it was learned since our friend Water reported back!"

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"A xenologer is someone who studies aliens! Of course until recently it was speculative, but we have to start somewhere," says Mai.

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"Indeed. There is so much to learn that it is difficult to begin."

"I tried reading some of your science fiction," a Water Prospector body says. "Nuna Sasan moves to the dark planet. It was an interesting experience. It felt slow, reading one perspective at a time. I couldn't tell what most of the characters wanted beyond very simple things, though."

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"I've read that one," says Dekanti. "Is there a way to read multiple perspectives all at once in your writing?"

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