Jun 14, 2021 1:16 PM
Demon Cam in Haven City
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There's a windowless stone room in the basement of a building in a dead-end alley. Between the boiler, the several bunk beds, the piles of boxes, the shelf of bottles of assorted liquids, and the too-small table in the middle of the room, there's barely enough floor space for Rit to spread out the paper she's sketching on. It's supposed to be a map with some cryptic notes around the edges.

Rit almost looks human. She's a featherless biped, at least, with five-fingered hands and a very average face. But her limbs are slightly out of proportion, her ears are pointy and too big, and her brown hair has hot pink roots. The person sitting on one of the bunk beds frowning in her general direction is the same species, whatever it is.

She speaks one language and it's not related to any Earth languages.

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There appears upon her map a person! He is a featherless biped too, but his hair is brown all the way down and his ears are round and his limbs are differently proportioned and also he has navy blue wings and a tail. They match his pants. "- uh, hi," he says.

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His summoner gasps and switches her grip on her pencil to one that would work better if she had to stab someone with it. "How did you even get here?" she says.

The person on the bed, meanwhile, aims a gun at him.

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"...uh, you summoned me," he says, glancing nonchalantly at the pencil and the gun. "I'm... not going to hurt you?"

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The man on the bed doesn't move.

Rit sets her pencil down. "How did we do that?"

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"Drawing on the floor. Awful habit. Uh, where am I?"

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For some reason this question makes her grimace and suck in a breath through her teeth.

"Haven City," the man says.

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"Which is... where."

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They both relax slightly at this question.

"Second planet out of twelve," says his summoner, "and if that doesn't help I don't know how to identify the star system."

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"It doesn't help at all! How fascinating."

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"If you can get home," says the man, "you probably should. The baron would be interested if he knew you were here."

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"How ominous. What form might this interest take?"

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"If you're really lucky, maybe you can sell him alien tech to fight the metal heads. If not, I wouldn't put it past him to cut you open and see what's inside."

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"Metal heads?"

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"The other aliens - you can recognize them by the glowing yellow gems in their heads. There's a range of intelligence, a lot of them could theoretically be bargained with if they didn't universally hate us and want us dead. Oh, and if you somehow kill one, don't touch the corpse without gloves, they leak dark eco."

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"What is dark eco?"

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"They don't have it on other planets? Uh, eco is a fundamental part of physics, like matter and time. The lies-to-children version is that it comes in five or six colors and the purple kind, also called dark eco, is evil - it can dissolve some kinds of things, or warp them, and in smaller quantities just makes people sick and more likely to be violent. It's part of what we use for the power grid."

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"........gosh. What do the other four or five colors do?"

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"So, still bearing in mind that this is the lies-to-children version and if you want the other version I have a degree in it - green is used for poorly-directed or undirected healing, if you're fast enough and have enough to work with, and for encouraging plants to grow. Blue is also used for the power grid, the Precursors used it for all their cool stuff, and if you know how to channel it and grab a bunch you can run faster. Red sort of lets things act like they have more inertia than they do. Yellow's another good one for power generation but it tends to be sort of explosive and hot and very capable of starting fires - there's even a trick for channeling it to shoot fireballs. And light eco is probably real - you can sort of tell from studying the other colors, but it only shows up in old legends. If it exists, it's... probably related to negentropy somehow. Might do healing, might make things fall slower, might do levitation, I'm kind of guessing."

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"Goodness. Uh, how does the wisdom of my being here change if I cannot in fact be cut open by curious barons?"

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"...Then I'd expect him to want to convince you to fight for him. Against the metal heads that might even be worth it."

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"Why do they hate you so much?"

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"They practically run on dark eco, in amounts way bigger than what it takes to have a measurable effect on how evil a city full of humans is. And they probably think we're ugly aliens - we're not hot, our art is probably ugly, our crying orphans aren't whatever they think is cute. We both need eco and there's only so much of it and we're edible to them. Can't really imagine why they wouldn't hate us."

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"Hrm. Uh, is eco a - substance? Like, could you put it in a jar or whatever."

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"Yeah - not arbitrary jars, and it doesn't interact with the jar the same way it would if it were a gas or a liquid or a solid. But yeah."

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Jar of blue eco?

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