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Nov 28, 2021 1:00 AM
Dottie lands in the middle of Brian and Jackson
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"Oh, that makes sense. Eclipse magic is notoriously individual, unfortunately, it can't really be taught, and the way I designed mine relies on my also having an eidetic memory in particular, I effectively 'remember' a future."

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"That's a shame. Guess I'll have to work up even more envy for the next try, hope I get something I can use."

Dottie needs to- calm down, and make himself useful, and try to gauge her opinions on the justice system, and criminals who are unlikely to re-offend, and then- then he can tell her, and hopefully, using a better version of precog, he can steer that conversation until he's got something they can work with. If he does this right, he can be responsible for first contact with an alien civilization, he can get on the ground floor of accelerated magical development in two magic systems, and he can stop the end of the world. This is everything he would have ever dreamed of, before the desire for revenge became something that motivated him even more.

Well. He's got that already. This is all just gravy.

"So, besides Gift, I think we do want to figure out if Churn is safely scalable. Do you have any ideas for how we should research what exactly went wrong in Chant? I'm thinking it could be as simple as hiring postcogs and climate scientists- not cheap, not something I can do just yet, but I'd like to have a plan before I'll need it. And I was wondering if you've got any thoughts on what people might pay for a chanting of Gift- it's obviously not perfect, and it can be variable, but usually the result is closer to yours than mine with precog."

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"I don't know if postcogs'll do it, unless it was obvious at the time and they just didn't know enough science or something. I think you'd want a diviner, they can get information without strictly looking at the past or future, though it's - finicky, you'd probably have to try a lot of times, that's why we don't use divination for eclipses and stick to precogs. I have no idea what the price point is for copying a magic power for a few hours, but probably a lot if you're the only person who can do it - we could do a demo of some kind and then auction it off to get an idea before settling on a sticker price."

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"That sounds like a good idea. Thanks"

Jackson would probably have thought of that, but Dottie has never cared at all about business. The fact that money gets involved in art has always felt like a terrible waste to her- but this isn't art. Dottie has always happily accepted money for chanting gigs.

"We should also try chanting Gift with triumph- it copies a skill perfectly, without watering it down, but you still have to spend time on picking it up. I have a feeling it won't work with eclipsed powers- there's no way that I could eclipse, right?"

Because if he could, that would give him a lot more leverage.

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"...you know what, we can't rule it out, you need to fast for the next eclipse like it might be yours, but the odds are overwhelmingly against anyway."

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"Makes sense. Warn me when the next eclipse is coming, just in case. Anyway, when you're in the mood, let's get started with charm-Gift- if there are any psionic specialties that are supposed to be really easy for anyone to pick up, even with how idiosyncratic they can be, that would make an ideal test."

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"Lotta psions pick up lucid dreaming in virtuality before they're even controlled yet."

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"We'll have to try that tonight. I'll let you get back to- whatever it is you're working on. Anything exciting?"

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"Some kinds of hypercognition can let psions learn whatever else they want faster, but themselves take so long that it's not actually quicker, so I didn't start with that because I wanted to be employable soon. I'm cheating."

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"Glad I could help."

And with that reminder of how useful, see how useful? he is, Dottie returns to the bed to think. Lucid dreaming- better to plan the specifics, so that he can work what he's aiming for into the song, in case that helps shorten the final timeline. He eventually switches to researching- it's probably not a suspicious thing to look up details about geopolitics, he's from another world, that's normal.

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Isabella doesn't seem suspicious about it at all; she's thinking to herself happily.

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It's all similar in the broad strokes of known history, up until about the 1890s, after which things slowly start to diverge. Dottie doesn't actually know enough history to identify everything, but-

"No one knows why the Hindenburg crashed?"

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"It's always possible some diviner figured it out and chose not to publish, but it's not common knowledge. Why?"

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"Ours didn't. There were a few incidents in the first century, but we still have airships for the rich today. Regular folks use planes. Not a major point of concern. The biggest difference between our earths are the climate change issue and our nuclear treaties. Chant had more close calls than Eclipse did."

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"Any first-pass guesses why?"

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"My guess is that it somehow comes back to Churn. We used it to increase power output, but it intensifies everything. It might have made nuclear war seem more threatening. I would perform a close read of your Cuban Missile Crisis, maybe, we didn't have that. The U.S. did drop bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Chant, but everything else about nuclear war after that diverges. It's hard to untangle changes after around 1980- by then it looks like we were on completely different trajectories."

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"Okay. You can borrow my library card if you want." She fishes it out.

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"Thanks."

Library card. That's nice. Until Isabella is bored enough that she's ready to try charm-Gift, Dottie will distract himself with research. He can pretend he's a comic book character and not a...traitor? They'll probably charge him with treason if they can't get him extradited, and he likes 'traitor' more than 'murderer'.

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Isabella is not bored until her borrowed superpowers wear off.

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Dottie is putting together a theory! Or a hypothesis, more likely. He isn't confident in his experimental terminology, but if his high school education has taught him anything, it's that you don't need to know anything to graduate into a full, functional member of society. His theory is that chanting is somehow even more disruptive than eclipsed, once you bring industrialization into the mix. Virtuality by itself doesn't explain this, so it must be that Churn's use in power generation was just an objectively bad idea and no one noticed before it had caused several seemingly unrelated problems.

None of this is useful. It suggests introducing Churn to a new society cautiously, and Isabella had already decided that. He needs to make himself useful.

"Ready to work on charm-Gift? Start thinking of skills or powers that take a lot of time develop which you want to get a head start on. It's a good idea to pick something you've already thought about and practiced if you want to see a huge cut in the amount of practice you'll still need."

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"Like increasing my range on precog or like stretching my telepathy to talk to people in Chant?"

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"More like the former. You'll need more time to work up the right emotions for something you only just heard about. The best test case is something you've already been working towards, because the feeling of triumph is more potent once you do get it. Some people find it hard to hold both thoughts- that it'll feel so good when they get it, and that they're cheating- but it doesn't sound like you're one of those people."

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"I'm not!" she agrees. "Okay, how does this version work."

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He walks her through it. Like the chants they've done before, the actual 'lyrics' are fairly flexible, but the core, shared emotion is not. They need to make sure they're feeling something similar. Dottie asks her to describe a few times she's felt triumphant about developing new psionic powers, as well as some times she's felt triumphant when working on a group project.

"With a charm, we want to combine our emotions. We should be feeling the same thing, about the same thing. It won't be as powerful this time- I've never been a psion before, so we won't be perfectly aligned, there. I'll draw on my experiences with telepathy and precog so far."

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She can chatter about how it felt when she was able to contact Alex from virtuality, when her eidetic memory clicked for going forward and when it kicked in retroactively, when she first got her precognition to work exactly the way she'd imagined.

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