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Jul 30, 2021 4:47 PM
Dottie lands in the middle of Brian and Jackson
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[Only during eclipses, and this isn't one, I just lurk on their company chat when I'm bored at my regular job. So you're, uh, from an alternate universe? And used alternate universe magic to get here?]

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[That's about right, yeah. We call it 'chanting', and people who do it professionally are 'chanters'. Not very evocative, I know, don't blame me for that one. I used a pretty standard charm- chant is the general term, but charms are chants that you cast cooperatively. Escape is the name of the chant, but we usually call the charm Freedom. I was in a bad situation and needed a way out, so I Escaped. Ended up- interrupting Jackson and Brian, and eventually they decided to call Lockdown.]

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[Yeah, that would have looked like you were an uncontrolled mage teleporting accidentally. What other chants are there?]

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[We only know eight, although scientists say there could be eighteen in theory. Gift, Escape, Divert, Reverse...Aid, Heal...Arouse...and Quell, I always forget Quell. It's not my strong suit. Gift will be really useful if no one here can chant. I could help you with if you want to try, but you might need to hear it.]

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[I assume those mostly do what they sound like but not all are obvious from the names?]

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[Oh, sure. It depends if you're singing it as a charm or a curse. Most chants- except Reverse- can be chanted either way. Charms are based in positive emotions, mostly, and curses come from negative ones. Gift gives you the personality trait or skill you value most, as a charm, or as a curse, it gives you something that wish you had that someone else does. Either way, it's temporary and watered-down. Their virtues we write in water. The Aid charm is called Relief- calms you down, takes away your worries. The Aid curse is called Vigilance- makes you more afraid, noticing more threats and dangers. They're all things like that- Divert, Heal, and Quell are probably the weirdest. Quell can put out fires, calm a storm, and calm people down, Divert does luck but especially when it comes to probablilties. The classical example is arrows in wartime, but it applies just as well to gunfire or rainfall. I'm mixing up charms and curses here, if you want a more thorough explanation I should probably write this down.]

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[I'd appreciate the written version when it's convenient for you, yeah. And some people do this professionally? But if anyone can, what's their advantage?]

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[Anyone can do it as long as they have a co-chanter. There's not a lot you can do on your own. Professionals are people who have- either they have a regular partner who they have a lot of chemistry with, or they're self-aware enough and versatile enough they play well with anyone. Thing is, chants are powered by shared emotions. To Escape, I needed my alpha- oh, speaking of alphas, I might need some help understanding how roles work, we don't have those. To Escape, I needed my alpha to co-chant with me.]

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[...no roles? Gosh, okay. Uh, we used to conflate role with gender a lot? Do you have gender or are you, like, hermaphrodites or something?]

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[That was how I noticed the confusion. We use the same pronouns as you folks do, but the underlying physiology and society seem vastly different beyond some stereotypes. If I say 'alpha, beta, omega', that doesn't mean anything to you, and if you say 'dom, sub', that doesn't mean anything to me, but if you say 'he, they, she', we've got some common ground. I'm not sure how or who to ask about everything else.]

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[Okay. So you have an 'alpha', who is your romantic partner whatever the details might be, and you usually chant together.]

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[That's right. Alphas usually go by 'he', betas by 'they', and omegas by 'she'. It, uh, only took a few minutes of talking to this Jackson to figure out that 'she' here means something a little different.]

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[Okay. You prefer 'she', then?]

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[Maybe. I'm working on that. If it's going to read differently here, that matters. No one's going to be able to tell that I'm an omega, apparently. Besides role, you have gender- what does gender tell a person about you? Same with role, if that's not rude to ask.]

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[Uh, women are the ones who can get pregnant, doms are the ones who like to be in charge. Women are more likely to be subs and men more likely to be doms but it's not overwhelming - historically that was more conflated though.]

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[That's an interesting way of doing things. If someone has long hair, is that a signal that they're a woman, or a sub? Or both, because of the history there?]

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[Long hair signals sub. - in this country, not in all of them, it's cultural. I guess women might be more likely to have long hair even if they're doms, I don't know the statistics - or to have long hair if they're switches, who do assorted mixed signals.]

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[How would I signal 'woman' and not 'sub'? I don't want to deal with people here knowing that what role I am. Jackson mentioned my jawline and shoulders were off?]

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[Yeah, uh, being male or female is more biological than role so just changing how you dress or groom yourself or stand won't actually do it. I guess if you had enough money you could get cosmetic mage work done. Short of that... making sure you are always clean shaven, and maybe throwing on some jewelry, I think I see more women wearing jewelry regardless of role now that I think about it.]

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Dottie files that away for later. She could probably make some changes with a sufficiently motivated co-chanter, but that's not likely to happen here.

[Thanks. I'll look into that.]

She goes to ask either Jackson or Brian if she can use some paper. Theoretically, her phone should work for notes, but she doesn't want to run down the battery- and besides, she's not sure how much phones rely on satellites even for the apps they ship with. That's a question for later. She turns off the phone for now.

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Jackson fetches Dottie some paper and a pen. [Is it cool with you if I book you a flight out here? I can get you a hotel or you can crash at my place, depending on how reliant on a native guide you expect to be.]

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[Everything seems pretty similar to my Earth, besides role and gender. I think I could use a crash course on what to expect there, but I can run my own errands.]

Dottie does not have any money, unless bank accounts work across universes. Hopefully there's a secret government agency that Isabella works for which has funds for magical aliens.

She starts writing down what she can remember about all the known chants. Some are easier than others- she uses Gift, Escape, Divert, and Arouse often enough, but it's hard to be sure she's covered everything about Quell.

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[It mostly shouldn't come up if you aren't trying to date locally. Or I guess if you need certain kinds of medical attention you'll need to know how to explain what you've got going on to a doctor but I couldn't tell you what that might be.]

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[Fair enough. Do you have a doctor you'd recommend for this kind of thing, or should I just Google it? ...do you have Google? This is a really lazy alternate universe premise if we have the same corporations.]

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[We have Google! It should serve you well.]

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