Emiko looked around the new research outpost. It was fairly small by Starlight's standards but it could be expanded later if necessary. The station was a mere 2 kilometers in diameter and only the same amount wide making for an inner surface of about 12 square kilometers. For now it was mostly park land and some small farms. There was constant soft illumination through the transparent siding of the station's outer ring from the silver mist outside and fusion powered lights provided brighter illumination on a daily cycle. The strange mist didn't seem to be affected by gravity and was close to uniform in every direction they'd sent probes out for at least a few million kilometers. A magecrafter had come through and determined that the mist was probably harmless but none of them were currently available for follow-up tests so at least for now the team here would be relying on resonators and good old-fashioned physics.
The door closes above them and then the room starts moving. It's going slowly but fast enough that they have to hold on if they don't want to end up on what will become the ceiling. "We can talk some while we're moving. The ride will take five minutes in this gentle mode. The elevator could move much faster but that gets unpleasant for most kinds of people."
"I'm not in that much of a hurry. Oh. Gravity and the Astral. You're researching the Astral. You have a fancy gravity setup. You probably haven't figured out that it has subjective gravity, then?"
"Subjective gravity? Also I wouldn't typically call spin gravity fancy. I can explain how it works if you'd like."
"I can show you subjective gravity, though it might make sense to pause the elevator for it. And any setup you have is fancier than using no setup at all and relying on existing properties of the Astral, in my opinion? Though I'm not sure how it works, you might have trouble using it if your mind isn't located inside your body."
"I can set the elevator to constant speed which should work. Stopping it entirely would take longer." She does this and the pull towards the ceiling goes away.
"Alright. So. I'm going to keep hold of the handholds for convenience and safety, it still should be a sufficient initial demonstration." Griffie focuses slightly, and then is strongly pulled towards the ceiling. They focus again, and are now pulled towards one of the walls. They continue this for a few other directions, then stand up on what they were told would soon become the floor, jump off of it, and fall towards the floor again, no handhold required.
"How does that work? And what do you mean by if my mind isn't located inside my body? The mechanisms running my mind are inside my body."
"It works via wanting to fall in that direction. And … it doesn't look like your mind is inside your body, I can't see your soul, do you have very high-grade wards up?"
"I'm protected by not being something most magics recognize as a person or a mind. It's a useful side effect of bodies of this sort."
"Huh. You don't have to tell me the details of your security measures, of course, but I've never heard of minds running solely on mechanisms, with no positive energy or negative energy involved. Who created you? Or, hold on, do you mean that you used to not run solely on mechanisms and you transferred yourself? How damaging was it?"
"I think positive and negative energy are a bit like the elemental fields and are similarly things we haven't encountered before. I'm also not sure that it would be possible to make mechanisms like the ones I run on out of the sorts of fundamental substance you're made of. As for the transfer process, in a completely technical sense my mind was copied from my old body and then that body died." Emiko probably shouldn't share the fact that she has a habit of trying out different ways of dying. Even among her own people that's considered rather odd.
"I've had my soul transferred between bodies before, but the method my community uses causes near-total memory loss. Using that method again would probably require external help from my community, which I currently don't have access to. Unless I figure out access to them, I am on track to die in two decades, at most. I very much like not dying."
"There doesn't seem to be anything obviously wrong with the substances you're made of, and positive energy souls are… Nobody I trust has so far been allowed to inspect the place they come from, and I am suspicious that it has been sabotaged, as positive energy souls tend to decay, but prior to a major war they apparently didn't."
"Is there something I could offer you in exchange for eventually using this transfer process on me?"
"I'm gonna start the elevator again." Emiko says before doing so, then she refocuses on the questions. "That sounds distressing, generally we're pretty free with offering immortality to people though I should warn you though that even if we make you a biological body we can't guarantee you'd keep your magic. I also can't guarantee that the methods we have will work for you at all but we'd be able to tell before getting started."
"You're 'pretty free with offering immortality to people'. Huh. Good for you if you can get away with it? Also good choice being this far away from everything, actually, I would recommend not going closer? And I do not care about my magic or being on a biological substrate nearly as much as I care about not dying. And if I accept your methods and ever in a millennium want to go anywhere near my world again, I want the security-by-obscurity stuff, actually."
"Nobody should die if they don't want to. Are there people in your home plane that are opposed to immortality in principle?"
Griffie laughs for a moment about the question being worth asking, then sighs. "Yes. Definitely. Lots of them. Most notably Charon, second most notably the psychopomps, also the rest of Abaddon really. Charon appears to want to kill everyone, and is at least comparable in power to a god, probably more powerful than most, but hiding it. The psychopomps are more focused on people experiencing their 'natural' lifespans, and to be fair to them, many of them will oppose Charon's servants in their more egregious and blatant actions. Abaddon is where Charon lives, along with various lesser entities who are not unlike him in attitude."
"That's awful. I hope we can find a way to help with that. If we can do something about it we probably will. Though there's so many things to do and we can only do so much."
"Intervening at all could be dangerous to your civilization. You might be in violation of the current treaties around life and death, and if you wanted those treaties altered in your favor, a proof that aging is not fundamental might help, but a lot of those treaties are founded on the balance of power between deities, and I'm not sure how powerful your civilization is."
"In that case we might not. I don't really know how powerful we are relative to your deities. It sounds like they're quite good at creating Gates and the fact that most people are bad at that is one of the things we use to protect ourselves. It's possilbe they can't create Gates to our plane but that is a major risk to take."
"I do discourage you from taking that risk. Deities and the greatest of their servants are very good at creating Gates."
At this point gravity is getting stronger up to about half a g. Emiko is normally on the floor. "That's not my decision but we'll definitely take it under advisement and listen to any advice you have if we do choose to go in that direction. Let's put that topic to the side though. I've asked someone to bring a mind encoder over so they'll be meeting us at the bottom. Is there anything else you'd like to ask me about?"
"I'd like to ask about your society's weaponry capabilities, but that seems like the exact sort of question you wouldn't want to answer for everyone who shows up near your station. I want to have a model of the general structure of your world and societies but I'm not sure where to start asking. Oh. I would like it if you could clarify whether you can make a copy of my mind nondestructively."
"You'd be right that the exact details of our weapons aren't things we share widely. I can probably answer general questions though. The structure of our world is very loosely a bunch of connected planes which are pretty different from the Astral. The structure of our society is a mix of governmental and non-governmental organizations. The governmental ones are called divisions and are ultimately controlled by the assembly and committees thereof. And we can definitely make a copy non-destructively if we can make one at all. Given that our language magic works on you I expect our immortality magic will too. They're based on the same principles."
"Can you tell me the guiding principles that your assembly and committees follow? And if you can make a copy of my mind, can you send it through one of your gates so there is a copy of me even further away from my home than this?" Presumably if this is feasible, the person Griffie is talking to has already done it.
"The central philosophy our society agreed to when we formalized it is based around three principles: First, learn all there is to learn. Second, teach each those who would be taught. Third, never again. That last refers primarily to what we call 'The crisis' a massive war and its aftermath. About half of everyone alive before the crisis died during it. The phrase has a longer history about other past atrocities though."