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Generated: Apr 26, 2018 9:44 PM
Post last updated: Feb 21, 2017 5:08 PM
Travels abroad
Thea, Ev, Jay and Tau in Changeling/Fixer
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Three people come out of a seemingly innocuous door to a dull, grey building. Two of them are laughing about something the other one said, and then one parts way from the group, waving and making his way out of the alley.

The other two are left behind, looking around curiously.

One of them has blue hair. The other has purple eyes and slightly pointy ears.

They're quite out of place.

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Not that many people notice them, too busy rushing around trying to get places. Or standing around with cameras taking pictures. There's a lot of red buses around, and black cabs as well.

The streets appear to be laid out in a vaguely grid-like manner, with most buildings at least two stories high, if not higher. And look: there's green down this road.

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Theira is confused by the architecture, and is curious about the design of their vehicles, but after a few weird glances from pedestrians realizes that her eyes are slightly abnormal in these parts.

Tall buildings: not particularly novel.

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Itaruko's hair… is also pretty abnormal for this location. But that's not so much a problem, apparently.

After observing the road for a few moments, he works out that they probably cross over by the post and the weird markings – duh, of course they do – and then decides that it is probably a good idea to go over to the green space to get an idea of the distribution of the city.

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The green space is also busy, with a large archway proclaiming 'Winter Wonderland' into it, and wooden huts with people selling trinkets and food and hot drinks.  There are carnival rides, some with longer queues than others and strings of lights strung from every corner overhead. There's an ice-rink with people moving around it with varying levels of grace.

Everything does appear to require money though.

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Unfortunately they have no money! Also they maybe have issues with the sign – Itaruko looks at it curiously and frowns and then moves on.

If they can go towards a quieter area, preferably without attracting too much attention, they'd like to do that.

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There is a quieter bit, down by a lake. There's still people around - a few walking dogs - but the foot traffic is considerably lighter than in the main attraction.  There's a variety of waterfowl on the lake, and some people are feeding them bits of bread. There are benches along the water side, and some of them are even free.

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There's also this woman, playing a variation on fetch with her dog.

If she's paying more attention to her surroundings than the average passerby, most people wouldn't notice, but she's likely to notice anyone out of place.

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Well, fortunately or unfortunately for Itaruko and Theira, they are quite out of place!

… Itaruko not so much apart from seeming rather like a tourist. Theira… well, the eyes are pretty noticeable.

Their clothing, at least, seems mostly normal? Itaruko is wearing a leather jacket which has a couple of stripes over it, plus jeans.

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Theira is also wearing jeans. And a black top and a jacket.

She seems to be looking mostly at the ground, only looking around briefly every so often.

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Jay has certainly noticed them, and is tracking them discreetly, trying to work out if they're a threat. They don't appear to be visibly armed. But then again, neither is Jay, and she is definitely armed.  She tosses the ball she'd just retrieved from Dieter up and down.  Then she looks down at her dog, who's waiting patiently, head cocked to one side.

"I need you to give me a reason to introduce myself," she murmurs. Dieter cocks his head.

Jay smirks, and then throws the ball at her targets, just casually enough for it not to be obvious she's aiming for them. Dieter's off after it like a shot.

She gives a wordless shout of warning. If their reflexes are good they should be able to avoid being hit by both ball and munsterlander.

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Theira's apparently got very good reflexes, seeing as how she spins around to face it, notices the dog, and then gracefully moves out of the way.

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Itaruko, less so, but he manages to get out of the way anyway.

Then he notices the dog, and looks sort of confused.

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"Dieter, heel!" she calls, hurrying over. "I'm so sorry," she apologises, clipping Dieter's leash back on when he come to her side. "I didn't look where I was throwing and Dieter gets a little over excited.  You...look a little lost, can I be of any assistance?"

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Itaruko steps in front of Theira as she gets out and looks down at her phone – "Oh, it's no problem," he says, in a slightly halting and accented voice. "We're just looking around."

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"Of course," Jay agrees amicably. "I suppose I should be used to tourists in London by now. Word to the wise though, entirely purple eyes are...not the norm. It's bright enough that you could probably get away with a set of sunglasses. Otherwise you might find yourself the centre of a lot of unwanted attention. I can't imagine that's on your to do list."

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Pause. "It's a weird cultural thing," says Theira, sounding… sort of Italian. "Where I'm from, that is."

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"Quite a ways away that must be," Jay says. "It does have me wondering if you found your way here through Milliways?"

The question is innocuous enough, and if they don't understand it, Jay's being paranoid over nothing.

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"… It might have been somewhere that way."

Theira looks around briefly to check nobody's directly nearby.

"I'm guessing you know the place, then?"

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Jay nods. "I've encountered it a time or two. Nice place to get away to when you need to think if a door happens to turn up."

She looks down for a second. "I do have to ask: you're not the start of an invasion are you? I mean, I figure you won't say yes if you are, but I'd prefer to be forewarned of any potential invasions."

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"– I don't think so?" responds Theira, looking over at Itaruko.

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"No? I mean, should we be?"

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"Well, you can try," Jay says with a smirk, "but I can't say I'd advise it, and I don't really think you should. Also, fairly sure Milliways wouldn't let you troop an invasion army through. I think the evilest thing we have is a megacorp that doesn't always play fair. And the standard criminals that run around everywhere. I don't typically miss evil people running around my world.

"So, just here as tourists then? Any reason in particular you picked us? Or was it just there happened to be a door?"

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"The bar was kinda deserted while we were there, and there was a polite person who let us know about his world." Pause. "Basically, the description seemed to be: it's nice but it could do better, and so – here we are, conveniently visiting and seeing if there's a clean way to do anything."

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"I don't suppose there are many people with coloured eyes around here, are there?"

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"'Conveniently', huh? Trying to get us to clean up our act, huh?" Jay's tone is light, but her eyes are intent. She turns her attention to the question. "Like yours, no. Scleral tattooing is a thing, but it's dangerous enough that it's not common, and you can get contacts to do that kind of thing as well. Naturally? Definitely not." She shrugs. "To be fair, you'll get some funny looks, and perhaps a bit more attention than you'll like, and people will sniff at it, but it'll mostly be written off as a fashion statement of some kind. Unless you run into anyone who's a proper dick."

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– Blink. "I really should've guessed that profanity in a foreign language would be weird."

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She looks up, humming. "I suppose when not heard through however Milliways translates things it might be. Sorry, I have a tendency to swear without really noticing it." She reached down absently to scratch Dieter's ears. "So. What precisely do you mean by 'cleaner way to do things'?"

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"I mean, if there's a clean way for us to change anything." Pause. "Since we come from a place that could, I think, be a role model to some parts of your world. Might prompt change."

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"In my experience, people very rarely want change to happen. I mean, they do, but they don't want to put the work in. If you have a way that might change that, I can probably introduce you to some people who can get the word out and try implementing your methods. But I'd need a bit more information first, really. How about we go somewhere and get out of this cold?" She crouches down and fits Dieter's harness back on. "I know a fantastic cafe just down the road. My treat."

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"Sure." He smiles and follows her.

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"I'm not sure we have anything revolutionary," says Theira. "We might not be a ton of help."

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"Worth looking at though, isn't it? Otherwise you wouldn't be here. Unless you were just looking for a pleasure jaunt, but you appear to have declared otherwise."

When they get to the cafe, Jay leads them to a table in the corner and immediately places her back to the wall, with a good exit path. She gestures to the seats remaining, scanning the cafe and spots...

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Tau noticed Lady Jennifer enter, with her entourage, but is pretending to be engrossed in both her food and her phone conversation. Although she's not entirely expecting Lady Jennifer to be taken in by this. She will be listening in, but she'll wait on interrupting for now.

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Itaruko pokes at his earring. "What sorts of things do they serve at a cafe?"

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Jay reels off the menu from memory - it's clear she's here a fair amount. "If you want a recommendation, the soup is really good. You've got lentil or- Oh, it's thai green chicken curry today. Wonderful. Their selection of cakes is also rather good, the chocolate brownie in particular. Also, their herbal teas are good if you don't just want regular tea." She already knows what she's having, and gives her order to the waitress when she appears.

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Theira considers, has a brief conversation with Itaruko, and then says, "Lentil soup, I think, for me?"

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"… Are there varieties of herbal tea?"

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Jay promptly reels off the selection, a slight smile on her face.

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"I think – peppermint tea and chocolate brownie?"

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"Good choices," Jay says.

The waitress disappears off to get their orders.

"So. Where do you want to start? I can give you a run down of the world as it currently stands, or you can talk about how you do things, and I can offer comparisons."

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"I can't help but notice you have a lot of grey buildings around here."

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"That is...very true. I mean, there are colourful places. But our major cities...do tend towards grey, you are correct. I mean, I like them, they're...uh, easy to blend in with?" Jay realises that might not have been the best thing to say. "And hey, at least they don't clash with each other? Boring does have a few upshots."

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"i am reasonably sure that the lack of colour slowly destroys people's will to live, but I don't actually have hard evidence of this and it seems like it might not be first priority."

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"Now, there's a thought. I suppose I don't necessarily see it like that, but I don't necessarily spend a lot of time in cities like these. And it certainly won't be the first thing on most people's minds around here. Mostly they're too busy being absorbed in their own worries and concerns. They don't stop to actually look." She scans the room again. "There's other problems that need to be fixed before we start on the colour of our buildings."

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"Probably," he agrees. "Theira has some engineering knowledge, so she might be able to help with some things – I'm not sure how advanced you are but it seems like you're not dramatically behind us in technology…?"

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"That rather depends on where you are. Different countries have varying levels of technology. Developed countries like Britain and America have higher levels of tech than a developing country like say...some of the African countries. There are plenty of people trying to even that divide, but it's...slow. I-" She pauses, considering the people in front of her. "There are various regions made unstable by conflicts of one form or another. My...people, try to stabilize the regions to allow for others more suited to helping build infrastructure to improve conditions."

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Tau rolls her eyes at that - Lady Jennifer isn't being loud, quite the opposite in fact, but Tau's ears were always good. And she wouldn't necessarily have thought that her thugs were trying to 'stabilize' regions. Still, it doesn't feel like quite the right time to make herself known.

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"… Conflict of what kind?" he asks.

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Jay gives him a blank look for a moment, before gathering her thoughts. "Civil wars, invasion by other countries under one guise or another, warlords and other criminal sects wanting control of natural resources in an area. Or wanting to start civil wars. We can't help with some of those things, but... We do what we can, to either stabilize the region, or reduce the impact on civilians."

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"Are there some particular examples of things the civil wars are over?"

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Theira tries not to look too horrified.

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Jay shrugs. "Lack of resources, differences in opinion of government. Sometimes just sheer bloody mindedness. Humans are violent. We apparently like violence too much to avoid it."

"Are you okay, Miss?" she's confused by the look of horror, and that probably shows. Sure, this isn't exactly nice, but she was pretty sure that at this point it was just plain fact. Humans kill humans, in small numbers, or large numbers, in a variety of inventive ways.

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"I'm fine," she responds. "I just feel like we should have come up with something more powerful so I could declare those governments not okay, assuming people have – legitimate complaints."

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"Unfortunately we did not bring any large signs," says Itaruko, rolling his eyes. "But – okay, it just seems sort of ridiculous. We've had – oh, I don't know, like two wars in the history of anytime recent?"

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"Gross abuse of human rights is frequently considered a reasonable reason," Jay says blandly. Then she rolls her own eyes. "Well, good for you. Unfortunately we haven't reached the level of society or technology where we either manage to achieve world peace, or we blow up enough people that wars stop being a thing. Hi. This is happening, and it might sound ridiculous to you in whatever ivory tower you come from, but this is our reality. And it doesn't seem all that ridiculous to the people fighting for the right to have a roof over their heads, or water to drink, or to, y'know, not be persecuted for a belief they hold."

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"I didn't mean ridiculous as in they're being ridiculous, I meant – how many people do you have, are you at like, hundred and fifty billion or something?"

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Jay starts to apologise for her outburst, but then the numbers process.

"Hundred and fifty billion ?! We haven't broken ten. Billion that is. How- How does your world even support that many people? Like, resource wise? How do you not have more wars?!"

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"– No, I was scaling up to try to account for the wars – we're at a hundred and fifty million. With something like two recent wars. So."

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"...ivory tower," Jay mumbles. "Yeah. We have seven or eight billion. And plenty of them are starving. It doesn't help that corporations and richer countries are buying up massive swathes of farming land in poorer countries and exporting what is cultivated to the richer countries. Leaving less land for the locals to farm."

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Tau shakes her head and gets to her feet. "I'm going to have to intervene there, Lady Jennifer. Corporations help grow the economies of these countries. And ViaTech certainly ensures that it isn't exporting anything the local populace is struggling to source."

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Jay sighs. "I'd forgotten how sharp your ears were, Ms Tau. And of course, you would defend your company, even when we are both well aware that their hands are far from clean."

She turns to her guest. "This is Amelie Tau. She works for one of the larger corporations. She might also be able to render assistance if you can get a straight answer out of her. Tau, these are..." And that is the point that Jay realises that she forgot introductions. "And I seem to have failed to introduce myself, or ask your names. Jay Carson." She stares at Tau, daring her to make an issue of it.

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"… Itaruko," says he.

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"Theira." Pause. "… It's nice to meet you."

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Tau proves that she is much better at pleasantries than Jay. "A pleasure to meet you both. Amelie Tau, ViaTech Industries. No matter what Lady Jennifer says, we do far more good than harm. We also pride ourselves on being at least one step ahead of our competitors on the technology market," she laughs, a self-depreciating sound, "possibly nowhere near your levels, but certainly higher than most on this planet. Now, I must say that from the conversation I overheard, and yes, Lady Jennifer is quite correct about me having sharp ears, but you're obviously not from around here. Can I ask how you got here?"

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"I somehow don't think how they got here is relevant to how they can help us."

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"That doesn't mean I'm not curious. And frankly, the level of tech that allows for dimension hopping or whatever is definitely something that would help us. But, I do rather suppose that it is...not necessarily relevant."

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"Unfortunately the dimension-hopping tech is not actually ours," says Theira. "We arrived here by way of door."

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"A door?" Tau says, well aware of the disbelief in her voice. But... "Well. I suppose there is a logic there. How else would you get between dimensions other than a door? Depending on our definition of door." She shakes her head.

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"Honestly, it was a new experience for me too."

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"Anyway," says Itaruko, "we might have been a bit ambitious coming here with just stories and hoping to change the world."

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"Well, it can be hard to convince people with stories and no obvious evidence, but equally if you don't have any local context, you don't know what kind of evidence you might need. And stories can always help. Implant a rumour in the right place, and it grows, and eventually bears fruit. Either way, we're perfectly willing to play tour-guide to give you a bit more context if that's what you would like?"

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"We are?" Jay lifts an eyebrow. Because it's not that she's not willing, it's more that: "Thank you for volunteering me without my say-so, Ms Tau."

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"Why, Lady Jennifer, were you intending to let me have our visitors all to myself without any oversight?"

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Jay sighs, pinches the bridge of her nose. "I suppose you are right about that." She turns back to Itaruko and Theira. "As Ms Tau says, we're perfectly willing to play tour guide if you wish to get a better grounding on our world?"

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"That sounds like it'd be wonderful," says Itaruko. "There aren't going to be any… issues… that you two have to work around to do that?"

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"We're both professionals."

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"Well. You're certainly a professional. Whether or not that's reassuring for us working together is another question entirely."

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"And...you're better how exactly? Anyway. I'm fairly certain we can work together without any issue. A little sniping is perfectly normal between us, don't worry. Where would you like to start?"

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"… Might be useful to know more about your respective organizations, or – ties, affiliations, whatever they are."

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"ViaTech Industries is one of, if not the largest corporation on the planet. Any company as large as us has problems. But we aren't evil. We have many different projects ongoing. Agriculture, aerospace design, pharmacology, robotics including medical applications, several computer related projects. We have a lot of different things under our umbrella. Our main goal is to improve life for everyone on the planet. And that includes reducing wars where we can. Unfortunately, not very many of the warlords are willing to listen to reason, and governments seem to think that listening to a corporation is in some way betraying their democratic mandate."

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Jay doesn't roll her eyes, and tries to figure out what to say here. "I can't say anything more than what I already have," she says eventually.

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"I'm sure you can be a bit more forthcoming than that, Lady Jennifer," Tau says, hoping to get something a bit more useful that what little she does know about Lady Jennifer's mysterious organisation.

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"Not if we all want to keep our heads on our shoulders and our blood in our bodies," Jay says firmly. "Who I work for is so far beyond classified that even telling you that it's classified is borderline for misconduct."

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Blink. "Your organization sounds far meaner – haven't they ever heard of freedom of speech and transparency protocols?"

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"They are mean."

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"I wasn't going to deny that. But we are effective."

She pauses, and smiles. It is not an entirely pleasant smile. "The people we deal with aren't very nice either. Sometimes fire is the only way to beat fire. Can you imagine what the response would be if people did know what we're doing?"

She shakes her head. "It doesn't mean we like it. Just that that's the way we have to operate."

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"… Wouldn't that only work assuming people did know that? And it also sounds like a great way for everyone to go up in flames."

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"People don't want to know about the horrible things that have to be done to keep them safe. They like to be able to live in a bubble that their pacifist ideology is being adhered to where possible." She shakes her head. "And yeah, maybe everything will go up in flames. But we'll take down as many of the bastards as possible."

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"That sounds like you could ultimately do better by not and just developing ways to get away from them, but I guess that's not particularly… feasible." He sighs. "This seems like a mess and really I'm too young to have much experience with politics."

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"Efficacy's important, though. Waiting people out doesn't always work."

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"You should never try to wait out, say, a human trafficker." Tau's voice is carefully blank. "These people don't want to change. Your ideal is wonderful, Itaruko. But I don't think our world's ready for it."

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"… Are human traffickers particularly common, here?" asks Theira, a bit flatly.

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"More than anyone would like," Jay admits, rubbing one hand over her face. "Refugees from wars, conflict in developing countries. It gives them a supply chain, harsh at that sounds. Vulnerable children, and adults, desperate to get out of whatever hell is going on around them. Desperate for a new life."

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"We also see far more of it than the average person. Just with the areas we operate in." Tau's tone and face continue to be utterly blank.

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"That," says Theira, "is quite horrifying."

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"I'm sure you," he indicates the other two, "think so too, but – there's not anything we can do about it, not directly." Sigh.