Oct 28, 2021 9:52 AM
a trickster in amenta
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Here is a perfectly ordinary red district in Anitam. Nelen parks his truck at the recharge station, and the next driver takes the handoff, and Nelen stretches out the kinks in his back and heads home.

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A stranger falls out of the air and lands in the middle of the street.

He looks plausibly Amentan in most respects, except for the fact that he just appeared as though by magic, and the fact that he's kind of unreasonably tall—about 6'2" to be exact. Even his clothes aren't that weird, although they're definitely weird. The other weird thing about him is his hair: it's a very very dark reddish-brown, not quite the pure black of a low-budget TV alien, not quite within the range of shades commonly seen on real people. If he's not an alien, he should definitely be dyeing it one way or the other, because it's hard to tell at a glance whether it's more red or more orange.

He stirs in the semiconscious fashion of somebody who just took a bad fall and will be groaning in pain any second now once they wake up enough to feel it.

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Nelen startles. He looks around at the nearest buildings for - open windows, yelling family members -

- it's pretty quiet, as these things go. "Uh - I can call you a doctor, one sec -"

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There's the pained groaning, right on cue!

After a moment he utters some garbled phonemes and blinks up at Nelen in confusion.

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"I'm gonna call the doctor - where did you fall from, I don't recognize you," says Nelen, poking his pocket everything, wow, it's low charge, he should not cut it that close.

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More garbled phonemes for a couple of seconds; then he rubs his head and takes a deep breath and enunciates more clearly. In a language that is definitely not Anitami and doesn't even sound related.

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"...what language is that? That's - not Tapap - uh - kho unag Oahkar?"

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He shakes his head, and then winces when that turns out to have been a bad idea. Tries another handful of sentences in another handful of totally unrecognizable languages.

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Nelen doesn't know how to say "do you speak X" in any more Xes but he can say the names of languages?

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He listens through them all and responds negatively to each one.

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...

Nelen will call him a doctor anyway.

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He seems generally in favour of this development, although it's not clear he even understands what calling a doctor entails.

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A doctor shows up with a wheely cart big enough for a person, even a largish person, though this person's feet are going to dangle. "Nelen, do you have chalk, Skun thinks there might be a patroller -"

"Oh, yeah - you sure that's safe?"

"Safer than a patroller with his hair like that."

Nelen sprays the patient's hair with red chalk.

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He's pretty bewildered about that but doesn't voice an objection.

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With his hair chalked the doctor wheels him to the infirmary and motions Nelen along. "How far did he fall from?"

"I don't know, I only saw him land. I think probably the Steten building is the likeliest? Do you know who he is?"

"Not a clue. Could be somebody's visitor? Maybe he ran here to get away from some predator and was still fucked up about it and jumped, wouldn't be the first time that's happened."

"Somebody's visitor would speak Anitami."

"I think they still speak Lotsual in some little mountain towns."

"Is there good machine translation for Lotsual that he'd have a friend here?"

"Sure, it's fine."

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The patient is keeping pretty quiet through this conversation and seems to be listening, but gives no sign of understanding any words.

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Nelen looks up a Lotsual glossary and sounds out, "Sobi Lotsual u sa?"

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Nope.

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"He probably hit his head, and Lotsual's probably not the only language like that, anyway."

The doctor hauls him into a bed in the red hospital. The guy in the next bed is coughing and wearing a mask; the lady on the other side has her foot wrapped up and propped on some pillows and she's asleep. Into the bed weird guy goes.

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Weird guy cooperates with this plan, although he also finds the time to look around in mild concern at the other people in the hospital.

None of his limbs are blatantly obviously broken or anything but he seems very uncomfortable anytime anything happens to his left leg.

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The doctor will poke and prod at his left leg until he knows whether this is a job for immobilization or drugs or what.

Nelen posts in the community chat that somebody neither he nor the doctor recognizes is apparently visiting, who has a friend over?

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The leg is mildly fractured in a few places and could probably do with being immobilized.

The patient does not belong to any locals.

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The doctor wraps up the leg and checks the rest of the guy over and -

"He doesn't have enough teeth."

"Like he got hit in the face -"

"No, not like he got hit in the face."

"That's weird."

"Guy must have so much mutational load. Or his mom works in something toxic, maybe. I don't think I'm going to give him painkillers till we can ask him what he's allergic to, at least."

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Something goes beeble-beep in the patient's pocket; he sticks his hand in and fishes out a laughably archaic device, the sort of thing that belongs in a museum or possibly poorly-researched historical fiction. It has a hinge, which he flips open to reveal an itty-bitty screen made of individual on/off pixels and a grid of buttons with incomprehensible symbols on them; he jabs a button and it stops beebling. He tries to put the ridiculous thing back in his pocket, but the required movements are too much for him and he gives up with a wince.

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The locals stare at the beebling thing. Nelen holds out a hand for it in case the guy will just let him have a look.

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Sure, why not.

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