Cam catches a summons while he's in the middle of Atriama. He's seen it before, it's fine.
"It means 'wanderer'."
"That's even stranger! But how did your lounge visit go?"
"Went fine, I got some petty cash for answering some questions."
"Nice. What do you think of them?"
"They seem fine! The specific one I talked to was related to Princess's family."
". . . May I ask for elaboration on 'fine' or should I drop it for now."
"I had a perfectly reasonable interaction, find their bracelet charm situation charming pun intended, was not exposed to knowledge of any particular atrocities during my visit, and apparently may not much disapprove of anything the specific guy I spoke to has done ever in his life."
"Okay. I'm not sure how much I should elaborate on personal experience versus letting you do your own research, but I'll at least say that while it doesn't surprise me that your specific guy might be fine I would not necessarily describe them that way collectively. Different lounges have superficially different signaling systems but Verona doesn't have one at all."
"I totally buy that left to their own devices in a place run by themselves and only themselves their more socially acceptable trappings would give way. That wouldn't even surprise me about a grab bag of people from Earth who had a tight-knit ingroup that ran a country."
"I'm still sort of having trouble grasping how things work without geminis, I think. I don't know whether to imagine what you describe as being about the same as a bunch of even folks banding together and committing atrocities along the way or as something else."
"Honestly I don't know either because I have the reverse problem. Do you want some history books?"
He hands her a nice big stack of 'em after a quick skim through relevant parts of his notetaking history.
She carries them to the shuttle and distributes them amongst herselves.
"Anything I should be reading for context on Verona and whatnot?"
"Given a few minutes I can probably come up with a list . . ."
Here's a short memoir by a former Roman slave who escaped to Verona. He lives a basically normal life for a few weeks, with his fellow citizens not being quite as fearful on a day-to-day basis as his fellow slaves had been, until he's drugged in the grocery store and brought home with an autumn solquinox who takes a liking to him. After more than a year's worth of adventures with various affect-affecting drugs, some superficially-datelike outings, and an incident with a memory supressant, he manages to escape again to Archipeligo. He suspects he might have only managed to do so because the solquinox got bored of him and wanted to spark false hope in their geminis' more cherished victims.
Here's an analysis of trends in so-called 'black rose' / 'dangerous boyfriends' / 'romantic suspense' novels over the past couple of decades. Initially, nearly all of the love interests were autumn solquinoxes and though the subgenre's branched out a bit over the years this paper is only focusing on those. The author notes that the older books tended to have the male leads be more unrealistically sincerely affectionate, sometimes kissing the heroine on the lips or even participating in relatively normal sex with her, but recent ones usually have more accurate power dynamics. The essay goes on to talk about a recentish split in the genre between those which embrace the horror element (frequently also to an unrealistic degree) and usually end up with the heroine being whisked away to Verona and forced to bear solquinox children or locked in a basement forever or murdered, and those which take a gentler tack and typically have the solquinox setting up the heroine with a different romantic partner and a more stable and prosperous life than she had before (sometimes with occasional visits for loungeful activities later on). There's a passing nod to the fact that of course female autumn solqs and odd male ones exist in real life even though tawdry books about other gender configurations get published rather less.
Here's a collection of reviews for a catalog drug order service, published by an Arbiter-run third-party product evaluation magazine. The ratings are quite high for the most part, and are mostly for recreational and/or sexual products, although there are some entries for stimulants and nootropics and some, relayed mostly from dead summer solquinoxes, for poisons ('🟊 4/4 Painless, fast. Good shelf life.').
And here's an article from half a century ago reporting on a small wave of people who each gave an autumn a taste of their own medicine in hopes of dissuading their collective from constantly drugging everyone else. The piece takes pains to avoid mentioning any of the solquinoxes' reactions while on the assorted truth serums and aphrodisiacs and other such things, and instead focuses on the fact that they all killed themselves as soon as they had the option and then immediately joined up with the One. The journalist beseeches people to stop drugging them, because it would be really bad if the One ends up disproportionately full of autumn solqs. Also their collective retaliation and defense measures are probably not going to be fun for anyone. Also also it's probably immoral or something, maybe. Possibly. (Even though if anyone deserved it it would be them.)
Such a focus on drugs. Do the autumn solqs produce writing of their own explaining themselves?
Sure they do. Here's a press release disavowing one who illegally kidnapped and tortured someone outside of Verona and reminding readers that their crime rates are actually much lower than nearly everyone else's. Here's a coauthor credit on one of the romance novels. Here's a ton of research documentation, mostly for (surprise surprise) drugs, but not exclusively; they also seem to do a lot of uncredited collaboration with winter solqs.
As for explanations of their behavior, well, he can easily turn up a lot of evasive quippery; anything more than that might take some digging. Or he could just check the transcripts from one of the times other people truth-drugged them! Those exist and are reasonably findable on the open internet even without infosec hazardry.
Is there, like, a particularly good reason those transcripts were not published? It's not like the people who did this were paragons of ethical reasoning.
They were super published! Many destructive coincidences which weren't traceable to any individual autumn solqs kept happening to most of the physical copies, but published they definitely were! And he can find them nearly immediately in several places on the copy of the local internet he already made; they're just well-labeled enough with fancy ASCII art title pages that they're easy to avoid should he want to.
...it does seem very rude to read somebody's transcripts from when they were on drugs that they wanted to have destroyed. Maybe he will text Nicholas about it.
It seems to have been quite emphatically communicated that the transcripts of the truth drugs incident would not be read by polite persons, even if that weren't the default polite thing to do with such transcripts anyway; do you suppose my situation is meaningfully different at all or nah?
Not that I yet know of. What considerations do you suppose would make that so?
If I were a nationstate considering negotiations with a remarkably powerful out-of-context entrant into geopolitics and economics I might consider disclosing information that was ordinarily secret as a gesture of good faith or something, especially if it wouldn't be hard to get anyway, but I don't wish to pry so I thought I'd inquire before moving on to other parts of my background reading.