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Jun 27, 2022 11:48 PM
Rachel in Astrocracy
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"There's only one, and not for several hours; he has an actual vocation that isn't self-study.  I continue to exercise no authority over your actions and to express no opinion about whether you should look like a human girl or like my cat."

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Rachel demorphs! It continues to be very gross. She continues to not acknowledge this in any way. She really does not want to wait hours to break the most important news in the world but her impatience does not change the fact that dropping it on Jackie alone would not actually be helpful. At least it gives her time to Frolis maneuver herself together a new cat form so she doesn't have to keep stealing Princess's face, and maybe try some other morphing experiments.

"You mean, like, a job? I would think so! What's he do?"

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Jackie passes Rachel the sweats and socks.  "He does gardeny maintenancey things at the park.  And designs like, fancy perfume bottle stoppers and stuff."

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"Cool! Hey, speaking of jobs, what might I be able to do, here?"

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"How old are you?"

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"Sixteen!"

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"Then school."

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"Well yeah, but like for part-time jobs? Summer jobs?"

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"I haven't been watching out for who's hiring around here.  . . . We are, like - I'm still not committing to anything, let alone on anyone else's behalf, but - Ian's hospitable; he took me in when I needed a place to stay, and he's not like, stretched tight financially.  Y - I would be pretty surprised if you ended up having to work in order to live and stuff for a while."

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"Well, thank you! I do sincerely appreciate the effort you're going to for me. Ian took you in? That...says good things about him."

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"I haven't really gone to any effort for you and probably I won't.  But yeah, he's good, for the most part."

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"For the most part? And you took me back to your house even when you probably thought I was crazy or lying; that's effort."

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"I think almost no one exists who's good for the whole part.  And that's just basic hospitality; what else was I going to do, leave you there."

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"...Yeah. Yeah, that's right.

And...I think in my city, someone from another world wouldn't get a ride from the first person they ask. If they're really unlucky they might even get the cops called on them under the theory that they're probably crazy and if they're crazy they must be dangerous.

...I suppose that kind of thinking did help us fight most of our war with the aliens in secret, which saved lives on both sides."

It's so weird to be able to just talk about it.

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"Calling the cops on you seems kind of like a primo example of the exact thing I'm trying to avoid."

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"That is very good!"

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(It isn't.)

"Sure."

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"So, anyway, could you tell me more about astrology? Just, like, stuff everyone knows, stuff you get taught as a kid. It seems like the biggest difference between our worlds."

(The second or third biggest, probably, from a moral perspective. But the biggest from a physical perspective; a longer lasting Roman Empire seems pretty plausible, and talking animals could just imply an earlier evolution of intelligence, but astrology would imply...Rachel doesn't even know how that would work. Andalite physicists could explain it, maybe.)

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Jackie shoves her face in Princess's shoulders for a count of ten.

"Sorry," she sighs after emerging.  "I - wasn't thinking about how you wouldn't know?  Uh, the first thing I should say is that everyone born on my birthday is fated to be at really high risk to do really evil, regrettable things.  And I'm used to people already knowing that as the first fact about me so I wasn't thinking about - that you wouldn't."

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A lot of things click into place.

"I see. That explains...why you might prefer our world to yours, even with its extraterrestrial invaders. It must have been really hard, to grow up with that kind of knowledge."

She debates whether or not to say the next part out loud.

"If whoever put me here meant me to meet you, specifically, I think they must have a really fucked up sense of humor."

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"I mean, it's better than growing up without the knowledge, because then I'd just fall into doing evil without knowing, and this way I can avoid it.  The story's been repeated enough times throughout history that we pretty much know what the patterns are now.  It's just - a narrow path to walk.  You think someone sent you?"

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Oh, God, she has to tell the whole story, doesn't she?

"I am almost certain of it. You remember that I said morphing is alien military tech? I was among the first Earth people to discover it. There was...a secret alien invasion of Earth going on. My friends and I were given the morphing tech by an Andalite, a blue-skinned horse-person, to fight off the Andalites' rivals, the Yeerk Empire, which is ruled by mind-controlling brain-slugs. The war eventually became public knowledge, and we finally got help from, you know, the real military with adults, but...a lot of weird shit happened when we were guerilla fighters. Most of it involved...two alien gods, Crayak and the Ellimist. Crayak is evil, the Ellimist is...something like good, and they play chess with the universe. They took an interest in me and my friends specifically; we've been sent through time before, and to other galaxies. We've almost certainly won the war, but...there's no good way to say this. I died. I died, and talked to the Ellimist one last time...and then I woke up here."

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"Okay, uh.  Uh.  D'you want?  A hug?"

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I want to go home and send Jake or Marco to deal with this shit in my place.

"...A hug would be nice, honestly."

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Jackie hugs Rachel, a little stiffly.  Pat pats her on the shoulder.

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