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Dec 06, 2022 2:59 AM
Vanda Nosseo deals with Sesat
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"...Or perhaps the Klingons will come after us, they seem the type, or perhaps we'll be discovered by some other multiversal polity. And - obviously you don't have the authority, but you have the ability to advise me, and the cultural context and personal familiarity to even begin the chain of leaning on people to lean on people even if you don't think you can succeed. Also, in full generality, a mistake you've made repeatedly in negotiations is responding to an opening offer with a flat no and you should basically never do that. Nelen does it too and that's what scared the Star-of-Stars so much to begin with."

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"- what is it you'd prefer we do in those circumstances?"

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Feris sighs and makes puppy dog eyes at Valan.

" - Um," Valan says. "In Sesati culture sometimes when two people are trying to make a deal, one party proposes a highly slanted deal that gives them everything they want. This sometimes results in the other party saying 'oh, wow, I don't mind giving you any of that', and it always obscures exactly how far they can be bargained down, so it's a popular way to start bargaining. The typical response is to make a counteroffer - if your counteroffer is 'no' or an insult like 'how about instead I don't kill you and you count yourself lucky', then you're communicating an unwillingness to bargain and communicating that you have no reason to make compromises at all or give the other party anything. So, say I want to buy a corsage, the florist might demand a ridiculous payment for it, and then I might make an offer where instead I pay them too little but I still pay them, and then I see how much they adjust their price down in their next offer. If instead of knowing they sold flowers, I actually had no idea what they sold and it was multiple different types of items that I wouldn't necessarily guess, then it'd be especially important for them to either list everything they were selling or take on a lot more of the work of coming up with proposals. So, if someone asks for Loki's spells and you say 'no' you're implying 'you are a worm and you live as long as it amuses me', and in this case I think what you want to say is 'I bet you would be good at wizardry, I wonder if I can get you into a class.' I'm not completely sure of that, though, I'm extremely confused about how you make decisions about magic."

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"- ah. One moment, let me, ah, tell my colleagues..." He pulls his computer to do that. "- I'm not actually sure what of my last remark constituted a flat no, though? It's not impossible to get Loki's spells one day. Even moving the planet to get a Lórien - or I guess since you're in range of Edda putting one on a different rock and bringing it here for transplant, that might be more efficient - isn't completely out of the question."

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Feris seems unsatisfied with this answer for some reason he declines to go into. "All right. I suppose that will do. Circling back to national defense - you say you won't try to conquer us but I have also heard that you won't consistently stop your people who want to come in and undermine our sovereignty. You were only temporarily preventing the theft of our slaves; even if slavery sentences remain suspended indefinitely pending truth song licensing - on which topic, we can't just hold those accused of those sorts of crimes indefinitely and it would help to have an agreement not to resurrect them if we want them dead while we're still negotiating the licensing - anyway, even if slavery sentences remain suspended indefinitely, we will not be using your prisons, and your people have both the ability and the inclination to interfere in foreign countries to enforce their preferred justice system, and it would startle me if it were only the justice system and not dozens of other customs."

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"Yes, most people have the ability to go places outside Vanda Nossëo and some of them may commit crimes while they're there. Balancing this with having magic even less available than has already proven insulting here is one of the more complicated policy decisions Vanda Nossëo deals with. But while we're not liable to give back a slave who makes it to us by any means we're not going to let people walk in here and murder the locals or kidnap people who don't care to go or things like that, there are multiple kinds of crimes and they aren't all handled the same way. Uh, resurrection is also one of the not very restricted magics, as we've gone over - Vanda Nossëo might agree not to resurrect persons you execute but this isn't binding on, say, Abolitionists Without Borders - 'Without Borders' is a traditional charity suffix among some Earthlings and does not reflect their legal status."

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"Oh, I don't need magic to be less accessible to them, I need it to be more accessible to us - or perhaps I don't, I am apparently very unclear on exactly how accessible it actually is. My concern is that... a month ago we were going to war with Azan because a fugitive from Sesat sought refuge in Azan and Azan declared war over us trying to retrieve the fugitive. If one of your people comes in and breaks our laws and disappears into Vanda Nossëo..."

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"- well, you can... try to retrieve the fugitives... and we won't declare war about it... but I get the sense this is not the answer you were hoping for. The truth magic is likely to be much more tractable, politically speaking, than any magic that would enable you to enforce Sesati law against someone with powers like Nelen's or Natsuko's or Cassiel's."

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"Well, it's a better answer than 'since we hate your entire society, instead of working out an agreement we'd like to conquer and enslave you' and my standards are fairly low right now," Feris chirps cheerfully. "What magic do you expect I'd need to make that work?"

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"To make what work specifically?"

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"To enforce Sesati law against people like that."

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"...that might depend on how you plan to accomplish that. I don't think I can ethically advise you about ens- uh, maybe what you want is actually stricter border control?"

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"I probably do want stricter border control but do you think I pitched the Star-of-Stars on putting all trials that might have slavery as a sentence on hold pending some licensing agreement I have no compelling reason to think I can negotiate and then made no effort to negotiate it while telling the Star-of-Stars that I'm still working on it because I want slavery to continue."

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"I mean, I certainly hope not, but I'm not actually sure what enforcing Sesati law will look like in its absence."

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"Well, we will also need to rethink capital punishment, so for the most part that leaves fines, various forms of public humiliation, and flogging."

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"- fines and probably many forms of public humiliation are not necessarily the kind of thing we're obliged to protect our citizens from."

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"You previously told me you wouldn't declare war even if we went into your territory to drag them back and now you imply that in fact at least one of those is something you're obliged to protect them from."

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"...we wouldn't declare war about that because you would be really unlikely to succeed."

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Feris practices deliberate deep breathing and tries to focus on not hitting Tarwë; Valan's bitter laughter distracts him from that and he snaps, "You think it's so funny, you handle it."

"Me? In your place I'd've given up by now! I've got nothing."

"Fine. Fine. Fine. Tarwë, is it a lack of inclination or a lack of understanding that has caused you to offer me insults instead of answers?" Feris isn't yelling but he is vibrating with barely suppressed rage.

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"I'm sorry, I don't have a good generalized understanding of what things are insults yet - I wasn't haggling, I was - trying to clarify? I am not trying to insult you, I am never specifically trying to insult you."

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"I appreciate that," he says although it doesn't seem remotely plausible that he appreciates much of anything. "My goal here is an end result where Sesat is an independent state in the sense that it meaningfully makes its own laws and enforces its own laws, rather than being subject to Vanda Nossëo's laws and having those laws enforced in Sesat. It sounds to me like this is not an option, and the options available are that we admit we're joining you or that we refuse to admit it and have Vanda Nossëo's laws enforced in Sesat regardless. Is that correct?"

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Tarwë pauses, thinking, trying to come up with a way to reply to this. "- I think, again, possibly what you want is extremely tight border control, preventing tourists who might come here to commit crimes from entering in the first place. I am - not - creative enough? - to be at this moment able to come up with a scenario in which - a Vanda Nossëo tourist entering Sesat with Sesat's permission - would not then be able to summon help from Vanda Nossëo if threatened with flogging."

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"...Fine." It's not fine at all, isolationism will be the death of them, but maybe a slow enough death that he could have time to think of something better or gain enough power to have meaningful leverage. "And if we are known to have refused them entry and they come in anyway as they are perfectly capable of doing, what then."

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"As long as your border control is sufficiently - clear and thorough - that someone would have to try pretty hard to get past it, which we can help with - then we can decline to help infiltrators who have managed to be sentenced to flogging," says Tarwë slowly.

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He sighs and it seems like all the rage drains out of him. "I suppose that will do. What would we need to do to arrange that?"

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