Oct 02, 2022 9:32 AM
Vanda Nosseo lands on a world that fights a lot of wars.
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The city of Amraterre, located in the Sacred Principality of Amraterre, is an absolutely beautiful sight. Placed on the flat peak of a mountain whose once-craggy surface had been flattened by an act of heaven, it towers over the lowlands and cloudlands below, shining down on lands habitable and uninhabitable. The moons above glow with the reflection of the dawning sun, and beneath them is Amraterre the beautiful, unmatched in the annals of the world; from the Bestowal at its center gifted by the angels, greatest of all their gifts, from which flows ambrosia to grant life and health to the city's people, to the shining palaces of the Admiralty, which still reflect the work of those generations of builders that exalted the city for the glory of Those who gave us the chance to win it, and museums swelling with the plunder of a dozen kingdoms shattered and liberated and forged anew by His Holiness's benevolent hand. Beneath them is the thriving city with its burghers and artisans and ten thousand captains and commodores, in their formal uniforms of blue silk and caps of velvet; beneath them are the fifteen great terraces beneath the peak cut into the mountain's walls by the Blessed Champions, six to shelter the city's swelling masses when they grew too great for the peak, nine more to grow the grain that ensures that Heaven's city does not face famine, even in the darkest of times.

Amraterre is all but deserted, now; His Holiness is on campaign, and from the city he has taken the young men, and the middle-aged men, and the oldest youths. Boys and girls play in the streets, But women and old men still walk the city, working the trades of their husbands and their sons, so that there will be something to come back to, when the long, terrible war ends at last.

Oh, and aliens. Aliens are very shortly going to walk the streets of the city, too.

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The aliens look like this:

- a short man, though at a glance you might be forgiven for being unsure that he's a man; his hair is vermilion, streaked with gold, held in a simple ponytail, and his clothes are simple to the point of being minimalistic, perfectly fitting black slacks and a short sleeved shirt in the same grey as his eyes
- a statuesque woman with wings, pink, and a thin floating disc hovering above her head, rose gold, wearing a white drapey toga situation
- a preposterously ugly man, as though all the deformities of half a dozen mutants and boxers were heaped on one face and that face was painted sage green to boot, wearing a very crisp business-suit-like outfit with several pieces in several layers and some understated black lace
- a man who is fully seven feet tall, willowy and delicate and long-fingered and pointy-eared and inhumanly beautiful, with his black hair piled on his head in an architecturally marvelous nest of braids, clad in ethereal robes and some twenty pounds of jewelry all told
- a human woman, petite and very normal-looking compared to the others, though ethnically dissimilar from the locals, in a nice white tunic-blouse and wine-red leggings

They stand there at first, waiting to see if there is some response or if they need to start looking for who to talk to themselves.

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There are guards in front of the palace, as it happens! The guards are wearing fancy military uniforms with plumed hats and glittering epaulets and carrying guns that look to the majority of the people present like they were created by historical reenactors (single-shot flintlock muskets), but the guns have bayonets and are probably loaded. They do, however, look like they aren't wholly certain if they should point the guns at the aliens or kneel; there's a lot of attention being paid to the rose-gold disc over the winged woman's head. They compromise by sounding the alarm; a quick cry and then bells are ringing in a not-especially-musical manner.

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The visitors politely wait for whoever the alarm is intended to summon, nodding and smiling at anyone who makes eye contact.

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The Lieutenant of the Guard is a young man in a fancier uniform than the regular guards, with elegant features, an aristocratic air, and only one arm. (The other sleeve hangs limply.) Honors are pinned to his chest, and there's a pistol where his right hand can draw it.

"They just appeared!"

"Really?" His eyes scan the visitors. "And pray tell, where did you appear from?"

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"Hello!" says the one with the red and gold hair. "We are visitors from Vanda Nossëo, which is based around another star very far from here."

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That... seems to stun him, and his first instinct is to say something sardonic, and then he looks again at the glowing gold disc.

"If you're faking this," he says, "I'm not impressed. Are you divine beings?" That last is in another language.

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To all appearances the visitors don't notice, except for the super tall one, who cocks his head slightly.

"We are all ordinary people in the places we came from," their leader says. "But we came from very different places. With so many kinds of people and cultures around it can get complicated to draw a clear line between being divine and not, but none of us has a particularly good case for divinity."

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... Well, if they deny it, then that makes things easier. He attempts to recollect his dignity.

"If you're from another star," he says, "can you prove it?" They might be demons as much as angels. Or, more likely, they're confidence tricksters; yes, His Supremacy says that the end times are coming, but that would make it more tempting to be confidence tricksters, now wouldn't it? The simplest explanation actually is the best, even if it looks really, really unlikely right now.

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"Yes!" says the leader. "If you'd like to visit other planets we can bring you along with us, although it might ideally wait until we've had more of a chance to talk about what you'll find there."

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... Yeah right.

"... Do you have... the ability to do things that we can't do..." he looks at the winged woman... "that can't be faked with makeup or Ace powers... such that people from another star might?"

Honestly he should probably just call the Foreign Minister but there's really good odds that this is a plot to assassinate the Foreign Minister, so.

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"What is an Ace power?" asks Nelen. "I mean, we almost certainly do, but knowing what things would be most dramatic as demonstrations will help."

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Are they going to say they don't know what the sun is, next?

"Aces are bearers of the Hero Crests given to us by the angels. To possess one," he says, "is a sign of absolute heroism, virtue, and -"

There's a bright light in the sky. One moving very, very quickly.

"- And superior rank to me," he says calmly.

And she touches down, stopping almost in an instant at a level where she still hovers in midair a foot and a half above the ground, to put her eyes level with the tallest visitor. She's glowing gold and hovering in midair, and her uniform makes his look like a product of a country that was both restrained and poor; over the indigo-and-white are enormously puffed shoulders with gold braid down to the elbows. Her skirt is elaborately multilayered, frilled, and covered with braided diagrams on it in in silver and cloth-of-gold that make it look gold-on-white instead of white-on-blue, and the part of it that descends almost to the ground appears to be made of solidified golden light. There's a baton in her right hand that she wields like a pistol, and the golden light is concentrated at the tip.

She herself is medium height, hair dyed silver, with scars half-concealed by the hair and half-not. (And, to elven sight, she is not in great health even if she is young and isn't visibly missing any limbs.)

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"Good day," says Tarwë, since she's facing him.

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The Lieutenant bows aristocratically, then straightens. "General of the Guard Gratice Lanitia, may I present you to five intruders claiming to be from another world? Five intruders claiming to be from another world..."

"Are you divine beings?" she says.

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"We do not consider ourselves divine beings," says Nelen.

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Her baton snaps into a firing position, and a cone of golden light shines from the tip to cover all four of them. The light lingers when the beam passes, covering them all before fading away.

It feels very very mildly soporific, in a sort of soothing manner, and causes them no harm whatsoever.

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They mostly don't react to this - though Natsuko goes rigid and Zanro makes a slight face.

"May I ask what that was?" Nelen asks after a pause.

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"It disintegrates demonic life," General Lanitia says with a cocky grin, "and other life hostile to humanity. So, visitors from another world. I am General Gratice Lanitia, Marshal of the Admiralty and the Holy League, acting protector of Amraterre while His Holiness the Admiral is on campaign -"

(A handkerchief borne by golden light flows from a hidden pocket in her uniform to her face, and she coughs into it before it is folded and returned."

"- and so I welcome you to Amraterre." She jerks her head towards her lieutenant. "Send a messenger to Radiant Ciparnu, he want to be here for this."

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"Thank you," says Nelen, "I'm glad we were - able to assuage your concerns there. I'm Nelen Utopia, and these are Tanaka Natsuko, Zanro, Tarwë, and Cassiel Jones. Is demonic life often a concern here?"

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(The messenger hurries off.)

"Oh, not often," she says, "though it works a treat for wolves.* But His Holiness the Admiral says they're supposed to be showing up with reinforcements soon enough, so."

(*: The word is having trouble translating properly, suggesting both wolves and another species not familiar to Vanda Nosseo.)

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"I see," says Nelen. "Where do they come from?"

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"Another world," she says, slipping into the cadence of someone saying what she has been taught instead of what she has observed. "They want to enslave all life other than themselves, and they can't enslave the angels so they tried to destroy them. The angels recruited us to help and chose an Admiral to lead us, and gave us Bestowals to feed us and Hero Crests to defend ourselves and brought us to this world to battle for the light. We won the battle; the angels are still fighting the war."

 

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"- I see," says Nelen. "Well, we're sending diplomatic parties to everyone we were able to see from above but if the angels and the demons are in another world we may have missed them. If you know how to get in touch with either we'd really value that information."

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"The angels send messages to the Admiral," she says, "but you'd have to ask him about whether he sends messages back."

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"I'll keep that in mind. Uh, we're from Vanda Nossëo, based around a different star from yours far away, and we're here to see if you're interested in membership and our project of universal freedom of movement, free trade, and free flow of information."

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