Oct 01, 2022 12:14 AM
Vanda Nosseo lands on a world that fights a lot of wars.
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This is, in fact, completely outside the range of things she expected today. She doesn't even know what 'universal freedom of movement' is, other than abolishing trespassing laws, or for that matter what is meant by 'free flow of information'.

"Then you'll want to talk to Nicky -" she pauses "His Holiness the Admiral," she clarifies, "or C- Radiant Ciparnu, since he's on campaign. Radiant Ciparnu is foreign minister."

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"We'd love to talk to Radiant Ciparnu!" says Nelen. "If the Admiral is far from here then another team from Vanda Nossëo is likely to be closer to him than we are."

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Oh broken stars no.

"You're sending teams making these offers everywhere on the planet?" she says.

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"Yes!" says Nelen. "And if there are people we missed somewhere, we have backup teams who can come in on short notice."

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You know, this is EXACTLY the kind of threat that you should UNITE THE ENTIRE WORLD AGAINST. It's a goddamned shame that EVERYONE IS CURRENTLY AT WAR WITH THE PERSON TRYING TO DO THE UNITING.

"I'll bring you to Radiant Ciparnu." She sends another messenger on ahead and then leads them at a brisk walk fly into the palace complex.

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Cassiel will fly, if that's the done thing, but the rest of the group keeps their feet on the ground.

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It's more that the person with magic glowing-light-and-levitation-powers will fly. (So far they haven't seen more than one of these people.)

As they're lead through the palace, they get the chance to see more of the population. It... doesn't look good. The people there are overwhelmingly female (except for the guards, who are minority female), and most of the men they see (and a significant fraction of the women) are badly scarred, missing limbs, or else obviously too old or too young for their jobs, even in this inner area where so many of the people are dressed in embroidered silk. The art and architecture looks almost elven-quality, if not elven-artisan-quality, but these people are not in great shape. General Lanitia needs to pause twice more in the journey (into the palace complex, through a pair of doors with wood inlay showing light-wielding men and women slaying monsters, down a corridor, past a young woman in a totally nonmilitary uniform who waves them onwards.)

Their destination is the fanciest place they've seen so far, a tastefully-decorated sitting room with couches and chairs strewn about, with paintings on the walls that are brightly-colored and brilliantly realistic, almost as though you could step into them. They're all peaceful scenes; women spinning, an old man telling stories to enchanted children, a pair of lovers looking deeply into each others' eyes. Almost invisible by the side of the room is a young woman playing a harp; extremely visible is an energetic but quite fat middle-aged man (his white-dyed hair makes him look older; his infectious smile makes him look younger), with no beard, a golden cap, jeweled rings on both hands, and decorated robes of a design that looks absolutely precise, formal, and regulated, in sharp contrast to the rest of his appearance.

"Welcome, travelers, please," he says, smiling. "I am Radiant Ciparnu, and I am honored to meet you all."

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"It's a pleasure to meet you," says Nelen, and he introduces everybody again.

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Radiant Ciparnu introduces himself, the harpist (who appears to have a technically-nonmagical power to stay in the background under any and all circumstances), and his equally-invisible secretary.

"Now, then," he says, smiling benevolently, "Do sit down, master Utopia, and explain. You are from another world?"

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"All five of us are from different worlds, as it happens. There are many, and Vanda Nossëo is a federation comprised of the ones who want to join our umbrella as member states. The details vary with the individual needs of every new people we meet, but the basics are that anyone can join if their population's majority votes to do so, they agree to institute certain minimum laws against murder, rape, and torture, and they agree to allow all their people free emigration."

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His Radiance nods. "Fascinating, master Utopia. I am sure His Holiness will wish to hear about this. Please, tell me more about these worlds?"

(A servant arrives with a tray of refreshments. Is anyone interested in mildly alcoholic drinks, various forms of tea, or something that looks sort of like honey-water but shinier? There's also small baked tarts.)

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Natsuko murmurs a few words and twists her hands together, then nods, and she takes a tart and Cassiel takes a drink. "Of course!" says Nelen. "Would you like to see pictures?"

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The tart is fruity and tasty! The drinks are also quite good!

"Certainly," His Radiance says. "Do you have them on you?"

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"Yes I do," says Nelen, and he pulls out his computer and brings up a satellite picture of Amenta. "This is the planet I was born on, Amenta. The world it's in is called Warp."

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Radiant Ciparnu does not flip out over this! He is very very good at not flipping out! Even though the tiny metal thing is changing images!

"Very impressive," he breathes. "Amazing work. Do you have others?"

(He's less impressed by their ability to get a portrait-painter into space; heroes have gotten into space before and they mostly just report that everything interesting is very very far away.)

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"Yes!" Nelen can dig up pictures from space of Cube's Earth, Space Valinor (it is in fact a picture of Space Valinor and not Afterlife), Tikokar, and Revelation's Earth, and identify them as the birth planets of Natsuko, Tarwë, Zanro, and Cassiel respectively. And then if they're still interested he can grab images of the specific cities - his own in Anitam, and Kyoto, and Tirion, and Kufikar, and New Orleans.

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His Radiance is very interested! He will compliment all their amazing picture-taking powers and is eager to know how they do it! "Your people must have amazing art if you can reproduce any picture of anywhere," he murmurs. And their cities are fascinatingly huge and amazingly clean! He is very impressed!

(Though he has a little more trouble complimenting Kufikar and New Orleans after seeing Tirion. Nothing personal, Kufikar or New Orleans; it's just hard for him to have a reaction other than staring blankly in awe, after you've seen Tirion.)

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"Would you like me to take a picture of you right now?" Nelen asks His Radiance.

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"Certainly, thank you, master Utopia," he says, beaming. "Can you?"

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"I can!" And Nelen snaps a photo and shows him.

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Radiant Ciparnu is very impressed!

What other amazing things can they do?

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"I have spells including the most comprehensive healing spell known to us, the ability to teleport, and illusion magic," says Nelen. "Cassiel can turn things into other things. Natsuko has a number of spells, different from mine - she checked to make sure that the refreshments would be safe for us, since sometimes people on different planets wind up with different food tolerances. Tarwë's species is faster, stronger, and possessed of more acute senses than a human. Zanro's considering getting some sort of magic but doesn't have any yet; but all of the party members apart from me can control their computers without touching them, it's just my species that doesn't have the right anatomy to get the implant for that. We're carrying a few magic items - the computers aren't among them, they're just high technology."

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"Not magic," he breathes. "Fascinating. And," like a child with a new toy, "how does it work?" If they don't stop him, Radiant Ciparnu is prepared to just inhale information about their world for as long as they want before coming to business. (Snacks and drinks can continue mysteriously appearing so long as they are prepared to do this.)

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Honestly this is a great reception and they will indulge it indefinitely although eventually Nelen will gently point out that there are five of them and if there's anyone else who would also like to talk to the visitors they're willing to split up.

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"Oh, of course," he says, looking slightly abashed. "I'm sorry, I should stop monopolizing you," he grins, "I just got somewhat distracted. As Foreign Minister of the Admiralty, interstellar affairs are my department, though I'm sure some of the scholars at the University would be pleased to hear about all the wonderful things you've accomplished." (His secretary would be pleased to provide up to four different leading scholars in different fields at the university, all of whom would be eagerly pleased to speak to members of the delegation.)

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