Oct 01, 2022 12:17 AM
Vanda Nosseo discovers xianxia
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"I understand," nods Nelen.

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"Excellent." She turns to go inside, beckoning them to follow her. 

"In general, Butterfly-Boned Beauties have golden tears. It skips generations; my father didn't know he was one until I was born. I have more questions but at this point I think it's time to bring you to Father's attention; you're probably more important than whatever else he's dealing with right now." 

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"Thank you, we appreciate that."

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She leads them through hallways and courtyards filled with people; servants going about their business, but also non-servant people of various ages, mostly not more than a little older than Lisao herself, plenty of them much younger. She deftly weaves through children chasing each other and yelling and teenagers talking in low voices. There isn't a lot of crying, but what few tears are visible are golden. 

She brings them to the doors of a large, opulent hall, peeks inside, finds that her father is not in the throne room at the moment, and leads them past and down a few more hallways to a much less richly appointed office, stuffed with books and papers, in which a man in a chinese-style crown and a slender person all in veils have their heads bent over something. 

She enters and bows. "Father, Mother, I have visitors you'll want to speak to." 

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The man in the crown lifts his head, looking past her at the visitors. "Who are they?" 

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"They say that they are emissaries of Vanda Nosseo, a group from another world which wishes to promote free movement, trade, and the spreading of laws against murder, torture, and rape to cover anything that can think. They aren't anything we already know of and they don't recognize the dehumanization of certain groups for convenience' sake." 

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"Thank you for the introduction," says Nelen, smiling. "I'm Nelen Utopia, and these are Cassiel Jones, Tanaka Natsuko, Tarwë, and Zanro."

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The veiled figure turns when Tanaka Natsuko is introduced, scrutinizing her. "Dongying?" they ask after a moment.

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"I'm from a planet with the same landmasses as this one! Dongying might be your word for the islands corresponding to where my family's from." She pulls up a map on her chiplock, produced from her pocket, and points. "They look like this, from the sky."

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"Yes, that's Dongying--what is that your map is on, though?"

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"This is called a computer! Four of us have this kind, but we control them with a brain implant, and Nelen has a different kind of brain, so he has to use a different kind."

Nelen produces his tablet with a self-deprecating smile. "They're working on it. Anyway, computers hold and organize a lot of information in a very small space, and we also have technological lights that let them display it like this."

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"That is fascinating--what does it mean to have a different kind of brain?"

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"I'm not a human," Nelen says. "Neither are any of us except Natsuko, actually, but they all have their brains organized in a similar way, and the implant works the same for all of them. I have part of what I'd need the implant to connect to over here," tap, "and another part over here," tap, "and the brain scientists are still trying to figure out how to make it work properly without messing up anything I'm using in the middle."

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"What do those things do, and what's in the middle--I should probably wait until later to ask questions like that, sorry," she says, giving her father a slight embarrassed nod. 

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He gives her the kind of smile that signals that if they didn't have Important Guests then he would get up and hug her and possibly ruffle her hair. "That's probably for the best." 

To the delegates: "So, besides having marvelous gadgets, what else is there of note about Vanda Nosseo?"

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"We've also got magic, like the translation magic we're using to talk to you right now!" says Nelen. "And many, many member peoples across lots of worlds. We're here today to see if you're interested in joining them."

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"You're using translation magic?" Dammit she really needs to stop letting herself get nerdsniped by things that are not politics. "What would it mean to join, exactly?" she asks, to cover her slip. 

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"To join Vanda Nossëo we make sure you have and are enforcing laws against murder, torture, and rape, which most places already have but some need tightened up a bit," says Nelen, "and you agree that anyone can leave your polity at any time - that's intended to be a broad-spectrum incentive to be a nice place to live, and also is our relatively simple low-overhead solution to cases of domestic abuse, slavery and other untenable working conditions, that sort of thing. Then, if a majority of your population votes that yes, they'd like to join, you're in. That gets you defensive support from Vanda Nossëo if anyone attacks you, and gets everyone signed up for universal basic income, a periodic payment all individuals in Vanda Nossëo get as a baseline. Even if you don't want to join, you can still get a 'bus station' - a place to get rides to and from Vanda Nossëo and allied locations - and some shops that sell some of our stuff, and some automata that can teach people about things like math and science."

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"How does 'anyone can leave at any time' interact with situations of, say, prison, and house arrest." 

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"We normally consider our arrival to be a suitable occasion for universal amnesty if there's not an obvious ongoing danger," says Nelen. "A lot of people commit crimes because they're hungry or frightened or cornered, and if they could instead just go live somewhere totally else - let's see, what's the most else place -"

"My friend's niece and a bunch of her buddies turned into dolphins and are just dolphins all the time," volunteers Natsuko.

"Sure, maybe some of them would rather be... dolphins... really?"

"Yup," says Natsuko.

"Wow. So anyone who is currently in prison or on house arrest and is not obviously a danger under conditions where they can just, apparently, turn into dolphins -"

"You know we can turn into dolphins!"

"I didn't know anyone was staying that way full time! Gets a chance to try again. But if after that they reoffend, Vanda Nossëo does have prisons. Prisoners can pick which one they stay in, different people - on the species but also the individual level - find different conditions preferable. For example, if Tarwë decided to commit murder for some reason, he'd have to be on one of the ones where the entire planet is a prison; Elves spontaneously die if they're confined."

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"What if there is an obvious ongoing danger. Such as, say for example, unresolved grudges that one might be pretty sure someone might try very hard to resolve given complete freedom of movement."

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"We have truth magic," replies Nelen promptly.

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"So--absolute freedom to leave with the caveat that people who leave have to say under truth spell that they aren't planning to gather a bunch of resources and come back and assault or kidnap with them? Or are you imagining something else when you say that." 

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"...You said you have to let anyone leave, not that you have to let anyone come back."

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"That's right, you can restrict immigration. Uh, you aren't allowed to forcibly displace large populations unless you have something deeply weird going on, but you can exile a small number of criminals."

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