Aug 13, 2022 2:30 PM
The Origin Trade Consortium makes contact with Patalon
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"I like romances too. I'll see if I can find a good one for you."

And then she'll just sit and watch the sun set for a little while, unless Doris has something she'd like to say.

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Nope, sunset-watching seems good by her.

When it's full dark and the stargazing people are probably convening, Doris says, "I'm going to go to sleep about now. Good night! Thank you for coming by!"

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"Thank you for having me." Thorn smiles.

She stands up, and goes off to her stargazing group.

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There they are! They meet on a high plateau; she'll have a bit of a climb, but the climb is an easy spiral around the cliffside. There's a telescope, and a bunch of people with picnic blankets. When her head comes up over the edge of the mesa someone says, "Welcome!" and someone else says, "No lights! Turn everything off or bury it in a bag!"

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She waves, stops for a moment, and puts her tablet into her backpack. Then she comes and joins the rest of the group. 

"Hi all, I'm Thorn."

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"Hi Thorn!" they chorus, and a few people lob names back - a Miles, a Mavis, a September, a Arthuriana.

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"Nice to meet you all! Has anyone got a planisphere I can have a look at?"

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"I use an app for that..."

"I have one at home but didn't bring it."

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Thorn spreads her hands. "Oh well. Nice to meet you all. Nice name, September - I work with a December, so it's always fun when I encounter someone with a month name." She looks around for somewhere to sit.

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There is plenty of ground to sit on, and she will find whatever spot she chooses as yielding and well-shaped as she could wish.

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She takes a spot near September (though not stealing any picnic blanket) and looks up at the sky. 

She's fairly familiar with Earthly constellations, having had to navigate by them fairly frequently. Can she spot the Southern Cross? Orion? The Pelaides? 

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It looks like a perfectly ordinary set of Milky Way springtime constellations!

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Not that she expected anything weird, but nonetheless. It's really clear seeing tonight. That's worth something in and of itself. 

She lies back on the grass and listens.

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"Orion clearly has a dong."

"Clearly, nothing, constellations aren't clear, they're not even a real connect the dots puzzle, it's just -"

"Okay but he does though."

"Yeah he's right."

"Yeah. You're outvoted."

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"True to the ancients' sense of humour. Just think: some Greek dude centuries ago may have thought the exact same thing. It's practically traditional."

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"Now I wanna go ask an ancient Greek dude."

"Did anybody get Aristotle yet?"

"I think mostly people who want to talk to Aristotle go to Limbo."

"He's got to have a huge waiting list, though, it couldn't hurt to have extra Aristotles."

"Maybe they'd fight."

"Aristotles are not betta fish."

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"Yeah, most people I know get along pretty well with themselves."

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"I met my alt from Eclipse and he's awful."

"Dom or sub?"

"Dom, and he could not let a minute pass without reminding me, it was like I made him insecure or something? We don't talk."

"Is he the only one you looked up?"

"Warp one's dead, Aurum one's a granddad -"

"Really!"

"Yeah, he stayed with Jess and they had a kid."

"Bet this Jess didn't like that."

"Shut up."

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Oof, personal drama. She'll stay out of that.

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"I checked and I don't have any alts on the other Earths. I'm probably downstream of a magical girl at some remove, I guess."

"Some people just don't for no obvious reason."

"Yeah, but the most conservative explanation is probably a magical girl saving my great-great-grand-somebody."

"Or killing their romantic rival."

"Morbid."

"We know some of them farmed witches..."

"Mooooorbid."

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"I don't tend to have alts, but then my original got hold of forking technology and got a bit overenthusiastic. We're like a big family now."

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"Huh, forking that works for humans?"

"I think it's already kind of weird when Space Elves do it."

"So don't fork yourself, simple as that."

"How many of you are there, Thorn?"

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"I don't actually know how many of me there are at this point. Well over a thousand, anyway. My activities of the last year can only be understood statistically."

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"Wow. I guess there might be that many of me somewhere, if Earths usually have me, no reason to think we've more than scraped the surface."

"What are some good stats about how Thorns are?"

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"Thorns like exploring and having new experiences; generally they're employed on Half-Tamed worlds doing hazardous work; most of me are part of the broader selftree organization that shares funds and non-private memories; a few of me spend all their time doing tourist things or going to conventions. We're big fans of hobbies - they're part of how we differentiate ourselves - and romance - a lot of us come back from frontier worlds with partners. I'm a fairly fresh Thorn so I just have our "general knowledge" - a background of navigation and survival on a few hostile worlds, plus some randomly-chosen fun stuff from our pool of public memories. That's part of why I love the stars; I remember using them for navigation, though those memories are more properly the Selftree's and not mine."

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