Jul 06, 2022 9:41 PM
The Origin Trade Consortium makes contact with Patalon
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"The Selftree, what a cool word..."

"How do public memories work?"

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She pulls out her quartz pendant from beneath her top.

"This is my soul - well, a backup of my soul. I won't die or anything if it's destroyed, it just perserves my memories and identity. With my consent, memories can be pulled off the crystal for other people to experience, like a full-sensory VR environment from my past point of view. Most Thorns are fairly chill about other Thorns experiencing parts of their lives vicariously, so we keep a library of memory crystals like this one - the Thousand Stars - with the most interesting things that have happened to us saved for the rest of us to browse. Occasionally we let people we know well share in a few selections if we trust them enough. What's contributed is up to the individual Thorn, and then the Archivist - or the Restricted Archivist, for memories that are somehow dangerous - decides what is reasonable to be made available to who. In general we just don't contribute anything we consider intimate."

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"Oh, are you non-reductionist?"

"Maybe it's like a Space Elf chip, that's reductionist."

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"Most Thorns aren't reductionist, though it's possible for us to transfer to a reductionist body if we want or need to - though that takes a specific neighbourhood."

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"Huh! Do you think it'd work on our non-reductionists? Right now you have to be reductionist to get resurrected."

"Or an Elf."

"Or an Elf or something that works like one, yeah."

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"I don't know! You would definitely need an intact soul, and having a copy of yours on file obviously has some risks. Back home rich people buy an immortality policy with a reputable company - the more expensive the policy, the more frequently you update your backup. Most people just get by with a Grace, though."

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"It works for Space Elves."

"It works for the versions of them that are alive."

"Grace?"

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Thorn pulls out a gold starburst amulet with a dozen small black jewels inset. An orange LED glows dully at the center.

"Magitech from where I come from. It prevents aging and does emergency healing. The orange LED means it's on battery power - the black gems are the batteries, they contain stored pain for the sacrificial magic to feed on."

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"Wow that sounds so ominous."

"I said no lights!!!"

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She tucks it back away. "We're working with what we have, that's all. Gracebearing - suffering pain to sustain the Grace network - is a respected job where I come from."

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"Does it count if they kink on it?"

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"It absolutely counts if they kink on it."

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"Oh, well, that works out then, I suppose."

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"Quite."

And she lays back on the grass and looks up at the stars.

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The Empress Isabella will be happy to talk to the envoy from their neighbors. If it's convenient she prefers to take most meetings in her time-dilated office; she can stop time for herself but a lot of her bottleneck activities these days involve other people.

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That's fine by Morning-Glory. Far be it for her to waste the Empress' time.

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The Dwarf assistant escorts her to the palace and from there to the time-dilated office, where sits Empress Isabella, in her magical girl outfit plus a crown. "Hello, welcome to Mîr," says Isabella. "Am I correct in thinking that I don't look familiar? So far a lot of worlds we've met have alts of me in them."

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"Thank you. No, I don't recognize you; I would guess that your alts don't exist in the OTC, given your tendency towards historical significance."

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"How about Earths and Ardas?"

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"We have many Earths in various states of repair, but no Ardas."

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"How odd, we've found Ardas slightly commoner so far. Do you have a preexisting protocol for meeting new multiversal organizations? We have some but they haven't encountered reality before."

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"It's similar on our side - plans, but no previous experience. The closest thing in our history is the Namer's War, which involved a slaving society of mind controllers gaining access to our dimensional transfer technology through careful subornment of the agents we sent there - but naturally we hope this will go much better than that did, both through improvements to our protocols and due to Mir being a closer cultural fit to the OTC."

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"Oh, we had some of that, some Yeerks got ahold of teleport-capable hosts. All sewn up now. Is there any immediately obvious cultural tension we should have an eye on?"

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"The OTC is more interventionist in some cases - we've completely evacuated two notable multiversal neighbourhoods of everyone who'd come. We also are working from a significantly less convenient magical background - much of our magic is powered by suffered pain, though that's spread out over as many volunteers as we can get by offering financial recompense for it. The OTC is not imperial; it is a corporation, which owns the patent on our method of interdimensional travel, as well as a number of other key pieces of multiversal infrastructure. At the top level there is a Board of Directors who vote among themselves on issues of company policy; below that there are planetary envoys such as myself, who liase between the company and individual worlds; below that there are managers and staff of individual worlds' projects and stores. While the OTC is contracted by the Trade Worlds as a whole to serve some governmental functions on the broader scale - multiversal defense, enforcement of a minimum standard of law, passport control, and so on - it is not officially a government, and only loosely represents the general will of the Trade Worlds as a whole."

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"Mîr's sister polity Elendil is performing evacuations of one of their neighbors of anyone who'll come and isn't themselves excessively dangerous, it's not that we're opposed in principle. - I should perhaps explain the sister polities, I don't know how much you've read -?"

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