Dec 02, 2022 12:07 PM
gazette in survivorverse
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"A lightning device?"

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"Synthetic lightning, yes, at very low levels; it is important for a number of different purposes, primarily for making machines that can do tasks only living things can normally do - mathematics, automatic motion, and, apparently, translation."

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"...huh. Cool."

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"Does it also do sending people home."

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"You'll want to talk to Minerva or the Smith for that," he says. "Fair warning, both of them want me dead." 

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"...why's that?"

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"I'm trying to conquer this world," he says. "They disapprove."

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"Ah. It's not that I don't see the appeal but it's not overwhelmingly popular with the neighbors, yeah."

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"Indeed."

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"So, uh, do they also have translators?"

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"The Smith does, since I took this one from him. Minerva may. But they are not widely spread at all."

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"Could I... borrow this one."

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"In exchange for an equivalent favor once you have come into your own? Certainly."

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"Yeah, sure, that sounds fair. How do we... go find these people you have referred us to? Also is using the translator less than straightforward in some way?"

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"Press this button to turn it on or off." He demonstrates. "Don't press this button unless you want to open up extremely complicated instructions in a language you don't speak." He taps it but doesn't depress it. "Don't press this button unless you urgently need a small explosive more than you need a translator." He does not even tap it. "The batteries that give it the power to run will probably cease functioning out in a week, and you will need to provide it with new batteries, which I can give you instructions for but still may be inconvenient. For finding them - do your powers include long-distance travel or communication?"

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"They do not."

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"Then... hmm. The simplest solution is a telephone, an electric device for sending long-distance messages. I would not expect the universal translator would interact well with it, but you could give someone money to use it to tell the Smith that someone who doesn't speak any earthly language found the translator he - misplaced - earlier, and I do expect he would come and fetch it. I could show you where to find them on a map, but crossing that distance would require extensive use of technology that I doubt your world possesses - does internal combustion engine or gasoline engine translate? - or else be very slow; the country we are in is extremely large, and I am very deliberately not in the same part of it as the Smith."

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"Neither of those translate. - if it's his translator am I going to be unable to return this to you?"

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"Most likely, but I suspect it may find its way back to me. If it doesn't, you can add it to the favor owed - I speak most of the regional languages, not that there are many; English will do for almost anything."

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"Okay. I can owe you a favor for the translator. We just - go to an arbitrary person and ask them to use a phone on the Smith about his translator and incidentally us?"

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"Ideally you offer money." He will hand her some coins. "I don't think very much money is required, and you can tell people that the Smith can pay them more; he probably will." He considers. "I expect the most sensible option is to go to a library - I can give directions; I am quite near one for my own reasons - and you tell someone that you have found the Smith's translator and that you don't speak any earthly language, and he will be by in a few hours." He shrugs. "I may benefit from your actions sufficiently that I would have done them purely for my own sake; If I do not, you will owe me a favor. I expect you'll know within a few days if you're still in contact with the Smith which is which."

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"Okay. Anything else we should know before we go to the library?"

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How cars work. How to cross streets. What a policeman looks like. How to work doorknobs. 

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These things are all useful to know. If they'll spot her some paper she'll take notes.

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He is perfectly willing to do that.

(He is inclined to watch and see if she is treating this paper, too, as a weapon, but not overtly.)

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