Jan 27, 2023 1:17 PM
the governor of ira sani in radiant
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There is a mirror with a tail coming toward him all of a sudden and Valanda's first thought is that it's an illusion. It could also be an alien from another universe with unprecedented alien magic, but no matter, he's confident in his wards. He's got wards for everything.

Except portals to other universes, in his experience those are great news.

Also in his experience, those are consensual and come with an exit.

This is not his usual portal to another universe.

Now there is an alarmed young man with a pen, a necklace of steel discs, and a tunic showing a view of a nighttime ocean, appearing where he didn't intend to be.

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The first obvious change is the weather. It's warm and pleasant, with a light breeze and a clear sky. Also, the gravity is a bit weaker.

Where he is now: A rocky beach with ocean below, along a black tar road, with a large complex visible off in the distance. It looks half-built, with a chain link fence and big yellow construction vehicles lying motionless around a large series of buildings full of sweeping asymmetric curves and glass facades. There are a few boats at a dock there, too. The upper levels of the buildings lie skeletal and quiet, half-constructed with large piles of metal, wood, and rocks nearby. There's a pair of humanoids wearing black walking around the inside of the fence, but that's the only visible activity. The road curves out of sight behind several hills in the opposite direction.

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He pokes a couple of things and the empty air where other things should be until he's sure this isn't an illusion.

Okay, the construction site is a good backup plan for where to find a door to try for Milliways, but since it's a construction site he'd be in the way.

The most important thing is to not get in trouble. For instance, if someone knew he didn't know any local laws, that might cause trouble. He wanders closer to the construction site in case he can overhear people talking there without any expectation that he should say anything to them. There might be magic translation here but there might not and finding that out will help him plan out how to avoid seeming the wrong kind of dangerous on the way to a door.

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The signs are in English! Some of the words are spelled weirdly, but it's definitely English. There's a looping video of cheerful happy humans relaxing on a beach, overlaid with short messages.

Paradiso Renica - Where Life Meets Art - In Partnership with Hermes-Ishtar

Eager to be finished in 2255, book now!

Apply for resort staff positions at work.paradisorenica.hi

WE ARE WINNING STAY STRONG - FREE ELYSIUM 1337

Architecture and Art in Harmony - by famed designer Charity Mendax

The pair of patrollers seem to have noticed him. One is speaking into a small device, looking at him. The other peers at the treeline cautiously. They both look human, and tanned.

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...Okay, it's not great that he's been noticed, but at least he sort of speaks some English. This is probably an Earth - maybe not, the gravity wasn't lower when he visited England - so he can probably survive here by praising Jesus and not stealing anything.

He stares at the video, trying to get the numbers straight - that's two and two and five and five, and that means the digit on the right is five and the one next to it is five times ten, so that's five squared times two which is forty-eight plus two, and the next digit is two times ten squared which is definitely more than a gross, it's twenty-five times eight is twenty-four times eight plus eight, and then the next one is ten times that much - is that a year? That's - it takes more base conversion but he can do base conversion in his head - exactly 369 years after their planet wasn't turned all to ice.

He's mostly hoping that visibly looking at the thing that was clearly designed to be seen won't look too weird but it's definitely not good that they think he's notable at all.

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"Hey, you alright over there?" One calls out.

"We got food and running water here! It's dehydrated dreck but it's calories! You can have it for free!" She - probably a she with that voice anyway - laughs uproariously.

"It's safe! The rent-a-cops fucked off days ago so it's just a few of us riding things out here!"

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"Hello! I am alright over here but I do not know why I am over here. If I have to be here for days, I like food and water for free. You can have a little defense from me for free."

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They turn and whisper at each other a bit, looking concerned and sympathetic, similar to how people in New Dover look sometimes.

 

"...Well, come on in! Gate's unlocked. You from offplanet? Have another language we should try? Oh, I'm Reynaud and that's Morgan, hi."

"Yo," says Morgan.

"We can give you the tour. Or a bunk if you need to crash after walking here."

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He heads inside, deliberately slow and casual. "I speak Hari and Ilan and I understand two more that don't have human mouth sounds. I am Valanda. I think I heard 'offplanet' before but I don't remember."

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"Oh, he's in character." The woman 'tsks' disapprovingly.

"Leave it be, Morg." He pulls out a smartphone. "'Offplanet' is off the rock. Off this big ball, from somewhere else in the galaxy. Let's see, would that be Aitch Ay Arr Eye, and Eye Ell Ay En?"

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He shrugs. "Maybe."

He casually freezes some air and steps up onto it, not yet drawing attention to the fact that he's doing anything unusual, so he can gauge their reactions.

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"Okay, let's search translatamon for those..."

"Rey." The woman stares intently at where he's standing on nothing. "Rey, look at that."

"Huh what? Ooh, that's an interesting effect."

"Rey. I don't want some lost rich kid with fancy tech to be our responsibility, they'll come looking-"

"I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for this?" But Rey looks suddenly worried, frowning and glancing between Morgan and him.

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"I am not a kid. I am not a slave. People who search for me will not be angry at you if I do something bad." Also there might not be anyone looking for him, if time isn't passing in Har, and there might not be anyone looking for him effectively even if it is. That seems like the kind of claim that would make him less safe, though. "I said you can have a little defense from me."

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"No, you're not a slave. Defense...? This uh, linguistic situation is not ideal. I don't see those languages on translatamon either..."

"Is it from a show? The fancy shirt, the - it sort of looks like magic, they dress stuff up -"

"Not any show I know. Maybe. Or a game or something. Hey, you can break character, you know. As we speak, the revolution is underway, security services got beaten back hard."

"What do we do though, I can't just go post 'hey we found a weird kid and don't know what to do about it'."

"He said he wasn't a kid. Also I mean you can."

"It's not like we can drop him off at the police station!"

"Yeah, that'd be stupid even before all this. Sorry, uh... Yeah I got nothing. Anybody we should help you look for?" Reynaud turns to Valanda again.

"Tell me straight, is anybody going to come looking to get you back and happen to arrest all of us in the process, not-kid?" Morgan asks him. Reynaud glares at her.

"Actually, any questions at all? Everything's crazy right now and it must be confusing, come to think. Sorry about that."

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...That is a lot of quick English with a lot of assumptions behind it. They don't recognize the in-hindsight-obviously new coinage his refugees use for his magic, which, of course they don't. They keep disapproving of his character, he knows that word, it's a word for the type of person you choose to be - or maybe this is specifically for when the type of person you choose to be is fictional? Does show have homophones or is it definitely a fake-illusion show?

"I do not think anybody who is looking for me is going to happen to arrest you. Can you say anything else about, um, 'looks sort of like magic' and 'dress stuff up'?"

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"...Reassuring, I guess."

"Stage magic, usually you do it in post but some directors want their shows to be really real, obsessed with the actors reacting right and stuff, so they throw expensive tech at the problem. Smartglass boxes that look invisible and stuff, if you have to float like that. And, you know, greenscreens and flying drones and holographic projectors to make it look like there's a monster but it's just light, that kind of thing. Tech that looks like magic. You definitely look more fantasy than sci-fi, but I have no idea what you're using to float - and it'd be small too, personal equipment."

"Ares would want it I bet."

"Anybody'd want it. There's some laboratories in Persephone, right? Maybe he's from those?"

"We should probably use smaller words and talk slower."

"Isn't that ableist or something?"

"Hell if I know. Sorry, we're doing a bad job of this."

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He's pretty lost but he sort of maybe gets the gist of... a few of those sentences... he hopes. They might be thinking he has tech instead of magic? He thinks that's what they're thinking. He might want to correct them. ...What is the magic situation here exactly, is it secret or nonexistent like it's been on some other Earths? What kinds are there? ...Come to think of it, is "magic" the word for that? No one ever defined it for him, he just knows it's how Milliways glosses sìeh when it's not being used as an abstract mathematical concept. - Whoops, and now they're apologizing for something mysterious.

"...What is magic?"

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"Uh... Inexplicable abilities or phenomena that affect the world in ways that imply a high computational effort or violate the established principles of physics and scientific knowledge-"

"Small words, idiot."

"Ahem. Right. Magic is... Made-up stuff that happens, or that people can do, that doesn't make sense."

"I don't think that's much better actually... If you call upon the spirits or your inner mana or your willpower or bloodline or anything like that and affect things without touching them or using a device - including one someone built into you - that's magic. But it's not real, you know, it's all stories."

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"I do not do anything that isn't real. I do wards on things."

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Another dubious look shared between them. "I guess we can test that, but if- Hm. If you're confused about a lot of things, which it looks to us like you might be, we might want to have the nurse look at you, would that be alright? Just in case. Though, she's not a real nurse, she was a vet - animal nurse. At a farm."

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Oh no, are they going around calling people animals because they're confused about what makes someone a person? Or maybe the nurse really is an animal. Sounds unlikely if they trust her professional opinions, though. Regardless, he's fine with it either way.

"The nurse is allowed to look at me. I am not afraid because she is an animal."

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"...What?"

The other one laughs.

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"I am saying that would be alright. I think you think I am afraid because she is an animal but I am not. I might not understand."

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"The nurse is not an animal. She is a nurse who mostly helps animals, not people."

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"Oh! I am a people but the nurse is allowed to look at me." He's aware he got that wrong but he keeps forgetting what the correct singular is.

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"Yes. Just in case you are hurt but don't know it."

Clearly something very weird is going on here and they should just try to roll with it.

"We're all living over there." They start walking towards one of the more complete parts, all white marble and shiny gold and silver and abstract sculpture and neatly kept little gardens with colorful flowers. 

"Do you know what is going on, on this planet? The March Days?"

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