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Sep 29, 2022 4:44 AM
Vanda Nossëo meets Prince of Egypt
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"God spoke to me--no, I should start at the beginning. I was raised in the palace, as Ramses' brother. His mother found me floating in the river. A few years ago, I found out that my true parents were Hebrews. I--left. Went to live among the Midianites. Then God spoke to me. He told me to come back here and bring my people out of Egypt. I tried three days ago to persuade Ramses. He refused. Doubled the Hebrews' workload. This morning, the Nile--God was working through me. I don't--I just want my people to be free."

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They look at each other. Tarwë looks over Natsuko's shoulder at her computer. "You don't have this kind of ability on your own?" Nelen inquires.

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"No! No one does. I didn't even know what I was about to do until I did it."

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"- does God need your cooperation in order to do things like that?" Nelen asks.

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Moses' whole body twitches like a horse about to bolt. "I--don't know--I trust God. He saved my life when I was an infant."

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"Is -" begins Tarwë, but then the rain comes by. Natsuko does a spell to keep it off them. Zanro waves at the speck in the sky that is following the weatherfront and gets waved at back.

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Moses looks up at the clouds, then back at the palace, in bewilderment tinged with hope.

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"We put in a request for some rain. To mitigate the issue with the river," explains Nelen. "That's our colleague Sazarin up there. Our teammate is giving out drinking water, back the way we came over there." He points.

"Is there a religious expert we should speak to in order to learn more about God?" asks Tarwë.

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"How? And--no. I wish there was one. He's the god of our ancestors, they would have known more, but it's been generations since He's spoken to any of us."

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"Sazarin's people have the ability to create things, including rain," Nelen says. "Do you want to join us on the way to meet up with our fifth person or are you on your way somewhere else?"

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"I'll go with you. I want to know more about anything that can fix this situation faster."

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"Great."

Cassiel is still at the water station, refilling jugs that are now continuously pouring into a basin she made so people can dip up a cupful instead of crowding the spigots. The water is cold and clear. She waves when the rest of her team approaches. "Who's this?"

"This," says Natsuko, "is Moses."

"- is this the right year for -" says Cassiel.

"Yep," says Natsuko.

"Wow," says Cassiel.

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"What do you mean, the right year?"

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"There are a lot of Earths," explains Tarwë. "There are a lot of my homeworld, too. No two are exactly the same, and in particular they are often at different times."

"The weird thing is that on most Earths this didn't actually happen, there's just a story about it," says Natsuko. "- I guess that's not that weird, there's also an Earth with vampires..."

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"Other worlds? --What happened in them, how did they avoid this?"

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The Nile suddenly reverts from red to clear--and then, before the jubilation can get started, frogs start pouring out of it. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, crowding their way up both banks all the way to the horizon, carpeting everything in croaking, squelching frogness.

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"- did you do that?" Nelen asks Moses.

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Nervous headshake. "No--it felt like something, with the blood, and this time it didn't. And--I knew more was coming, but this feels too soon."

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"Other Earths avoided this by never having Hebrews actually live in Egypt in the first place," Natsuko says. "But - this is the second 'plague' listed in the story. And if it keeps matching the story a ton of people are - going to die."

"Ligaya's team says they tried a rez a minute ago. The locals are nonreductionist," says Zanro softly.

"Shit," says Nelen. "Okay. Tarwë, talk to procurement, get a showstopper collection of swag, golems, replicators, the works, escalate to wishes and turn it into an Eclipse dictionary attack if you've got to, take it to the palace and try to trade for the slaves, all of them. I think possibly we should not try to do anything about the frogs, frogs are - annoying but not especially harmful, and if interference is accelerating things - what's next -"

"Lice," says Natsuko.

"Also largely not fatal but plausibly worse than frogs, so we want to, uh, stay on 'frogs' as long as we can, I guess. Moses, can you initiate conversations with God?"

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"I can walk out into the desert and pray. I think I'll have to be alone. Even then I'm not sure, but I do think I should try."

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"Okay. We'd like to know - more about the details of God's aims here, in case they won't be fully handled by freeing the slaves and letting them go wherever they want, and how fast he's planning to escalate -" Nelen looks around at his colleagues for help.

"I'd like to know more about what God's abilities actually are," says Zanro, who is eating a live frog.

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"God can do anything," says Moses, sounding more confident than he has about anything else. "I don't know all of what he wants from me, but I know that."

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"- then why is he using frogs?" asks Nelen. "If he can do anything why can't he just teleport the Hebrews out of Egypt?"

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"There's a reason. I know there is, I just can't--it's something about--someone has to know something--" he runs a hand through his already-messy hair, his whole face scrunched up like he's trying to remember something very important that happened years ago. "I'm sorry."

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