Dec 04, 2022 7:42 AM
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It's an almost suspiciously lovely world, really.

Clean air, abundant plant life, many heavily forested areas. Quite heavy on the ocean; one mostly-northern continent with the middle scooped out into a large bay, extending just past the equator on each side; one mostly-southern continent half a turn round, one more balanced landmass topped by a large scattering of islands, and one smaller but still significant continent with an equatorial coastline.

Plenty of breathable air, no radio signals, only a few scattered lights in the night - mostly fire, probably, rather than electric light.

Every continent has evidence of roads and buildings, but the one with the bay is the most strongly lit at night - there are several patches that look like they might be large towns - or for the usual tech level before electricity, immense sprawling cities.

Over on the southern continent there are more steady scatterings of light, though - the spectrum is not quite right for most electric lighting, but is definitely not fire, and there are a few bright concentrations of it into slightly smaller cities.

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Independent Merchant Vessel Keiryoumaru, Divinity's Log, day 5 of voyage

Spiritual purity of engine shrine exceeds 99%. Received offerings at hours 4, 8, and 12 promptly. Bilge spacetime dumped at hour 10.

Captain's faith remains lackluster. Purser remains diligent. Passengers continue to disrupt orderly ship operation by chanting sutras.

Land sighted at hour 15. Received offering at hour 16 promptly.

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A young blonde woman wearing a tricorne hat which is entirely failing to convey a captain's rank is intently perusing a detailed watercolor painting of an almost suspiciously lovely world.

"Guess there's no welcome sign," she says. "Well, how do you space people do it? Do we need to radio someone?" She sounds excited at that last, grinning. "Ground control to Major Tom, right?"

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The elegant woman in a perfectly pressed British Age of Sail uniform (with some obvious tailor's alterations) looking over the captain's left shoulder does not look amused. Her eyes are blank white expanses of sclera, her face unchangingly neutral.

"You are Major Tom," she informs the captain in an inhuman voice like the tiniest bells of a carillon being struck for the first time after a winter deep freeze. "Likely no radio available." She pauses for a moment, unmoving. "Edo technology. Perhaps."

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The captain makes an exaggerated pout.

"I don't really know what that means, you know. Whatever, let's put in at a port. Those sutras are driving me nuts. Han-nya-ha-ra-mi-ta..." She shakes her head. "I'm going to become enlightened just to get away from it if we don't make land soon."

She rings a little bell next to the watercolor, and claps her hands twice in prayer.

"Hey, can we get a closer look at that coast?" She gestures towards the northern bay. "Let's find their biggest port and make a splash."

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There are three clear candidates for the biggest port:

Over near the entrance of the bay, a set of islands guards a large sheltered natural harbour in a river mouth, with a brightly coloured city on either side; this port seems to be very busy with smaller sailing ships, mostly outfitted for trade and fishing rather than war, although the southern port has some larger examples docked.

Up near the middle of the bay's north coast, there is an entire sprawling island city, glistening with gold and marble, in another large river mouth; it's certainly the largest settlement on the coast by far, but the attendant naval traffic is a little lighter.

And the other side of the bay mouth, there is a partly burnt out, much darker and smokier looking sprawling port city, which is attended by much more impressive war ships - although they are still all primitive sailing vessels, these are the ones of most considerable size.

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The watercolor display repaints itself smoothly. An observant viewer might notice the stylized ships moving in real time.

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"Hmm," says the captain. "Big port, big city, or, uh, did those guys over there make someone mad? They might just blow us up or something. Wow."

(The stylized ships on the watercolor display do make a distinction between military and civilian vessels; or at least the god's best guess at same.)

"Praem, what do you think?"

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Praem stares at the map for a few seconds.

"No evidence of interstellar travel," she says. "We will be diplomats first."

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"Yeah. If we weren't quite as exotic as we are, I'd want to head there," she indicates the bustling trade port, "but we'll probably be stuck with politicians and scientists and whatever. Plus, there's the passengers to consider. Probably here," she indicates the shiny centrally-located city, "has more specialists. Maybe a university, if we're lucky."

She spares another glance at the warship-guarded city, lingering over it for a few seconds, but then shakes her head.

"Lost colony? Aliens? Those look like human boats and all, but what makes a boat human, anyway?"

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"You are the only human on this boat. Is it human?"

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"Well, it's based on a human design. Alright, shiny city it is. Praem, take the helm."

She is grinning, bouncing with excitement.

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Praem takes the helm...

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...and the starship descends towards the north coast of the bay.

The Keiryoumaru is, in fact, a functional sailing vessel as well as a starship. Its basic plan is modeled after the semi-legendary Chinese treasure ships of Zheng He. The sails are decorative; it moves by a divine miracle worked by the fragment of a god's awareness enshrined in its depths.

The deity sings a sea shanty to itself as it works.

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Absent any surprises on the way down, Praem plans to hover above the estuary near the harbor, not too far from shore. It would be impolite to simply commandeer a pier or wharf without introducing oneself first.

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The wide area around the island city is the home of two river mouths; by the time they are hovering in an estuary-like location, they are sat between a smaller town on the other river mouth and a large beacon lighthouse above strangely iridescent cliffs on the far promontory - and over an increasing number of small vessels which are competing to get a good look.

There are an awful lot of people lining various balconies, rooftops, lookout posts and so on, pointing at them, pointing hand-held telescopes at them, and a few emplaced larger telescopes are also being pointed in their direction.

The lighthouse seems to be signalling them in some kind of presumably communicative code. They start with 'Hello, Unknown Vessel, we are Sarvos, we welcome peaceful traders!' in standard Imperial heliopticon encoding, repeat that a few times, then start proceeding through a set of 'flash prime numbers at the people you might not share a language with' style recognition signals if this is not acknowledged.

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Praem is good at somehow already knowing languages, the ship's god is good at knowing when a lighthouse is trying to talk to it. They figure it out (and can even reply in kind—they need specialized equipment for communications with the starfaring civilizations back home, but the ship's god can do simple EM emissions easily, at least as long as it's for maritime voyaging purposes).

It's the captain's prerogative to respond, though. She relays the message to Marisa.

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(A mouse sneaks off the bridge.)

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Marisa is pretty excited!

"Sarvos, this is the independent merchant vessel Keiryoumaru, on a mission of exploration and trade, under the flag of the Treaty of Hakurei. Requesting permission to send two officers ashore."

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"Permission granted, take any open berth, recommend Caricomare Docks, landmark white granite statue holding coin and lantern."

There are indeed a set of gleaming docks that look much more newly constructed than their surroundings, the quayside featuring a large white statue of a middle-aged human man holding a strangely reflective coin and a carved lantern.

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Praem touches down gently and elegantly. She gently lays a hand on the wheel for a moment after completing her maneuvering, communicating something wordless to the ship's god.

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She'd be a wonderful miko. Pity she isn't human.

Sitting in port, the Keiryoumaru doesn't look much like anything but an ordinary sailing vessel, though there is a distinct absence of crew on deck doing anything with the sails. (They are furled, but decoratively, and by the ship itself.)

No lines connect the ship to its pier; it simply moves to the correct location and stays there.

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Praem collects some rope anyway. It's more polite to the god that way.

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Marisa is excitedly rushing on deck already, broomstick in hand. She hovers onto the pier from the deck (a very short flight) and touches down, looking around excitedly in every direction.

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Praem arrives more sedately, walking down a gangway and symbolically tying the ship to the pier.

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"Who's that guy, Praem?" she says, indicating the statue. (She doesn't really expect Praem to know, mostly she's just excited, but Praem is Praem so you never know.)

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