Jan 27, 2023 12:31 PM
an Anomalan in raveria
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The craft store where Anda[A] works is closed for the summer solstice, so A is at the park, sitting on a picnic blanket with A's back to a tree and embroidering geometric designs on one of A's shirts (not the one A is wearing). A was hoping to finish this cuff before sunset, but it's warm and there's a soft breeze blowing and there's really no rush, is there, so once he gets to a good stopping point A folds up the shirt and lies down on the blanket for a nap. What a lovely day it is to be alive.

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And then what a lovely night it is to be alive.  In . . . a desert?  Some sand's blown on top of the blanket and into Anda's face.

It's starting to get a little cool here, in the valley between two dunes, but there's a short gradient of light off over that way where the sun must have just set so it's probably going to get colder shortly.

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What . . . in the void . . . ? Lucid dream, or a truly wild prank, probably. It's a bit too detailed for even a really lucid dream, but that's the sort of thing dreaming-Anda thinks all the time. On the other hand, Kayto[A] would totally pull something this wild if A could be sure Anda[B] would end up more amused than pissed. B's handcomp has no signal, which is more of a dream thing than a prank thing.

Well, there's no percentage in lying around confused. Time to get up, gather up the shirt and blanket, and start walking. Downhill, to the extent that that's an option.

. . . And then pause and scuff a large spiral deeply into the sand with one shoe in case it turns out to be important to find this area again, not that that's likely to last very long what with the sand and the wind and such. But if it is Kayto doing a surprise puzzle hunt it'll be done soonish because Anda's got work tomorrow.

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The little valley is pretty enclosed; there might be some down around but going some amount of up seems likely to be a prerequisite to finding it.

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Fortunately Anda is only mostly water and can pursue less-local minima with whatever amount of lookahead can be gained from going up a dune.

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The most general downwards slope trends thataway, slightly off from the sunset.  A third of a full turn away from that direction is - a speck, maybe.  Is it a light source?  It's not fire; the hue is closest to blue or purple when it's anything at all.  It might just be a star; the stars are so very bright and clear out here, or it might just be a strange glint of the remaining sunlight off an oddly-angled bit of sand.

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Anda[A] heads for the speck, intrigued. The stars are fabulous and A keeps pausing to stare. A has never been in a desert before and everyone who said they're very nature-releasing-the-mind-to-limitless-expansion* was totally right

*Translator's note: this word is also quite long in Convergentlanguage, but sounds much better.

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Andra can't identify any constellations.  The speck grows larger and of a less dubious existence as it's approached.

 

 

After quite a walk, it resolves into definitely-an-object although still not any particular one.  And then, quite abruptly, a more certain though still distant light joins it.  After wobbling around for a moment, it starts getting bigger a lot faster than walking towards a stationary object would imply, especially with the other point of comparison still in sight.  Bits of the second thing become visible as it approaches - a probably-human silhouette at the crest of a dune, the shadow cast by its own light on a hill behind it revealing a flat, rectangular base.

It almost looks like it might be floating, or flying.  But there's no sound of a motor even as it approaches and no way it could support a human's weight while gliding unaided in the patterns it seems to, so that's probably a trick of the inadequate light.

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Anda has always been complete pants at constellations other than the north spoon and the hourglass* and doesn't realize anything is off.

This whole situation is very portal-fantasy and Anda is daydreaming about having some kind of Adventure in it, and the electric-scooter/dune-buggy/hoverboard/other is excellently on theme. More importantly the pilot/driver/other probably has some useful worldbuilding dump/quest hook/lucid dream content/other. Anda waves enthusiastically.

*What many earthlings call the big dipper and Orion, respectively.

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The figure doesn't visibly wave back.

The source of light reveals itself to be a lantern with the back half opaque and no sheen of glass; it dims a good few seconds after it's gotten close enough to be annoyingly bright.  It hovers above one corner of . . . a piece of fabric?  The illuminated portion is embroidered so densely that whatever's underneath is completely covered, though whatever it is has fringe.  The embroidered object also hovers, with no visible or audible mechanism and despite the person perched atop it.

"Name?" asks said person, dryly, reaching for something at her side.

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"Anda Vrin-Vanse. I'm, ah, quite lost and my handcomp has no signal; may I borrow yours? Also I'm unfamiliar with your vehicle and would love an explanation."

The stranger[A] appears to be from one of the cultures that does headgear instead of bracelets for approachability, and Anda[B] super doesn't remember what headgear means what, but A approached B and immediately asked for a name so clearly A's open to at least some interaction.

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"It's a car."  She looks over a tablet-like object which Anda can't see the screen of; the lantern obligingly tilts to light it without any apparent action on the stranger's part.  "What do you want the handcomp for."

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"To to look up where I am and how to get back to Bridgecity. That being where I was before someone apparently moved me in my sleep." This sounds like complete nonsense and Anda is totally dreaming. "I am aware that that sounds ridiculous."

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"Hm.  - Try this first," the stranger instructs, floating closer to pass Anda a waterskin embroidered less densely than the 'car' but not by very much.

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What? Oh, maybe the stranger[A] thinks Anda[B] is dehydrated, because B's talking like a crazy person while in a desert and not dressed for the weather. A has a reasonable argument there, honestly. B takes the waterskin and drinks a bit, most expecting water but mentally prepared for the possibility of an electrolyte drink.

 

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It tastes at least mostly like water, but it's kind of astoundingly refreshing so maybe there's a little of something else mixed in.

"Any idea who would have moved you?"

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"I have a friend[A] who might have moved someone[B] in B's sleep as a prank, but not very far and given the terrain around here I think I was moved upwards of several hundred kilometers. And possibly drugged to sleep longer and that's not my friend's style either. So I don't know. What's the nearest city to us?"

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"I dunno what they call it, I don't live there.  Go ahead and get on the car."

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Weird thing not to know but okay. Anda gets on the car. Which is a very weird contraption as well, though probably just because of being optimized for dunes and not because this is a portal fantasy with hovercars even though that would be extremely cool.

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The car on closer inspection just seems to be a heavily embroidered piece of fabric, lacking any moving parts with which to contrapt.  Despite this it supports Anda's weight just fine.  The stranger picks up a sack and sets it down again a few inches closer to Anda.  "If you're hungry."

And then they can zoom off back the way the stranger came from, much more slowly than a train goes but at quite a clip for an unenclosed rectangle hovering less than a meter above the sand.

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"Thanks. I really don't understand how this vehicle is moving at all. Uh, is it safe to talk while you operate it?"

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"Yes."  The wind creates less inconvenience to conversation than one might expect.  "I'm not a seamster; it probably works however flying carpets usually do."

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"Flying carpets like the fiction trope? From the stories with the talking horses and the sandserpents?"

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". . . No."

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"Okay so it is using magnets or a fan or something and isn't a plot hook for a LARP. Sorry, I'm trying to figure out why I got put here and my top hypothesis is still 'surprise puzzle hunt'." Does Anda's handcomp have enough signal to look up real life flying carpet technology yet? No? Rats. 

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"It's using magic.  - What's that."

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