This post has the following content warnings:
A Brinnite walk-in on Byway
+ Show First Post
Total: 299
Posts Per Page:

"That desktop setup actually sounds kind of nice. I don't know what compared to, though.

Alright . . . sounds like a plan."

He'll put the music on, navigate out of the parking garage, lift off.


(It doesn't sound like anything from Rekka. Or Earth. It sounds kind of like if you mixed the style and tone of this, with the melodic gravity of this, but there's more nuance, more depth, the music is exploring more dimensions of emotion and pattern, than anything Earthlings get up to.)


By the time the song is over, he's left the multicolored city lights far behind and is almost home. The lights are sparser out here, more modest, beckoning the adventurous with coy promises of solitude and mystery. The fields are mostly dead dark. And the moon's not up. Occasionally he glances upward, and then you can see the Milky Way as it really is - cloudy with stars.

It's terrible manners to ask what someone thinks of a song you've played them. If they want to say, they'll say. You have to leave them the option not to.

He - somehow feels like if he doesn't ask Minaiyu, Minaiyu will assume his opinion isn't welcome, or something. Or at least that it's not safe to assume it is welcome, even though they're - sort of doing co-cultisty things together, right, so they're basically co-cultists, and Xakda just played him a song and didn't ask him not to give his opinion on it. That . . . doesn't make Rekka sound like such a great place, but what does Xakda know - maybe they make a habit of asking each other everything all the time. Maybe it helps them 'coordinate'. Sages he loves that word, why did he only ever come across it in an esoteric economics newsletter


. . . Maybe Minaiyu's just terrified nigh-mute on account of having just suddenly been stripped of almost all his agency and much of the context of his accustomed context-dependent background knowledge.

That doesn't sound like such a fun state to endure in, either.

"What do you think?"


Minaiyu opens his mouth to tell Xakda about some of the other ways that setups for non-fronting people have been known to work, but now it is Music Time. He closes his mouth again: infodumping can wait. They have plenty of time.

(unless they don't but in that case they have bigger problems anyway)


He looks out over the alien world below and the alien sky above, and listens to the alien music, and grins.

("It is our greatest privilege," Randate of Toranis once said, during his seventh life, "to observe the multiverse in its full splendour."

Minaiyu would not have chosen to be cut off from everything and everyone he'd ever known. It's not that it's worth it. He does miss Rekka desperately. would also have been a shame, to never experience this.)


<I'm not sure yet. Like, it's definitely not repulsive, I'm interested in exploring further, but like, I think I would need to listen to it a few more times to figure out whether I actually liked it or not. Especially the bits where we were climbing altitude: there was kind of a lot of background noise if you didn't already know how the song went.>

He laughs a little. <I can see why you put this on trying to stay alert: it's got a lot of energy to it.

And the bit where it was, like, purple-grey and white and cloudy, and then you looked up at the...galaxy? --it was neat how that matched up. I don't know if you can see that. I guess even if you can see something, you might not have the same colours.>


"Energy? This? Compared to some other kind of music? What kind of music is more sedate than this?" Pause. "Uh, not trying to sound critical, just, kind of, going 'huh??' Also 'huh??', does everyone where you're from have music synesthesia that similar? There's overlap here, but not - replication."

That makes sense about the propeller noise. He almost wishes he'd had the music higher during those parts, but probably better to err on the side of underwhelming.


<Lots of kinds? I don't know how well I can convey it to you, I don't play any instruments, but...hmm...>

He hums the opening bars and sings the first verse of a solemn song about the dissolution of a household.

<Oh, lightheartedly ""arguing"" about the colour of a song is certainly not an unpopular conversational topic. Although people mostly, broadly tend to agree that higher pitches are lighter colours,, I was in an ""argument"" once, and it turned out we were thinking of different arrangements of the piece, and when I played him the specific recording I was thinking of he was like "oh huh, you're right, that is blue".

And it's not everyone: I think I've heard on occasion that music-colour is the single most common convergence, but-- no, wait, hang on, that's not how...>

He rummages around in the vocabulary.

<..."wire-crossing"? Is that how you say it in this language?

Uh, anyway, even with music-colour it's better than even odds that a randomly selected person won't have it. There are so many other things you can be.

But like, Tayira and Maida formed in the same brain and I know they have the same colours, so I figured probably it helps with brain compatibility later on.>


. . . He probably shouldn't let their apparent propensity for torturing themselves through music kill his aspirations to visit Rekka.

". . . Huh. I don't have a reserved concept handle for when brain wires get crossed, but that's the common visual metaphor. 

. . . Why would people listen to music that's like that, with any frequency? Don't they want to - be having feelings that speed their way, rather than hinder - wait, you said formed in the same brain, not uterus. . . . DID, or something to do with hayi?"

He begins the descent.


<Well, okay, maybe that particular song is a bad example, that one's sad and lots of people do hate listening to sad music, but sometimes slow songs are about, like, cuddling or something.

Yeah, occasionally a brain forms two hayi, kind of like how occasionally an egg forms two bodies. It's about as common as separate-bodied twins. We figure from the statistics that probably the vast majority of twin-souled are natural, though we'd guess that some of them are infant walk-ins. It's hard to be sure which is which.

I don't actually have a very clear sense of what DID means: I think it involves concepts I don't have. I'm getting something about...splitting a person into pieces? And dissociation? And...I didn't get a great look at the stuff on Andor's desk and it did not seem like the time to ask, but it was saying something about trauma? I don't think it's a thing that we do.>


"Oh, right! I was gonna ask Andor for soul psychology reading recs! Well, I can totally do that in the morning.

DID is - I don't understand it as well as I do schizophrenia, and both are rarer than, like, being an 'agility-savant', which is super rare - but there's a decent body of literature on DID anyway because a few early psychologists learned important things from it. Apparently something can go wrong in the process of soul formation - physical-soul formation, I guess - such that people end up with multiple personalities. They're usually more like conjoined twins than separate-bodied, sharing wildly varying levels of brain-substrate, and usually not very happy or functional cohabitants - not that people on this planet are ever very happy to cohabitate with each other" maybe he shouldn't have said that, "anyway, mostly as far as people can tell it always starts in childhood. Hence Andor's bafflement.

. . . When you say 'infant' walk-ins, that's after two years old or so, when they become ensouled? Which is identical with becoming conscious? How can people not tell which is which, wouldn't you remember a walk-in? My memories of being three are spotty, but I think my brain saved all the really shocking or subjectively intense stuff."


Xakda's little plot of land floats up to meet them as he slowly lets off lift. 

Sinber's three-year-old is in the yard, close to the house, staring up at them. Xakda doesn't seem concerned about this. Maybe because of the electric blue reflective tether attaching the kid's wrist to the house.


<Yeah, I remembered while we were going back to the garage, but I didn't bother saying anything at that point. Probably for the best not to pile that onto him at the end of a long day, anyway.

Ensoulment happens about four months into gestation, far as we know death still basically works the same for a hayi that's not a conscious person?>

That cohabitation definitely a concerning thing for Xakda to have said. Xakda hasn't seemed super bothered by that aspect so far...but on the other hand, he spent much of the day not thinking of Minaiyu as permanent. Maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet.

He's glad Xakda doesn't know what facial expressions he's making right now.

Well. There's an obvious way to gently(?) probe into the matter.

<Is that why you only have one coparent? Or are there others that just happened to be away?>


"- I have two other previous-coparents [one word] but they don't live here? If that's what you mean. It's pretty unheard-of that even Sinber and me would live in one house. Do - Rekkans? - sorry, wish I had your language thing - usually live with a bunch of previous-coparents at once?" It's intriguing.


He snorts. <Sure, we can go for localised grammar.

I admit I was using "coparent" there in, like, a pretty broad sense, broader than I normally would although there's dialects where that use is standard. I'm not sure precisely where the boundaries are for your word.

But's pretty rare for a household with kids to have fewer than three adults? That usually only happens if you're desperate, or on the other end of things if you're living off investments or something else passive like that and can afford to both be home doing domestic stuff throughout the day. Maintaining a household is a lot of work, and raising a kid is a lot of work, and so it's important to spread that out among plenty of people?

In my household when I was growing up there were nine people in total: five adults, four kids. My parents--in the narrow sense, the people whose gametes made me--my aunt and uncle, don't seem to have a word for this, but I guess "adoptive uncle" isn't far off? He wasn't related to anyone else in the household, he didn't grow up alongside them, but he was a close friend and he lived there and pitched in...and then for the kids there was me and my older brother and my two younger cousins.>

His voice gets quieter.

<...yesterday there were seven of us left: my brother had moved out, and my uncle had died. I...I guess probably he might well have landed somewhere by now, if I have. I hope he's doing well.>

He shakes himself. Now is not the time.

<Anyway, uh...there's a lot of variation in the details, but that was basically a pretty normal household setup? Is it...normal here, to raise a kid all by yourself? That-- uh, no offence, but that sounds very overwhelming and also lonely.>


He managed to keep paying attention through the landing. He waves at the kid, who is doing his best to gather intel on the sir who has a full view of him without looking like a snoop.

Through garage door.

". . . No, kids have two parents! The kid gets shared equally between them. And usually passed around some to other people in the parents' moirail network, if they want recreational-child-timeshares [one word] of him. Adults just - don't live together?"

Garage door, shut.

"You said - there were seven of you left - that didn't include you, did it?"

He frantically tries to remember if Minaiyu ever actually said how old he was. He - thinks he'd just been assuming Minaiyu was his age - !


He pokes at "moirail". There's something here about a close platonic(?) bond, but it's complicated and he thinks a lot of it is flying over his head. Given the context in which it came up, he is putting it on the pile of lower-priority questions.

<Huh. I guess that's something? Still kind of sounds like a lot to juggle to me, and...don't get me wrong, clearly it works for y'all, but I'd have expected it to be very unpleasant for the child not to have a consistent home.

Seven including me. I certainly could move out, but I like it here...uh, liked it there...and there weren't any places I wanted to move to or people I wanted to move in with. And I didn't want to live alone either, which some people do but it's definitely not the norm.

...if-you-want-to-say, why do you and Sinber live together?>

He very much hopes Xakda wants to say--it seems likely to be important--but it also seems like it might be a sensitive topic.


"- We both used to live in Kal Seio, where he works, and then the apartment building we were living in closed, and because they're both in weird rebuilding phases, neither Kal Seio nor Pyeth actually had anyone who was renting anything that would be good for kids right that second, and we both already had kids, and we each separately found this one former-farmhouse gimmicky type place that would be perfect but there was no second one, so I was like, 'hey, it's actually big enough for two adults'. That was a year ago. It's gone better than he expected, I think!

Neither of us intend on staying here for longer than a few years, though. 


Sometimes you say things like that living alone isn't the norm, and it's like. Huh, yeah, that really is something I didn't realize was contingent about our society.


Wouldn't a consistent home be more - boring, for the child? Single parents, as far as anyone can tell, raise slightly duller children, because of the more fixed development environment. Like a captive animal raised in an unchanging cage - they get less stimulation and don't have to learn as many generalizable strategies. I have some ideas for trying to offset that effect, but Sinber wants to move out before the oncoming kid is one and I can't really argue.


Also, uhhhh, sorry I've left this til now, how old are you? I'm twenty-five."


He's still sitting in the cab, in the garage, seeming to have forgotten himself.


He starts with the easy response.

<I'm twenty-three. Although, hmm, maybe...> he prods at the vocabulary <'s hard to do comparative timekeeping with any precision on semantic-bleedover† alone, but I think maybe your years are slightly shorter than ours? It might be twenty-four of your years.>

Well, the relatively easy response.


In Tashayan, "apartment building" has connotations of...desperation. It's where you live when you've just fled an abusive household, or you're very poor and living on government housing programs, or you're terminally incapable of ever trusting anyone enough to share a home with them--sure, it's a big decision, it's normal to take years of proving yourselves to each other before y'all make the leap, but eventually--but you haven't (yet) moved to some little remote cabin or something (and yeah, no, things are not going to go well for you in the next life, are they? or for that matter in this life, with so many fewer safety nets than usual), or at best you've just moved out because there was some other place you really wanted to be and you don't yet know who you're going to live with.

It's clear that it doesn't have those connotations here. It's still disorienting, though.

(The apartment building closed? Someone else decided to kick all of them out of their homes?? And yet living in a setup that fucking fragile is unremarkable???)

<...I wonder if the consistent-home thing is part of, like, the same package that makes y'all want to live in cities and never write songs about cuddling? It's...good to visit places outside the home, sure, as long as you don't spring it on the kid at the last minute, but it's also very important to-- to have a sanctuary, a place that's familiar and yours, and where you can lay your head down on the same bed each night. And it's important, especially for kids but also for adults, to have some days where you don't go anywhere.

I could...maybe see an arrangement where you rotate between a fixed set of dwellings at fixed times working okay? But because it would still be consistent in its own way, on sort of a meta level.

Yeah, it-- it's so weird to me that adults don't live together here. It-- teamwork's important? It's...good to share the workload of domestic chores, and be able to partially specialise so that each person is disproportionately doing the chores that they personally find easy or pleasant, and also it's good surround yourself with people you trust, people where y'all can rely on each other for help when something goes wrong, people you can casually talk to or hug as you're going about your day, people who...are part of your sanctuary, and you of theirs.>

People that he will never talk to or hug again, a bed on which he will never again lay down the head he doesn't have anymore, and Xakda will never let him build sanctuary anew, will he--

He's trying very hard not to cry.


<I-- it-- it's not that-- we-->

His voice is audibly strained.

<--we do want to be alone sometimes, it's not like I'm-- a hive creature or something, even if the circumstances of when to do that or not are weird-- but even-- that's not-- the important thing--

I-- I-- I promise I will look away, when you need me to.>

Was now the right time to say that? Who knows! He kind of feels like it was simultaneously absolutely critical that he say that right now and absolutely critical that he not say that right now. But now is apparently when it is getting said, so all he can really do at this point is hope it doesn't blow up in his face.


†he calques this


"Thank you, for -


- obviously we need to work out some setup of being able to give each other privacy, I don't intend on you not being able to have at least as much of a career as I do - and -

- and having switching houses be predictable to the kids is important - and -




- yes, I wholeheartedly agree, it seems important to figure out is there some kind of unified logical reason that a society that recognizes that collaboration is important - something no one here seems to get, if you didn't get that already - ends up with people still living in the same house as their parents at twenty-three, because what."


He doesn't even know where to start with why that idea is outlandish. (To Xakda's tiny, parochial mind!)



"How did you - if you never moved out, how awkward must it have been when you were saving up to pay back your child-debt [n. the cost of raising you, which you obviously work like mad to pay back to your parents in your tweens and teens or how would you ever get on with your life, emotionally]? Or - that's probably my cultural-myopia talking, it probably doesn't even register as weird to y'all."



Xakda...wholeheartedly agrees...and the way he framed that, "recognizes" that collaboration is important...and he's offering to give Minaiyu large swaths of-- his time, his life, without even being asked...


...oh fuck, apparently Minaiyu is crying now.

And, of course, he can't talk while he's crying, and normally if you really must talk to someone while you're crying you sign to them but there doesn't seem to be a way to do that from in here and if he fronts presumably Xakda will cry and he doesn't want to do that to Xakda. Bad enough that he's doing it to himself, and bad enough that Xakda can sort of observe: you shouldn't cry in front of other people, it hurts them, you're striking them in the affective empathy as surely as if you had slapped them across the face...



<--thanks,> he manages to choke out. <talk-- later-->

He turns the microphone out of the way after that, but it was pretty clear from the sounds up to that point what was happening.



<💭>Obviously I don't actually have enough cognitive bandwidth to exchange information without unpredictably-to-me triggering the poor guy, but this still reflects poorly on me.</💭>

He exits the garage.


"Surprisingly, one of the senior neuro diagnosticians at my job thought there was a slight chance the alien spirit who appeared in my brain speaking its dialect this morning is real, after trying to figure it out for seven hours. So now I still think he's real! He's really nice."


"I'll be the judge of that, sir."

Total: 299
Posts Per Page: