sesati expats from do you recall when the war was just a game meet another amenta
+ Show First Post
Total: 563
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

"In addition to wishes, there's a world where one of the people in the Peal - Loki - controls all distances and locations, so any two things in her world or one of the neighboring worlds can be as close together or as far apart as she pleases at any time, including things like 'the entire population of an inhabited planet' and 'a star' - though Loki's power is overkill if you just want to use a star to commit genocide, she gives out a teleportation spell to her most trusted lieutenants that's much more powerful than any version Gem has ever let anyone wish on and might be more powerful than can be wished on. And in another world, there are people who can see the future, but they trip over each other pretty easily - they can't see a future where someone else looks into the future. There's a world where you can turn into animals - you can only change back if you're in the area but you can turn into an animal in that world and then go wherever you want. There are a few different kinds of things that can be done in any world for various kinds of mind control - the Imperius Curse makes you the caster's puppet, subtle arts like one of the people in the Peal has can edit your mind in basically any way the subtle artist wants, and the kind of thing Gem's wife does can make you happy or sad or afraid or unafraid or unable to do violence or put you to sleep or make you not need sleep or make you trust or like someone for no reason. - I don't have any reason to think we're using mind control on anyone from your planet, or have used mind control on anyone from your planet, other than the happiness devices that we've demonstrated openly and with permission, and I do have reason to specifically think we aren't and haven't and won't. Anyway, I don't know what else to say without questions, and I also have questions for you in your capacity as someone who knows more about your culture and the Empress than we do, is it okay if I ask you for some advice?"

Permalink

"Oh, of course, go right ahead."

Permalink

"We want to come across to the Empress and her deputies in a way that's normal and friendly. I don't want to accidentally imply that we're much closer to starting a war than we are - that happened with other aliens before and it was a whole mess - we're frankly more likely to just leave your entire universe than to start a war with your Empress, mostly on principle. Where I come from you imply things like that by going out of your way to say nice things about the people you're doing diplomacy with and giving gifts, and we're inclined to try both of those things, but, first, I have no idea how you come across as saying 'no, really, I don't know who'd win a war and don't want to find out' instead of either 'please don't hurt us' or 'you cannot possibly be a threat and I already know you'll do everything I ask'. And second, I have no idea what kind of goodwill gifts would go over well - I don't want to insult the Empress with something so trivial she has a billion and doesn't know where to put them all, or something that'll come across as an implicit demand or a threat. And you're, you know, from the right planet to know the top ten mistakes so obvious no one capable of lacing their pants could make them by accident except that it totally is possible for aliens to be that dumb. So - I have gift ideas to run by you but if anything jumps out at you first..."

Permalink

"Oh, hm. People in fact give her all kinds of things, art objects being the most popular, but I guess I imagine it being sort of silly for you to do that if you don't happen to have a particularly great artist with you and when you could give her magic things instead. But I don't know how giftable those are, or whether it would be rude to give them without explaining anything about them because you want to hold the information back as a trade item."

Permalink

"We definitely have magic things that are giftable and that we can also explain how to make as part of the gift - my lord floated the idea of giving her a couple of necklaces that make the wearer immortal and we absolutely can provide instructions for those - and once you have those instructions you can play around with them and make other kinds of things, up to and including rings of godlike power. Just, the instructions are a whole class, not really convenient to hand over during a meeting. We do also have some really good music if a thumb drive of that would go over well - does it matter if it's our own compositions or just something we picked up from some aliens?"

Permalink

"I think it makes a worse formal gift if you got it from somewhere else but it's not that she wouldn't necessarily like it, just that it's not the right connotations for a diplomatic present."

Permalink

Nod. "What else can you tell me about what has the right connotations?"

Permalink

"That's such a good question, hmm. I think the best gifts aren't trivially replaceable and it's easy to tell - like if you see it in a display room with a short caption - why it's special. So art, but not the peculiar modern art where it's just an ordinary thing with an odd title; specially bound first editions of books yes but not just a copy you got at the store... and they're from you, or your people, so it's not about your taste, but about your skills."

Permalink

"I can’t think of anything that meets those criteria - everything that’s not magic is trivially replaceable; we make the necklaces I mentioned but we can make as many as we want, they don’t use anything scarce... I guess I... oh, I might have an idea. Hm. Are there... questions I haven’t thought of asking, ways I rub you the wrong way...?"

Permalink

"I can't quite place your accent, but it's not a problem, I talk to international visitors often..."

Permalink

"Ohh, boy. Um. I'm using translation magic that normally, outside unusual circumstances, makes people hear you in their own native language. I speak Sesati and am from Sesat. And now I'm wondering if Ling Wen heard something other than Mandarin. The Empress might, too."

Permalink

"Oh, perhaps, they're very old."

Permalink

"I don't know how I'll navigate that. I'm glad you mentioned it, though, thank you."

Permalink

"Is it a problem?"

Permalink

"Maybe not! I just don’t want to make anyone feel wrong-footed."

Permalink

"Understandable! Hmm, should I summarize what you have explained so far about the deal you want to strike to make sure I have it all right?"

Permalink

"Yes, please."

Permalink

"You want to provide Empress Jun Wu with trade goods that you believe will allow her to secure the wish-granting ability of the Kyubeys, in exchange for her permanent and irrevocable agreement to let your people use it to make whatever wishes you please. Is that right?"

Permalink

"If she doesn't have the wish-granter already, which we weren't totally clear on. I do also want to point out that she can use the happiness devices to save witches if she wants, or at least it works that way in the other world, and that once we're sharing the plans for the happiness devices we can share other things that work on the same principles for purposes like helping people heal faster or making people more graceful or even letting people walk on water. And we of course value her expertise in wish design and would be honored should she choose to help us make wishes that achieve our goals rather than ones that don't, but that doesn't really contradict what you said."

Permalink

"I think that usually when great powers make agreements with one another they have in mind some means of enforcement. Have you thought of something already?"

Permalink

"I don't know everything my lord will want to do about exotic possibilities like the Empress's word not being trustworthy, though I expect he'll want to have our lie detection running, at least. On our end, we intend to provide information that will allow the Empress to make as many happiness devices as she pleases, and we believe your planet already has all the necessary infrastructure to make them cheaply, so it’d be hard to go back on it even if we wanted to. I'm sure the Empress will also have ideas. I confess that I don't know enough about how bargaining is done on your planet to be confident I haven't accidentally implied something false about our stance here, so if I've said something that seems to have outrageous implications it's very likely only my own ignorance and inexperience."

Permalink

"The Empress is the oldest person in the world but even she has never made a permanent commitment. ...The truth magic is a little peculiar to think about, I don't know that it sounds quite polite."

Permalink

"Oh, um. It definitely isn't something that was intended to be impolite on our end. Of course, it turns out different planets have some very different ideas of what's polite - I'll have to bring it up with my lord, though I don't know if he'd be okay skipping it, but - anyway, if you know she's never made a permanent commitment, does that mean you can give me the details of her deal with the Kyubeys?"

Permalink

"It might be indefinite?"

Permalink

"Am I being rude by asking about it?"

Total: 563
Posts Per Page: