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Generated: Aug 09, 2017 10:32 AM
Post last updated: Nov 24, 2016 3:45 AM
A Tale of Two Hells
Demon Edie and Demon Cam in Milliways
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Edie was perusing the latest correspondence from her fork. She still should have been paying enough attention to realize that the door didn't go where it ought before it swung shut and she couldn't sense anyone else anymore, but she wasn't.

After opening and closing the door a couple times to make sure she hadn't just been abducted somehow, she looks around.

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It is a bar! An empty, clean bar. With supernovae out the window.
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Well that does appear to be a thing. She can't think off the top of her head how daeva could make actual supernovae, so it's...probably...not Enemy action.

It doesn't take long before her poking around takes her near the bar.

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Hello. Can I get you anything? First drink is free.
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"I can create arbitrary objects. I would like an explanation, please."

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Of course. And the bar summarizes the bar. Also, drinks need not be anything you've previously heard of.
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"I'll take a recommendation of something I've never heard of and am not likely to, then."

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And the bar presents her with a swirly blue glass full of fizzy green juice. It has a festive umbrella.
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And in walks another demon. Wings, tail, no other accessories; one of the phenotypes more plausibly an ex-summoner.
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She looks him up and down. "Hi. This as weird for you as for me? I have some explanations written on napkins."

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"...yeah, this is weird. Napkins?"
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She hands him the explanation napkins.

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They're so explanatory.

"...so you a demon or a coincidence?"
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"Being a demon is less coincidental?"

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"It makes you looking like one less of a coincidence. Not so much us being here simultaneously." He plops down at the bar, tail lashing, accepts a drink recommendation, gets something that looks like it's coffee-themed.
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"Well, I'm totally a demon. You an ex-summoner too? You kinda look it."

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"Yeah."
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"Cool. When'd you die?

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"2009. You?"
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"2030. Huh, that's--just barely post-Revelation."

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"Yeah, by a couple years."
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"Good thing you didn't kick it just a little earlier, I guess. I mean, unless you would've chosen to be a Limboite in order to be in the same dimension as loved ones reliably given full disclosure, in which case condolences."

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"Nah, I wouldn't have done that."
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"I probably wouldn't've either, but I'd have thought about it. I have a twin. She's an angel."

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"Sounds inconvenient. At least you've got one-way communication."
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"There is that. And I've got a great long-term summon going, no gag and I'm the easiest-to-pay demon ever--well, probably not, but it's hard to find ones like me if you've got gags on! So I can see her regularly, for now."

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"That's lucky, good for you. Takes forever to find summoners who don't gag their demons."
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"Yeah, I'd seen her before since we died but it was always someone she'd talked into summoning me, not vice-versa."

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"I'm not well-acquainted with any angels or fairies, no such luck."
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"Well, if you're not well-acquainted with any why would you want that as an intangible in the first place?"

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"Could've gotten them to ask someone to summon me and let me have a phone to call my parents before they died."
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"Oh. Yeah. My parents are Limboites too. That would have been nice."

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"Yeah. Mine got good things, though."
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"Oh?"

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"House, RV."
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"My dad got a library and my mom got a tree."

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"Kinda tree?"
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"Oak. Grew in the backyard of her childhood home, great for a kid to climb on. I think people make acorn flour from it."

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Nod. "My dad's kinda annoyed by the social obligation to have houseguests and clear his fridge out twice a day and have the water running all the time but he copes."
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"People make little acorn cakes with the flour and the water from the bathrooms of the library and I think a couple of other things. I've tried 'em, they're okay, but I wouldn't wanna eat nothing else."

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"The library's a really good thing, especially if it has a librarian breakroom or something in it."
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"There is but it only has a little bit--coffee and common additives, I think some of those go in the cakes, and, like, one sandwich, it's not even competitive with the acorn cakes most of the time."

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"Oh, are they near each other, that's amazingly lucky."
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"I know. Sometimes I wonder if it's because Dad died first and he was really the one thing Mama would have found an afterlife incomplete without."

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"That'd be sweet."
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"It would! I have no idea if it's realistic, though."

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"Probably not. Somebody'd have noticed if it were much more than chance, I think."
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"Yeah. I'm glad they got lucky, though. Both in that and having summoner daughters."

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"Yeah, care packages are a big deal in Limbo."
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"Yeah, no kidding. It's a pity Concordances are so limited. And so one-sixth clogged by futile racists."

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"Futile racism is very annoying."
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"Though not nearly as annoying as the non-futile kind, granted."

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"Yeah. Pity the futile racists can't just have LARPs on their own time without crowding the concordance for peaceful postal service daeva."
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"It's really annoying that I have to route my letters to my sister through Limbo and Fairyland!"

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"I've played with ideas for getting the futile racists out of the way long enough to establish a different precedent but haven't got anywhere, doesn't help that I don't have anyone on the Heaven side to coordinate with."
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"...Well, I do. We should correspond."

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"Sure. I'm Cam, nobody spams 'letter to Cam' yet."
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"Edie. Although, ah--what languages do you speak? There's this asshole I think is conjuring my mail, so I've got this code worked out..."

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"Lots -" He picks his computer off his belt, calls up a list.
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"Oh, that's convenient, I also speak most of those. Got summoned by some linguists to teach 'em demon languages."

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"Huh, I got summoned by some linguists once, but they kept me gagged and just had me confirm translations."
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"Sucks. Was that before or after your parents moved to Limbo?"

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"Before her, after him."
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"Definitely sorrier than baseline you were gagged for that one."

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"Yeah. Picked up a lot of languages from the linguists though."
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"They're convenient like that!"

She explains the code. It's vaguely Feanaroish in style.

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Which Cam does not recognize since his Fëanáro has just been using the one-time pad. "Clever," he remarks anyway.
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"Thanks. It was actually mostly my current summoner's father who came up with it."

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"He's a cryptographer or something?"
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"He's a something, that's for sure," she snorts.

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"Hm?"
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"He's lotsa kinds of genius. He speaks enough languages for the code to work with him, he invents like Da Vinci on the best stimulants known to Man or Daeva..."

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"Nice."
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"And he learns languages like a child in a candyshop, it's adorable."

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"Yeah some people just really like 'em. I've been doing machine translation to patch what I didn't get with my summon, I don't pick up languages that fast the long way."
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"Oh, I've just been patching that with getting dismissed and re-summoned."

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"Nice if you can arrange it, yeah."
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"Why can't you?"

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"I guess I could now but the need to talk to people has diminished recently."
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"Sounds like a story."

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"It is a long story."
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"Well, time's apparently paused on the other side of the door."

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"You really wanna know?"
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"Yeah."

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"Short version, I'm on summon to a world where summoning does not otherwise work. Could be dismissed, can't be resummoned. My summoner's in hiding because somebody might kill them to get to me. There was a war. I ended it."
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"...Huh. If summoning doesn't otherwise work then how...?"

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"Not sure, I may've been a fluke."
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"Well, I'm on a summon to another world where it works pretty damn reliably, to the point where someone invented trans-world summoning just to make demons easier to pay. Got any advice on war-ending? It'd be pretty useful."

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"Not especially. Circumstances unlikely to match. What's your world like?"
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"Well, millions of years ago there was a sentient species that looks like lizard-kangaroos, and now they're extinct outside the daeva realms and limbo, except for fifteen catatonic summoners that have been kept around all this time."

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"...wow, okay. That's gonna be fun for the library of Hell curators."
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"Currently there are, as far as I can tell, three inhabited planets. One of which is also Earth, for some reason, complete with humanity. And one of the catatonic summoners--the one of the worst of the lot, the one we're trying to evacuate people away from--is inside the Earth, surrounded by explosives rigged to destroy the planet if the setup is messed with or the summoner dies."

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"...duplicate Earth? What the fuck?"
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"I don't know."

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"Circa when?"
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"Which, it existing or containing a catatonic summoner?"

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"I mean what's the calendar year on the Earth."
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Pretty close to the one on theirs, but not exact.

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"They have their own Revelation?"
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"Yeah, why?"

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"I'm Revelation."
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She considers this.

"That's a kind of a bold claim but I can't immediately figure out what you'd get out of lying about it if it weren't true--that you currently know, anyway--and things are weird and coincidental enough already to make it more plausible than otherwise."

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"I don't usually tell people."
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"...Is that what got you killed."

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"I taught summoning for a bit and I think one of the daeva I summoned identified me to some guy with economic interests in secrecy and he walked right into my classroom and shot me in the head."
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"That's awful and I'm really sorry it happened to you."

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"Well, then I got to be a demon."
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"Woulda been a demon if you had died less unpleasantly too."

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"Yeah. Well. It was fast."
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"There is that."

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"Anyway, your Earth is slightly earlier than mine - ours, if we're from the same one - so there might be another me, but I'm not sure what that nets you."
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"Well, I actually went there while trying to figure out the summoner problem, and met a living summoner with my same surname and parents with names identical to mine who...was basically like a mishmash of my sister and I in a lot of ways."

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"...huh. I'm not sure whether to expect you have a me or a variant of me or what then."
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"Yeah, the whole thing is really weird and I've been more worried about evacuating the planet the evil demon's on than figuring shit out."

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"Reasonable."
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"If we did think of a way to get racist daeva out of Heaven/Hell concordances maybe I could use it on Melkor, that'd be something," she snorts.

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"Melkor?"
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"The demon whose summoner's buried in the Earth and whose planet we're trying to evacuate," she clarifies.

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"Okay, maybe this is a coincidence but my war involved a guy named Melkor. He's not a demon though, he's a sorta magic thing."
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"Huh. Probably made communication less of a pain, he's the asshole I'm protecting my mail against."

 

 

"...The other fourteen loose lizard-kangaroo daeva call themselves the Valar."

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"The other fourteen sorta magic things called themselves that."
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"My summoner's genius father's name is Feanaro."

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"I know one of those."
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"This is bizarre."

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"No kidding."
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"If you ever get information from the universe I'm summoned to, you should just know ahead of time that I did not kill anyone, the Valar lied about that."

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"...Okay."
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"Maitimo summoned me to make light-leapers, we went down to the planet--I had to go with him, they have laws about the bindings you have to put on daeva and one of 'em's 'stay within a certain distance of your summoner at all times'--and the Valar said no one was allowed to leave so we all made for Alqualonde, which is a spaceport. They'd have alerted the Valar if we let them. Maitimo extracted a reasonable set of oaths from me and snapped my binding. I put the population of Alqualonde to sleep. The Valar found out and showed up anyway and killed a bunch of people trying to get me sent back to Hell and the remaining Noldor prevented from leaving, then claimed that I'd killed everyone, except my summoner who they'd obviously had to kill to stop me."

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"You chipped yourself to do oaths?"
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"Chipped myself to do telepathy, found out about the oaths after."

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"Can your Valar do oaths? In a way you could really, really count on."
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"I reeeeally doubt it. I don't think they're even chipped, let alone chipped and then sworn not to ever let the oath-enforcing function of the chips be interfered with."

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"Okay, then I continue to not have war-ending suggestions."
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"Do you have suggestions for getting a bomb out of the earth?"

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"How hair-trigger is it? Could you dig down a ways, surround it with keratin attached to you, and set it off?"
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"Ooh, good question. So far our best idea was to get enough trustworthy daeva to split the earth in half minus a sphere around the thing, get it out and far away, fill in the hole with appropriate matter, put the planet back together and set it back in its correct orbit."

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"...yeah that sounds like a disaster. Surrounding it and blowing it up sounds like a potential disaster - if it's a planetbuster but shaped it could knock your whole keratin bubble in one direction and wobble the planet - do you have enough time to try a dummy version? Sounds like there's not room for it in Milliways."
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"We think Melkor doesn't know we know yet."

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"So you could make a model of it, try bubble-and-boom, see if everything on the surface is still standing."
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"Yeah, that's how we found out it won't stand up to angelic interference."

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"That's impressive, does that hold if you have lots of angels at once?"
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"Haven't tested that."

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"If you had enough angels they might be able to work simultaneously enough - but that seems difficult, fingernail thing's easier if it works."
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She conjures a model of Earth about the size of a beachball. She tries growing keratin into it. It explodes in her face.

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"Yikes. Maybe if you did it farther out? He can't have made it so it explodes if any plausible stuff happens on the crust, he doesn't want it exploded and people are going to drain aquifers and mine diamonds, continents are going to drift..."
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She tries again. It explodes again.

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"What does the bomb mechanism alone look like? If it just blows up if you try it maybe there were blueprints once?"
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She conjures the plans.

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Cam peers at them to figure out what they can sense and where and how sensitively.
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"A lot" and "very sensitively" respectively, apparently. Theoretically the keratin-bubble could at least sort of work but the charge is shaped.

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"Shaped charge. Well damn."
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"If you have any ideas for evacuating--getting the people on Endore off it, or convincing humans to get off Earth so we can kill the summoner--I'd be overjoyed to hear them."

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"Endorë's probably the easier target on convincing people but will, if your Melkor's like mine, be very hard to interfere with without catastrophic risk and escalation... Does the bomb react to the summoner's death? If you could figure out via model precisely where they are, a demon could kill them without having to dig so much as a well."
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She checks. "It does."

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"Ugh. - Are the lizard-kangaroos chipped?"
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"Nope. And humans who aren't daeva can't be, it kills them, so I'm not confident that's changeable."

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"If you could chip the lizard-kangaroo there's something that might work."
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"The summoner or Melkor? Because it worked on me just fine."

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"The summoner."
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"Well, like I said, lethal to non-daeva humans. What good would it do if it worked?"

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"I have been very careful about leaking some information to Hell for reasons, but this is kinda high-stakes. You good to keep infosec on it?"
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"Shan't say a word to my own fork on it if you ask me not to."

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"You have a fork? How'd you do that?"
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"If a daeva chips themself the chip copies down their brain well enough that if you go back to Hell where Mandos doesn't get backups, dig the chip out, and make an Elf body around it--that's how I found out it doesn't work for mortal humans--you can fork yourself. And if they summon something and die they daeva-fy just fine."

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"Okay. So. Secrets time. The inability to make minds is not absolute."
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"You have my undivided attention!"

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"If you make a chip the data is all there. It just magically doesn't work. But if you copy it - not with demon powers, just, you need a chip reading thing - and print it onto a blank - that works. If you can chip and fork the summoner the fork might be able to dismiss Melkor. I don't know if this would work."
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"...Well. I'd want to try it on some other kangaroo-lizard first, since, if I try chipping the summoner and it kills them..."

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"Yeah, exactly. And you would also have to be able to place a chip correctly without going deep enough to trigger the bomb."
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"Even if that doesn't work, if I can finagle it right, this could be invaluable in saving Elf lives. Maitimo is alive because I happened to grab him before a Vala killed him and managed to drag what was left of his body back to Hell with me, which included his intact chip. Making me the first demon ever to actually steal someone's soul."

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"Yeah.

Won't do anything for the humans or Dwarves on Endorë though."
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"There aren't any humans on Endore."

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"Aren't there? There were some, very new, when I arrived. Like, weeks old, orcs were teaching them to write. I guess maybe if your Valar are daeva your Eru can't just casually install species with lousy timing."
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"There's tree-people, though. Who's Eru?"

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"I haven't met the guy but reportedly he is to Valar as Valar are to Maiar - do you have Maiar?"
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"...Maybe?"

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"Valar are big magic things, Maiar are a range of smaller magic things, and Eru is, like, God. Elves claim to be a created species, humans-on-Endorë certainly look like they are, I didn't meet any tree people, Dwarves are great though have you met any Dwarves they kind of shot me a lot but I don't hold that against them there were signs posted and everything..."
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"Ada may have. I haven't been to the surface of Endore, personally."

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"Ada's your fork?"
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"Yep. We decided to take advantage of the fact that of necessity the forks look like Elves."

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"Makes sense. What's she working on while you try to route around the Earth being rigged to blow?"
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"Figuring out more about what exactly Melkor is up to."

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"Mine was having a deceptively low-tech war because if he escalated too much the Valar would have gotten off their asses. - I should give you the design for the chip-melting suicide things, I assume being caught by your Melkor is bad even if it's not as bad as being caught by mine."
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"Yeah, probably a good idea. What happened if you were caught by your Melkor?"

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"Destructive uploading, arbitrary number of forks sped up arbitrarily much, horrifying torture." He rummages in his files and de-chiplocks the plans for the thing. "Computer lock chips work on my Elves, you might want to double check for yours."
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"That sounds like a good idea. How do I check if my Melkor is doing that."

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"Mine was not particularly secretive about it, for psychological warfare reasons, but if the Elves on Endorë don't know about it it's possible yours isn't, you could conjure up his servers and look them over or something..."
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"Yeah, probably a good idea. I think I'm going to try that now in the backyard, wanna come?"

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"Sure, I'm planning on abusing the fuck out of this time-pausing feature anyway."
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Backyard. And Edie conjures--any servers that Melkor is using to torture people.

 

 

"Oops," she says, as the entire spatially available backyard fills with computer, and then, "Fuck."

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"Yyyyyep."
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"Well now I guess I get to explain to Aegnor that it is in fact worth it to evacuate the Earth."

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"Worth it yes, feasible to do, not necessarily."
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"Yeah. Argh."

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"You could publicize on Earth that ex-summoners get to be daeva, give them a bit, and blow the place."
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"The fact that the lizard-kangaroo-fairy who wasn't even an ex-summoner was pretty zen about the extinction event several million years ago does not make me thrilled with the prospect."

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"Yeah."
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"I'm going to want to explore a lot more of option-space before I go with the one that irrevocably sunders families."

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Nod.
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"Especially with Milliways time-stopping meaning no one's getting tortured while I dither."

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"Yeah, that's a perk."
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"So what horrific choice did you have to make."

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"Well. My Valar are magic things. They're not immune to black holes unless they get warning. And Melkor really, really wanted them all dead and he can swear oaths and I can verify oaths.

And I can bring the Elves back - that's what pushed it -

The Maiar and Valar weren't chipped though."
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"What the hell did you get him to swear."

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Cam hands her the text of it.
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"Wow," she says, looking it over.

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"Worked. He's been quiet as a mouse. There's peace treaties underway between all the incarnate political units - they're rebuilding - I got the binary star system right on the first try and haven't done anything but put chips through a read-write machine and make bodies around them in months -"
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"Want some help?"

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"You'd have to come back to my New Valinor and my understanding is this would lose you the door to here."
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"Unless I'm badly mistaken, Mandos can't reach this place."

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"You're offering to send a fork of yourself back with me?"
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"I'm probably going to need to fork more anyway. We should confirm we're from the same Hell, first, or at least that she'll be able to fork my twin once she's demonified."

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"...okay, we could check our indices of mail sent to Fairyland in the last concordance and see if we're both on it, me writing my parents and you writing your sister?"
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"Sounds about right."

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Cam searches his.
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They do in fact appear to be from the same Hell.

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"Okay, same Hell. ...Weird that there are other Hells."
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"No kidding."

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"It's probably also important if you'll be able to correspond with the rest of you from where I'm at."
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"Yeah...not sure if I can meaningfully send her home with you if summoning doesn't normally work in that Arda..."

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"Oh, it does now, I just didn't want to explain at the time - once the Valar were dead it worked. The dead humans and Dwarves don't have an afterlife or chips but they can summon. I think before that the Valar had some general interdict versus -" handwave, "stuff - that hedged out most summoning but didn't lock it down specifically, and then I showed up and they were alarmed and tightened it up so no more daeva could be summoned, and then -"
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"Yeah. You can copy over a my chip if I conjure it, right, I don't have to dig it out of my skull again?"

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"Yeah, although the apparatus to read-and-write it is a little elaborate."
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"How elaborate?"

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"Bout the height of that server rack. ...We should get rid of these servers somehow."
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"Fire?"

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"We'd burn down all the trees... Maybe we should ask Bar whether she prefers the trees burned or the entire place heaped with interpolated silicon dust."
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"Good idea."

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Bar prefers the silicon dust option, please, it will blow away eventually.
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Interpolated dust!

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Coughing! "I was expecting you to scale down the servers," he remarks.
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"I really should have done that, yeah."

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"I'm not immediately sure who I'd have summon your fork. There are people around - explaining things to everyone I resurrect - not sure they'd summon an unbound demon on my say-so though -"
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"Oh, technically I'm not unbound, just bound lightly enough it might as well be the same thing."

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"I'm loose. Kid didn't doodle his way into a binding. Are you envisioning being summoned to New Valinor or just walking out my door?"
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"Well, since there's no one here to summon new me..."

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"I don't know what the mail protocol between you and Ada and any other demons who may be about is, you could've been planning to come with me yourself and send your fork back there or something - how are you seeing this working?"
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"I was planning to go back and send Aoide with you. I figured it probably couldn't be insurmountable to find someone who'd summon her with light enough bindings. Tyelcormo comes to mind, he's my current summoner."

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"Tyelcormo's pet Maia hasn't stopped howling since Valinor got holed."
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"...Oh."

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"Yeah I'm not super popular some places."
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"What about Maitimo?"

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"He's not convenient to New Valinor but might summon you, yeah."
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"Well, that's something."

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"I can try the people he sent me to help get everybody acquainted with being alive again first, one of them might do it, it'll save the lightleaper delay."
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"Probably better than nothing even with the delay, but yeah."

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"I'd probably send an unmanned drone or something rather than wait ten days. I wasn't planning to stop working until every Valian Elf was walking around again; I'll use this place while I've got it but after that nope."
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"Yeah, that's fair."

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"Eventually there'll probably be an ex-Dwarf demon or something and we can set up comms that way. For now I think it's all me. ...Might not even be a good idea to have your fork come to New Valinor, there's dead people on Endorë too."
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"There is that, yeah," she sighs.

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"And I stand by my priority ordering but if there's another pair of metaphorical hands..."
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"Yeah."

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"So I can send Maitimo a drone message and he can summon Aoide and she can put some populations back where they belong minus their prion diseases."
Permalink Eye

"Minus their prion diseases?"

Permalink Eye
"Enemy got real cute with ways to kill people."
Permalink Eye

...Scale model of all the people her Melkor has killed with prion diseases?

 

"Well, fuck."

Permalink Eye
"Locals didn't understand it past the river being poisoned, didn't look escalatory..."
Permalink Eye

"Why was he trying to avoid escalation?"

Permalink Eye
"Valar wouldn't show up and ruin his fun if it looked like a fair fight."
Permalink Eye

Snort. "Naturally."

Permalink Eye
"The Valar were kind of aggressively unhelpful, yeah."
Permalink Eye

"Doesn't surprise me in the least."

Permalink Eye
"I guess yours at least couldn't issue a Doom, that not being a daeva power."
Permalink Eye

"Doom?"

Permalink Eye
"My Noldor had to fight their way off Valinor, they weren't supposed to leave, and the Valar got pissed and cursed them. I went to the Valar and was like 'have you considered that based on the wording of this thing it could leak into other worlds' and that's when they interdicted summoning. Did limit the Doom to the bloodlines and not literally anyone who followed the Noldor in some way whether they'd been warned or not, though."
Permalink Eye

"Ours did send us off with a few parting ill-wishes but I wouldn't expect those to have any particular metaphysical effect."

Permalink Eye
"Mine didn't definitely do anything but them being magic kinda things and not daeva I didn't want to chance it. Also meant I had to avoid being particularly follow-y at the Noldor."
Permalink Eye

"Well, I have definitely not gone out of my way to do that."

Permalink Eye
"They're pretty followable if you don't have a reason to avoid it, they have serious organizational competence going on."
Permalink Eye

"And they're really likeable on a personal level, too, or at least the ones I've met so far are."

Permalink Eye
"I may not have been relaxed enough or something to appreciate their personalities thus."
Permalink Eye

"...Well, if yours had to actually kill people at Alqualonde, that might have dinged their personability. And my primary reasons for liking Tyelcormo, for example, wouldn't necessarily apply to you."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, they were probably under more stress in my version."
Permalink Eye

"Dunno how much of that is our different interventions and how much of that is different starting conditions."

Permalink Eye
"I didn't show up in time to avert Alqualondë."
Permalink Eye

"I'm really glad I did. I mean, people still died, but--it's going to do people a world of good that they didn't do it, I think."

Permalink Eye


"Yep."
Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"I'm being horribly insensitive, aren't I."

Permalink Eye
"My feelings are a few million slots down on 'list of things that are problems related to my having black holed an inhabited planet'."
Permalink Eye

"Well, yes, but until we're out of Milliways and Aoide happens I can't do anything about those higher-slot things."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, I'm just - not prioritizing self-soothing, here, I'm not going to get on your case for talking about it."
Permalink Eye

"That's alright, I'm used to having higher standards for my own behavior than the people around me do. Comes of being a demon who takes summons."

Permalink Eye
"Amen. So to speak."
Permalink Eye

"And I do not prefer to be horribly insensitive so if I am being so I would prefer to be informed for my own sake so I can teach myself not to do that better."

Permalink Eye
"I don't want to get into a habit of being precious about people being insensitive to me on this one..."
Permalink Eye

"Fair."

Permalink Eye
"But I appreciate the thought."
Permalink Eye

"I have the dubious comfort that anything Melkor might want my powers for he could do himself."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, if he tries to make a deal with you it won't be for that."
Permalink Eye

"Given the forking maybe I should make it policy that if one of me tries to make a deal with Melkor the others should gang up on her and prevent it."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, yours can't swear sufficiently bindingly, it'd never be worth the risk."
Permalink Eye

"I don't think one of me would try to deal with Melkor but since mind-altering oaths are a thing contingency plans are a decent idea."

Permalink Eye
"Oh? What if all he wanted you to do was unsummon the Valar in some way that he can't for some reason - and then he'd shut down all those servers -"
Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"...It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Valar are in some way a restraining influence on him and since he can't swear thoroughly enough to be satisfactory that he wouldn't just start back up again with the torture it seems obviously not worth it."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah. But if he came up with a way to swear."
Permalink Eye

"I really don't think there's any method of swearing he could use that I'd trust enough."

Permalink Eye
"Probably for the best. I'd worked out a way to verify swearing in advance, Melian helped - she's a Maia Queen on Endorë, if you don't have Maiar I wonder who's there -"
Permalink Eye

"Tyelcormo...does have a dog."

Permalink Eye
"...and what is the nature of the dog."
Permalink Eye

"It never occurred to me to ask!"

Permalink Eye
"Well, my one's Huan is a Maia, they come in a variety of things-they-do-with-themselves and that one decided to be a dog. Can talk, by magic-not-chip osanwë so I could hear it, but doesn't usually."
Permalink Eye

"I will inquire into Maiar when I leave Milliways. Actually, I can probably just conjure something to check but I need to think it over to avoid needing to interpolate a room full of paper."

Permalink Eye
"Or you could ask Bar to loan you something? Sounded like she can do that."
Permalink Eye

"That's such a better idea. Bar?"

Permalink Eye
Maiar in the world you have been visiting are shapeshifting swarm intelligences.
Permalink Eye
"Whoa. ...Cool."
Permalink Eye

"Swarm intelligences?"

Permalink Eye
They are made of many pieces, which individually are not sapient, and assemble into groups, which are.
Permalink Eye

"My friend's dog is a shapeshifting swarm intelligence. Huh."

Permalink Eye
"It's also possible he's a dog. Don't know how the parallelism works."
Permalink Eye

"Bar, do you have access to any relevant information?"

Permalink Eye
According to what I have available he is a Maia.
Permalink Eye

"Cool."

Permalink Eye
"Do swarm Maiar do osanwë?"
Permalink Eye
With one another. There is an interpreter available for chip-loading.
Permalink Eye

"Ooh, I don't think I got that one."

Permalink Eye
"There's some tempting stuff - do you also have the non-chiploaded blessings?"
Permalink Eye

"I might sort of have every blessing on Maitimo's list."

Permalink Eye
"Nice."
Permalink Eye

"Emily looks...very angelic, with hers."

Permalink Eye
"Does she go in for the halo too?"
Permalink Eye

"Yeah, but I meant more in terms of 'no one else goes in for that kind of body modification that casually' than 'Earthly images of the divine'."

Permalink Eye
"Ah, gotcha."
Permalink Eye

"Granted she looks much less tacky than usually happens when daeva try doing things with gems."

Permalink Eye
"I'm not forming a clear mental image here."
Permalink Eye

Edie conjures an image! Emily has an actually attractive design of various blessing-jewels set into her skin.

Permalink Eye
"Ooh, nifty."
Permalink Eye

"She has very well-developed aesthetic sensibilities."

Permalink Eye
"Bet she likes Elves."
Permalink Eye

"She does, in fact!"

Permalink Eye
"Once somebody, maybe Fëanáro, compared the idea of an Elf saying they'd build something pretty to live in after the war with the idea of a human saying they'd sleep after the war."
Permalink Eye

"Well, being a daeva obviates the need for sleep."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah. I usually don't sleep even when I'm not trying to repopulate a planet."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah, it's just so much less interesting than almost anything else you could be doing with your time."

Permalink Eye
Nod nod.
Permalink Eye

"Dreams are enough fun that I do occasionally take a full night's sleep but not terribly often."

Permalink Eye
"I'm usually not that interested in dreams, it's more of a 'comfy, not in the mood for coffee, don't wanna get up and play the violin' situation."
Permalink Eye

"Huh. Dreams can be really fun, though."

Permalink Eye
"Sure, just, seldom occurs to me to seek them out - might be that I don't tend to remember them in much detail."
Permalink Eye

"Ah, that'd explain it."

Permalink Eye
Nod.
Permalink Eye

"...We're making small talk. About sleep."

Permalink Eye
"Well, we could do unremitting shop talk but we're on paused time."
Permalink Eye

"No, it's just, Hell doesn't so much have weather, this is possibly equivalent..."

Permalink Eye
"My understanding is that demons mostly small talk about media but I guess that's less generic, if there's no overlap."
Permalink Eye

"Overlap?"

Permalink Eye
"In what people've seen. If I start talking about Atriama and you've never heard of it..."
Permalink Eye

"Oh, I have, actually, that was good."

Permalink Eye
"It's my favorite."
Permalink Eye

"I like the one with the incompetent Dr. Faustus better."

Permalink Eye
"That one's cute, I don't know, maybe I didn't see a very good production..."
Permalink Eye

"It's not as aesthetic as Atriama but I liked the plot better. Might be down to differences in taste."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, probably. I made a refugee planet to hide my summoner and some other people on and they were threatening to take years to name it so I was like 'or we could call it Atriama!'"
Permalink Eye

"I would not have threatened to name a refugee planet Faustus but I see your point."

Permalink Eye
"Nah, Gretchen."
Permalink Eye

"Better, but probably still not up to elf standards of pretty."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, maybe."
Permalink Eye

"Maybe I'm wrong, it just doesn't seem to match their language aesthetic as closely as Atriama does."

Permalink Eye
"I'm not sure if their language aesthetic is that strict or if that's just what Quenya and Thindarin happen to sound like and they could also appreciate Yiddish."
Permalink Eye

"Well, Feanaro could."

Permalink Eye
"I was warned not to bring up how many languages I know at a time when he couldn't afford to be distracted."
Permalink Eye

"I will be surprised if he doesn't at least want to fork into a daeva once the option's available."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, probably. Put ten of him in a room and have them figure out how to travel to Limbo."
Permalink Eye

"After Melkor's solved."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, then."
Permalink Eye

"Of course, ten of Feanaro in a room'll probably be good for that, too."

Permalink Eye
"Yep."
Permalink Eye

"Frankly considering his example I'm very lucky Maitimo decided that even under oath it was worth risking my running amok snapping my bindings to save the Teleri."

Permalink Eye
"How'd that go down exactly?"
Permalink Eye

"He summoned me on Araman, offered me the lightleaper blueprints in exchange for the lightleapers, I bargained him up to that and also time with my sister, he took us down to the planet with him because being within a short distance of your summoner is a legally required binding, the Noldor started going up to Araman in shuttles, the Valar announced that summoning and shuttles were suspended, we ran to Alqualonde to leave anyway, Maitimo extracted oaths from me and snapped my bindings so I could knock everyone unconscious so that the Teleri didn't either alert the Valar, thus likely killing people in shuttles, or get killed in the preventing of that, the Valar showed up anyway, and we got--almost everyone to Araman. Not everyone. Some of the shuttles were yanked back down, killing everyone in them and people in buildings they crashed into, and I grabbed Maitimo's wrist and determined to drag his corpse back to Hell with me just before he died, and then in Hell I cracked his skull open and retrieved the chip and stuck his body in a freezer until I knew what he wanted me to do with it."

Permalink Eye
"- you can knock Elves unconscious? I found them biologically uncooperative."
Permalink Eye

"Huh. Yeah, I can."

Permalink Eye
"How?"
Permalink Eye

"I mean, Elf knockout drugs are different, but--maybe it was easier for them to find out because daeva?"

Permalink Eye
"Maybe. I did some testing on basement dwellers and didn't get anywhere but I didn't devote that much time to it."
Permalink Eye

She names the drugs.

Permalink Eye
"Good to know."
Permalink Eye

"Hopefully you won't need it."

Permalink Eye
"Probably won't, not that much call for it anymore."
Permalink Eye

"Probably not as useful as Aoide."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah."
Permalink Eye

"I wish there was more I could do to help."

Permalink Eye
"Halving the time it'll take to get everyone alive again is big all by itself."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah, but."

Permalink Eye
"I might be able to give you more intel, although you'd have to double-check everything to see how it parallels with daeva and swarm Valar and Maiar instead of the magic things..." He pulls out his notes and arranges them into a summary of his war.
Permalink Eye

"Well, if nothing else this is a lovely little laundry list of reasons evacuating the Earth is worth it."

Permalink Eye
"If you can evacuate it, yes."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Morbid sense of humor."

Permalink Eye
"Unfortunately, surface takeoff is not a solved problem to the point where I can just tell you how to blast every square mile individually out of harm's way."
Permalink Eye

"Unfortunately, yeah. ...Maybe we could get ten Feanaros in here, take advantage of the timestop, solve that problem..."

Permalink Eye
"...tempting. Don't, of course, have a way to ask them - unless you do?"
Permalink Eye

"On the same spaceship as mine, currently."

Permalink Eye
"Lovely, 'ten Fëanáros with all the time in the world' sounds very win-condition-esque."
Permalink Eye

"It rather does, doesn't it."

Permalink Eye
Cam gestures at the door. "Any reason to wait?"
Permalink Eye

"None that I can think of." She walks back to the door and opens it. Feanaro?

Permalink Eye

Yes?

Permalink Eye

I found an interdimensional bar that periodically hijacks doors and met a demon from my Hell who was accidentally summoned to a different Arda and has a way of forking non-daeva. Time's paused relative to the bar in relevant dimensions while the door's closed. How do you feel about having subjectively unlimited time to collaborate with yourself/ves to fix everything

Permalink Eye

Interdimensional bar that hijacks doors? A different Arda? And yes, obviously I want subjectively unlimited time to fix everything -

Permalink Eye

I have explanatory napkins, she says, and sends him where exactly the hijacked door is.

Permalink Eye

Explanatory napkins?

And he walks in.

Permalink Eye

She hands him the napkins. "The bar is magic and sentient and communicates by conjuring napkins with things written on them."

Permalink Eye

He reads the napkins. "I would like to know more about the translation magic," he tells the bar.

Permalink Eye
It is an ambient effect of the establishment not under my control. It optimizes mostly for people who are not paying attention to never notice its presence when possible, although this breaks down in some cases such as the particularly heavy use of puns, sign language with non-signers, etcetera. The most common manifestation to the extent I can expect anyone to report on what they experience to me is that people hear their native or most expected fluent language unless they speak whatever their interlocutor is speaking, wordplay is force-translated, and people who have in fact noticed the translation effect can with some deliberateness manage to communicate about phonemes rather than content by intending to.
Permalink Eye

"Do you mind if I run a bunch of tests on it?"

Permalink Eye
Not at all.
Permalink Eye

"It's a shame Curufinwë's not on this ship," he says - "I want to test what qualifies as a language, so I'm going to speak in constructed ones at various stages of development, Edie, can you tell me whether you can understand me -"

Permalink Eye

"I can understand you."

Permalink Eye

He goes through two dozen more of them, a sentence apiece, from conlangs still in the very early notes stage to ones that have a few dozen works written in them.

Permalink Eye

As long as he isn't making things up on the spot, she can pretty much understand all of it.

Permalink Eye

And when he starts making things up on the spot, does it matter if he's following pre-established syntax and word forming rules? 

- if he has two conlangs in which the same string of syllables mean different things, and he says the string of syllables, which does she hear -

Permalink Eye

If he's following pre-existing rules she can still understand him. If he's intending to say things in one or the other language she hears that, if he's focusing on saying both she hears the phonemes.

Permalink Eye

Signed languages, writing, cyphers -

Permalink Eye

The translation effect around sign is weird but it works. Writing translates. Ciphers don't.

Permalink Eye

If she's been taught the cipher -

Permalink Eye

Nope, she still has to decipher it manually.

Permalink Eye

What's the operative distinction between a cipher and a constructed language, here are ten test cases where you could make an argument it's either -

Permalink Eye

...Seems to be intent-based, sort of, it the point of the cipher is to keep people out it'll do that.

Permalink Eye

Intent of the creator or the speaker - "I need more people here to work with -"

Permalink Eye

"Anyone in particular, or just people in general?"

Permalink Eye

"You said you can fork people?"

Permalink Eye

"Well, Cam's the one who knows the specs for the machine that can turn demon-conjured chip copies into viable ones."

Permalink Eye

He raises an eyebrow. "Well. That's incredibly dangerous."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not writing down that it exists even under the strongest cipher possible."

Permalink Eye

"It means that even if we send Melkor back to Hell, if he ever figures it out -"

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"True. But not actually any more true than it was before I found this door. And wasn't the plan to resummon him immediately under the strictest binding possible, rather than leaving him to roam free in Hell?"

Permalink Eye

"Yep. Just means we had better get that part right. Alright, can I have ten of me and ten of Curufinwë and some computers -"

Permalink Eye

"How long would it take to get his consent before forking him?"

Permalink Eye

"He's on another ship mid-leap, how are you planning to accomplish that? All of our people are risking their lives - more than their lives - in this war, they'd do anything that ends it."

Permalink Eye

"Mid-leap, alright. If the answer had been, 'thirty seconds, we can communicate with the ship he's on easy' it would have been worth asking first. Cam?"

Permalink Eye
"...I'll get you one of him on your say-so and he can confirm then if he wants another nine. Bar, do you take counterfeit -"
Permalink Eye
Yes.
Permalink Eye
"How much space do you want to rent?"
Permalink Eye

"Everything I need should fit in a room - I suppose we might need to eat and sleep occasionally -"

Permalink Eye
"How big a room, should I expect more than one of you to sleep at any given time, I can rent you a place upstairs."
Permalink Eye

"Are the places here pretty enough, if it's going to be subjectively a couple of decades or centuries -"

Permalink Eye
"I'm sure you can have it decorated however you like. Are the supernovas pretty, you could get a room with a view of the supernovas."
Permalink Eye

"Supernovas are pretty," he confirms. "we should get a Macalaurë if it's looking like it'll be centuries..."

Permalink Eye
"I really am pretty dubious about forking people without having a chance to ask first."
Permalink Eye

"Is there some dimension where this is widely known and we already have forks and can be assumed to be okay with it? Can you conjure off that?"

Permalink Eye
"In my Arda you do not already have forks, I've been occupied bringing back dead people."
Permalink Eye

"Good for you! Not having Mandos as the constraint on that will do wonders for us as a society."

Permalink Eye


"Yeah."
Permalink Eye

"No one who chose to take part in the war is going to be bothered by being forked so we can win the war. Really."

Permalink Eye
"I will get you one Curufinwë sight unseen and we can talk about a Macalaurë if you decide it's going to be centuries."
Permalink Eye

"Alright."

Permalink Eye
And Cam rents them a nice big suite with a view of the supernovae, and himself a room with enough space to put a read-write machine in, and he goes and makes forks.
Permalink Eye

And Curufinwë's delighted to have ten of him, thank you very much, and here are three promising approaches let's split into groups and get at them.

Permalink Eye
Cam supplies the additional Curufinwës and the computers - would they like the chiplocked kind - here they go -
Permalink Eye

Yep, they are familiar with and very much concerned with demon security measures, chip-locked it is. And if Cam can just make them some food that won't go bad, in the corner or something -

Permalink Eye
They could also go downstairs and get food from Bar off a counterfeit tab, but sure, shelves of shelf-stables in the corner.
Permalink Eye

That'd require going downstairs. Thank you. If he's planning on sticking around they'll probably come socialize occasionally, this is going to be a long project and it's not as if rests even delay it getting completed.

Permalink Eye
He's not in a hurry to go back very soon. Probably won't actually stay for centuries.
Permalink Eye

Fair enough. They'll be down in a couple weeks once they've sorted out how useful it is to work with forks of yourself and so on. 

 

Tyelcormo's on this ship isn't he, would Edie mind asking him if they can have one of him.

Permalink Eye

"Is he far enough away that it wouldn't work to just ask him to come himself?"

Permalink Eye

That works too! Better, maybe, if Huan's unforkable.

Permalink Eye

If there's a way to fork Maiar she doesn't know it.

She goes downstairs and pokes her head out the door. Tyelcormo? Weird stuff's going on, your dad wants you--and she sends him the location.

Permalink Eye

And he comes on over.

Permalink Eye

She lets him inside and hands him the explanatory napkins.

Permalink Eye

"Weird. Not that I'm complaining - I don't think you'll need more than one of me, the reason they need me is to remind them to eat and sleep and have physical contact with other people occasionally, and I can do that for twenty as easily as for two - and it's an easier sell, when people aren't dying while they relax....

 

Wow. We needed a miracle and we got one, looks like. Thank you. And is there an explanatory napkin for the forking -" He is also looking confusedly at Cam.

Permalink Eye
"I can produce the explanation on a napkin if you want."
Permalink Eye

"I actually kind of can't read so non-napkin explanations are even better, if you've got those."

Permalink Eye
"I am from the same Hell as Edie but got summoned to a different yet bizarrely parallel Arda. Over the course of ending my version of the war it was discovered that the data's clean on demon-conjured chips, just - magically doesn't work - but it can be nonmagically read-and-written to blanks and those work."
Permalink Eye

"Well, fuck. I mean. At least the Enemy presumably doesn't know that but I wouldn't count on it and - fuck. Okay. So we're staying in timestopped magic bar until the army of my dad and my brother figure out a way to stop him? Most obvious avenue being figuring out non-summoning interdimensional transport which demons can't conjure so we can send the Enemy some place uninhabited - or, actually, some place with different laws of physics so he can't make himself any chipped people - how'd you stop yours, kill the summoner?"

Permalink Eye

"His was apparently not a daeva."

Permalink Eye

"And you got summoned to handle him? Congratulations."

Permalink Eye
"I really don't like telling this story but Edie can if she likes."
Permalink Eye

"...He got summoned by accident, they don't have summoning naively in the world he got summoned to."

Permalink Eye

"Weird. By accident? Unbound? Wow, lucky they got you."

Permalink Eye

"I find it intensely flattering that you know to have that reaction and still have me on bindings this light, by the way."

Permalink Eye

"Most people are kind of shitty. You aren't."

Permalink Eye

"It's true!"

Permalink Eye

"If their world hasn't otherwise got daeva we're probably way ahead on some tech stuff - demon-proof communication maybe in particular -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, probably. Not that it means as much without regular summoning..."

Permalink Eye

"Right. We also might be ahead, like, generally, hard to guess the way the advantages of summoning propagate -

 

- this is so weird -"

Permalink Eye

"That they don't have summoning?"

Permalink Eye

"That there are two Ardas, that they still have a Melkor in any form, that not having summoning wouldn't have created so many differences the world'd be barely intelligible - do they have Valar, do their Valar suck less -"

Permalink Eye

"...They...had a Valinor..."

Permalink Eye

"..."

Permalink Eye

"So this world's kind of Valar and Maiar can make binding oaths despite chips not being involved anywhere and Melkor offered to swear stuff that would make it unnecessary to kill him--which they were making no progress on--if he black-holed Valinor--and they came up with a super fucking tight wording and when they figured out how to naively rez people they went for it."

Permalink Eye

"Ouch.

 

 

Not that we thought we were going to end this thing with our hands clean but still. Fuck."

Permalink Eye

"One of the reasons it was considered worth it is that he's destructively uploading people and tormenting them in accelerated perception on--I think the dusted remains of the copy I conjured of his servers are still outside."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not saying it wasn't worth it. Just.

 

 

Our one's doing that too?"

Permalink Eye

"Yyyyyyep."

Permalink Eye

"I guess it's a good thing we found out now instead of a few days ago because Dad would have just given the orders to kill the summoner. And now maybe we can think of a better way."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Wonder if there's anything we can do for those people, or if it's better to just turn them off."

Permalink Eye

"Well, now we can retrieve versions of them who that didn't happen to."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah but. If someone's running on a computer, shutting it down forever is kind of killing them. If he was torturing people in normal people-form dunno how we'd feel about killing them all and bringing back earlier versions of them - we'd probably at least ask them -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Well. If we get our hands on the computers after Melkor's dealt with we might be able to ask."

Permalink Eye
"He forks them - or mine did anyway - you might have to deal with a few hundred traumatized versions of anybody who hasn't actually been driven to suicidality if you do rescue forks - I'm not planning on it myself unless somebody really, really wants their post-Angband version."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah. But if they currently exist, then even if they stop existing it's not going to appreciably add to the harm done to them if we talk to them first."

Permalink Eye

"I don't know what the right thing to do is. Probably not fill up a planet with a few hundred traumatized versions of people - but if I check by imagining they were embodied people already on a planet I don't think I'd say 'kill them' - this is why 'the right thing to do' is such a useless concept -"

Permalink Eye
"S'pose, as long as you can't outsource shutting them down..."
Permalink Eye

"If they're already forked conjuring an untraumatized version of each one and consulting them might be valuable--if I say, 'If that ever somehow happens to one of me, kill her,' or 'if that ever happens to one of me, put her in a soft cozy room with lots of chocolate and hope she recovers'--those are both valid advance directives, and consulting a version of the person yoinked from earlier in the timeline is like an advance directive."

Permalink Eye

"I like that approach. Uh, if that ever somehow happens to one of me and he has or can be conjured a family who loves him and wants him, try grabbing him. If no one's going to want him leave him dead."

Permalink Eye

"...If it does actually happen to one of me...if she's coherent enough to express genuine preferences, even to die, set her up somewhere comfortable and respect non-death preferences and if she still wants to die after enough time has passed then let her. Not sure what enough time is. Consult the rest of me. If she cannot form preferences put her somewhere cozy and wait a little bit but not as long."

Permalink Eye

"I should ask everybody else - at least, on this ship - though I guess starting time again even for a few seconds is potentially really bad..."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. You can do it once we're done here and leaving anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Might be centuries. Even with ten of my father, this is several impossible problems at once, and since nothing depends on them solving it fast enough -"

Permalink Eye

"I'll remind you, I copied all Maitimo's blessings which includes perfect memory."

Permalink Eye

"Of course it does. Why's he not here, are we just keeping this trimmed to operationally necessary people because on the one hand that's reasonable on the other hand, centuries..."

Permalink Eye

"No one specifically asked for him yet?"

Permalink Eye

"I want to ask him if he'd hook up with a fork of himself and I expect something we need him for will come up in the next few decades but there's nothing important yet."

Permalink Eye


"Is that not an impolite question on your Arda?"
Permalink Eye

"Not really? I mean, forks are new, it's not a question that'd come up - anyway, I'd totally do me, I bet Macalaure'd hook up with himself and he's straight, but I have no idea on Maitimo and sitting here for the next few decades trying to feel the gravity of the situation sounds like it won't actually help make the situation better so I'm definitely going to ask him."

Permalink Eye
"Huh. My Arda is rampantly homophobic. I dropped the Library of Hell on Valinor - before - used to amuse myself reading their censorship reports -"
Permalink Eye

"That sucks. And is kind of weird. We have the library of Hell already, maybe that's what made the difference? Poor Maitimo, he actually cares what people think of him, that'd mess with his head so badly."

Permalink Eye

"I'd be interested in jointly seducing someone with a fork or in hooking up with a male fork but I'm straight enough that that just naively hooking up with a fork doesn't appeal."

Permalink Eye
"Is this what we're doing now? I would totally do a fork but I'd rather not make one. However, if the other Earth's got a me after all..."
Permalink Eye

"It's not any more inane than making small talk about sleep."

Permalink Eye
"True."
Permalink Eye

"Could you make a boy you, Edie, or would that not work?"

Permalink Eye

"I could make one who was physically male but I don't know if it's possible to mess with the chips to the extent of getting a me who was actually a guy."

Permalink Eye

"Probably not, like you couldn't get one that doesn't do backups or doesn't do oaths. Have we tried summoning Cam-in-this-dimension or would it not work normally in Milliways."

Permalink Eye

"I don't want to risk it fucking with the time-pausing."

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense."

Permalink Eye

"Why would 'being a guy' and 'not doing oaths/backups' be comparable?"

Permalink Eye

"Efforts to summon 'this chip with this thing different' when the thing that'd be different isn't extant?"

Permalink Eye

"I mean, there exist chips of guys, but point taken. I was thinking more in terms of having Emily fuck with it than creating it naively, though."

Permalink Eye

"No idea if that'd work. If she can make peoples' chips not back up to Mandos everyone is going to want that -"

Permalink Eye

"No real ethical way to test it, though."

Permalink Eye

"I bet you'd get volunteers, but it'd admittedly be kind of gruesome."

Permalink Eye

"I think the best way to deal with Mandos is just to wreck his setup rather than performing horrific experiments on people."

Permalink Eye

"I would say 'and how do we do that' but I guess the answer is that we let the geniuses work for as long as it takes.

 

...have they been told about the other Arda, maybe we can help there, too, somehow, invent some way to bring Maiar back - come to think of it, demons should be able to make Maiar, shouldn't you-"

Permalink Eye

"Their Maiar are different."

Permalink Eye

"Of course they are."

Permalink Eye

"Why would demons be able to make Maiar, is it because they have nonsapient individual bits?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, you should be able to make as many bits as you want and then I have no idea how the bits become a Maia - I think it takes a long time - but you'd have one."

Permalink Eye

"Unless they're magically inert in that way like chips."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe. I assume daeva made them all in the first place, so that'd be very strange, but maybe."

Permalink Eye

"Really? Why?"

Permalink Eye

"They're millions of years old and mostly serve a Vala, if they're complicated enough to be people?"

Permalink Eye

"Huh. How do they work, mostly, I got the explanation that they're shapeshifting swarm intelligences but not much else..."

Permalink Eye
"There could be some sort of hack like read-and-writing chips. I think in my universe Maiar and Valar all happened simultaneously, though?"
Permalink Eye

"What are they in your universe, do you know?"

Permalink Eye
"Vaguely magical things of various shapes and sizes. If try to conjure up a Maia, per se, I get fuckall. I can get their forms but I have to aim at the form, not the person."
Permalink Eye

"Huh."

 

Huan is sniffing around the bar. Cam's unhappy, he tells Tyelcormo.

Yeah, I'd noticed. 

 

Permalink Eye
Cam: continues to be unhappy.
Permalink Eye

"Even if it's possible to create a Maia, that doesn't necessarily imply it's possible to fork an already-existing one."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah, it'd depend on how exactly the swarm stores personality and memory data. When the no-minds thing is operative it's operative hard, I can't even make a Silmaril as good as the originals - do you have Silmarils -"
Permalink Eye

"Yup. They can do chip backups so Mandos doesn't get a piece of us. Enemy has them. My father deliberately made them smart so demons couldn't dupe them."

Permalink Eye
"Silmaril backups wouldn't circumvent the read-write trick, so what's daeva Mandos doing if that's not it?"
Permalink Eye

"The chips just back up to something he's got and he can write new ones from there. You're not allowed to summon your own demons for resurrection even if the chip's intact, Mandos likes being in charge of it."

Permalink Eye
"Eugh."
Permalink Eye

"I know. It made resurrecting Maitimo even more satisfying."

Permalink Eye

"Yup. It was really cute, actually, the first time we did extradimensional summoning, got this guy and he was like 'your world is ruled by daeva? Fuck." and until then I don't think I'd ever heard anyone say aloud that, yeah, we got a pretty shitty draw on the benevolent saviours front. And Maitimo said Edie had almost the same reaction -"

Permalink Eye

"I kept thinking about furniture angel. I mean, I'm not saying all possible daeva would do terribly as rulers but the inherent power imbalance just screams 'in all but the most perfect circumstances this is going to turn out badly'."

Permalink Eye
"The magic version are not better."
Permalink Eye

"Well, the magic version aren't good, doesn't necessarily mean they're not better."

Permalink Eye
"...I think they are not better, but I guess I'm not caught up on all the details."
Permalink Eye

"Did they kill a lot of people and then blame an innocent who'd been trying to do the exact opposite?"

Permalink Eye
"They are to my knowledge innocent of that in particular."
Permalink Eye

"I don't know what they were actually like. I shouldn't assume. I apologize."

Permalink Eye
Shrug.
Permalink Eye

Mildly awkward silence.

Permalink Eye

"On the other hand, apparently their Valinor is extremely censorious and ours is....not. When Cam leaves we lose contact between the dimensions, is that right?"

Permalink Eye
"We're from the same Hell, so I'd expect us to be able to pass messages by conjuration. Maybe if there are dimensional shenanigans we have to be unsummoned first or something."
Permalink Eye

"Okay. I was going to say that maybe in a few subjective centuries ten of my father will just invent a way to time-travel or something and it'd be a shame if there was no way to let you know, but as long as there's something, and someone checking -"

Permalink Eye
"Yeah. I assume the version of him in mine will produce interesting things too."
Permalink Eye

"Might take him longer. Under the circumstances. Or maybe they'll make him work faster, don't know."

Permalink Eye

"Pity yours isn't in reach."

Permalink Eye

"Bet he'd be delighted to be forked, too, if there's something it'd be useful to have him for..."

Permalink Eye

"That wouldn't surprise me, but I'm reluctant to presume it."

Permalink Eye

"It sounds like we're the same people, with only the Valar changed? There aren't any versions of my father who wouldn't be happy to be forked so they can work in a time-stopped bar without the soul-crushing certainty that every minute they waste or sleep is a moment in which unimaginable horrors are done -"

Permalink Eye

"...It does seem like the unimagineable horrors are done with there. At least for now. But granted."

Permalink Eye

"I kind of want to give all our alts a hug, it's soul-crushing and I didn't even learn the worst of it until we had an avenue to end it."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, there's that."

Permalink Eye

"If we're staying here awhile I might design a new starship, wanna help?"

Permalink Eye

"Sure, why not."

Permalink Eye

So he tells her the computer system and model and shows her how the design program works and they start brainstorming extremely pretty starship designs.

Permalink Eye

"We should probably get Emily in here. She'd love this and I am not spending decades without my twin."

Permalink Eye

"If we're gonna cause time to pass again, even a few seconds of it, we should get a list of everyone we want."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, good plan. I don't need her now."

Permalink Eye

"I'm happy to save the pretty-ship-design for when we've got her, if it's making you nostalgic, it's just that my other hobbies are flying and shooting things, and those are less suited to here..."

Permalink Eye

"Just brought it to mind, that's all, although I really doubt anyone'd mind if you shot at the drifts of former-server dust in the backyard. Might be cathartic."

Permalink Eye

"Is there anything behind the drifts of former-server dust because I went as far in on eyesight and reflexes as Maitimo went on memory and I can hit something forty miles off, if there's something forty miles off who doesn't want to be shot at."

Permalink Eye

"There was a mountain and a forest and a lake with a giant squid in it. I was actually reasonably careful not to choke the lake with dust when I was destroying the servers."

Permalink Eye

"Ooooh I wanna talk to the giant squid."

Permalink Eye

"...Talk to?"

Permalink Eye

"So there's no actual chip-loaded mindreading, firstly because yikes and secondly because human thoughts are complicated. But the people who were trying chip-loaded mindreading successfully got a result they considered totally useless, which was the ability to read animals' minds! And I thought this was fantastic and got it and the reserve installation and now I've more or less got osanwe-for-animals, only you can't do language, you have to do concepts, unless they're really smart animals by default, and it takes forever to figure out how to use..."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, wow, that's really cool."

Permalink Eye

"So gonna go say hi to the giant squid, never talked to a giant squid before."

Permalink Eye

"I will come with you to make sure it doesn't accidentally get silica dust knocked in."

Permalink Eye

Squidwards. He pauses awkwardly by Cam. "Uh, obviously you had a really awful time of it, and I'm going to completely ignore that unless you want me to do something different because I'm pretty incompetent at talking to anyone more complicated than a giant squid."

Permalink Eye
"Ignoring it is fine," Cam says.
Permalink Eye

"No, it's not actually fine, but realistically I'm not likely to do better by trying awkwardly. ....Huan's super huggable and usually that's my go-to but I'm guessing under the circumstances you really don't want to hug Huan. We'll be back in a bit."

 

Squidward, again, a bit more reluctantly.

Permalink Eye

I apologized for being insensitive about it at one point and he said he was dramatically deprioritizing his own feelings on the matter and I reframed it in terms of my own well being and he actively prefers to avoid taking his feelings into consideration, apparently.

Permalink Eye

I mean, as far as methods of self-flaggelation for holing a planet go, refusing to tell people how they can cheer you up is a pretty mild one - I'd be more worried if he'd asked the bar for howeverfuckingmany drinks it takes to get a demon drunk...

Permalink Eye

Well, no more than for a human if we let it, and literally no amount will affect us if we don't...

Permalink Eye

Convenient. Anyway. If he wants to be sad it's way above my paygrade to change that. 

Permalink Eye

Coerced into genocide really is a higher scale of problem.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Like, my default for complicated social stuff is 'we need a Maitimo', but this isn't even that, this is 'we need a time machine. And a Maitimo. And probably Olórin.

Permalink Eye

Olorin?

Permalink Eye

Maia I knew who's very - levelheaded, and would probably tell him that it was the right call and courageous.

Permalink Eye

Getting that from someone who probably has an alt who died on his Valinor would probably be either really helpful or the exact opposite.

Permalink Eye

Thus why we need a Maitimo too.

Permalink Eye

Yeah.

Permalink Eye

And he flops next to the water and Huan flops next to him and he starts singing to the giant squid.

Permalink Eye

Quendi singing sure is nice. She sits down and keeps an eye on the dust.

Permalink Eye
The squid peeks a huge eye above the surface of the water.
Permalink Eye

He laughs delightedly and keeps singing and sends the thoughts for pleasure at encountering something new and curiosity about what it is like to be a giant squid.

Permalink Eye
It is pleasant to be a giant squid! The squid likes this lake, that is why it has been here for 600,000 years.
Permalink Eye

That is a long time! Huan is older than that but everyone else Tyelcormo knows is way younger. What's the most interesting thing that has happened to the lake, and were they successful at keeping the silicon dust out?

 

He relays all this to Edie in case she's curious. 

Permalink Eye
The lake's seen worse. People do all kinds of crazy shit in the backyard. Fighting's illegal in the bar but not in the yard, so if people want to do anything destructive they come out here. The squid is pretty chill about all that but some of it was interesting to look at. Occasionally people go in the lake and swim with it. All kindsa people of many shapes and sizes.
Permalink Eye

Illegal? There's daeva in the Bar, how do they enforce that?

Permalink Eye
Well, the squid's never been in there personally but as it understands it whoever is in the security office Can Take You whoever You are.
Permalink Eye

...can we go meet them, do they do contract work...

Permalink Eye
The squid isn't sure on either count.
Permalink Eye

Then he will have a pleasant but brief exchange with the squid, thank it, and suggest to Edie they head to the security office and meet someone who can take a daeva.

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense to me." She stands up and brushes computer dust off herself.

Permalink Eye
In the Security office is a fellow who looks perfectly ordinary and human except for the fact that he's eating a levitating ice cream cone. "Somebody making trouble?" he asks.
Permalink Eye

"Not in the bar. But there are a couple people in the bar who are - in the dimensions we're familiar with - unstoppable, and one of them happens to like uploading and torturing millions of people and you are apparently by definition qualified to stop that kind of person so I guess we're wondering if you do contract work. Or humanitarian work. Or if there's anything at all you'd be willing to do to help us out."

Permalink Eye
"Ah, I would, but I met somebody here once who seemed like he'd know and he says if I go visit any worlds that aren't mine all my momentum drains out of me instantly, wouldn't be any good to anybody that way."
Permalink Eye

"Momentum?"

Permalink Eye
"It's a my-magic-system thing, more magic you do the more you get, can't take too many breaks though - I love this place, it puts my momentum on hold while I'm in it, I can relax, read a book."
Permalink Eye

"And to tap in to your magic system, people've got to be in your dimension?"

Permalink Eye
"Yeah. I can still do magic here but I can't gain or lose momentum."
Permalink Eye

"So we've got to figure out directed non-summoning interdimensional transit and then take Melkor to you and then you can - destroy him? remove his powers? What would you be able to do if we were in your home dimension?"

Permalink Eye

"For the record I am totally up for being a guinea pig but there are limits."

Permalink Eye
"I can do all kinds of stuff," shrugs the Security guy, "pretty generic really except not being so good at information gathering, but I don't know who this guy is, only have your word for it..."
Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I wasn't expecting you'd be willing to murder someone on our sayso - your world wouldn't conveniently happen to have oaths, or a way to verify them -"

Permalink Eye
"No? Not like it sounds like you mean..."
Permalink Eye

"If I swear something, I'm bound to it. So in my dimension I can credibly say "I swear that Melkor is actively currently torturing so many people that the servers he's using to run their torture on take up fifty square miles, and that I don't know any way to stop him without taking away his demon powers, because he could do it from literally anywhere he might be put." But I can't think how I'd prove that oaths work. And Edie can summon the servers for you but that doesn't prove anything by itself."

Permalink Eye
"Sounds like you're in a pinch back home. Sorry."
Permalink Eye

"We're working something out. Well. His dad is."

Permalink Eye

"Do you know what you could do to a daeva, just in case we can find some other way to replicate it -"

Permalink Eye
"I don't know what daeva are," says the sorcerer. "When somebody starts something on my shift I just teleport them into the Security cells to cool off and barely have to do anything else ninety-five percent of the time, the cells are pretty solid."
Permalink Eye

"I think this would be one of the other five percent of the time. Demons can make stuff. Arbitrary stuff."

Permalink Eye

"I'm a demon but if your magic's not good at information I don't expect that to mean much to you."

Permalink Eye

"She could make a black hole."

Permalink Eye
"Yeah when I get called out to break something up I just sort of generically don't let things surprise me, if you're here on my shift you probably can't make a black hole if I'm not letting you."
Permalink Eye

"Demons are supposed to be indestructible, do you know if you could dent them -"

Permalink Eye
"Dunno, that's not actually something I have to do on the job. 'Could take you' doesn't mean 'could injure you', means 'could stop you and make you wait out your cooling-off time'."
Permalink Eye

"Okay. Thanks for your time."

Permalink Eye

It was a long shot anyway, she sighs.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. It's confirmation there are dimensions without daeva and with different magic systems, though, makes it likelier that if we end up having to hop around a lot we'll find something that can take a demon.

Permalink Eye

True, that's definitely something.

Permalink Eye

We'll figure it out. It will probably take a really long time, but we'll figure it out.

Permalink Eye

She hugs him.

Permalink Eye

We're really lucky. This could be so much worse.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Poor Cam. Poor Cam's Valinor.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Evil fucking Enemy, they'd better find a way to murder him. Maybe go murder Cam's too even if that one's harmless.

Permalink Eye

Harmless until he finds a loophole.

Permalink Eye

Exactly. I'm not a big fan of killing people for revenge but in the case of that monster I haven't exactly got scruples about it either, and I can't think how we'd be sure he was safe.

Permalink Eye

I'm not fully comfortable with it becoming possible to kill demons, for obvious reasons, but I won't argue that it's worth it.

Permalink Eye

Once he's gone it definitely joins the list of secrets we're not sharing. But - if it's possible for demons to make minds it's probably necessary that it be possible to kill demons - I'm sure most of you are lovely people and everything but -

Permalink Eye

Yeah. At least for my personal comfort there's the fact that chipping myself means that if anything happens to me, as long as you have one trustworthy demon I'm basically okay.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, we'd definitely get you back.

Permalink Eye

I should probably spend some time in Hell encouraging the use of the chips at some point when it's convenient.

Permalink Eye

Assuming it's not an easy inference from there to 'we can create minds' - I suppose it'd be a very unusual person who wanted to torture their fork -

Permalink Eye

Or a very kinky one, yeah, but that's not quite the same thing.

Permalink Eye

If people want to torture their consenting forks that seems like extremely none of my business.

Permalink Eye

Agreed. Anyway, maybe we can sweep for that kind of behavior--don't mention the forking thing, check to see when people figure it out, keep an eye on them to start with...not really the priority now, though.

Permalink Eye

No. Now the priority is making sure my dads and brothers don't starve themselves because the work's too interesting to stop and/or because they don't really want to cope with reality and the work lets them avoid it...

Permalink Eye

Eegh, yeah.

I assume it'll take at least a couple hours before that's necessary, though.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, wouldn't bother them yet. 

Permalink Eye

So what should we do in the meantime?

Permalink Eye

Dunno. Do you think keeping Cam company is better or worse than not doing that -

Permalink Eye

If it seems to be making things worse we can stop, she shrugs.

Permalink Eye

Then back to Cam. "I'm wondering if my brother wrote the same music in the other Arda, would you mind grabbing them? And something to play them on, I guess, we probably don't have compatible file systems with the other Arda..."

Permalink Eye
"Uh, sure." Discography, player, bam. "He's really good."
Permalink Eye

"I'll pass the compliment along. Back when we were stuck summoning locally he'd do commissions for demons, we got a lot of nice stuff that way - oh, yeah, this is different than anything Macalaurë wrote but still obviously Macalaurë, weird -"

Permalink Eye

"Wow."

Permalink Eye

"Isn't he amazing?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes!"

Permalink Eye

To Tyelcormo's surprise his father comes downstairs before they've finished listening through the symphony. "We're out of food," he says, "can one of the daeva conjure some more - same content's fine -" He looks like it's been at least a month. 

 

Permalink Eye
"...sure." Cam goes up to place another supply of food.
Permalink Eye

"You okay?"

Permalink Eye

"We've been productive."

Permalink Eye

"You look like it's been a month."

Permalink Eye

He blinks. "It's been two."

Permalink Eye
"Explanatory napkins said time was inconsistent between bar locations that weren't interacting."
Permalink Eye

"How long's it been for you -"

Permalink Eye

"Like, six hours? I was going to check up on you and make sure you didn't work yourself half to death - you don't even need to, time's not passing, no one's dying because you haven't figured it out yet - I am going to go drag all of them down here and we are going to have a fucking regatta race and - two months -"

Permalink Eye

"Are you set on a regatta race because I'm amenable to a break but I want to learn some new languages."

Permalink Eye

"Then we will do both of those things."

Permalink Eye

...Edie starts talking in a demon language.

Permalink Eye
"Helps explain the security shifts. If usually no or very little time passes in there one person who can take daeva can sit a shift through some very long-term resident daeva."
Permalink Eye

"We talked to the guy who can take daeva in case he could help with our Melkor. His magic's limited to his dimension, and he doesn't have anything for verifying information so even if we bring him Melkor he is understandably reluctant to murder him."

 

(Fëanáro starts echoing Edie and rephrasing sentences and asking questions.)

Permalink Eye
(Cam switches helpfully to the demon language.) "Inconvenient."
Permalink Eye

"We'll come up with something. He also wasn't sure he could actually injure daeva, just temporarily stop them from making things that'd inconvenience him in his vicinity."

Permalink Eye
"If it comes up I made the bluer of my extremities without nerves in the attaching joints and don't mind being a test subject, but it sounds like that's not necessarily the bottleneck."
Permalink Eye

"Not yet, at least. Do one of the two of you want to make me a bunch of sailboats, I was entirely serious about dragging all twenty of them out to the lake for a regatta - two months - that wasn't even enough food for two months -"

Permalink Eye
"D'you have a sailboat design in mind?"
Permalink Eye

So he goes back to the starship-design project they'd abandoned in a corner and pulls up a whole fleet of sailboats - "if cost of materials is no object I can totally make ones faster than this, though -" and he starts fiddling - "here. Thanks."

Permalink Eye
"No problem." Cam goes and makes a fleet of sailboats in the lake.
Permalink Eye

And he goes and drags the rest of his father and his brothers' forks out of the room and did any of you even have a change of clothes did it occur to you that there were helpful daeva right downstairs and then out to the lake for a regatta.

"Are either of you participating?"

Permalink Eye
"Don't know how to sail," Cam says.
Permalink Eye

Well, that's not "I am performing miserable self-abnegation for the next indefinite period of time because my war sucked so much" so he's going to beam at Cam like it's a brilliant answer. "Edie?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't know how to sail either but I'd love to learn!"

Permalink Eye

"Bet you can cheat by creating air, so you'll be able to keep up once you've gotten the barest of a handle on it." And he starts explaining.

Permalink Eye

Eidetic memory is so convenient! She will cheat just enough to make up for the delay caused by inexperience and even then only because she has implicit permission.

Permalink Eye

Sailing faster is more fun and it's not like who wins is the point, the point is three of his father's sailboats piling up because they can't stop distractedly practicing the language and one of them getting pitched into the lake and Curufinwë reluctantly indulging a competitive streak he'd quashed as childish centuries ago and teasing them all about the fact they've been for convenience calling each other 'zero' through 'nine' - "what kind of linguists are you" -

- and letting the boats spiral lazily around the lake while everyone eats treats he remembers from Tirion and lets their clothes dry on the shore...

Permalink Eye

"No nudity taboo?"

Permalink Eye
Cam eavesdrops a little on the sailing lesson but doesn't wind up sailing.

He flies, though.
Permalink Eye

"No, sorry, are we bothering you? You can conjure me clothes if you want me to wear clothes, I am too lazy to go get mine right now..."

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

"You are incredibly hot and I come from a culture where nudity is almost always meaningful so you'd have every right to feel--taken advantage of--by my looking at you naked but if you don't care I'm not going to object."

Permalink Eye

"I am feeling so terribly taken advantage of, help, a girl thinks I'm pretty."

Permalink Eye

"I--I mean--I don't know if you have an equivalent, but, um--it would at the very least have been wrong and creepy not to let you know that nudity is almost always. Sexual. In my culture." She's blushing so hard.

Permalink Eye

"Hair! We have that around hair! Wearing my hair loose around you would be terribly inappropriate. But it's all nice and braided so you are entirely welcome to get adorably flustered - or, like I said, to put clothes on me if you want me to be wearing clothes..."

Permalink Eye

She opens her mouth.

She closes her mouth.

She continues to be adorably flustered.

She doesn't put clothes on him.

Permalink Eye

Awww.

 

Having sex with a daeva you summoned is against, like, several hundred laws and so that's several hundred reasons in addition to you being smart and pretty and helping us stop Melkor and and stuff why I would totally get a room if you wanted. 

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

I am not in principle opposed but I like you a lot and I think if I sleep with you and spend a lot of time in close contact with you I'm liable to fall in love with you and I don't fall out of love easily.

Permalink Eye

I mean, getting married to a daeva is against, like, an additional couple hundred laws -

 

I should heed the lecture I just gave my father about not being in a hurry.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

 

I don't think I'd want to get married to someone who was only doing it because it was illegal in a terrible system.

Permalink Eye

Well, yes, notice how not married I am and the system is terrible. I'm just not thinking of falling in love with each other as an outcome we'd want to be scrupulously avoiding...

Permalink Eye

No, see, I was bringing it up because I don't know how likely you are to fall in love and having me be in love with you but not vice-versa could be seriously awkward under the circumstances.

Permalink Eye

I am reasonably sure I fell in love with you at Alqualondë? You grabbed him - everything was awful and you only must have had a little time to think of it and -

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh.

Permalink Eye

I'm not, like, going to make a big thing out of it.

Permalink Eye

Well, that's good, because Ada exists and we only forked after that happened.

Permalink Eye

And for lots of other reasons, yeah. He reaches out to lazily pet Huan. 

Permalink Eye

...Getting a room should probably wait until your dads and brothers have ceased to tolerate decompression time but otherwise I'm in favor.

Permalink Eye

Okay. They'll be getting impatient any minute now, probably.

Permalink Eye

It is in fact not that many more minutes. They start by arguing about some technical point, and then ask Edie for a few changes of clothes and a month's supply of food - "no," Tyelcormo objects, "give them two weeks' worth, they are being ridiculous," and then they stroll off back inside. 

Permalink Eye

Edie gives them two weeks' worth and sneaks in extra calories so they don't hurt themselves as much if they try to live longer than two weeks on it.

Permalink Eye

He gets dressed and watches them go. "It made sense, back before. It really was that urgent, and the urgency was terribly unhealthy for all of us. Here I think it's just force of habit and the only tool they have available to express that they care about it- and knowing about the other Valinor probably isn't helping any - ugh, the other version of my family's probably going to spend half a millenium working themselves to the bone in atonement and it won't even fix things  -"

Permalink Eye

"And the other you can't fix it because his Huan is Not Okay after what happened to Valinor."

Permalink Eye

"No, I imagine not." He reaches reflexively for his Huan, who is okay. "Maybe once we've got it sorted there'll be a way to visit and -

- and something. I'm not even sure what'd help, it wouldn't be a good occasion for declaring a regatta -"

Permalink Eye

"I don't either but if there is a technical solution ten each of your dad and brother can probably fix it with all the time in the world."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. And there are dimensions with other magic systems - worst case we spend a while looking."

Permalink Eye

She sits down next to him and hugs him with all four upper limbs.

Permalink Eye

Wings are pretty fantastic.

Permalink Eye

They are! I always felt like fairies get a raw deal, only getting the insect kind. I mean, they're pretty, but literally nothing else.

Permalink Eye

Yours are pretty and also very comforting when trying for psychological health reasons not to think about there being multiple Melkors in the multiverse.

Permalink Eye

We'll kill them all, she assures him.

Permalink Eye

We will! We will kill them all with such excellent information security that no one else learns either how to make minds or how to hurt daeva, and then everyone will live as happily ever after as ten of my dad are even capable of - maybe they can be distracted with languages for a few centuries -

Permalink Eye

Gosh, we'll have to find a lot of worlds to keep your dads supplied with languages that long.

Permalink Eye

Languages are at least things they can't benefit from having ten around on, it's not as if they'd settle for the fact one of them knows some language...

Permalink Eye

I wonder if any of them are liable to want to fork into daeva.

Permalink Eye

Giggle. They might do that just for the languages. If Elves can even become daeva, I'm really not sure.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, it'd be a risk.

Permalink Eye

Well, now that we can bring anyone back -

Permalink Eye

Yeah. I decided before I forked that if it didn't work then a few minutes divergent experience was little enough that if Ada had been lost she would essentially still be alive by virtue of my being alive, but.

Permalink Eye

I'm glad we have this as an option but it is kind of readily complicated.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Well. If it helps, I don't think there's very good reason to think that an elf fork of an elf is less likely to be susceptible to daevafication than an elf fork of a demon.

Permalink Eye

I was sort of assuming Elves didn't daevify because we have backups - maybe if you did the fork in a place Mandos couldn't reach -

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I was imagining doing this in Hell like my own experiment.

Permalink Eye

Then I can't think why it wouldn't work. Wonder what he'd be.

Permalink Eye

You know him better than I do.

Permalink Eye

It goes off personality?

Permalink Eye

Best theory anyone's got.

Permalink Eye

He'd want to be a demon, but I don't know - not sure what personality traits you, Cam, Melkor, Mandos and Varda have in common -

Permalink Eye

Temperamental suitability to the magic, is how the hypothesis goes.

Permalink Eye

Then he'd be a demon. Making stuff - that's him.

Permalink Eye

I mean, one could also describe Emily as "making stuff" but she's an angel, there's a definite difference there...

Permalink Eye

Yeah, engineering does not a demon make, but inventing a way to steal backups from Mandos so you could leave Valinor and go found a civilization -

Permalink Eye

Yeah.

Your dad's really cool.

Permalink Eye

He's amazing. 

Permalink Eye

Except for the part about being terrible at self-care.

Permalink Eye

He needs people. It's funny because he doesn't seek them out - like, Maitimo needs people, so he's extremely sociable, Macalaurë needs people, so he writes them heartbreakingly beautiful things, but my father needs people to support him and trust him and love him and value him other than for the things he produces and he copes with that by - producing more things. And people value those for their beauty or cleverness or whatever and then aggressively idealize their inventor onto a narrower and narrower pedestal -

Permalink Eye

Eugh.

Permalink Eye

He has us.

Permalink Eye

That's something, anyway.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. 

 

...we're almost certainly gonna come out of this with an interdimensional travel mechanism, you can go to Limbo and make it really nice for everyone there....

Permalink Eye

Yes. Yes I can.

Permalink Eye

I feel like we had tentative plans to ask Bar for a room -

Permalink Eye

I'm in favor, she says, taking one of his hands and kissing the knuckles.

Permalink Eye

"Bar -"

Permalink Eye
Yes?
Permalink Eye

"How much counterfeit money for a room?"

Permalink Eye
In what currency and for what sort of room?
Permalink Eye

"I guess Valinorean and the kind with a bed and a view of the stars?"

Permalink Eye
And Bar names a reasonable figure and produces a key to room 5509-B.
Permalink Eye

"Are there a ton of other people here who we just haven't met yet -"

Permalink Eye
I do not disclose information about patrons who may or may not currently be occupying their rooms.
Permalink Eye

"Fair enough. Thanks."

Permalink Eye
You're welcome.
Permalink Eye

"So...up four flights, or five?" Edie asks, folding her wings to make going up a stairwell less obstructed.

Permalink Eye

"Dunno." He checks. "Four. If there're other people here I feel vaguely obliged to at some point say hi, ask if they happen to have a magic system that's shareable - Huan, want to stay down in the bar and let me know if anyone promising has come by -"

 

Huan shakes himself agreeably.

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, I don't think going door-to-door is going to do us much good."

Permalink Eye

"That'd be rude and Bar might kick us out or something which would be a disaster."

Permalink Eye

"Also, if our number is any indication, there's a hella lot of doors."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe if in a few centuries my father hasn't gotten anywhere and we're desperate."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, maybe."

Permalink Eye

Their floor. The wings can come back out now, he likes those wings.

Permalink Eye

"You know, I liked small spaces a lot better when I was human," she says, stretching them.

Permalink Eye

"Tirion wasn't built for daeva per se but it didn't have anything that narrow. Elves deal with claustrophobia badly. Thus all the giant stunningly pretty starships."

Permalink Eye

"I'm very fond of your giant stunningly pretty starships."

Permalink Eye

"Without daeva they'd be totally impossible. You have to assemble them in orbit, the fuel costs are astronomical, and - well, we ended up getting very good at summoning, instead, bit easier -"

Permalink Eye

"I'm certainly glad of it."

Permalink Eye

"Us too. Glad you were willing to help us, glad after everything Maitimo still thought it was worth the chance -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah." She hugs him.

Permalink Eye

Hugs. Deliciously illegal hugs. With wings.

Permalink Eye

Winghugs: Are excellent. "Which way was our room again?"

Permalink Eye

This direction. 

Permalink Eye

"Bar does good work," she says when she sees it.

Permalink Eye

"I'm currently Bar's biggest fan, this is - going to make such a difference. Also, the view is fantastic and the squid's lovely."

Permalink Eye

"I was in this particular instance mostly referring to the view."

Permalink Eye

"Back on Valinor they said we were called the Eldar because we loved the stars before we knew what they were. Father told me that when I was, like, six, and also told me that it was more impressive and spoke more of your character to love the stars with knowledge than with ignorance, and then he added over osanwë that some things should never be committed to recorded form anywhere but that one of those things was that someday we were headed for the stars."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, yeah, your dad's amazing."

Permalink Eye

He positively glows at her. Winghugs, again. "Figuring out how to redirect our backups from Mandos actually only took him a few decades, the hard part was making the mechanism that did it a mind in its own right, intelligent enough that a demon couldn't replicate it - and then making them so pretty that everyone thought their beauty was sufficient reason to care about them -"

Permalink Eye

"Valar," she says, rolling her eyes. "Not that demonproofing 'em wouldn't be a good idea in any case, but still. Making 'em shouldn't be necessary in the first place."

Permalink Eye

"Agreed. And now the Enemy has them."

Permalink Eye

"Thus teaching that making things irreplicable doesn't necessarily make them actually demon-proof," she sighs.

Permalink Eye

"There is still the melt everything, kill everyone, steal them method."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Ugh."

Permalink Eye

"We're gonna stop him. And we don't even need the backups now."

Permalink Eye

"And no one must ever write down how."

Permalink Eye

"Used to that, don't worry. Nelyo'll design us a nice misinformation campaign once we have him."

Permalink Eye

"Excellent."

Permalink Eye

"So lucky he got you."

Permalink Eye

"I'm sure Cam and I aren't the only excellent demons in all of our Hell but yes."

Permalink Eye

"Lots of people are good but not on something like this where being good is this complicated."

Permalink Eye

"I dunno, 'save people, kill Melkor,' it's not that hard."

Permalink Eye

"Let's hope."

Permalink Eye

"Not that ethically hard," she amends. "I'm not saying pulling it off won't be difficult."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, now we've got better options, but Cam's solution involved holing Valinor."

Permalink Eye

"...I wonder how he dealt with all the less-than-three-year-olds."

Permalink Eye

"Worth it, but Eru. Won't seem that way to people who lost someone."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think I could kill every toddler on Valinor."

Permalink Eye

"Don't think I could. Maitimo could. He could also probably draw a hundred circles and find himself a daeva that'd do it but it'd fuck him up forever."

Permalink Eye

"I'm really glad we're not going to have to do that--but--how many were there, do you think--"

Permalink Eye

"Elves don't have kids that often. And I don't know if their population was the same as ours. But - probably a couple hundred thousand."

Permalink Eye

"Fuck."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe your dads can invent a meat version of the chip-reader thing."

Permalink Eye

"Probably. There shouldn't be anything they can't do."

Permalink Eye

"Okay, then I'm going to stop worrying about it."

Permalink Eye

"Good idea."

Permalink Eye

So she kisses him, because this is both what they originally came up here for and an excellent distraction.

Permalink Eye

And possibly vaguely unhealthy but whatever. Such a nice distraction. Anyone showed you how to send emotions - distracting, lot of fun -

Permalink Eye

Don't think so.

Permalink Eye

Edie: learning to sail! Thinking about hard problems! Excited about getting telepathy! Excitedly using her new telepathy!

Permalink Eye

 

 

Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

Tyelcormo hugging her after she brought back Maitimo, Tyelcormo getting pissed off about gags--

Permalink Eye

Yep, that's the idea. Edie confused at the idea she'd make demands of them in exchange for help - Edie trying to thread the needle of the horrible war -

Permalink Eye

Tyelcormo telling her he was in love with her--Tyelcormo feeling love at her--

Permalink Eye

He can do that!

Permalink Eye

You were right, this is amazing, she gasps.

Permalink Eye

Best chip feature - marriage involves this sort of emotional feedback loop thing that means sex gets you really high for several days until you figure out how to manage it -

Permalink Eye

Marriage is chip-supported?

Permalink Eye

Yeah, of course - I guess not of course, sorry, Maitimo obviously wouldn't have had it loaded and you got your stuff from him -

Permalink Eye

That's really cool. How does it work, exactly, none of the ones I have rely on anyone else having anything...

Permalink Eye

Yeah, you have to both load and activate it, it gives you this automatic knowledge of the other person's emotional state and things that people describe as new senses and unlimited range on osanwë - though not FTL communications -

Permalink Eye

Wow. So is it unambiguously monogamous? Is forking going to interact weirdly with it?

Permalink Eye

Dad's married, Curvo's married. I guess they might have deactivated it, dunno. It's not unambiguously monogamous, but the King had two wives and that was a fucking disaster so most people keep it low-key if they're trying something clever.

Permalink Eye

How was it a disaster?

Permalink Eye

He remarried when my grandmother was dealing with some serious postpartum depression after my dad was born, because he wanted more kids and she didn't, and the double bonds affected everyone badly and she killed herself and he had her brought back and she killed herself again after making it clear she was going to keep on doing it-

Permalink Eye

...Seriously? Marrying someone else if you want more children and your partner doesn't makes some sense if your partner's okay with it, but he couldn't have waited? It's not like you guys have ticking biological clocks or anything!

Permalink Eye

My grandfather was a really good king in some ways but he was a pretty lousy father. He improved with my father's half-siblings, but the very fact he'd improved so much itself caused some pain to my father.

Permalink Eye

I'm sorry to hear that.

Permalink Eye

I kind of ignored it most of the time. Politics. Guess everything'll be different once we come out of here anyway.

Permalink Eye

If nothing else your dad probably outnumbers his half-siblings now.

Permalink Eye

He does! And I don't know if they'll want to fork - maybe - they're not bad, really, just happen to overlap badly with my dad -

Permalink Eye

Yeah, I'm not inclined to blame them for their dad being a dick.

Permalink Eye

He messed up really badly but I don't think my father's helped by hearing that. For what it's worth. 

Permalink Eye

Okay, I won't call his dad a dick in front of him.

Permalink Eye

Thanks.

Permalink Eye

She kisses him again.

Permalink Eye

What a preferable activity. 

Permalink Eye

Mm, yes. He's a very good kisser.

Permalink Eye

He has had thousands of years of practice. She's lovely. She likes the emotion-sending so much, it's adorable.

Permalink Eye

It's really really great!

Permalink Eye

It is!

Permalink Eye

You know I always expected that if I ended up in a relationship with a non-daeva I'd be the older one.

Permalink Eye

Pretty sure I have thousands of years on you.

Permalink Eye

If you have thousands of years then you definitely do I'm less than two hundred.

Permalink Eye

I'm only a bit more than two hundred local years but Valinor years are ten times longer than Earth years.

Permalink Eye

And here I thought you belonged in an art museum, not a history museum.

Permalink Eye

It would really be a waste to have all that practice at kissing behind a display case in a museum.

Permalink Eye

It's true, she purrs, pressing a little closer.

Permalink Eye

If you'd like you can - unbraid my hair -

Permalink Eye

Hm?

Oh, right--that was a thing--she does that.

Permalink Eye

He sends what that feels like.

Permalink Eye

Oh.

That's an Elf thing, it doesn't feel that good if someone does things to my hair--

Permalink Eye

Figured, there's no way a species that wore it loose sometimes had it nearly as sensitive -

Permalink Eye

Pity, it's lovely. I'm slightly jealous of Ada now.

Permalink Eye

Could ask an angel to change it, probably, if you want it -

Permalink Eye

I'll think about it. And meanwhile she'll run her fingers through his hair again.

Permalink Eye

He'll moan delightedly.

Permalink Eye

That is a good sound. She repeats the action that caused it, and asks, Where else are you sensitive, or should I find out empirically?

Permalink Eye

Big fan of experimentation but hair's decidedly the most sensitive - for most Elves -

Permalink Eye

Went with a wing-model that has fingers in an appropriate place, she points out smugly, and combs through his hair with her wing-fingers while beginning torso cartography.

Permalink Eye

This is a delightful wingmodel and a delightful perk.

Permalink Eye

It certainly is!

After a little while she says, So, I feel like this interaction would be improved with a reduced amount of clothing, thoughts?

Permalink Eye

Her dress is not going to be indestructible and if she's attached to it she can remake it. He neatly rips it open at the seams.

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

Okay, that was surprisingly hot.

Permalink Eye

More advantages to demons, most people I'd have to worry they were attached to the clothing -

Permalink Eye

Not so much a problem with me, no, she agrees, and interpolates the seams on his clothing.

Permalink Eye

Convenient, that. He kisses her.

Permalink Eye

Why are you this hot, it's problematic.

Permalink Eye

What are the problems?

Permalink Eye

It's unfair to literally every other guy in existence?

Permalink Eye

Well, as the arbiters of fairness in the universe, once we've fixed every more pressing problem we shall have to make all the other guys a lot hotter.

Permalink Eye

She laughs and kisses him some more.

Permalink Eye

That is lovely. He is also open to other activities, now that they both have distractingly loose hair.

Permalink Eye

Well, how does he feel about kisses being trailed down his jaw and neck to his collarbone?

Permalink Eye

This is nice. Wings and kisses, he's probably going to be too distracted for a while to keep up even an osanwë conversation.

Permalink Eye

Excellent. Edie's fully in favor of moving forward, but they're in no hurry, and it would be a shame not to be able to savor the intermediate steps.

Permalink Eye

They are not in a hurry! Though it's technically possible that years will have passed downstairs and Huan'll miss him, that's a thing. Probably not worth worrying about.

Permalink Eye

Enh, if it were terribly likely they probably would have been warned. Kisses in assorted locations and wandering hands.

Permalink Eye

And more thought-sending, since she likes that.

Permalink Eye

She really likes that.

Permalink Eye

Fantastic.

Permalink Eye

You're utterly lovely, she sighs happily.

Permalink Eye

Glad we got you - those wings are lovely -

Permalink Eye

I have good taste. In wings and boys.

Permalink Eye

Who am I to contest that?

Permalink Eye

Someone with abs you could grate carrots off, wow.

Permalink Eye

Why would a demon be grating carrots - he nibbles on her ear -

Permalink Eye

She whimpers a little and squirms--because--not--but r'member bein' human--

Permalink Eye

I bet I'd have liked you when you were human but you're a demon and that's way hotter.

Permalink Eye

There is nothing about this situation that is not extremely hot.

Permalink Eye

Except the state of the world outside. 

 

He does not comment on this and nibbles some more instead.

Permalink Eye

Edie is defining "situation" to exclude this! And reacting highly positively to nibbles.

Permalink Eye

Oh, good. 

Permalink Eye

And to his bare torso, because seriously, unf.

The span of wings required to lift someone a human size and weight off the ground is pretty broad indeed. If she kisses her way down from his collarbones across his amazing pecs and abs and--lower than that--she can still reach his hair with her wing-fingers.

Permalink Eye

Aaaaah....Edie....

Permalink Eye

Yes?

Permalink Eye

You are delightful. Don't stop.

Permalink Eye

I know I am. She doesn't stop.

Permalink Eye

And eventually he will let mild worry at how long it's been downstairs prickle him into getting out of bed. But it's a long eventually. There are chip-loaded blessings for that.

Permalink Eye

You're fantastic, she tells him, breathing heavily.

Permalink Eye

So're you.

Permalink Eye

So what blessings d'you have that let you keep up with a daeva this long?

Permalink Eye

Hmm? Oh, Maitimo probably doesn't have those either - he's so boring - anyway, we have perfect autonomic control, we can consciously set our heartrate if we choose, most people get it for the sex applications but it's also useful if you're injured or whatever...

Permalink Eye

Oh, he did and I do, I just sort of forgot about it.

Permalink Eye

It's not much use if you haven't spent some time actively fiddling with it, it's overwhelming the first couple times.

Permalink Eye

I'm a demon, I don't really need it, she shrugs.

Permalink Eye

Right, fair enough. What even happens if you stop your heart, do you know?

Permalink Eye

It would probably be uncomfortable.

Permalink Eye

I wish I were a demon.

Permalink Eye

It's pretty great! The infertility thing is probably less of a downside for men and it's, like, the only downside.

Permalink Eye

It's enough of one that I'd feel awful about telling everyone on Earth that summoners become daeva, giving them a week, and then killing the Melkor.

Permalink Eye

I mean, demons can make arbitrary things, if I really want kids I can hire a surrogate and make zygotes containing human-me--or for that matter Elf-me--'s DNA, and so could you if you were a demon, the only thing being a daeva actually prohibits me from is being pregnant, which is regrettable but less salient for the part of the population that couldn't do that anyway.

Permalink Eye

That is less of an option if we blow up the world.

Permalink Eye

True. I mean, we can probably at least convince a number of people large enough to form a stable reproductive population to evacuate.

 

Let's not talk about potentially having to blow up the world. You're dad's gonna fix it so we won't have to.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. He is.

 

Want to go back downstairs, check on Huan - check how long it's been -

Permalink Eye

That's probably a good idea, she sighs, and reluctantly starts getting out of the bed.

Permalink Eye

Well she ripped his clothes so he is going to have to stand here until she makes him some.

Permalink Eye

"D'you want the same clothes as before or something different?"

Permalink Eye

"Don't care - what I had on before is fine - "

Permalink Eye

She puts on him something that's basically the same thing as before but a little more revealing.

Permalink Eye

"That works too. I'd kiss you but I'm worried then we'd literally never get out of bed - and Cam's probably down there alone being all sad -"

Permalink Eye

"We can kiss some more later. Let's go see what we can do about Cam's sad."

Permalink Eye

"Even if, like, the actual problem is gonna take a time machine, probably some ways of existing in numb horror are more pleasant than others," he agrees, and they head downstairs.

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Ugh, what a mess."

Permalink Eye

And they're back to the bar.

Permalink Eye
Cam's sitting by the fireplace, reading a book and drinking cocoa.
Permalink Eye

Well, that doesn't look obviously improvable by striking up a conversation, what do you think?

Permalink Eye

Nah, interrupting someone who's reading is rarely gonna improve their mood.

Permalink Eye

Wanna make me a movie to watch, I'm not much for books.

Permalink Eye

D'you want something you're reasonably familiar with, something from my Hell, something from my Earth...?

Permalink Eye

Something you like, don't care if it's from Hell or Earth.

Permalink Eye

Hmm, okay--preference between a comedy with some romance or a romance with some comedy?

Permalink Eye

The latter?

Permalink Eye

Okay, Princess Bride it is.

Permalink Eye

He is entertained by the ridiculous human movie and really confused about the convention that a wedding happens in public with someone reading lines.

Permalink Eye

We don't have chips, she reminds him.

Permalink Eye

So how do you have marriages at all?

Permalink Eye

It's a social convention.

Permalink Eye

Weird.

Permalink Eye

What, do you expect us to not pair-bond when we can't have get-high-for-days sex?

Permalink Eye

I'd expect people to pair up anyway, but 'hold a ceremony supervised by a guy in a funny hat in which you tell everyone that you're totally going to pair-bond right now' isn't how I'd have expected it to manifest - or is that just because the movie is ridiculous - 

Permalink Eye

Nah. The guy in a funny hat's a priest, by the way.

Permalink Eye

What are those?

Permalink Eye

Uhh I think Maitimo said you guys used to worship the Valar before you figured out what they actually were...this is like that only not for the Valar or any being who's been proven to exist.

Permalink Eye

 

Okay.

Permalink Eye

It's kind of ridiculous.

Permalink Eye

Well, I wasn't going to say so.

Permalink Eye

I arguably belong to a religion but Judaism's different than most of them in that you can totally be One Of Us and keep the traditions and be a part of the community and stuff without actually believing in God.

Permalink Eye

So they're sort of like guilds with an associated communal mythology which some people take seriously?

Permalink Eye

Well, most of them aren't, most of them if you don't take the mythology seriously you're not really a member, but basically.

Permalink Eye

Makes sense. 

The characters in the movie are having a sword fight. He watches with fascination.

Permalink Eye

The scene where Inigo Montoya finally avenges his father's murder is definitely one of her favorites.

Permalink Eye

He puts an arm around her and laughs and finds it very enjoyable.

Permalink Eye

She drapes a wing around him and snuggles up and feels a warm, vicious satisfaction when the man with six fingers on his hand dies.

Permalink Eye

He can't muster up much animosity for the man with six fingers while there are clouds of server dust floating around outside, but. Yeah. 


Cam still reading a book?

Permalink Eye
He has finished the book and returned it to Bar and is now looking idly through sheet music on his computer.
Permalink Eye

It is also possible he's just a very introverted person. 

Do we want to make a list of people we're going to need to plan how to end this thing as fast as possible when we let the time-stop go in a couple of centuries? he asks Edie.

Permalink Eye

Might as well.

Permalink Eye

Emily, Macalaurë for morale and possibly Maitimo just because he's on this ship and it's not any additional trouble and he'll think of things we haven't - are there skillsets we need - guess I should ask my dads that...

Permalink Eye

You know these people better than I do. Except Emily.

Permalink Eye

Maitimo knows these people. I actually mostly can't stand people, I didn't spend much time in the city.

Permalink Eye

I'll feel the more flattered that you like me so much, then.

Permalink Eye

Most people are terrible but that doesn't stop me from noticing ones who are great.

Permalink Eye

Good, that'd be tragic. Snuggle.

Permalink Eye

Yep. Can I have something to eat? Gosh, demons are so convenient.

Permalink Eye

We are! Anything in particular?

Permalink Eye

Not particularly.

Permalink Eye

She makes each of them a fully-loaded Chicago-style hotdog.

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He has never had this before but pronounces it delightful.

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Oh, good, I thought you'd like it.

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You have great taste.

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Thanks! I will totally recommend you things from my world with my awesome powers.

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Great! And I can recommend things from mine, it's just that I didn't eat out much. Maitimo keeps nice restaurant menus on his computer to offer demons.

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I actually have been eating from Maitimo's restaurant menus lately.

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He's - so great, in a way that I have absolutely zero capacity or desire to imitate -