Continuities » Silmaril » West » go not to the elves for counsel
Jul 27, 2017 4:33 AM
...for they've got enough on their plate, seriously
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While Sigyn is looking for a planet for him, Findekáno tries to unravel the local mess. This country's political boundaries were set stupidly a hundred years ago and it probably should be split, but if it splits now the northern section will be absorbed by its neighbor, whose ruler is - he notices it in people very quickly - pretty evil, and they could prevent this assimilation with some showy magic but that'll compromise the neutral status they're using to ship recently-developed vaccines for this planet's various maladies. 

Maitimo could hold the country together or break it into neater pieces. Findekáno has a very good model of Maitimo in his head but it doesn't quite extend to 'how to take over countries'. Maybe it's just that Maitimo'd be operating on more information, would have watched one speech by the evil northern leader and walked away knowing his wildest dreams and deepest insecurities and how best to distract him for a decade. 

He should really stop dwelling on Maitimo.

 

No one can make him, though, so he doesn't. He figures out instead how to bribe the country into temporarily staying together, shove the trouble a decade down the road. He feels guilty, doing it; he's meticulous with the notes, and he's sure it's clear that if one of the Maitimos wants to come over and do better they can. But they don't; there are a thousand planets like this, and even the space Elves don't want to fork that far. 

He's glad. A galaxy run by a thousand copies of Maitimo sounds like a disaster in the making, no matter how insistent everyone is that all the other Maitimos are nice. Nice with Maitimos just means 'better at getting what they wanted, or had your good regard higher on the list of things they wanted'. 

So it's weird that he keeps wishing his was here. 

Sigyn finds him a planet two hops out where no one can find them. He is vaguely curious what Sigyn plans to do once he's talked Findekáno two hops away and once everyone's been told not to expect him, but Sigyn's cute, it's not as if it'll be a problem.

He tells Maedhros he's leaving and spends the day a wreck. 

Fingon stops by when it's locally evening. "Thanks," he says. "I don't know what you said but it cheered him up a lot."

"I said I was fleeing several dimensions over."

Fingon smiles. "That explains it. Take care, good skill -"

"I know I'm needed here, I'm sorry -"

"There's so much need it's a little hard not to drown in it, sometimes. Take a century. Get your head above water. In the long run it'll be better for everyone."

"I'm not actually sure I'm more effective when I'm happy."

"As a class we definitely aren't." He hesitates.

Findekáno can guess. "Maitimo's more effective when we're happy."

"Yeah."

"I can tell myself to stop taking that into account but that won't actually make lives stop depending on it."

"Which is why I think hopping two dimensions away is a fantastic idea."

Findekáno nods. "Am I going to come back to find you've - erased him, or something worse -"

"We'll probably have done something about him inside a century."

He nods jerkily. "He could be really useful, you know. He'd be better at unravelling this mess than your ones, even if you had him sworn not to do anything he thinks they'd disapprove of -"

"I'm sure we'll run across ones who grew up in a dangerous, assassination-happy, slaveowning, profoundly monstrous society, who were themselves still not evil."

"Are you sure of that."

Fingon sighs. "Less sure than I was? But still - mostly."

"And my family?"

"I'll look after them."

"Does Maedhros want to talk to me before I leave."

"I doubt it. Do you want to talk to him?"

"Is there anything I can say to talk him out of killing mine -"

"You can hop two dimensions away and go figure out how to be happy."

 

So he does that.

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Meanwhile, Kib takes up computer programming. It's similar enough to servant programming to use some of the same skills, but different enough that even if there's some cryptography going on in here anything he writes up from "hello worlds" to a calculator program would be garbage if it were stamped onto a shine or etched onto a golem.

His alts observe that his thought process is at this point "wow, the Enemy is REALLY committed to this bit, or I'm just... out". They're not wrong. It is simply not something he can rule out, that the Enemy is really committed to the bit.

Cam gives him a chip and a chiplocked computer and at that point it is definitively guaranteed that he's out - or that the Enemy can, as he has always assumed, read his mind. The Bells could be unreasonably elaborate finagling of some kind. The chiplocked computer really, really can't. It does as he wills, it does this even if he maintains his private thoughts distinction because it doesn't care, it just... well, it's a marvelous convenience, for sure, makes it pretty effortless to read through Cam's notes when he learned to program and means he doesn't have to learn to type, but it definitely means he can't assume he's maybe in the custody of a non-mindreading Enemy. He mentions this to Island.
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(They have gone home and been visibly married. They decided to proffer no explanation at all. The King's family had all made it known one way or another - in one case by shouting it in the square - that as far as they were concerned the King could have who he pleased. Findekáno's family was concerned for their son, and not speaking to the King, but there'd been more crying than shouting. 

People'd talk for a few Years and then get over it, Island says, and seems fine with that.)

 

"Maedhros also doesn't think he can. You are wholly entitled to laugh at me for thinking that even bears mentioning."

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Kib doesn't especially feel like laughing about it. He shrugs. "It's almost cozy, the extent to which the setup's logic would have to break for anything particularly unpleasant to happen."
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"Most flavors of unpleasant, at least."

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"Yeah, most flavors. I suppose it's not impossible in-scenario for me to be kidnapped by extradimensional aliens or something, but at that point why set up all the everything about the people who are unlikely to kidnap me, etcetera."
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"And the teleport makes it at least very hard for that to be a realistic scenario." He's gotten it indelible, like Maedhros'. 

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"Eh, not necessarily, there's a few dozen kinds of magic flying around and something could interfere, but it means it'd have to be more convoluted."
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"And extradimensional aliens would have less reason to want you."

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"What worries me isn't really that something will happen, it's that something's already happening, that I'm somehow mistaken about what things constitute useful in-hallucination work, that comments over breakfast to my husband or learning to make a virtual turtle draw things are - via some contortion -"
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"It'd have to be quite some contortion. ...if he were trying to figure out how to make someone convincingly impersonate you, maybe, but the golems wouldn't recognize them, we'd see through it at once."

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"How good is he at impersonating me already?"
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"Usually tried to avoid needing to, much, you were too busy or I was in too poor physical condition. The first time, the one I believed wholeheartedly, there were a few interactions he had to iterate quite a lot - I kept asking you what was wrong with you - second time fewer iterations but I also knew not to express when something struck me as off."

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"I'm actually really curious about that but would more than understand if you didn't want to say."
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"No, it's fine. What specifically -"

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"What'd he get wrong?"
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"Didn't think the right way - you know, I have the necklace now, I could just -"

 


An unremarkable generically pretty Noldorin room. Maitimo's not yet well enough to get out of bed. 

"Hey," Kib says. "We missed you."

"LIkewise," he says, and fakes a smile. He's not good at it yet.

Kib sits himself down on the bed next to him. "You okay? We got in as fast as we could -"

"...yeah, I'll be all right."

"Invented a new warservant model to do it. Better designed for Angband."

"- is there something I shouldn't know, about what's going on -"

"Huh?"

"I'd rather be told 'we're keeping things from you because you're too fragile', or 'because we don't know yet what the Enemy's done' - instead of everyone just acting funny around me -"

"Am I acting funny?"

"It's admittedly an awkward situation. But, yeah."

Reset -

"Hey," Kib says. "We missed you."

"LIkewise," he says, and fakes a smile. He's not good at it yet.

Kib sits himself down on the bed next to him. "There's a lot of stuff we're going to keep from you because we don't know yet what the Enemy's done."

"Of course."

"If you have suggestions -"

Maitimo's eyes flutter. "Nothing's need-to-know at least right now, it'll get harder once I'm better - you should be looking into other cases, figure out if there's any way to have me doing anything more creative than weeding the fields -"

"Oh, Maitjmo, we wouldn't make you weed the fields."

"Better than being useless."

"You're not useless."

Maitimo blinks at him skeptically. 

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"...oh, that's weird. Yeah, I see what you mean."
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"He got better at it -" A later iteration -

 

"Hey," Kib says. 

"Hey."

"I don't know if talking will be a welcome distraction or not."

"Go ahead," Maitimo says.

"We're trying to figure out why people sometimes come back in his thrall. Haven't had much luck tracking down former prisoners, have talked with a lot of people who talked with them - we're assuming you're not keeping thoughts private from him, and we're assuming you might snap and try to kill us, those are the only failure modes that there's basis for worrying about but I suppose it's possible we're not being paranoid enough -"

"Could have sworn something," Maitimo offers. "Could have generalizable mind control. There's the prophecy where I kill all those people -"

"The war'd look pretty different if he had generalizable mind control. Can you - swear you didn't swear anything -"

"Yes, but that just means I don't remember it, it'd still be binding if I'm reminded of it - also, you shouldn't ask me that -"

"I can verify with Findekáno later," he says.

Maitimo relaxes slightly. "Golem to make sure I don't snap and try to kill anyone?"

"Yeah, good idea..."

Blink. Maitimo's brow creases -

 

Reset. 

Kib enters with a golem. 

"Hey," Kib says. 

"Hey."

"I don't know if talking will be a welcome distraction or not."

"Go ahead," Maitimo says.

"We're trying to figure out why people sometimes come back in his thrall. Haven't had much luck tracking down former prisoners, have talked with a lot of people who talked with them - we're assuming you're not keeping thoughts private from him, and we're assuming you might snap and try to kill us, those are the only failure modes that there's basis for worrying about but I suppose it's possible we're not being paranoid enough -"

"Could have sworn something," Maitimo offers. "Could have generalizable mind control. There's the prophecy where I kill all those people -"

"The war'd look pretty different if he had generalizable mind control. Findekáno says it only helps so far if you swear you didn't swear anything, could be he has a way to make you forget that you did."

"Yes. I can at least swear that I don't remember any, but that doesn't even mean there are none currently operative, if you swear yourself new goals and then forget swearing it you've still got the new goals -"

"Is it absurdly optimistic to just believe that you wouldn't have done that -"

"I believe I wouldn't have done that. We can't plan on that basis. The golem's to stop me from snapping and trying to kill you?"

"Yeah. Sorry."

"...I have no objections."

"I guess we probably have pretty much the same information, on the question of whether you're safe."

"I swear that I don't believe any of my goals and motivations differ from yours. ...you could ask that one every day, or I could swear to tell you if it changes..."

"Which just brings us back to 'he might be able to see and hear everything you're doing' as the main constraint on bringing you up to speed on everything."

"Yeah. Not worth it, at least not yet, I assume the country's being competently governed in my absence."

"...more or less."

"Oh?"

"How about I just say that figuring out whether it's safe to tell you more is an important priority, but until I do you shouldn't try to learn more -"

"Is it time-sensitive -"

"Yes."

"The Kingship -"

"Yeah."

Maitimo blinks. "...sorry, I shouldn't have asked - you shouldn't have answered -"

Reset, just that last bit - 

"Is it time-sensitive."

"...no comment."

"- sorry."

"As soon as we figure out what we can tell you, we will."

"I know."

"I should get back to work - I love you, I missed you -"

"Love you," Maitimo echoes -

 

"That was, I think, after forty tries? Notice how I was always visibly confused at you before he started over - that's part of what convinced me, though it obviously can't convince you, that he can't read minds..."

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"Yeah. I was... I mean, he tried stuff like that with me when he had a gap in my memory to work with but sometimes instead of looking confused I noticed I was confused later, writing it out... Even in some of the parts where you didn't cotton on he's got my phrasing wrong, the body language's surprisingly good but I guess he got plenty of it to look at and it wouldn't necessarily be conspicuous to copy-paste..."
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"And I sometimes noticed something was oddly said but it wasn't enough so, absent any reason for suspicion, to jump to 'this isn't Kib' - he must copy-paste the body language, Valar are supposed to be bad at that..."

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"...he did a terrible Aydanci, usually wound up with me only able to see him when he could basically loop him being really groggy in the morning and not having to do anything but mumble and drink tea. When he didn't just roll me back enough that I wasn't interacting with him yet."
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"Why's that, do you think?"

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"Might be that he couldn't read Aly memories and my earliest available understanding of what he's like is from when I was her?"
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"Makes sense. So are you assuming a sudden astonishing jump in his Aydanci-imitating capabilities, here?"

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"I have to assume lots of sudden astonishing jumps to not just go 'welp, apparently that was that'."
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