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Sep 18, 2020 10:55 PM
alteriverse!imrainai lands on atlantis!serg
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Houses Festri and Tellari have been trying to get the gate working for months. Their Liar work crews have finally gotten it to do something, but none of the Alteri ships have been able to use the gate for long-distance travel. They simply pass through to the other side.

The Alteri order the Liars to fiddle with various pieces of the structure, hoping that one of them will be able to determine the problem. Imrainai passes through the gate purely because it's the shortest route to the piece she's supposed to fiddle with.

She lands somewhere with gravity, where she promptly trips over her own feet and falls on her butt.

Her suit computer informs her that she has returned to Liar-safe atmospheric conditions.

She looks up.

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All around her stand the ruins of an ancient city, crumbling stone and rusted metal lit from below by a wavering silver light. Above, the sky is low and dark, mostly blue with a paler green halo surrounding a smudge that might be a sun.

There are also things... swimming. In the sky. Definitely fish-like rather than bird-like sorts of things; birds don't get that big, or move in that sort of way.

It may in fact not be a sky at all, but instead an ocean, which she is looking up at from inside an inexplicable air bubble full of ruins.

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Well.

This is not great.

She stands up - yep, that's how you stand up in planetary gravity, comes right back after a few seconds of minor flailing. She fires up her comm and broadcasts. "This is Tellari spacer 97816. I have lost visual contact with the support ship. Can anyone hear me?"

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It does not appear that anyone can hear her.

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Well.

She checks her computer for malfunctions. She runs a diagnostic. She's cut off from any other computer support, and her bio monitor is concerned that she might be experiencing "moderately acute stress", but otherwise everything is good.

She double-checks. No errors.

She shuts her air purifier off and takes her helmet off. No immediate signs of depressurization. It feels like she's getting oxygen.

She takes a deep breath.

"Hello?"

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The gentle distant sound of rippling water is the only reply. Light reflects off the bottom of the ocean high above her. Nothing moves, or speaks, or gives any sign that there have been any other people in this place within the span of a human lifetime.

But the air sure is breathable, so at least there's that.

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On the one hand, you're supposed to stay where you are if you get separated from other people, because that's the easiest place for anyone who's looking for you to find you.

On the other hand, she's been here for several minutes already, and at some point she's going to need to eat something.

She starts walking.

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The ruins are very pretty. Lots of curves and circles and arcs, at least where the buildings haven't fallen completely to pieces.

The source of that wavering silver light is some of the paving-stones underfoot; there's no clear pattern to which ones glow and which ones don't, and it almost seems like they all used to glow and then most of them stopped working, except that the inert ones seem to be made of completely ordinary dark grey rock, solid and opaque and not luminous at all.

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Maybe some of the buildings have tools or something inside. Any of them look fairly stable and have promising entrances?

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There's one up ahead that's nearly intact! It even has several unbroken windows and a set of slightly intimidating double doors still standing in their frame! It looks very big and impressive.

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Cool! She walks up to the building and pauses.

She knocks on the doors. Just in case.

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No one comes to answer them.

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All right then. She tries opening the doors and heading inside.

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There's a short hallway, and another set of doors, which lead into an enormous circular room, and the only thing in the enormous circular room is a marble throne shaped like a complicated splash of water with an extremely tall and ominous-looking man sitting in it.

He's... probably a Liar? He has hands and a face and so on. He is definitely more Liar-like than he is like anything else in her experience. But he's unnaturally tall, and apart from his hands and his face he seems to be wrapped in dense black smoke that holds the shape of clothes but only very vaguely. And when he looks up at her, his eyes are glowing a brilliant green. Normal Liars' eyes do not glow.

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It's true! They don't!

 

She frowns at him for several seconds and then waves.

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He stares at her in a confused and generally miserable sort of way. The misery seems to have been his default state since before she got here; the confusion is new.

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"Um. I'm sorry to intrude but I think I'm lost."

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He says something in a totally unintelligible language.

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She spreads her hands for "I don't understand", then tries Confederate One hand signs.

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He watches her hands with an uncomprehending frown.

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She tries Yahivi and a few words of thickly-accented English, for completeness's sake.

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The seven-foot-tall stranger with glowing green eyes does not appear to have heard of any of these languages!

He tries a few more words of his own, but not with any apparent hope of success.

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Hands spread again, to indicate that she still doesn't understand.

Well. It's still better than being totally alone, and he's probably not the only person around.

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He sighs and rubs his face with both hands.

—when he sighs, the building settles downward and inward, slightly but noticeably. When he takes a deep breath afterward, it straightens up again.

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Well that is just slightly terrifying. But she was already slightly terrified, so it's not much of a difference, really, is it.

"Should I go?" she asks, gesturing back to the door.

 

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He frowns in confusion, then shrugs. His shadowy cloak ripples and eddies with the movement. He pulls it inward and wraps it around himself and looks, for a moment, very lost and sad.

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