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Generated: Apr 26, 2018 10:46 PM
Post last updated: Jun 06, 2017 8:42 PM
not a bare stretch
there are people our heroes would rather learn run an interdimensional empire
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With the urgent things settled Findekáno asks Cor to teach him magic properly; Cor does that. Findekáno makes his treehouse more elaborate; it spans three trees, with rope bridges, and the walls are carved out in meticulous patterns until they're more air than wood. They look fragile. They aren't. After verifying that no Maiar are attached to the local geese or wild turkeys he makes himself a bow and arrows and shoots some and cooks them the nonmagical way and fails to spear fish in a pretty local river and starts composing a song that'll make the river more cooperative with such spearing. 

His hair gets long enough to braid and he braids it. 


Thuringwethil, or someone who looks exactly like her and is a mage, stops by again. "Found an inhabited planet!!! With magic!!"

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"Gosh! What kind of magic? ...Did you make a good first impression?"

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"Awesome magic. I did not light any locals on fire."

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"I might need to know more about it to travel there!"

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She sends! The city is incredibly pretty, pretty enough for any Elf, all graceful metal and glass buildings so tall the tips get lost in the clouds, and there are people with bat wings and bird wings flying and people with bug wings flitting around like insects and the streets have Elves and humans and Dwarves and not-quite-humans-they're-jumpier-and-all-have-red-hair - 

 

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"...well. Wow. Thanks for all the scouting."

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"Anytime, sweetheart - oh, I tried to come right here to tell you about it and it didn't work, I think maybe it was too far? I got there from the empty planet and I had to go back there to come back here."

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"No sign of Sauron?"

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"It's a big planet and I haven't been looking - okay, once or twice - but anyway no signs of Sauron."

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"I guess no news is good news."

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"It's not bad news. Anyway I'm gonna go back to the flying humanoid menagerie planet and poke around more. I won't, like, officially say hi, you should do that if you wanna do that."

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"I might!"

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Poof.

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Cor goes and finds Findekáno in his treehouse.

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"Hey!"

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"Hey. Mage Thuringwethil found an inhabited world with all kindsa people and ridiculously tall buildings. From the empty planet; she can't reach it from here."

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" - huh. I am reluctant to show up all coated in blood lest we scare them - maybe if we land a ways away and do the cargo version so we can take clothes -"

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"And a bucket of water and rags, yep."

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He hops down from his treehouse. "Right now?"

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"Unless you're busy."

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"I am, it happens, not busy." And they collect sheep and bucket of water.

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Cor takes them to a spot vaguely between points seven and ten on the empty world and then to the place Thuringwethil showed them. Doesn't even need to repaint.

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The city's more stunning in person. Stunning, meticulously planned, dense - seventy million people could easily live right here. It appears to be an even mix of Elves and humans, with a sprinkling of the Dwarves and winged people and other, even stranger things (a blue centaur with stalk eyes and a bladed tail walks down the street, and no one seems to think anything of it). But the Elves clearly got to call the shots on the architecture. 

 

"They're speaking several dozen languages," Findekáno says after a moment, "and one of them is Quenya."

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"...that's... weird... I never got to be good at Quenya, I guess you can translate?"

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"Yeah - I'm not sure how that happened in the first place -" Frown. "Also the Elves are keeping private thoughts but very few other people are."

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"...weird. I guess possibly strategically useful if they turn out to be hostile for some reason?"

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"Yeah. We make our humans learn for the military reasons, I guess maybe otherwise most of them wouldn't bother?" They clean blood and soot off themselves and put on shirts.

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Shirts are great.

And they approach the city.

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A very large very fast metal thing on rails zips past them, stops a little ahead of them so people can get on, then zips on again.

"Oooh, clever."

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"Yeah, neat."

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Twenty people come soaring through the sky and land on the platform for the rail thing. The bug-winged person zips off and the others board the next rail thing. 

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"This place is so cool."

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"It's so alive, it's so convenient - wonder how much of it we can take home - do you want to try the rail thing or shall we walk it -" 

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"I'm a little wary of the rail thing. I bet it could be done by steam, if not so fast, though."

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"Oooooh. Gates are more convenient but do have, uh, the one disadvantage." They keep walking. A bat-winged person lands near the edge of an empty square of concrete and suddenly it's full of shipping containers. No one blinks at this.

A very tall blue-grey humanoid walks by with a little box which is singing a magic song for cold. Findekáno bounces this to Cor - "So they have our magic in addition to -"

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"They have so many things. Are all the things native or do you suppose -"

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" - it almost makes more sense to presume they figured out the dimension-hopping before we did, did the thing we're planning to do -"

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"I wonder if they have a procedure for visitors!"

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"Do you want to ask? 'Hello, where's the interdimensional visitor's center?'"

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"It might be worth a shot!"

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He waits until they're closer into the city. The rail lines, it appears, tunnel under it. There's an information booth, staffed by a red-haired woman and her husband trading off their newborn baby. 

"Excuse me, is there a center for interdimensional visitors -"

         "Silver building at the corner of 48th and Skyline, it's about a mile from here, would you like walking or train or teleport directions?'

"Ah. Walking."

        "48th is six blocks that direction and then turn left and go three more."

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"Well that was easy," says Cor, walking in that direction.

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"Yeah. Wow. How many worlds do you have to have visited before it's barely even a remarkable question -" Someone in front of them disappears with a pop. 

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Cor jumps. "Dozens?"

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"I suppose I could ask someone that too." There are shops. They seem to sell pieces of reinforced glass with words glowing on the surface, and groceries, and table space to sit and do things with your glowing reinforced glass. 

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"I want to know what all of this is."

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"Me too!! Maybe we can requisition a guide at the interdimensional visitor's center."

 

Someone bumps into him in the streets, murmurs "so sorry, your grace," and bustles off. He stands quite still in confusion.

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"...maybe people just call Elves that in general?"

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"Maybe? Since we have kings at all and no one else does - that'd be kind of funny - or in their Quenya it could've turned into more of a generic -"

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"Yeah, something like that."

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But he frowns. They walk on. Vendors are selling delicacies of various kinds. There's a bat-winged man lounging on a fountain who appears to just be making things out of nothing for people by request.

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"I guess she wouldn't have attracted much notice here."

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"It'd take serious effort to attract notice here!" 

 

And there's a silver building in fact labelled Interdimensional Affairs.

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Cor can't read it but presumably Findekáno can.

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Yep. He translates. They go in. It's a pretty spacious marble waiting area with Elf receptionists behind desks. "Your grace! How can I help you?" says one cheerfully.

          "We were looking for a guide. And maybe visitor's information, do you have visitor's information -"

"Of course - where are you from -"

         " - my world's not in contact with this one, we just ran across you."

"- oh. Wow -"

         "How many worlds are you in contact with, just out of curiosity -"

"Seven hundred sixteen! - now seven hundred seventeen, I guess - I should send you right upstairs to Four so he can hook you up with everything - who should I tell him is coming -"

        "I am Findekáno and this is Cor."

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"Hi."

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The wall behind them slides open and reveals a little mirrored room. "Hundred fifteenth floor," she says, "he's expecting you."

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"...And this somehow causes us to reach the hundred fifteenth floor? - how can I understand you -"

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"Translation magic! Four'll tap you and then you'll have it too. Uh, it's called an elevator, you step into it and press the button for '115' and then it goes there and when the door opens you're on the right floor."

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"Okay then."

Into the elevator. Button.

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The door closes. There's a weird sensation. The door opens on the hundred fifteenth floor. 

An Elf looks up from his glowing glass thingy.

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"Hello!"

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"Oh," he says after a second. "Do you want to talk to someone else."

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"Maybe."

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"Are there somebody elses available who don't report to you."

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"Yeah. I - one minute please."

 

He disappears with a pop.

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"Eternal burning void," swears Cor.

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"Seven hundred sixteen worlds -"

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"And he's handling them personally, isn't that - just - great -"

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He kicks a nearby exquisitely pretty glass sculpture and sits down heavily on the sofa next to it. "That's why - they speak Quenya, they called me 'your grace', one of the worlds is another Arda somehow -"

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Cor plops down next to him. "Isn't that just. Lovely."

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How'd you do the disappearance point trick -

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Cor tells him the chant and how to focus on the place you want to not be a place. But I wouldn't have if I'd known he was going to let me go - just as backup -

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I assure you I'm not going to start by assassinating even-more-powerful-Maitimo. Just -

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Yeah. Good to have backup.

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And someone else appears in the office with a pop. He's human but the resemblance is still striking.

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"Uh. Hi. Is your Melkor dead."

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"...yes."

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"Sauron?"

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"Maybe."

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"- I can put in an order to have Cam check." He sits down at the glass thing and taps it. "I don't actually do - new-world onboarding, I think he just thought - since I was a you and at least more of a hassle to mind-control -"

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"Uh-huh."

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"The word for it is 'alts'. The same people, different worlds, different species. Often look alike but not always, there's also a genderswapped Arda and some people come in different human racial categories. There are - twelve Maitimos - and - did your Valar do a lot of aggressive mind control to their populations to manage the crime rate -"

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"Yes."

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"So that is not standard and wherever it doesn't happen he is a great person but in - we call them 'evil Ardas' - he's a catastrophe. All his alts are constantly petitioning for permission to murder the evil one - there was only one, now I guess there are two - and they keep getting turned down. The evil one isn't administering anything and all the other ones will go to excruciating lengths to stay out of your way, if you want that,"

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"Petitioning who?"

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"Everyone else involved with interworld affairs - us, Bells, the rest of his family, various other people who've ended up being useful - they don't actually need permission but they won't do it as long as we all disapprove."

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"Bells?"

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"A person who has alts in a lot of worlds - did you drop on an Arda in a magical accident of some kind."

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"It wasn't an accident."

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"Mindreading is terrible, alcohol is terrible, take lots of notes, feel very strongly about human immortality, clumsy..."

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"Uh. I don't have anything against other people drinking."

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"Name has 'bel' in it somewhere? Parents' names resemble 'Charlie' and "Renee'."

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"Corbelan. Karale. Rinya."

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"Pleased to meet you. Yous help run the multiverse."

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"...cool."

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"And they have an introduction written up for new yous which they say is much better than the generic one - I'm going to have to go get copies, I don't have them on me - they'll probably also be more persuasive on the 'no the other Maitimos aren't just strategically hiding it' thing - the other Findekáno from an evil Arda was totally convinced of that -"

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"He's very convincing."

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"Why don't we just give you both lots of magic and then you can review the evidence at your own pace."

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"Sounds good."

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"Sensitive stuff is on chiplocked computers, which no one can read but you - have you learned about this world's magic system yet -"

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"There seem to be a lot of things here."

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"Most of this the overview will explain more effectively than I can, but relevant to how you want the overview formatted, demons - the people with bat wings - can make anything reasonably well-specified and made out of matter. This includes secret notes, so someone came up with a chip for your brain that lets you control a computer and makes the computer useless to anyone but you. All sensitive material is only available if you have a chiplocked computer, and we'd need a demon to install it. You can get the non-sensitive overview or I can go find a demon and you can get the whole picture, up to you."

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"What is a computer?"

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He gestures at the glowy glass thing. "Technology, not magic, and they store tons of information and can do anything which can be rendered as math which turns out to be tons of things."

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"Uh. Okay. I guess that thing then. If it's not hard to use."

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"It's very straightforward, you just think at it. I'll go fetch a demon."

 

And he goes to Macalaurë's and asks him to pay someone and Macalaurë is happy to and he bounces back with the demon a minute later and then they both have chiplocked computers with appropriate summaries.

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Read read. "Shouldn't Boots have confirmed me before I got this?"

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"Wasn't really in question. She can drop by if you're in doubt?"

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"I'm not really but you asked me like, six things, and prompted the answers."

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"And you landed magically on an Arda and the evil Maitimo, uh, bothered you - they're not less picky than standard - and -" he nods at his alt - "I'd have heard about it if you were going along with the answers and heard about it from Sibyl if something fishy were afoot."

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"...okay. Did the other evil Maitimo bother a me -"

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"Didn't meet one. The only people Maitimos have been known to date anywhere in the multiverse are mes and yous."

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"Wow."

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"Doesn't mean you have to interact with them any, obviously."

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"It's not like it'd kill me but I wouldn't do it for fun. Are they just - the same as him when he's pretending to be nice -'

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"I haven't met an evil one, I couldn't say. Probably."

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"They know to stay away."

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"I don't - if they're not like that I don't need to upset them about it -"

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"It's not you upsetting them."

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"I don't have to make it conspicuous or act like I think it's their fault? What's the other Findekáno doing -"

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"Arranged to go somewhere we couldn't find him if we wanted to."

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"...well. I'm not going to do that." He looks at his Findekáno.

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" - no. I can imagine avoiding them but not avoiding all of this, this is great. - might be kind of path-dependent, for mes."

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Nod. 

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"Thuringwethil found you," Cor mentions. "She has my magic. Was that a terrible idea or is she as okay as she seems -"

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" - Kib doesn't like his, I think Loki likes hers, lots of them are dead. I can ask a - I can ask someone who knows one of them well enough to hazard a guess."

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"Yeah. I owed her a favor."

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"I don't think the reasons for disliking her are related to her being prone to random violence or dishonesty."

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"That's good, those would be the reasons to worry."

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Nod. "And in this neighborhood your magic's far from the scariest stuff around."

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"I haven't told you what it does."

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"My Maitimo ended his war by having a planet fed into a black hole."

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"Yeah, I haven't told you what my magic system does."

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"Even if it's more destructive than daeva we're still next to Edda, but go ahead."

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"It destroys things. As a byproduct of destroying specified things, it also dumps additional destruction into 'disappearance points'. My planet is being eaten by same, they were growing - or rather shrinking - faster than projected. We're evacuating people into our Arda's south continent."

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" - if you want infrastructure down there or somewhere else for them to go we can do that, and in those files are the teleport so you can evacuate them faster. Would adding all that matter back save the planet or is it too late?"

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"Infrastructure and somewhere else to go would be good. Adding matter won't hurt but it also warps space, the planet has punctures."

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"Have you checked if it works here?"

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"I haven't but Thuringwethil came back and told us about this place. She had to go through the empty planet we're using for disappearance points though."

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"- so plausibly any other inhabited planets in the whole neighborhood are also in the process of getting eaten, or have gotten eaten already?"

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"If they use magery, yes."

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"Any reason not to check right away -"

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"The reason I said Sauron might be dead is because he impersonated Thuringwethil to try to get magery and I tried to drop him on a disappearance point but my aim may have been off and he has a fake ritual but if he stumbled on a functional one he'd be a mage and has seen the transit spell."

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"- we will have Cam check that urgently and then we will go check whether your unfriendly magic system has fucked over anyone else in the neighborhood. Also resurrections of people who died in a mass catastrophe are straightforward but can perhaps wait until you have somewhere for them to go."

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"You can do that?"

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"We can do approximately anything, some of 'em we can't scale."

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"Finding out our planet was dying was preceded by a war, my parents died."

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"I'm so sorry. Tell us where and when and we'll get them back."

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"Where and when they died?"

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"No, just where and when you want them to wake up."

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"...I think I can wait till the planet's evacuated."

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"Okay. That should be this afternoon. We'll also have someone explain to the Valar how to do their jobs, deoath all the orcs - since it's an evil Arda maybe deoath some Elves also -"

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"You should do that, yes."

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"And last time we kind of screwed up contact with the evil Maitimo, we might confer on how to do better. You can participate in that if you'd like of course but you shouldn't feel obliged."

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"How did you screw it up?"

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"I wasn't even in contact with them all back then but as I recall they were getting along well with him, heard rumors, called in a different Maitimo to figure out what was going on - the evil one asked the decent one to cover for him, the decent one dropped the nearest heavy object on his head and then had a panic attack - uh, usually Maitimos get captured during the war and spend fifty years in Angband and have - twitchiness - around the sort of thing that their evil alt gets up to."

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"...uh-huh."

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" - the people who get released from Angband aren't -"

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"They don't get released their Findekános go in on a suicide mission to kill them and then get an opening to get them out alive and they're catastrophically fucked up by it and they're still not evil, we really don't know what the fuck went wrong with yours."

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Sigh. "He seemed really nice till he - didn't."

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He shivers. "Uh, Bells usually vote not to murder them but they'd probably defer to you if you think murdering them is a good idea."

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"Um."

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"Oh?"

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"I. May have slightly murdered him? I mean. He's alive. Just."

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"Slightly murdered."

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"Slightly. It's complicated. I feel really bad about it actually it was a misunderstanding that pushed me over the edge there."

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" - well. If you want him murdered that can be accomplished and if you want him ...less murdered that can also be accomplished probably -"

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"I put a disappearance point on his head."

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He sends a mental image.

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...he giggles. "Well. Can those be removed?"

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"In theory you could dig it out. Or he could lose the body, if he could get a new one."

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"The reasonable Mandos usually hands people back no problem but I don't know what he'd do with an evil Maitimo. If we can dig it out we will probably just do that."

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"He'd have a hole in his head but maybe you can fix that."

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"Spell's in your information packet."

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Nod. "It's - he didn't know I could do that, he knew I could messily suicide but he didn't know I could kill him and survive it myself. And he said he'd let me go when the war was over so I killed Melkor and then there was some - confusion - and I placed it."

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"...I promise you that I wouldn't be judging even if you said you slit his throat in his sleep."

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"I did not in fact slit his throat in his sleep, and this is not solely because he made that difficult, and I want to be clear about what I did and did not mean to do."

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Nod.

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"So feel free to go dig the point out of his head and chuck it in a standard point."

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"I will suggest someone who can handle him go and do that."

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"Who can handle him?"

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"- uh. No one has, like, a track record. Tireh doesn't seem to mind the other one?"

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"Uh-huh." Sigh.

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He lets them read.

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"So you can de-oath people cheaply?"

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"Yup. Bring them all here and Loki can do it in one go. And the orcs have a setup to integrate new Ardafulls of orcs."

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"Good, my way is time-consuming and byproducty. Maitimo keeps a creepy stranglehold on his people - I deoathed one and that was, uh, a time things got worse, and her they exiled -"

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"Maybe we can work out something to get them rotated out to Vanda Nossëo and positively influenced. With the first evil Arda we were worried it was contagious but it doesn't seem to be."

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"Everyone else is usually better too?"

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"Oh, yeah, definitely. Evil Ardas, not evil Maitimos, practically everyone is worse - you don't seem to be," he says to his alt.

       "I didn't get much opportunity."

"You just actually don't seem different from the rest of us in values or priorities."

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"I was sort of friends with Curufinwë before he did absolutely nothing at the wrong time."

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"There's a you married to a him. Perhaps he will go yell at his alt for you."

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"That would be kind of gratifying."

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"I will drop a note."

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"Thanks."

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He writes Elspeth about the Valar and Tireh about evil Maitimo v.2 and Cam about other civilizations fucked over by this terrible neighborhood's magic system and also infrastructure for evacuees and Minor about going to do some of those unfriendly Hogwarts hexes to his new alt.

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Elspeth hops by to get directions! Then she continues onward to visit the Valar.

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Tireh shows up in the office. "You want me to be point person for, uh, Midnight With A Hole In His Head Edition?"

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"I guess, until there's a reason to switch."

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"Yeah, no problem, give me the ten minute version and I'll go poke him."

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Cor does that.

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Hop hop.

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Midnight With A Hole In His Head is in his city-under-construction and can certainly make time for a random winged stranger.

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"Hi. I'm Tireh. You need a nickname and it can't be Midnight."

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"I have no complaints about my current name."

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"Tough, it's really common. There's alternate universe versions of people."

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"And there are lots of people named 'Eruanna', I don't make them change it."

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"We can table that for now. Uh, there is a multiverse network thing and it is run by versions of you who have better childhoods or something and also versions of Cor, I'm the second thing and I seem to be specializing in your variety of Maitimo."

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" - okay."

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"Him and this world's Findekáno found us so now you're on the map, congratulations, the Arda also needs a name but Cor'll probably do that."

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"Have you already figured out human mortality and disease and so on -"

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"Yeah! There's mortality artifacts - I met the network when I tried to steal a boxful - since you're Flat Elves here we'll wanna put some of you on making those, there's so many people."

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"We'd be delighted! Artifacts are really slow -"

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"We can make people real fast at artifacting!"

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"Oooooh! Then we're all yours. Cor's probably got someone handling the evacuees -"

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"Yeah, we're gonna put 'em somewhere other than the south continent here since they're not all dug in yet and we can do infrastructure stuff. Oh also I can fix the hole in your head, Cor feels bad about the misunderstanding."

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"Oh good, we were going to try that surgically as soon as Sauron's accounted for and my death wouldn't disrupt anything but if you can do it with better odds it's kind of horrible."

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"We are also gonna check whether Cor successfully killed Sauron or not. We've got a really good healing spell, it can solve the problem as long as you are not insta-dead of having it dug out. Spell is based on proprietary underlying whatnot sorry."

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"So we can't have healers around for emergencies? Or we can but we have to pay the source?"

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"You can have some here they just have to be vetted."

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"Okay. I can recommend you people but if you know Ardas maybe you already know some."

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"Recommendations wouldn't be amiss, this Arda is a bit later than the other one of the same kind and maybe that changes stuff? Also the peal - that's us - made an incredibly terrible first impression on the other you of the same kind."

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"It would really astonish me if they were so upset with you they wouldn't recommend candidate healers."

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"It's gotten better. They have some now. It just didn't happen really smoothly with recommendations and stuff. I was not even hatched yet - I'm four - so I couldn't go be blasé and defuse stuff."

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"Well, we appreciate having you." He puts together a list of names. "We're going to have a distributed government system without anyone at the head, is that going to complicate relations with your peal?"

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"We can handle all kindsa things. How come you're doing that? The other one is super attached to Kinging. Even the regular ones mostly like that kind of thing."

Permalink Eye

"Well, until this afternoon I wasn't really expecting to be around forever and it's rather built on me, and - one thing the Valar enforced was very tight social control, everyone knows their place and obeys - we needed that for the war but with the war over I want to give people space to experience - trusting themselves and obeying their conscience - and we'll see how it goes."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. Cool, good for you. Okay, so, the teleport spell we have does whole objects - it was kind of hacked together under time pressure and hasn't been patched - so I can't teleport the spot out of your head, I think the fast way would be to bring you a magic rock and they have telekinesis."

Permalink Eye

"A magic rock?"

Permalink Eye

"There's a kind of magic where you turn into a rock and you get powers. The powers include 'operate a normal looking body'. So they just sort of wear themselves. You get used to it."

Permalink Eye

"Is there a writeup somewhere of all the worlds and all the people -"

Permalink Eye

"There is... uh, regular yous don't like you-kind-of-yous very much, but I can ask if they will share anyhow."

Permalink Eye

"I won't leave here and go somewhere I might startle Cor in his planet-hopping, I just - want to know people."

Permalink Eye

"I'll ask."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you."

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome!"

Permalink Eye

"Anything else I can do for you?"

Permalink Eye

"There's an onboarding checklist but if you're not kinging it up here any more should I possibly go to someone else with that?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm King until Sauron's dead so I guess that means whether I'm King is currently ambiguous."

Permalink Eye

"Well, we'll have it figured out in like a day. Do you wanna go get your head fixed now?"

Permalink Eye

"Sounds good."

Permalink Eye

She brings him several hops to a magic rock clinic on Mîr. There is a short line. She explains the problem and the magic rock extracts the bit of his forehead while Tireh stands ready to heal him and then the magic rock telekineses the extraction on the hop back to drop it in a point on the empty planet for them.

Permalink Eye

And forehead intact he goes home. "I am wondering how Cor's doing but not if he'd prefer I not know."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think he'd really care if you know? He just doesn't want to like, hang out."

Permalink Eye

"I am sworn never to cause him to need to interact with me again. But I'd rather know how he's doing, if he doesn't care."

Permalink Eye

"He's good! Bells like having alts. Also we can resurrect his parents. There is a Curufinwë alt who is married to a Bell and he might come yell at yours and Cor thinks he will find that gratifying."

Permalink Eye

He beams at her. "I'm very glad to hear it."

Permalink Eye

Flap. "You're welcome."

Permalink Eye

"Feel free to drop by if you need anything."

Permalink Eye

"Will do! Once there's a crystal ball here you can write me if you need to."

Permalink Eye

"We will stay in touch!"

Permalink Eye

And she goes and checks in with Cam who has determined that the Sauron did in fact land in a disappearance point and comes back to let him know, who should she checklist with.

Permalink Eye

He is so pleased about that and can assemble part of the distributed council for new-world onboarding.

Permalink Eye

She goes and does that.

Permalink Eye

And Minor knocks on his alt's door.

Permalink Eye

"Yes?"

Permalink Eye

"Hi! I'm an alternate universe version of you and I have the tech briefing and the great big stack of language notes and we can get your father back, probably inside a week but they're handling the refugee thing first."

Permalink Eye

 

"Language notes?"

Permalink Eye

"Right here but I don't want to sit around while you read them, read enough to verify that I'm not toying with you?"

Permalink Eye

"That is what I'm doing, yes."

Permalink Eye

Minor waits.

Permalink Eye

 

"Okay. Hi, human alternate universe version of me, thank you for the tech briefing."

Permalink Eye

"Sure thing. So Cor has an alternate universe version and she is my wife."

Permalink Eye

"Good for you."

Permalink Eye

"If Timothy decided to be a lunatic -"

Permalink Eye

"I told Maitimo that this was clearly a disaster and I thought that we should have a coup. And he said that he was going to let him go after the war, that he was able to work on spell development, and that he still meant to help us. And - I wasn't realistically going to improve on that by having a coup, I'm not good at running countries, so it'd be a - just-on-principle coup and that's moronic. If any of that had changed we'd have gone through with it."

Permalink Eye

"So the thing you should have done is told Cor this and told him he could decide whether to pull the trigger on the coup, because he'd agree with you about the war and appreciate being in a position to decide even if, as I presume would have happened once you two had the same information, he also decided it wasn't worth it."

Permalink Eye

 

" - one of the situations it would have been necessary for was if he couldn't trust Maitimo far enough to keep working with him, if he'd had the information that Maitimo helped me plan the coup it'd be less effective as a resolution of that problem."

Permalink Eye

"You're not talking about a fake coup, right, you were actually planning to remove Maitimo from power even if it's irregular because he was going to cooperate with that. So Cor would have gotten what he needed from that, if it'd be admittedly less romantic than defying one's brother to save him."

Permalink Eye

"Romantic isn't what I was going for -"

Permalink Eye

"Right so you'd have been fine."

Permalink Eye

"I guess I didn't know him well enough to be confident of that."

Permalink Eye

"Your Maitimo is impaired but is he impaired at that?"

Permalink Eye

"I did not think to ask him."

Permalink Eye

"And so Cor had a much worse time of things than necessary."

Permalink Eye

"I realize that."

Permalink Eye

"Miranda's wonderful."

Permalink Eye

"Cor is great too, it was just the timing that worked out badly."

Permalink Eye

He nods. He goes to find Cor.

Permalink Eye

Cor has finished teleporting evacuees to the south continent to park temporarily, realize they forgot their family silver and put in a request, etc., and is mid-correspondence on planet selection and infrastructure design for their new home.

Permalink Eye

That seems important! He will wait.

Permalink Eye

Why yes, trains are cool, he will take some.

"Hi?"

Permalink Eye

"Hi! I'm Miranda's husband. I got invited to go yell at my alt, did you want a report on the results of that or was it just for my personal satisfaction?"

Permalink Eye

"I am curious."

Permalink Eye

"He actually did do what I think I'd have done in that situation, which was check everything out and then go to Maitimo and tell him that he thinks there should be a coup and would like Maitimo's help arranging it. Maitimo said that you were making progress on the ritual and he was going to let everyone go and step down after the war, and he decided that a coup - wouldn't be bloodless even with Maitimo helping, just possible at all - wouldn't improve things. I explained that he should have told you all of that and then invited you to decide whether it was worth it, a decision you could be presumed to make correctly once you had the information. He had a bad model of you and didn't realize you'd have done that and feels very badly."

Permalink Eye

...nod. "Thanks. I guess maybe we didn't know each other all that long."

Permalink Eye

"If it had been the case that you were not going to kill Melkor on behalf of Maitimo or people complicit in Maitimo's bullshit, and that in order to get your help with the war they'd need you to believe that the coup was orchestrated against Maitimo's will - but he really should have known better, he could have asked Maitimo."

Permalink Eye

"Honestly even if he hadn't come up with the coup idea - about which he did not inform me - a lot of the problem was feeling surrounded. I had to trade favors with Thuringwethil to talk to my friend Ranary, and that was as far as I got, in every direction were more of Maitimo's people, and they only let me see Ranary occasionally and eventually I got her home safe and then there was Findekáno but he was trapped too. It would have meant a lot for literally anyone else to disapprove a sensible amount for non-stupid reasons. Even if they didn't feel able to actually take any actions."

Permalink Eye

"I do not think he realizes that he left you under the impression he did not disapprove."

Permalink Eye

"For non-stupid reasons. If he just thinks the problem is that Maitimo and I are both men that doesn't help at all."

Permalink Eye

" - if I had to guess I'd guess that 'it was bad leadership' plays a larger role than you'd like, and 'it's objectively horrible' a smaller one? But none of it's the dumb homosexuality thing Elves have."

Permalink Eye

"Well, that's something."

Permalink Eye

"I didn't hex him or the King but if you've something in mind -"

Permalink Eye

"I already slightly murdered Maitimo and then had it taken back because it was based on a misunderstanding. I'm out. I'll be okay." Sigh.

Permalink Eye

"Okay."

 

And he goes home and says to Miranda - "would you not murder someone who did that because I would murder someone who did that."

Permalink Eye

"I... mostly would not murder people? What are you talking about -"

Permalink Eye

"Oh did you not see? New evil Arda, new Bell, there's a summary up. Evil Maitimo took a liking to the Bell."

Permalink Eye

"I don't bring my computer with me to the theater, I went with Karen and Genevieve to Richard III and then I was rereading the play because I missed a couple lines and got distracted. Uh, how evilly did he take a liking?"

Permalink Eye

"Everything was completely horrible."

Permalink Eye

"That's not really specific enough to tell me if it would have been murder time!"

Permalink Eye

"Everything was great until the Bell found out and then he kept him under house arrest and raped him repeatedly!"

Permalink Eye

"Uh, if murder was the only way to get out, sure..."

Permalink Eye

"No he said he'd let him go after the war and stuck to it but, uh, still."

Permalink Eye

"...was murder the only way to stop him hurting other people?"

Permalink Eye

"We kill Melkors and Saurons even if we could imprison them safely."

Permalink Eye

"They go way past 'house arrest and rape'."

Permalink Eye

"The, uh, line you're drawing, the place I draw it is before house arrest and rape."

Permalink Eye

"If someone kidnapped me and kept me somewhere reasonably nice and raped me and said I could leave the following week and that was actually credible, and I had no non-murder ways to make it sooner, I'd probably like, form a plan to murder them if I decided that was a good idea, but I probably wouldn't actually do it unless something changed? - But I would not hold it the least bit against you if you killed them to rescue me."

Permalink Eye

" - fair."

Permalink Eye

Hug.

Permalink Eye

Hug. 

Permalink Eye

"I love you."

Permalink Eye

"I love you. I'm so glad Timothy's not evil it'd have been really inconvenient."

Permalink Eye

"So inconvenient! Remember when it looked for a little bit like he might be and we all freaked out - it would have been so bad -"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah." Sigh. "I went to yell at my alt for him. I didn't yell - wouldn't have, uh, helped, when I'm feeling defensive I'm not feeling bad, I just asked why he hadn't thought of things until he felt badly enough about it and then I left."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you." Kiss.

Permalink Eye

Kiss!

Permalink Eye

Findekáno stops by Cor's infrastructure planning. "How's it going?"

Permalink Eye

"Pretty good. They don't have a good system yet for populations that aren't familiar with electricity but might want low-hassle retrofitting for it in a few years, we're hacking something together."

Permalink Eye

"You'd think that'd come up a fair bit! Are you getting a planet terraformed like the old one, or going to do something different?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm getting one with a similar range of climates but I don't want it exact continents and rocks and all, it'd be - I think for one thing it'd do some harm to the unity we got postwar from our common threat, if we all just settled back in the same places? I think having a good excuse to mix will help even if all the original countries do get territory, if it's not brick for brick alike people will have less barrier to moving."

Permalink Eye

"Makes sense. Does tech get you the ease of movement of gates -"

Permalink Eye

"No. I'm waffling on whether to have gates at all but I think trains handle cargo and very short trips better so we're going to have those."

Permalink Eye

"Can the Tesseract do gate-y things? If it has the template to copy? Preferably minus the drawbacks?"

Permalink Eye

"Loki thinks maybe but if it couldn't the Tesseract would be more annoyed than it currently is and she's avoiding that. Gates do take a long time to decay."

Permalink Eye

"Can we have the precog tell us the result of tests of Tesseract abilities or is she busy with more important things than that?"

Permalink Eye

"If it's ever really important we can try it but Loki is vaguely concerned that it might be good enough buddies with the Time Stone to notice and object."

Permalink Eye

Snort. "Portals were listed as a thing research teams are pretty close on anyway."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "And like, we can harvest some gates from my homeworld - I'm thinking 'Disappear', what do you think - even if we don't want to make new ones."

Permalink Eye

"Disappear. Got something for the Arda?"

Permalink Eye

"They're going with a light-related word theme. The other one with Maitimo being evil is 'Shadow'. And it has to translate reasonably well, so the word for the dark blink when a spell completes isn't quite right."

Permalink Eye

"I read the notes on Shadow. Wow was that a mess - I feel badly -"

Permalink Eye

"Might have been better if they'd found us first, we have - differently broken lines of communication."

Permalink Eye

"Would have occurred to us to make sure they got tech and healers instead of slowly building up resentment over being denied it."

Permalink Eye

"And I had already slightly murdered him, it would have been less of a fiasco for his alts to be calling for his death."

Permalink Eye

"Slightly murdered him." He shakes his head. 

Permalink Eye

"It would have been fatal but he was still in fact alive! I think that's a good description!"

Permalink Eye

"It's an entirely apt description, I'm shaking my head at the situation."

Permalink Eye

"What about it?"

Permalink Eye

"The degree to which Maitimo was only able to keep you prisoner because you're a much better person than him."

Permalink Eye

"Also very averse to dying, but that part he knew about."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose some people might kill someone who did that."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Where's the new planet going to be? Interesting neighborhood or stay put?"

Permalink Eye

"Magery seems to have some neighborhood effect - the empty planet is not conventionally adjacent to our Arda but both are adjacent to Disappear and we can mage directly between them without stopping there - so new planet, same world."

Permalink Eye

"Going to join Vanda Nossëo, you think?"

Permalink Eye

"Probably. At that point we're outside the realm of decisions I can just unilaterally make."

Permalink Eye

"I made a list of questions while reading - are you going to go kill Telperion's Melkor. Do gates in fact work interdimensionally. Is disappeared stuff demonically retrievable as normal - have we spied on Thuringwethil and made sure she's being responsible -"

Permalink Eye

"I could go kill him, the spell is proven now. It'd be a little weird while he's locked up but I can still do it. Haven't tried probably not though. Yes, possibly unless spells are designed with that in mind. No but she's not a huge risk so we don't have to urgently track her down."

Permalink Eye

"Congratulations."

Permalink Eye

"For what?"

Permalink Eye

"I presume Maitimo can't actually ruin 'you saved the world twice' and now we're out and it's over and we found the heavy-hitting stuff and brought it home."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. We did."

Permalink Eye

He heads back to his treehouse. He illusions it harder to see from outside. 

Permalink Eye

Tireh onboards New Evil Arda more or less as though it were some useful boring they had chosen to invite to participate in the multiverse!

Permalink Eye

New evil Arda is so excited about making artifacts quickly and prospects for resurrection and other Ardas' magic songs and they put forward candidates for healers (most of whom were healers before, just with less magic) and they are mostly distinct from other Ardas in how many of them want deoathing or a divorce.

Permalink Eye

Deoathing and divorces are available! Even without painting blood all over people. The healers can be vetted; Gem has a process if the Maitimos don't want to touch it?

Permalink Eye

The Maitimos are busy shuffling operations so Cor doesn't have to interact with any of them no matter what he wants done. It's all Gem's.

Permalink Eye

Elves can sit through So You Want Magical Powers on Mîr.

Permalink Eye

The nice Maitimos do not have to go to that much trouble, Cor will cope if he runs into them.

Permalink Eye

They're really not making it apparent that they're going to any trouble at all. Cor does not run into them.

Permalink Eye

 

Kib drops by to see New Evil Maitimo.

Permalink Eye

He's working on getting his country electricity! He's happy to take a break.

Permalink Eye

"Hey. How're you doing?"

Permalink Eye

"Normally I'd worry that the pace at which the humans would want to be caught up to galactic standards of living would be hard on Elves, but we've been doing the bare minimum for four hundred years, they're ready to wake up to something entirely different. I wish you all had invented something to expand osanwë range. I am more surprised by the lack of anything that does automatic private thoughts, for people who just can't get the hang of it. On the whole we're all right. What can we do for you?"

Permalink Eye

"We're handling you a lot more neatly than the other Arda of this kind and have only partially managed to fix it."

Permalink Eye

"Tireh mentioned that it was not handled well."

Permalink Eye

"She's point person for there, too. She manages to avoid being judgmental on a deeper level than the rest of us can pull off. She manages this because she's not a sexually mature member of her species and all of the things she does fully understand are ancient history by her time-counting habits. She's aware she's missing something but it's useful for her to miss it. I'm not sure what we're going to do if she stops missing it when she turns nine, though, and I wondered if you could help."

Permalink Eye

"Are all the candidate point people instances of Cor in particular for a reason?"

Permalink Eye

"They need to be authorized to make fairly high-level decisions and the standard Maitimos kind of just want to solve the problem with murder."

Permalink Eye

"An ambassador who doesn't hate us but has to clear things with someone back home is an improvement on an ambassador who hates us."

Permalink Eye

"I'll keep that in mind for if and when Tireh ages out of the position. She's fine for now, right?"

Permalink Eye

"She's great."

Permalink Eye

"We are not totally sure if Midnight has noticed she's a Bell. He probably has but there has been no explicit acknowledgment of the fact." Sigh.

Permalink Eye

"Why doesn't he like Bells?"

Permalink Eye

"This was years ago - I wasn't even pealed then - they made a bad first impression on several levels, somewhat but not entirely for reasons that make sense from our perspective. A Bell didn't drop on that Arda, it was our alt Golden's daughter Elspeth. I don't know if she stopped by here on her way to fix your Valar."

Permalink Eye

"She did not - can I have summaries of all the people -"

Permalink Eye

"I could try appealing to Island but absent such appeals they're being petty about the pan-Maitimo enormous dossier of names etcetera. Midnight might have a more limited version he'd give you. The Bell version isn't nearly as conveniently organized for your purposes, someone would have to go through redacting things. Anyway, Elspeth had herself an Arda adventure and by the time those Valar sent her home to her folks she'd gotten the relevant Findekáno approximately free but he was hanging around to do policy things. The peal found the Arda. The last time they were about to kill a Sauron, they found he had a deadman switch. This time they checked - deadman switches are the sort of thing you threaten about if threatened, so they went and threatened Melkor - and it turned out that a consequence of Elspeth's adventure was that Melkor had been prepping to leave. He left. We're not certain where he is but a candidate is a world that sucks enough that we don't go there, we just evacuate it from outside its borders. Midnight was not impressed."

Permalink Eye

 

"Ah. Yes."

Permalink Eye

"And then another Findekáno decided that one needed a break and whisked him off, which Midnight has since referred to as the peal collectively kidnapping him. And there were various other miscommunications and it's been a huge mess and we've since transitioned somewhat away from storing all our organizational social competence in standard Maitimos, every now and then somebody makes some progress, but - it's not good."

Permalink Eye

"Where's his Findekáno?"

Permalink Eye

"Loki - who is a Bell - introduced him to a friend of hers and they decided to take a trip together off-map for the psychological benefit of being inaccessible even if we wanted to find them for some reason. They are expected back in, uh, Elf time."

Permalink Eye

...nod. "Are my alts useless around other bad people or is it specifically that I look like them?"

Permalink Eye

"Specifically that."

Permalink Eye

"It sounds like maybe they should get over it."

Permalink Eye

"And yet."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not clear on what you need from me."

Permalink Eye

"I'm wondering if you could accomplish anything Tireh hasn't if you went to Shadow."

Permalink Eye

"...maybe? What needs accomplishing from your organization's point of view?"

Permalink Eye

"This one time some evil brain slug aliens escaped their world, looked upon him as a fellow enemy of the peal and brought him goodies, and we're really lucky he didn't ride that alliance any farther. It was before Tireh's time but I'd like to be real, real sure that doesn't look like a viable strategy if any other such populations look for anti-peal help."

Permalink Eye

"There doesn't seem to be any way to knock you all off your perch without hurting hundreds of billions of people, no matter what the resources for accomplishing it."

Permalink Eye

"I'm also not confident that Tireh's equipped to notice if he does something that is genuinely a bad idea and tries slipping it past her."

Permalink Eye

"That, uh, does not seem like a good way to get him anything he wants in the long term."

Permalink Eye

"Should I be assuming he always acts in his own long-term best interest?"

Permalink Eye

"It'd be in character to conceal from you anything he was already up to which he doesn't want you to know about, it'd be in character to retaliate immediately against people who might have been deterred by that in situations where it doesn't escalate things, it'd be in character to acquire new capabilities and be responsible with them so that when you learn about them your reaction is mostly 'well, we wish he hadn't picked that up but he doesn't seem to be misusing it'. You can presume that he will not leave you in a position of thinking 'there really isn't a safe way to leave this person alive' or even 'there really isn't a way to have positive-sum interactions.'"

Permalink Eye

"We have sometimes wondered if there is a safe way to leave him alive. Not especially recently, but still. We don't like the concealing and sneaking around and the having to go 'well, we wish he hadn't picked that up'."

Permalink Eye

"I'm always delighted to meet new people."

Permalink Eye

"I can get Cor to visit you."

Permalink Eye

"I swore not to try to arrange that."

Permalink Eye

"Or maybe I'll bring you a fruit basket or a list of names, we'll see what I'm in the mood for."

Permalink Eye

"Tireh said he's happy."

Permalink Eye

"We can bring back his parents and resettle his world and give him all kinds of cool toys and he likes having alts, sure he is."

Permalink Eye

"I will visit my alt."

Permalink Eye

"And pick a nickname."

Permalink Eye

"I need the list of names to make sure it doesn't overlap with anybody."

Permalink Eye

"I can rattle off the template nicknames from memory. Bells are Loki of Edda whose Arda is Elentári, Boots originally of Materia now residing in Warp by way of Telperion, T'Mir of Warp, Cam of Revelation then Hell through Space now vaguely itinerant, Iobel of Hex, Golden of Aurum, Gem of Wish whose Arda is Luster, Butterfly of Cube, Tireh of Beach, Miranda who is new and hasn't named her Arda but her home is Hazel, and now Cor - I'm Kib, from Stork, my Arda's Shine.

"Maitimos are Swift from Elentári, six Space forks called Cast, Decision, Current, Jewel, Leaf, and Robin, Mitros of Hex, Island from Shine is mine, Midnight I have explained, girl you from Ithil is Maitimë or Dream, Cube you is Matirin, Hazel you is Timothy, there was a you who insisted on getting dead-for-real and did not stick around long enough to be nicknamed, Luster you is Zenith because we complained when he tried to go by Doom.

"The Findekáno Space forks are Delight, Shard, Blessing, and Diamond; mine is Pterodactyl, Luster's is Dragon, Midnight named the Shadow one 'Forever' in absentia, Finleran is the Cube one, Finankar is the Hex one, Ferardrin is the Materia one, Fredrick is the Hazel one, Elentári's is Snow, Millennia's is Eagle, Ithil's is just Findekánë no nickname.

"Most other templates are few enough or manage to behave interchangeably enough that we haven't been on their case about it and their name variance is just what they start with. Although the child Fëanáros are calling themselves Epic and Hubris. Epic is the smaller and has wings, Hubris is human."

Permalink Eye

"I will be Sunlight."

Permalink Eye

"Sunlight it is." He fiddles with his computer.

Permalink Eye

"Anything else I can do for you?"

Permalink Eye

"I think we're good unless you want me to give you a ride to Shadow."

Permalink Eye

"Sure!"

Permalink Eye

It's five hops.

Permalink Eye

It looks pretty familiar.

Permalink Eye

"A thing that we wish Midnight hadn't picked up but have not gone to the trouble of prying out of his hands is in fact the teleport so he can presumably see you home."

Permalink Eye

"Thanks so much. Take care."

Permalink Eye

"Mm-hm."

Pop.

Permalink Eye

He goes in to meet the King.

Permalink Eye

" - hello."

Permalink Eye

"Sunlight. Apparently you might have a list of people to which I won't be spitefully denied access -"

Permalink Eye

" - yes, I do." 


They compare those.

Permalink Eye

"I'm doing better at keeping my head down and they wanted me to talk to you about it."

Permalink Eye

"You fucked up more. I'd stop being King if I had reason to think I was bad at it."

Permalink Eye

"I changed because the system had advantages, it wasn't about being bad at the other one. It's more work to run things quietly but it gives you more latitude in a way, plausible deniability for everything. But I don't think that'd actually be on their list of demands."

Permalink Eye

Do you want a metal piercing somewhere inconspicuous for eidetic memory, and then the spells?

 

"They're not very clear about their demands, honestly."

Permalink Eye

I'll see if I can get anywhere on getting teleporters through legitimate channels.

 

"They are not. They want assurance that aliens with a slightly sweeter offer won't sweep you off."

Permalink Eye

"I haven't tried to cultivate ambiguity about that. I'm not going to abet sedition in their empire."

Permalink Eye

"I told them as much."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not going to stop gathering resources either."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think they'll actually kill you for it, just be vaguely stressed and anxious. Though - if you push them too close to the line then a misunderstanding can push them over it, whereas if you leave some buffer -"

Permalink Eye

"I'd like to leave some buffer, but they have enough resources to make misunderstandings both less likely and more retrievable and there are other risks - a single angry person showing up to murder me - which a moderate amount of resources can protect against. I don't think they'd bother resurrecting us."

Permalink Eye

"Not in a hurry, probably."

Permalink Eye

"And I want resources for things like 'if worlds are somehow cut off from one another' - for if they do get in trouble with some more powerful aliens -"

Permalink Eye

Yes, all right, I'll take it.

 

"Making them nervous is a cost."

Permalink Eye

"Yes. Just sometimes worth it."

Don't use it. 

Permalink Eye

Understood.

 

They make small talk for the next several hours and then Midnight brings him home.

Permalink Eye

Cor comes and visits the next day.

Permalink Eye

" - hello."

Permalink Eye

"I'm going to leave if you say anything despicable. Or in an hour, whichever comes first."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "What are you working on?"

Permalink Eye

"Resettling. A few people are tempted to stay here. I still need to name this Arda, map is lousy with them."

Permalink Eye

"They're welcome to stay if they like, what with the Enemy dead and the Valar friendly."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, nobody's stopping them."

Permalink Eye

"In a way I bet it's an advantage, getting to do all the infrastructure from scratch."

Permalink Eye

"Apparently it helps with things like trains."

Permalink Eye

 

"I'm not really sure why you're here - it's really good to see you but they have plenty else to bribe me with, trains and computers and satellites..."

Permalink Eye

"They're trying not making those conditional on your good behavior, especially since you're nominally not even running the place any more."

Permalink Eye

"How thoughtful of them. That was the main stress on Midnight, it's probably the most important thing to do better. - making it conditional is fine as long as the conditions are transparent, even -"

Permalink Eye

"I'll pass that on."

Permalink Eye

"And he mostly wants resources as an emergency fallback - if interworld transit collapses or you clash with something even more powerful."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe there's some way to encapsulate stuff so he can get at it if there is in fact an emergency."

Permalink Eye

"It would be much appreciated."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

"I observed to him that even though you're probably not going to execute him for behavior that stresses you out without hurting anyone, it might erode the benefit-of-the-doubt enough to allow for misunderstandings. He'd already factoring that in, and more or less considers himself to be running some risk of executed-for-a-misunderstanding in exchange for having a chance at fixing all the other kinds of problems which resources help with."

Permalink Eye

"I'm glad they could fix the hole in your head."

Permalink Eye

"Me too."

Permalink Eye

 

"I'm not really clear on why it's good to see me, I'm not being particularly scintillating, but I suppose it's just a new spin on an earlier confusion."

Permalink Eye

"I find everything about you interesting and enjoy your company. Less so when you're unhappy and much less so when you hate me but still quite a lot."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

"Does that also resolve the earlier confusion?"

Permalink Eye

"I guess. Not pleasantly or anything but that was probably impossible."

Permalink Eye

"If they had a way to make us - like them - I'd be glad of it but I don't think they do."

Permalink Eye

"Not really. No. I remarked to Findekáno a couple times that you - contain one, sort of, you knew what to hide and what to replace it with, but..."

Permalink Eye

"I knew what would make you happy. I wasn't - trying for 'a good person' I was trying for 'a person you would respect' - it was running off you, not independently."

Permalink Eye

"Oh. Maybe that's the same thing in practice, standard yous get along great with mes most of the time."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. Maybe."

Permalink Eye

"Mitros liked his Bell so much that he married her just to make her queen. I'm told this is very cute."

Permalink Eye

 

 

 

 

 

Permalink Eye

"There's other examples but I like that one because it's pretty clear he wasn't thinking with his dick."

Permalink Eye

...nod.

Permalink Eye

Sigh.

Permalink Eye

"What's the resettled planet going to be like?"

Permalink Eye

"We're extracting gates from the punctured planet while debates are ongoing about whether to allow new ones. There'll be a new Gatesnest."

Permalink Eye

"And the old countries, or do they seem a bit less relevant?"

Permalink Eye

"They seem less relevant. They're trying to turn into a federated thingy."

Permalink Eye

"I'm glad some good can come out of the whole thing."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. And they checked and they can bring back people who died to disappearance."

Permalink Eye

"Oh good. And the Thuringwethil you maged was actually Thuringwethil?"

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Oh good."

Permalink Eye

"And my spell is now state of the art for portable Melkor destruction. The previous solution caused the Melkor's sudden absence to sink Beleriand under the sea."

Permalink Eye

"Huh. I am - vaguely vindicated that we put so much effort into preparing, though we'd have been in bad shape had it come to that. Are all the yous destruction-maged up?"

Permalink Eye

"No. I told them how but they don't need to be as long as I'm handy. Specialization."

Permalink Eye

"I'd expect yous to want more magic just for fun. Are they magic-saturated?"

Permalink Eye

"There's a lot going around, they don't all pick everything up. And they're busy so they prefer kinds with less of a learning curve."

Permalink Eye

"Fair. Have they already eradicated everything eradicable everywhere or are some mages going to hop around doing that too?"

Permalink Eye

"Except for the Melkor and Sauron who ran away to possibly-Materia-or-an-accessory-world they're all accounted for, although I might get called in to kill the one the Valar still have locked up in Telperion."

Permalink Eye

"Have you met all your alts?"

Permalink Eye

"Most of them. Haven't gotten to Loki or Golden yet."

Permalink Eye

"What are they like?"

Permalink Eye

"...they're like me. I'm not sure what answer you have in mind. You've met Tireh - we think she's the female version of my face like Kib and Cam are the male version of the most common girl face - and you met Kib -"

Permalink Eye

"Midnight said that Cam is, for a you, unusually unwilling to assume authority and inclined to load-share on decisionmaking and Loki is unusually extraverted and Kib twitchy and Tireh impatient -"

Permalink Eye

"That's not like, an inherent Cam trait, he has issues from having destroyed a planet. And Kib was in Angband. Tireh may be inherently impatient. Uh, T'Mir's really - calm... Most of them it's easier to think in terms of what has happened to them than in what the results are, finding adjectives is hard."

Permalink Eye

"He didn't quite use those words, he sent impressions."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think I have anything coherently sendable. I just go, oh, if I had Butterfly's life story, what would be next, and then I know what she's likely thinking."

Permalink Eye

"I'm glad you have them."

Permalink Eye

"They're great."

Permalink Eye

"Anything I can do for you while you're here?"

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so."

Permalink Eye

"Then I shouldn't keep you any longer."

Permalink Eye

"You don't want your whole hour?"

Permalink Eye

"I enjoy your company, but I really wasn't expecting I'd get to see you again and I'm really not clear on why you feel obliged."

Permalink Eye

"Kib wanted me to."

Permalink Eye

"That, uh, just pushes the confusion back a step."

Permalink Eye

"He said you were helping with Midnight."

Permalink Eye

"They're nervous about him. They don't need to be."

Permalink Eye

"No?"

Permalink Eye

"He's not confident it's in his interests to be convincing on this point but he's not going to let people get hurt and any meaningful getting-in-the-way-of-the-peal gets lots of people hurt."

Permalink Eye

"That's us, going around becoming irritatingly essential."

Permalink Eye

"The Yeerks thing wasn't a close call - well, it was a close call in that the Yeerks could have taken him instead of recruiting him, it wasn't in a close call in that he was tempted."

Permalink Eye

"That's good."

Permalink Eye

"So I feel rather like I'm getting paid for nothing."

Permalink Eye

"Peace of mind's something."

Permalink Eye

"You seem fairly handicapped by the unwillingness of your people who are good at understanding people to go anywhere near this."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. That's why Kib asked you."

Permalink Eye

"The rest of them should get over it - I know some of them have trauma, that's different, but everyone else involved has seen the 'having preferences you endorse' thing up-close enough that they should have a handle on it."

Permalink Eye

"A Space one visits Midnight sometimes."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

 

"I apologize for not issuing orders so you could get out as soon as Melkor was dead."

Permalink Eye

"Thanks."

Permalink Eye

"It was negligent of me. Thank you for having my head fixed."

Permalink Eye

"You're welcome."

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

 

"Apparently Miranda's husband was incredulous at her about the extrapolation from my not having previously put a hole in your head."

Permalink Eye

"Miranda's husband is a Curufinwë? Yes, he would be. I think even with - Tireh called it 'better childhoods' - we're more vindictive people than you."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah."

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

Permalink Eye

" - sorry. I can stop."

Permalink Eye

"It's not a big deal, I'm just not psychic and don't know what to read into it."

Permalink Eye

"You said once I had permission to continue having an uncanny understanding of your thought processes. Do I, uh, still have that permission."

Permalink Eye

 

"I guess."

Permalink Eye

"I like being in the same room as you - particularly when you're thinking about or working on things of interest to you - because you have unusually interesting and legible thought processes and I can get a lot from watching you and they're all very - neat and reasoned and endorsed and coherent and it's - elegant, like watching dancing. That is what I am doing when I look at you that way."

Permalink Eye

 

"It's really hard to reconcile that with all the rape. I can sort of square it with the keeping me prisoner, but..."

Permalink Eye

Nod. "I can't quite find the words - if it's important to you I'll give it some thought - or I could bounce it to you but that seems like the kind of thing someone might not want."

Permalink Eye

 

"Kib told me, 'at least he couldn't do a thing about Aly's happy marriage' - I'm not sure you realize how - I got comparison-based sympathy from a fucking Angband survivor."

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

"Because he had this past life. And his Melkor couldn't fuck with his past life memories. So he never had to - question whether every single time it was - like the difference between having your eggs poached or scrambled, whether he wanted to be there or not. ...she, his past life was female."

Permalink Eye

 

"I didn't realize that, no."

Permalink Eye

"You said you missed me and you were able to address that with activities that bore no resemblance except that you got off and I was there. Everything else was apparently not what you were missing."

Permalink Eye

"Everything else I couldn't possibly have. Except with a song and that I'd never do to you -"

Permalink Eye

"...thanks, I guess."

Permalink Eye

"I'm not asking for a medal. But - it's not that it was good enough it's that everything else was gone forever anyway."

Permalink Eye

"I missed - what I thought had been going on - and it would not have even begun to approach that with so - pathetic a resemblance. I miss Gatesnest and I can't solve that problem by renaming a train station. And derailing incoming trains."

Permalink Eye

"Well. I've gotten quite good at soothing grief over irrevocably broken deeply treasured relationships by hurting the people involved just to watch how they take it."

Permalink Eye

"Now you know how I take it."

Permalink Eye

"It seems vaguely insulting to apologize but I will if you'd like."

Permalink Eye

"I don't really have a preference about that. I guess what I want to know isn't if you regret it now but if you would've done it anyway."

Permalink Eye

"I would not have."

Permalink Eye

"That's something."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

Sigh.

Permalink Eye

"If it helps to know that it absolutely wasn't the same to me it absolutely wasn't the same to me."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

Permalink Eye

"Am I dancing again?"

Permalink Eye

"I'm maybe more attuned to it since you're leaving soon. Usually I could tell myself I could get distracted after the war when I could afford it."

Permalink Eye

"Somebody might decide it's time to wave a carrot at you again. If... this has been carroty."

Permalink Eye

"I really will help them out anyway."

Permalink Eye

"Whatever Midnight tells us we don't set out to make helping us a miserable sacrifice."

Permalink Eye

"I appreciate that, I just - don't want to keep overshadowing your life."

Permalink Eye

"It's an hour. I can leave if I feel like it."

Permalink Eye

"Then you can tell them they have a very compelling carrot to dangle."

Permalink Eye

"Except they can't dangle me explicitly because of the thing with the oath. You may sometimes get fruit baskets."

Permalink Eye

"You could deoath me. I promise I'd still refrain from arranging to harass you."

Permalink Eye

"There's a waiting list. My way's too costly."

Permalink Eye

"I'll wait until the country's all stable, then, on the off chance it affects me more than anticipated."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

"Findekáno thinks that might be it. I don't know. It feels organic, but some other things also feel organic which I know to be Vala tinkering."

Permalink Eye

"Boots could check."

Permalink Eye

He makes a face. "I know that in principle 'friendly consensual mental tinkering' is a thing, but -"

Permalink Eye

Nod. "She works on Maitimos out of Angband. She used to clear up fuzzy memories for Elves out of Mandos. That kind of thing."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe if I had a big book of people to look through."

Permalink Eye

"I suggested it as a favor to you, to find out whether it was Valar or not, not as a favor to us."

Permalink Eye

"It seems like if we turn out to be easily nudgeable into nice normal Maitimos that'd be a favor to you lot also."

Permalink Eye

"It'd - it'd be nice. I'm not sure Boots'll work under conditions of 'agreed to this to get a thing'. Professional ethic thing."

Permalink Eye

" - that's really not what I mean, I mean that in order to even consider being comfortable with mental deep reading and tinkering I would want an understanding of who she has done this for and with which effects and also what she is like as a person besides 'alt of you'. Without that information I'm making multiverse decisions blind and I hate that."

Permalink Eye

"She's worked on Kib. He had panic spiraly things when he was in pain, even a little bit. And then she did some temporary agnosias to convince him he was not in Angband anymore. And some standard yous, fixed up bad associations with stuff. She had a career, back in her home world, as a therapist... I am again having trouble summarizing her usefully past reciting her life story."

Permalink Eye

"Which is why I'd want my alts' notes, they'd be communicative. Just for her and maybe a handful of people she worked with."

Permalink Eye

"I can ask."

Permalink Eye

"If a you agreed it's probably okay but it's sure terrifying to think about."

Permalink Eye

"It took him a while and it mattered a lot that she's an us. She says we have a therapy resistant personality."

Permalink Eye

"I see that."

Permalink Eye

 

"Almost an hour."

Permalink Eye

"Thank you for coming."

Permalink Eye

"It's been... closure-y."

Permalink Eye

"I'm glad."

Permalink Eye

Cor sits, till it's been an hour, and then he vanishes.

Permalink Eye

He goes back to work.

Permalink Eye

Will the nice Maitimos hand over person-data for Boots and patients?

Permalink Eye

Yeah, fine. Didn't Midnight consult a subtle artist about this at some point.

Permalink Eye

Tireh inquires if there's anything he'd like to convey to Sunlight about that.

Permalink Eye

"There's some stuff, which he could get reversed if he just prefers on principle not to have it. There's not any one thing for them to reverse to make us into them - or at least not credibly them, which I assume is the thing he really wants."

Permalink Eye

She emails Sunlight that.

Permalink Eye

Thanks. That's at least reason not to be in a hurry.

Permalink Eye
Let me know if you want to schedule something anyway.
Permalink Eye

I'll certainly keep it in mind. 

Permalink Eye

And other than that the peal largely leave Sunlight be.

Permalink Eye

I heard you visited him? he asks when he next visits Cor.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. It wasn't bad.

Permalink Eye

Being able to leave makes quite a difference.

Permalink Eye

Yes.

Permalink Eye

Mandos brought my family back.

Permalink Eye

That's great. Do they need a place to go -?

Permalink Eye

They're thinking they'll go to Space, where we're governing ourselves separately from the Fëanorian contingent.

Permalink Eye

Makes sense.

Permalink Eye

I haven't told them. Not very sustainable, that, but  -

Permalink Eye

Your prerogative, but they might hear it from somewhere.

Permalink Eye

Yeah. Less likely on Space, which until recently was trying to pretend the multiverse didn't exist for daeva information reasons, but still possible.

Permalink Eye

I'm not sure what I'll tell my folks when they're alive.

Permalink Eye

Fewer people know, they probably wouldn't run across it.

Permalink Eye

Yeah, but I don't know that I actually want to leave it out.

Permalink Eye

Nod. My sister thinks there should be, like, a court system or something. 

Permalink Eye

To, what, try him? And then do what?

Permalink Eye

She was talking about her soon-to-be-ex-husband and alts thereof but yes, I suppose, and then issue sentences, as courts do.

Permalink Eye

I suppose.

Permalink Eye

I approve of that in general but can't say I find it compelling in specific.

Permalink Eye

Me either.

Permalink Eye

"Are we," he says to his wife, "not throwing a new-Bell party because it'd be awkward to have us all absent ourselves."

Permalink Eye

"It would be a little awkward."

Permalink Eye

"You all have so much fun with those, though."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose we could go have it in Aurum or something, leave you home. Or like, check if he actually cares that much? He might not. He went and sat with Sunlight for an hour as a perk for good behavior."

Permalink Eye

"- weird."

Permalink Eye

"Helped that he could leave."

Permalink Eye

"I can imagine. But still, like, it's vaguely weird to me he didn't kill him on purpose. - I guess Timothy's all friendly with the guy who raped him but the circumstances were pretty different -"

Permalink Eye

"...I don't think I heard about that."

Permalink Eye

" - it was in the notes on people on his planet but it wasn't marked for just our template, just no one else reads those. Timothy wanted to learn to throw off the Imperius Curse, which in fact turned out to be a useful thing to be able to do. Someone was offering lessons of the form 'I put you under the Imperius Curse on weekends until you can throw it off, no complaining what happens while you haven't picked it up yet'.  - he was fifteen."

Permalink Eye

"God."

Permalink Eye

"Timothy sent him a local-cultural-holiday card, last local-cultural-holiday, in case the guy might be worried what with Timothy having manifested spectacular otherworldly powers. But it really does seem very different to me."

Permalink Eye

"Well. We're averse to killing people and there was probably some - residual frustrated fondness that was more palatably channeled into the aversion to killing people than into anything else."

Permalink Eye

" - uh huh." Sigh. "I'd really hoped he was a one-off."

Permalink Eye

"Alas."

Permalink Eye

"Least we improved at handling him. Go have a party in Aurum, you'll have fun."

Permalink Eye

"I'll ask Golden to have the sister of hers who's into parties set it up. He really might not mind if you all came, we can ask."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose if he also wouldn't mind being asked."

Permalink Eye

"That will definitely be fine."

Permalink Eye

"Oh good."

Permalink Eye

Cor doesn't especially mind but he wants to invite his Findekáno, does his Findekáno mind?

Permalink Eye

"I might be vaguely nervous around them but it seems silly to have them just make themselves invisible when we're around and, well, several of me married them, I'd feel silly telling my alts to leave their husbands at home -"

Permalink Eye

"The idea seems to be that we should not be made to feel vaguely nervous, but... that seems overblown, a little."

Permalink Eye

"Even if they're just like him they're very committed to never seeming it. So."

Permalink Eye

"Through Angband and all."

Permalink Eye

"And even while thinking nothing's real." He shakes his head. "Let's not exclude the people who love parties from the peal parties."

Permalink Eye

Cor writes to the party planners to this effect. Maitimos get invited.

Permalink Eye

Some of them even attend. 

Permalink Eye

"Hi."

Permalink Eye

"Hi! I'm Mitros. I really wonder why we only come in one ethnicity when Bells come in at least four."

Permalink Eye

"I guess we're more interesting or something."

Permalink Eye

He glances fondly at Iobel, who is over talking to some of the Rebeccas. "I guess!"

Permalink Eye

 

"I like that you married her, it's - emblematic of nonsexual personal regard."

Permalink Eye

" - oh, yeah, mes think the world of yous. It's primarily that, really, it's just that it'll shade into want wherever applicable. - maybe not for Sunlight because he sucks, I don't know how that interacts."

Permalink Eye

"I wasn't sure either - Kib tempted me into going and being a carrot because maybe closure, I got a little, assuming I can rely on any of it then there is still that. I think Midnight doesn't like us? Except Tireh? Who he has only probably realized is a Bell?"

Permalink Eye

"And Loki's didn't like her during the time period when they understood her to be planning on denying them leverage to go save the multiverse. We don't take well to being contained. The problem is that you kind of have to couple that with absolute trustworthiness with power or else it's just obnoxious."

Permalink Eye

"So obnoxious."

Permalink Eye

"And the people who tell me when I'm being obnoxious are Iobel and Finankar, so they're all stuck."

Permalink Eye

"Reportedly a Findekáno moved from Millennia to Shadow."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, yeah. And it has helped significantly. But we don't have a spare one for Sunlight and I sure hope we don't get one that way."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah. Well, there's Tireh."

Permalink Eye

"For as long as she stays adorably nonchalant about it, yeah."

Permalink Eye

"I think she's playing it up a little but yeah."

Permalink Eye

"Long as he buys it." Sigh. "Everyone's been told to tell new worlds that the person they're getting sent to is a Maitimo, just to be safe in future."

Permalink Eye

"Won't help if there are bad ones who aren't named that."

Permalink Eye

"Yeah, but that's harder to fix. I'm more worried that people'll hear that and panic and flee to regroup but, still, we can't be springing it on people."

Permalink Eye

"Not my favorite surprise. Was he upset -"

Permalink Eye

"- I mean, it's upsetting when alts of people you care about are hurt. By your evil alt."

Permalink Eye

"Fair enough."

Permalink Eye

"The Space ones are kind of unpopular even locally, they're probably pretty used to it."

Permalink Eye

"Do Space ones in fact have strong attachments to Bells -"

Permalink Eye

"Not especially? The war was quick and not-evil uses don't try to seduce their valuable strategic assets unless that's necessary for their cooperation."

Permalink Eye

"...is that exception common?"

Permalink Eye

"It has never come up and that's a good thing, we wouldn't have much fun. Requiring seducing to help with the war is sorta incompatible with being the kind of person we'd seduce on the merits."

Permalink Eye

Nod.

Permalink Eye

Meanwhile, Boots goes and introduces herself to the new Findekáno. "You need a nickname."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, yes, I know. They mostly, uh, have been picking ones that pair well with their Maitimos."

Permalink Eye

"A bit, yes. You could pick something magey? Except that makes you sound kind of doom-y."

Permalink Eye

"It's a distinctly doom-y magic system, isn't it."

Permalink Eye

"So, so doomy. - Cor said you moved into a treehouse? Nobody is named Treehouse yet. Or, uh, Tree, if you wanted something less weird."

Permalink Eye

" - sure, that works."

Permalink Eye

"That's not doomy at all! Yay!"

Permalink Eye

"It's a terrifically fun magic system, aside from the eating worlds."

Permalink Eye

"And it will be so handy for future Melkors who aren't in convenient neighborhoods!"

Permalink Eye

"I really could have done without there being more of Melkor!"

Permalink Eye

"Well, at least the more of them we have to expect because so many Ardas will be dispatched in minutes instead of the thing with the off-brand-Silmaril-powered automaton army?"

Permalink Eye

" - yeah, that does sound like an improvement."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe after long enough we'll have to relax about the nickname thing and let you all do numbers or letters or whatever."

Permalink Eye

"We sure are accumulating. I think the way to do it would be prefixes by world."

Permalink Eye

"I guess. So unaesthetic though."

Permalink Eye

"They can be pretty prefixes."

Permalink Eye

"I wasn't questioning that, it's just that the concept of being prefix-Bell is unaesthetic."

Permalink Eye

"You lot seem to come in a nice variety of names."

Permalink Eye

"Not all of us! I'm an Isabella! I will fall victim to whatever system distinguishes Isabellas!"

Permalink Eye

"There could be a Bell exception, since the real thing we're trying to avoid is having fourteen of every single Noldo unhappily checking nicknames with their thirteen counterparts to learn that one is taken also."

Permalink Eye

"I suppose. I dunno, some of them manage without nicknames, I don't think anybody's nicknaming the Macalaurës or anything. Maybe they will now that some of them are married."

Permalink Eye

"Is my Macalaurë unusually evil also?"

Permalink Eye

"Uh, Elves of evil Ardas generally with a handful of exceptions including you are more paranoid and amoral and less altruistic and in Fëanorians this seems to add up to weirdly myopic familial loyalty? I might turn my back on them but I wouldn't ask them to babysit lest the transmission of inadequate values work that way around too. Even if that were a thing I needed people to do."

Permalink Eye

"I can't actually imagine Fëanorians without weirdly myopic family loyalty. Good to know."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, there's always some, but... less myopic, usually."

Permalink Eye

"We've decided the evil ones can't have Rebeccas," says a passing Macalaurë. "Just to be safe."

Permalink Eye

"That seems...hard to enforce. Will you kidnap one if they get one?"

Permalink Eye

"No. But we won't resurrect one to hand to them - she'd stay even if they were a little terrible, see -"

Permalink Eye

"People keep telling us we have low standards but this is not obvious to us!" says his Rebecca.

Permalink Eye

Snuggle. "If my brother kept his political prisoners in his bedroom would it be more obvious?"

Permalink Eye

 

"Not to the Eclipse one!"

Permalink Eye

Snort.

Permalink Eye

"But I wouldn't blame you for things your brother was doing."

Permalink Eye

"He probably couldn't have gotten away with it if his people had disapproved. He would at least have had to pretend."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think a me would argue with a Macalaurë about it."

Permalink Eye

"I don't think so either." Squeeze. 

Permalink Eye

Snuggle!

Permalink Eye

"You're not responsible for my conduct and shouldn't have to be. But precisely because of that, I don't want any of me of questionable character to have a you."

Permalink Eye

"Okay. But - don't kidnap one if one of them finds one, she'd be so scared -"

Permalink Eye

"Of course not, of course not." 

Permalink Eye

"I love you."

Permalink Eye

"Love you."

Permalink Eye

Awww.

Permalink Eye

"Is it just Midnight with the means of getting between dimensions?"

Permalink Eye

"...as opposed to?"

Permalink Eye

"The rest of them also."

Permalink Eye

"Maitimos in general have the teleport."

Permalink Eye

"I mean, of the people on evil Ardas."

Permalink Eye

"We can't be certain he didn't share but nobody else has detectably used it."

Permalink Eye

"Ah huh."

Permalink Eye

"He probably told at least one person, as backup."

Permalink Eye

"I think so."

Permalink Eye

Sigh.

Permalink Eye

Other Maitimos leave Cor and Tree alone and hang out in the corner eating snacks and people-watching.

Permalink Eye

Cor's friend Ranary drifts in their direction warily.

Permalink Eye

Unthreatening smiles!

Permalink Eye

 

"You're the, uh, nice Maitimos?"

Permalink Eye

"No one invites the evil ones to parties. Ranary, right?"

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"...yes, how did you know?"

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"Heard you introduce yourself earlier. I'm Island."

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"Why Island?"

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"Kib named us, and I gave him an island as a present. Later I gave him a planet but the planet wasn't all done by the time we needed names."

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"...gave him a planet?"

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"We went through Angband. It took him a while to get back to himself afterwards, and in the meantime the people who cared about him talked his planet's countries into a federated thingy that could become a Vanda Nossëo member and that he could govern once he trusted himself more."

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"Oh."

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"He's better now. He and his husband run it together."

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"His husband?"

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"Aydanci!" He points.

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"...and you're still together even though he's married?"

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"We were together first, actually. Sort of. Kib has mysterious resurrection and he'd been married in a past life, and after he started dating us he remembered his husband, went ot find him, ended up keeping everybody. It was good during the war to have - several stable points."

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"I'd been wondering if that was just an evil Maitimo thing."

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"Nonmonogamy?"

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"Yeah. He had to talk Cor into it, see."

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"I think Bells default monogamous unless there are convincing goodies to be gotten from doing something else. But it's not evil to be in love with several people, by itself."

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"...goodies?"

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"Benefits of some kind that make it less of a compromise or more worth compromising on."

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She looks at Cor thoughtfully, frowning.

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"I don't think he knows you like him."

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"Well, good, things just keep getting more and more complicated and I need time to think - last time I was about to tell him I was, was seduced by an evil Elf -"

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"Fuck. I'm sorry."

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"It probably wasn't a coincidence, either," she says darkly, "thinking back. I should go slap him."

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"...it doesn't sound like a coincidence, no."

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"Are there nice Elons, too - I think I'm rather turned off Elons in general to be honest, just checking -"

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"Yes. - honestly mine would probably also pick up a girl if I suggested it."

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"Or if you didn't suggest it, if she had cool art magic -"

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"But they're not evil. Not that I'd blame you for wanting to avoid them all."

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Ranary huffs.

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"Or slap them all."

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"I'm not going to slap other Elons unless they have also been picking up girls for nefarious reasons."

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"They have not been, or someone would have beaten you to it. I'm so sorry you went through that."

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Sigh. "I might just focus on work instead. I feel like I'd be signing up for even more stress. And that'd be if he went for it. Which why would he, he's been through a lot and might want a break."

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"Signing up for an interesting life is a valid concern. I expect he'd - at least be able to tell you how long he'll want a break if he wants a break at all."

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"I'll think about it. Lot of work to do setting up the new planet and all though."

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"I bet. How is that going?"

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"Pretty good. I signed on to a couple of the volunteer committees."

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"You guys are impressively organized."

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"I think it helps that we were really spread out to begin with? There's no, oh, so-and-so died in the war, nobody knows what to do now... it's not that we're organized it's that we're redundant..."

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"Because that was the government arrangement that made the most sense with your magic system?"

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"It started like that but propagated to responsibilities without much risk of assassination."

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"Is it going to be disruptive to resurrect the people who died in recent catastrophes, or will they integrate smoothly once they see how the culture's changed?"

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"I think if they're recent it should be okay? We haven't changed that much."

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Nod.

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"We'll see, I guess."

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"Good skill."

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"Thanks."

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"Well, I suppose Cam's probably off the hook now for T'Mir's medical condition," Miranda remarks apropos of nothing, "assuming Cor's time doesn't become more valuable than Cam's somehow."

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"Oh, is T'Mir snatching Cor as soon as he's up for it?"

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"They might not actually date, she just has this medical condition, I suppose it might not have come to your attention."

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"I will confess I have totally failed to keep track of your alts' medical conditions. Indestructibility doesn't fix it?"

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"Indestructibility means she won't die of it."

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"An otherwise deadly medical condition that requires a boyfriend."

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"Yeah her dad's species is weird."

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"More of me would probably date Bells if we arranged for the Bells to be brilliant at them."

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"Well, if your girl alt wants Cor, and doesn't mind loaning him to T'Mir for like a week every seven years, she can probably have him."

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"Does he not need a break, I feel like I'd kind of need a break."

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"He can have breaks. Might swap out with Cam anyway so T'Mir doesn't get uncomfortable."

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" - I meant a break from dating right now because of his evil ex but okay now I have more medical condition information."

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"Sorry. Uh, I think it reduces the need for a break if it's a girl but I'm not one of the bisexual ones so I'm not positive."

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"Well. I will recommend she ask him out if you think it's a good idea."

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"Give him like a week to get up to speed on everything."

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"Will do."

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"We like to be optimally distributed."

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"All the Bells dating other Bells does seem a suboptimal distribution."

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"It does! Cam is special because of stuff. The rest of us should be spread around amongst appreciative recipients."

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"The recipients are so appreciative!!"

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"Oh good." Kiss.

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Kiss!

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"And Epic will just have to live with being weirded out."

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"If he minds a race-and-genderswapped alt of his adoptive mother dating a genderswapped alt of his son then he is not being reasonable at all."

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"He doesn't even have his own kids. So unreasonable. If Elspeth dated an alt of, uh, Frigg, that would not be that weird except for the thing where she has a werewolf."

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"Yeah, exactly."

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"I almost said 'Odin' but that would be strange because Odin is terrible."

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"Maybe Odins come in not-terrible in the right circumstances, too."

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"I suppose that could be."

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"The Maitimos are kind of unusual but, like, lots of slaveowners in the 1800s would probably have perfectly decent alts if they have alts anywhere that just doesn't let 'em own slaves."

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"Probably!"

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Cor mills around. He teaches a Fëanor his languages and directs him to Ranary for a third. He gets Sibyl (who only ever leaves her neighborhood an hour at a time after making sure nothing would need predicting if she stayed) to explain dynamics to him. He pets both Crickets. He solicits suggestions on what to name his Arda since "Flashdark" translates awkwardly or maybe everyone would just get used to it?