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Several of the beings down there are startled by our appearance, pointing and yelling. One that appears fancier than the rest pulls out a cone, lifts it to their head, and a voice echoes around us.
“Unidentified craft, you are in violation of the sovereign airspace of Diversity. Land and identify yourselves or we will take immediate action.”
I do not like the sound of immediate action. I lower our skiff and move it towards the most open area where the tarp is located. Again, that voice echoes around us.
“Move further back. Everyone on board, raise your hands above your head. Failure to comply with instructions will be met with force.”
I am liking this less and less, but I comply with the instructions. The weird beings are mostly out of the tall grass at this point, and several of them are pointing something at us. Their posture makes me think of the words rifle and shoot. The beings themselves look like they are made of polished stone. A glowing light covers the front of their heads like an oversized visor, or maybe a blast-shield. In those, a face can be seen, a different humanoid face for each being. There’s something off about those faces but I can’t place what it is.
We’re on the ground, and everyone has their hands up. I stifle a laugh at the sight of the toddlers with their arms raised. Then I remember things and stifle a sob instead. My arms are raised, and all my items are in my inventory, so I just look like a troll in a ratty robe mixed in with the orcs and kobolds.
That echoing voice keeps giving us directions. We are grouped by race, and a few of the weird beings approach the kobolds. Shortly after speaking with them, all the kobolds get up and leave. Wait, what? I will miss you, Tuck.
Why are the kobolds allowed to get up and go? Is there something special about kobolds? The guys who were talking to the kobolds are now talking to the orcs. I can’t make out what they are saying, but it does not seem great. After a little bit, the orcs settle in the shade of the skiff with a couple of the weird beings watching them. Finally, they approach me. Am I in trouble?
“State your name, alien.” Alien? I guess the skiff could be called a UFO except for the part where I just identified it. Maybe it should be an IFO instead?
“Zavyyn Matrisyan.” The visor I am talking to displays a handsome middle-aged man’s face. This sounds like that echoing voice from earlier. The other three with weapons aimed at me have those odd faces.
“Sir that must be a unique. We should kill him for his loot!” One of the three suddenly rapid-fire spits out words, sounding as though he is speaking around an oversized tongue. It’s like a lisp but is not a lisp. That person needs a speech therapist.
“Elric, he can speak and is obeying our orders. What does that indicate in our protocols?” His voice with me earlier was harsh, and the words clipped short. Now he speaks as though he is talking to a child. I’m not sure I like the idea of people who are like children pointing weapons at me.
“But he could drop good loot. I never heard of a talking troll. I bet talking trolls are rare monsters.” The rapid-fire mushmouth takes a whining edge.
He really wants his way, and apparently his way involves me dying. I’m worried that if I act against these guys, though, bad things will happen to the orcs. I feel the bottom of my stomach drop out as I realize this.
“Elric, we are following protocols. If you keep questioning protocol, do you remember what happens?” The gentle tone has become stern.
Yeah, those protocols are important! I do not feel like getting shot. I’m probably allergic to it.
“Sir okay sir. But I bet he is unique. But I don’t want to get disconnected.”
Disconnected? So are these guys piloting these things at range? Fun stuff. That would mean even if I attacked these bodies, they would be aware of the attack and just be out some drone bodies. This situation is even worse than I thought. Also, if these are remote drones, there is a high likelihood they can self-destruct. This is especially bad. I can’t control a crowd this large of exploding bots while protecting the orcs.
“Moving on, let’s talk about why you are a talking troll, Mister Matrisyan. Is that a common thing where you come from?”
He’s treating me like a foreigner! The nerve! Even though I’ve never been here, I still feel slightly insulted.
“I don’t know where I am from. I think I got cursed and lost a lot of my memories.”
Truth is an absolute defense, right?
“Huh. You can’t remember where you’re from but you can fly a boat without magic? You’re a bad liar.”
No magic? I was using so much magic! I was casting so many cantrips each second to keep that thing flying that I could probably win an award! And not just some participation trophy, an actual award with fancy ribbons and pride in my accomplishment.
“I thought I was using magic. If it isn’t magic then I don’t know what it is.”
As I say this, I remember that truth is only an absolute defense against defamation, and I have no idea what form this trouble is taking. How exciting! Except this kind of excitement might be giving me an ulcer.
“Look, I have a comprehensive magic filter in my HUD. If you were flying that thing with magic it should have been glowing all sorts of crazy colors, and I didn’t see a thing. Tell the truth about how you were flying it and we can go from there.”
My cantrips are invisible to this nation’s magic detection systems. I’d like to say that is good, but this situation suggests otherwise.
“I don’t know what else to tell you. I want to go to a university to see if my curse can be lifted.”
I don’t know enough about this world to come up with a plausible lie, so I will see how far the truth takes me.
“You sure you don’t want to tell us anything else? Nothing about yourself that might be important for us to know?”
It seems like there is something specific he wants me to say, but I don’t know what that is.
“I’ve told you everything I know.”
“You’re under arrest under suspicion of being an undeclared player. Any action outside of the law will be deemed a war crime. Resist and we will use lethal force.”
I think I messed this one up.