The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXVI – Science and Sorcery

Now that Charles was done “confronting” (and cheering up) a greater deiphage, he headed back to the rest of the cured minor gods…

They were mostly in a state of shock. While Charles had been speaking with Eighty-Seven Orchid, Ixcatli had been “explaining” things. – and the fact that he didn’t actually have any idea of what was going on had not been a bit of help to a bunch of gods who knew they’d been lost to Deiphagy for anything from centuries to twenty millennia.

(Charles) “Hi everybody! We should probably go to Earth or somewhere outside Yu-Shan for a bit! Until you have domains again you’ll be vulnerable to this sort of thing!”

Meanwhile, Orchid – unfamiliar with Charles’s enthusiastic tendency to come up with elaborate, far-reaching theories with fantastic implications at the drop of a hat (and to discard them again just as rapidly) was badly shaken… Could Yu-Shan be less City than Device? Gods STILL sprang into being by means unknown, much or most of Yu-Shan was still ill-understood at best and incomprehensible at worst – and Gods had been created to inhabit and maintain the devices of the Primordials… Was that why Yu-Shan was a universal sanctum that shouted “Home!” to every god who entered it? Because it was the ultimate example of Primordial Artifice? Had “creation” even been amongst the aspects of the Primordials? Or was… that the domain of the Raksha, necessitating the construction of a device – or perhaps a sort of artificial primordial – to handle that aspect?

And if Yu-Shan was an engine that rewrote reality… How much had it been involved in the Reshaping? And what were the Sidereals trying to do with it now?

(Ixcatli) “As much as I would like to go home, a visit to Earth would be interesting. I was told it changes quite frequently.”

Most of the other gods were too frightened – and too appreciative of what Charles had already done – to disagree. Unfortunately, the group was much too big to escape serious notice by the Celestial Lions this time. Chengdu – an acquaintance of Charles’s – met them at the gate.

(Charles) “Hello! How have you been doing?”

(Chengdu) “All right… hey, who are all these gods with you? You’re not running tours of Earth now, are you?”

(Charles) “That would be kind of cool really! But they’re just going to be staying for a bit! A lot of the gods up here really have gotten sort of disconnected – except for WWW of course – so perhaps tours of Earth would be popular! (Doubtfully) I could enchant a school bus I suppose…”

(Chengdu) “Might work… hey, mind if I check them out with something? This Montague guy’s been helping out with your armor when he’s not on missions. He needs some tests done.”

(Charles) “With what?”

(Chengdu) “He’s working on something to incorporate Essence sight. What with the security lately, there’s finally talk of getting us that!”

(Yangxi) “Couldn’t be happening sooner, in my book.”

(Chengdu) “So yeah, I’d like to test his prototype out on some of them.”

Well… they had been purged, and the Celestial Lions wouldn’t have much experience at knowing what they were looking at… Charles peered at the ex-deiphages doubtfully with his own essence sight.

(Charles) “Oh, like supplemantary goggles and such? I didn’t think there was much room left in the design…

(Chengdu) “Something like that.”

Well… the gods did show trace signs of being in an empty quarter recently, and some signs of having used feeding Charms recently – but the Celestial Lions system was still experimental, and gods did sometimes use feeding charms quite legitimately, and the Lions are new to essence sight – and he didn’t have a good objection handy anyway.

(Charles) “Not really up to me! You might want to ask them; some might have privacy concerns!”

(Yangxi) “We’ve been authorized to pay some Quintessence for their time, so…”

He hadn’t even finished before about half the gods had lined up to be tested.

Well, they obviously weren’t deiphages at the moment anyway.

Yangxi made sure that the line was orderly while Chengdu did brief examinations – no more than a couple of minutes. They did seem to have received some training in it. Of course, like all things, classroom drills and actual practice were quite different.

It was pretty likely that their classroom training had failed to cover the possibility of deiphages getting cured and leaving Yu-Shan anyway – and he probably WAS much more experienced with Essence sight.

If the Lions did catch the signs of deiphagy, they didn’t say it – although Chengdu seemed to be very happy about the goggles’ performance, though.

(Charles) “Uhm… We’ll need to do something to fix that quintessence before leaving Yu-Shan!”

(Chengdu) “Well, maybe you could make coins. I don’t know. Where are you taking them?”

(Charles) “Atlanta to start!”

(Chengdu) “Hmm. Could do what some Sidereals ask for, and convert it to-hey, Xiaoxiao, what’s it called?”

(Xiaoxiao) “Dollars.”

(Chengdu) “Yeah, those… Why are those paper, anyway?”

(Charles) “Lighter and easier to carry than metal really! And it reduces the economic expense of producing currency in comparison to its nominal value!”

(Chengdu) “Huh. Well, you’ll want to see that god over there…”

Chengdu indicated a vaguely humanoid figure made of various paper currencies – and currently waving to them. His rival, a vaguely humanoid figure made of coins, was clinking ominously.

Charles made sure that they both got some business – causing the coin god to clink far less ominously and convert the Quintessence to dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, and even a penny or two. He bustled the gods through the gate before the questions about “what god are they trusting in?” and “has anyone ever heard of this ‘united states’ place?” got too loud… Even residents of Yu-Shan were rarely that disconnected from Earth en mass!

A small illusion was enough to make them look human.

They had a quick look at Earth under the supervision of some of Charles’s aides while Charles got some of them assigned domains on the various new worlds.

Locally… the disease rates were down, although Charles wasn’t sure if that was because of his wards on the mass transit terminals and the airports. Dr. Valenti would like a meeting, as would Mr. Anderson.

Oh dear! Charles headed off to see them! It might be taxes on that dig grant… Dr Valenti’s request had arrived first, and neither noted any special urgency, so it got a priority.

Hopefully it wasn’t the EPA wanting to talk about recreating organisms… The Terrestrials had agents everywhere – and, unlike the Sidereals, they were not having to monitor all of shaped existence… This time, though, it was Dr. Valenti, Dr. Aguerro (an amateur thaumaturge), and another scientist.

(Valenti) “Hello, Charles. I hope you’ve been doing well lately.”

(Charles) “Oh yes! And my experiments are going well too!”

(Valenti) “That’s why I called you. We had some more questions about the Hipparion device… We attempted to construct our own version of it, and have yet to make it work.”

That was odd; the directions that he’d given them should work just fine if they included all the weird symbols and followed all the apparently-pointless instructions!

(Charles) “Huh! It should work! Can I look?”

(Valenti) “Certainly.”

Well, it was blatantly obvious that they’d left out all the apparently-functionless “decorative” stuff and the circuits that went nowhere, and the other incomprehensible bits. This version was as utilitarian as any device you’d find in a mundane laboratory. They were scientists and engineers, alas – although Dr. Aguerro was smiling knowingly.

(Charles, with some surprise) “Well, you left out quite a bit!”

(Valenti) “Did we?”

(Charles) “Well, the temporal oscillator circuit is missing entirely, and the resonance nodes haven’t been delimited… I gave you the full set of designs. You were constructing a device that you didn’t fully understand, and you changed a lot of pieces that you didn’t understand the reason for, and it won’t work… is that really a surprise?”

(Valenti looked somewhat embarrassed) “None of it seemed to have any rational point…”

(Aguerro) “I tried to tell him.”

(Charles) “Well, it won’t work without it!”

(Aguerro) “That’s what I told him!”

(Charles) “I could jury-rig something I suppose… but it might surge again!”

(Aguerro) “Do you think assistance would help with that?”

(Charles) “It would take a lot of hand-tuning to prevent it… But if they want to try to shortcut this way, it’s about the only way!”

(Aguerro) “I’ve got to give you credit, though, Harvey… I didn’t know you were this good with electronics. Let’s get to work, Charles…”

(Charles) “OK!”

Charles dug in his pack and produced some colored metalized paints, and some brushes, and a pocket tool kit – and correct their ritual errors until there was a kludged-together working version. Given his skills it didn’t take long…

(Charles) “OK! We can try it now!”

(Aguerro) “Right… from what Dr. Valenti told me, we’ll need to stand back.”

It did indeed work nicely, producing a series of beautiful, cellular-level detailed, plastic models of the original creatures that had contributed the various fossils in it’s fossil case – until some of the circuits blew.

(Charles) “I was afraid of that! It is working with temporal resonance; without the baffles it tends to form an induction loop through time, you wind up with energy leaking into the future until it’s no longer sustainable and it comes back out as a power surge!”

Valenti was trying to parse that, but he was a paleontologist and electrical hobbyist, not a physicist… and definitely not a thaumaturge. It was rather rapidly giving him a headache. Still, if you allowed for energy leaking forward through time, could it be counterbalanced by energy being pulled from the past? He’d heard that energy and information were related somehow…

But all those symbols and pointless items had made it work… Did that… Did that mean that the device was… partially magic? Had he just witnessed a successful occult ritual?

(Aguerro) “I can see that. You are pulling information out of the past after all.

(Valenti) “Dr. Aguerro, could you bring me some water.”

(Aguerro) “Sure!”

(Valenti) “You really did mean temporal resonance?!? But that ought to be impossible!”

(Charles) “Well it is going backwards from the present moment. Forwards is allowable, but – since the future doesn’t exist yet – energy projected that way is simply returned to reality a bit later and blows the circuits. The “Backwards” resonance is with the information structure impressed on the fossil… That’s why you need a real one!”

(Valenti) “I see…”

Dr. Aguerro returned with the water. Dr Valenti drank it… carefully, as if expecting to spit it out any minute.

(Charles) “Are you OK Dr Valenti?”

(Valenti) “I just witnessed something that should not have happened. I… am handling it better than I thought I would handle such things.”

(Aguerro) “No, it happens. It just doesn’t use what you learned in college… Or what I learned for that matter.”

(Charles) “Well, it is some new physics, at least to the modern world.”

(Aguerro, nodding.) “I think Dr. Valenti was going to ask you about something else, too. Is that likely to make him spit his water out?”

(Charles) “Uhm… I’d say about four-to-one in favor of “yes”. Shall we wait a minute?”

(Valenti) “I think so.”

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6 Responses

  1. I’m pretty sure I said this before, but it bears saying again: Charles should try to keep things in a “Scientific” paradigm when involving anything arcane with those not in the know. It’d make alot more sense to them that way, and a great deal more believeable.

    Also, are there currently any Adenic Manses outside of Aden himself?

    Another thing that comes to mind relates to the Lesser Exalts. Charles himself is part of a set of five altered Solars, so it has be theorized that the other four may have similar potential to him. There are also five castes. This brings up the possibility that each caste could resonate with a different neo-primordial Solar. Just food for thought.

    • Sadly, Charles won’t outright lie to people, even if he is willing to let them leap to wrong conclusions. On the good side, in the setting most scientists are well aware that there are several classes of phenomena that they cannot currently explain (although they’d certainly like to), so they may be happy with a chance to investigate.

      Besides, his motivation is to make magic mainstream again – which rather implies pushing it rather than trying to pretend that it’s something else. His technomagic rituals may look technical on the surface, but they’re still rituals when all is said and done.

      I don’t think there are any Adenic Manses outside of Aden yet – but it may not be much longer. While he is absurdly good at geomancy and manse construction, he’s hardly the only one who’s good at it. Since more and more people are finding out about him, I’d expect attempts to cultivate such a demesne and/or build such a manse to be underway already, if only as research projects.

      And it’s certainly possible that the Lesser Exalts could resonate with the other four Solar Guardians (although there’s a speculation sheet around somewhere with other possible routes to bizarreness other than quasi-primordialhood; Charles hasn’t really pursued that angle because he doesn’t know they exist. Kiko was the one who went after them; we’ll have to see how that turned out).

      Now, the only differences between the Lesser Exaltations that Charles knows of are the choices of weapons and the secondary power source they opt to link themselves with – but he could certainly be wrong; he’s meddling with things that he really doesn’t fully understand.

  2. […] LXVI – Science and Sorcery: Evacuating Deiphages, Dealing with Celestial Lions, and Rationalizing Magitech at the Museum. […]

  3. […] LXVI – Science and Sorcery: Evacuating Deiphages, Dealing with Celestial Lions, and Rationalizing Magitech at the Museum. […]

  4. […] LXVI – Science and Sorcery: Evacuating Deiphages, Dealing with Celestial Lions, and Rationalizing Magitech at the Museum. […]

  5. […] LXVI – Science and Sorcery: Evacuating Deiphages, Dealing with Celestial Lions, and Rationalizing Magitech at the Museum. […]

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