Fifty Three Countries and Two Worlds
Brian W. Antoine
March 20, 1993
"Shit, still nothing?" I was standing in front of the gate to Velar, watching the mist swirl within the arch.
"Nothing, the signal from the probe cut off the instant you closed the gate."
"Damnit, that modification to the basic spell should have left the gate open enough to allowed the signal to make it through. Now I get to start all over again."
I keyed the gate open again so that Penny could retrieve the probe and walked back to my chair in disgust. Kal had reminded me of my promise to provide her a full time communication link to Penny, when I had visited her a few weeks back to pick up the reactor chassis that a friend of hers had been building for me. Since then, I'd been fighting with the gate that connected our two worlds, trying to find a way to pass a signal through it when it wasn't really open. It wasn't a problem when the gate was actually open, the quarantine field didn't hinder either electromagnetic or hyperwave links, but when the gate was quiescent nothing physical could pass through it. There was however some kind of connection because both sides showed the same milky mist that signaled the fact the gate was active, just not open. I just needed to find a way to use that fact.
I had been trying to alter the basic spell to either allow certain kinds of energy to still traverse the barrier. I'd tried leaving it transparent to visible light so I could setup some kind of laser link, but the basic spell had threatened to fall apart. Hyperwave already bypassed normal space, but I had been unable to get the signal to reappear in any universe except the one it originated in. I'd even tried to run a cable with a repeater at each end between the two sides and then tried to close the gate down around the cable. All that got me was two pieces of cable with the middle polished to an impossible smoothness.
"I don't think any of this is going to work. That gate just isn't going to pass anything physical through unless its fully activated."
"Ok, if physical is out, how about something else?"
I'd been beating my head against the wall for days and was out of ideas at this point, so I was ready to listen to almost anything. "Do you have anything in mind? I'm fresh out of ideas."
"Well, I still don't understand how magic works, you keep describing it as 'doing what feels right'."
"Yeah, so what's the point?"
"Well, the only thing that can effect the gate when its quiescent is magic right? I mean you can use magic to deactivate it completely, or open it up on its specific destination."
"Yeah, your right so far."
"Well," and she paused for a second. "Can you affect it with magic in any other way?"
"What do you mean?"
"Could you affect it using magic such that it was detectable on the other side? If so, that would give you the basis for a link."
I sat and thought for a while. "You know, you might just have something there, let me try something." I got up and went over to one of the work benches along the far wall of the lab and began searching for something Penny and I had been working on a few months ago. We had designed a sensor for the remotes I'd built for her that could detect variations in the magic field. The sensor was partly magical itself and if I could convert it so that it could transmit as well as receive, we would have the two sides of our commlink. It took me several hours and more than a few destroyed sensor modules, but I finally got one to generate a signal that Penny could detect using one of her remotes.
"Ok, lets give this thing a try." Picking up the frame that I'd mounted the whole mess on, I walked over to the gate and keyed it open. "I'm going to try several different types of things to vary the signal this puts out and I want you to let me know which one you pickup on this side. I'll key each test on and off with a count so you can keep track."
"Ok, I'll listen. Good luck!"
I stepped through the gate and closed it down. Setting the frame on the ground, I began to run through the variations I had planned. With each change I toggled power to the sensor, trusting that Penny could count at least as well as I could. When I was done, I opened the gate and stepped back into the lab.
"Well, did you detect anything?"
"I'm not sure how many things you tried, but variation three and seven came through fine. Seven was a bit clearer, but both would work."
"Hot damn! All we need is the signal itself. We can test the two variations to see which one gives the fastest speed, but the worst part is over. Give me a few days to build this into something we can anchor to the arch on the other side and add the stuff to turn it into a repeater and we're home free. Kal will have her link with you by this weekend."
As I stood there a stray thought crossed my mind and when I pinned it down I started to laugh.
"What's so funny?"
"Well Kal's going to have a remote link into you right?"
"Yes, what's funny about that?"
"Well, if she plans on exchanging e-mail with me through you, she is going to have to come up with a sitename right?"
"Yeah, I see what you mean. That is kind of funny at that," and Penny began to chuckle to herself.
"I mean I can just see the registration form we send in. What do you think Bob is going to due with a form that wants to register a new site in the domain '.ulmn.velar', he's going to have a fit and that's just the start. When he sees the reply address of 'email@example.com' and the path it took to get to him, he's going to go ballistic!"
"Maybe we had better keep it to ourselves. It might cause less hysteria that way don't you think?"
"Your probably right, though I'd like to submit the request just to see what happens." I picked up the frame and after closing down the gate carried it back to the bench. I still had a lot of work ahead of me, but the hard part was over. The rest was going to be easy...