What's the Matter?


Brian W. Antoine

June 23, 1993

I sat staring at the display, hoping it would change, yet knowing someplace down deep inside that it wasn't going to. Two days ago I had cast an enhanced version of the mapping spell I'd used to track down Jon. After the first twenty-four hours, a pattern had begun to emerge and now that pattern was complete.

"Well, that explains the void we ran into."

"Any chance it could be a spherical void that you could cross?"

I glanced back over my shoulder at the screen on the wall. "Would you care to give me odds on that?"

There was a pause while Penny thought to herself. "No, the number gets big enough to be meaningless."

"That's what I figured."

Two days ago I had set out to map the local area of space. I was looking for voids in the magical energy field that was the source of the energy for my spells. I had already mapped the Earth and after our little problem during the Sunbeam's test flight, I'd decided to find out just how common voids were in space. Staring at the display in front of me, I now had my answer.

"Well it looks like magic is going to be useless once we get more than about one quarter of an AU beyond the Earth. We'll have to wait until we actually reach the other planets to verify this, but it sure looks like magic and matter are related to each other somehow."

The display I was looking at showed the local Earth/Moon system and the magic field that existed there. The spell I had cast had mapped that field with a resolution of about one cubic mile per sample point. What I had found was that about one quarter of an Astronomical Unit out from the Earth, the magic field began to develop ripples in it. The voids between the ripples were what had caused our test flight to be aborted. As the map continued to extend outwards the ripples had become more pronounced and by the time the probes had reach one half an AU, the field had vanished completely.

The more I stared at the display, the madder I got. With a snarl I saved the display and canceled the spell. "Damn! If that isn't enough to make my day. Bob's going to love it. When we finally get this show on the road I'm going to be fucking useless most of the time. His skills as a pilot are going to be what get us around, I'm going to be supercargo most of the time!"

"Come on, it isn't that bad. You at least get to go with him. Look at me! I would be commiting suicide if I tried to join you."

"I suppose." I got up from my desk and picking up the worklist I headed for the gate to the lunar lab. "Well, I guess I'll just have to get used to depending upon my natural abilities again. Who knows, it might even do me good to quit relying upon magic so much. My natural PSI skills are nothing to sneeze at and we'll still have the technology that magic has helped develop."

I stepped through the gate and verified that everything was ready. Tonight was the night that I got to restore the missing wing tip of the Sunbeam. "Penny, package up the results of our mapping experiment and mail them off to Kalindra. She might be interested in seeing if the same thing holds true on her side of the gate."

"Will do. She will have the whole file waiting for her on her terminal when she gets up tomorrow."

I searched through the pile of raw materials stacked by the ship, checking each off the list as I found them. It looked to be another long evening ...