WarSpell Space Race – Snippet 03

“Tricia, tell me what you’ve found out,” Carla said. “I heard that Translocation has problems going from aircraft to aircraft.”

 “More than that,” Tricia said. “First we tried using a translocation spell to take us to the moon, then to the international space station, but neither worked. Then someone pointed out that there might be range limitations that our characters didn’t know about. So one of the natural wizard merges at NASA translocated to Australia. That settled that argument. Even in a straight line, it’s farther from here to Australia than it was to the international space station when we tried it. We wondered if it might be a difference in velocity, but the difference in velocity from standing on the equator to standing on the North Pole is greater. Then we tried airplanes in flight and that didn’t work either. You can go anywhere on Earth, no problem. You can’t go from Earth to the moon, though.  We tried it.”

Tricia’s partner, Rudolpho Gerona agreed. “We don’t understand why not, but you can’t go from Earth to an aircraft either. We tried that the first day after the Merge. Trish and I both merged with wizards, and we’re both dedicated to space travel. And we aren’t the only ones. A group of us got together and tested the heck out of translocation spells. A quick trip to Paris for French toast, that you can do. But you can’t use a translocation spell to get even a foot off the ground, unless it’s into a building.”

 “And you think the reason for this is what?” Carla asked. “There must be a reason, don’t you think? If we can translocate to any place on earth, even if we’ve never been there before, why can’t we translocate to an airplane? We’ve all been in airplanes, haven’t we? What could be the difference?”

“I,” Rudy said, “haven’t the faintest idea. Well, that’s not entirely true. I think there needs to be a physical connection, though I have no idea why. If there was a physical connection between us and the moon, say, we could translocate to the moon.  But we don’t have anything like that.”

“What about the flag that they left on the moon?” Carla asked. “Isn’t that a physical connection?”

“Not a magical connection. An actual physical connection. A wire or a line going from a point on Earth to a point on the moon, then we could translocate to the moon.”

“And I,” Tricia said, “don’t think that’s it, or you couldn’t translocate onto a ship, which is something else we have done. I think it has to do with visualization and changes in relative location as the spell is being cast. You have to have a clear idea of where you’re translocating to, relative to where you are. You need a good map and you don’t have one to the location of the space station or an aircraft in flight.”

Carla poured another cup of coffee from the carafe. “Okay.  I understand what you’re saying.  But there are spells to scry a distant location. Wouldn’t one of them give you the detail you need?”

“Only part of it,” Tricia said, “and there are aspects of the translocation spells that are similar to some of the scrying spells. The structure formed by the twenty-third symbol set in scry location is much like the structure created by the thirteenth in safer translocation.”

“And just as much like the seventy-third structure in transconfigure,” Rudolpho insisted, “which doesn’t move anything.”

Carla knew that if she didn’t get these two away from magical formulas and back to the point, she would lose her audience. There is little–in any world–that is more boring to the average person than a couple of book wizards talking magic. Mathematicians talking proofs came the closest, but weren’t quite there. “So magic can’t help the space program?” Carla asked.

 Dead silence reigned for about two beats then . . .

“Not at all.” “Of course it can.” 

Both of them were talking at once, insisting that magic could, if applied properly, advance the space program tremendously. It would probably be good for a bloopers reel someday. It took a few minutes to get them straightened out.

“All right,” Carla said, when they settled down. “What can magic do to advance the space program?”

“Oh, lots of things,” Tricia said. “Miniaturize by itself will be a tremendous boon to the space program. It reduces the mass of the shrunk item by ninety-nine percent so a hundred pounds of cargo only weighs one pound. When the item is restored, it’s already moving at the speed of the spacecraft so we can carry a lot more cargo on each flight. That’s assuming that magic continues to work out in space.”      

“Wait a second.” Carla held up a hand. “Why shouldn’t it?”

Rudy groaned, and Tricia continued.

“There were some indications in the game rules that suggest that magic is dependent on life and there is no life in space, at least local space.”

“We have no idea if those references have any real bearing on how and why magic works,” Rudy insisted.

“Well, since translocation doesn’t work off the ground, we have no way of confirming that magic extends beyond the atmosphere,” Tricia explained. “We can confirm that it does work within the atmosphere because, well, fly spells and pegasus spells work.  But no one has tried to cast a spell in space yet. No one who was in space at the time of the Merge was a gamer. So what happens if we use miniaturize and magic stops working at eighty thousand feet?”

“We’re trying to get a high-atmosphere aircraft to carry a miniaturized object into the upper atmosphere,” Rudolpho added, “but that’s going to take weeks to schedule. In the meantime, we don’t know how high the magic extends.”

 Now Carla was more confused. “Why not simply use scry location? Try to scry the space station or the moon? I know scry works in the sky. I’ve used it on this trip to scout out traffic ahead.”

Blank looks were slowly replaced by acute embarrassment.

“Ah, we didn’t think of that,” Tricia admitted.

 “We’ve been so focused on the limitations of translocation,” Rudolpho explained. Now embarrassment gave way to excitement. “That would work, you know.  We could chart the expansion of the magic field.  If it continues to expand, perhaps we could use scry to look at other planets, other stars.”

“We’d need confirmation and measuring equipment to confirm that what the scrying spells are getting is real not just the scryer’s imagination.” They had clearly forgotten that Carla and the crew were even there. Book-wizards were the geeks of the game world and apparently a wizard systems engineer was geekiness squared. Give them a puzzle to solve and the world went away. Carla let them escape back to their lab, but she got their number. She would call and get any comments they wanted to make before the broadcast of the piece on tonight’s news.

It was a good thing she did. As is the way with geeks, they were changing the world, perhaps not quite as quickly as the Merge did, but pretty darn quickly. By broadcast time, the extent of magic spread to date was mapped. It turned out that a scry eye, the magical construct that a scry spell used to see distant places, wouldn’t come into existence outside the area where magic spread. For instance, they couldn’t put a scry eye on Mars because magic didn’t work that far away yet. But magic was still expanding and apparently at exactly the same rate it did from the beginning. At least as well as they could measure it with scry eyes.