Fourteen- Science In My Perfectly Good Magic, Part Four
  • Hollyhock God drinks Mountain Dew throwback.

<Hollyhock God> At last I know the joy that you Otherplacians do, with your real sugar sodas!

<borogove> I think Ben was. Also, I am not sure I'd describe drinking Mountain Dew as 'joy'.

<Nentuaby> I love me some cane sugar cola, but Mountain Dew just doesn't taste right.

<Nentuaby> That stuff is so patently artificial that the HFCS actually works best for it…

<Hollyhock God> There's also Pepsi throwback. I took what I could get!

<Hollyhock God> Hm, now how far did we get last week?

<Nentuaby> We prevented a dude from blowing a hole in the sky (or something) and brought him back to Eden to quarantine his SRMD.

<borogove> SRMD?

<Nentuaby> A reference to a very good online comic book.

<Nentuaby> In short, contagious mad science.

<Hollyhock God> Serious Real Madness Disorder?

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, what are you doing about it?

<crusher_bob> The implication was that some other noble had arranged it as a way of kicking over the anthill, wasn't it?

<Hollyhock God> Implication or inference?

<crusher_bob> Alas, the drawback to living in a strong anthropomorphic universie is that someone is almost always to blame for the problem.

<Hollyhock God> I can't argue with that. But how will you discover who?

<crusher_bob> Since we don't have many useful clues right now.

<crusher_bob> Monitoring the regular world for other outbreaks of mad science might be useful.

<Hollyhock God> A good idea! How?

<crusher_bob> But the inhabitants of our chancel aren't much up to that right now.

<Nentuaby> Perhaps we could dump an alchemical signal in the water supply that glows when you start altering the laws of science!

<Hollyhock God> Like on House?

<Nentuaby> I don't know much about House.

<Hollyhock God> Medical mystery drama.

<crusher_bob> Hmm, my understanding that is was just stuff beyong current mortal technology, but still possible within normal reality.

<crusher_bob> Inspiration for House was Sherlock Holmes; but with medicine.

<Hollyhock God> That's correct; the device did not break any of the laws of reality as the relevant Powers (mostly Day where energy is concerned, but also Alexa in part) currently define them.

<Hollyhock God> It's merely impossibly advanced.

<Nentuaby> I see.

<crusher_bob> Mm, how long ago was the mad scientist inspired to make his thingy?

<crusher_bob> Since inspiring some guy in the past would require more of a miracle, right?

<crusher_bob> As opposed to inspiring him in the present.

<crusher_bob> How long did it take him to build his sun-like deveice?

<crusher_bob> And was he part of an order of mad scientists, or anything like that?

<Hollyhock God> Well, you'll have to find that out.

<Nentuaby> To the psychoanalyst's couch! This would be a good time to know psychoanalysis.

<Nentuaby> Alternatively, we could just come out and ask him "How long ago did you have your idea?"

<Nentuaby> Which Marcus will go do now, since it's about time we do something other than make silly suggestions.

<Hollyhock God> It came to him one day last month.

<Hollyhock God> Say a week or so after you took Eden.

  • Nentuaby is now known as MarcusOroboa
  • crusher_bob is now known as Ebba
  • You are now known as HollyhockGod

<Marcus> "In the bathtub, as I recall. Had you met anybody who seemed particularly exotic in the days preceeding that?"

  • borogove is now known as Fiona

<Hollyhock God> "No."

<Marcus> Let's do a quick Greater Divination to see if his memory or perception on that point was messed with.

<Hollyhock God> No alteration detected.

<Hollyhock God> You also detect no lies.

<Hollyhock God> Admittedly, you can't get Objective Truth on things that happened outside the Chancel with Realm, but no lingering miraculous traces or perceptible alterations.

<Marcus> Right, I was mostly just thinking "There's a dreadnought-sized hole in his memory" type stuff.

<Hollyhock God> All results are consistent with the notion that he did it independently.

<Marcus> Anyway… *to the others* "I'm pretty sure the key to what happened to him does not actually lie with him. Short of trying to do relevant divinations upon the entire Earth, I suppose our best bets would lie with his home, workspace, or invention."

<Ebba> And since it was technically mundane science, anyone could have done it, really.

<Ebba> For example, you could figure it out with Aspect 4, and then inspire the scientist in any number of ways, right?

<Hollyhock God> There are multiple ways to inspire a scientist, but he doesn't remember anyone doing it.

<Fiona> Of course, that just means it was one of the more subtle ways. if he was inspired, anyway.

<Ebba> Hmm, did his device use any exotic materials?

<Ebba> We could try tracking the market in exotic stuff.

<Hollyhock God> I don't think there were that many odd materials.

<Marcus> "Well, I say we take a field trip." Marcus thinks for a moment. "Er, how do we get around Earth, anyway?"

<Fiona> "On foot?"

<Marcus> "That… Seems a bit slow for the non-exemplars."

<Marcus> Right. First order of business: setting up a private airport.

<Ebba> Is the new Power of Water a Regal? We could ask her if the bath water noticed anything the scientist didn't.

<Ebba> Since he was in the bathtub at the time of the incident.

<Hollyhock God> I suppose you could ask, but why not ask the Power of Tubs?

<Ebba> (The Power of Bathtubs has not yet appeared in this story. :D )

<Ebba> (Of course, if there was a power of bathtubs, that would mean that bathtubs are one of the pillars of Creation… )

<Marcus> (Eh? Are we using a different cosmology? Because normally Estates can get quite narrow indeed.)

<Hollyhock God> Well, they normally at least aren't humorous on the face of it.

<Marcus> (That's why you can give five or six of them to an Imperator and still have big factions stomping around!)

<Fiona> Isn't there a canon power of blankets?

<Marcus> (It is, granted, probably covered under "Basins" or something like that. And yes, there is a Blankets. He's kind of a terror. Example of Sovereign's Gift)

<Ebba> Well, since we don't seem to have any leads, and the guy was directed against a party of the Light.

<Ebba> I recommend we attend more parties, in case more mad scientists show up at them. :D

<Ebba> Or should we assume that that is what our august leader ends up doing, and we have to do something else?

<Hollyhock God> Alternate theory: You looked for signs of miraculous tampering in every way you could think of and found none.

<Hollyhock God> Logical conclusion: ?

<Ebba> (The Excrucians did it; they are not miraculous! :D )

<Marcus> … that there actually is a Mad Science Estate now?

<Hollyhock God> Excrucians and new Estates are both empirically detectable.

<Marcus> … how?

<Marcus> Short of going to investigate the scene of the event, which suggestion of mine has already been roundly ignored.

<Hollyhock God> There wouldn't be traces there if there are none on his person.

<Hollyhock God> Excrucian miracles are detected the same way as other miracles. New Estates… I dunno, some Imperator would have noticed.

<Marcus> That… er… doesn't follow, but if you say so.

<Marcus> Anyway, then, I have no idea. Shelve him, I guess.

<Hollyhock God> Why would traces remain on the scene if there are no traces on the actual target of the miracle?

<Marcus> Traps, Strategist-tricks that work on a location themselves, actual forensic evidence…

<Marcus> Just seeing his notes and such might give more insight.

<Hollyhock God> I suppose you can go and look.

<Hollyhock God> But everything you find is consistent with the notion that there was no outside intervention. I don't really care how; this has gone on for four sessions now.

<Marcus> … so. It Just Happened?

<Hollyhock God> Things don't just happen.

<Hollyhock God> But every piece of evidence, which I won't make you spend an hour collecting, indicates no outside intervention.

<Marcus> … okay. He's mortal, he did something beyond mortal capability, and nothing else helped him.

<Marcus> Yeah, hell if I know. I guess I wait for the sheep again.

<Hollyhock God> Yes, the facts indicate that all three of those things are true.

<Ebba> Hmm, then I guess it's possible that the mortals are changing.

<Ebba> Possible as a result of us taking Eden.

<Marcus> So the only other thing I can imagine is that somebody got Blind Lied to come up with one of those facts.

<Hollyhock God> Ebba's theory intrigues me. Do tell!

<Marcus> Er… or that. But wouldn't the power of Invention or something have noticed that his Estate was warping against his will?

<Marcus> And started screaming bloody murder?

<Ebba> Hmm, if the people are changing there should be more incidents.

<Ebba> To the conspiracy theory web sites and newsblogs!

<Hollyhock God> It doesn't scream when you invent something.

<Fiona> If it's a consequence of us taking eden, then it probably counts as a natural change, so only Anchors are likely to notice?

<Marcus> That's because I'm not a member of it.

<Hollyhock God> Or it could just be that he developed an Aspect score just long enough to do a miracle before it became latent again.

<Hollyhock God> Hm, well if you wanted to check the internet, perhaps through an Anchor, you could do that.

<Hollyhock God> Perhaps you find a few incidents of supposed superhuman ability, all unconfirmed as yet.

<Marcus> (Uh… It could? Because normally things don't become miraculous temporarily.)

<Hollyhock God> Yes, and?

<Hollyhock God> This is the Zone Where Normal Things Don't Happen Very Often.

<Ebba> (As things get accepted by normal reality, doesn't their miracleness fade?)

<Ebba> (That's why a lot of miracles of Aspect can be hard to notice ? )

<Hollyhock God> No, being miraculous is primary. If people choose to think it's normal, that's their business.

<Hollyhock God> But public opinion doesn't affect miraculosity.

<Marcus> (I'm just a little frustrated here… You're altering the cosmology under us, which is reasonable since we broke it, but it seems like you're expecting us to be able to deduce how it's happening when, in fact, the logic of the setting by which we would normally infer is exactly what we're trying to infer.)

<Hollyhock God> (Well, I didn't think I should just tell you, but okay.)

<Hollyhock God> I am putting forth the theory, straight-out, that humans are slowly developing limited miraculous powers, possibly as a result of Eden, possibly because you killed the First Lord.

<Marcus> (Well then!) Reviewing the evidence, Marcus shakes his head "It's almost like he briefly had Aspect himself. But how the hell would that work?"

<Hollyhock God> I apologize for phrasing the problem so that you couldn't legitimately find the answer. I was hoping for paranoid guessing.

<Marcus> (Right… The problem was I could divine on him, which means not an Essential Creature, which by stock everything with miracles, even the lowest-grade Inheritor, is.)

<Marcus> (So there's no way I was ever going to be able to come up with it.)

<Marcus> (But with that little misunderstanding out of the way, let's get on with the paranoid guessing. ;) )

<Ebba> ( I guess the next step will be determining how often it happens?)

<Ebba> (And how it interacts with mythic or regular reality.)

<Ebba> (For example, when a human does something like shoot down the sun, what does everyone else see? )

<Marcus> (Probably a dude shooting down the sun- that's dementia animus material right there. Now, if a giant wolf swallowed it, they might just suddenly remember an eclipse being predicted.)

<Hollyhock God> Humans aren't naturally mythic like Imperators are, so it's a reasonable assumption that they're in the same boat as Powers on that front.

<Ebba> “Hmm, well need a united memetic warfare front then, to make sure the apocaliptic crazies don't get the dominant mindshare.”

<Marcus> (Okay. Anyway. So we've established that people are getting occasional flashes of miraculous ability, which is almost certainly our doing. And also kind of awesome, from both a Light and Dark perspective.)

<Marcus> "Right. First thing you Light types will need to do, I think, is very quietly spread the word to your faction. Knowing about this while the Dark don't could be a huge advantage. Then, yes, definitely some memetic manipulation."

<Hollyhock God> Because you've been so good at getting humans to do as you want before now.

<Marcus> Memetic warfare is an imprecise science!

<Marcus> If it wasn't, the Dark-Light war would have been over long before.

<Marcus> (You're going to want more A Miracle of Science or Girl Genius and less Frankenstein and Doctor Doom, for one thing. Mad scientists will need their role models!)

<Fiona> (I should disappear off now. with any luck I'll be less distracted next week.)

<Marcus> (G'day)

<Hollyhock God> Is it going to be just mad science, though? Neither Eden nor the First Lord had that theme.

<Marcus> (Absolutely not, but that or super-sorcery are going to stay the most dangerous manifestations, since whatever they come up with can be replicated. Somebody running around the world in 30 seconds is powerful, but it won't launch a product line.)

<Ebba> What did the web imply? Just Aspect, or other stuff too?

<Hollyhock God> Aspect, mostly. But who knows which of this stuff is true?

<Hollyhock God> So hard to distinguish signal from noise on the Internet.

<Marcus> (Unless you're the power of Signal.)

<Hollyhock God> Indeed.

<Marcus> (Related note: I know my next Noble.)

<Hollyhock God> Truth would be a fun estate.

<Marcus> (Anyway, we're down to to players, which I think pretty much precludes anything happening IC at this point.)

<Hollyhock God> I guess it kind of ends the story anyway. I mean, what happens next is kind of its own thing.

<Marcus> Eh… Truth, Magic, Science are the "No-touch-em" estates to me.

<Marcus> Just too big and squishy.

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