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    Overconfident Bronze-Age alien dragons, libertarian semitopias, and food fights. You're welcome.

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    Signal Interference

    Postby Speaker of the Cerid » Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:35 am

    Anuri had always felt starved of solitude, especially in the house of her mother, who delighted in parenthood and had appeared determined, even as she grew older, to be remembered for single-handedly making a mark on national population growth. Having reached the age when it was time to find her own arrangements, she had departed toward the north of the island, looking for a home in the wastes. Anuri's childhood home had been on the edge of the desert, and she was no stranger either to it or to hard work. She felt it would be worth it just to have some peace and quiet, and she had spent months looking for it.

    "And here," she said aloud, "it is."

    It was a guelta - a kind of oasis. Set amidst a maze of valleys and gullies carved into the rock by ancient rivers, it was fed by occasional deluges during rain, and then protected from evaporation by the shade of the valley walls. There were plants everywhere, from the scrubby ones that grew all across the valley floor to the clusters of trees near the guelta itself - not date palms, which were too large to do well in the confined space, but there were apricot and fig trees. The waters held fish, which could be seen swimming about in the shallows, and around her could be heard the rustlings and calls of birds and beasts, drawn to the water and the food, as she had been.

    It was the only refuge of life within twenty miles… a little hidden paradise, waiting just for her. All she needed was a spot for a shelter - shady and out of the path of any floods - and to paint some boundary markers on the canyon walls, and then it would be all hers. She could even feel the approval of the zeren of the place. It was so strong it hovered thickly in the air, like a fog. It went beyond delight: it was nearly mirth, or jollity.

    Odd, really. But perhaps it had just been lonely, so far out here.

    ---

    After a few weeks, it started getting to her.

    It was always said that you could feel the moods of the zerenid if you were really attentive, and you could; but it had never felt like this, so heavy, palpable, and real. As good a feeling as it obviously was, it was not serene. Except for the lack of babbling, it was like being surrounded by those of her younger brothers and sisters who hadn't yet learned to cloak their emotions. It was the empathic equivalent of being squeezed into a room with far too many other people; it didn't matter how silent or still they were, you could still feel them.

    Anuri wasn't about to abandon a nice little piece of land like this over something like that. Still, it wasn't at all what she had expected, and it left her nervous.

    Shade or no, she tended to sleep or aestivate during the day, partly because of the heat, but also because the cheerful throbbing in the air seemed to diminish at that time. At night, she hunted and gathered, and explored the landscape around her domain; often she went beyond her own chosen borders, but it seemed extremely unlikely that there were any neighbors nearby to complain. As she moved this way and that, she found that the feeling of jollity grew or subsided in a predictable way, and as months more passed, she constructed a mental map of the area. She came to realize that the strength of the feeling had a center… a source.

    Anuri avoided it for some time. Why search out a place where she would feel even more claustrophobic? But she was not so naturally incurious that she could bear to ignore it forever.

    And so, one night, she found herself in a box canyon. She was alone; no other Çer could be seen, nor any other creatures larger than an occasional tiny lizard, scurrying across the rock walls. These were unremarkable, except that the exposed bands of color, red, tan, and gray, seemed distorted, as if bent and crumpled by some terrible force. It was nonetheless rock, like any rock; and yet, the jollity here was so thick that she found herself struggling to breathe.

    Was this the zeren of this place? They had never been known to have a center. They were found throughout their place in equal measure, until you came to another place. A kath? The kath of jollity was said to avoid silent places, and not even the sound of the wind penetrated here - and anyway, you could only feel the kathid inside, whereas this was very definitely outside herself. Precipitating from the air like rain, bleeding from the rocks.

    "Hello?"

    There was no response, no change. Whatever it was, she could feel it. Could it feel her? Could it tell that she was here?

    Anuri set down her bag, and hesitated. In a species with an empathic sense and no nudity taboo, to unshield one's own emotions was the next closest thing. It was raw, animal, not done lightly except in utmost private or with one's nearest and dearest. It made her shudder to think of doing it for some invisible jolly thing; but she couldn't think of any other way to try to reach it.

    She closed her eyes, and then, with agonizing slowness, relaxed something in her head, as one might relax a fist that they had forgotten they had been clenching. She took a deep breath, and forced her curiosity to the front of her mind, so it could be seen. It was a message, wordless but in the brightest lights she could use to display it:

    ::WHAT ARE YOU?::

    And there was a change - a tiny one, but a change, a pinprick of sudden focus and searching from amidst the jollity.

    ::YOU HEAR US? WHO'S THERE?::

    Anuri's breath caught, and she tried to remind herself to breathe. It had noticed! Or something had - she was no longer certain whether there was one thing or many, but only a part of it was aware of her. There were no words to answer with, but she did her best.

    ::THIS IS ME. THIS IS HOW I AM. I HEAR YOU.:: She paused, and overlay fellow-feeling upon her sincerity. ::I HEAR YOUR JOLLITY, AND I AM GLAD FOR YOU.::

    ::ASTONISHING.::

    She waited. Conversational pauses were all the more awkward when all you could convey were emotional states.

    ::YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE?::

    Anuri was indeed. She didn't understand how the jolly thing wasn't. She made her feeling of exposure prominent. ::WHEN I AM LIKE THIS, I AM OPEN. I AM NOT USED TO IT.::

    The unseen communicator responded with a welter of emotions - sudden understanding, mollification, awareness, curiosity. ::THAT EXPLAINS MUCH! WE HAVE SENSED OTHERS THERE, BUT WE HEAR ONLY YOU - NOW WE KNOW WHY. WE DO NOT WANT TO EXPOSE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN BEAR, BUT WE WISH TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR KIND.::

    The revelation gave her pause. It was one thing to risk herself. To know that something, somewhere, was interested in all Çerid, made volunteering information about them something else entirely.

    The sense of uncertainty was obvious to the communicator. ::WE INTEND NO HARM. WE ONLY WANT TO LEARN.::

    Anuri brought herself under control, and made a profession of powerlessness. ::IT IS NOT MY PREROGATIVE. I MUST SPEAK TO OTHERS.::

    ::WE UNDERSTAND.::

    ::I MUST COVER MYSELF AGAIN. BUT I WILL COME BACK LATER.::

    ::WE WILL WAIT. THANK YOU.::

    With relief, she shielded herself again. The other presence in the sea of jollity gave the impression of searching, determining whether she was still there, but finding nothing, it faded into the background.

    ---

    When she arrived back home, she flung herself into the pile of straw that was her bed. Brief though the encounter had been, it had drained her - even the emotional pressure here, so stifling before, was a welcome change from what it had been at the source. After that, she thought she could enjoy it, be lulled by it. She felt she could use some lulling right about now.

    It did not quite push out of her mind the burden she had managed to lay on herself. Instead of putting off the communicator, she had, essentially, promised it she would seek the permission of her fellow Çerid to introduce them to it. Whatever the thing was, it was strongest here, near her newly-claimed land.

    It meant that she would have to leave and go tell someone.

    It meant that she might even have to personally attend the Vocal Assembly.

    It meant that, if her message was understood and believed, she would be getting visitors.

    Anuri groaned, and buried her head in the straw. The jollity around her seemed in bad taste, but she tried to embrace it. She was going to need all she could get.
    Korad, Speaker for the Çerid
    Behold! I have been chosen as Speaker: I am a voice of the noble and courageous people of the Çerid, come to speak their minds to you! Open, then, those strange flaps on your heads that your hear with, and take in their words!

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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Kalgachi Envoy » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:53 pm

    Troglodyte Order of the Infinite Harmonic
    24 Turbidaire Gallery
    Resonantis Nodule
    Twelfth Stratum, Lapivril


    To the Chief Emissary of the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes, Oktavyan

    Sir,

    Accept our ninefold blessings unto your personage and your offices. The Order on whose behalf I write, being chiefly concerned with communication at distance by means outwith the worldly by warrant to the Lord Lieutenant of Lapivril, begs leave to bring to your attention recent developments which touch upon the remit and interests of your Directorate.

    By gift of our Minarborian ancestors the adepts of our Order have long been practiced, among other things, in the antipodal lensing of Quantum-Neural Interface psionic communications through modulation of ground waves in the Micran telluric field. Until recently this method has been little more than a convoluted curiosity, the scope of its utility being constrained to contacts with intelligent cetaceans and the occasional passing sailor in the waters off southwest Eura. Its principal use by our Order has been as a training aid for new initiates in the identification of sapient entities from the biomic background, the latter tending to amplify emotional carrier signals in the immediate region of the antipodal point but overpower them further afield as the telluric lensing becomes diffused. The possibility exists, however, for signals originating or terminating in the near diffusion zone to be artificially boosted if the target is located in a sufficiently-localised area of biomic density in barren surroundings, effecting a partial re-lensing of the communication. This effect is enhanced if both parties of the communication are thus situated, something our Order enjoys from being encased in several kilometres of inert granite.

    It is theorised that this process is responsible for our Order's establishment of contact, this Harvesthigh 5th, with an entity of unusual psionic competence located in either Western Eura or the Pacary Isles. The initiate who accidentally began communication with the entity - which our Order has codenamed BASHFUL - reports that it is able not only to modulate the telluric sideband of jollity into different emotions and intentions, but also to firewall its inner dialogue from such broadcast at will. Our initiate reports that BASHFUL shared his surprise at the inadvertent contact, and is reluctant to communicate further until it has received permission from "others". Despite this, BASHFUL was said to cautiously reciprocate the jollity of our initiate who also perceived a slight pang of apologetic lament immediately prior to the cessation of the contact.

    For the purpose of bio-memetically enhancing the signal clarity of any further communication with BASHFUL or its associates, our Order seeks from the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes any information upon the existence of psionically-operative populations within five thousand kilometres of Kalgachia's antipodal footprint, their cultural background and if possible phenotypic samples, with the understanding that the assessed results of our future activity in the matter will be copied to your office.

    With regard from the depths,

    A.S. Peopleton
    Grand Eose of the Order


    Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes
    (Chief Emissariat)

    SUB JUNIPERUS


    Dear Grand Eose,

    I thank you for informing my office of your recent communication with an entity named BASHFUL in the Eura-Pacary region. Before the DTW can shed any light on the matter, the Order of the Infinite Harmonic must understand that BASHFUL's apparent location - quite literally on the other side of the world from our homeland - inherently limits the ability of the Directorate to examine the matter as fully or directly as it would like. Our only permanent asset in the region is presently a hostage of the Khan of Raspur who, somewhat vexingly, seems uninterested in discussing a ransom.

    The limited information obtained by your intiate does, however, allow a tentative elimination of the Constancians or Raspurids as BASHFUL's home state - within both cultures, jollity in anything other than the most intimate contexts is regarded as a form of impertinent mockery that obstructs the efficient flow of commercial discourse and deference to the state hierarchy. Among the Bassarids also, jollity is regarded as little more than a weak imitation of the hedonistic ecstasy espoused by its religious elite. It is therefore unlikely that the ability to modulate jollity for psionic purposes would emerge from these societies, which tend toward the engenderment of fear and/or avarice as their social lubricant.

    Amid the Pacarian colonies we must similarly consider the Galactic Wyrm Assembly too neurotic, the Storish too licentious, the Florians too capricious and the Athlonians and Eklesians too regimented in their monastic creed to proffer the content of the communication you have received. The Krasnocorians have no discernable esoteric tradition and the celestial scope of Iteru's priestly tradition gives them rather bigger fish to fry - as well they might, while they cower under the guns of their irate neighbours.

    It would seem entirely possible that BASHFUL resides either in ungoverned territory, or within an emergent regional polity. The only example of the latter known to my office is a corpus of persistent stories from Constancian sailors, regarding the existence of a draconid society on the approaches to Aqaba who are apparently willing to trade with them. Alas, the only way for a Kalgachi asset to physically reach such a place would be to arrange passage upon a Constancian merchant vessel - but as that state is, for all intents and purposes, a fully owned and operated subsidiary of ESB Group and its ideologically odious management (an influence sure to increase on the pretext of the Autokrator's recent assassination attempt) the notion of them freely permitting a Kalgachi agent to network with a race of non-humans is laughable, regardless of the material incentives offered.

    In these circumstances it seems to me that the most viable way of developing communications with BASHFUL, whatever it may be and whomever it may represent, resides with your own occluded Order and the continuation of its recent efforts. I am compelled to recall the words of the noted Credent, Dubbs Blurton, who decribed our ideal retinue of allies as a series of small, well-rooted manifestations of the Garden communicating remotely with each other across the archonic vastness, making mutual visitation through memetic rather than physical means - in contrast to the imperialist powers who travel in person by taking to the oceans and the air, and seek to remake the land in the image of that fluid medium by inflicting a reign of perpetual tumult and societal uproot over the peoples of the world (upon that point, it is interesting that many of the Constancian sailors' dragon stories state that the creatures have an implacable fear of the ocean). It may be that your work is more closely aligned with the will of the Ketheric Host and its Garden than anything I can do, and may indeed have been initiated from that quarter - the Shrub knows, your aetheric ears must be more receptive to such signals than anyone in my office. All the same, the offer of your Order to furnish the DTW with such additional information as you may obtain is accepted and appreciated - I hope that in turn, in the event that BASHFUL represents a sovereign government of some kind, that your Order might care to relay messages from my office on behalf of our sovereign Perfecti.

    We shall, I am sure, be in further contact.

    With Lithic Regard,

    M.D. Twiddle
    Chief Emissary of the Garden
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Continuator » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:58 pm

    (Send the emissary via Iteran merchant caravan into the interior. Bonus points if the agent gets captured by one of the packs of male Cerids hired by Raspur...)
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Shyriath » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:33 pm

    (Heh.

    Also, I really hope that when Anuri brings in some of her "others", they get code names like SLEEPY, DOPEY, DOC...)
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    Viscount Farstrider of Erysisceptrum, Count Bukolos of the Condo, Harbinger of Cheese

    TOTUS MUNDUS TABULAM RASAM EST
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Speaker of the Cerid » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:36 am

    That year's Vocal Assembly was particularly raucous, even by its usual standards. This had a lot to do with the particularly vicious rows breaking out over the possibility of introducing coinage to replace barter - who should make the coins, who should define the specification for how the coins were made, how to be sure the coins met those specifications, how to introduce them into circulation, how much of a betrayal of the ancestors and/or pernicious foreign influence it was to adopt coinage at all when barter had served perfectly well. It gave Anuri little hope for being heard, and also a headache.

    The bulk of the Assembly's business was conducted in what, in other legislatures, might have been called committees but here were more like workshops, with a general topic but no set membership or agenda. With a considerable amount of asking, shouting, and pushing through the crowds, she had made her way to the gathering centered around relations with the ovareshid. She waited out the lively debate about the tensions between the great alliances on the continent - whether it was best to side with Raspur, or with the Bassarids, or to let them fight it out and pick over the corpses when they were done, or to try to prevent the conflict to keep Eura from getting glassed and poisoned again, until at last the debate dissolved into a fist fight and the combatants gently nudged out of the circle.

    Anuri took a deep breath, and stood up before other business could be brought forward. "I am Anuri daughter of Jerajli! I speak! I have- I believe I have received a message from a foreign being!"

    "You believe?" shouted a skeptical voice.

    "At my oasis in the northern waste, there is… a presence, an empathic presence, that cannot be seen with the eyes. It is unshielded, as I am told the ovareshid are, yet it too has an empathic sense. It is capable of jollity, and I have communicated with it-" She stopped. She had not thought this far ahead, and realized that finishing her statement would occasion a certain amount of embarrassment. "-while unshielded…" she continued. She faltered after that, drowned out by the staccato barking that was Çer laughter.

    In a human society, it would've been like telling a crowd that one had taken off one's pants to talk to ghosts. Anuri supposed she shouldn't've been surprised at the reaction. Her hearing-stalks drooped and she gritted her teeth.

    An older, heavily-built female, clearly quite high-status by the darkness of her facial markings, meandered over. "Friends," she called out, "please continue in my absence. Enad will keep track of the deliberations. I will direct Anuri to a more suitable venue for her tale."

    Trembling with shame, Anuri allowed herself to be led away from the group. "Don't bother," she muttered. "I've embarrassed myself enough. I don't care to repeat the experience."

    "You won't," the other female replied conversationally. "You just picked the wrong group to tell. I know one that will be more receptive."

    "What," Anuri said bitterly, "those quacks that want to try to talk to jekaçt to get them to reform? I have my dignity - or thought I did."

    "A temporary loss. But no, I really do think you'll be pleasantly surprised."

    "Who are you, anyway?"

    "Anaçri daughter of Kori."

    Anuri chewed on that. She'd heard the name somewhere, but- oh. Oh no.

    "Anaçri?" she squawked. "Didn't… didn't you just you just get elected Great Speaker?"

    "Two days ago, yes."

    "What do you want with me?"

    Anaçri's stalks lifted in a beatific smile. "I want you to repeat your story for my fellow Speakers."

    ---

    The profession of Speaker was, in human terms, perhaps closest to an ambassador. That they formed the backbone of what might be called Çeridgul's executive branch gave some insight into their concept of government - they did not carry out or enforce directives so much as pass along news, mediate and adjucate disputes, negotiate, and generally try to keep people from killing each other, at least over trivial matters. Externally, some members of the same group functioned as the Çer diplomatic corps, but their only difference from their domestic brethren was a certain amount of special training in the ways of the ovareshid. They all carried the same badge of office, a square wooden pendant carved and painted with the stylized Offering Paw of the Household of the Great Speaker.

    Anuri found herself addressing a whole gathering of them, in a pavilion off to the side of the Assembly grounds. They did not laugh. They listened seriously. They asked questions. They had scribes take notes. After what she'd already experienced, it was an astonishing and rather intimidating change.

    "I am Anaçri! I speak! I feel," the Great Speaker said after Anuri had finished, "that Anuri's comparison of the entity's traits to those our traditions speak of is concise. The involvement of some kathdaltinid might be worth pursuing, but on the whole it seems very unlikely to be a kath, a zeren, or a haçkesh-"

    "A jekaçt, perhaps?" an elderly female quavered. "Some complicated trick?"

    "No," another Speaker commented. "Jekaçt do not think so far ahead. They concern themselves with the Çerid they see at the moment. They do not use one Çer to lure in others, unless they are close."

    "And we know that Anuri is not suffering from a delusion inflicted by one."

    Anuri felt moved to speak. "How?"

    Anaçri twisted her head in a shrug. "Let us say that some of us have felt something of what you felt. Only in certain places, not so clearly or so strong, but have known of it. We have not been able to communicate with the jolly thing, whatever it is - but you have. For whatever reason, it is strong at your oasis."

    "I am reminded," a Speaker said thoughtfully, "of those places where there are many echoes. A speaker may shout, but as you move away from them, the echoes may become louder or softer depending on where you stand. And, sometimes, you find a place to stand where it sounds as if they are standing right next to you."

    There was some silent contemplation of this.

    Anuri spoke up hesitantly. "So… this thing, you think, is not bodiless, but is merely far away and sending its emotions out? And, for some reason, my oasis is in the perfect place to receive them?"

    "It seems a workable idea," Anaçri replied. "But the question becomes: if this thing wants to learn about us, do we answer it? And how?"

    "It did not seem ill-intentioned, but… I could not see its emotions at depth," Anuri said uncertainly. "It is, I suppose, not close enough. It could be hiding something."

    "Possible. But one wonders what it could gain, if it is so far away."

    "We should speak to it," one of the younger Speakers asserted. "Ekered, who we sent to the Micras-Agreement-Gathering, has sent us warnings of the possibility that the great powers might war with each other in Eura. If this voice were found to represent some unaligned nation, it might be useful to cultivate a friendship with them."

    "I am inclined to agree," Anaçri mused. "We have profited from our trade with the Raspurids and Constancians, but they are both members of one of the great alliances, and are likely to be drawn in should it come to war. We do not want to be drawn in with them by reason of exclusive dependency. Nor would isolationism protect us should they choose to wield their sunfire upon the face of Eura, as happened once before. We should be seeking other partners, and they should be those who, like us, are less interested in great struggles and more in prosperity."

    "We still have not solved the question of 'how'," the elderly Speaker noted acidly. "Emotional modulation cannot carry trade agreements."

    A younger Speaker cleared his throat. "I am Jekrud! I speak! I think there is no great danger in communicating with the jolly thing - and, er, I believe I have thought of a method." Motioned to continue by the Great Speaker, he added, "if the jolly thing is not a Çer and is far away, then one must guess that it is some kind of ovaresh, yes? Well, the humans have this code that is widely understood, in which their letters are represented by short and long signals - either sound or light. I have studied it. If a signaler were to drop and raise her shielding, as if shading and revealing a candle, it could be used to send messages in human writing."

    "Which you have also studied, I believe, Ostid?" Anaçri asked.

    "Yes, ma'am."

    The assembled Speaker all glanced around at each other. Anuri waited for the voices to be raised in protest, the fights to break out on the edge of the gathering, but there were none.

    "I believe," Anaçri said aloud, "that we have a plan we agree on, or at least do not object to. Ostid shall go to Anuri's oasis, along with such others whose skills might prove useful - though I must remind you all to keep in mind that not everyone can go. We still require Speakers to attend to their usual rounds. A team of no more than nine, I would say. ...Sijrali, you wished to comment?"

    The elderly female hauled herself to her feet. "I know a few who have studied with, and simply studied, the merchants at Gejlak Beach. I will inform them. And also," she added offhandedly, "I will be going."

    Anaçri tilted her head. "Will you? To what purpose? I was not aware that you had studied the ovareshid intensively."

    "I haven't," Sijrali replied, "but I have three very strong reasons: first, I will be a voice of caution against all this youthful enthusiasm; second, I have been a Speaker for over forty years and have certain stores of experience and knowledge of my own, as you well know; and thirdly-" She smirked at the Great Speaker. "-I'm old enough that I want to see this before I join my ancestors, and no one's going to tell me I can't."

    Anaçri snorted. "Well, what can I say to that? Go on, then, if it keeps you quiet."

    "Not a chance. Come with me, Anuri, I want to ask you some questions before we set out."

    As Anuri, with Sijrali hobbling alongside her, left the Speakers behind, she murmured, "I'm surprised there wasn't more argument."

    Sijrali barked a croaking laugh. "We're Speakers, young one. If we can't discuss serious matters without a fight, the rest of you are in serious trouble."

    ---

    STRANGER:

    ANURI HAS TOLD US OF YOUR CONTACT. HAVE DEVISED THIS METHOD OF MAKING WORDS. TIRING BUT BETTER FOR INFORMATION EXCHANGE. RESPOND IF RECEIVED.

    WILL TELL WHAT IS DEEMED SAFE. TIME AND CARE WILL LET US BUILD TRUST.

    WE ARE CALLED THE CERID. WISH TO KNOW OF YOU AS WELL.
    Korad, Speaker for the Çerid
    Behold! I have been chosen as Speaker: I am a voice of the noble and courageous people of the Çerid, come to speak their minds to you! Open, then, those strange flaps on your heads that your hear with, and take in their words!

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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Kalgachi Envoy » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:36 am

    Pip Holibobs awoke with a jolt. Something was in the room with him.

    In the darkness he reached for the object on his nightstand; a decorated glass flask full of bioluminescent micro-organisms in a nutrient solution. Excited by the panicked shaking motion of Pip's hand, it filled the room with a soft green glow. Nobody was there.

    Pip looked along the ceiling where an array of ultraviolet electric lights - their spurious electromagnetic emissions contained by a fine wire mesh - remained unlit above the profusion of potted plants around the room's edge. The plants, like the human inhabitants of Lapivril, were surface organisms tainted from the moment of their wordly conception by a devious archonic hand - as such, despite living at the vanguard of a temporally sovereign civilisation deep in the lower lithosphere, their health still depended upon a diurnal cycle in their environmental light levels. In the absence of celestial regulation this was bidden by a timing mechanism built into the power supply - a mechanism which presently supplied the lights in Pip's bedroom with no power at all, indicating to him that it was the middle of the night.

    Something had broken into his dreams. A tropical desert scene. The discourse of unseen individuals, with some light squabbling. The momentary flash of a symbol, framed in a square - a hand. No, something sharper, a caltrop. Or was it a starfish? Pip sighed as his own consciousness, the notorious psychic censor, overlaid its own spurious patterns and screen memories onto what had been a purely external signal. He should have drawn it in his dream log the moment he woke, as the adepts of his Order often nagged, but much like their exhortations to meditate hourly it was a tedious chore. He settled back into his pillow, watching the ceiling's green glow fade slowly to darkness as the biotic lamp on his nightstand settled down.

    Suddenly the presence was with him again. Insistent, yet curiously vague. He sat up and shook the lamp again. Nothing but the plants. Were they talking to him? No, he thought, he was too well acquainted with their psionic presence - a reassuringly verdant hum in the background of his perception. But it almost felt like some unseen actor had motivated them to stir on its behalf.

    Pip felt it again, this time before the light had faded and this time delivered in a series of jolts, like distant hammer blows. Fragments of emotional identity came through with it - something similar to the entity he knew as BASHFUL, but not entirely identical. Pip took a deep breath and concentrated. This must be one of the 'others' to whom BASHFUL had referred, he thought. Still, their method of communication was a little blunt, especially aimed at someone who was half-asleep - and it wasn't the usefully liminal, psionically-optimal type of drowsiness either. Pip vibrated as polite a message as he could:

    ::TIRED. WAIT.::

    The psionic hammer blows dropped out of his perception instantly. There followed the briefest emission of shame, quickly extinguished as if a door had been closed on it. Pip vibrated again to reassure his startled correspondent:

    ::IF YOU PLEASE.::

    The emotive response was immediate in its clarity and dignity:

    ::I AM SORRY.::

    Then, a moment later,

    ::WE ARE TRYING PULSES.::

    Pip laughed, momentarily breaking his concentration and causing the link to slip away. Of course, he thought. Obvious in hindsight. He took another breath and tuned his mind back again.

    ::I UNDERSTAND. BUT IN THE MORNING PLEASE. I CAN RECEIVE BETTER.::

    The possibility of his correspondent being located in a different timezone only occurred to him at that moment, a revelation which apparently struck the other side at the same time - or else they had read his thought on it.

    ::YOU ARE FAR AWAY THEN. I RESUME IN HALF A DAY?::

    Pip thought for a moment. It was as convenient as he could hope, in the circumstances. The adepts would surely let him break his regimented timetable of study for a task like this.

    ::THIS IS ACCEPTABLE.::

    A flash of jollity surged forth, unfettered by shielding.

    ::GOOD. I LOOK FORWARD TO IT. HAVE JOLLY DREAMS.::

    This inspired a surge of jollity within Pip himself, who duly shaped it into a message and flung it across the telluric field with a cognitive flourish.

    ::AND YOU HAVE A JOLLY DAY! GOODBYE.::

    ________________________________________________



    The following afternoon, crouched among his plants in a halo of artificial sunlight, Pip obtained the pulsed message in full. He had never heard of the Çerid and assumed the name to be an error in transmission, until an hour later in the book-strewn study of Grand Eose Peopleton whose ears twitched in recognition of it. The latter had snatched up the receiver of his rotary-dial telephone and placed a call to the Surface Interface Office of the First Stratum, the organ which controlled all passage and communication between the deep-underground Lieutenancy of Lapivril and the rest of Kalgachia which lay somewhat nearer the surface, if not upon it. From here a runner had been dispatched, via an egress point located somewhere in the railway tunnels of Kalgachia's mountainous west, to the surface city of Katarsis where Peopleton's message was relayed by another telephone to the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes, the foreign affairs organ of the Kalgachi government located several hundred kilometres to the east. Thence began the long and convoluted journey of a DTW delegation from the Kalgachi capital to Katarsis, into the railway tunnel and finally, via an industrial elevator, into the igneous depths of Lapivril. The notion of the Directorate ever needing to conduct diplomacy in the secluded bowels of Micras had not been adequately foreseen, and the team of plenipotentiaries who ventured ever downward into Kalgachia's own granitic bosom for the purpose were accompanied by no small amount of trepidation.

    What they also brought, however, was a fragmentary account of the Çerid obtained through the miscellaneous third-hand accounts of travelling businessfolk in Micras' Eastern Hemisphere - doubtless tainted in places by the injected disinformation of Raspur Pact intelligence organs or confusion with better-established Bassarid species, but it was more than was known to Pip or the Order of the Infinite Harmonic who tended to wilfully ignore the current affairs of the surface world as a weaponised vector for archonic intimidation. Down in Lapivril, true to the modes and imperatives of a temporal secessionist civilisation, they dealt in generalities and communed mainly with the archetypic. That they had stumbled upon a psionic link with a surface civilisation - one which consorted with the scions of the Norton Calandar, no less - was a matter best palmed off to the DTW at the earliest oppurtunity. A distraction like that, noted Grand Eose Peopleton, could undo decades of fruitful communion with the Garden Ketheric, the blissfully verdant plane of existence which was the prime muse of Kalgachi religion and esoteric practice. Now, after a meeting with DTW officials, he ruled that the preservation of this communion compelled the autotomic transfer of Pip and his worldly fraternisations to DTW management, to keep the Order of the Infinite Harmonic within sight of its 'deeper cause'.

    The DTW delegation, while cognitively drowning in Peopleton's torrent of highfalutin arcane rhetoric, nonetheless welcomed his gift of an arcanely-competent communicator in this, an entirely new mode of diplomatic discourse. For Pip himself the revelation was crushing - all of his practice and progress, through long nights of mental ardour and cultivated self-discipline, within an esoteric order he had begun to view as his true family, had yielded nothing more than a job as a telluric parrot for Kalgachia's most junior organ of state. His sense of betrayal was palpable even by the Grand Eose himself, who discerned a significant disturbance in the emotional continuum of the room as his wounded initiate departed without a word, accompanied by a gaggle of DTW officials and a sudden, bitter eagerness to get as far away from his former master as possible.

    To overcome the pain, Pip threw himself headlong into work for his new bosses. Having perused an illustrated dossier featuring the more reliable facts about the Çerid, he felt a certain sense of relief at putting faces and customs to BASHFUL and her friends - only now did he realise that he knew many details already - subtly absorbed notions and images which, until now, he had written off as his own wistful suppositions.

    GREETINGS TO THE CERID.

    WE ARE CALLED THE KALGACHI. WE LIVE IN MOUNTAINS ON THE CONTINENT OF BENACIA. WE BELIEVE YOU RESIDE IN WESTERN EURA. WE HAVE HEARD OF YOU BUT WE WISH TO KNOW MORE.

    OUR INTENTIONS ARE NOT IMPERIAL. OUR HOME IS A GARDEN AND ITS CARE IS OUR MAIN CONCERN. WE SEEK COMMUNION WITH THOSE WHO KEEP SOVEREIGN GARDENS OF THEIR OWN AND DO NOT COVET THE GARDENS OF OTHERS. WE ARE TOLD YOUR OWN CUSTOMS ARE HARMONIOUS WITH THIS VIEW. JOLLY IF TRUE.
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Speaker of the Cerid » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:14 am

    "Gardens?" Sijrali asked. "A very-" The ancient Çer paused, then finished lamely, "interesting way of putting it."

    What she had been going to say was: a very strange way of putting it. Of course, it wasn't, not really, not to a Çer. But to hear it from, presumably, humans was nothing short of astonishing. In the Speakers' collective experience, it wasn't a human way of thinking. They didn't understand independence, or territoriality, or the need to care for one's land. They had no concept of the zerenid. The idea that someone out there might have a handle on some of those things was a surprise, albeit a pleasant one.

    The Speakers had, with Anuri's grudging permission, established a sort of camp in the box canyon, so that they could be present for any communications. That these happened at night was apparently convenient for both parties; the entity at the other end seemed to be awake at that time, and it allowed the Çerid to avoid working in the heat of the day. Sending and receiving pulses was difficult enough as it was, both in terms of exertion and in psychological discomfort.

    "How are you holding up, Sotri?" Sijrali asked the female who had been doing the receiving, calling out short and long pulses as Ostid transcribed them.

    "My head hurts," the younger female complained. "I'll be all right, but only if someone else does the sending."

    "I can take a turn," Anuri volunteered. While not technically a Speaker, the others had felt it appropriate to allow her involvement; as the local landowner she had every right to drop in on the expedition, and, after all, she had been the first one to make contact.

    "All right. In a moment." Lying down on a mat, she shifted her position to something more accommodating to her creaking joints. "Do we know anything about the Kalgachi? Besides what they've said here?"

    "They have a more pronounceable name than most human nations," one muttered.

    "Besides that."

    "We don't hear much from Benacia," another Speaker said. "The place Shireroth takes up most of it. You remember that we stopped trying to send Speakers there because of the Neshnallist-Hiumanist sorts it tends to harbor. Kalgachia seems to have chilly relations with them for the same broad reason."

    Sijrali's stalks perked up. "What? Why? Are they not human?"

    "We've had conflicting accounts. It sounds as if at least some of them are noticeably different from other humans, but we don't understand what is meant by that. Kalgachia has no direct access to the sea, so the sailors only see those that make an appearance in Kasterburg, which itself seems to be rather… sleepy."

    "I got the sense," Sotri added, "that the beings communicating with us are like humans, but different, or at least they see themselves so. And they feel surrounded by those that would take what is theirs."

    "One sees why they emphasize an interest in sovereignty," Sijrali mused. "And why they might be interested in those that feel the same. Anything else?"

    Anuri said, "Whoever the particular entity is who has been speaking to us, it feels as if it has moved somewhere else from where it was before. And is experiencing discomfort as a result. Like when a female is displaced from her home."

    There was a silent round of acknowledgement, because many present were familiar with the feeling. Female Çerid experienced a sense of displacement which occurred whenever they were away from the place that was theirs. Since the role of a Speaker practically required them to travel, recently-chosen female Speakers had to spend months or years trying to learn to endure, come to terms with, or abolish the feelings of anxiety and foreign-ness that dogged them.

    "If their government works like those of humans do," Ostid remarks, "those who work for it serve at the pleasure of rulers and are simply moved where needed. The person may have been, er, reallocated."

    "Because of us?"

    "Quite likely."

    "Ugh."

    Sijrali cleared her throat. "Very well. Now: how do we respond?"

    TO THE KALGACHI:

    WE HAVE HEARD THE NAME OF YOUR COUNTRY BUT KNOW LITTLE ELSE THAN WHAT YOU TELL US. WE GET NEWS FROM SAILORS AND MERCHANTS. SOME SAY YOU ARE HUMAN BUT SOME SAY NOT. FEW OF US GO OVER THE WIDE SEAS BECAUSE OF THE DANGER OF THE ABYSSAL BUT THOSE SPEAKERS WHO WILL FACE THE JOURNEY AVOID BENACIA BECAUSE OF SHIREROTH.

    CERIDGUL LIES ON THE LARGEST ISLAND AND THE COASTS OF WHAT HUMANS CALL THE GULF OF AQABA. WE ARE A SOVEREIGN GARDEN OF SOVEREIGN GARDENS. SOME FEW COVET THE GARDENS OF OTHERS BUT THIS IS NOT ENDORSED BY THE SPEAKERS. MOST TEND AND DEFEND THEIR OWN. IT PLEASES US TO KNOW OF OTHERS THAT DO THE SAME.

    WE HAVE NOT BEEN MOLESTED BY THOSE WHO ALSO DWELL IN EURA BUT THEIR SCHEMES AMONG EACH OTHER CAUSE CONCERN. WE ARE BRAVE AND CUNNING BUT DO NOT HAVE NUMBERS OR DEVICES SUCH AS THEY HAVE.

    The message was modulated with Anuri's mild concern. ::I SEE YOUR DISQUIET. ARE YOU WELL?::
    Korad, Speaker for the Çerid
    Behold! I have been chosen as Speaker: I am a voice of the noble and courageous people of the Çerid, come to speak their minds to you! Open, then, those strange flaps on your heads that your hear with, and take in their words!

    (A proud member of the Secret Society of Shyriaths)
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Kalgachi Envoy » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:42 pm

    ::THESE CONTACTS HAVE DISRUPTED MY CIRCUMSTANCES:: Pip had been able to emit back. ::NOBODY IS AT FAULT. I WILL ADAPT:: The grim determination of his latter emission had been more powerful than he expected or intended - seemingly amplified by some aspect of his own local biome, modest though it was in Kalgachia's granitic depths.

    Communication had been sporadic for some time afterwards. From Çeridgul had come short, vague and apologetic messages about civil unrest and regional war, their dignified brevity occasionally tainted with flashes of unshielded anxiety. After a time the tension and febrility had subsided, and Pip's supervisors instructed him to resume communications.

    WE HEAR ALL IS NOT WELL IN EURA. WE HEAR YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY THE FETISHISTS OF WAR. IN TIME WE WILL ALSO BE PARTED FROM THE PEACEFUL NATIONS. OUR FREEDOM TO MOVE AMONG THEM WILL BE DETERMINED OUTSIDE OUR FRONTIERS AND OUTSIDE OUR INTERESTS. THERE MAY BE NO MORE TO GAIN FROM TRAVELLING IN BODY AND TRADING IN GOODS. WE PROPOSE TRAVEL IN SPIRIT AND TRADE IN KNOWLEDGE. THESE THINGS ARE LESS EASILY INTERDICTED. WE PROPOSE TO PROVIDE YOUR NATION WITH A LOW BANDWIDTH BITMAPPING PROTOCOL FOR THE TRANSFERENCE OF BASIC TECHNICAL DRAWINGS AND PERHAPS SOME ART. IN RETURN WE WOULD ASK FOR YOUR ADVICE IN SHIELDING OF EXTRASENSORY COMMUNICATIONS TO PREVENT JAMMING OF OUR CONTACTS BY MALEVOLENT THIRD PARTIES. PERHAPS WE CAN ALSO WORK TOGETHER ON METHODS OF ENCRYPTION.
    Mothbert D. Twiddle
    Chief Emissary of the Garden of Kalgachia to the Tumultuous Wastes
    ( Krasniy )
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Shyriath » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:01 am

    It took years, in ASC, for everything to quiet down.

    The War of Ingots had not touched the oasis directly; neither the Silvers nor the Coppers had seen fit to cross the desert merely to reach a single isolated homestead with no resources of note. But the Speakers who had been participating in the communication project had, for the most part, been required to scatter across Çeridgul, their talents at negotiation more urgently needed elsewhere.

    Those who remained were not often in a position to hold lengthy communications. The Morse code method required a certain amount of time and stamina for the Çerid to perform, and for each of them one or the other was often lacking. Anuri had stayed because it was her home, but there was a certain amount of domestic maintenance required of her, especially now that she had children; Ostid had stayed because of Anuri, and later also because of their children; Sijrali had stayed because her age and health made it extremely difficult for her to travel, and because she had stubbornly refused to abandon the project, though she was unable to engage in direct communication for long periods.

    The Household saw fit to continue maintaining one other Speaker at the oasis, rotating her or him out twice a year or so, to help tend to Sijrali and to listen for messages. At the time that the latest Kalgachi sending arrived, the current holder of this post was Ejad, who was finding the duty somewhat menial, and who was looking forward to being relieved - probably, he'd been told, by a team rather than another individual, now that the war was over and the Confederation negotiations were winding down.

    When the message began, Ejad, who had been idly stargazing by the waterside, sat bolt upright, and then scrambled for his charcoal stick and rolls of bark, transcribing the pulses in long and short vertical lines. When at last the pulses ceased, he emitted a brief burst of acknowledgement before running off to show the others.

    ------

    Because Ostid remained the group's expert on both Morse code and the ovaresh tongue, Ejad found himself pressed into a sort of babysitting role as the former transliterated the message; the older children, along with Anuri and Sijrali, were huddled around a fire watching Ostid work, but Ejad found himself obliged to keep herding the youngest ones back toward the group. He finally convinced them to settle down in a weary heap, though Tiri seemed to find it soothing to use his finger as a chewtoy.

    When Ostid had transliterated the message, he recited it in Çervelik - with pauses to look up some of the words in an ovaresh dictionary and try to translate them, since his tongue had no exact equivalents for words like "bandwidth", "bitmapping", and "encryption".

    "So," Sijrali quavered, "they have a way to send pictures? How would that work?"

    "You're asking me?" replied Ostid. He began relieving Ejad of his tiny charges and putting them into a kind of large basket. "But they seem to know what they're talking about."

    "It would be useful to have drawings of their devices," Anuri murmured.

    "Nice, perhaps," Sijrali countered, though she seemed to be lost in thought. "Whether it's useful remains to be seen. Human devices are clever enough, but they often use materials we don't have or can't process."

    "Still, we might learn something," Ejad said. "But I'm not sure how to give them what they want. Shielding one's own emotions from everyone is one thing, but how do you shield them from everyone but a specific listener?"

    Sijrali smiled, "Oh, there are ways. A mindlink would do the trick."

    There was a collective silence.

    Everyone knew mindlinks were possible, and every so often one heard of some acquaintance of an acquaintance that had entered into one; but they were vanishingly rare, and viewed with disquiet. They changed the participants, in a way that the fiercely individualistic Çerid were not often willing to contemplate, even with their very dearest.

    Finally, Anuri asked incredulously, "Can one do that with someone who's not a Çer?"

    Ostid added, "Can one even do that over that kind of distance?"

    "If we and they can get a volunteer," Sijrali replied pleasantly, "we'll find out. But if they want a way of keeping psionic communication from being interfered with, that's the way to do it. Two mindlinked individuals could talk without being overheard, and do it faster than by this pulse method."

    Anuri cast a dubious look at Sijrali. "And who would volunteer for that?"

    "Humans seem quite willing to surrender themselves to every other damn thing, so I have to imagine they'll find someone on their side. Among ourselves, certainly, it'll be a more difficult search." She peered at Anuri. "I don't suppose you-"

    Anuri's antennae stiffened. "No. Absolutely not," she grated, then amended, "not unless anyone else can be found. Why would I be suitable anyway?"

    "You're psionically strong, and you have a bit of a rapport already with their communicator," Sijrali replied, in reasonable tones. "And you're responsible."

    Anuri's facial markings darkened at the compliment. "Yes. Well," she murmured. "Regardless."

    "At any rate, the new team should be here soon enough. Once they are, Ejad can carry back a call for volunteers, if we can't find any among them - and, if I could impose on him further, to deliver a message to my daughter Edli, at Vorinemtaj."

    Ejad bobbed his head in assent. "It's not far out of my way, ma'am."

    "Splendid."

    ------

    When the Çerid replied, it was to indicate that they agreed to Kalgachia's proposed arrangement, and that further details on psionic shielding should wait until after the encryption method had been worked out, on the basis that as little further unencrypted information as possible should be sent. By the time this had been done, the relief team had arrived, and Ostid began teaching them what they would need to know.

    Sijrali, meanwhile, had raided Edaj's store of bark scrolls and wrote a message for her daughter, which Edaj took with him. Sijrali was confident that Edli would understand its meaning.

    Edli, my daughter,

    Your old mother faces a dilemma that she thought she would never see. In the near future, there may be need of your foremother's heirloom box. Please ensure that you know where it is and that its contents remain untouched.

    I would appreciate a visit, from you or the babies, should you have a chance. I do not know, now, if I will leave the oasis again - my spirit is up to the journey, but my body, weighed upon by time, rarely is. Should I pass into the arms of Taghli, then I ask you to use your judgment in deciding whether the situation warrants opening the box.

    Please also keep abreast of the communications with the Kalgachi, as I feel they are of some importance - no doubt your Speaker friends have mentioned them to you before.

    I hope all is well and that the zeren of your place is will-disposed.


    -----

    When the first encrypted message of substance came through to Pip, it was unusually long. It also contained a number of single-letter errors by the Speakers who had yet to come entirely to grips with the encryption process, though these were ultimately easily corrected for.

    REGARDING YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT PSIONIC SHIELDING.

    UNDERSTAND THAT WHILE EMPATHIC EMISSIONS AS SUCH CAN BE WITHHELD ENTIRELY BY THE EMITTER WE KNOW OF NO METHOD OF DIRECTING THEM TOWARD A SPECIFIED RECEIVER WHILE PREVENTING THEM FROM REACHING ALL OTHERS. PARTICULAR EMOTIONAL PROFILES MAY HIDE SOME NUANCE BUT THE PLAIN TEXT CONVEYED BY THE PULSING METHOD CURRENTLY IN USE CANNOT TO OUR KNOWLEDGE BE HIDDEN WHILE REMAINING USEFUL. INTERCEPTION OF THE MESSAGE WOULD BE RELATIVELY TRIVIAL. THEREFORE THE CONTINUED CODING OF OUR COMMUNICATIONS MAY BE CRUCIAL IN SECURING SENSITIVE INFORMATION IN FUTURE MESSAGES SENT WITH THIS METHOD.

    JAMMING OF THE EMISSIONS BY A HOSTILE POWER IS POSSIBLE AND IS DIFFICULT TO PREVENT EXCEPT THROUGH EITHER PHYSICAL ACTION AGAINST THE JAMMER OR THE USE OF MULTIPLE SENDING PSIONS TO BOOST THE SIGNAL. BUT OUR EXPERIENCE SUGGESTS THAT SUCH JAMMING WOULD ALSO BE DIFFICULT TO IMPLEMENT AND WOULD REQUIRE SUBSTANTIAL ENCIRCLEMENT OF THE SITE OF EITHER SENDER OR RECEIVER WITH A HIGH DENSITY OF PSIONS. ASSUMING THIS IS NOT DONE VIA AN INTRUSION ON NATIONAL TERRITORY IT WOULD REQUIRE GATHERING ENOUGH PSIONS TO RING THE ENTIRE COUNTRY AND A MEANS OF COORDINATING THEM IN SUCH A FASHION AS TO ENSURE THAT AN EMOTIONAL PROFILE CAPABLE OF JAMMING THE EMISSIONS IS MAINTAINED.

    THIS ASIDE WE BELIEVE THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO EMPATHIC TRANSMISSION. AMONG OUR KIND THERE IS A FORM OF PSIONIC CONNECTION WHICH WE CALL A MINDLINK. IT IS A JOINING OF MINDS SUCH THAT THERE IS NO LONGER A SHARP DISTINCTION BETWEEN THEM BUT A GRADIENT. IT OPERATES IN A FASHION SIMILAR TO WHAT HUMANS CALL ENTANGLEMENT IN THAT ONE MIND INDUCES EFFECTS IN THE OTHER WITHOUT INVOLVEMENT OF THE INTERVENING SPACE. IF THERE IS A METHOD OF INTERCEPTING OR JAMMING THE MINDLINK WE HAVE NOT ENCOUNTERED IT. IT WOULD ALSO ALLOW THE THINKING OF WORDS BETWEEN PARTICIPANTS AT A MUCH FASTER RATE THAN THE PULSING METHOD ALTHOUGH THE RELIABLE TRANSMISSION OF IMAGES MAY REQUIRE THE PROTOCOL OF WHICH YOU SPOKE.

    THERE ARE DRAWBACKS BOTH KNOWN AND POTENTIAL.

    WHILE WE KNOW OF NO EFFECT BY DISTANCE ON THE QUALITY OF COMMUNICATION WE HAVE NOT HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO WITNESS IT OVER THE DISTANCE THAT LIES BETWEEN US AND KALGACHIA.

    A MINDLINK CANNOT BE FORMED BETWEEN ANY TWO INDIVIDUALS. BOTH MUST ENTER IT NOT MERELY THROUGH CONSCIOUS CHOICE BUT WITH SUBCONSCIOUS ACCEPTANCE. THERE MAY BE NERVOUSNESS OR DOUBT BUT NOT SUPPRESSED REVULSION OR REGRET. IT CANNOT BE COERCED OR COMPELLED. BOTH INDIVIDUALS MUST ALSO BE PERSONALLY COMPATIBLE. IT IS ADVISABLE FOR THE PARTICIPANTS TO BECOME USED TO ONE ANOTHER BEFOREHAND AND TO DETERMINE THAT THEY WORK WELL TOGETHER. IN THIS CONTEXT THIS WILL MEAN DESIGNATING EMPATHIC COMMUNICATORS AND HAVING THEM INTERACT AS WITH OUR CURRENT METHOD UNTIL THEY ARE PREPARED TO ATTEMPT A LINK.

    UNDERSTAND ALSO THAT THE FORMATION OF A MINDLINK IS A HIGHLY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. THE JOINED MINDS RETAIN INDIVIDUALITY BUT AFFECT ONE ANOTHER AND MAY BECOME MORE ALIKE OVER TIME. IT IS RARELY DONE AMONG US FOR THIS REASON. ALSO NO CER HAS EVER LINKED MINDS WITH A NON CER AND IT IS UNKNOWN HOW EITHER WOULD BE AFFECTED WERE THIS TO BE DONE.

    BOTH PARTICIPANTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THEY WILL HAVE LITTLE GUARANTEE OF PRIVACY. SOME FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS WILL BE REFLECTED AUTOMATICALLY IN THE MIND OF THE OTHER AND THERE WILL BE NO WAY TO PREVENT THE REST FROM BEING ACTIVELY READ. SHOULD WE PROCEED EACH SIDE SHOULD TAKE CARE TO ENSURE THAT ITS PARTICIPANTS ARE AWARE OF NOTHING THAT SHOULD NOT BE SHARED WITH THE OTHER SIDE.

    IT SHOULD ALSO BE UNDERSTOOD THAT TO OUR KNOWLEDGE THE MINDLINK IS NOT REVERSIBLE AS WHAT WAS MIXED CANNOT BE UNMIXED. ONCE ENTERED INTO THE LINK MAY ONLY BE BROKEN BY THE DEATH OF ONE OR THE OTHER. THE SURVIVING PARTICIPANT IS VERY LIKELY TO BE AFFECTED.

    WE BELIEVE THAT THE ADVANTAGES OF THE MINDLINK OVER EMPATHIC PULSING MAKE IT AN OPTION WORTH CONSIDERING FOR OUR FUTURE COMMUNICATIONS BUT ARE AWARE THAT THE PARTICULARS MAY PROVE DISSUASIVE. WE ARE BEGINNING A PRELIMINARY SEARCH FOR WILLING CANDIDATES BUT WILL AWAIT YOUR OPINION BEFORE EXPANDING ITS SCOPE.

    ITS HAS ALSO OCCURRED TO US THAT THE EFFECT OF THE GREATLY DIFFERING PASSAGE OF TIME IN CERIDGUL MAY INTERFERE WITH FUTURE COMMUNICATIONS AND HAS INDEED CAUSED PROBLEMS IN OUR OTHER DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS AS MANY GENERATIONS MAY PASS DURING THE TIME ABROAD OF A SINGLE SPEAKER. WE WOULD APPRECIATE A RECOMMENDATION FOR A STANDARD CALENDAR TO ADOPT TO MORE CLOSELY APPROXIMATE THE FLOW OF TIME IN OTHER NATIONS.
    Shyriath Farstrider (aka Shyriath Bukolos), KD MOU OLH XBH
    Viscount Farstrider of Erysisceptrum, Count Bukolos of the Condo, Harbinger of Cheese

    TOTUS MUNDUS TABULAM RASAM EST
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    Re: Signal Interference

    Postby Kalgachi Envoy » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:34 am

    D. H. P. W.
    "All better now."

    To the Chief Emissariat of the Directorate of the Tumultuous Wastes
    SUB JUNIPERUS


    Your Assorted Excellencies,

    May it please you to peruse herein a preliminary report upon the mental integrity of one Emissary Pippin Holibobs, pursuant to your recent request for a full psychiatric assessment of the aforenamed by my office.

    Mr. Holibobs - who refuses to be addressed by that name - presents as a confused, and at times dejected individual who nonetheless retains certain selective streaks of lucidity and enthusiasm when certain subjects of discussion are put to him: namely the work in which he is presently engaged and the experiences he has obtained from it. Although initially reluctant to discuss the full scope of his work with me, citing security considerations, his insistent perusal of my credentials and security clearances has at length assuaged him. For all of his discontent with his present predicament, to be outlined below, Mr. Holibobs retains a security-conscious attitude with regard to his work and it is my assessment that he does not present a security risk to the Garden at the present time.

    Mr. Holibobs has described the more recent progress of his work to me as "an experimental programme of high-speed data transference between psionically-entangled persons through absorption of overwhelming optical stimuli by the sender, amplified by synchronous electromagnetic stimulation of the cranium to generate electroencephalographic response of machine-readable clarity in the recipient." Although tentatively supportive of this work, Mr. Holibobs feels palpable despair at the extent to which he has been "used and abused like a common lab rat," and has even gone so far as to compare his predicament with that of the notorious Dokhtar-e Ahriman operated by the Benacian Hegemon. Mr. Holibobs attributes his repeated decisions to suspend cooperation with your office to these feelings of dissatisfaction, and expressed no particular surprise that this has led your office to enlist my services.

    At this juncture it must be emphasised that since the commencement of his employment with your office, and especially since the establishment of what he calls a "mindlink" with a female draconid correspondent in Çeridgul, Mr. Holibobs has undergone a substantial change of attitude with regard to his self-identity which bear all the features of a dissociative personality split, differing from the established corpus of such cases in being of a material rather then delusional nature. Mr. Holibobs no longer considers himself to exist as a coherent individual, rather he considers his previous self to have blended with the personage of his Çerid correspondent into a new entity residing primarily within the psionic space. With extreme reluctance he confided the name of his correspondent to me as "Anuri," although he explained that the latter individual shares his reluctance to be addressed by names given before the 'mindlink' was established and moreover, that she mirrors the fullity of his discontent with regard to her own treatment in Çeridgul. Presumably she has begun to share Mr. Holibobs' habit of referring to himself in the plural.

    This breakdown in Mr. Holibobs' self-perception as a humanoid extends to the subconscious level; during my consultation he eschewed the proffered chair in favour of curling up on the floor or pacing about the room. I repeatedly observed him expressing surprise at the mild pain he experienced when casually leaning on the sharp corner of my desk, explaining that he keeps "forgetting this body doesn't have scales." He also displays a periodic, tic-like twitching of the ears and shoulder blades. He reports that these draconid features have a counterpart in 'Anuri' whose acquisition of humanoid habits has been similarly remarked upon by her peers in Çeridgul, often to her embarrassment.

    As might be expected of the situation, Mr. Holibobs feels a great affinity toward 'Anuri' to the point that he cites the life-changing effect of the 'mindlink' as his only reason for continuing to work with your office at all. All the same, he has threatened further episodes of disobedience with regard to the Magneto-Optical Telemetry Programme unless the present test schedule required of him is substantially curtailed. Mr. Holibobs claims that both he and his Çerid counterpart, inasmuch as he distinguishes between them at all, become physically and mentally exhausted by subjection to magneto-optical telemetry exchanges of any more than a few minutes per day. The present arrangement, whereby such exchanges are conducted for hours at a time, is cited by Mr. Holibobs as the sole and overwhelming cause of his present distress.

    It is my assessment that the initial 'mindlink' established through Mr. Holibobs constitutes a profound environmental stressor in its own right, without the additional sensory loads of the Magneto-Optical Telemetry Programme. Although Mr. Holibobs' mental resilience - and presumably that of his Çerid correspondent - allows for a limited exposure to the latter, it is clear that the present arrangement has caused Mr. Holibobs to approach the threshold of a psychotic break - such an occurrence, if reached, would not necssarily be reversable and would doubtless have catastrophic implications for his work at your office, quite aside from any consideration of his own wellbeing.

    The cognitive delicacy of Mr. Holibobs' work effectively precludes any direct treatment approach from my office lest it inferfere with the operations of yours, but I must nonetheless conclude that the continuation of such operations will ultimately be reliant upon an easing of the present magneto-optical test schedule in the manner insisted upon by Mr. Holibobs. His cognitive fortitude thus far, for an individual in his circumstances, has been impressive - I would posit that in the event of his loss to the wastes of insanity, an man of his calibre would be very difficult to replace. Fortunately in this instance, a mental breakdown is entirely avoidable if the above corrective action is taken by your office.

    It remains my honour to be, Sirs, Your Candid Consultant,

    Dr. Bopp Chewitude
    Deputy Psychiatrist-General (Lapivril)
    Directorate of Health and Public Welfare

    P.S. Mr. Holibobs' unflattering identification with the Dokhtar-e Ahriman is, in my assessment, not entirely without merit and the connection will doubtlessly be made by the more learned brethren of our senior state organs if Mr. Holibobs' discontent were to persist long enough to reach their attention. Your Excellencies will doubtless need no reminder of the implications if your office was perceived to have degenerated to a Shirerithian level of disregard for the dignity of those in its care. My own office recently lost no less than seven talented psychiatrists to the Prefects for similar reasons and if your estimable number wish to avoid being liquidated for the church putrefact, I can only implore you all to resolve this matter without delay.
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    Kalgachi Envoy
     
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