Gravity Chalk


vf_magnes_icon.gif vf_ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Gravity Chalk
Synopsis Magnes and Ygraine discuss, well, gravity, and Edward Ray.
Date November 29, 2011

The Hub, Mess Hall

A post-apocalyptic mess hall?

It's early in the evening, and Magnes is carrying two high school physics book in one arm as he enters the mess area. He's looking around rather deliberately, and he's asked a few people so far if they're seen Ygraine. He's wearing his green Surge t-shirt, blue jeans and black boots, and takes a seat at one of the tables, sitting his books down.

Emerging from another entrance, Ygraine's clad in what passes for her exercise gear - both hands lifted and her head somewhat lowered as she tries to wrangle her hair into some sort of order. Her preoccupied air suggests that she's just passing through, but her pace is not particularly hurried.

Magnes tilts his head, it takes him a moment. "Oh!" he suddenly remembers. "Ygraine! Elisabeth wanted us to talk. I wanted to talk too." He doesn't really waste any time, leaning his elbows on the table. "About the night we met."

Visibly startled, Ygraine looks around a little wildly upon hearing her name in an unfamiliar voice… before blinking, taking a slow breath, and accompanying a slight nod with a hint of a smile. Moving closer, she lifts a brow. "When I asked you a question or two, and then had to walk you down from the spire?", she asks - voice pitched quite low, rather than broadcast that to the whole room.

"Yeah… that. Things are a little different now, but I should have talked to you more, I might not even be here if I did." Magnes sits up straight, reaching down to touch his abdomen. "I used to think I was just a gravity manipulator, but when I became a black hole, a lot of things changed. I realized that my ability wasn't really… exactly what I thought it was. And my senses expanded, the uh, the feeling of gravity? I could always feel it, but now it's like… the context is so much more clear."

Ygraine hesitates, one hand on the back of a chair. She stares at Magnes in silent for a few moments, before remembering to breathe again - and pulling out the seat, so that she can lower herself onto it. "Ooo-kaaay. That's not the sort of line I expected to hear." Leaning forward a little, she pinches the bridge of her nose. "Something I *think* I tried to convey to you back then was that gravity's not what you see in the comics. It's a 'weak' force, but it's intrinsically bound up with everything we can perceive in the universe. Even some things we can't directly perceive. As best I could make out, you *generated* gravity. I'm… I do something more akin to putting mirrors in the path of light. I can't generate, negate, dissipate, or focus it - but I can, within certain pretty narrow limits, choose where it goes."

"For me, now that I've had time to really think about it, and experience some extremes, gravity is like… it's right here." Magnes pats his abdomen. "My gravity is here, and there's a ring surrounding me, and that ring can move things around. I mean, it's not a real ring, but that's the best way to describe it. Like orbit. Everything has a ring, but the ring is usually very, very small."

He points to the books. "I could tranfer the forces from one thing to another, making something lighter and the other heavier. Usually I just transfer it from myself." Looking down at his abdomen again, he explains, "The thing, uh, in my stomach, if I make that heavier, my ring gets bigger, if I make it lighter, my ring gets smaller. Umm… I guess that's the best way to explain it? Everything I do is just interacting with all the rings around me, using my own."

"*Neither* of us could tell precisely what it was we were doing, back then," Ygraine says softly. "Are gravitons real, and what we're affecting? Are we dealing with waves? Are we directly manipulating the fabric of space-time on which matter rests? There're even weirder and wilder options relating to interaction between dimensions beyond the three physical and the fourth of time; I read something back before the world ended, about one branch of string theory positing that gravity is really the side-effect of…." She vaguely waves a hand. "Of theorised components of the hidden parts of reality that I'm not competent to even try understanding, let alone explaining. I'm afraid that the last physics I studied was a bit of first-year university nuclear fission. How a nuclear reactor works is really quite beautifully simple, in mathematical terms. But that's not much use in *this* discussion. I only began researching any of this once I figured out my ability, and I don't have the advanced theoretical grounding to really grasp how we could even test precisely what it is that we manipulate in order to achieve any of our effects."

"But from the sound of it, you're working with… something close to the 'rubber sheet' model of space-time? Mass generates a depression in space-time, the slope of which is gravity? And you're manipulating the depth of indent you create, and therefore the size of the circular area of effect?"

Magnes rubs his chin, considering that for a moment, then grabs one of those physics books, flipping through it rather quickly. "Yeah, I think that's what I'm doing." he suddenly decides, closing the book and sitting it down.

No shame in having to low-tech Google.

"When my ability went out of control, when I was augmented and forced to just… start destroying things, it was like my ability just kept spinning and spinning, collecting more and more things around me. The more things I grabbed, the larger my 'ring' got. It reached a point where I could no longer even think about controlling it."

He hunches over now, holding his forehead as if he's starting to get a headache. "My entire body, I literally became the center of a black hole. I could… I could feel the Earth, I wanted to devour it, my consciousness expanded beyond my body, I started to forget everyone and everything, I just had this primal need. I could feel everything, the planets, all of it, just… intersecting. I felt so… so…"

A trickle of blood rolls from one of his nostrils.

"Shit…" He stares over at her, shaking his head. "My point is, yeah, I'm pretty sure you're right, but I have to wonder how that leads to punching a wormhole into the fabric of space…"

Ygraine eyes Magnes as he talks… and then leans back a little as the blood-flow starts. She's seen enough over-exerted Evolved to know what sort of thing that can denote. "The rubber-sheet model is a simplification, but it works well enough for most purposes. Or so I seem to recall. In it, every object that has mass makes its own dent. The more mass, the bigger the dent. So if you roll more and more things in to the centre of a given indentation, it'll get deeper - and therefore expand its reach. A wormhole… well."

She closes her eyes, trying to dredge up old memories. "If I recall some Horizon I watched while at home in the UK… there're a number of options for what a black hole is, and others for what a wormhole is. With some overlap between the two. The simplest ones would be that you bend the sheet to the point where it rips - and you make a hole. Whatever goes in can never come out: it drops out of what passes for our physical reality, having been destroyed beyond any recovery or interaction. A wormwhole *could* be where the sheet bends and distorts to the extent that it comes into contact with itself at another point. That would be the 'bridge' within a single universe, reality, or whatever you want to call it."

"I was experimenting with Ruiz. He created a second black hole, something he never tried before. They stopped being wild and, well, black, and became these clear, calm portals. I think the answer is that two black holes create a wormhole, but the tricky part is, I guess, figuring out how to connect to one in another universe. How that was even possible. It almost feels like there's a missing element, something beyond our abilities… like that machine." Magnes' heart seems to sink at that, staring down at the table with a deeply troubled look on his face.

"Something else, and it struck me as possibly important… Lynette said that when Ruiz makes his black holes, he draws from electricity. Batteries, her ability, anything." Trying to shake off the mood, he locks eyes with her again. "What do you make of that?"

"If Ruiz created a 'simple' black hole, he'd destroy the Hub," Ygraine points out, gaze unfocusing, attention seeming to disappear somewhere over Magnes's shoulder as she frowns thoughtfully. "From my exceedingly limited understanding, they're more 'holes' than concentrations of gravity so intense that they create a hole as a secondary effect. That he taps a power-source other than gravity does actually make sense. As I mentioned before, gravity's considered a 'weak' force: you need a huge amount of mass to generate much of an impact. Something like electricity is far, far more efficient. But it could be a side-effect of him tapping potential energy, or…. Gah. Too many options, and I don't even know what kit we'd need to test them."

Hauling her attention back to the young man opposite her, she slightly shakes her head. "Right. Multiple universes. There're a host of theories regarding those, but I seem to recall something about cosmic background radiation, and hints within that. In extremely broad and hazily-remembered terms, there's background 'noise' throughout the universe - which is what you'd expect, if it all started at one point with the Big Bang, and has been expanding since then. I think it takes the form of microwaves. The correct receivers can pick this up, and examine how different bits of the sky 'look'. An unexpected discovery was that there were substantial variations in it. Some random 'scatter' was expected, of course. But there seemed to be *big* areas of disruption: as if there'd been something there already for the expanding universe to interact with. I'm probably mangling the whole thing terribly, of course, as a non-cosmologist's vague memory. But the key point is that some researchers concluded that this was strong evidence for at least one previous universe. Perhaps multiple such iterations. One proposal was that the areas of disruption were signs of other universe's black holes - or at least the supermassive variety one might find at the heart of a galaxy."

She sighs, shaking her head again. "Sorry. I'm getting lost in memories and theories. The point is that there was at least some shred of theoretical support for black holes doing something that could impact on more than one universe. And if we go back to the idea of a hole through space time into something else, then that might possibly be what Ruiz creates. A hole to the void between realities, or whatever poetic term you want to use for it. Gravity, however, is about *directing* things, fundamentally. It's a pull. If you punched a hole into the void from another reality, and Ruiz's was open at the same time, and they were somehow 'close', then… perhaps when the mass fell through it would interact with Ruiz's? It's… patching together dim memories of several wholly-unproven theories."

"Well, it makes sense, I think. It's at least better than my theory of barely having a concept of what we could do…" Magnes takes a moment to maul the information over in his head, then he raises an eyebrow. "Wait a minute. Edward Ray's ability is probability prediction… what the hell information did he have in his predictive model that made him able to predict that someone would come through Ruiz's hole?"

Ygraine blinks. "He… theorised that? Hrmmm." She frowns, deeply. "That would suggest that he had seen something to suggest that transit was possible between realities. Even if he had read the full versions of all the research I'm dimly recalling seeing explained in layman's terms… I don't think there's anything in there to suggest that people could come through. To conclude that such an eventuality is *probable* would surely require additional data. Data specifically indicating that there were humans on the far side of one or more of Ruiz's holes, perhaps - and data communicated in a manner that was comprehensible. Yet… Ruiz would surely have noticed anything physical coming through. So… a transmission of some sort? A literal communication, conveyed in a form that would be imperceptible to Ruiz himself?"

"Basically Edward Ray is a sneaky dick just like Elisabeth has been saying all this time. I've been having thoughts about him lately… but anyway." Magnes takes a breath, then nods. "It's possible, but how do we find out? Whatever he knows, he kept it from us for a reason. I'm not sure that asking would get us anywhere… unless…"

"The Mallet Device, the point of it was to send a transmission into the past, but what if he got a transmission here, somehow? Do we have any equipment here that receives transmissions?" he wonders, before quickly adding, "And no, I'm not sure how the transmission worked. Maybe Elisabeth does."

Ygraine spreads her hands. "Unsurprisingly, anything that could itself transmit is not in public hands, lest anyone screw up and advertise our presence to the Vanguard. Receivers… I'm sure some people arrived with small ones: little personal things. But we're deep underground here, so it's not as if people are likely to try using them even if they think there might be transmissions out there. Still… it wouldn't surprise me if Edward had some means of listening in to things on the surface. Intelligence-gathering would be wholly sensible. And perhaps if something came through a rift…." She shrugs again. "But we're now speculating on how to pick up things that I've speculated might exist, if my speculation about multiple tiers of theory hangs together. Still, if there was a Device specifically intended to breach space/time - this Mallet Device - then…"

"We need to go underground somehow, and see for ourselves if there's something something suspicious down there." Magnes looks her very seriously in the eye now, with clear intent. "Edward Ray doesn't know that you know. Do you think that you can get down there and, I don't know, look around? Is there no way to safely get down there and investigate?"

"We are underground. Deep underground," Ygraine says. "It's how we've survived. All these tunnels? We're far below the surface. How much more there might be beneath us, I'm not sure. New York has one of the most extensive underworlds known to man. I suspect we're on the bottom tier here… but I couldn't say so with certainty."

"Well, if Edward Ray's hiding something, I guess my only choice is to try and talk to him. I just have to think of something subtle to say…" Magnes' eyes shift down for a moment, then back up. "Okay, any ideas on how I'd… get him onto this topic in a way that might actually give me useful information? I think I'd screw this up if I just come up with something on my own."

"I'd suggest that Elisabeth tries," Ygraine says gently. "She's gathering information and considering options, I believe, with his explicit approval. So asking for information…." She shrugs slightly. "It's entirely possible that my speculation is wrong, quite apart from any other considerations. I don't know how his ability works, or what Ruiz has told him, or how much observation he's performed of Ruiz's ability. But I'm struggling to conceive of any way in which he conclude that, ahh, inter-dimensional travel - or whatever you want to call it - was probable, in survival fashion, right here in this time-period. The odds seem utterly astronomical, barring extra information to very strongly hint at its feasibility."

"Well, I think you might be able to explain this all to Elisabeth better than I can, I think I just sound like a rambling lunatic when I try to explain certain things. Then maybe you two can come up with a game plan for Edward?" Magnes suggests, crossing his arms. "Meanwhile, I plan to go to K-Mart to see if I can find theoretical physics books, which, uh, I might need your help with. I'm trying to educate myself so that I can understand this stuff more, and you have a more firm grasp of the concepts than me. So I could use the help studying."

"In the meantime…" He shrugs. "I guess I'll keep getting to know people to see if I can find anymore clues about, well, anything. And I need to talk to Eileen again, so… fingers crossed on that."

"Just ask him for 'science books', I'd suggest. You can then look at whatever he has to offer, and pick out the physics, or cosmology, or astronomy ones. Narrow it down too much and you might miss something that could help you." Ygraine shrugs again. "Not that I know how much he understands about physics, admittedly. He might have a degree in it, for all I know. But it'll probably be better for you to make the selection of what you want than him, if he's willing to let you view his stock. And sure, I can try talking to Liz about this - but she's no physicist, herself. Getting information from Edward, however, she probably stands more chance of than either of us."

"Alright, this all sounds like a good plan." Magnes smiles, offering his hand to her. "I'm glad you're one of my adult daughter from the future's moms."

Ygraine just looks at Magnes, while she tries to wrestle that bizarre declaration into making any semblance of a shred of sense. "Uh-huh."

"Alright, let's get to work then!" Magnes grabs his books, then starts to stand. "If you need anything, well, it's not like I can leave."

"I'd strongly recommend not telling K-Mart that you want to study how to break the universe," Ygraine notes, shooting Magnes an apologetic look as she belatedly registers the withdrawal of the hand from which the adult-future-daughter announcement had so thoroughly distracted her. "But yes, you go and find out whether he has any more science books, and I can try to find Elisabeth."

"I figured that wasn't a good thing to lead with!" But Magnes isn't going to deny that it's a valid thing to take into consideration when it comes to thinks he might say. "Later!"

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