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 Post Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:42 pm 
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Spot considers for a second, decides that so long as Steve is determined to minimize Singularities then he's less likely to try to shoot Spot, and drops the subject. While Steve sets up the contact, Spot starts looking for something to maintain.

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:07 am 
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The ship is, in general, in good order and well looked-after. The air filters can always do with a good clean, of course, even on the most well-run ship - engine maintenance is very tricky while underway, and probably best done at some time when the ship is in dock - he could always poke around at the communication equipment, or fiddle with the autochef, or double-check that there are no problems in the plumbing, or look over the lighting circuits.

But there's nothing that really screams for adjustment.

There's a *ting* noise as the connectino is made. The Man answers the call instantly, appearing on the screen. "Oh good, you're all here. I presume you've all introduced yourselves to each other by now; King Wilshire, whose strength and familiarity with primitive societies will do you good at your next port of call; Spot, whose knowledge of singularity technology will be invaluable, and Steve, whose ability to talk almost anyone out of almost anything will do your team good."

"Now, to business. I've managed to track down Radcliffe. I imagine that he's continuing in his quest to build a Singularity capable of time travel, though I'm not sure how it's possible at his current location. As I'm sure you're aware, the Singularity Hunter teams are not always successful in their missions, and on rare occasion I have been forced to release the Waveries onto a few planets. These are lifeforms, created by a previous Singularity, which are made of electromagnetic fields; they subsist entirely on electricity, which they eat and excrete in somewhat unpredictable patterns. No, and I mean no electronic device can survive on a Wavery-infested world. They are capable in theory of travelling through space, but a set of containment satellites holds them on the world. This naturally eliminates any electronic computer systems, though your molecular state machine should be unaffected, Spot. While the total elimination of electricity can reduce the Wavery's food supplies, they can also subsist on the electricity generated by thunderstorms - there will be no lightning on a Wavery world."

"I can't be sure exactly how Radcliffe intends to create a Singularity on a world where he can use nothing electronic, but I suspect that he intends to build some sort of state machine similar to your own system, Spot. Landing on, and taking off from, the planet without electronics can be accomplished by a space elevator, with all the control systems at the top of the elevator. Once you have landed, the elevator will be raised; before taking off, you will need to signal the control station. A pattern of flashes of light would be required; for this purpose, you would need to take along a mirror."

"Unfortunately, before the Singularity on that world was obliterated, it did something that altered the local flow of spacetime; time on the surface of the world runs a good deal faster than time elsewhere in the galaxy. The effect of this is that Radcliffe has had a good two months local time to build up whatever it is that he is building there. He also took a fairly circuititious route to get there, and may have purchased any number of objects or devices before reaching the surface - nothing electronic will work, of course, but he would have known that in advance. Fortunately, the ship that he landed on the surface requires a certain amount of electricity to start the engine, so he's trapped down there; he can't run to another world and start over, like he did last time."

"Due to the lack of electronic communications, I have little idea what sort of society to expect on the surface of the world. I expect it to be primitive, relying heavily on animal power for transport, or possibly on steam power. Satellite photos show several cities, though they don't count as 'large' by modern standards, generally surrounded by a lot of farmland."

"Any questions?"

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:40 pm 
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Wilshire understood very little of what The Man said, but gathered that they will finally be on a world devoid of witchcraft. "Let us embark!" he declares.

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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 12:57 am 
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Spot pipes up. "I have two questions. Is there any reason to think the locals will tolerate robots, and how long does a population of Waverys last on a world?"

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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:16 am 
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"Information from the surface is very sparse." says The Man. "There is no reason to believe that the people will tolerate robots; there is no reason to believe that the people won't tolerate robots; there is good reason to believe that they won't know what robots are, except perhaps in legend, due to the presence of the Waveries. Waveries themselves are a bit like cockroaches - practically impossible to kill off. They also move naturally at the speed of light, are invisible, can travel through most barriers, can survive on natural atmospheric static, and tend to drain the batteries of any device used to study them, which gives them certain survival benefits."

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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:56 am 
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"So the Waveries will last a very long time. Then what will the local plants do for organic nitrogen as the years go by, without lightning to replenish it?"

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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:34 am 
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"Lightning fixes only a fairly small proportion of atmospheric nitrogen." replies The Man, after only the briefest of pauses. "Some data suggests that it is responsible for between four and thirteen percent of nitrogen fixation on inhabited planets, depending somewhat on local conditions. There are several varieties of bacteria that can fix nitrogen even in the absence of lightning strikes. I can't be sure, but I would expect that such bacteria are probably the only source of nitrogen fixation on a Wavery-infested world. No doubt this would have interesting effects on the biosphere - more of some plants, less of others - but by now these effects have probably settled into some kind of equilibrium. Satellite images do show that some forests still exist on the planet surface, and there are signs of cultivated fields."

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 Post Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:06 am 
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"I see." After a second Spot continues "Do we know where Radcliffe has landed? If so, what is there?"

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 Post Posted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:28 am 
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"We know where his shuttle came down." The Man's image on the screen is suddenly replaced with a satellite photo, centered on a forested area. There's a scorchmark visible in the forest, and a small spot on one end that just might be a crashed shuttle. A short distance away from the crash site, there are cultivated fields and the occasional farm; near to that, are roads. Just on the corner of the image appears to be a village; not large by modern standards, perhaps large enough for a population of about a thousand people.

There is a railway line going through the village.

"It is probable that he has made contact with the inhabitants." continues The Man. "The extent of this contact, and the nature of any aid he may have recieved, are unknown at present."

"Do you know what these people use for money?" asks Steve.

"No." replies The Man. "Probably electrically conductive and malleable metals in various forms."

"Is that a railway line?" asks Steve, considering the Man's previious answer. "How can they have trains without electricity?"

"It is probable that they have trains that run on steam power." says the Man. "The technology is not commonly used on more developed worlds, but it is reasonably well-known and the presence of Waveries does make electrically-driven trains impossible. Alternatively, they may be pulled by horses."

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 Post Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:57 am 
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After a few beats, Spot asks "What is to keep Radcliffe from teaching the locals how to make chemically powered rockets with mechanical control systems? If they are building railroads then they have factories which could be tooled to do it."

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:16 am 
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"Our wits and and our blades, friend," Wilshire answers for the Man.

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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:56 am 
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"While chemically powered rockets are in theory possible, and may indeed have been created," adds The Man, "none have yet left the surface of the world. Any further questions?"

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 Post Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:45 pm 
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Spot asks: "If he does use such rockets to boost his ship above the Waveries, can you shoot him down before he powers up and leaves?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:42 am 
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"That would depend on many factors. Assuming that he had intended such an escape, and planned for it from the start, and assuming that he manages a perfect construction of the rocket, and that I am unable to move any further resources into orbit before he does so, I estimate about a 60% chance that I will be able to shoot him down before he leaves. Should I fail to successfully shoot him down, though, I will be able to see where he jumps to, and immediately dispatch a new team to that location."

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 Post Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:23 pm 
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"I see." says Spot. "King Wilshire may be right, then. Thank you, I have no more questions."

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