Fenris Punk | The Lightspeed Barrier

1 Prologue

I wrote this as a thought experiment into the mad mind of a death mage trying to solve a problem like a scientist who has extra physics, specifically magic, and to toy with some of the strange rules related to turns in turn-based games. I will explain some of the meta problem at the end.

I removed a bit of content regarding a fictional pandemic AARS, pronounced like "arse", I wrote some of the background to this before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Fenris Punk universe, AARS is an engineered pathogenic weapon that targets magic users, created by the fictional Daifin Group, a megacorp co-based in Cascadia and Japan. I removed most of these details related to AARS, but one can guess when and where in the text the narrator refers to it.

2 Part One, AlmostFairness

Years ago, my sensei, Taka The Wise, taught a magic spell called AlmostFairness, naturally written in the camelCase for maximum hacks. It places a sort of a minor, but effective curse on a set of folks so they must perform a set of tasks in a particular order. It lasts one minute and only dragons and werefolk automatically have resistance to it. Over the years I have become proficient at casting it upon an unlimited number of folks at once, though they must all remain within view. It dawned on me one day that I might use it to perform a large number of actions across a distance so lengthy that the fairness part of the spell might break some speed barriers.

But it will not work on dragons, obviously not dragons. It goes without saying they are not fair, but I love talking about dragons, so I will say it, the rest of it, anyway. They have so much power and mystery, though such a terrible appetite when it comes to humans. Well, never trust anyone, I tell you, especially not a dragon, unless one happens to have a spell that can give oneself an absolute advantage. If you ever find yourself turning into a dragon, tell your loved ones to give you some space, otherwise you might eat one or roll over on one by mistake or on purpose. Most folks never turn back and stay dragons forever.

On the other hand, werefolk's bad reputation can largely be attributed to Hollywood. I would not expect every artifact from that industrial giant to come out shiny and pristine, but the fact they have tarnished so many of the good werefolk over the years, with the exception of that basketball movie, well, it really distresses me. But no one with any magic goes outside these days. That might be a good thing, if it at least keeps some of the chud-wizards inside.

But apparently the ingredients required for the spell gives werefolk some kind of an immunity. So instead of asking them, the werefolk, to help volunteer for this, I approached the Underett Track and Field League for Dwarfs. I knew they had the space, and with AlmostFairness I knew I could order their actions precisely, and with the help of a highly optimized QuickSpeed and a few JumpPortals along with a VoidTrap, I might have some serious power to use against a tyrannical creature plaguing my homelands.

3 Part Two, Sport Pub

A month ago I asked Siddig Isaac Gandalfsbarn November Ezra, more famously known as Coach Signe, but just Coach to close friends, if the Underett T&FL4D would agree to help in a scientific experiment to stop one of the most menacing dragons in the Pacific Northwest. At first Signe had a skeptical look of doubt, as if I had dangled the last slice of cake in front of a latecomer child during a birthday party and eaten it outright with a false promise of more to come.

I knew I had to explain it, even though to me it seemed so clear. I needed a group of reliable folks who I could cast the spell upon, and with the help of other augmentation spells, send a particle of matter round and round until I had the weapon. None of my magic could stop a dragon any more than my fists could stop a bear. But using my fists to manipulate other tools upon tools, I could create a bear trap and catch the bear. Or use magic to stop the dragon.

Now, unfortunately, Signe still did not quite get it. So I broke it down into a sport analogy over several steins of ale and a few bottles of wine. We found a good pub, one without any chuds, Underett being a very civilized place. They had a pinball machine that I magically kept inserting coins into, no one suspecting a magic user these days. And even without that, we managed to top the high score. I procured a round of shots for everyone in the establishment, which seemed like a good idea at the time, though I think they double charged me. At that point I honestly cannot remember what I said, but it seemed to have worked. Because the next day, after taking some stims to get over the hangover, Signe called me to the track, with a team of no less than one thousand dwarfs huddled around the stadium.

4 Part Three, Frozen

Three weeks later, nothing worked, and fifty dwarfs had to go to the hospital for burns. I tried different materials in the spell, such as tungsten, carbon, carbon turned to diamond from a previous failure. One night I spent all my energy trying to catch one of the rods and I froze my hand, literally, while using ZeroCool. Signe had a medic on staff, an android who looked like the stereotypical logic-space elf and even gave the hand gesture. I never got their name, we can call them Medicoid, or I did, but all I could do to not pass out involved shouting obscenities at the ground.

So Medicoid injected me with something that made the rest of my arm, it was the right hand, feel like it was freezing also, but slowly thawed my hand back out with the most unpleasant feeling of pins and needles and a microwave oven blasting radiation and being dropped on my hand all at once. Twenty minutes of that or so later and I could open and close my hand again.

It gave me some time to think, during the time before my hand worked. The JumpPortals kept closing before I could send the rod through enough times, with or without the dwarfs handing it off. I tried moving them against each other, but one side kept failing and it would pop out. I tried looping the dwarfs around the track and giving them QuickSpeed to increase their capacity to perform more tasks to an incomprehensible amount into the hundreds of thousands, but that caused friction like atmospheric reentry. Lowering the pressure just made the rods hotter. This was pushing the limits of my power, and having a more stable portal, more dwarfs, or more of a vacuum seemed like dead ends.

Then Medicoid asked me what troubled me. Obviously watching my vital signs with those dang eye enhancements. Of course some of the dwarfs could do the same. "Why not just send information?" they asked me. I pondered this: The dwarfs must take turns in order to remain fair. To my knowledge, AlmostFairness has no quantum elements to it that ensure this fairness. I might even be able to accomplish it if I alternate the dwarfs across opposite sides of the track.

But what was the thing I was going to catch? Sending a rod at high speeds with a VoidTrap to bottle it up under certain conditions was one thing. I flipped open my nigh infinite spell book, via AR, to read about meta spells and dispel and reactionary trigger spells.

5 Part Four, Supercollider

That probably all sounds great. It sure took some of the edge off from having the hand unfrozen. Most of it eventually turned dark blue and I needed partial nano-reconstruction surgery. I probably could have fixed it myself, but I needed my mind for other tasks. It took me another month to research and experiment with the VoidTrap.

Then for the 2064 Underett Cup I bought a ticket, total nose bleed section. I intended to cast the AlmostFairness on the entire audience and placed a VoidTrap. An associate of mine, we can just call them Ulfy, came along with some party poppers. I needed someone who could help cause a diversion and not fall prone to the fairness. With so few mages still alive, security was no match for me, and I was not the true threat.

Before I cast the spells, I first used a Debuffer, a synthetic downer created by Daifin to reduce the reaction of mages. It came out before AARS, which mostly wiped us out. They really hate us. It made me vomit, but I needed to act quickly, but last when it came to the fairness. I cast the VoidTrap to trigger on causal speed of "the fairness spell" with myself as my adversary. I hoped the large population set of the stadium attendees would give enough paths for the information to disperse randomly, but far enough.

Six seconds later a pulse of light flashed over the audience and shot over to my collection device. Ulfy's poppers would have been useless, I realized only then, but at least if it maimed or killed me I would not have just died alone in a crowd. The game referees called interference and the one werefolk playing on the home team looked with confusion at the other players. I held back another urge to vomit long enough to create a portal and actually fall over through it.

6 Part Five, BFG

The collection device needed both a huge power supply and a magical boost. I threw it into the refrigerator, which also acted as a Faraday cage, and stepped into my lab's chemical shower. I hoped I had not accidentally given anyone cancer from possible radiation exposure. At least we had a cure for it now.

Brick sat on the only couch in a room full of sinks, motors, and various clutter. I hired him once before, topside, after working with him on several "cases" for the local authorities, mostly finding miss persons. Most of them turned out dead, but occasionally we saved someone. Brick fell into all trope categories related to brutish thugs and mighty humans, but he was necessary. Never do something alone, but never trust them either. Too many rules. Time was running out. I turned off the water and put a change of clothes on without drying off. "Okay that's it. I got it. Load it into the magazine and we go worm hunting."

7 Appendix

This originally came up as a thought experiment purely related to traveling a straight line, for a large number of actors, in a single turn. Imagine a relay race with a series of dwarfs of length x where x is s times a constant 300,000,000 meters plus y. We will use s equals 6 because that's the number of seconds SRD5 uses, but we could easily use any value from another game system, such as SR6 which uses 3 seconds. In most cases, do not worry about the length of the round, just that we have a lot of dwarfs, a w-load of them! The constant value equals the distance light can travel in a vacuum in one second (actually 299,792,458 meters, but like most calculations we'll round up).

We have enough dwarfs to span the distance in a line such that each gap z between each of them equals the distance they can move in a turn, each dwarf can move the same distance for our thought experiment, and each dwarf will pass a baton to the next dwarf. We will ignore silly things like are we running this relay race in a vacuum? Or, how do the dwarfs breathe in the vacuum? Or, how do the dwarfs safely pass the baton? Do the dwarfs run in a curved/circular track or in a straight line? Just put those aside for now.

So even though each dwarf only travels z, which in most cases will be around 10 meters in their 6 seconds, the baton travels faster than light. In-universe we have a problem because the baton and the dwarfs travel at different speeds (maybe). Out-of-universe we have a problem because we just broke the speed of light.