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Dec 04, 2020 5:53 PM
the rest of the yeerk war
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Three days after dropping Matirin off on the Andalite homeworld, Leareth finishes the spell, and artifact to cast it, to imitate the morph tether.

He doesn't do this one in morph because he's not sure how long he's going to end up spending in the Void, and it can be harder to keep track of time. As much as he appreciates the Andalite body, he has no desire to end up stuck in it permanently. 

He sits down comfortably, artifact in hand, and anchors one end of the spell on the nothlit rabbit munching celery in its cage in front of him, then leaps into the Void, watching the spell unfold and looking for the reduced existing tether to the remains of the rabbit's normalspace pocket. 

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It takes a while (it usually does) but it can be found, holding the nothlit-rabbit's mind to its body.

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Leareth feeds more power into the spell; as he does so, it plays out into a new tether. How does it look, relative to the normally morphed rabbits he examined before? 

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The tether looks like the healthy morph-tether, before it destabilizes.

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Attaching the new magically-fuelled tether is the hard part. (And once it's attached he'll need to feed it power continuously, probably a lot of power, so he may not be able to hold it long and will probably end up killing this poor rabbit before getting a forced-demorph to work.) 

He goes very slowly and carefully, setting it up so that if he fumbles it, it'll destabilize on the spell side first. He can just re-cast that, whereas if he destabilizes the normalspace pocket he'll have to trap an additional rabbit in morph before he can try again. 

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It attaches. It wants a LOT of power, it's not stable relative to the morphed form and it's trying to stabilize itself.

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He can hold this for, like, three minutes before draining himself unconscious, so he has that long to try things before losing it. 

He knows what the demorph process looks like, and his spell is meant to also imitate the trigger-to-demorph that would normally be a signal deliberately sent by the morphed person. (Rabbits cannot successfully demorph on their own.) What happens if he spends a minute staring at the intersection between the pocket and tether, and then tries that? 

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The signals that move along the tether look like the ones that normally trigger a demorph. But the z-space pocket no longer contains all the material or all the instructions for a demorph, so it reaches for something that isn't there.

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Material is easy to fix; he doesn't have a spare pocket to merge on right now, but doing that with magic will take a day at most (and a lot of power). Instructions for the process itself are part of the design, which he has documentation on, but will take him another week to replicate via artifact; it might actually be easier to sacrifice a second rabbit to get its intact morph setup, if he can manage the transfer smoothly enough once the fragile tether link is done magically, which he's unsure of. 

He holds it right up until the point that his concentration is starting to waver from sheer exhaustion, staring as hard as he can at the exact points where the tether is reaching for something and failing to find it. Then he lets it go. Sorry, rabbit. 

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When he lets go of it the tether runs out of energy and swings loose and breaks the morph setup. Back in the physical world the rabbit slumps over. It is not dead but it won't independently eat or drink anymore.

Leareth's electrical mage-energy generator keeps humming.

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He frowns at it while he rests enough to feel capable of standing up. Tying spells directly to an energy source is one of the hardest problems in magical research. You can do it with a Heartstone but that's because Heartstones are intelligent. He doesn't know a way to do it on his own, short of "create the first stage of a tiny god", which...is technically possible to fuel with electricity rather than dead people, he supposes, but would still be months of work to set up for, and nearly match the electrical power consumption of the entire USA for the duration of the casting. (The energy-conversion is not perfectly efficient.) 

Eventually he gets up and looks for Cayaldwin, to update him on the artifact progress and maybe bounce ideas off him for the next steps, if he's not too busy. 

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Cayaldwin is working (he almost always is) but interruptible (he usually is for Leareth's research updates).

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Leareth describes his success (tether replicated and he could trigger a demorph from it), the blockers (lack of matter and the rest of the demorph instructions; he hopes at least the template for the rabbit's original body is intact in their somewhere), and the annoyingly high power drain. He muses on how if he had a Heartstone, or a baby god, he could leave it hooked to the generator while he focused entirely on studying it, but he has neither of those things and can't stabilize energy-flow without a somewhat clever process in the middle. 

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<Computers might be able to do that, though I don't know how you'd hook them up to it. How clever does the process need to be - what's an example of something it needs to be able to do ->

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:With nodes you need to manage turbulence and smooth out the energy flow; this is less true for the generator, but still some. Also holding the other end steady? It is hard to describe because I do it very instinctively, you could maybe morph Gifts and watch me channel some energy: 

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<How do you manage turbulence, what action do you take in response to it.>

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Leareth thinks. :Narrow or widen mage-channels, I think - they have some flex to them, like muscles, which you can learn to control very finely with practice: 

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<So if you just had a sensor, that detected whether the flow of energy was below a certain threshold or above that threshold, and changed the channels one percent in response, and then checked again, would that be smart enough?>

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:If the check and response was very fast, possibly? It might be prone to oscillations, many mages have trouble with this, but I am sure there is a way to set it up that would actually be better than a human mage, since computers have much faster reaction times: 

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<Does mage energy flow have physical correlates that computers already know how to measure - have you checked whether it shows up as having a magnetic field, for example ->

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:Only for specific spells, like the way Gates show up to hyperspace jump sensors - I nearly always just use mage-sight for my work. I could run some tests on this, though, probably it does show up somehow: 

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<That'd make it easier but I suppose you could probably also just build a magic sensor. The rest of that, though, doesn't require a very smart computer at all, and should be straightforward to teach one to do.>

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:That would be very valuable! I can do some tests now and then build a magic sensor if nothing preexisting works: It sounds like this might not even be a huge time investment and is worth just switching to. 

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Swish swish. <Let me know if you need more advice on the computer part. It's very very easy, you just tell the computer what to do and it does that, but it's easy to spend lots of time trying to find an error if you don't know what the space of possible errors is.>

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:I will do that! Thank you: 

And he goes off to channel magic at various kinds of sensor, and see if it has a detectable magnetic field or various other detectable properties (that also vary continuously with the power he's channeling and can be measured to high precision.) 

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Most of the Andalite sensors don't detect anything, but it seems that channeling magic makes a very sensitive gravity sensor pick something up, and once it has been calibrated it can measure this to high precision.

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