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Sep 27, 2022 8:06 PM
dath ilan explores Warhammer 40k
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Day: -9

 

It begins with headaches.

To be more specific, headaches start to occur with a noticibly higher, and ever-increading, frequency among a certain small subset of population of dath ilan. Most of the people within this subset are currently residing inside psychiatric hospitals, and most others are retires in Quiet Cities, though some of them are people who have achieved a career in art and entertainment.

If not for what is to come after, most civilizations you could imagine would pay this absolutely no mind for years. 

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Most civilizations are not dath ilan! While the people in question do not trend especially wealthy by its standards, that’s not the same as them being what other civilizations consider poor, in terms of resources available. Between them in aggregate and, of course, the various charities looking for ways to efficiently decrease suffering and medical venture capitalists looking to claim the bounty in timelines where this does get lots of liquidity, there are quite a few eyes on this sudden jump in headaches. Dath ilan takes problems with the brain very seriously!

Of course, it also helps that the cause is difficult to isolate. Dath ilani are not unattracted, by the promise of being the one to solve a problem that other experts have failed at, not to mention the inherent joy of scientific discovery and the financial incentives now ramping up. The phenomenon resists analysis, and the prediction markets are fluctuating regularly on what their best hypothesis is. That’s only mildly surprising after this little time. After a day and examining thousands of cases, a group of researchers assembled by a venture capitalist start to put together some very comprehensive data analysis work tracking correlates. Whatever the underlying (probably chemical) changes, the pain  seems to be worsened by negative emotional states, so people probabilistically at risk are recommended to spend resources now on things that will make them happy. Shortly after, some of the charities are already subsidizing it, and set up to gather data on the effects of mental coping mechanisms more specialized than those usually employed by dath ilani, while other stick to primarily adding liquidity to the prediction markets or directly incentivizing researchers. By and large, though, life in dath ilan steadily marches on; some headaches are, in the grand scheme of things, far from enough to deal serious damage to dath ilan or it’s people.

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Day: -7

 

The pains slowly get progressively worse, and start to occasionally become accompanied by visual and/or auditory hallucinations, even in people who never had hallucinations before. The visual hallucinations are usually either a whitening of the field of vision or quick, chaotic and bright bursts of warm colors across black background that substitute normal vision entirely. Auditory ones involve sounds reminiscent of explosions or hurricanes.

Certain animals start behaving a bit weridly. Domesticated wolves bark and howl on the sky more than they otherwise would. Dolphins get more agitated.

The patterns in people and animals selected are far from obvious, especially when you don't have some technology that dath ilan have never had any chance to design before.

Some would even call those patterns chaotic.

The first changes to the physical reality outside of conscious brains will start to become detectable in about one more day.

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Dath ilan does not have that many pets, not when compared to their cousins far away on the bell curve of possible earths. They more than make up for this in ability to catalog and analyze data, especially when they were already on the lookout for it. This development is, in some ways, a good sign; animals are not precisely analogous to humans, but there are things you can ethically do to study animals that would be near impossible or expensive to do to humans.

The other changes, however, are far less welcome. That the issue would increase in magnitude and scope was trading highly on the markets, but it’s still an unwelcome change. The payout for finding the underlying cause, solutions, or methods of amelioration continues to climb, and with it, attention to less and less likely hypotheses becomes worthwhile in expectation. 

Dath ilani are not especially prone to hallucination, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared for it. Even as the volume of people using Tsi-imbi rises, exception handling smoothly rises to the task and makes preparations for further expansions. Already, however, there is a small but noticable rise in people  requesting cryogenation, largely those for whom Civilization is currently only slightly net positive. The prediction markets tracking likelyhood of aliens and alternatephysics  rise slightly, although objectively they are still very low.

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The keepers are also not uninterested in this topic, now. The impact on society would be sufficient to cause this, but it is not the only factor. Keepers find themselves affected in significantly higher numbers than the base rate would suggest, and while their mental techniques and methods of working through pain prove quite effective, they’re not actually perfect. 

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Day: -6.

Around this point, people who spend their day listening to space with particularly large ears might hear a slow, initially negligible, intensification of static. It starts occurring at extremely long wavelengths, coming equally from all directions.

If someone was to conduct an experiment of taking a very, very large area of space, isolating it from outside radiation, and placing very, very accurate detectors inside, they might detect photons appearing entirely out of nowhere.

The warp storm has officially begun.

Headaches and hallucinations get progressively more frequent, but the rate of the rise of that frequency slows down quite a bit. Though, the number of people with headaches will very slowly start to crawl up.

Examination of animal brains will not find chemical reasons for changes, but some brain scans of both animals and humans will show uncharacteristic patterns of electromagnetic activity.

For the following three days, the background radiation will be rising and increasing in variation: from barely noticable superlong radiowaves to clearly noticible IR. At some point, wireless communications will start feeling the increase of static.

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Even before the increases of radiation became clearly distinguishable from noise, people were trying various forms of isolation. When radio telescopes and other sensors report this increase, that number increases further. It’s the obvious thing to attempt, really. If the various faraday cages and radiation shielding have any effect beyond the placebo, however, it’s beyond even Dath Ilan’s ability to legibly detect. Prediction markets on its efficacy drop from their initial bump to around 20% as the data continues to come in, and continue downwards from there. People are still trying it, of course; it’s not that expensive, and even if the increasing radiation is a correlate rather than the cause of the headaches it’s worth taking some precautions. 

To say that changes to brain electromagnetism were detected instantly is not entirely accurate, but they *were* picked up on quickly by increased use of MRI in response to the spiking rates of headaches. That they were not meaningfully impacted by performing the operation in shielded rooms took a bit more, but it was not considered especially surprising, given the other data. What was surprising was when this same phenomena was noticed in partical accelerators, the photons seeming to come into existence within the facilities instead of traversing the intervening space between the interior and exterior filled with the cutting edge of isolation shielding. The alternatephysics markets, already elevated, match all time peaks and continue to rise, with odds reaching the single digits for the first time in the trade history. A few dath ilani with long held bulk yes positions find themselves in possession of an unexpected financial windfall. 

It would be a bit of a stretch at any point to call dath ilan unprepared for disasters, but if they were, that would be changing now. In the real dath ilan, this mostly takes the form of implementing preparations and ruggedization previously designed but held as, in expectation, not worth the cost. Further safeguards are placed against individual people being suddenly disabled by pain and rendered incapable of performing their jobs, goods are stockpiled, trading off efficiency now for the ability to function more smoothly through transportation disruptions. Air travel, while already held to standard higher than the objectively rigorous ones commonplace on earth, winds down moderately, reducing yet further the risk of crashes and freeing up capacity should there be a sudden need. In a less well organized society, these efforts might lead to runs on commodities that get in the way of hardening critical infrastructure, but not so for dath ilan; this, at least, their prediction markets are more than capable of dealing with. 

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Many of the mental techniques employed solely or primarily by keepers hold that status due to it being considered unwise for them to be  spread freely, or because their requirements are simply too difficult for those not already keepers to reasonably learn or perform. Others, however, simply do not come up enough in everyday life to be typically worth the effort, or come with side effects that tip away the expected payout from values worthwhile to ordinary people. Many of these reasons still hold, but as the headaches and hallucinations continue, a few skills that had previously been all but the sole domain of keepers begin to enter mainstream dath ilani repertoires. While less effective than the full suite of techniques utilized by keepers, they nevertheless prove useful in mitigating the issues.

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As far as the public is concerned, these make up the bulk of dath ilan’s preparations. For those keepers, officials, and researchers with the proper clearance, however, other efforts are ongoing. In a place that doesn’t officially exist, a fifth of the brightest minds of dath ilan labor in secret wielding more advanced technology than dath ilan is believed to possess, working to build a god. 

They aren’t ready yet. Not, in all honesty, do they consider themselves close to a creation they can trust with the Future. But a lesser, bounded creation, may become necessary in the near future, and while it carries immense risks to try and pull off a task of this magnitude in a matter of months, much less weeks, it would be far worse for the crisis to escalate until one is needed, and only begin the work then.

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Day: -3.

Months? Weeks? Very funny.

Somewhere, something, breaks. Reality gives in to the uniform pressure.

The photons are no longer generated uniformly. Instead, in some portions of space they don't appear at all, and in some they appear MUCH more commonly, and at lower frequencies, now dipping into visible light.

The entire solar system and a pretty large portion of space around it is now covered in ominous red "clouds" of radioactive space. They move, spin, merge, fall apart, shrink, and, more than that, grow. Occasionally they move faster than the speed of light. The movement patterns distantly resemble those of a turbulent gas, except sometimes they don't, at all. Some form spirally patterns.

The moment this starts happening, everyone who previously had increased headache frequency, and a lot more people who hadn't, immediately get a short but sharp jolt of pain. This happens before the light from the nearest red "clouds" even reaches the planet.

Long distance radio communications are now pretty nastily jammed.

No further changes occur for the next half a day or so.

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Dath ilani are not actually idiots. Their internet, while somewhat reduced in latency and bandwidth, continues to function, and with it basic telecommunications. Cell coverage is much less lucky. The towers are close enough together that transmission is still possible, and if the proper algorithms are used there isn’t even that much information lost. What these are is computationally expensive, and the request goes out that people refrain from using their cellphones when feasible, and use try to stick to text when it isn’t, to save capabilities for emergency. For dath ilan, that alone would be sufficient, but it comes paired with the appropriate financial incentives to encourage it. Plans are being drawn up to expand these capabilities, but prediction markets don't rate the chances of that being the priority very highly. Instead, Surveillance ramps up on the people suffering headaches, as well as those statistical models suggests might start to suffer them should they intensify. Great care is taken in the placing of those keepers thus far immune, in case their weakening was a primary goal of the actions taken thus far.
 
 
With the changes to the outer solar system, dath ilan fully enters crisis mode. Additional alien invasion preparation festivals are run, and resources stockpiled to aid in such endeavors. Part of dath ilan's nuclear arsenal is armed and readied, with the rest of it prepped to minimize time between the order given and activation. They would activate more, if the radio interference didn’t mean the risk increased faster than the benefits. Crash construction of advanced telescopes and radio sensors, which began with the first detection of radio anomalies, has now begun to bear fruit; vast numbers of dath ilani pour over the data from these and the more advanced brethren they are joining, hunting for what patterns they can determine and any potential messages encoded within.  The frozen dead are moved to underground bunkers, out of the way of any potential combat, and additional emergency medical and cryogenic triage centers are put up in every city. Governance subsidizes hospitals and medical trainers holding sessions on field medicine and triage. Along with the resources to resist an invasion come knowledge, both digital storage and books, designed to help rebuild civilization should the worst happen. 
 
 
At the highest levels, debate rages about the erasure of history. Large swaths of potentially relevant personell are read in on the abbreviated details, in case the knowledge becomes needed. For now, they refrain from fully shattering the seal; to unshatter that glass would be immensely expensive, and it's not clear it will help matters. They do ensure that should that change, they are prepared to rapidly disseminate the key parts of the knowledge, and make available the rest; the information contained goes out with the works on restoring civilization, despite the security risks associated. What value universal knowledge of its contents would offer is , for the moment, overwhelmed by the need to spend time and mental energy on other efforts on a civilization wide basis. Nevertheless, many more do learn; even your average dath ilani can read and process data far more swiftly than their average earth counterpart, and some fraction among them, by training and innate ability, surpass even that. Many of these historians, both new and old, are spread geographically across the planet in small groups for the purposes of redundancy. Alongside this comes out more information on keeper techniques, the reasons for keeping them secret steadily becoming less and less relevant when compared to the benefits of knowledge in their continuing existence or their direct applications, though prioritized among them are the foundational techniques the rest are built on and the methodology for rediscovering the rest.

It’s always been hard for prediction markets to track the risk of the destruction of dath ilan. After all, if dath ilan were to be destroyed, there would be no way to spend your winnings. Likewise, a market on the survival of dath ilan would face the same issues in reverse; there would be no way for the market to resolve other than yes. You can get the shadow of these values, with non monetary prediction aggregations of experts, comparing the likelyhood of various bad but not Civilization-ending outcomes, or how people tend to bid on the short term value of money against its long-run value, but none of these measure the thing itself truly. Nevertheless, these secondary indicators do not paint a good picture; unsurprisingly, they are the worst in recorded history of dath ilan, worse still than the values known only to those who have taken the time to read the true history, of the days following the head keeper’s true suicide before the legislators of civilization.

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[Before this post, I would LOVE to see speculation on part of dath ilani about what the fuck is going on. If anyone does this, I'll edit it back before this post.]

 

Day: -3.

But 13 or so hours later.

Some "clouds" turn orange.

Gravitational anomalies begin.

Planets, asteroids and comets in outer space inexplicably change their trajectories, as if their masses are being slowly altered for the purposes of gravity - but not for the purposes of momentum. Dath ilan is one of them, but alterations to it's orbit or gravity are negligible - there aren't any earthqukes or anything. If one were to measure gravity in different regions of space, they would find the constant G to be an ex-constant.

Then, five hours later, the objects around the fourth planet of the solar system - two natural satellites and any drones flying around it - stop feeling any attraction towards fourth planet specifically. They just kinda casually float off via locally straight lines, that loop as trajectories around the Sun.

The particles within those objects remain attracted to each other as normal, weakly evidenced by the fourth planet not immediately falling apart due to electromagnetic repulsion.

In time it will become apparent that the fourth planet is lucky.

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They are probably going to die. Not only that, but die a true death, without hope of waking up in the future, and with them will go the rest of dath ilan. It’s not certain, with how little they understand the phenomenon, but dath ilan is not unaware of the Anthropic principle when it comes to considering the evidence of their own survival.

What do you do, then, armed with the probable knowledge of the impending death of you and everything you know? When asking yourself the question of how dath Ilan responds to a crisis, start by considering what the best response would be; that’s the question they ask themselves when planning. At the current moment, these broadly fall into three categories.

The first is not unlike what earth would do, were it to come face to face with disaster and by some miracle make better use of what wisdom it has than usual. There is, obviously, some chance dath ilan will survive, in one form or another; possibly not even incredibly low, under some of the hypotheses being considered. In this category lies many of the strategies employed to date, which still trundle on with terrifying efficiency. Even aside from those possibilities, these have secondary decision-theoretical benefits; if there was some cheaper action that aliens could take to predictably get dath ilan to stop working to defend itself, it would create an incentive for such actions in the first place. 

The second, of course, has been happening in parallel. At this point, it’s clear there’s not really any reason for the basement to stay secret, and certainly none that outweigh the benefits of revealing it. It’s unlikely that enough people not already working in the basement will make brilliant discoveries in whatever time they have left for it to matter, but it’s better odds than a lot of the other strategies remaining to them, because the basement of the world is not ready. They began working in earnest before the rest of civilization did, in response to this crisis, but on tasks that are genuinely hard, even a heroic effort of dath ilan’s brightest efforts for a week will only go so far. They have the code for some limited things, abandoning even mathematical proving in their haste, that can be said to be somewhat corrigible as well as capable. While this has lead to new insights and improved modeling of existing phenomenon and allowed for the preservation of millions of labor hours of value, they have yet to agree on a model to account for all of the data. Hypotheses, yes, even some not yet considered at all by the minds of dath ilan, but insufficient data to distinguish them. This is not surprising with how limited these limited creations truly are, but that doesn’t make it sufficient.

Breaking the seal also offered benefits to the first course of action, like the use of the advanced supercomputers to aid their fellows on the network of dath ilan with their own work, efficiently plotting out and analyzing the vast chunks of data to sift useful evidence from the noise. Others members of the basement who’s comparative advantage doesn’t lie in the rush coding work to categorize the findings of the program, updating existing summaries of their work to help improve their utility to future Civilization, be it a rebirth of their own or by some cosmic coincidence one entirely new. Dath ilan is not currently in the business of asserting impossibilities on that score. It wasn’t the primary driver, but dath ilan does not leave money on the table if they can possibly help it.

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The third set of preparations is far more speculative, but it is also plausibly the only one that matters at this point. Keepers reveal publically the isekai theory of immortality, and begin putting into place measures intended to improve outcomes thereof. The list of predictably salient facts assembled by the isekai fan community is edited and expanded upon, by keepers who have had more cause to consider this likely and a hold a better idea of what broader reality actually looks like. Also included with it are keeper skills, both in terms of instructions on how to learn them yourself and in the form of keepers running and recording classes on them to help as many as possible. Particular focus is placed on those easiest to learn, and those foundational towards rediscovering many of the others given time.

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Day: -2

The warp storm continues without any drastic changes.

Clouds increase in number and speed, the orbits slowly fluctuate, but otherwise nothing much happens. Which is a bit weird, considering that dath ilan is mostly convinced that they are going to die, unknowingly increasing the probability of that actually happening. But even after all such factors are taken into account warp storms are very arbitrary in their effects.

In the very end of the day, three people of the headaches-and-hallucinations subset simultaneously recieve a brief hallucination of the seventh planet exploding, being torn into a miniature nebula.

Most civilizations one could imagine would be much too panicked and absorbed into emergency preparation to notice, but it have already been stated that most civilizations aren't dath ilan.

The seventh planet is currently 3 light hours away.

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If one were to measure dath ilan's response rate to hallucinations, this would be a very noncentral example of an already usually impressive institution. All of these people are already under redundant observation, and the hallucination handling protocols have been streamlined optimized extensively over the last week. That three people have a severe one at the same time is flagged immediately, and the protocols implemented immediately following. Even now, in a system as efficient as dath ilan's current one at taking in hallucination data, the flow of information is not instantaneous. When the first report reaches exception handling, it is taken seriously, but when the second and third follow shortly afterwards, the importance jumps yet further. It is not impossible that three people would all hallucinate the same event at once, or that this is some trick internal to Civilization, it's pretty flaming unlikely, and their priors for the seventh planet exploding are immensely higher than they were last week. Realistically speaking, this data permits two primary interpretations. One, that the physical laws that embed both their previous model of the universe and it's current state offer magical powers to human minds under some circumstances, or two, that this is a message from aliens. Dath ilan is not so irrational as to fail to realize laws of physics that consider human minds as natural categories are designed, but there is a bit of a difference in actions implied by what degree of remove the other minds are currently at.

In the first possibility, this warning needs to be taken seriously. There's not that much dath ilan can do about it in the grand scheme of things - they are far from possessing the ability to stop any such explosion. Thankfully, they also shouldn't need to; the people involved double check their intuitions against experts, but this confirms their understanding of the situation. Dath ilan's previous model of physics doesn't permit the 7th planet to detonate, nor does it consider it to be especially meaningful if it did, but even in the least convenient world where it was perfectly converted to energy there's limits to the problem. The sun is an immensely larger ball of hydrogen and helium constantly undergoing fusion, and is about 20 times closer; at scales like this, the square cubed law is a bitch. By the time the resulting energy reached dath ilan, it would be a sphere 3 billion kilometers in diameter, with a corresponding surface area of 118 quintillion square kilometers, and the seventh planet is only 100 quadrillion kilograms; the upper bound for energy hitting dath ilan is the equivalent of a day worth of sunshine, and their 90th percentile guess is orders of magnitude lower. It might still do any damage, but the direct impact is not the priority; a lot of their possible actions are covered under what they're already doing, or will be with some minor re-prioritization. The possibility is, however, still absolutely flaming terrifying; dath ilan would prefer its planet unexploded, and indeed otherwise relatively intact, thank you very much. With the expected payout this high, dath ilan also steps up its effort to induce the headaches and hallucinations. Even if they are just informational sources, that possesses immense value in itself, and if they have some effect on the causation of what they see that provides a potential path to the actual survival of dath ilan. Fortunately, many of the keepers are experiencing these headaches, but dath ilan does not try one obvious thing and then stop; also brought in are artists, mathematicians, programmers, authors, as well as assortments of other populations in smaller numbers. They start with trying to effect a few small asteroids easily observable from dath ilan; if this actually is a type of economicmagic that operates on the scales of planetary destruction, dath ilan does not exactly want its first, least controlled usage to be taken in the same place they keep all their people. By the same logic, searches are conducted among dath ilan's populace, especially those comatose or hallucinating prior to the advent, in case the event is being caused by one of them. It's an obvious hypothesis, if you're entertaining the idea that minds can warp the physical world at this scale.

The second, that this is a communication, seems both more likely and with higher median payout if true. Dath ilan has been broadcasting information, first contact protocols, and requests for aid already, but they update some of those to acknowledge the message. Other, more speculative methods of communication, like speaking directly to those most effected or asking people suffering from the headaches to try and think back responses, are both deemed worth trying currently.  If this is true, they should not only be taking the actions listed higher up, but also create a more direct line of information flow between those most seriously suffering headaches and hallucinations to the people organizing dath ilan's disaster preparations and first contact groups, as well as arrange exception handling to more efficiently funnel such results from the rest of the population as needed. These actions would also be sensible in the case of  the hallucinators possessing some kind of distance-datacollection-economicmagic-capabilities (a 1 syllable word in Aeldari), but take on additional value under the latter hypothesis. Dath ilan does not dismiss the possibility of the hallucinations being aimed to redirect their efforts in a way advantageous to some adversary like some on earth would, but neither does it obsess over the possibility like others might. They consider their estimates for cost versus value to potential agents across different capability spreads and find it in expectation unfavorable, particularly given that most of their wide scale emergency measures are only minorly altered and they don't seem to have anything meaningful in the way of options for altering attack surfaces on their leadership to whatever is causing the headaches anyway. A 4th rank keeper is assigned to keep track of the evidence to make a decision on if that changes. Obviously there are others who will do that, but they are the one person whose job that is; dath ilan believes in making a specific person responsible for things that absolutely need to happen.

Astronomers divert more of their attention to watching the seventh planet. If it does explode, they expect they'll notice regardless, but they would definitely prefer to watch the leadup and see it happen. Attention is paid to how much time passes between the hallucinations and the explosion becoming predictable, if it does; such information would be useful in determining where in the causal leadup the information they received is coming from.

 

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Day: -1

The seventh planet's explosion becomes visible with no prior warning, about 3 hours after the hallucinations, and it's not anything remotely like full conversion from matter into energy. It's more torn apart mechanically than anything.

Purple "clouds" appear! They radiate violet visible light, ultraviolet, microwaves, x-rays, and gamma-particles. But not anything less frequent than violet. It sure is weird how this totally impersonal phenomenon is stretching over the tiny patch of visible frequencies.

There's a yellow cloud slowly floating on a track towards the surface of dath ilan.

Some hallucinations happen on the topic, in two different people. It's gonna graze the surface of dath ilan, in an area including what's known in a different timeline as India. And it seems like it's not gonna be fun for people there.

The experiments with moving asteroids by the power of influencing mindstates.. surprisingly, can succeed while conducted in the middle of a strong warp storm, if the people with influenced mindstates are a far majority of the observers. Experiments that involve absolute most of dath ilan expecting really hard that a rock will fly in a different direction would move it a somewhat visible amount. Experiments that involve small subsets of it's population - even when the subset is made of population is one especially sensetive to warp - return no observable change.

There's no one to communicate with, not yet.

In seven a half hours, the cloud will hit the surface of dath ilan, and melt the brains of a substantial portion of dath ilani located in what an alternate timeline calls India.

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You would think, in the midst of an unprecedented emergency, it would be impossible to coordinate something of this scale. Even making an attempt would vastly overstretch capabilities already working overtime to try and eke out a fraction of a percent better survival odds. For many worlds, even attempting a fraction of this would require a tremendous sustained effort of Herculean proportions just to not lose to badly. Not so for dath ilan; they try and win. If every person in dath ilan needed to step left simultaneously, they wouldn’t need months of negotiations to fail to reach even 50% compliance, they would jus do it.

They do not try literally every person in dath ilan. Some of them are doing actually important things, that cannot be delayed even for a minute. But the fact of the matter is, most of what they are doing is not actually important; there isn’t that much room, objectively speaking, between damages that dath Ilan can already survive, and those it cannot live through with any amount of preparation. When the images of the seventh planet’s explosion come in, most of the remaining alternate hypothesis drop down out of the range worth considering. Dath ilan isn’t sure, exactly, what the solution here will look like. There are a lot of ways you could construct a set of economic-magic alternatephysics laws and maintain consistency with what has been seen so far. Perhaps whatever magic abilities enable it are only held in noticable quantities by a tiny fraction of their population, perhaps they aren’t something that dath ilan can yet mechanically induce, or perhaps even they don’t fall into the realm of human capabilities at all, and everything they have seen thus far is the effect of some aliens messaging them. None of that will prevent dath Ilan from testing it; perhaps if the situation were less dire, the testing would happen with greater caution and abortability, but these are not those times, and even then - it digits the imagination, that dath ilan would possibly not want to know.

When inducing hallucinations on small groups not only works, but gives predictive abilities match or beat the capabilities of the lesser Things employed but the basement, these efforts are validated. And so dath ilan sets aside a time, where all the people of Civilization can all put down their work and, at least for a while, focus. It’s not that hard of a sell, to convince a dath ilani to do magic. More effort is made to free up those who experienced headaches and visions, even at the cost of two or three others to take over the critical work they were doing, but even those without a reaction are included in the experiment. The mental techniques of dath Ilan are not precisely designed to induce the state of focus most conductive to manipulating the warp, even if they had somehow figured out what that was, but by the standards of humans that can barely be said to try anything, the focus and guidance of imagination is astounding. They don’t just try one thing, either - they try to communicate, they try to manipulate some of the clouds of radiation, they try and nudge a convenient asteroid, that a few of those in dath ilan not currently in on the experience can easily track, out of its orbit. They even try to calm the entire phenomenon, just in case that’s a thing they can do. When the vision of the yellow cloud disaster comes in partway through, they turn their attention to that. It’s not their only resort, should the efforts fail, but it’s the kind of thing you really ought to try doing.

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The asteroids, when the massed effort of dath ilan is put into play, do move. The one they picked was relatively light, but the delta V in objective terms is still astonishing. Unfortunately, the pushing the clouds proves less  effective. They aren’t one solid object, or even a manageable number of smaller ones; in a warp storm of this power, even the untrained might of dath Ilan is enough to move whichever piece of the cloud they grab, but the rest of the cloud does not go with it, and they have no ready means of turning moving a bit of cloud a lot into turning a lot of cloud a bit. Those sensitives far enough away from the Deccan plateau as to not need evacuation continue their work; they don’t need all the overkill they just had to make any progrss, and there is always the chance they find a way to solve their problem. Unfortunately, strength does not seem to scale linearly, and they cannot just break into a dozen subgroups to move a dozen times as much of the cloud at the time. 

If you had posed this issue to a dath ilani reader, prior to the crisis, they would have some things to say. Well, things to say after they finished critiquing the implausibility of the story, that is. Which comments were made would depend on what the audience in question was, but there is one question that they would definitely pose. Have you tried winning instead? Some dath ilani try to link up with animals, and use their collective human will to muster the combined strength towards their ends. Other work with AI, both directly creating links and trying to program ones that can do it themselves. This is, undeniably, extremely dangerous, but even the best case scenario of this crisis has millions of lives at stake. If there was a time to take those risks, it would be now. Some groups of dath ilani are told that other groups have successfully moved the yellow cloud en route, and told to recreate the feat on some other clouds their models predict have a chance of reaching dath ilan. Others volunteer for keepers to talk them into the neccesary state of mind, or combine that with stronger mind effecting drugs than had been previously used to induce hallucination. The mental requests for help take on a greater strength and breadth, and join with them trade requests, aimed at nearby stars and the clouds and their best guess at the idea of alien minds, offering creative work and mathematics and sex, as well as smaller amplitudes of a vaster array of potential trade goods.

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Dath ilan doesn’t stop trying for a magic solution, obviously, but they aren’t the kind of people to give up if one doesn’t materialize. Alongside those efforts come more conventional ones, aimed to at least lower the scale of the disaster immediately at hand.

What does it take, to evacuate a subcontinent in 7 hours? Were you to pose the question to someone from earth, it would not be reliably possible to even let everyone know the evacuation was to begin within that period, much less with communications under as much interference as they are. But dath ilan has been preparing for this. They have the stockpiles needed, to end all other local usage of their logistics and transportation networks. In 10 minutes, a team of engineers and programmers refine the outputs of one of their AI into a highly optimized schedule of train, plane, car and helicopter transit to move as many people as fast as possible. The difficulty here is eased somewhat, by the ability to accept a good enough result; unlike a kinetic impact, they only need to get out of the actual impact zone to be safe. Planes from around the world are diverted to aid in the process, with pilots scrambled to the runways and hangars of those already on the ground, and many of those already in flight diverted to an emergency landing to discharge their passengers or cargo. Here, dath ilan’s predilection for cities serves them well; there are far fewer of them out away from all lines of transportation that their rescue can be assured by helicopter flights, and their fast and efficient rail systems lead right to the majority of the at risk population. Both cargo and passenger rail alike take on vast crowds of people, eating up the generous slack built into the system in the name of redundancy. 

In this way, the great numbers of dath ilani at risk will escape the collision, prioritizing children and those most able to contribute to Civilizations survival. Rather than press their way to the transportation arteries in the hopes of squeezing up a few spots in the queue, they form orderly onboarding patterns to minimize the time needed to spend in the stations between trips. For those who’s transportation is scheduled hours out, they return to work, at economicmagic and computer programming and logistical planning and astronomy. Others take measures to aid those further back in the queue, by prepping for isekai immortality or just making their last hours on dath ilan as happy as possible.

Even for dath ilan, this undertaking is unprecedented. People work with desperate efficiency to try and crank out even the slightest bit of extra efficiency, but as the hours drag on, the odds of someone finding a clever solution steadily drop, and it becomes clearer and clearer that not quite everyone will make it. In some ways, they are lucky; had their population been significantly higher than a billion, or less of it lived in Default  or other locations outside India, or in the worst case the cloud been aimed at Default itself, the tragedy would be immeasurably greater. But even for a Civilization that knows they balance on the brink of extinction, there are some tragedies it is not easy to bear.

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Day: -1

If there were aliens around, a psychic call for help would only work if both civilizations believed it would work, and the same goes for moving asteroids. There's some interesting decision theory that could have been done about it if they had neighbours, but alas, dath ilan is currently alone.

Make no mistake: dath ilan isn't currently doing anything remotely like excercise of psyker powers. Instead, it is currently cosplaying a Chaos God, or at least emulating something like the WAAAAGH field. And while this type of direct warping of reality is arguably much cooler, it only works because they are alone and in a heavily warp-influenced space. In a Galaxy of many rivalling civilizations with their own outlooks on reality, and with demons infesting every corner of Immaterium, they'd have to try a little harder to impose their vision on reality.

The yellow cloud descends upon the Deccan plateu, violently killing everyone with a warp-induced headache, and shutting off or melting or boiling to explosion the brains of about 70% of the rest, with about 25% suffering variably grotesque forms of damage to their mind, and about 5% going relatively unscathed.

 

Over the course of the day, few planets and moons get destroyed in creative ways. First planet starts rotating faster and faster until it turns into a molten torus. Some of the fifth planet's satellites sink into it. Sixth planet turns into a tetrahedron. Yes, really. The warp storm is really pulling out the stops, and the "clouds" are dancing a deranged dance. In some ways, over the course of the day, it's area becomes more warp than physical reality.

Some headache-induced people have visions about the planetary destruction.

Before the sixth planet's weird shape alteration reaches dath ilan's advanced electronic telescopes, dath ilan is hit by a planet-wide EMP, searing tons of surface-level electronics.

By this point, you should expect this to destroy approximately zero knowledge, even if some other imaginable civilizations would find this a permanent setback.

Dath ilan's last few hours here are, to say the least, chaotic.

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These events are frustrating to dath ilan, not least because they haven’t managed to do anything about it. Efforts to interfere when the first planet began to speed up we’re able to ensure it would miss dath ilan by a greater margin if normal physics started working again and flung it out at the worst possible moment, but it wasn’t very likely to start out with and was rendered wholly irrelevant when it ended up turning into a torus. If preventing it had been neccesary for the survival of civilization, they would have come up far short, and were it not for the new economicmagic abilities they developed at the last minute, it would be even shorter. Prediction markets suggest that their expectations are collectively contributing to the stability of the planet, and they take steps to strengthen that effect, but it’s clearly not the whole story or the storm wouldn’t have started in the first place. The movement of the colored clouds and transformation of the 6th planet suggests that controlling the yellow cloud that recently struck was in principle possible from these abilities, but it seems like even for dath ilan, getting to that point takes longer than a week.

in comparison to everything that has lead up to this, the emp is essentially a nonissue. Had it struck prior to these events beginning, or during the evacuation, it could have been an issue, but even then not a critical one. Were dath ilan so vulnerable to an issue they had known was possible for decades, it would have suggested a level of incompetence on the part of governance so severe that required the firing of everyone tangentially responsible and the resignation of the overseeing legislature in shame.

Information models developed in the basement of the world offer 95% odds that the worst is yet to come, but 20% odds that the event is also almost over. Prediction market guesses consider other information and their overall state of uncertainty, and so differ from these noticabley, but they don’t discount it either. Dath ilani programmers lament their fate, to have to deal with code whose outputs they don’t even understand well in retrospect. It’s not that they don’t respect the efficacy of the deep learning algorithms, it’s just that even if you ignore the risks it’s a really inelegant solution. There’s something embarrassing, about your chances of survival moving entire percentage points based on something like this. If they had been better, they would have done even better without it.

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Day: -1

And then, everyone in dath ilan experiences a sensory overload for ~6.4 seconds! The world is bright, loud, bitter and sour and sweet and smells of everything, enveloping you from every side, and painful and joyous.

Those who can somehow catch a glimpse of what's happening will see skies covered in a bright and maddening reddish-rainbowish-blackish special effect. Glimpsing it deals sanity damage!

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!

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Dath ilan is not so lacking in dignity that it will pretend to take this kind of event with poise. Dath ilan, taken broadly, experiences things less strongly than is typical for human populations. They feel less strongly, less often, and struggle more with hedonic treadmills robbing them of things they previously enjoyed. For them, this is even worse than it would be for the median human. If the events of the last week are anything, though, they’re good at putting other problems into perspective. Even if Civilization makes it through this, it will not lack for bigger issues to deal with than this, not at just 6 seconds. Objectively speaking, however, this is still extremely overwhelming, confusing, and terrifying. 

 

Even among dath ilani, it requires a noticable  amount of mental discipline to see through that, even if they have the requisite psyker strength to attempt it. Many could in theory manage it, but not in 6 seconds on no notice. Those who do manage it anyway are typically in some sense outliers, and as a result of the combination of factors largely consists of keepers. In some sense, this is a good thing; they are the most equipped to deal with it, and  have it as part of their job; they have reaped the rewards civilization pays out to those willing to undertake the task of keeping harmful truths. On the other hand, right after the peak of an incredibly powerful and unprecedented alternatephysics event is just about the worst time to be down a notable fraction of your most capable and economicmagic-able keepers, even if for most of them it’s just temporary or partial. It’s a mixed blessing, all things considered, considering what comes next.

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Day: 0.

 

 

 

 

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