Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Zombie Mages Bend Reality (short story)

Zombie Mages Bend Reality


Time is the symmetry-breaking act of the mage's vision. By distinguishing this vision, we quantize time and introduce the concepts of 'change', 'speed' or 'phase'. The context they manifest in we call 'space'.

By now we have enough to observe the Holographic Principle, the corollary of which is that all dimensions curve. Understanding gravity is not that hard:

As a response to the continuous exhale of sight, space/time inhales in the direction of time. If you prefer to think in cause-and-effect chains, think of it this way: mass doesn't cause the gravitational field - the curving of space/time causes that which we quantify as 'mass' and 'matter'.

- Dreamer's Handbook



Emerson rattled the chains that bound him to the operating table. "Increase the dosage! More Serum!"

Dyna observed calmly from behind the bulletproof glass. Too bad surgical research yields no results. Experiments with Serum overdose were cheap in terms of time and equipment, but required cripplingly large quantities of the refined substance. All that Serum down the drain... but at least it's good for morale.

Unlike the operating room which was fully staffed and equipped, the observation room was completely empty - for safety reasons.

"What are you waiting for?! I said more Serum!" Emerson yelled.

The head technician looked to Dyna from the other side of the glass, questioning.

Dyna nodded. Beyond a certain point, oral intake of Serum had a diminishing effect, and intra-venous delivery helped overcome that barrier. Other than Emerson's brusque attitude, she saw no signs against continuing on to the next stage of the experiment.

Emerson calmed down once the tech began preparing the IV.

The Serum significantly improved intelligence, but it had a serious limitation: it didn't improve wisdom. Problem-solving ability soars, but decision-making remains in the gutter.

Since most defects of the ego remained present not because of an inability to heal them, but because of unwillingness to do so, the curious situation arose where the technomages - the best of the best who received the highest Serum dosages - refused to even acknowledge their own personal flaws. For if they did, their hyper-intelligent minds would promptly point out the solutions - which they were almost never emotionally ready for.

We should start grooming them from a younger age. The current culture is becoming a problem... I'll have to find a way to steer it. Maybe promote more non-afflicted to keep the balance?

Because of such personal flaws, almost all researchers and technomages were specialists - brilliant in their fields, but much less so in everyday life. To them, the Serum dosage became not only an enhancer of intellectual abilities, but also a measure of self-worth. Unsurprisingly, Serum overload experiments never lacked volunteers; they saw it as an honor bestowed upon them, an acknowledgement of their rightful status.

Dyna sighed. She wasn't immune to self-aggrandizement, but to her, status was a reflection of responsibilities and not of worth. Beyond having the final say in research, she was responsible for ensuring smooth day-to-day operation of the facility, including security and defense. So far, a trade and research based policy worked - having electricity and working tech assured superiority in warfare, at the cost of mobility - but the demon attacks have gotten stronger, and she could almost feel the vampires packs plotting to exploit any weaknesses.

"Administrator Dyna, how far do we aim to go? Dr. Emerson expressed his wish to break the record." The tech's voice came somewhat muffled from beyond the protective barrier.

"I doubt his mind can handle it," Dyna replied. "Let's take it to B-2 saturation, and we'll see from there." Echoes of the amplified sound whispered back with a slight delay.

The tech nodded, and turned her attention back to Emerson.

As more of the Serum dripped into his vein, Emerson slipped deeper into the luminescence of his mind. Mixed emotions showed on his face, unearthing an inner struggle.

He won't make it far. Dyna ran a tight ship, both in the facility and inside her mind - a strict diet helped reduce the strain on her body. Judging by his facial reactions, Emerson was more of a 'pills and surgeries' kind of person. She feared the worst: If his ego can't handle the influx, he'll go through schizophrenic burnout and we might not be able to piece him together.

Lost in delirium, Emerson started rambling. "I'm a prototype of a much larger- Algernon should have eaten Jaspers cheese!"

His mind has tilted. Dyna raised her voice: "Cut his supply! Stabilizers!"

All volunteers undergoing similar experiments were given drugs to enhance memory retention and stimulate the brain's language center. Unlikely that the completeness of their vision would be preserved in memory, they were instructed to formalize their experiences, and bring back the words rather than the direct memory of the insights. After the experiments, special teams would go over all utterances, mining them for symbolism and interpreting them in all conceivable contexts.

Slowly, Emerson's ramblings turned into inarticulate yells, and his restrained body started seizing uncontrollably, with increasing force.

Dyna saw this before - her mind warned not to go in a similar direction - and she had an inkling of what would happen. "All support staff out, now!" Toast. Good for research, bad for Emerson. Who knows, maybe he won't turn completely vegetative.

The techs were conflicted between tending to the seizing patient and making sense of Dyna's words.

"That's an order! Emergency protocol Gamma! Drop everything and get out at once!" Dyna repeated.

This time they obeyed. All except for the head tech, they exited through the steel door and locked it shut.

"Marie, you know the drill. Please be careful!"

Immediately, the remaining technician started putting away surgical knives, needles and other sharp objects that were out in the open.

One reason why the heaviest Serum users were called technomages was because they came up with subjective, but coherent theories that furthered everyone's understanding. Their special ability to smooth and influence electro-magnetic fields, thereby enabling technology to work, was another reason.

As Emerson's seizures grew more violent, a rumbling tremor shook the walls around them. The tremor lasted several seconds, and when it subsided, small objects - pens, syringes, gauze - rose up into the air and remained floating there.

There was no consensus if high intelligence alone enabled the smoothing of EM fields, or if it was through the mechanism by which the Serum worked - it may have somehow interfaced with the reality-changing Virus that rendered most technologies obsolete.

"Suppressors! Now!" Safety of the facility and its inhabitants came before Emerson's well-being.

Dyna found electro-magnetic fields orderly and symmetric. Like waves through a kaleidoscope of colors, she was aware of all EM fluctuations in her immediate vicinity. Did you know that from the perspective of light, it is everywhere at once? Neither time nor space exist. She felt the tear in the fabric that Emerson's mind caused, and she also felt the controlled effort of those on tech-enabling duty whose minds counteracted the damage and smoothed the tear.

Marie retrieved a large syringe filled with grey liquid. Even failed bioweapons may have their uses. After recovering from getting hit in the head with a floating pack of gauze, she plunged the injection through Emerson's ribcage and into his heart.

One... two... three... Right on time.

The seizing stopped and the floating objects fell abruptly.

We understand EM, but gravity... gravity is something different altogether. Maybe Emerson's sacrifice won't be in vain.

Dyna addressed the tech before leaving the room: "Good job, Marie. Go get the rest of your crew and see if you can salvage Emerson. I'll assemble a team to review the data."

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Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Zombie Mages Bend Reality