We still await the engine repairs. Progress is being made, but it looks like we may be sitting here a couple of days. In the meantime, we have started to explore the ship. The ship previously was used by smugglers, and, if we’re lucky, there will be some valuable items tucked away. We may need funds soon.
The group seems to be pulling together. Even Benolaa, once she faced reality, has contributed with not totally stupid suggestions. Perhaps if she stays away from VR, she’ll not be completely useless. Out of the blue, though, she tried to get into my nice room with a fairly transparent seduction. It was hard to keep a straight face when she was doing it; some of my instructors at The Agency were so much better when teaching us to resist such tactics.
We spent some time testing our new abilities. “Magic” appears to be pretty amazing, but testing thus far seems to show it still follows many logical scientific principles. For example, the detection spells seem to operate as any other detection scheme would operate, where there is strength and range (i.e., more precise detection) and either of these variables can be increased with more energy. In this case, some (or all?) of the “energy” comes from the caster herself. Obviously, if I will be using magic, I need to work on increasing my stamina soon. Benolaa accidentally has seemed to confirm that strength is a variable when she cast a more precise detection spell (enemies vs. life), and went unconscious much longer than my weaker strength spell did for me. Oddly, testing with range shows the energy usage is linear with distance, when logically is should be squared. The only “spells” we know have no time element, but if we develop any, we shall have to test if those are linear or other with energy use. They should be linear, but the odd range results shows that there are principles involved that we do not understand. Still, the current results indicate the detection spells must have an active rather than passive element, which means that there should also be a way to detect and thwart other users of magic.
“Psionics”, on the other hand, seems similar to magic but is much more powerful: it uses an unknown energy source completely external to the caster. Testing thus far indicates a psionic spell can be maintained indefinitely. It must have some limitations not yet evident, or else the researcher would not have bothered experimenting with the thus-far inferior magic. The only thing we have so far noticed is that psionics does not appear to be as versatile as magic, but we’ll have to do more testing to confirm that, and see what other tradeoffs it has.
We have started reading the “Markann” experimenter’s notes, and discovered the inspiration for his experiments are a number of nearby worlds. I had hoped that we might leave those worlds in peace; they are in serious danger of being exploited if the research results become well known. However, very alarmingly, we found references to a rival researcher out there somewhere trying to duplicate the same experiments. I’ve learned where one researcher can succeed, others can and will, too. We should go to these worlds ourselves soon, probably starting with Cryadon (the magic world) and Banduch (the psionic world).
These Markanns appear to be aggressive, arrogant, and highly dangerous. The researcher’s notes, for example, casually talks about destroying a whole planet of sentients solely because they might be a threat someday. If the Markanns start to develop these abilities without anyone else having similar abilities to counter them, I can only imagine what would happen to the races of Known Space. It is too bad we do not have some sort of strong federation of united planets; I fear we will need one soon if the Markanns come. At the very least, The Agency must be alerted. With luck, I am worrying for naught and nothing happens, but we need to be prepared if the Markanns do start a war of conquest and obliteration.
A parallel new danger is Lazarus’ sentient shapeshifter race. For all we know, they have been hidden among us throughout history, living in peace. However, the security concerns are obvious, and they could be a new infiltration to Known Space with unknown frightening goals. Lazarus does appear to be quite peaceful, though I’ll have to keep watching him to confirm. If his presence was discovered by other races, I’m concerned fear about his race would cause his life expectancy to rapidly dwindle, with his remaining time spent being dissected in a lab and/or grilled in a detention center. Unless he or his race shows signs of being a true threat, I think it best to keep any references to his species out of my reports to The Agency, and try to keep their focus on the true threat of The Markanns.