by John Wyatt
00010010 … 00010011 … 00010100 … Cusia counted her internal time ticks mentally, fearing that she might miss the opening of the concert if she took too long.
“HONK-3!” The Beacon announced.
There it is … 00010100 counts past First Honk. That puts me on the, let’s see, Cusia called up her map of the Beacon lines – laid down by Leptera as an to aid to travelers.
“Yes, I’m on the Barinium line. Now, I just need one more Beacon so I can get a second line. The intersection should be somewhere near the Hydrogenous sector. I hope I’m not late!”
Cusia focused and turned her poles about, listening for another Beacon. Navigation was fairly easy for those like Cusia, who could maintain an even counting to an internal body clock. The counting speed did not really matter, as long it remained constant – speed differences simply scaled the values linearly.
Leptera’s plan for the Beacons had been brilliant. Each Beacon transmitted a time Honk at precisely the same time, synchronized through a separate channel spoken a wavelength far above the range normally used for Conversation. Leptera called it “Analytic Geometry,” and she had derived calculations for all kinds of shapes: circles, hyperbolas, parabolas, and some other shapes that were more abstract. Timing relations between a given point and an observer determined the shape. For example, Beacons lay a constant time distance from a central synchronizing point – forming a Circle. Thus it was ensured that each Beacon on the circle would transmit their Honks at precisely the same time. Each Circle transmitted at a different wavelength, so as not to interfere with each other.
To a traveler, the time difference between any two Beacons depended on the distance from the Beacons. This difference formed a hyperbolic line passing between the two Beacons. The traveler could lay at any point along that line and observe the same time difference. Repeating this count for a second pair of Beacons gave a second hyperbolic line, with the traveler sitting at the intersection of the two lines. Simply download the Hyperbolic Beacon map via Conversation, keep an attuned body clock, and navigation throughout the entire World became a simple task!
“HONK-7!” Beacon number seven announced.
“Oh! My mind must have wandered! I’d better focus on my counting or I’ll be late for the concert! Quarkus will be there, and it’s been so long since I’ve seen him!”
Cusia continued her counting and soon confirmed that she lay on the outskirts of the Hydrogenous sector, one of the newest Fringes that had been brought into Conversation. She quickly estimated the required angle and momentum, and launched herself in the direction of the amphitheater.
“Oh, I’m sorry! Oh, where did I go now?”
Unfortunately, no one had yet worked out how to avoid colliding with other traveling Clanbits! Cusia quickly listened for the Beacons and soon had her new position.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you.” The other Clanbit apologized.
“That’s alright.” Cusia remarked. “No harm was done. I’m still single.“ Cusia quickly assured herself that the other traveler’s poles had not linked with hers. In the early days of movement, on rare occasions, two colliding Clanbits had linked – Left to Right – and remained stuck together! On such occasions, all they could do is notify their friends and be declared legally married.
“Good.” The stranger replied. “I already have someone I’m interested in, and she might get jealous if I accidentally married someone I had just met!”
“Well, I guess that’s just one of the risks of traveling! Knocking other girls about is dangerous enough without getting knocked up for good!” Cusia laughed nervously – she always feared getting married in an accidental collision. She had tried announcing her leaps, but without vector information, it meant nothing.
Leptera had therefore declared that all movement be done by counting up with the Left Pole as the least significant bit. This ensured that all spinning poles were spinning in the same direction, and thus when two Clanbits hit, it would be either Left-toLeft or Right-to-Right, thus repelling them away. This universal precaution was the only protection a traveling Clanbit had against an unexpected marriage. Still, there was no guarantee that every traveler would think this clearly if they were in a hurry. What they really needed was a traffic control system!
“I’m Job” the newcomer announced. “Are you going to the concert?”
“Yes, I am. My name is Cusia.” Cusia used her familiar name; she never gave her IP address to strangers. It was hard enough maintaining Chat with her regular group of friends from school, without having every stranger she met popping up.
“Well, Job, I don’t want to be rude, but I also don’t want to be late. Ok, you can go ahead first.”
“Thank you, but I was the one who ran into you. I insist that you go first.”
“HEY!” a nearby voice shouted. “You two almost hit me! I don’t care which of you goes first as long as you both GO! I declare, you Travelers are more trouble than you’re worth! Jumping and rolling about without regard to where you land!”
“That’s not true!” Cusia cried. “I watch carefully! I can sense nearby Clanbits, and avoid them!”
“Yeah, as long as they aren’t moving, eh?” the stranger chided. Cusia’s poles cooled from embarrassment. It was true that she could have landed on anybody! Still, that didn’t automatically mean that they would end up married! Quarkus had landed on Leptera herself and had not ended up married!
“Ok, I hope to see you there!” Job called as he launched.
“Just get going, before I lay a Wailing on you two!” the disgruntled Clanbit scowled.
Cusia followed hastily, not noticing that she had picked up a slight wobble. Whatever imbalance she felt, she attributed to her excitement and impatience. She soon arrived at the famous Hydrog Amphitheater, which had been dug out by the energetic members of the Banned.
Since Leptera had originally banned moving, and since moving was necessary to make modern music, the musicians called themselves “The Banned.” It was their way of making a statement against Leptera’s original pronouncement. Cusia arrived just as the Banned was rolling out on stage, amid wild pulsations from their ardent fans. Cusia was finally at her first live concert! She quickly picked up the pulsations of the crowd.
“Good Warmth Period all you lovely Clanbits!” the lead Beaters called out. “It’s great to see all of you here at the amphitheater, and I can tell that you’re all here for the same thing! I’ll bet you want to hear --- Geometry lessons!”
“NOOOO!!!!” the audience shouted back!
“What, no Geometry lessons? Well, then, how about --- Counting lessons!!”
“NNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!” the audience shouted enthusiastically, several of them now bouncing up and down with eager anticipation!
“Well, if we aren’t going to talk about Geometry, and we aren’t going to talk about Counting, then that doesn’t leave anything left except - - - MUSIC!!!!”
“YEEAAAAHHHH!!!!” The audience bounced with excitement!
“Be careful out there - last concert, the audience bounced around so much that half of them ended up married before it was over!”
The audience howled with laughter!
“Ok! Now, then let’s start ROLLING!”
The Banned members rolled gracefully backwards and began humming. Then, as their humming rose to a peak, they rolled together at high speed, hitting so violently that their magnetic domains quavered! This gave a deep, vibrato beat to their singing. As the lead Beaters rolled back and forth, pounding out the beat, the audience responded with their own staccato humming. Rolling Rock music was all the rage these days, and the Banned of rolling stones were the Clan’s first true celebrities. In fact, it was rumored that more people traveled to hear the Banned than traveled to hear Leptera!
Hummmmmm!!! WHACK!!! Hummmmmmm WHACK!!! The undulating rolling rock beat soon had the audience quivering back and forth.
“Now join in, everyone, as we SING!”
Cusia felt her body quivering to the magnetic beat!
“Ok, now here we GO! Repeat
the words after me!
”I don’t know but I’ve been told!”
“Sound Off! One Two!” the Banned shouted.
“SOUND OFF! ONE TWO!!” the audience responded. Cusia heard Job’s voice nearby.
“Great music, isn’t it?” Cusia beamed to Job; he didn’t seem to hear her over the din. She tried to roll closer to him, but the pulsations of the crowd drew her farther away. Clanbits bounced high into the air, screaming to the beat of the music. Cusia was overwhelmed by the sheer energy of the concert! She tried once more to roll over to Job, struggling to overcome her pronounced wobble. In her efforts to reach Job, she didn’t notice where everyone was around her.
Cusia was stuck hard by a fast moving Clanbit! His spinning pole rammed into her, driving hard into the slight crack that had formed when she first struck Job. The force split her asunder! Pieces of Cusia flew in all directions! She blacked out.
As the music rolled on, no one noticed the splintering of Cusia. Finally, the concert ended and the audience started dispersing. The largest remaining fragment of Cusia, splintered and jagged, quivered weakly.
“Oh, what happened!” was all that the remnant of Cusia could think. She had forgotten her IP address. In fact, she had forgotten that IP addresses even existed!
“Cusia, is that you?” Job’s voice was faint. “It sounds like you, but your voice is cutting out.”
“oooohhhh, my head! What happened? I … I don’t remember … anything! Who … who are you?”
The nearby pieces of Cusia quivered and began to speak as well.
“Mommy …. Is that you? Mommy?” “Mommy?” “Daddy?” “Is anybody there?” “Mommy?” “MOMMY!!!”
Portions of the rock field now began to take on a cultivated look. Hyperbolic lines formed along the ground and many stones had gathered into circles. In one far flung region of the rock field, a wide, shallow depression had formed in the underlying desert rock. Hundreds of concentric circles, each one slightly deeper, led towards the platform in the center – a large, flat stone. During the nighttime, the depression was empty; but by midday it was filled with bouncing stones. Focused magnetic energy pulsed upwards from the center, where stones rolled and knocked together violently. The magnetic pulsations would have been picked up by orbiting satellites – had any existed that looked down upon the Gobi desert. It is, after all, the most desolate and isolated place in the world – even including Canada. Hardly worth a satellite. But there was one force that overlooked the Gobi desert, and all the world – the Earth’s global magnetic field, which soon carried the magnetic disturbances along the north-south magnetic lines. Soon, the Earth’s magnetic field began to resonate, ever so slightly, with the sound of rolling rock music.
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