Chemically Enhanced Psychoportation Trial #156, Day 439
This groundbreaking experiment started with twenty participants, just three of you have qualified for the final phase. In the middle of the spherical room is a comfortable lounge sporting soft chairs, warm lamp light, art supplies, and snacks. All three of you sit perfectly still, vacant expressions slowly changing as if waking from a deep trance. Your reality still feels uncertain as you regain your body, and you’re sure that this time you’d been very close to a full transit. Ximera and Allistair look around, similarly glassy eyed, yet bursting with excitement.
When a tall man in a lab coat wearing a pink turban enters the space, Ximera bursts out, “Dr. Sharaj, I think we almost made it over! My form felt so real!”
“Definitely,” added Allistair, “My sensory experience was so much richer than last time, like I was really there.” Technicians discretely enter the cozy space and begin collecting bio samples from everyone while Dr. Sharaj stands examining a data pad.
“Excellent!” he replies, “Your physical forms looked like they lost some solidity for a while. Data coming in from your phenomenological and matabonomic trackers indicate that you all visited the same location once again, that city you called ‘Vaihto’. Is this accurate?”
“Yes,” you offer, examining a datapad yourself, “and it’s changing rapidly. We should try again soon.” With each trip you each contribute to building a sort of psychological locator beacon in Vaihto, hoping to make it easier to cross over with a consistent and specific destination in mind, and it seems to be working.
Dr. Sharaj nods, “So, the Quickening is coming faster than initial estimates?”
“There’s no question,” Ximera confidently responds as she begins sketching her experiences with her pastels, “the whole tone of the place has changed. The old guard is fighting it, but the change is gaining momentum all the same.”
Allistair ads, “Something is manifesting over the city. People see it in flashes and those are coming faster. We could see it, too, the city covered in shadow and fog with a massive golden light growing in the center of it all.”
Ximera explains, “Our contacts say this happens with every new generational paradigm shift, like the new ideas manifest in a physical way while the old ones disintegrate.”
Dr. Sharaj responds thoughtfully, “We need to look over this data and review every detail that the 2D NMR analysis can offer before arranging the next trip. Take 48 hours to recover and we’ll meet here to decide. Be sure to get your journal entries in while it’s all fresh for you.”
Based on the theory that psychedelics sometimes transport a sentient’s consciousness to the Kaleidoscope Verse, Dr. Sharaj and his team wanted to go even further and use these chemicals to induce a full transit into the Verse. Psychoportation they called it; ridiculous was the more common label applied outside of the lab.
Despite the skepticism, it only took a few passionate scientists and a relatively modest amount of funding to get the project off the ground. Using spectroscopic analysis and electrophyisiological amplifiers, Dr. Sharaj has developed a method of enhancing and directing the response subjects have to the psychedelic compound Leapfrog 23-E.
Now with well over 100 attempts and their iterative refinements, everyone feels like they’re right at the edge of success. This form of transit would use far less energy than the Sieve and offers a way to explore any destination the mind can find within Kaleidoscope.
Chemically Enhanced Psychoportation Trial #157, Day 442
You’re all back in the lab after Dr. Sharaj and his team have crunched the data to prepare for this trip. He’s particularly animated today and there’s a lot more activity than usual.
Allistair asks, “What’s the word, Doc, are we doing this today?”
“Absolutely”, answers the doctor, “I won’t bore you with all the details,” your teammates look relieved, “but I think we’ve isolated the correct magnetic frequency to match the quantum spin and…”
“Allow our psyche to carry our bodies over, right?” interrupts Ximera.
“...ah, yes.” Dr. Sharaj reins in his enthusiasm, adding, “You will be given an injection of nanobots carrying several doses of the psychedelic compound, timed to go off once every 72 hours, as a precaution in case you do make the transit and need help getting back.”
“WheeOooo!” Allistair whistles, “We’re in for quite a ride at that pace.”
Dr. Sharaj looks resolutely at them, “We can render the bots dormant if this trip is unsuccessful. Now, let’s get you prepped.”
Your group is once again in the comfortable lounge, which doubles as a magnetic field amplifier, and starts the familiar sequence of ingestibles that begin each trip. The process is precisely managed for each of you, so you begin to feel the Leapfrog 23-E kick in at the same time. The rush of shifting perception never gets old.
You sink back into your chair and feel almost weightless as your mind drifts with the sensation of euphoric expansion that marks the transition away from typical reality. Closing your eyes you picture Vaihto, trying to bring forward every sensory detail you can remember. When you hear the sounds of exuberant conversation and upbeat music you open your eyes.
Ximera and Allistair open their eyes, too, and you three are standing around a lovely sculpture of a tree in green stone with gold streaks running through it. The gold pulses with light to a rhythm used to focus your minds. The locator beacon, and you see it very clearly. You reach out and touch it, feeling the coolness of the stone, then you touch your face feeling the warmth of your skin. “I think we made a full transit!” you say emphatically.
“It worked, it bloody well worked!” Allistair agrees, checking his pulse.
Ximera chimes in, “Guau! Dr. Sharaj really did it!”
This room is in an artists commune where you’ve made many friends over the past year of spectral visits. Such things aren’t a surprise in this Verse. Now you rush into the common room to share in the good news, and are greeted with hugs and offers of tasty beverages all around. “How are things with the Quickening?” Ximera asks eventually. Several people answer in turn.
“Everyone sees the fog in their dreams, often when awake now, and a silver cord going up to the light. People are nervous, because usually the new paradigm would have overtaken the old by now, but there’s so much resistance to the change.”
“Some assholes have started rumors about a Prophecy, but of course there’s more than one.”
“In one the Quickening will reveal a secret that will empower the old guard, in another it will bestow great gifts of power to the new leadership, and so on. It’s confusing for everyone.”
You take it all in and spend the whole day catching up. These people are part of the movement to generate the next model of shared consciousness that will shape the city for the next 30 or more years. The denizens of Kaleidoscope are accustomed to an ever changing reality, but the last pattern to take shape was more conservative, and these folk stand in sharp contrast.
All of you want to stay as long as possible, and you take advantage of the opportunity to explore the city in a new way, even though the sense of dread and desperation grows more palpable with each passing day. On the third morning, the Quickening begins. People seem to feel it coming and gather together around the cord.
The silver cord connecting the golden light to a park in the middle of the city thickens and you hear a sound of cracking fill the air, like an ice covered lake breaking up in the Springtime. Looking around throughout the air, the black fog, the buildings, and even the people, you see the lined effect of craquelure taking shape as if on an old painting.
A low wailing sound starts from above, fading in and out as a figure begins to form. The wailing gets louder as the figure grows ever more massive, until an infant floats high above, serenading the city with cries of distress. Everyone around you agrees that this is wrong, but no one knows what to do.
At this moment, the nanobots in your bodies release the next dose of psychedelic compound. Everyone around you is reaching up to the light hoping for the crying to stop, and something seems to pull you to that cord. All three of you touch it together and find yourselves rising into the air. The cries are deafening until you reach the light, reality bending again.
Inside the light the baby appears ordinary in size, resting in a basket with an old person looking mournfully at the child.
“I cannot leave if they will not let me go,” they say
“You’re the old paradigm’s manifestation aren’t you?” asks Ximera.
“Indeed,” they answer, “and I’m ready to let go, but the new paradigm is in too much pain to set me free. There are so many different voices all trying to lay claim to the shape of the Quickening, too many to pick a direction.”
You listen a little more carefully and hear the quiet murmurs of desire, of need, coming at you from all directions, and exchange meaningful looks with your companions.
The old one speaks again, “How did you get here?”
“We took a chemical enhancement to our psychic energy and found ourselves lifted to you when we touched the cord.” You answer honestly.
“Prophecy is a funny thing. Does it manifest this moment by foretelling or did someone truly see this moment beforehand? I cannot reach the young one, they yearn only for the new voices. I think with the correct guidance, with a sense of purpose, their suffering may end and they may fully manifest.”
All three of you take a small step forward, eying the basket and the wailing baby with concern.
“Pick them up and speak your insights about the needs of the people. Show them the path forward, and I think they will hear you.”
The old one beckons you forward with gentle grace.
A: Thinking on the value of great communal works, pick up the baby and suggest that a unifying commitment to building a bridge between this reality and your own is the best way forward? You can see it clearly, purposeful and pulsing with psychic energy.
B: Remembering your artist friends and all the creativity they can achieve here, pick up the baby and suggest that an inspiring new artistic movement is the best way forward? Pictures dance in your vision as imagination comes to life, inspiring the masses.
C: Borrow from the successes that led you here, pick up the baby and suggest that liberating psychic exploration is the way forward? Traditions change and you see a bustling way station full of travelers and scholars expanding the boundaries of possibility even here.
D: Put the baby in the arms of the old one and suggest that the wisdom of the Old Guard and the volatility of the new can benefit from one another, that there’s room for both, and offer cooperation as the best way forward? You see the young and the old relaxing together.
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[Laboratory Archival Notes – The Initiative by and large felt that the pairing of old and new offered the most beneficial arrangement, embodying the ideal of compromise, with 9 votes. Three members voted to bridge the gap between worlds, and 2 voted for the emergence of a new artistic movement.]
Chemically Enhanced Psychoportation Trial #157, Day 445
After a very short discussion, all three of you agree that the best course of action is to try bringing peace and comfort to the people here. You pick up the baby gingerly and cradle them in your arms while Allistair lightly touches their head and Ximera offers a knuckle for the baby to suckle. They stop crying and look up at you all.
You speak softly to them, “Hello, little one, newest being to join us here. There are many voices around us, and it may seem overwhelming, but we would like to help.” They suckle more vigorously as their body relaxes into a focused stillness. You continue, “To reach your full potential you need purpose, but you don’t need to find that alone.”
The old one seems surprised when you take a few steps toward them and offer the baby to them. “But, they cannot hear me, what do you expect me to do?” They ask.
“Just hold them and let us talk.” They acquiesce and take the baby into their arms as the three of you encircle the pair. You all sense a change in the space as points of color begin to soften the harshness of the bright light that surrounds you.
Allistair speaks first, “We venerate the wisdom of the old and hold true to the principle that to best shape the future we must remember and learn from what came before.” The points of light seem to grow until it looks like you’re surrounded by little pieces of rainbows formed from light passing through a faceted crystal.
Ximera speaks second, “We hold sacred the imagination of the young and the challenges of the new, for they invariably take inspiration from their forebears while leading the way to adapt for what will yet come.” The baby looks up at the old one as if seeing them for the first time. The rainbow pieces around you begin to move and reform into a shifting fractal pattern, like someone trying on different clothes to see what fits.
You add your own voice now, “We can make room for all by embracing the path of empowering everyone to be themselves and listening to one another no matter how afraid we may feel. You both are needed; you both are loved for now and for the future.” The fractal pattern below you resolves into a spiral staircase-like structure that leads down into the park. The light above and around you breaks up into a million million tiny points and bursts outward to chase away the fog and the darkness.
As you all descend the baby grows rapidly into a toddler and by the time you reach the ground they look to be about 15 years old. They’re dressed in the latest fashions and smiling confidently. When you reach the ground the young one holds the old one’s hand, and lifting it to the sky calls out to the crowd, “There are two paradigms here!” Somehow their voice carries all across the city.
Pausing to let the shock sink in and the murmurs calm down they add, “We are both here because we are both needed! Let us celebrate together!” They turn to your group, “Thank you for offering us a way out of the fog. You will always be welcome here, even though it isn’t truly your home.” They add with a nod to the old one and a wink to you, “We hope you’ll stay and celebrate with us, though.”
“Wouldn’t miss it!” the three of you say almost in unison. The creation of new public art, new songs, and general jovial conversation went on for days. More than that, you also witnessed appreciation for the old ballads, gatherings with historic themes and the tension between young and old had palpably eased off. People listened more and weren’t so quick to judge.
Chemically Enhanced Psychoportation Trial #157, Day 448
When the second dose of Leapfrog 23-E kicks in, you gather around the locator beacon to start your journey home.
“I wonder what Dr. Sharaj will make of all this? I mean, we certainly got more than we ever bargained for out of the psychedelic enhancements.” Ximera wonders aloud, “I think I’ll be painting for weeks trying to capture this experience!”
“We proved that value of the research, and that’s something he’ll be over the moon about. How many operatives will travel this way now? This really opens up a lot of opportunities for the Initiative.” adds Allistair.
“We have to make the transit back first,” you say as you all reach for the beacon and concentrate on the familiarity of the lab.
[SHK-E Analysis - your decision to find a solution that had a peaceful resolution is in line with the Initiative’s SAFETY ethics. Being thoughtful of both new and old as individuals to be treated with dignity showed HEART. The Initiative’s EXALTED reputation, meant that the happy individuals with whom you celebrated were keen to share some of their positive ENERGY with you, thus offsetting the cost of the mission. Your choice, however, declined the opportunity to explore new realms or the vanguard of a new artistic movement, and thus left KNOWLEDGE on the table.
KNOWLEDGE: Very Good
Para Initiative Reputations: Interventionist
Para Initiative Inventory:
Oystersand’s Illustrated Arcana
Notes on Xavi and 1086
Untranslated Copy of Dear People