Chapter 3 Hat

        The comsphere-3 on Porett's desk was glowing red. He stopped writing, tapped in. The colour cut out, to be replaced by the bearded features of a man. Mid-thirties, thinning hair swept back in a pony tail: this was also Porett.
        The comsphere image spoke first. "I monitored Chewt calling Ansle. There's been some development with Conley, Sennary's lost track of her, some mention of devastation magic."
        The real-world Porett considered. "So I should buzz the click- well."
        "It'd help, just to make sure it all checks out."
        He began the gestures. He'd been looking over a contract to trade grain for timber with an up-coming Northic concern that was hoping to break into their local food production industry. His separate consciousness in the comsphere-3 had, last time they'd merged, taken on the task of calling a few contacts in Estavia, find out what they knew about the Northic boys. Busting into bread wasn't an obvious expansion route for a company primarily into logging.
        His hand flowed smoothly through the sequence. Whatever had caused his other self to abandon prematurely the Estavian calls and focus on Ansle's line must have been important. Well, the red priority glow had told him that, of course. He must be pretty damned sure about this...
        He finished the gestures.
        "Nothing?" enquired the comsphere Porett.
        He nodded. "It's like it isn't there, I'll try pick up the click- control magic, see if that's detectable."
        "Don't bother, it won't be. Try the second well."
        He obliged. What could his co-self have discovered? He'd know soon enough, but those Estavian contacts should have taken at least three hours to deal with, why had he ... No, be patient.
        He finished gesturing, felt a piece of knowledge appear in his mind, like he'd always known it. "The second click-well is still operating, we could link to it but it's not on Conley, maybe on her horse, maybe someone else, maybe lost."
        "Well, that's something, anyway. I think we need to discuss this."
        "What made you give up on talking to the Estavians? Something they said? Something they didn't say? Or did you just have a wild idea to snoop on Ansle?" He knew that wouldn't have been the case, liked to tease himself, show who was alive.
        "Hell, no, I was trying to rouse Thidlic when suddenly I felt it."
        Silence. Porett knew that while in the comsphere he shouldn't be able to feel anything - zero whatsoever. He could see and hear through other comspheres that he'd called, or that'd called him. He could see and hear people in the same room as the comsphere-3, like he was an incoming call. Damned if there was any way he could ever feel anything, though.
        "What was it you felt?"
        "Pain, ghastly, like I was bleeding, dying. I think we'd better merge..."
        "I'm already making the gestures."

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: isif3.htm