Chapter 71 Hat

        "He still suspects," the comsphere Porett affirmed.
        "Doesn't surprise me - nothing about Justan could ever surprise me..."
        "While he was talking, someone called the com-1. It couldn't patch through, of course, but I felt it all the same."
        "Well, it was always going to look suspicious, this merging in windowless rooms. What did he say, anyway?"
        "He seemed pleased to hear of our expedition. Hinted he was appraised of it all along, but I doubt it, he wasn't convincing. I found something else, though: he's suspended the commission on the New Academy, said we'd know why in a couple of weeks, but not to worry, it's to our advantage."
        Porett leant back in the chair, swinging his arms behind it. "Any ideas on that?"
        "None, but if he's speaking to anyone in Cala about it, he's not using a known comsphere. Might have a secret one we don't have records of, but I'm maybe 80% sure that if he did I'd have overheard it by now."
        He sat up straight again. "What if it's not one of our..." He rummaged in his desk. "This came while we were in Seesel, copy of an internal memo from Magicorp's finance division. It's a budget proposal for acquiring MagInk."
        The com-Porett frowned. "What do Magicorp want with MagInk? Their research is bunny-and-beagle stuff isn't it?"
        "I checked, yes. They spend their days disfiguring animals and fixing them back with souped cosmetic spells they want to publish in booklets for teens.
        "They're a nowhere outfit, then. Pedlars, tiny. So why do Magicorp..?"
        He rocked his hand. "Our people in intelligence reckon it's for their strengths in illusion. First Khrov (Soat), now MagInk. Word is, they're close to testing a one-to-many broadcast device, but can't boost the received image."
        "One-to-many? But we've been working on that for years! How did the Corp get the jump on us?"
        He was scanning the cover assessment. "Intelligence theorise they're using a flat plate - you lose the 3D, but it's easier to share out the image among receivers. Without a proper boost, though, you only get the degraded view, so the more people who link in, the more faded it becomes. Who wants to be entertained by inaudible ghosts?"
        "I understand. So, these plates can only be used singly without a loss of image quality. And you think Justan might be cutting one like that?" He nodded. "We ought to merge."
        "I'll pull the shutters..."

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: isif71.htm