Chapter 141 - Manufactoring
“Test one two three, test test.” A distorted and crackling voice comes out of a small black object. A glossy wire extends from the small item stuck to Re-Haan’s ear. She winces, pulls the thing loose and holds it in front of her mouth.
“Yes, you come across loud and clear. A bit too loud. This is meant to be a stealth mission, so the volume needs to be fine-tuned.”
“Some people are already working on that one, ma’am. What should we work on next?”
Re-Haan is about to respond, but stops and thinks for a bit. “We should test range now. I’ll fly off into space with the test signal running.”
“Yes, ma’am, starting test signal now.”
A high pitched sound comes from the small device Re-Haan is holding. She wiggles a finger in her ear again and starts floating upwards, sighing internally. She put three quests on Database what feels like days ago, one for each of the items she felt she needed for the mission. None of them has been finished, every single person working on it bothering her for additional information and specifications.
The communication device she is holding is the latest in a long line of failed prototypes. The first few exploded spectacularly until she imposed some safety regulations for working with electricity. Just because all kinds of wonderfully dangerous chemicals and materials can be ordered through Database does not mean that they should.
She had to ban the use of certain types of electricity generators very quickly. The usefulness of a long-term battery or easily controlled power supply does not outweigh the risk of radiation poisoning or molten minerals respectively. Especially not when the potential bomb was to be inserted in someone's ear.
The headache when those smart idiots proposed the idea of having an item at a temperature five times that of boiling water inside their own ears is still fresh in her mind. They actually looked disappointed when she told them that she had no desire to have molten salt near her brain.
In the end, she had proposed transforming qi into electrical potential. A single sliver of compressed qi crystal could power a communication device for years, even under heavy use. All the braincores looked near offended that their own convoluted ideas were shoved aside for a qi crystal and a small formation.
Then there were the other research groups… The news that massive mana mutants were coming for qi users had everyone in a frenzy. A frenzy of making the best murder weapons as quickly as possible. Database still needs to intervene once every hour or so to prevent large portions of Tree being annihilated by explosions or other high energy chain reactions.
Teach might advocate chaos as a way of progress, but Re-Haan wants to remain living for a little longer, thank-you-very-much. She has changed some other things in Database - using her elevated privileges - to promote new ideas, but with a focus on safety and not dying. A hefty fee of points and a temporary Database block policy made short work of the more reckless experiments.
And it wasn’t even just the braincores. She understood fully how you can get lost in a maze of ideas, theories and possibilities. Re-Haan consciously leaves all that stuff to processes now, keeping her conscious mind as an overseer that takes in all the summarised data without diving too deep into any specific subject.
One of those processes alerts her to a generated report. She looks it over briefly, reading about a collection of heartcores that were about to dip themselves into highly concentrated acid… For resistance training…
Another report tells her that Database blocked a material order just now. Some gutcore wanted to train in poisons and neurotoxins and had ordered enough toxic proteins to murder half the planet. She immediately puts the substance - botulisomething - on the ‘absolutely prohibited’ list.
She sighs again, breathing in the thin air. She looks at the moon that’s growing smaller by the second. Tree and its accompanying lands and mountains are also shrinking, growing smaller beneath her. The sky around her becomes darker, the air around her thinning as she moves away.
The device between her fingers keeps beeping, its volume slowly diminishing with range. She hears the speaker crackle now and then, interference from other tests being run on the moon and Tree. A process informs her that it has measured the device’s range in centimetres with a margin of error of four nines. She could return now but decides to keep going and be absolutely sure. Ninety-nine dot ninety-nine per cent chance still has a massive zero dot zero one per cent chance of being wrong, after all.
Letting her processes take up the majority of her thinking capacity, she ponders the nature of information for a bit. She smiles wryly as she recalls the stupefied face of a braincore researcher that was being held in a containment field by Database. She had to explain to the overeager human that while yes, making a working nuclear device would be a great experiment, setting it off inside Tree would not be a great idea.
Reading information from Database feels like reading a hyper-clean version of a book. The shape and form that information comes in usually tells a message. Even a book tells a lot about its creators by the choice of paper, the font size and shape, the spacing and the amount of text on a page. Handwritten information is even more personalised, the way it's delivered telling a whole story in and of itself.
But reading data from Database is different. It’s pure information, stripped of any feeling, just pure numbers and knowledge. Anything submitted to Database undergoes the same process. A colourful mental recollection of fishing at sea or hunting certain mutants will get turned into clean lists of numbers and sanitised line drawings.
Which is great, as it does little to affect the information delivered, but fails to provide any impact. Reading about a way to make an explosion of a couple dozen kiloton really fails to impress upon the reader how devastating such an explosion would be. A method of producing a planet-destroying device has the same gravitas as a cake recipe. So Re-Haan implemented some more policies to prevent people from doing anything too dangerous.
Instead of banning it outright, she allowed people to work their way towards such a goal. Database now tests everyone on their proficiency - either mental or physical - of a certain subject before ‘graduating’ them and allowing them more information. And she banned anyone from buying any raw materials she thought problematic, such as radioactive materials or neurotoxins.
And it wasn’t just the braincores. The gutcores turned out to be the least problematic as they didn’t lean towards the physical or mental extremes the other two core’s hold. The heartcores had turned to creating physical weapons, often employing braincores to enchant and modify their creations.
But the device in her hands dies before she can start recalling all the horrors those physically obsessed idiot savant cultivators got into. She checks her own range prediction and confirms that it was correct. The range in this environment turned out to be a couple of dozen kilometres. Enough for a mission that will span a single large city.
Grabbing at the thin air, Re-Haan starts moving back towards the moon. Another thing she noticed these last few days is that nobody really innovated in a brand new way. They all enthusiastically learned all they could about already known information, but the only new data submitted was of the observable kind.
Database’s inbox is even now filling with observations and statistical data. Migration and weather patterns, ways to grow crops, population densities, sure. But almost no innovations or new ideas. The only people innovating turned out to the be the original students Teach took in or the people close to them. Vox, Danarius and Valerius are among the few not constantly taking in new information but actually forming their own hypotheses and theories, almost all concerning medical science and horticulture.
Selis is even now messing with water and all its forms, Angeta did nothing but sleep since she got healed, Ket and Tess were too busy flirting to get anything done, and Bord just ate and fought. Bord did submit some rather crude and primitive theories on gravity, so there's that…
‘Stuff goes to stuff. More stuff goes more towards stuff.’ Database had some trouble determining what to do with Bord’s submission, so Re-Haan decided to award him some points. He used it all to buy fancy foods.
Re-Haan decides not to think of that for now and puts her findings on her own section of Database. The communication device started beeping softly again but is interrupted by a static crackle. “Miss Re-Haan, we have the data. We found a section about fractal antennas on Database. We could add that feature if the range is insufficient.”
“No, that's okay for now. Any updates on the other two items?”
The radio crackles again. “I’ll check, ma’am.”
“Yeah, you do that,” Re-Haan says to herself as she descends to the moon. She checks her personal corner of Database, but doesn't see any new data. Everyone was still reporting to her in person, even though she told them to keep her updated via the information network repeatedly.
A flare of orange and blue catches her eyes, so she changes course towards Tree, speeding up as she wonders why Database didn’t prevent what likely was an experiment gone wrong.
Angeta seems to have finally calmed down. She had this aura of restless anger about her for a long time now. It started since we left Tower City on our mounts. I wasn't even aware of it at the time, but scanning back through my memories makes it pretty clear.
I pull the massive sword from the fire again. It’s starting to take on the shape that I want - finally. I thought about making it an ornamental and tribal looking thing but decided that that’s not my style. Instead, I want to aim for a massive rectangular razorblade.
Putting the glowing chunk of alloy on my pure carbon anvil, I continue working on the blade. I went slightly overboard when I made the forging instrument, so now I have a nearly indestructible collection of tools all made from single crystal layered graphene stuck together with an interwoven mesh of covalently bonded metals.
I start hammering the thing, sending waves of qi through my hammer and into the sword with every strike. I can't really be bothered to arrange each molecule in a perfect order, that would take too long and be boring. Instead, I imagine the crystal structure I want, impress that intent on my forging qi and let it do its thing.
I ran some more simulations and concluded that a magnesium alloy would be the lightest and strongest alloy I could make in a reasonable amount of time. I decided against it, since the purpose of this sword is not to swing it around fast, but to smash through things with brute force and massive weight.
In the end, I just randomly threw together some lead, titanium, magnesium, carbon, iron, tungsten and some other interesting metals. I didn’t use aluminium, as that stuff is really irritating to forge and would just burn. I also used a mix of silver and copper, forging that inside the blade itself to make qi channels.
I decided to go with a fire and ice theme and am now interweaving some formations in the blade representing the laws of thermodynamics. I, of course, added my own twist. The internal energy of an isolated system is constant? Sure, it is, in a world without qi.
Okay, I really can't break that rule even with qi, but it does allow me to redefine the term ‘isolated system’ however I want. I can add the thermal energies of an enemy to my defined system, steal all its warmth and then isolate the system to only my sword again. Or vice versa if I want that particular enemy to explode into bloody and well-cooked steam.
This thing is going to be fucking neat.
Then the second law, heat cannot spontaneously flow from a colder location to a hotter location. What if I redefine what heat and coldness is? Heat and cold don't really exist in reality. It’s just a scale starting at zero kelvin and going towards infinity. I ignore the theory of absolute hotness and the Planck temperature, that would overcomplicate things needlessly.
The third law is the one concerning entropy. A shame that qi colliding with qi generates more energy than the reaction consumes, so that entire point is bollocks. I’m sure the energy is being pulled from somewhere, maybe it's being removed from some other plane or dimension, but that doesn't matter really. I will start worrying about the life and death of universes once I celebrate my billionth birthday, okay?
I use the third law to let this sword stay relevant to me, allowing it to grow. A part of the qi inside it will go towards containing the qi, similar to the structural qi inside cultivators. This will enable it to absorb more and more qi and energy.
I've worked two large mana crystals inside the blade. I found the curious chunks of self-sustaining crystallised power inside the volcano and the ice mountain. The sheer thickness of the mana exuding from both masses of rock interacted the ambient qi in interesting ways, generating the rather dangerous gems that Angeta seemed so scared of.
Including the two massive mana crystals was a tricky job, though. Crumbling them and mixing them with the alloy would be useless, the crystal needs to be a certain size to keep generating energy. In the end, I forcefully reshaped them, reforming the orange and blue stones into long bars that I fold inside the metal. I let qi soak into the mana stone, making the higher power rule over the mana as a regulator and controlling force.
Now to connect the two. I can't really make a bridge between the two power sources. I need a construction to act as a neutral ground, allowing the heat and cold to mix and flow. Let’s use an image of Tree, then. Letting the silver come to the surface, I form a long and messy engraving of Tree on the middle part of the blade, connecting the two long stones inside the blade through channels of silver and copper.
Next I… Next I should... Am I done? I don’t feel like the sword is done.
I wake from my theoretical smithing daze, noticing a rather sudden change in the environment. I am holding a rectangular blade, similar in shape to a ruler. Lengthwise, it’s a good two meters in total and the middle half is five centimetres thick perfectly smooth black metal. A long and stylized silver tree adorns the middle part, on both sides. The two outer quarters are tapered to a sharp edge, looking like shining brushed steel.
The blade’s top is also tapered, making for a sharp edge on three sides. The edge near the handle continues past the blade’s body, forming a sharp diagonal handguard. A long clean metal handle sticks out from the blades base, a simple round pommel on its end.
I look up from my creation and notice my castle in ruins. I'm surrounded by loose bricks and rubble, only the area around me is clean of any debris. The suns shine down on my sweaty and soot-stained face as I look around at all the spectators. The entire population of this dimension is gathered around, all staring at me in absolute silence.
I see signs of damage everywhere. Large swathes of forest and grassland are either burned or frozen. I also see exhausted cultivators standing ready in front of my original students' houses, Tree, the library, and the gardens. Maybe I've gone a little overboard? At least I have a cool weapon now. Maybe I should spend some time setting up some protective formations everywhere. I only had a sound dampening formation around my castle, which is now entirely gone.
Looking at the blade in my hands, I still feel a sense of incompleteness. Then I sense danger. Turning around with the still glowing sword at the ready, I only see a flash of white, hear a terrible rumbling and see a lot of gold before things go extremely wrong.
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