Imagine two satellites, both equipped with FTL communications, starting at the same point. Launch the two of them in opposite directions.

The first satellite transmits an FTL signal to the second satellite, and, as the second satellite is moving with respect to the first, it is affected by the time dilation, and time passes more slowly relative to the other.

As soon as the second satellite receives the signal, it transmits an FTL message back to the first satellite. And, as the first satellite is moving in the second's reference frame, time dilation still applies.

And, given either a fast enough signal, or fast enough satellites, these dilations begin to add up, and signals begin to travel back in time.

It's been twenty-six months since the collapse of the Standard Model, and it still isn't sitting well with a majority of physicists.

"How does the maths hold up?"

"The modifications hold for two of the Big Three." replies Allen, scrolling through pages of calculations. "Only Zhang's theory is giving negative results; it's the only one that requires a defined source frequency. The other two don't, but their source frequencies would be undefined, and provide no model for what will be copied."

After learning what they could do, the military had them relocated to the Sevenoaks Research Laboratory, in a whirlwind uncharacteristic of bureaucracy. The government gave them a carte blanche to finish another set of teleporters as soon as possible; they were done in a month, and another twelve runs confirmed it beyond any doubt.

Proper teleportation. Faster-than-light. Instantaneous exchange of the information on both ends. Scientifically impossible, but physicists were doing six scientifically impossible things before breakfast these days.

"Probably vacuum, but with any luck, we'll get small portion of a sun or neutron star."

In the six months they've been with the government they've improved the designs: smaller form, faster recovery, greater capacity. They can teleport smaller objects now, but Mark and Sato were working on mounting the teleporter on a satellite in Wiltshire, taking one of the ends with them, leaving KT and Allen with only half a teleporter.

"Shouldn't we have more safety precautions?"

You can still do things with half a teleporter.

"And tell security that we're not twiddling our thumbs like they told us to? We'll be a kilometre away, the machine's shielded; at worst we irradiate a bunch of equipment. Or maybe burn the building to the ground. Actually, the two are the same."

Because there's no absolute requirement (in any of the major competing theories) that both ends must act as both a transmitter and receiver; the platform can, in some theories, transport into nothingness, or, more disconcertingly, transport things from nothing. And that's exactly what they are trying to do.

"Just be glad Sato isn't here." Allen grumbles.

KT ignores him. "Besides, we've already tried transporting to the null frequency and failed; transporting from the null frequency? Why should that be any different?"

Allen sighs. "Just get it over with."


An hour later, the two are sitting in pub on the other end of the laboratory, separated from the device by a kilometre of copper, concrete, brick, earth, snow and wood, and a pint of beer each for good measure. KT sits with a laptop open in front of her, plugged directly into the intranet, streaming the cameras and particle detector readings they had spent the hour setting up around the device. Allen sits on the other end of the table, wanting to have nothing to do with the entire enterprise.

"Everything's set. So, shall we toast to anything before accidentally destroying world?" KT raises her glass.

"Just press the goddamn button already."


KT presses the goddamn button.

The device fires; the cameras fuzz for a moment as the electrical discharge passes through them, but they clear up momentarily. Particle detectors still read nominal, and nothing changes on the external cameras.

The KT stares at the internal camera feed. Allen's face shifts from disapproval to concern, and he gets up to walk around to the other side of the table.

"That looks organic," KT says slowly, "doesn't it?"

She looks up. Allen's eyes remain fixed on the screen. He pulls a phone out of his pocket and dials for security.

"Hello, security? Yes, I'd like to report an incident; a possible biohazard in Lab E. Yes, the physics lab. No, I don't know what it is, or where it came from. It should be airtight, but even so..."

On the screen, the blood slowly begins to congeal.


KT paces the floor of the empty room and Allen sits with his back against the wall, holding his knees.

It's been two days. Security arrived shortly after the call and placed them in detention after determining they had no idea what they were dealing with, while a hazmat team was hastily assembled to deal with whatever it was that came through the teleporter. Sato had stayed behind in Wiltshire while Mark was recalled for advisement, and he dropped by the room to convey a few words of concern and Sato's general disappointment.

But since the first day, no one would even give them the time of day; food was passed in at irregular intervals, and having thoroughly exhausting the topic of how they could possibly teleport from the null frequency (conclusion: further research is required) and what it was that was teleported (red blood implies haemoglobin, probably mammalian), the two wait in sullen silence.

Footsteps sound outside the door, and the two stir as someone punches the code into the keypad.

"How's it going?" Allen eyes Mark as he walks through the door, looking no better than the two in detention.

KT gets up off the floor. "When are we going to be let out? Nobody tells us anything; there's got to be a trial or—"

"You two have to come with me." Mark says, blearily, "They want to run it again."

Mark smooths some wrinkles out of his jacket. Allen stares back in disbelief.

"I don't believe it. They want to do it again? After what happened the first time?"

"Hey," KT quipped, "at least we didn't destroy the world."

"Shut it, Katie." Mark turns to the door. "One run isn't science; and after the genetics team came back, they seem especially keen on reproducing the result. Come on, the guards are waiting."

The two follow him out, and a pair of military personnel follow close behind.

"Oh, and before you ask," Mark continues as the walk down the corridor, "I have no idea what the results are. Human cardiac tissue, male, East Asian, but geneticists seem tight-lipped about further findings. But they want another sample, and so do the people upstairs."

"And risk, what, killing someone else? There's someone out there with a hole in his heart, and you want to try it again?"

"They do. I argued against it, but they were going to do it with or without our help. So we might as well supervise. Katie, what parameters did you set for the null frequency?"

"Null. Alpha null, beta null, gamma null. I dropped the Zhang transform as well, seeing that his theory specifically prohibits teleporting without a valid source. It was supposed to be a null test; nothing was supposed to happen."

Experiments are supposed to have controls.

But there's a fine line between science and engineering; science tries to determine why things work, whereas engineering tries to get them to work in the first place. If you're taking something apart, you're doing science. If you're putting something together, you're engineering. And in engineering, if it works, you're done, mission accomplished, you can pack up and go home.

It takes a scientist figure out what makes it tick.

As they approach the lab, the activity in the corridor escalates rapidly from empty to bustling, and they pass by military personnel, other physicists and innumerable men and women in white coats, all looking slightly weary. The lab next to theirs had been transformed into a full-on biology lab; a glance through the door shows more scientists and lab equipment, some still in the process of being set up.

The guards usher them into Lab E, where the safety precautions that KT should have set up had been put into place: an oil-filled lead glass shield partitioned the room in two, with cameras set up in both sections, all pointed towards at the teleporter. Particle detectors were scattered throughout the room, along with Geiger counters and atmospheric analysers. The ceiling was dotted with directional mikes.

The device had been cleared, not a spot of blood remained. It was ready for another run.

They squeeze themselves through the crowd and to the main console, where a woman in a suit extended a hand at their approach.

"Willow Beckett, director of the Sevenoaks Research Laboratory. And you must be Dr. Thorne and Dr. Morales. Quite the discovery."

KT shakes her hand. "Which lead us to be locked up for the past two days."

"You understand the situation."

KT grins, and Allen approaches to shake her hand.

"And what exactly is it that we've discovered?"

"We're not at liberty to say. Need to know only. But depending on the results of this experiment, we might be able to tell you. Now then, which of you set up the experiment last time? We didn't touch anything."

KT approaches the console and quickly skims over the settings. "Everything looks fine. You remembered to fill up the liquid helium?"

"Hey, Michaelson!" Willow turns to call to one of the bespectacled white coats. "Did you replace the liquid helium?"

"We've topped it off," he called back, "and replaced the teleportation chamber, seeing that the old one was covered in blood."

Willow turns back, "So it should be all good to go."

"Great." KT nods. "Shall we begin?"

The director makes a motion, and the others in the room slowly make their way out. She moves to go, then looks back at the team.

"We've got monitors set up in the other room."

"It's safe enough here." KT shrugged. "We've seen it run before."

"Assuming the same result." Allen replies.

Willow vacillates, then decides to remain. The room lies empty, except for the four, staring through the yellowed glass.

"Press it."

KT obliges.


"Well, I guess we have a cardiac tissue generator."

It's the next morning, and the geneticists had been working overnight to get the analysis done. The four of them are joined by the head biologist, dark circles under his eyes from the lack of sleep. A fresh report and cup of coffee sits in front of each of them, both of them still warm.

The button was pressed nine times, and each time the resulting piece of flesh was carried to the lab for analysis, and each yielded the same result. Same mass cardiac tissue, same person. By the fifth sample they had more cardiac tissue than present in a human body, and after the ninth they decided that further runs would provide no further information.

"At least we solved entropy."

Nobody bothers to respond to KT's comments. It's too early in the morning. Mark finishes reading, and makes eye contact with the biologist, who is slowly nursing his coffee. One by one, they look up from the table.

"I've deliberately omitted the results," the biologist said, "as requested. To let you draw your own conclusions."

"Well it's obvious that we're not teleporting from somewhere." KT begins. "Unless someone, somewhere, is cloning a large amount of cardiac tissue."

"Structurally correct cardiac tissue," adds the biologist, "much more difficult to grow. And if someone was capable of growing it on this scale, we would have heard about it by now. Growing organs for transplants."

"Right. I think we can rule that one out." Mark takes a sip of coffee. "What if it's a copier?"

"The theory's not there." Allen murmurs.

"The theories don't say anything." Mark snaps back. "There's nothing on the other end; at best we should get raw static."

Willow interjects. "And yet we don't. And instead we keep getting the exact same thing, over and over again."

"And what? Some poor schmuck is getting his heart copied over and over again?" KT replies. "I don't buy it, especially since it was two days between the runs, and we still get the exact same thing. If he moved at all, then we wouldn't get his heart a second time."

"We're missing the Zhang transform. What does the Zhang transform do? Allen?"

"Nothing. Something. I don't know, it's a compensatory factor to balance the equations. There's no physical significance to the transform; theoretically any three factors defines a transmission frequency, but plugging the six into the transform links the frequencies."

"We should really make a run with the transform in place, just to check."

KT taps a pen on the table. "What if it's just a cardiac tissue generator? I mean, it's about as strange as a copier that only copies cardiac tissue, or someone cloning hearts in his basement."

"We'll keep that under consideration." Willow ruffles through the report. "Any other ideas?"

Mark flips halfway through the report. "Can we get to the radiation? I'm a bit lost on the biology here."

"The changes to the satellite regions of the DNA," the biologist explains, "indicate chronic exposure to high radiation. He—"

"Anything else that can cause the changes?" Mark interrupts.

"Chemical mutagens would have a similar effect, but we're getting high levels of radioisotopes as well—"

"Yeah, yeah. Just being thorough. The iodine points to radiation as well. Anything else?"

"The DNA of the white blood cells also have a number of polymerase and nuclease variants, both of which are involved in DNA repair."

"So he's living in a high-radiation environment, and getting treatment."

"Well, the variants could be a side effect of the radiation, or possibly natural, or could be spliced in as an attempt at experimental treatment, but that's a reasonable assumption, yes."

"Or the cloning lab is testing radiation treatments on the hearts." KT says, putting down her coffee.

"No, that doesn't make sense." Allen replies, slowly, "Iodine is only provided to prevent radioactive buildup in the thyroid. If this was just a heart, they wouldn't have a need for supplemental iodine."

"Unless it's a control."

Allen shrugs in agreement.

"So any conclusions?" Willow asks.

KT rattles off the list. "The heart is attached to a thirty-something Korean male, probably living in an area with high background radiation, receiving supplemental iodine and possibly experimental treatment. Disregarding, of course, that the teleporter seems to follow him wherever he goes."

"Any idea where he could be?" Mark asks.

"Well, the only locations where there's high enough background radiation to merit that degree of treatment are the big three: Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Kyshtym, none of which are classically habitable. The samosely live in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, but the demographics don't match. Neither for Kyshtym. Fukushima is a maybe."

"Or a radiation worker." KT adds.

"But none of that matters. We're building a larger teleporter. We're going to bring him through."

Tagged with fiction, horismos
Posted on 2016-08-21 10:28:52

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