"Good afternoon. I hope you had a pleasant lunch. Please be seated, and we will resume with the second portion of this seminar.
"The first portion of my lecture covered the three fundamental laws upon which thaumatology is based, and the ways in which they may have an effect upon a PHYSICS Division operative's choices in the field. At this point, I am going to proceed to a somewhat more esoteric field: Elan-Vital Energy and Aspect Radiation.
"EVE is the fundamental energy that powers thaumatology. What EVE is, we are still trying to understand. It appears to be somehow linked to the Observer Effect directly. It has been described as 'life energy,' or 'magical particles,' but such terms are gross oversimplifications. If you are interested in the more esoteric aspects of EVE theory, you will find some recommended reading in your seminar syllabus. But for now, I will simply discuss the aspects of EVE that are pertinent to a Coalition field agent.
"EVE is emitted by living things. It is also often emitted by paranormal objects. EVE emission is not a perfect indication of whether or not a person or object has paranormal properties, but often, that is the case. Higher and more intense levels of EVE are generated by beings with higher levels of sapience: their Observer Effect is stronger, thus their EVE levels are stronger as well. Humans over Animals, Animals over Plants.
"Interestingly enough, the Goddesses that the Servants of the Silicon Nornir operate also generate EVE energy. Food for thought.
"Training you on recognizing and identifying EVE patterns is beyond the scope of this one-day seminar: you'll be provided a handbook with common patterns and schemes to recognize and memorize. But for now, let's try it out.
"On the table in front of you, you'll find a COLLICULUS Aetheric Resonance Imager1. I've already set up the imaging nodes, so all you'll need to do is put on the headset. But before you do that, let me give you a quick rundown on how to use it.
"The system can be put on like any other personal image enhancement headset. It can be worn using a headstrap, or attached to your helmet. Other variations attach to your rifle's Picatinny rail. There are three components: power supply, headset, and image processor. For now, the power supply will be the extension cords at your tables, and the image processor should be left on the surface of the table.
"When I tell you to do so, and not before, pick up the image processor and turn this wheel here all the way to 0. That's the image brightness control. You also want all three of these switches: "CAL," "VIS," and "ARI," set to the "ON" position. Only then will you flip the power switch and put the headset on. After that, you can adjust the image brightness until the calibration bar at the bottom of the screen is properly adjusted: you should see eight distinct squares, each one a different shade of grey, ranging from near-black to near-white.
"Go ahead and put them on now. I'll be coming around to help anyone who's having problems.
"Everyone all set? Having fun? Interesting stuff, isn't it?
"What you're seeing in the COLLICULUS headset is the EVE energy being given off by you and your classmates. You'll see that different people have different color and shape patterns. Over time, you'll learn to read and recognize these patterns. A skilled COLLICULUS operator can not only detect a person, they can also read their emotional state and some paranormal properties.
"They can also see through walls. In a moment, I am going to activate a secondary COLLICULUS array located in the conference room next door. If you will please all direct your attention to the front of the room…
"There we go. Location and position of every human being in the room next door, through the walls. I am now going to ask you to set the VIS switch to "OFF," but keep your thumb on the switch, please. It might be a bit difficult for you to find it once you've turned off visible light processing.
"Interesting, isn't it? How you can see the entirety of the next room? Aetheric Resonance. Older models of the ARI system could only directly detect EVE emission patterns. The newest ones can also use EVE interaction with inert matter to draw a map of the surrounding area. The resolution isn't very good at the moment, but we're already working on the next-generation technology.
"Ah. I can see that someone noticed that Midnight here comes off as a bit different. Midnight, if you'll recall, is a Constructed Intelligence. That is, to say, she is a piece of raw mind put into the form of a cat. You'll notice that there are some unusual spikes in her aura signature, as well as some dips that don't appear in human beings. Her color scheme also tends towards blue significantly more than the rest of the class.
"Aha! And now the gentleman in the front row has recognized something else as well… my aura pattern also tends blue. And now you're remembering that "Type Blue" is the GOC designation for thaumaturges… Not a coincidence, I assure you. The image processing software is designed to process the EVE signature of a thaumaturge as blue. Same with Type Reds and Greens. Type Blacks… they're another story.
"In any case, take a few more moments to experiment with the COLLICULUS system. I'll be coming around to answer any questions you may have."
"I'm going to end this segment of the seminar with a discussion of Aspect Radiation, or ARad. EVE, you see, isn't just an indication of the Observer Effect. It's also a transformative power in its own right. When EVE intensity gets to the point where it can alter or change reality, that is what we call Aspect Radiation.
"So, to answer the first question: Aspect Radiation is simply EVE in concentrations high enough to cause reality warping effects. Think of it as gamma radiation: Gamma rays are simply the upper end of the electromagnetic spectrum, the same spectrum that contains X-Rays, visible light, heat, and radio waves.
"We categorize Aspect Radiation along three axes: Hue, Pitch, and Weave. Plus Intensity, that's four characteristics that should provide a solid description of the level of reality alteration that we might be dealing with.
"Intensity is measured in Caspers, a term which has a very technical definition that I will not get into here. One hundred Caspers is considered normal "background" radiation levels. At one thousand, you may start seeing paranormal effects. At ten thousand plus, you are seeing severe and immediate reality alteration. Word of advice: unless you are specially trained to deal with reality alteration scenarios, you should avoid any ARAD field higher than one thousand.
"Hue. Originally, Hue used six of the seven colors of the rainbow. That turned out to be a problem… people would call in "Type Blues" with ARad characteristics reading "3 thousand, Black, Flat, Tight," and people would get confused. So we extended the scale a bit and changed the terms. The Hue scale is now: Ruby, Topaz, Lemon, Malachite, Sapphire, Ebony, and Over-Ebony. Or, you could just say Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black, and Over-Black if those colors sound too frou-frou for big, manly soldiers like yourselves… but you might confuse people.
"One common misconception is that Hue is a measure of the danger level of Aspect Radiation. Not the case. Hue is actually a measure of… I guess the best way to put it is how "blatant" the change is. For instance, a Ruby change might just be an acceleration in the decay rate of a small amount of radioactive material, while an Over-Ebony alteration changes the past fifty years of history to add an event back in the past that didn't occur before. On the other hand, Pitch, Weave, and Intensity also need to be considered… A Ruby level alteration that causes a sub-critical mass of plutonium to reach prompt criticality is a much more severe event than Mussolini having tea instead of coffee for breakfast one morning.
"Pitch is what mages used to call "White Line" versus "Black Line" magic: how destructive a particular burst of Aspect Radiation is. It comes in five categories: Double-Flat, Flat, Natural, Sharp, and Double-Sharp. Double-Flat is the most destructive, the most disruptive to the operation of the mundane universe. Double sharp is the most constructive: these changes tend to become integrated into the very fabric of reality itself. This is not to say that Double-Sharp is necessarily good… if you want an example of a hostile Double-Sharp working, consider the anomalous Daeva Civilization: an ancient civilization of bloodthirsty thaumaturges that, periodically, have their decline and fall a few years later than before. That's a Double-Sharp Over-Ebony scenario right there.
"Finally, Weave. Comes in four varieties: Sparse, Loose, Tight, and Locked. Explaining it is… difficult… mostly because it's the only characteristic of Aspect Radiation that we don't have a way to detect. The only way to assess Weave is by direct observation by a Type Blue like myself. But what you need to know is: Sparse is vague and strange. Loose is a little more understandable. Tight is usually about where we get to what most people think of as "magic" or "reality warping" - the purview of Type Blues and Greens. And if you ever hear "Locked," turn and run like hell, because there's a Type Black in the area.
"All of this must sound complicated, because it is. I'd have to give you an undergraduate level course in basic thaumatological physics to explain further. But this all relates to one of the big questions I keep getting asked: namely, why doesn't the Coalition use magical workings for everything? Why do we need Strike Teams and Assessment Teams?
"The reason is backlash. Every time you utilize Aspect Radiation to make a change in reality, it bounces off the fundamental fabric of existence and causes a secondary effect called Backlash. The formula for measuring Backlash intensity is a bit complicated, but it can be summed up like this: A percentage of the original spell's Intensity. Opposite Pitch. Opposite Hue. Same Weave.
"So let's say I perform a working to create a door in that wall, where there wasn't one before. That might be… 3 kilocaspers, Ebony, Sharp, Tight. I plug the numbers into my formula here… and I can expect a backlash of 1.75 Kilocaspers, Ruby, Flat, Tight. Maybe I suddenly give off a burst of gamma radiation. Maybe the carpet in a five meter radius bursts into flame. Maybe there is a burst of light and a glowing pattern of runes. In fact, when I do my working, I'm going to be trying to redirect the backlash into as harmless a pattern as possible. That's why thaumatologists use casting circles and geometric patterns: to redirect the backlash into predictable patterns.
"On the other hand, there are some workings that we still haven't figured out how to reabsorb all the backlash from. The most notorious being apportation. Altering reality so that quantum tunneling causes a large amount of mass to instantly appear somewhere else… it's a really ugly alteration, and the ARad backlash is huge.
"Worst of all, backlash itself is a burst of Aspect Radiation which can itself cause backlash… and so on and so forth. In fact, one theory as to why paranormal objects exist is that the Big Bang was the most powerful magical working in the universe… and it's still backlashing upon itself, causing reality to bend and alter at regular intervals.
"I'm starting to see that I'm losing some of you. Let's take another break, and when we get back, we'll talk about killing things and having sex."