A New Entry in the Omicron Matter – Knowledge Discovered. Having explained some of the physics involved, Millicent explains what she believes the McNeills actually did. She explains what an Omicron Device is and why it matters. The Guild will be upset and things could be bad for Earth, let alone for Sean and Martha McNeill.
This is the last entry for Knowledge Discovered. More to come soon!
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the book home page is a good place to start.
My Long Suffering Editor has complained for a long time that I have never explained what an Omicron is. She is right of course. I never did. I hinted such things existed in The Recruiting Matter but never explained what they were or why they mattered. Well, now I do. Unfortunately, I had to do it in a second edit and my long suffering editor still hasn’t gotten a proper explanation. I probably owe her dinner or doing the dishes. The is also the last entry in Knowledge Discovered. And it is the last entry Part 1 of the Omicron Matter. “Part 1?!” you say, “How many parts are there?!” Four. I am trying to be a bit more structured and the parts correspond to some specific points in a story arc.
Millicent Explains the Omicron Devices
John raised his hand and asked, “If it is 70% of the universe, why is it so hard to detect?”
Millicent shrugged and said, “Do fish know about water? Do you think about air? Until Lavoisier, you understood air to be one substance. The dark energy is inferred based on other observations. That is the best the galaxy could do.”
Jason said, “So my parents found an unlimited source of energy. Why does this matter? Is that why they were taken?”
Millicent said, “I set rules up about what you can and can’t do when you come back here. It is to allow Earth and humans to progress on their own. Your father bent them, but so far as I can tell he didn’t break them. Your mother was quite influential and brilliant in her own right. At least a third of those notebooks are her work and she brought in new ideas. So your father technically wasn’t introducing new knowledge. What they did was discovered here.”
John smiled and said, “That sounds a bit more legalistic than you normally sound on the subject.”
Millicent pinched the bridge of her nose and said, “Yes, it does. I am saying these things now because my rules weren’t the only set. Sean probably needed a stern talking to about introducing new ideas. But he broke some far more reaching rules.” She looked up and leaned on the table and said quietly, “The Guild restricts certain technologies on junior races and Sean and Martha went far beyond what would be allowed here. Those restrictions are called the Omicron Restrictions and Sean and Martha built Omicron Technology. ”
There was an uproar at the comment. Rachael shouting about “junior my sweet..” Jason shouting about “pompous classist…” Others just shouting. Finally Liam whistled loudly and John stepped into the ensuing silence saying, “I assume you will explain that last comment more fully.”
Millicent closed her eyes and said, “The Guild puts restrictions on certain technologies ‘for the good of all’. Further, junior members are further restricted from ‘jumping ahead’. The Guild allows certain members to use Omicron technologies sparingly but no one else should use them.”
Michael said, “That sounds remarkably familiar.”
Millicent said, “I am sure it does. If you look at your own history, your guilds restricted certain technologies because they were a threat to the current masters. My Guild is no different. They protect their own.”
Rachael said, “Why would they want to put restrictions on technologies for faster travel?”
Millicent said, “It has to do with safety. Your history is hardly peaceful. But one thing that truly limited your empires was distance.”
John said, “It’s hard to keep order in Britain from Rome when an order takes 6 months to arrive and a reply takes 6 months to return.”
Millicent nodded, “It’s the same with wars in the galaxy. Would you sent a battle fleet off to a foreign soil and not know if it was successful for 30 years? Empires stay localized and no one gets to powerful. Restrictions on travelling faster than light have kept things relatively peaceful for thousands of years. Some of the restrictions I object to. But there are some areas I wish the Guild was more restrictive. ” Millicent nodded at Simone who touched her collar.
Liam said, “But why restrict this new energy?”
Millicent smirked, “It would destroy energy brokers and they are very powerful entities.”
Liam whispered, “You’d think things would be different and they’re just the same.”
Eleanor said, “Why restrict research of junior races or research at all?”
Millicent said, “I suppose the Omicron restrictions were well intentioned at first. I have placed my restrictions in place for, what I believe, are altruistic reasons. But over the years, the Omicron restrictions have just kept new races junior. I and others have objected. But my Guild is much like yours of old – the masters have a vested interest in not letting the journeymen succeed and have a vested interested in keeping apprentices from learning anything beyond what current masters already know.”
There was a long quiet and then Michael said, “Ok…I get there are restrictions. What were Jason’s parents doing that upset the Guild?”
Millicent said, “I think there were three matters. First, the developed a field that, used with a ship, allows faster that light travel.”
Jason and Simone said simultaneously, “That’s impossible.”
Millicent said, “The notebooks say it is possible. Rachael’s reading indicates they were setting small objects ‘outside of time’ and successful at it. Second, the device needed a tremendous amount of energy. They used ‘dark energy’ to generate the field. Travel between stars takes a long time. With their device and their energy source, that will no longer be the case.”
Rachael said, “And the third matter?”
Millicent said, “They created Omicron technology on a backward unknown planet. The Guild does not tolerate such things from young races.”
Most of the group just shook their heads in disgust. Millicent could imagine it sounded just like University or their fruitless job searches afterwards. Simone looked embarrassed. It was Felicity who spoke and shook with rage, “That is absurd. That is not fair. Why can’t we do what we want?”
John commented, “I think our cousins across the pond revolted for less.”
Millicent looked at John with narrow eyes and then said, “The problem is that you people are so damn inventive and too observant. I probably couldn’t leave you people here after all the time I’ve let you spend on the ship. Eleanor has entirely new visions of how flight could be. Jason knows about power sources you shouldn’t have for centuries. Simone and Michael know about alloys that will revolutionize everything from buildings to medicine. Rachael and John know engineering principles that are decades if not centuries ahead of their time. I could leave, take all my resources with me, and the seven of you, I include Liam and Felicity, would transform the world. Sean knew about these fields despite significant efforts to hide the research. He and Martha figured out how to harness an energy source the rest of the Galaxy has not been able to detect, let alone harness. If the two of them had been on another planet, they would have been very rich indeed.”
Jason sneered, “But we can’t have some upstart planet think they are better than us? Is that what this is about?”
Millicent groaned, “Yes, for some. But for others it’s fear. You learn too damn fast. You are too damn at good at figuring things out.”
Liam whistled low and said, “You could take out the Queen’s Navy. Smith and you together would be unstoppable. Who the bloody hell would be afraid of us?”
Millicent opened her hands, “There’s the rub. Left alone, you would be rulers in the galaxy. They see the learning and technology curves of you and others. The lines cross and that scares them. You are becoming a planet that needs to be controlled.”
Eleanor crossed her arms with her eyes fierce asked, “Where does Smith fit in all this?”
Millicent said, “I really don’t know for sure. He chafes at rules so standing by the old guard hardly seems his interest. Some of us have been trying to change things using due process, but there is a cadre that takes a less legal approach. Why is he interested in Earth? I don’t know. Maybe he is hoping to get in early before the Guild takes over. He seems to see planets as mineral rich resources to be mined. ”
John asked, “And you are different how?”
Millicent shrugged, “I view planets more like orchards or gardens. A little harvesting here. A little pruning there. Spread some seeds around and the beauty expands.” She relaxed a little and then looked around, “Your planet has so much potential and you all are examples. Jason’s nearly figured out a theory of relativity to light based on notes from an old notebook. Simone figured out superconductivity. Rachael used nanotechnology in her door chime. The rest of the galaxy could be so much better off by giving you some tools and principles and letting you lose. Some tools and principles, I will admit, I would probably hold off on, but the talent you show should be encouraged, not squashed.”
Liam asked, “Squashed? Is that what Smith wants?”
Millicent laughed and said, “The perfect question. No, I don’t believe so…He wants to profit as much as I do.” She looked at the group. “On that we agree. We differ on how the profit should be made. I want you free to develop. The Guild sees you as a threat to the way things are done. And they deal harshly with people who don’t follow the rules. Right now Smith wants the knowledge we have. We have the means to travel faster than light very cheaply. If he can’t have the patent, he wants a part of the franchise. That is what we will be negotiating.” There were murmurs of objections, but Millicent put up her hand and said, “I won’t require you to work next to odious people, but we will need their skills and Smith’s resources if we are to build this thing. Right now, Smith and I have convergent goals – we both want the Guild to step back. I will be negotiating with him. And truthfully, he probably knows better who I can talk to get them to step back.” There was silence.
Finally Rachael asked, “I kept seeing the phrase ‘Odd Ninefold Brew Keg’ all through the notebooks. I asked Stephan and he didn’t have any idea.”
John whipped out a small notebook and started writing. People were quiet as he put down word and after word and then he stopped and said, “That phrase is an anagram. It seems Sean knew he was going to be in trouble. Rearrange the letters and you get ‘Forbidden Knowledge’.”