chanter_greenie: a starscape, including a spiral galaxy (on a quest for a jewel)
[personal profile] chanter_greenie
This is the second in the orange!verse fic series. It follows on from Adjacent Universe Splatter, bringing the entire Schrodinger's Heroes team in and introducing an orange!verse character or two. I suspect the next fic I post will actually take place in the orange dimension, rather than the scarlet one. For more info on Schrodinger's Heroes, check [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith's journal.

The title of this fic refers to a radio signal reaching a listener by traveling the long way around the planet from its transmission site, rather than via the more common short path.

"From what I can tell," said Alex, gaze still firmly on a screenful of elaborate equations and graphs, "it's coming from a long way down that moral andervector we were plotting last month."

Almost the entirety of the gathered team winced. "Oh no," Quinn groaned, one hand over his face. "And I thought there were crazies in this dimension. How far are we talking? Compulsory loyalty oaths, lapel pins of the great leader, or what?"

"Further," said Ash, "in framework if not in physical demonstrations of conformity." Quinn's response made at least two team members chuckle mirthlessly into their coffee. "My thoughts exactly, if you said what I think you just said," Morgan agreed. "It sounds like this one's going to give a whole new meaning to having it bad."

"If these calculations are right," Alex added, fingers busy at the keyboard, "and given how accurately we were able to trace that first signal's origin I'm willing to say they are, we might have facets of it bad, but they have it worse, at least from our specific point of view."

"And someone else's," Bailey pointed out, "judging by the exisstence of that transmission."

"Wait wait waaaaaait just a second," spoke up Chris from his position against the wall. "You guys mind laying this out for those of us don't know all the answers at the first word? Just what're you calling their point of view? Are we talking some kind of military, or--"

"No," Ash interrupted. "Not entirely, though militarism may well be an aspect." Chris glared at her.

"Ever read George Orwell?" Pat asked. Chris shrugged. "Think I skipped that day in class. Who's he?"

Ash winced again, but it was Alex who spoke. "I hate to put this so bluntly, and no offense intended to anyone's family or community, but... you're familiar with your cousins' general views on social issues? On women, on races intermingling, on, say, borders without electrified fences marking them?"

"Yeah," Chris acknowledged, "and plenty, leastways if you're talkin' Luke and Bo and the way they think. Held a few of those views myself once, I'm sorry to say. I..." He paused abruptly in mid sentence, his eyes went wide, and then it was his turn for an almost comical grimace. "Aw hell. All o' that?"

"And more," Quinn confirmed with a humorless smile. "At least in this particular anderspace's United States, assuming that is a United States over there. For all we know, it could be a Dutch colony gone sour, or a version of Mexico, or--"

"Or Canada," Kay suggested almost impishly.

Quinn's reply was immediate. "Not on your life."

"We won't know which population it's broadcasting to," Bailey interjected, "or for what reason, until we actually tune in a broadcast from that universe's Radio Netherlands."

"You're just dying to hear that signal, aren't you?" Morgan's sidelong smirk faded slightly when Bailey's answering look was shameless and accompanied by a nod. "No sense denying it," the engineer said. "I'm curious. I can't help it. Self-confessed radio geek, remember?"

"You're not the only eager one," Pat murmured, eyes on Alex's computer terminal and the half-assembled radio rig perched beside the monitor.

"If we're assuming that this anderspace's signals are reaching us in our dimension's realtime," Alex said, eyes still on her computer screen, "and that the broadcast Scarlett received is transmitted on a fixed rather than an irregular schedule... then we'll all know one way or another at ten this evening."

The glances that went around the room at that pronouncement ranged from excited unease to thoughtful to at least three distinct shades of wariness. Bailey unabashedly added a look at his watch to the one he shared with Pat. Pat mirrored it with his own rather fancier timepiece, but his eyes were serious above his smile.

At 9:45 that evening, five members of the team were in the control room. By 9:50, the number had risen to six. Five minutes later, every last person was there, and Bailey was shooting shameless glances at his watch from a position as near the now fully operational multiversal shortwave setup as a watchful Ash would allow him to get. Pat, ensconced in a swiveling chair, wasn't much better at hiding his interest. 9:56. 9:57.

At one minute to ten, Alex flipped a switch and twisted a dial. Fifty seconds later, the static issuing from the radio's speakers faded down to almost nothing, the air vibrated, and then the near subaudible hum of the transmitter disappeared as bells began ringing.

Alex visibly shivered. Ash was looking very, very intently at the nearest bit of speaker grill. Pat's left hand ran firmly down the outside of his opposite arm, elbow to wrist. "Whoa," Chris murmured, head canted toward the console, as Quinn closed his eyes harder than was strictly necessary in a room with fairly standard light levels for the compound. Kay's breath hissed out through her teeth as Bailey began to hum in a soft tenor. "Shut up," Morgan muttered, one foot sliding none too subtly across the floor to end up atop the other man's toes.

Bailey went obligingly quiet, but his small smile remained in place through the entire piece.

"You're listening to Radio Netherlands Worldwide," said a male voice, "the Dutch international service, broadcasting on 1044 kilohertz medium wave to the southern United States. We are rebroadcasting news and feature programs from Hilversum through a transmitter located on the Beatrix Juliana."

"Sounds like a boat," Chris said. "Shut up," Morgan muttered again.

"My name is Eric van Willegen," the man's voice continued, "and before Newsline goes on the air, I have a message to relay." Kay tilted her head slightly toward the radio, then canted it away again, looking faintly impressed. "No paper and pen notes," she muttered approvingly.

"This is a message for anybody living in New Orleans," the announcer said seriously, "or near enough to that city to have access to the public water supply." Bailey frowned, soundlessly mouthing the word uh-oh. "In the last week, Louisiana's state government has been saying that the contamination discovered in the city's water is very minor, and that it won't cause the people any harm. Unfortunately, this has proved not to be completely true. We have had reports as recently as yesterday from contacts in New Orleans. People are getting sick, people are having stomach problems, and they can definitely be connected to drinking the water. Now, no one is trying to frighten anyone unnecessarily. The sicknesses reported have been unpleasant, but they haven't been serious. Just the same, we want everybody to stay well, so please. If you live in New Orleans, boil your water before using it just for the time being, and tell your family and your friends to do the same thing. Just to be safe."

"Good lord," Pat murmured, exchanging a brief glance with a faintly queasy-looking Quinn. "He's clearly not a native English speaker," Alex mused. "Van Willegen. He must've come over specifically for the purpose of--"

"Everybody shut up!" Ash groused, and the team fell silent again.

"Now that I've passed that message along," the presenter continued, sounding noticeably more cheerful than moments before, "here is Newsline." A half-second's silence later and the room was filled with a matter-of-fact musical intro, fully drowning out the distant crackle of a steel guitar on some adjacent frequency. Seven pairs of eyes flicked to Alex's hand on the improvized dial. Neither it, nor the dial, went anywhere. Eight people leaned in to listen.

"Did that anchor say her name was Kathy?"

"I think so."

"She's English, definitely. British. That's a well-educated accent, but I can't place the region."

"Ugh, U.S. President Romney? Oh man, I was right when I put this dimension in the same sentence with--"

"Oh God, did they just say loyalty oath? You called that one, Quinn."

"Once in a while, I hate it when I'm right. Hey, what did she say is happening in Mexico?"

"Wow, apparently they never had oil fires in Kuwait in that universe. Point of deviation, Alex."

"Are those soccer scores?"

"Sounds like it. Yeah, they just mentioned FC Twente. Oh hey, language learning by radio!"

"Is that Navajo?"

"Yes, though the pronunciation isn't perfect on some of the repeats. The presenter's not a native speaker. They obviously found someone for the recorded dialogue clips, though."

"Ooh, Spanish!"

"Pretty useful Spanish, too. Yo necesito ayuda esta mas buena como two goddamn beers, please. Somebody over there has their shit together."

"The hell kinda language is that one?"

"That's Hmong, Chris. There's a large population of speakers in the Midwest, and in California. They came over after they fought in support of--"

"Shush up with the history lesson, it's changing again"

"That brings us to the end of today's broadcast," said the English announcer, and every member of the team fell quickly and soberly silent. "Tune in again tomorrow, either at 0400 hours universal time on 6165 kilohertz in the 49 meter band shortwave, or on either 1044 or 1377 kilohertz for rebroadcasts on mediumwave. Until then, we say tot ziens, goodbye from Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the Dutch international service." Her last word trailed into rising reprised bells. Nobody moved.

No one, cliche reaction though it may have been, said a thing until the reverberation of the last of those bells had faded and the tuned frequency snapped abruptly back to static.

"... Oh hell," Pat murmured, finally. Bailey shuddered in reply. Quinn looked uncommonly steely. Ash and Kay wore similar, if differently nuanced, expressions that bypassed flinty altogether and went straight to ferocious.

"I think we need to talk about this," Morgan said simply. Alex's nod might have been a little shaky, but it was also immediate.

Chris's gaze was on the radio's now silent speaker. He didn't say a word, but his bemused expression said plenty on its own.

Notes follow on:

*Tot ziens is goodbye in Dutch.


Date: 2013-03-06 09:58 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I hit E above high SQUEE laughing over Chris' reactions to all the fancy talk. Also, I love the title. I'm still loving this whole series. I'm so glad you're writing more of it!


Date: 2013-03-06 07:24 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I'm still trying to get the scarlet!verse team down properly, and I admit I'm not as happy with this and the previous fic as I am with upcoming orange!verse stories.<<

It works for me so far. I look forward to meeting the orange!folks.

>> The end of the transmission is a pretty accurate depiction of an RNW broadcast ending in our own 'verse, so you know, and 6165kHz is a frequency they've actually used. <<

I love how you're weaving in these little details of radio lore with the transmissions and the titles and so forth. I like exploring new things.

Date: 2013-03-06 12:58 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Pretty cool, looking forward to more.

Date: 2013-03-07 05:33 am (UTC)
thnidu: edited from (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

and not just for the language geekery!

Dr. Whom, Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Ortho√ępist, and Philological Busybody



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