The Black Signal Spell in The Void Between | World Anvil

The Black Signal

The Black Signal is like an urban legend among the eden. It holds truth, but over the ages much of that truth was obscured. Their science failed to understand, but maybe we can fix that.   The black signal is an anomaly that exists in a particular region of uncharted space. It routinely pulses, a signal that says nothing. Its point of origin is random, each pulse occurring in a different location at different times. Without a means to understand it, it's little more than a cosmic scream.   Gibraltar is the source of the signal. We know I can receive the signal, but why me? Why is it even being sent? More importantly, can I use it to track Gibraltar down?
"Gibraltar?" Fraeia asks. I nod in reply and they shrug. "Outside of the stories about your mother, I know nothing."   "I figured as much. No one does. Maybe with this signal, I can track it down?"   Viritine laughs. She laughs? Why? An image of the galaxy appears on the screen. I see several green points, each representing the origin of a signal pulse. "Each origin is random. Do you see something we don't."   I shake my head. "No, but I know something you don't. Well… knew."   Viritine speaks in a soft, slow voice, "It's a remarkable discovery, amber. I don't think it will lead to much, though."   "Why not?" I ask, my mind already racing. I joyfully scan the wealth of data on the screen to the point of obsession.   Fraeia answers, "If you're right, it wouldn't change anything."   I don't respond. In fact, I barely hear it. I'm focused. I'm so close. I can feel the answer right in front of me. It feels like I have a chance. I could fix everything. I could save mom, fix my life, and get the vengeance I crave if only...   Viritine calls from above. "You won't be able to predict or track it accurately."   "Hold on," I whisper. The anger builds. I need this. I need to find it. There's an answer here and I will not stop until I have it. I'm on cloud nine. To be so close that all you need to do is crunch the numbers, it's like a high. I just need…   Fraeia speaks again, "Amber?"   …need a moment of peace and quiet, like damn. I turn to Fraeia and shout, "What?"   They narrow their eyes and their head gently tilts to the side.   I take a deep breath. "Sorry. I'm just trying to figure this out."   "Figure out what?" They ask.


Gibraltar is a fourth dimensional entity. It lacks technology but based on the origin of each pulse, and when they occur, it implies it can move at alarming speed. The points are too far apart for standard forms of travel. That means it can move as fast as a ship at warp. I think that's the key.   Warp is about changing the space you're in relative to everything else. Velocity is dependent on time, but at warp you have no velocity. Warp travel is independent of time. What if Gibraltar does the reverse?   A fourth dimensional being could, theoretically travel forward and backward in time like we walk forward and backward in space. Space and time are tied together. That's why we call it space-time. That means a fourth dimensional being could change their time relative to everything else, without changing the space they inhabit.
Fraeia shakes their head. "I don't follow."   I smile, "Maybe Gibraltar is changing time independently of space."   I scan the star charts on the screen "The signals all come from this region of the galaxy. If we take the equations for warp travel, change it up a little, maybe the origins will line up."   "I understand." Viritine says, and a line emerges from the edge of the image. It bends as the line traces the chart, intersecting with several points of origin.   I scream, "Yes." My hands reach for the ceiling in clenched fists. Every possible point of origin that could exist on the line matches up perfectly. "Now this should work for every set of origins. More lines are drawn but none match up. "Wait, no. That can't be right."   "Think bigger. Time goes both ways." Viritine says.

Time travel?

This reverse warp travel or whatever we decide to call it, is about staying in place and allowing time to pass for everything else relative to you. Time for you seems normal, but for everything else, it speeds up.   The expansion of the universe alone is superluminal, faster than light. Factor in the velocity of the galaxy through the universe, its spin, and the velocity of everything in that galaxy, and you effectively travel ridiculous distances without having moved an inch.   There's a problem. Not all origin points line up. That's because we haven't factored in traveling backward in time. It shouldn't be possible. When factored into the equation, the line traces along the origin points, then bounces back along the same path but through a different set of origins. We can literally plot out the journey Gibraltar took, is taking, and will take.
"I...I'm impressed." Fraeia says after a long silence."   "I did it? Is that right?" I ask.   Fraeia smiles and nods. "Maybe but how does it manage to travel backward in time?"   "Does it matter?" Viritine asks.   Fraeia looks up in confusion, "No. I suppose not."   "Maybe it isn't traveling backward, at all. If Gibraltar is as old as the data implies, it could have just traveled forward from the first pulse."   I turn away from the screen with a wide grin. I haven't felt this good in years. Just moments ago, I felt groggy and eager to return to bed. Now I can't imagine sleeping. "Thank you so much. Really. Keep the reward, this is more than enough." I turn on my heels but Fraeia's voice stops me from leaving.   "What? You're leaving?"   I turn and my smile fades. 'Well yeah. This is the first lead I've had in ages."   "Slow down." Viritine says with a chuckle. It almost sounds patronizing. Why is she laughing like a parent witnessing their kid do something cute? I'm an adult, damnit. "Amber, you didn't even ask me to send you the data."   I turn around and my cheeks go red. "I… Oh." Well that's embarrassing.   Fraeia smiles and asks, "If you manage to find it, what then?"   I open my mouth to speak only to find myself unable to answer. I hadn't thought of that.   Viritine floats in the medium, swimming lazily as she speaks. "How long have you been searching for Gibraltar, Amber?"   I give a shrug and try to speak. I can't imagine how foolish I must look right now. "I don't know. Years."   Fraeia tilts their head, their eyes narrowed. "Why? Seems like a waste."   I laugh. "Of what? My life? I'm not exactly fond of living, so why would it matter how I do it?" I look down and keep my eyes glued to the pristine white floor.   "That's a shame," Viritine whispers. Shadowy tendrils drift behind her as she darts to the back of the ship. Here comes the lecture. "Life is precious."   I snap. "You're a ship literally built for war, and you're lecturing me on the sanctity of life?" I look up to the water above me as I continue, "Your culture is rooted in taking lives. How could it be precious to you?"   Fraeia's eyes go wide. They straighten their back and cross their arms. Their eyes search my face as if desperately searching for evidence of a misunderstanding.   I smirk and nod, bucking up and stepping forward as if to challenge them. "No, you heard that right."   My words hurt more than I thought. They blink at me and take a step back, unwilling to punish my transgression but likely unable to forgive it either.   I stop. My breathing is heavy. Why am I so angry? I step back. I shouldn't have said that. It wasn't kind, and it damn sure wasn't smart. What the hell is wrong with me?   These two are the first people I've met who knew who I was and didn't immediately hate me. More than that, I'm pretty sure Fraeia has enough military training and experience to kill me in a myriad of creative ways. Who knows what Viritine is capable of.   I run my hands through my hair. When that doesn't calm me down, I reach up and clench both sides of my head. When did I last take my meds? Yesterday, right? Guess they decided not to keep me level this time. My emotions flew too high.   Viritine keeps watch in eerie silence from above. I glance up to her and then back to the floor. I'm a guest here. I know better than this. So much for new friends.   "Sorry," I whisper through tears. "I'll see myself out."   "Wait." Fraeia's arms fall and they reach out to me, careful not to touch the skin of my arm. "Are you alright?"   "Not really." I was doing so well. I can't do this right now. I'm so close.   "What was that about?" Fraeia asks.   I shake my head. "It's a long story."   Viritine breaks her silence, "Amber?"   I barely muster a response, but manage to get a single word out. "Yes?"   "The eden do not age. We are immune to most diseases and are extraordinarily resilient to physical trauma."   "I know that," I reply, my voice rising then forced back down. I'm ashamed, but I'm still angry. Who does she think she is?   "Death gives urgency to life. It alone can grant purpose and maybe even meaning. Given how hard it is for us to die, of course we would have a warlike culture. "   I cross my arms. "I said I was sorry. I can't take it back. I wish-"   "I'm not asking you to take it back. Just know the difference between those who show reverence for warfare and those who enjoy it."

Cover image: by Alina Grubnyak


Author's Notes

2 am dylon really needs to stop publishing articles. I'll be reworking this. I'm not sure i like it. Let me know how it read, if you can. Feedback is always appreciated.

Amber's Behavior
Amber takes psilocybin to treat Bipolar disorder. (type II) For those who do not know, this chemical is what is responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of magic mushrooms, or shrooms. This chemical is currently being studied for treatment of several disorders, including bipolar.   Through microdosing, one can achieve the positive effects while negating the negative. In smaller doses the hallucinogenic properties are almost nonexistent, but the uplifting effects are still present.   A major obstacle emerges when you consider what bipolar disorder really is. The depressive episodes are easy to understand, but the disorder is also about mania. Type two usually manifests as depressive episodes, but it also comes with hypomania. (A lesser mania. Like mania turned from 11 to a low 8)   True mania is complicated. It comes with euphoria, grandiosity, hyperfocus, no need for sleep, and in rare cases, delusions. Hypomania is lighter, often lacking the delusions and bulletproof feeling that can come from full mania. Both come with risky and reckless behavior and irritability.   One can take psilocybin and feel its positive effects for quite some time. Like days and weeks after taking it, hence why I chose this medication for a sci fi setting. It's easier to take a pill once every so often, as opposed to every single day. In space, a day is relative.   A major concern for medicinal psilocybin is that it may antagonize mania in patients. So far the rewards outweigh the risk in treatment, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't ignored in the story.   For many with bipolar, being "normal" and at your baseline is like waiting for the next bomb to drop. You have to be constantly vigilant for triggers and signs that could foreshadow or cause a depressive/manic episode. It's like every moment of your life is spent walking on eggshells. Episodes are guaranteed to happen. You try to keep it at bay as best you can, but when it finally happens, it just feels like you failed.

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Dec 10, 2021 23:06 by Angantyr

I need to get back to some older articles to know more about lore. I feel I should be more familiar with the eden and these two, namely Fraeia and Viritine. Seeing shadow-like tendrils and remembering Fraeia's interaction with Amber's chip translator I feel like there is a strong connection between the eden, the black signal and the Gibraltar. Some strange theories pop into my mind, but I'll leave these for later...   From the reading standpoint, I feel that the flow is sometimes disrupted. A lot is going on inside Amber's head, that much I can relate to, but perhaps because of the length of the sentences, I fall out of rhythm. And again, this conveys the little chaos in the main character's mind. I am not sure. It is difficult to narrow down. I would probably have a different feeling if this article would feature a transition point in Amber's condition, i.e., with a high period before and a low period after this one.

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Dec 10, 2021 23:31 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooo I guess I'm actually sneaky that way. Lol her depressive state was in her character article and in specialists she shifts to a baseline. My goal was for the article titled scavengers to be where she starts to dance with mania. I tried to make even the worldbuilding sections more energetic and urgent. While different for everyone, the highs and lows can often be days weeks, or even months apart. On a rare occasion someone can be in mood remission for years then suddenly, boom. Episode.   By this article she's hypomanic, new people who dont hate her, a lead on her life's mission, and the medication all antagonized it. The hard transition point would be the moment she saw the data. It's super subtle though and for the sake of reading I may have to make that a little more clear. Thanks for pointing that out.   You have a really good point. When I go through again I'll play with the length a little more to tweak it cause yes it's chaotic and breaks flow intentionally, but it shouldn't be so... this. Thanks so much, my friend. That was a huge help!   There has been alot of lore on the Eden thus far and this does assume some familiarity. I will say though that your theories are sound. Even without the lore the breadcrumbs seem to fit. That's awesome!   Again thank you so much!

Dec 13, 2021 15:34

I felt it was a huge difference for Amber between this and the last few chapters. Her mind seems to race and trying to make sense of all of this information and the possibilities they promise.   I quite enjoyed reading it.

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Dec 25, 2021 05:04 by R. Dylon Elder

Thanks so much for saying that. I appreciate it.

Dec 28, 2021 22:21 by Avalon Arcana

“Just know the difference between those who show reverence for warfare and those who enjoy it” Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, That is an amazing line. That is….gosh.

I’m gonna need ot sit and think about that one for a sec.

Wonderful job, as always :D

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
Jan 13, 2022 22:59 by TC

Oh gosh ok, this is really interesting! There are so many different concepts for my brain to toy with in here, and every new article I regret not remembering everything that happened in the previous seasons. As Ang mentions, there's this eery similarity between the Avatar and Gibraltar, which is hella interesting and god I want to know more.   I'm remembering the weird shadowy people from the end of season 2, and how Gibraltar was involved in their destruction, and now this connection with the Eden- how does this all fit!!

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Jan 14, 2022 01:51 by R. Dylon Elder

it does all fit... allll of it fits. This ties into articles as far back as season 1. it's gonna be a BIG reveal.

Apr 13, 2022 04:13 by Garrett Grace Lewis

Interesting...time travel? Things just get more and more interesting...   I also appreciate the author's notes explanation! I had forgotten about Amber's biopolar disorder.   The latter bit about why the Eden celebrate war would have really hooked me if I'd read this just a few days ago! But, I have had my mind changed on the "death gives life meaning" concept after hearing a compelling argument against it within the past week. How often, truly, do we think about death throughout our day to day lives? It barely comes up, for most of us, yet we still find meaning— so clearly, death is not the actual source of meaning.   In my opinion, the actual source is life itself, paradoxically. Life gives life meaning!   Anyway my point there is, I don't think that an immortal race would need to go to war to find meaning. But! That needn't actually change the Eden, here, perhaps their reverence for war is not an answer to finding meaning, and is rather something taught? Same as that idea is taught to you and I as humans. Someone, at some point in Eden history, had reason to start a war— be it selfish or otherwise— which eventually lead to their cultural views on it today.   Obviously this is just me thinking out loud and I do not actually intend to change your mind on any of this, either way, the Eden are still a fascinating people!

Apr 13, 2022 13:06 by R. Dylon Elder

AHHHH! FINALLY! you're the first to really point this out. Keep that in mind. It's more important than you know. The Eden are not what they seem...

Apr 14, 2022 06:31 by Garrett Grace Lewis


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