The Fall of a Sparrow (FanFiction): Victor Laxman

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The Fall of a Sparrow (FanFiction): Victor Laxman

Post by Zardoz » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:15 am

"And we have no bloody idea what those do!"

Those are two metallic balls suspended about thirty feet above the floor, one on each side of a monstrously complicated mechanism that is about to be described to me in extensive, loving detail. "We" is really just Victor Laxman, his level of enthusiasm indistinguishable from an eight-year old kid who is telling you about his favorite new computer game.

We are high above A'egura, in a large, enclosed space open to the cavern's ceiling, both space and machine known as the Great Zero. "What an incredible piece of engineering," Laxman says. "We had no idea what it was going to do once we got it up and running. I'm just glad we didn't vaporize any of the explorers." He says this as the Great Zero machine loudly and slowly revolves, emitting a line of blue light that passes over us. I hold my breath, but remain intact. Laxman smiles.

Like so many things in D'ni, the workings of the Great Zero machine are a mystery, which irks Laxman to no end. "We know it turns. We know it spits out that blue light." He points to the watch-like object wrapped around his wrist; another, identical, is wrapped around mine. "But how it calibrates these KIs, not a bloody clue." He notes one thing they do know. The massive crystals, one central to the machine and others scattered throughout the space, are gypsum that has somehow been hardened beyond that of diamonds. "The D'ni must have found a cave like Cueva de los Cristales, that place with the giant crystals. These aren't manufactured, they're natural. But with the D'ni, what's natural and what's manufactured, they're hard to keep separate."

Laxman is referring to the ability of the D'ni, the civilization that inhabited this underground mountaintop and the cavern below, to create links to places that - well, that probably had giant crystals or anything else the D'ni needed.

When Laxman was seven years old, he took a watch apart, arguably the beginning of his abiding interest in learning How Things Work. This did not sit well with his father, who had inherited the timepiece from his father, who had inherited it from his father. While his parents were discussing his punishment, Laxman put the watch back together - and for the first time in 40 years, it kept the proper time.

I repeat this story to Michael Engberg. “Laxman’s spinning you a dit, as he would say,” Engberg says, using what I’ve learned to be Royal Navy slang for telling a tall tale. “Victor enjoys a good story, and rarely lets the facts stand in the way of a dramatic narrative. He really just took the watch face off and jiggled a gear or two. The watch did run, but only for an hour or so. Still, that man is damn smart.”

The mystery of How D’ni Works is what brought Laxman to the cavern, which is why he spends so much time taking apart anything the other members of the DRC will let him. He has jiggled more than a gear or two to get the Great Zero back up and running, but while he has become the cavern’s handyman, he expresses frustration over the DRC’s inability to learn Why D'ni Works.

The books that the D’ni wrote - linking books - are a prominent case. Laxman believes he knows how they work, as he shows me during a visit to what the DRC calls the Library. We stand in front of a pedestal, a linking book open. Having used this supernatural mode of transportation a dozen times so far, I prepare for that singular moment when I am neither here nor there, experiencing a tugging on every cell in my body and a ghostly clap of air that just starts before my body fades-out-fades-in. I hold my breath - “We all did that at first,” Laxman told me before my first experience, “but eventually got over it” - but Laxman waves me off.

“Wait, let me show you something,” he says. He takes the book and opens it to the page with the linking panel, holding that page with his left hand. He lets the pages after panel drop downward, however. “Now try it.” I place my hand on the panel - and exhale with surprise, for I am still in the Library. “Finally figured this out, but only after ripping pages out of a few books.” The D'ni books, he explains, are basically a circuit board, page after page of intricate threads that only operate if they are "stacked", as Laxman puts it. "We found there are several types of ink. Some are the equivalent of our copper, and the characters in that ink form the conductive pathways," he says, tracing the intricate curves on one page with his finger. "Other types of ink, which we think are used for only certain types of characters, must be the components." Each page is one layer, he explains, and so the characters on one page are connected to characters on the pages before and after. Rip a page out, and it's like punching a hole in a circuit board.
Aargh!! Me Pony sez, Aaaarrrghhh!!!

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Re: The Fall of a Sparrow (FanFiction): Victor Laxman

Post by Zardoz » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:17 am

Victor Laxman

Canonical Facts
Mystlore: Victor Laxman (born: 14th June, 1958) received multiple Engineering Degrees from the University of Cambridge before joining the Royal Navy from 1978 to 1990. Victor first learned of the restoration efforts from Dr. Watson in early 1995 before joining the DRC from 1997 to 2004. After Dr. Watson left the DRC in 2004, Victor also became co-leader of the group until it disbanded due to a lack of funding. In December of 2005, Victor Laxman first approached the other DRC members about restarting the restoration efforts and joined the DRC once more in 2006. Unlike the other DRC members, Victor doesn't oversee any particular phase but is instead in charge of all aspects of restoring D'ni technology and in particular translating D'ni technology to English and making it work with human technology. Victor has heavily worked on the KI and related technologies, such as the Nexus and the Lattice.

DRC Biography: Victor Laxman first learned of the restoration effort in early 1995 from Dr. Watson. Mr. Laxman decided to join the Council in 1997 as an original member. Mr. Laxman's engineering knowledge and experience is hard to beat and, as a result, he oversees all Phases of restoration for all devices and equipment. Most recently, Mr. Laxman has spent a large part of his time on the KI and Great Zero.

Zardozian Facts
Chose to read Engineering at Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Was considered for the John Winbolt Prize and Hamilton Prize, but rejected because of his undergraduate status

Crystals in Great Zero are similar to those found in Cueva de los Cristales.

4th year Specialization: Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

Geomechanics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the mechanical behaviour of, and fluid flow and transport phenomena in geomaterials (soils, rocks, concrete, ice, snow, powders and ceramics), and their role in diverse applications in geological, geotechnical, structural, earthquake, environmental, mining, offshore and petroleum engineering.

Senior paper, "Propagation of radiation through inhomogeneous non-transparent media,"

HMS Spartan, nuclear powered submarine, Royal Navy Swiftsure class. In 1982, Spartan was ordered to sail south to the Falkland Islands before Argentina’s ill-conceived adventure began. It was the first ship to arrive in the islands.

As a college graduate, Laxman entered the Royal Navy through Direct Graduate Entry, and sped through the general training at Britannia Royal Navy College. He eventually obtained the rank of lieutenant commander, and served as weapons engineering officer, first as deputy than as chief, on the HMS Spartan.

Jack Speak (Royal Navy slang)
WEO, or weapons engineering officer.
Spinning a dit (telling a story)
Stokers - The Marine Engineers’ name comes from the days when Ships were steam driven and the boilers had to be stoked with coal.

Laxman visited sister in San Diego when Spartan was deployed to the Pacific as part of 'fly-the-flag' visits to a variety of ports. Took a trip to through the southwest and enjoyed the desert. “It doesn’t rain so bloody much,” he drily commented.

Timeline (Zardozian dates in italics)
1958 Born
1978 Joined Royal Navy
1980-84 Served aboard HMS Spartan, Swiftsure class nuclear submarine
1990 Left Royal Navy
1990 Arcosanti
1995 Learned of DRC from Dr. Watson
1997 Asked to join DRC
Aargh!! Me Pony sez, Aaaarrrghhh!!!

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