The Supervolcanic Epiphany

11 Sep

Rogr Sikes believed that he could dwell nowhere else in the entire galaxy but his beloved native planet of Seisma.
He could not have felt comfortable without the constant, unending rumbling and explosion of the planetary volcanos and interior seismic quakes. Rogr had known from earliest childhood that he would enter the profession of so many of his direct ancestors, that of volcanic monitoring and forecasting through the application of psycho-telepathic capacities.

Seismology had made great strides forward in recent decades. There was now an accurate, detailed knowledge of the ocean of molten lava underlying the continental land masses of Seisma. Sensitive human brains provided timely warnings of unusual activity beneath the upper land crust of the large, populous planet. The prosperous agriculture and mineral industry that had brought floods of immigrants to the planet depended for their safety and success upon an accurate, dependable warning system to ensure against losses in case of disaster. Telepathic monitoring protected human society from the dangerous forces underground.

Rogr had earned a doctorate for his research on seismic time patterns, holding that elastic waves beneath the planet’s surface were regular and could be mapped out psychically. His reputation became that of an innovative explorer who used advanced telepathic methods to foresee future patterns of seismic activity. His star was rapidly rising among the professional seismologists with promising careers ahead of them.

But then he met Mera Bolig, and everything changed for the young volcanologist. She was comely, with raven hair and hazel eyes. Rogr was fascinated by her immediately, at their first encounter.

She was a psychic operative newly assigned to the field station that he was superintendent of on the periphery of a volcanic cordillera in high country. Rogr took the young psychic on a brief tour of the facility he was in charge of, showing her the isolated reception rooms where seismic monitoring by human minds occurred night and day.

“We have advanced quantum reckoners for recording and calculating the dimensions of tremors and volcanic eruptions,” said Rogr, pointing to a long wall full of monitor screens. “You will be assigned a special geodynamic region below the mantle for your psychic focus, Miss Bolig,” he told his new subordinate. “Everything you need for micro-seismic vibration attention will be provided for you. I wish you great success in catching early signs of wave propagation.”

“I think it will be alright if you call me Mera, since we will be working closely together here,” she said with a glowing smile.

He grinned back at her, nodding his head.

Rogr sensed that he was going to enjoy having this telepathic operator at his monitoring station.

“Why don’t you come with me to a meeting of the Epiphaneia Circle I belong to, Rogr. I can vouch for you as a trustworthy psychic seismologist with a lot of experience in the monitoring of elastic waves on a pre-seismic basis. You will find everything that goes on in our little group exciting for an adept like you,” Mera said to him with a laugh and a smile one day in her second month at her job.

“I have never heard of any group with such a name,” admitted Rogr. “What is their purpose and main interest?”

Mera gave a laugh. “Their focus is one that you exhibit every day. The club is deliberately kept small. It is dedicated to the advancement of the telepathic knowledge of operators such as you and I. We are persons who dream of ever greater progress in tectonic monitoring and prediction. As more problems are solved, successful warnings about impending disasters will grow ever more common. Our next meeting is set for tomorrow night at the regional planetarium. Will you come so you can be introduced? I am sure you will like what Dirg Nen says.”

“Who is that?”

“Our leader and founder,” replied Mera. “He is an amazingly skillful psychic explorer of the underground and specializes in tomographic exploration of the core-mantle interface. I am certain that the two of you will find many subjects of common interest to discuss.”

Dirg Nen was a gigantic figure, towering above the short, slim Rogr Sikes. The large man had a long head and burning ebony eyes. He spoke to the potential recruit in a rich, sonorous bass.

“I have heard many good things about you from Mera, my good man. She tells me you are interested in exploring the frontiers of volcanology, the same as our organization’s members are. That is good to hear. There remains much that we do not know about what goes on down there, at the intersection of the mantle and the core. Mysteries continue when it comes to a full understanding of wave patterns, how they are generated and evolve into explosions.”

“My curiosity has grown, even as I have learned and experienced through monitoring over the years,” smiled Rogr. “I am always eager to find new ideas.”

“I hope that you will benefit from your contacts with us.” Nen excused himself and headed for the front of the meeting hall. Rogr walked up to where Mera was sitting and took the vacant seat next to her.

Dire began to described recent advances in psychic volcanology, delving into his own research into three-dimensional modeling of the core-mantle intermediate zone. But before long he took a course that startled Rogr with its unexpected boldness.

“Despite all that we have achieved as telepathic monitors, there is one matter that most of us fear to mention or consider. Our ability to foresee coming dynamic storms does not, up to now, lead to any increasing influence over what happens beneath our planet’s surface.

“Let us suppose for a minute that our psychic powers could be combined into a single, united wave. Could successful choice and determination have an effect on volcanic eruptions and landquakes, preventing their growth and dampening their potency. In other words, could we stop both major and minor seismic breakouts?

“I believe that we are now capable of mastering and overpowering the blasts from the inner core of the planetary globe. We can soon enjoy the ability to put an end to explosions of lava from down below. The joint combination of a number of minds will be able to control the course of the seismic phenomenon.”

Dirg looked about at his mesmerized listeners and smiled. He could see that he had won the audience to his vision of volcanic governance.

When he was finished speaking, a group of his listeners, including both Mera and Rogr rose and congregated around him.

In a short while, Mera had the opportunity to introduce her boss at work to the leader of the Epiphania organization.

“I wish to join up with this group and help to develop an effective means of volcanic control,” Rogr managed to inform Dirg Nen.

“I am very happy to hear that,” said the latter, smiling at the psychic monitor.

Rogr was surprised when Dirg appeared at his office at the monitoring station the following morning. The leader had a proposal to present.

“I have been greatly impressed by your professional experience and innovative attitude, my friend. And my appreciation of the capabilities of Mera are also high. So, I have decided to ask the two of you to be my direct assistants in organizing our attempt to control the elastic waves that threaten a major eruption.

“It would be the responsibility of the two of you to oversee the preparation of the team of about a dozen psychics for a synchronized effort to prevent an anticipated seismic explosion. You and Mera, of course, would also be important telepathic players in the joint operation, coordinating all the actors by cable and radio connections.

“Are you willing to take on such an important responsibility?”

“Yes, I certainly would,” replied Rogr, his bright blue eyes beaming. “And I am sure that Mera will agree to take part as your assistant. But she must, of course, speak for herself.”

“Well, you and I must go and see her at once,” said Dirg, making for the aluminum door of Rogr’s office.

Several meetings of the trio were needed to choose the focal point of attention for the team of psychic monitors.

“It must be somewhat distant from the stable, rigid continental lithosphere that we are located on,” insisted Dirg. “We have to concentrate all our minds below that zone, into the weaker, viscous asthenosphere. “We must explore the boundary region between the mantle and the interior core for convection waves that stand out beyond the normal, ordinary ones.”

Mera gave her opinion next. “I think we will have to explore the known subductal transmission trenches and make probability estimates through three-dimensional psychic tomography. The objective will be to catch the earliest possible formation of hot spots and magma diapirs. Those can be the warning signs of what we must immediately put a halt to with our mental forces.”

“This will not be a simple project to complete,” noted Rogr. “Not at all. “All of us have to be cognizant of the lay of the surface land. There are geysers, mudpots, hot springs, and fumaroles up above the seismic lower levels, and that contour will determine how the lava flows may occur deep below. Today we depend upon modeling using Occam’s Inversion and Bayesian probability inferences to map out what we suppose may happen. In our coming enterprise, it will be human minds rather then computing reckoners that will indicate when we must concentrate our attention. Our aim is to control and prevent rather than to make guesses or predictions.”

The face of Dirg Nen reddened with emotion. “We shall accomplish the taming and calming of an eruption threatening seismic disaster,” he declared. “I have no doubt but that we shall enjoy success and victory in this.”

The team of twelve plus the trio of Dirg and his two assistants began a thorough telepathic survey of the vast continental range where their seismic stations were located. Mera sat beside Rogr in his monitoring chamber. Special attention was given by them to known volcanoes, as well as the mantle plumes connected to them. They focused upon subduction zones where subsurface plates met and collided. Convergent boundaries between the mantle and the core where lava flux melting was apt to occur were of interest to all the minds monitoring the planet’s underground.

Rogr gave a lot of his time to surveying any activity beneath what was termed the Super-Volcano, the largest caldera anywhere on Seisma. This was a site over a hundred miles in length that had not witnessed any eruption in over a century. Why was it so inert? asked several generations of vulcanists. Why had no colossal super-eruption happened in such a likely place?

From his earliest years, Rogr had asked his father and grandfather for the answer to that stubborn riddle. Like everyone else, they did not dare make a guess.

This seismic mystery remained in both the forefront and background of the minds of both Rogr and Mera, now involved in an attempt at seismic control. He sensed a need to keep watch on the famous Super-Volcano that seemed so placid. The two psychic monitors who intended to become controllers of volcanic eruption gave special attention to this particularly large caldera.

Mera was the one who first noticed something unusual through her extraordinary inner sensitivity.

“I am receiving signals of unanticipated adiabatic expansion along the mantle-core boundary line,” she told Rogr, who sat directly across from and facing her. “I sense the sudden rise of a column of extremely hot fluid material from that intermediate zone. There seems to be an incredible amount of melting going on through the ancient diaper route that has been inactive for so many ages. What do you think may be going on beneath the old Super-Volcano?”

“Let me turn my thoughts on the sector you are talking of, Mera,” he said with excitement. “This may be the opportunity that we have been waiting for up to now.”

Rogr concentrated all of his mental effort on the area under the Super-Volcano, causing a pattern of lines to appear on his broad brow as he strained himself through a vigorous exercise of psychic power.

“Yes, I sense what you are feeling, Mera. There is a coming mantle plume rising up very fast. The ancient hot spot located there is being reborn and is forming for an unprecedented eruption up at the surface. The diapir is expanding and the pressure cannot be contained much longer. The entire caldera is on the verge of an explosion unlike anything we have experienced in our time.”

Rogr felt his heart beating faster and faster. He gasped for breath.

Mera turned her eyes on him. “What can we do now?” she asked him. “This moment looks like the one we have been awaiting.”

“We have to avert the approaching super-eruption,” decided Rogr. “There is no time to lose. I will report this development to Dirg so that he can communicate the word to all our associates. It is now the moment when all of us have to focus our thoughts upon stopping the impending catastrophe. Everything depends upon you and I seizing the initiative, Mera. The others will follow and join with us.

“Let us begin at once, this very instant.”

Rogr concentrated all of his mental capacity on the rising diapir of burning lava, as did Mera. Never before had either one of them called upon their mind so strenuously and painfully. Sensations that neither of them had ever experienced before tore through their bodies and their brains. Every organ became fully activated. Every ounce of force and energy set itself forward upon the single task of halting the foreseeable seismic disaster about to occur.

The greatest contribution to this campaign of telepathic opposition to a process of nature came from Rogr, the most gifted of all the participants. He possessed greater psychic capability than even Dirg Nen, the leader of the Epiphanea and the one who had originally conceived the idea of telepathic interference in geodynamic physics.

On other monitoring stations, other members of the secret group joined in and assisted Rogr, as Mera and Dirg himself did.

The success of this war against a super-explosion depends upon me, realized Rogr deep within himself. I must sacrifice all that is in me at this crucial, decisive moment. Time will not wait any longer, he said to himself.

The ascending force of volcanic heat and material continued, overcoming all the initial psychic resistance, even though its speed upward declined. Conflict between substance and thought, reality and mind, became intense as a battle climax was reached under the old Super-Volcano.

Rogr knew exactly when a decision had resulted. He recognized the precise second of victory over the impending disaster.

“We have won, Mera,” he shouted with energy he did not know he possessed, with overwhelming joy at sudden conquest of nature’s underground power. “We have done what we planned to. Volcanic eruptions can now be controlled and managed. We will no longer be victims of forces outside the will of human beings.”

All of a sudden, he noticed that Mera was slumping down in her large, cushioned psychic’s chair, specially designed for the monitors.

Something unforeseen had happened, Rogr realized. He jumped up out of his own chair and rushed to where Mera was, her head having fallen into her lap.

He felt her forehead, then took her arm to feel her pulse. Her heart had stopped and no longer was in operation.

What had happened to her? It had to be the strain upon her mind and brain, he told himself.

Her contribution had in all probability been a decisive one. He realized that his own thoughts by themselves could not have been sufficient for the final victory in taming the volcanic eruptive force. She had focused all of herself on the joint task that had finally triumphed. And that had cost her the continuation of her life.

The voice of Dirg was audible over the cable speaker on the table to the side of Mera’s chair.

“We have done it, the super-eruption did not happen. We are the victors and have proven our claims to what telepathy can do,” loudly proclaimed the leader.

Rogr, knowing what the price had been, made no reply at that moment.

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