“Samiz transmission is short-range,” Chess said, shifting to pull the transmitter-receiver from his pocket, “and the signal gets stronger as you get closer to the source.” Experimentally, he turned a dial on the box and looked at the signal reading. “When we contact Lodestar or listen to Isaac Dale, we are picking up signals that are being re-transmitted, or repeated, by the transmitter-receivers of other people in the area.” He looked at Ileana. “That’s why I could never figure out the technology: it’s not some way-advanced tech, like we all thought, back in civ -- it’s actually really basic.” His excitement for the idea grew as he talked. “It doesn’t depend on cutting edge equipment, it depends on people – people who are willing to pass on the signal, even at great risk to themselves.”
“Why is it risky?” Noah asked, sounding genuinely curious.
“Because the use of bandwidth channels is strictly regulated,” Chess answered, waving the transmitter excitedly. “Unauthorized use is illegal. But, besides that --”
“Damn government regulation,” Gryff put in, making Chess glance sideways at him.
Then Chess charged ahead with the explanation. “But, besides that: if they are dissidents who are passing on information by samiz transmission, they open themselves up to being tracked down. If the government was interested enough to track the source of a particular transmission…” He held up the metal box and restated, “The signal gets stronger as you get closer to the source. And, with this device, we can block out repeating signals and tune directly into a particular signal source, if we want to. This thing does an awful lot of useful stuff. We can also tell how strong a signal is.”
When he finished speaking, the company was silent and Chess felt disappointed. His brain was beginning to get cloudy from the pain medication, and he wondered if he was making any sense at all.
“So,” Ileana finally asked, hesitantly, “how close are we to Lodestar?”
The answer was – in the morning light, after Chess had slept – that the transmitter would need a full charge before they could accurately gauge signal strength. Luckily, it had been built to connect to standard solar link-phone chargers, so they just had to wait.
Sariel insisted that they stay in place for a few days anyway, so that Chess could begin to heal, and he was experiencing enough pain and discomfort to acquiesce to her wishes.
“Do you think,” he ventured, on the evening of the second day in the camp, when boredom was threatening to overwhelm him, “maybe we could have a story?”
Sariel fixed another dose of the herbs that she was using to dull his pain, and then sat down with the others. She smiled obligingly, but admitted, “I will try. I do not have anything prepared…”
“As we know,” she began, glancing around at the group, “the goddess Lilumei had been sent by her brother and sister gods to live, for a time, on earth. The humans, whom she had created and encouraged, had managed to conquer the entire earth, polluting and destroying many parts of it.
“When the gods realized what was happening, they -- led by Enthirath, the god of water -- demanded that Lilumei find some way to fix the problems.”
“That’s some challenge, even for a deity,” Chess sighed. He was lying on his back, and watching the stars come out. He would heal, he mused, feeling satisfied. He had gotten them past another danger. Gryff was here, and they were all together, and the voice in his head was quieter, for now.
Sariel continued her summary of previous story events. “Once she was on earth, though, Lilumei encountered many dangers. Luckily, she had human friends who helped her out of those difficulties. But the god of water, who was especially angry with her, began to cause trouble for the people who were helping her. One of those people was called ‘Chess, the thief,’” Sariel explained, arching an eyebrow at Chess, “who, they say, has seven lives.”
“I guess I’ve already used up a few,” Chess muttered, embarrassed that the story was about him.
Ileana put a gentle hand on Sariel’s arm, stopping her. Then she turned to Noah, who was frowning, seemingly lost in thought. “Do we offend you with our tales, Gran - Noah?” Ileana asked.
Continued next page...
Batman: Broadcast! We’ll trace that radio message right to its broadcasting source!
Robin: Holy transistors!
- Batman (1966) Season 1 Episode 18, Holy Rat Race
Going a little further on the subject of pirate radio, use of radio frequency bands is regulated by most governments. Therefore, any radio broadcast that does not follow the regulations in every way -- perhaps broadcasting on a band that is allocated to others -- is considered illegal. One well-known example of pirate radio is Radio Luxembourg, which transmitted across Europe and also to the British Isles. Not exactly rebellious in an overthrow-the-government way, it was, nevertheless, unregulated and, for that and other reasons, was declared illegal in Great Britain. Because of this, at least in the beginning, Radio Luxembourg continuously shifted its wavelengths.
By the end of the 1950s, the radio station was still “illegal,” but apparently accepted, and it began to target teenagers with pop music. It is then that, supposedly, Eric Idle, of Monty Python, listened to it regularly. If pirate radio influenced Idle’s satirical humor, then I, for one, am grateful. In that era, listening to some kinds of pop music could be considered a subversive and political act. Certainly music helped fuel the U.S. protests of the 1960s and early 1970s as much as it helped spread the message of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Youthful participants in the Arab Spring protests claimed all sorts of songs as their political anthems, including some by Pink Floyd. Music often has a powerful effect, inspiring thoughts and actions both creative and destructive. It can be an extremely effective way to influence and convey messages, disguised as entertainment.
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