by Dr. Dystopia
April 24, 1999
The subject of unauthorized Umbral habitation of living beings and inanimate objects is one that is becoming increasingly important as the third millennium approaches. The number and severity of these "possessions" by spirit-beings has climbed steadily from 1945 until today, where it remains higher than at any other time since the Technocratic paradigm took hold. Opinion differs on the force behind this increase. Some Scientists have Theorized that Society's fascination with centenaries and millenniums somehow weakens the dimensional walls between the Umbra and ourselves, allowing a greater number of Umbral beings to cross to our dimension. A percentage of these spirits inevitably take up residence in a terrestrial being or object, resulting in the phenomena of possessions and "haunted" houses or other objects. Other, more sinister Theories involve a concerted effort by powerful Umbral entities to rupture the barriers between the two dimensions, enabling them to gain power here. Still others suspect that the increase is an attempt by the Dreamspeakers and/or the Euthanatos to disrupt the Technocracy's carefully laid plans. Whatever the true cause, a reliable means for detecting Umbra-infused matter is desperately needed if we in the Scientific Community are expected to counteract this disturbing trend.
The answer lies in the nature of Umbral matter itself. Umbral matter, even while invisible and intangible in its natural state, still possesses mass. In fact, this amount of mass is so small that under most circumstances it goes completely undetected if it is not specifically looked for. No matter how minute, it is this mass that allows us to detect the presence of inhabiting spirits in objects and living beings. At any point of intersection between Umbral and terrestrial matter, their combined mass creates a new, unstable material that I have termed an "Umbroisotope". As they decay, Umbroisotopes emit U-particles: slow moving particles of low penetrating power, similar to but weaker than alpha particles. Because of their low power, U-particles can only be detected through the use of sensitive devices similar to Geiger counters, but calibrated specifically for their emission.
Umbroisotopes have a half-life of approximately one billion years, far longer than any recorded possession or haunting. There are no immediate adverse effects connected with the creation or decay of Umbroisotopes or with exposure to U-particles, either for the terrestrial host or others. Historically, harm to the terrestrial host comes out of the direct control of the inhabiting spirit, as opposed to any incidental exposure to Umbroactive radiation. However, possible long-term mutagenic effects have yet to be fully investigated.
Upon testing this Theory with a sensor of my own design and manufacture, I soon discovered that several laboratory devices that I had written off as balky were, in fact, inhabited by Umbral beings. My first thought was to eject them from my equipment immediately. Upon further consideration, I decided to attempt communication with the beings. As it turned out, my microscope (or the spirit residing within) was too cold and wanted to be kept in a warmer corner of the lab. My centrifuge wished to be moved closer to my electron scalpel, for reasons I was never able satisfactorily to ascertain. Other objects made similar requests. Once these were granted, the afflicted equipment performed with greater efficiency than ever before. While I will not recommend actively recruiting spirits for the purposes of laboratory efficiency, I hae found that they can be quite useful when they want to be.
I was surprised to find spirits inhabiting my laboratory, but this brought a more disturbing thought to mind. If my own meticulously kept laboratory could be invaded by Umbral beings, I can only imagine what a scan of some of my Scientific brethren's Research facilities (or even laboratory assistants) would reveal. Before we can begin to help the populace at large, I believe it is time for all of us to clean house.
(Second Edition.) Using Spirit • and a device capable of detecting U-particles, the Scientist can sense the presence and location of spirits in the vicinity, provided that the spirits are residing in a physical body or object. (Think of Egon's PkE-meter in Ghostbusters.) This also allows the Scientist to detect Fetishes, which are powered by the spirits residing within the items. With the Storyteller's approval, the character may also be able to detect the lingering Umbroradiation in a person or object that has recently been occupied by an Umbral entity. Also, again at the Storyteller's discretion, the Scientist may be able to detect spirits in the air, by detecting the incredibly minute amounts of Umbroradiation created when the spirits' mass interacts with air molecules. On the other hand, the Storyteller may make the Scientist find another way of detecting a free-floating spirit. After all, even in real life, a single scientific theory rarely explains everything you want it to.
1999 Derek D. Bass
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