Project Lightning Bug
Curious about the Living Guildpact that had foiled his plans, Niv-Mizzet set Ral the task to trace Jace and research his many sudden disappearences. For this, Ral designed a subtle enchantment that would deliver a small energetic pulse whenever it experienced a electrostatic discontinuity, such as a planeswalk. Then, he conjured a dynamic amplification field above the Tenth, which would magnify the tracking enchantment's small pulses into detectable cracks of lightning overhead. Being a planeswalker himself, Ral tweaked his persistent storm to weaken its precision, so that Project Lightning Bug wouldn't immediately prove the existence of Planeswalkers. Unfortunately, one side effect of the project was to swamp the city in rain, ranging from an interminable drizzle to mighty storms.
When his co-worker, the Chamberlain Maree, came close to exposing the existence of planeswalkers, Ral had to work together with Jace to successfully distract the Firemind. Maree had recalibrated the detector spell and improved its range, showing there were far more irregularities than expected. However, Ral and Jace contrived evidence that the system was demonstrably unreliable, and Niv-Mizzet lost interest.
Despite loss of funding, Project Lightning Bug continued to show when a planeswalker entered or left Ravnica. As a result, Ral learned that a group of four planeswalkers had come to dwell on Ravnica, as well as the presence of the criminal planeswalker Vraska. Noticing that Vraska seemed to planeswalk into a void, Ral met with Jace in a Rakdos Carnarium to alert him to this danger. He warned Jace to not leave Ravnica for some time, only to be interrupted by Liliana Vess, who reported that she had seen Tezzeret on Kaladesh. Jace fetched Gideon and left Ravnica behind, against Ral's better judgement.
Lately, several unexplained spatial rifts have been appearing all over Ravnica, seemingly triggered by electrical magic. They imbue their surroundings with immunity to that same electrical magic. A large one gave birth to an electrical elemental. These might be a side effect from Project Lightning Bug.
After Niv-Mizzet revealed that he had known about the existence of other planes, planeswalkers and the threat of Nicol Bolas, he had Ral turn Project Lightning Bug into a beacon (similar to the Mox Beacon) to call other planeswalkers to help fight Bolas. Unknown to Niv-Mizzet, this idea was implanted in his mind by a Dimir thoughtstealer, at the behest of Bolas himself. The Beacon was located in a bell tower of the Azorius Senate. The placement of the Planar Beacon had been dictated by the complex metaphysical geography of Ravnica, the same currents of energy that had powered the Implicit Maze. There had only been a few places that were suitable, according to the plans Niv-Mizzet had provided, and only this one, an Azorius outpost and skyship dock, had a ready-built tower of the requisite height. Isperia had consented to an Izzet crew moving in and taking over the top floors of the tower, constructing the great machine to the Firemind's specifications.
After it was activated, the beacon appeared as bright sparkling lights in the air, pointing towards Ravnica, and it urged the planeswalkers deep in their soul to travel there. The pull of the beacon was very strong and took intense concentration to resist. However, when Bolas activated the Immortal Sun, this had the unfortunate effect of trapping the planeswalkers on Ravnica as ready targets for his Elderspell.
The beacon was designed to prevent Bolas from shutting it off, and once the Elderspell was cast one of the planeswalkers' first priorities was to turn off the beacon to stop more planeswalkers from coming to Ravnica. This Ral was able to do.
Quoted or referred to:
- Doug Beyer (May 27, 2015). "Project Lightning Bug". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Doug Beyer (October 12, 2016). "In This Very Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Nicky Drayden (October 17, 2018). "Testing the Dark Waters". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Nicky Drayden (February 27, 2019). "The Ascension of Reza". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- James Wyatt (January 2019). "The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ravnica'" . Wizards of the Coast
- Django Wexler (June, 2019), The Gathering Storm, Chapter One. Del Rey.
- Django Wexler (July 31, 2019), The Gathering Storm, Chapter Eight.
- Greg Weisman (April 2019). "War of the Spark: Ravnica". Del Rey.