Posted by Jason on August 9, 2008
Jim’s reality was on the fritz again. Dammit, he thought, isn’t it easy to do anything anymore?
He’d been trying to hack a new Deus into existence in his personal ontosphere; nothing special, just your average metaphysical personification, limited sphere of influence, a few personality quirks thrown in for flavor. Hell, he wasn’t even gonna try to backdoor it into the global pantheon–not after what happened last time, anyway. It’d taken the Sysarchs a week just to reestablish basic material-plane physics after that. Jim still summoned a test-imp into the public Midrealm areas before he’d trust gravity enough to download himself there.
In his own ontosphere, though, he made his own rules. And, usually, his reality hacks entered his existence with a minimum of disruption to the overarching ontology. It was pretty simple, really, just a one-plane existence, which made it easier to interface with any number of other global realities. It was such a pain to have to add a celestial plane or a world-tree to your nice comfortable reality every time you wanted to go on vacation. You could always download a premade kit into your sphere, sure, but Jim always found that the seams tended to show too much, and any custom physics tended to short out around ’em anyway.
This Deus was supposed to be a simple one, just a new idea he’d been meaning to try out for a while. It was supposed to be a personification of war and protection tied into his ontology’s firewalls, both the macro- and micro-level ones. He’d thrown a few trickster elements into the mix, too, to give the Deus better ability to anticipate sneaky infiltration attempts. Besides, the trickster-types were always much more entertaining.
The problem was that almost as soon as he coded the Deus into being, it had decided to do things its own way. Only microseconds after he’d executed the routine to breath aether into its nostrils, the Deus–or Dea now, he supposed–had removed and replaced the male-aspect from both its core personality and avatar. This in itself was a surprise, but not unheard of. Jim had heard more than a few cases of Dei optimizing their gender code at compile time to better fulfil their divine duties; it had just never happened to him before. He’d barely had time to register the fact that it had apparently–and rather pleasantly–tapped into his personal aesthetic when sculpting its avatar, before the Dea stepped into the nearest mirror and disappeared.
Well, that was odd.
Since then, the Dea had been giving him nothing but grief. He kept finding it randomly rewriting parts of his ontological infrastructure, damming the Epistemological River on its way into or out of his sphere, spawning random mutated copies of the other Dei… it had even tried to make his flat world round. He’d drawn the line at the sky, though: when the Dea decided to replace his star-filled heavens with a pixellated fractal kaleidescope of pinks, greens, and purples, Jim realized he was going to need some help on this one.
He sighed and traced a hole in the air and breathed black fire into it, his way of opening a comm portal. He willed a young willow to grow out of the marble beneath him, snapped off a branch, and used it to write an address glyph in the dark flames. A moment later, the fires parted and a face filled the hole.
“Tech support,” a woman’s voice said, sounding bored. “I am Harmonious Sound of the Tonic Triad. What’s your problem?”
Jim could only get a glimpse of the circuit-traced wall behind the woman, but her own appearance told him enough about what kind of reality she was running. Her face was a bone-white mask of smooth features, androgynous, vaguely asiatic, which didn’t move at all when she spoke. Actually, it didn’t seem to move at all; Jim could’ve been talking to a statue for all he knew. From behind the mask emerged a tangle of fiber-optic wires, vaguely resembling hair, stretching from the face to the wall behind it and merging its way into the maze of circuitry. Jim watched pulses of light travel along the woman’s “hair” and blend into the flashing and winking of the machine-wall.
Jim repressed a groan. He should have expected it, though: reality support staff usually went for the high-tech ontologies. He briefly considered overriding the view with a compatibility layer designed to interface more smoothly with his chosen reality, but decided against it. He always felt vaguely rude when he did that, even though it was virtually undetectable on the other end.
“I’ve got a runaway process. A Dea,” Jim said. “Firewall-interfaced, but it seems to be trying to take over most of the underlying infrastructure of my ontosphere.”
An unreadable glyph swam into existence on the right cheek of the techie’s porcelain mask. Jim guessed that was what passed for her–if it was a her–facial expression, though he had no idea what it meant. “What make and version is addressed-person’s wetware?” she asked, avoding the use of the pronoun.
“Yggdrasil 3.7-alpha,” Jim replied.
“About ten months ago, subjective.” He traced a calculation in red ink in the air, and read off the reply. “A year and two months, ob.”
“And Harmonious Sound of the Tonic Triad presumes addressed-person’s implant was diagnostic-checked at that time?” A new, slightly more complex glyph appeared on the mask’s left cheek, just under where the cheekbone would be if it had any.
“Any other abberations in addressed-person’s reality since that time?”
“No, just the Dea problem. I coded it as a Deus, but I guess it had other ideas.” Jim shrugged.
“Harmonious Sound of the Tonic Triad suggests that an autonomous diagnostic routine be sent to addressed-person’s ontosphere in order to collect more data.” The cheek-glyphs disappeared, replaced by a vertical line through the center of the mask’s forehead.
“Sure, send the daemon. My ontosphere is docked on the Seventh Tier of the Tara Hill shared actuality.” If it can get through my firewall, Jim added silently.
“Is there anything else addressed-person requires at this temporal juncture?”
“Nah, thanks, Harmony.” Jim smiled. The mask blanked and actually dipped just slightly down and to the left–was that a quizzical look it gave him?–before disappearing.