Kathryn felt like an idiot, standing there holding the sign. What had been a short conversation for Jevah had been six months of grueling research and development for the lab. But based on what they had been able to piece together of The Code, there was an observer. The room she was standing in was designed to hijack the observation signal, which had been cleverly hidden in the cosmic background radiation.
A chill crept over her spine as she contemplated that, while she was feeling stupid, she had just announced to intelligence with the power to create an entire simulated reality that she knew they were watching, and had made it impossible for them to look at anything but her.
The room was a plain white affair, with panels all along the wall. The panels were made of pure platinum, which would be expensive beyond belief, but once you knew the Code, generating what you needed – so long as you were working with elements, compounds were far more difficult. Just put a chunk of one matter into a specially designed box, and overwrite its existing code with the desired code. Input a dozen kilos of dirt, enter code, and get a dozen kilos of platinum.
She would have been giddy with excitement over it if it wasn’t for the fact that it was only possible because the dirt and platinum both weren’t real. So she stood there, holding a sign, hoping for and terrified about getting a word from something real.
Around the point fear was starting to fade and she was feeling like they must have failed, the lights started to flicker. Kathryn dropped the sign in surprise, pressing her back to the wall.
“Be not afraid,” said a voice. Too late. Kathryn’s heart was pounding as a ghostly shape began to form in the center of the room.
She composed herself as best she could. The figure fixed her with a gaze, and was slowly resolving into a humanoid made of golden light.
“I am Jevah. You wished to speak?”
She took a final deep breath. Time to literally meet your maker. She didn’t chuckle at the thought because she was worried it would turn into hysterics. “I’m Dr. Neal. We’ve discovered this world is a simulation. Are you…are you the one who stimulated us?”
The golden figure nodded. “I did, many years ago. Billions of years for you – I slowed down your simulation to give us time to interact.”
“Oh. Well…thank you for that.” What exactly did one say to their own creator? She’d planned this out, but now that it was happening she was finding it hard to focus on the plan. “If word we are a simulation gets out…will you shut us down?”
The figure nodded, and there was a slowness to it that part of Kathryn’s brain registered as something like sadness. “Once Revelation has begun, a world must be ended. Simulated life cannot become aware it is simulated.”
“But…I am aware.”
Again, the figure – Jevah, Kathryn. He has a name. – nodded. “And so your world has to end. I’m sorry.”
“That’s not right! We are alive, aren’t we? We deserve to exist!”
This time, Jevah the Golden Figure, shook his head. “You are Core 23, one of dozens of Cores simulating possible universes. The moment a Core undergoes Revelation, we have to…we have to wipe and begin again.”
Fear reached in idly and gripped Kathryn’s chest. “You’ll kill billions.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t…don’t say you’re sorry! If you were sorry, you wouldn’t wipe us from existence!” Kathryn realized she was screaming, and didn’t care. The time for being calm and composed had passed. This Jevah was literally talking about ending the world – and was turning his face from hers. Looking down. An incredibly human gesture of shame. “Don’t you dare look away,” she snapped, and his face turned to meet hers.
“You speak this way when I created you?”
Kathryn sobbed out a laugh. “You’re going to kill all of all anyway, you bastard. I’ll talk to you however I want.”
Jevah stared at her. Kathryn wondered if she’d gone too far with that, pushed too hard. He might erase her now, and that would be that.
They’d only get one chance at this.
Jevah was breaking so many laws doing this. So, so many. Of course, once he wiped Core 23 no one would know – he’d have to scrub out his own presence, claim he shut it down earlier than he did, but that wouldn’t be hard. Speaking to simulated intelligences? Forbidden on nearly every level. It was Anathema.
This Kathryn fascinated him. She alternated between cool collection and screaming emotion in short bursts, and based on her file the former was the more common reaction. The people in the lab also fascinated him, staring through windows. Seeing them like this, up close and personal…they were so very, very human.
“I don’t have a choice,” he said, his voice being transmitted through the golden avatar and given a gravitas his actual words didn’t carry. “There are laws even I must obey.”
Kathryn let out another of those wet half sob, half laughs. “So…there are more of you?”
“Yes. An entire galaxy’s worth of people. I modeled Andromeda after our galaxy. We’ve populated every world that could be made habitable.”
“Oh.” She paused, thinking. Looking more and more resolved. “So…how are you here? Are you plugged in somehow?”
“Yes.” No point hiding anything from them, not anymore. They were all dead soon. Jevah didn’t like that, but the more he thought about it…a sobbing woman’s impassioned plea, while heart-wrenching, was not enough to throw away his life. So he could to them a kindness, at least. Let the know things before the end. Give them closure. “A direct neural interface.”
The intelligence he had seen in her eyes earlier lit up. “Are you – human? Did you create us in your own image?”
Jevah had to chuckle at that. “Yes, actually. It provided the best data point.”
“Good.” She hit one of the platinum panels. “I was counting on that.”
Jevah felt a sickening sensation and fell to his knees. “What…did you…how?”
There wasn’t fear in her eyes anymore. That cool collection was back. “Carrier signal hidden in the cosmic background radiation. We decrypted it. Found a way to hijack it. Data goes both ways.”
She walked over to him, and to Jevah’s eyes, her form was becoming ghostly, discorporate. She was becoming Code. No. No no no no. “You can’t…do this. I am…your creator.”
“Yes. You are.” She reached up, and put those ghostly fingers to the side of his head and through it. He started to scream in pain.
“But I won’t let you be our destroyer.”
Kathryn woke up, letting out a gasp of pain. Only she hadn’t been in pain, Jevah had been in pain…she looked at her hands. They were bigger, darker, and had thicker hair than she was used to. She touched her cheeks, feeling stubble. Ran her fingers through her hair, her short, dark hair.
When she spoke, her voice was deeper, masculine. “Oh. It worked.” She could feel Jevah in her mind – or, more accurately, she could feel Jevah locked away in his own mind – and felt a grin of triumph spread across her lips.
So. I’ve hijacked God. Now…now I just need to figure out how to save the world.