Ryan studied his face in the mirror, moving his hand carefully up to his nose and putting a gentle amount of pressure on it. It throbbed slightly at the touch, but less lines of agony, and more a dull ache. Finally.
It had taken two full months in his nanoverse for the nose to regrow, although Ryan wasn’t too upset about that – if he’d still been mortal and somehow survived those injuries, he’d have needed major plastic surgery to rebuild it. It had been a painful process – the nose had been sensitive to any touch at any time, and the few times it hadn’t been actively painful it had itched with so much intensity he had missed the pain.
He also tilted his head to check the facial scars, and was relieved to see the injuries there had healed well. If you were looking for them, you could still see faint pink marks that showed the injury locations, but for the most part they were completely normal. It would probably be a bit longer before he could try growing a beard normally, though. Not going to wait in here for that though. Just going to finish up cleaning this place up.
With that thought, he walked over to the window. He’d landed his staging area on the roof of one of the spires that dotted Olithika and changed the interior so it resembled an actual apartment. Taking the time to do so had just been to practice controlling the interior of his staging area, but Ryan had found it helped put him in the right mindset for his work here.
And so far, it was going well.
Phox hadn’t stayed silent about her mother’s miraculous recovery. Instead, the Xaolith had broadcasted it on every channel she could access. Since Ryan had spent the rest of the day hopping around as down-on-their-luck members of various species, other reports had joined hers, including a few Ryan knew for a fact were complete fabrications since he’d never met the people involved. By the end of the week, the impoverished and ill of Olithika were enjoying an unprecedented wave of charity, and any time anything good happened afterwards it was attributed to divine intervention.
Ryan was proud of how the next part had played out. He’d managed to, for once, anticipate a possible problem with his plan.
Between bouts of pretending to be in need of charity, Ryan had returned to his nanoverse to watch the impact spread. It even started hopping off of Olithika and reaching the other floating cities and worlds of the system.
And, as was often the case, good fortune was followed by jealousy.
Ryan smiled at the memory of how he’d dealt with that had played out.
Shavoq was furious. Life on Olithika was hard enough. He was on the zeppelin maintenance crew, checking for possible leaks while suspended over a gaseous void that one day could claim your life as you fell through it till pressure gradually caused it to increase in density to a liquid and then a solid, pressure that would slowly compress you to death at the same rate as you drowned. They had parachutes in case of a fall but most of the crew didn’t wear them, since the only thing a parachute would do is cause you to fall slower and get buffeted about by massive storms until you either sunk low enough to suffocate or were tossed by the storms for long enough you sustained fatal head injury.
His wife hadn’t deployed her parachute when she had fallen, leaving him to care for a daughter that was slowly dying from the rot, a genetic disorder that popped up in less than a percent of the Xaolith and caused your immune system to stop repelling the effects of some bacteria, slowly causing you to literally decompose while still alive. So of course when he heard that giving money to the elderly was resulting in miracles, and when he’d confirmed it was really happening and not a scam, he’d emptied his savings and rushed to find a beggar.
He’d given over 1000 mul to that Gald, and raced home to see his daughter. She’d developed a new area of rot, the bones beginning to showing through the back of her hand. Tears in his eyes, he was going to get it back.
When the Gald – Shavoq vaguely recalled him saying his name was Laupth – saw him, he started hastily scooping his belongings into a pocket on his carapace.
“You bastard!” Shavoq shouted, raising his gun. “Give me back my-”
Before he could finish, Shavoq was interrupted by a sudden booming voice. “Is this how you treat the wondrous!?” The two both whirled to the source of the voice, as did people up and down the street. It was a burning dumpster. Not fire from within the dumpster, but the actual metal of the container was somehow aflame. Slowly, a face formed in the fire. “I try to offer miracles to the generous, and in turn create murderers!?”
Shavoq dropped to his knees as Laupth waved its tentacles in respect. “I…I…it’s my daughter! I just wanted my daughter to be better!” Shavoq cried. Around him, people on the street were either making gestures of fear and respect or pulling out cameras to record the appearance of this being.
This god Shavoq thought reverently as the burning face turned to face him. “I have cured your daughter,” it said, its voice still full of fury.
“I…that is…thank you,” Shavoq said, his voice barely a whisper.
The burning face regarded him dispassionately. “Your gratitude is irrelevant. I nearly did not cure her for your arrogance!”
Shavoq had nothing to say to this admonishment.
“Miracles must never be expected. They cannot be bought. But kindness, compassion – sometimes, they may be rewarded. But never should it be expected.”
And with that, the face of flames had vanished.
Ryan didn’t think a burning dumpster had the same gravitas as a burning bush, but he’d made do with what he had. The video had started circulating quickly, and had absolutely exploded when everyone who watched it realized they could hear it in their native tongue.
He slightly regretted abandoning the subtle approach of just helping people, and resolved to come back at some point to another civilization and do exactly that. But time was of the essence here – he still didn’t know how long he’d passed out in the real world and therefore how much time he’d lost – so he figured this particular trick would do well enough.
Just one more change to make.
Ryan snapped his fingers and made a slight alteration to the laws of reality. Almost any illness had a tiny chance of suddenly vanishing. Almost any injury had a slight chance of being survived. That was just the way life worked. But with this twist, the odds got a bit higher the better a person you were. Not so much so that it would cause any major problems that Ryan could think of. Although given your track record, Ryan, you’ll probably come back to find you made…I don’t know, a culture of pious gamblers or something.
Still, Ryan hoped between the message and the higher chance of miracles for good people, he’d encourage being good without running out of weapons he could pull out in an emergency. And since there’s no FTL travel, at least if this does bite you in some manner, it won’t spread past this one system. I think Athena would be proud. Crystal too.
He stretched, and with a gesture, returned his staging area back to its normal state.
“Let’s head back and see what trouble everyone’s gotten themselves into,” he said out loud, just enjoying his voice no longer having the nasal quality it had developed while it was healing. “Given the luck we’ve been having lately, I’m going to assume everyone is dead or on fire.”
He thought he’d laugh at his own joke, but instead found himself just frowning. With a few button pushes, Ryan accelerated himself back to reality.