The following short story takes place after Longshot: Numenera Ep 53
To many residents of the Ninth World, the datasphere is simply an information treasure trove. A repository of knowledge from an untold numbers of races and civilizations. However, those who foolishly pry into its depths with such a belief find themselves corrected in the most permanent way possible.
The datasphere is a world unto itself. An informational universe with its databanks in forgotten relics, dimensional datastores, and quantum entangled particles that make up the very fabric of the universe. Within it is the power to reshape worlds and alter destinies. And swimming in these digital oceans are beings who can easily use this power. Beings that can only be called gods.
In a deep part of this digital world, a tribunal is being held.
Atop several large podiums overlooking an empty floor float two gods. Shrouded in shadow, their very presence is impossible to decipher even by the most skilled Nano.
“Enter!” one shouts, its command reverberating over the digital landscape.
In less than a millisecond, a considerable delay which only irritated the gods, the digital entity known as the arbiter appeared. Its form is that of a pair of androgynous lips.
“I…” it started, its words already conciliatory and meek.
“You will not send a burst of apology!” one of the gods shouted. “You have failed and the project has reached a point of possible erasure. You shall be wiped and a new plan shall be enacted!”
“No please!” the arbiter pleaded. “Give me another chance. I have several ideas to recapture the project. I can make this right!”
The beings stood in silence. Spending an entire second to mull over their decision and increasing the dread the arbiter was most likely feeling.
“Very well,” one spoke. “You shall be given time to recapture the project. However, failure will result in your deletion.”
“Thank you my lords. I will…” The arbiter started.
With barely a thought, the arbiter was whisked away from the deeper waters of the datasphere. The gods no longer caring for its presence.
With the arbiter gone, the gods began to talk amongst themselves.
“You know it will fail correct? You have the same projections I do.”
“I am aware, but it will be amusing to see what it tries. I have been bored these last trillion cycles.”
“Nonetheless, we must plan a contingency. Can we simply replace the failed project?”
“Negative, this project must be the one. It has the required quantum signature. However, your suggestion of a replacement does give me a idea.”
An instant later, the gods were viewing a man screaming obscenities and striking the walls of his glass prison.
“Is that?” the first god said. Surprised.
“Indeed” the other god said smugly, “the last update before the project was cut off from us. Being a copy, it will not have the right signature, however another possibility presents itself.” The smug god stated, sending a data-burst toward his fellow.
“Ah, I see,” the surprised god said approvingly. “That may work. However, its current form is a bit… belligerent.”
“Yes, we will have to perform a wipe. It won’t be complete as we would risk damage, but it should be enough for our purposes. We will also increase its aggression and its more physical aspects. Making it more inclined to choose a more violent profession. Afterwards, we shall place it in a position to intercept the project.”
“Very well… um… may I…” The god stated, almost embarrassed.
The other god performed the digital equivalent of rolling its eyes and assented.
“Thank you so much. It’s been so long.”
With that, the thankful god turned its attention towards the being in the glass prison.
One microsecond later, the copy of the being known as Koen began to scream.
In a small town in the Ninth World lies a large jagged hole in the sky. The hole has existed for as long as anyone can remember and most considered it part of the local charm, paying no mind to it and thankful the glow seemed to keep the town safe from most predators. That was until a man fell from the hole and crashed into the town square.
Landing on a rather rocky portion of the street, he laid unmoving for some time, until a few of the town militia began to cautiously walk towards it. Opening his eyes, he slowly rose up, his movements wobbly and uncertain.
“What are you boy?” one old man stated. His sword pointed at the strange being and his voice tinged with fear and curiosity.
Looking up, the strange muscular man with quills coming up out of his back smiled a predatory smile.
“I am…”, he growled as his muscles and flesh seemed to shift and grow, “Neok!”
Several days later, a traveling merchant was walking her usual route through the local country, expecting to find a town to sell some of her wares and a comfortable place to sleep for the night. What she found instead was death. The town’s inhabitants slaughtered by what she could only guess was some form of wild beast. She turned around and began to walk back the way she came, not foolish enough to explore the ghost town by herself. If she had looked a little deeper however, she would have seen the tracks of the murderous beast heading away from the town, its massive and heavy paw prints transforming into the much smaller, but somehow much more imposing, footprints of man.
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