You see the cars coming towards you and you are a fixed point. You are moving forward and everything else is going backwards — it almost makes you feel nostalgic.
If you told people that you had set a blackhole spinning in reverse and hooked a frame drag to it so that you could get this corner of the universe back to a point where it was working properly they would have thought you were crazy. What he did for work was crazy.
You did not just tell people hey, I engineer reality, and expect them to just take it on face value. Sometimes he did it just to mess with people. He could hook into the flow of a rewind and speak quite easily to people and happily screw with their minds; he liked knowing what had happened and he knew it because he had the cut-point in mind.
Why the rewind here? Someone had hacked the place and had sent it hurtling towards an unscheduled apocalypse. Why? because they felt that if they had lost someone or something that everyone should lose everything. The proliferation of black market hack rigs had put reality engineering tech into the hands of anyone with a rudimentary ability to work out how to use a piece of technology. You couldn’t do big complex rewrites, but you could unspool some gobbledygook that would drop a constellation out of the sky or wipe out a population.
How many of those using the machines actually believed that what they were doing was having an effect? how many people thought that on a normal day to day basis they could have an effect? not many. It was becoming a diminishing number as they got the social programs more finely tuned and the drugs better engineered. The internal machinery of the body taken care of, the spirit would dwindle into greyness and trouble the masters no more.
He found the cause of this sitting in a pub crying into his beer — it was not an uncommon thing. Despair turning into hasty action turning into realisation of what they had done, and this then curdling into self pity. Holao sat next to him and ordered a drink.
‘So, I fixed what you did. You can stop crying. What I need to know is if you learned your lesson and you’re going to refrain from trying to do this again?’
‘Surely, sir, surely.’
‘Can I have the hack rig?’
The man handed over a collapsible hack rig — it was nice, better quality than most of the ones that he had seen. he didn’t always act but he was curious. Someone sat there crying saying that they had learned their lesson was deep in the grief that caused them to do what they had done, so he didn’t trust the data that was coming out of their mouths. He could have pulled out a reader and just read the guy’s narrative, but sometimes that felt like a counter-productive intrusion, so he went the simple way and just asked.
His lover had an incurable disease, a new strain of something that had been an STD in the past but now seemed to be airborne, and seemed to have maintained its lethality. His amateur hacks had been designed to turn the course of the disease around.
‘Where is he?’
‘He’s at home.’
‘OK. Give him one of these.’
Holao handed him a small orange pill.
‘What is this?’
‘An RNA Code Integrity Protector, or RIP, with an Infoviral Combatting Expression.’
‘Which means what?’
‘It stops viral replication of any virus on an informational level.’
The man took the pill and ran out of the pub. Did he fully believe Holao about what it would do? No, surely not. But the man was desperate, and as evidenced by what he had done with the hack rig, he would try anything.
Was this a reality hack? Sure, on some level. It was strange how having good medicine constituted that in some places. he hadn’t thought, until he spoke to this man, how backwards it all was. The pill would still hold despite the rewind, he had made a little hack to the object making it a temporal isolate before he handed it over. Would this get flagged up for review by the debrief team? Sure, but was anyone going to complain? No, because he had handled the real problem, which went beyond a reality hack.
Holao left the pub, everything moving forward again.