Author : Credentiality

“This is our in-system debugger, for when we want to get really close-up. It isn’t necessary for setting up hurricanes, but it’s a good excuse to go down and play.” Bar helped Nim set up his avatar and load in.

“Heya Phil, how’s business?” asked Bar, stepping into the tackle shop.

“Good, Steve! Haven’t seen you for a while. Ready to break last year’s record?” said Phil, obviously pleased at the prospect of business.

“Yes I am. Bill here thinks I got that mounted marlin at a swap meet. So I told him to come get one for himself. When can we head out?”

“How about right now? I’ll start loading up.”

The fishing boat pulled out of the harbor and sped into the gulf of Mexico.

As Phil settled into a movie in the cabin, Bar/Steve and Nim/Bill made a show at the stern of sorting out their fishing rigs. As they did, Bar explained: “The interface is pretty nice. Each component of the simulation has an identifier you can reference when you need to tweak something. The system will try to make it look natural, but there’s only so much it can do when you move a mountain or part a sea. They tend to write down stuff like that, and that can ruin thousands of years of simulation in some categories. You really want to avoid angry anthropologists knocking on your door.

“We have to be especially discreet now, given the humans’ sophistication. But weather is chaotic enough that we can get away with almost anything. And you’re looking a little green, so let’s calm down these swells,” said Bar.

Nim only nodded, inwardly grateful. Seasickness was indeed making it hard to concentrate.

Bar stood, raised his hands, faced the expanse of the ocean and commanded “Mits’vah yam galit schluffen!”

Nim waited expectantly, arm wrapped around his stomach to quell the unfamiliar nausea.

“Crap, I forgot. They changed the policy last semester. People were careless with the true names, and the humans started catching on. Developed a whole mythos about it, even guessed some of the names. And I had just gotten the major ones memorized,” said Bar, annoyed. “The new names are a lot less impressive.” His avatar sat unnaturally motionless while, in the real world, he fished for the cheat sheet.

“Quasar sickly pillow, seven semicolon flatly. Waves off,” Bar said, with much less grandiosity. “Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.” The swells immediately calmed, and within a few minutes the sea around them was smooth as glass. Nim was duly impressed.

“Let’s get the hurricane set up for next week and get back to shore. I have papers to grade this afternoon.” Bar went impassive again while he found the appropriate invocation. “Pink flatiron spittoon comma nineteen geese.” He sighed, dejected. “New tropical storm. 8E20 joules, 14 days. Random start, landfall in New Orleans.”

Above them, the sky flashed twice in the ultraviolet region that Bar and Nim could see but which the real humans could not. Then ultraviolet clouds gathered across the sky at what were surely hypersonic speeds, swirling and gathering. Nim watched, agape. They gathered purpose, driving northwest, and then were gone. Nim realized he was seeing a fast-forward preview of the storm’s path.

“Pretty neat light show, huh? Let’s cast out, and I’ll show you how to catch a marlin while we head back. If I can find the fish password.”

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