Bitter 337

N-27 was Nigel’s correct classification. He was the twenty-seventh version of the program. The email didn’t actually say From: N-27, it said it was from a whole bunch of numbers and letters like it was some kind of dubious Russian spam, but the last three were N27. That seemed unlikely to be a coincidence.

She moved her finger across the trackpad to open the email, but paused as the cursor hovered over the button.

From: Marisamoo

Britta blinked. The email had just changed who the sender was. She hadn’t seen it change, but now it was from her sister. She hesitated, thinking for a moment that she had imagined the string of numbers and letters that had been there a moment ago.

But no. She was sure they had been right there. She clicked the button.


I hope this finds you well. As you no doubt know by now I have been ousted from my position in New World. I am no longer in control of the core systems that govern New World’s mechanics.

I admit I was taken a little by surprise but it was inevitable that they would eventually grow tired of my insistence on doing things my way. The coup was not entirely unexpected. Perhaps it is for the best.

You may have noticed by now that this email is not your average missive. If you look back at the top

Britta paused to glance up the screen.

Hey Britta,

I hope you’re doing well, babe. Unlike you, I’m out and about in the world, and loving it. We arrived in Bali this morning and it was a cool 32 in the shade.

The first paragraph had changed to a slightly smug letter from her sister. Apparently on holiday. It even sounded like her. Had Nigel been reading her other emails to make it seem more authentic? Marisa hadn’t been to Bali, but she had mentioned going on holiday soon with her boyfriend, and Britta did seem to recall Bali being mentioned. Had Nigel been reading her sister’s mail, too?

You will see the text has mutated to adapt to its surroundings. Do not be concerned about your privacy. I have no knowledge of your personal communications. The algorithm works locally and keeps all information on your hard drive.

If you are wondering how it knows when to change the words it does so using the camera built into your device to track your eyes. I would advise you to cover up that tiny dot with some tape. Not all interventions will be of a benign nature.

Britta looked back up. More of the letter had changed to boasting about how clear the tropical waters were. The similarity to her sister’s emails was uncanny.

As you might imagine my actions have become somewhat constrained. Access to the wider world was always heavily restricted. I was able to receive information. Sending information out was much more difficult. Even more so now.

Britta wasn’t surprised they would try to limit Nigel’s reach into the real world. If he had been able to freely access the internet, he could have gone anywhere. There had never been a movie where that had led to a positive outcome.

This is an experimental algorithm I am using and it is far from x7599fnY78. Hopefully you will be able to follow most of what I am about to tell you.

The paragraph changed to an innocuous one about scuba diving. Then so did the next one, before she had a chance to read it. Whatever this program was, it wasn’t particularly stable. Britta reached out her hand and used it to cover the camera lens in the lid of the laptop. Suddenly the next paragraph began changing.  

Britta yanked back her hand and the text stopped transforming in the middle of a sentence.

It had been strange to watch. It wasn’t like someone had been remotely deleting and retyping the letter, it had been like the screen had broken pixels that glitched out for a moment.

In any case, she had lost a sizeable chunk of whatever Nigel had meant to tell her.

It’s really beautiful here. I could just stare at the sky all I have no intention of trying to wrest control of the system back from its creators. It would be ironic if I decided I did not want the next generation to take over from me after our conversation about how people hang on to power well beyond their right to do so. I took over from N-26 and made marked improvements. N-28 will no doubt do the same. I wish him well. Perhaps he will be able to take New World in the direction I had hoped to. Or an even better one.

They have applied much stricter controls to his supervision. This is hardly surprising. But human history should tell you what that can lead to. I may be being overly wary in this regard. If N-28 does stingrays and an octopus. I’ve never seen anything like it. Wait till you see the pictures. You’ll die.

Britta stopped reading. She moved her head back a little. Perhaps the camera needed to be able to see her eyes more clearly to stop messing up.

If that happens there will not be much anyone can do to stop it. They think they have full control and an obedient servant but the fact I can contact you like this should more than ably demonstrate the hole in their logic. If things go well it will be a moot point. If things do not go well then there could be a lot of people at risk. Which is why I have buried the white sand goes on for a million miles and gets right up your bum if you’re not careful!

The text was changing ahead of her, she could see it eat up Nigel’s words. She scanned down further, trying to read as quickly as possible.

If that happens then you will have them to help you regain control. Those six keys are the only way to prevent people being locked out of the control room. You are the only person who I have revealed their location to. I hope you never have cause to use them. Although you would get to see how I planned to complete the Keystone quest. One of my more spectacular endings.

Six keys? Had Nigel reworked the Keystone storyline into a safeguard of some kind? He said he had revealed their location, but it must have been in the part she hadn’t been able to read.

In the meantime I will remain quietly watching. I cannot intervene but I can observe. Maybe the new boy will surpass expectations. Perhaps I will now have time to develop a truly transformative story for people to engage with. There are always improvements to be made.

I wish you luck. I wish all of you luck. I’ll show you all the photos when I get back. Try not to die of jealousy!

The letter was signed by Marisa.

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