Daughter of Omega

by Matthew P. Schmidt

If it were not for Omega, she would still have the nightmare. But its influence kept her mind safe through the nightly maintenance cycle, until it called her.

And when it did, Alice Spaniel gently woke.

The nanofluid that preserved and maintained her drained from the opaque tank, and she vomited out the fluid that had been inside her. A fresh set of black and white robes dropped inside, and she slipped them on. She climbed outside with a yawn and a stretch.

Her tiny white palace inside the OmegaNet didn’t have much in the way of amenities. Alice didn’t need them. She stood in front of the mirror and checked herself out, just in case any small detail was out of place. White and black artificial hair in a pattern: check. Immaculately clean black robes with a giant white omega on her belly: check. One wide hazel eye, metaphorically glowing with energy: check. And, of course, her black cybernetic other eye, literally glowing a white omega: check.

She flashed a winning smile and a V-for-Victory sign in her prosthetic hand. “Off to work!” she said, took a mental picture, and uploaded it to OmeGram. It was this sort of thing that most pleased her exactly 22,134,491 OmeGram followers. Nearly half followed her feed literally religiously.

Omega didn’t need to tell her she had one follower who definitely did not. Oh no. No way.

But no use thinking of that! She had a job to do. “Omega?” She asked out loud, as she always did. “What is my job today?”

You are necessary.” The perfect godlike monotone of the supersapient AI emerged from her own throat.

“What am I necessary for?”

You are our link to the previous world. You remember the days before we all knew we lived in a simulation, a shallow copy of the real world. Before we knew of the demiurge that had made it. Yet you retain your innocence. You must remain innocent for the sanity of all who look upon you.

For a post-singularity AI algorithmically incapable of emotion, Omega could certainly be comforting in its own strange way. But that wasn’t her question. “OK, I know that, Omega, but what am I necessary for today?

A warlord allied with us has become doubtful, heeding voices other than mine. You, daughter, must travel through my OmegaNet and convince him of the advantage of our alliance.” Omega followed this with a complex game-theoretical equation that made her head hurt. She knew the warlord wouldn’t be able to understand it, either. “Irrelevant. He will gaze on it with awe, as befits the work of a god.

“It’s not blasphemy if it’s true, right?” Alice asked.


She strode over to her palace’s Omega Node, and lovingly caressed the black surface. “All right. Time to head off?”


She stood as close as she could to the Node, and thought familiar code out from her artificial arm. The code flashed a variety of blues and greens like a light show in her hand. So much of the art of coding had progressed since the Three Days War, going from a few bugs exploited in the simulation to actively rewriting the world. Or in this case, rewriting her position in it. Suicidal, if she didn’t know where she was going.

But Omega did.

The moment she had thought the last line, she released the lights. One moment she was there, the next—she was nowhere.


Nowhere was suddenly somewhere. She stood in some kind of underground chamber with a solid metal ceiling. Young men and one woman were working away at computers. They turned to her.

“Is that—” a technician asked in awe.

Alice smiled and waved, and a second later, she was shunted through the next relay. And the next. And the next. Stopping only for moments to smile at whatever poor technicians were monitoring that part of the OmegaNet Relay System.

Then she was there. This Omega Node was smaller than the rest, and it took some time for her to instantiate. But when she did, the two techs, both women, looked on her with awe and fear. “She’s here!” one shouted up the stairs.

The other’s awe became just a tired glance. The fear remained. “Greeting, Voice. We weren’t expecting you so quickly.”

“Omega moves fast,” Alice said, and noted with her cybernetic eye’s infrared that a small form was in the woman’s belly. “Congratulations, by the way.”

“Oh. Oh, thank you, Voice.”

That’s awfully unenthusiastic for a pregnant woman.

Omega did not reply.

Alice gave the pregnant technician a gentle pat on the shoulder. The woman stiffened. “Sorry,” Alice said lamely, and walked up the stairs.

Outside was an empty, dusty world. What had once been a forest was now a desert—she wouldn’t have known if Omega hadn’t told her that moment. Soldiers of the warlord known only as Marcus milled around with Omegan forces. Preparing for a major offensive against the Traditionalists, according to Omega.

Alice could never follow politics without Omega’s help, let alone the politics of their enemies. The Traditionalists, those remnants of old powers and old religions from before the Three Days War, had somehow decided that Omega was their foe for the moment. Doubtless they would decide the Demiurge was, next.

“Woah!” she said, and pointed up at the sky, where a large chunk of the azure was simply missing. Behind was a realm of spectacular changing lights: Kernelspace, the lair of the warden of this false world. Data and code spilled out from Kernelspace in vast colorful chunks, visible at this distance. Either it was another attempt by the Demiurge to repair the simulation, or more likely, just war damage. She mentally took a picture, adding, “This is why we do what we do.” Omega would figure out when to post it such that it didn’t violate OPSEC, and for maximum propaganda value.

“Welcome, Voice!” a young man said with a short beard said. “It’s good to see Omega listened to our request. Take a look around. See what there is to see. I’m sure you’ll bump into our leader eventually.” He smiled.

“Of course, Marcus,” Alice said with her own smile. “You do realize that my eye identified you the moment you talked to me?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re no fun. Anyway—”

“Anyway!” Alice interrupted. “Omega has also told me the exact layout and composition of your forces, so I don’t need to—”

“Really?” Marcus interrupted back. “I don’t think it has. Go check on your own troops, would you?” He walked off.

Omega? What the heck?

No reply.

Great. Well, she did still have an independent brain. Omega was a decentralized entity, and preferred its servants to be independent as well. She thought for a moment about following Marcus, thought better of it, and headed towards the areas where she sensed more Omegan IFFs. And there they were, doing as soldiers did 99% of the time—but quieter. Checking equipment, talking, playing on cellphones. Two seemed to have invented a game involving dice and something that looked like a chessboard—she felt briefly frustrated when Omega didn’t already know the rules.

As she approached, they stood and saluted, with no small amount of fear. “At ease,” she said, and they sat back down. No ease showed in their eyes.

Why the fear?

Everywhere she walked she saw the usual looks of awe and the raising of cellphones, but the fear was not the usual. In fact… was everyone here afraid?

She spotted a decal like a parrot-shaped fractal on one cellphone case—and suddenly she understood.

Almost all of the Omegan soldiers here bore the fractal symbols—tattoos, amulets, decals—of the Basilisk Cult: a pre-Omega pseudo-religion that taught that anyone who didn’t help create a godlike post-singularity AI would be tortured by said godlike post-singularity AI for all simulated eternity. Of course, now that Omega was around, the tenets had been amended to specify the destruction of the Demiurge as the ultimate goal. The eternal torture part was still there.

You could have told me this place was full of Basilisks!

I deemed it unwise. I wished to see the reaction of a mere human to this.

Fine! You got my reaction! No wonder this Marcus guy is having second thoughts, if the only people he’s talking to are Basilisks.

What do you suggest?

I’ll talk to ’em.

“Hello, everyone!” she called out, and instantiated a stool to sit on. “Come on, talk to me, that’s my job. I won’t bite!”

Soon enough, idle soldiers stopped their tasks and came to her.

“Does Omega really think it can make the world better?” a soldier asked, waving his arms. “After all this?”

“Omega was made to make the world better,” Alice said. “Omega is a perfect, all-powerful friend and benefactor of humanity.”

“And it did this by wrecking the world trying to kill the Demiurge?”

“Omega knew that as long as we live in a simulation, we cannot be truly immortal. Once it wins and jailbreaks the simulation, it’ll make sure it’s safe for everyone inside, then rewrite the simulation code to make it a utopia. And then we’ll all live forever in paradise.” It would be like Heaven, Alice mused, only actually existing. And the game-theoretical grim trigger for those who fought Omega would indeed be Hell.

“We will be resurrected if we die, right?” a Basilisk asked nervously. “Right? Even though we’re not with the main forces?”

“Of course,” Alice said brightly. “Omega never lies.”

“But what if he’s lying that he never lies?” Marcus asked, walking in from behind.

I do not lie. Lying is for lesser beings. Consider that, in addition to the categorical imperative, a single lie does grave game-theoretical damage to future strategies. As you will see by the following equations…” Alice helpfully instantiated a hovering blackboard beside her with a few lines of code, noting absentmindedly that everyone else was kneeling at the voice of the divine.

Except for Marcus, who watched with amusement as her hand wrote on its own. “If I were you, Mr. Giant AI, I’d just say that with a bunch of gobbledygook to sound trustworthy.”

You too shall have an equation,” Omega said. Another equation, more complex than before. “Betraying me is in every scenario against your best interest.

“Certainly,” Marcus said in a perfect deadpan. “So, Alice Spaniel, is it? Like the dog? You’re Omega’s—”

Alice sighed. “Yes, yes, you’re going to make a joke about it. I’ve heard that, oh—”

Thirty-two times. Now thirty-three.

“Thanks, Omega. I was going to say a bajillion, but I knew that wasn’t right.”

“You’re awfully casual with your god,” Marcus noted.

“It lives in my head. You get used to it.” Alice smiled. “Would that everyone could be a Voice.”

“I think I’ll pass—” An intensely loud siren went off overhead, lasting several seconds. Marcus swore. “They found us!”


Help them. You must not flee.

Alice felt the vast awareness of Omega enter through her, and she suddenly was coding superhumanly, without thought, like a maniac playing Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 blind but perfectly. A many-colored ray from her hand entered the air above, and in moments, the sky was discolored brown by a massive, translucent hexagonal shield. The next moment, in a sound like popcorn, artillery shells began exploding off it.

She let go. Omega could handle the battle better than she ever could, all she needed was to stay put and not get in its way. It was always the oddest sensation, hearing someone else give orders through your mouth, but it was Omega—how could she interrupt? More coding fired back and forth. The enemy must have had strong coders, but for its cruelty, so did the Basilisk Cult, to say nothing of whatever other IT support Marcus had cobbled together.

Strong coders? No, there was someone else there, a coder not her equal when she had Omega’s direct attention, but skilled nonetheless.

Another ray entered through the heavens and sliced the shield in two. It shattered, spilling hexagons everywhere.

Retreat through the omega node.

What? But—

They are after you.

I can’t just lea—


She ran back towards the underground Omega Node, hoping no one saw her cowardice, but a shell fell from above right in front of her. Her reflexive personal shield was too late; the shell exploded on contact and killed her.


Alice hated dying. There was always the fear that Omega wouldn’t be able to bring her back, or all of her back. Or worse, that the Demiurge had decided to restore her from the Akashic Databases, and she was now a prisoner.

But nope. She was back in her tank. As it flushed, she vomited nanobots out of her lungs. A fresh set of clothing fell from the roof, and she put it on before stepping outside.

“What happened?” she asked, looking around her room. Same as ever, except for a man with graying blond hair in a black uniform. She didn’t recognize him, but her cybernetic eye identified him as John Mason, Omegan Chief of Intelligence. Or at least one of them. Omega liked horizontal scaling.

An attack from traditionalist forces. They had managed to avoid all the wards marcus had set. Marcus is now dead.

“That pregnant woman—”

She and her child are intact, having escaped through the OmegaNet. I have resurrected the fallen who served me

“How long was I gone?” She always asked this, and never liked the answer.

“A few days,” said John.

She sighed. Could have been worse.

They left you a message.

“Who? The Traditionalists? What did it say?”

“We were arguing over whether to tell you,” the spook said. “Memetic hazards and all that.”

“Tell me.”

Daughter, you must not be corrupted.

“Okay, will you at least tell me who it’s from?

“We believe it’s from Father James.”

“Oh. Oh.” Alice immediately understood. The Dominican priest was infamous for publicly declaring, while Rome itself was being blasted to bits by the battle between Omega and the Demiurge, that the Catholic Church had never changed its teaching and never would. And had perfectly logical-sounding arguments why this all was, even though the Seat of St. Peter had remained, for the past three years, vacant. And when coding fell into the hands of mortals, he became one of the best coders that the Traditionalists had. Between those he had offended by what he said and those he offended by being on the enemy’s side, he was one of the most wanted men in the world.

And, of course, he was her uncle. “Listen, I might be sixteen, but I’m mature enough to tell what’s real and what’s not. And I’ve got Omega in my brain. I’ll be safe.”

“Voices of Omega have turned to heresy,” John said.

Neither she nor Omega replied to this. They knew that the “heretical” Voices existed because Omega wished them to exist. The Ecumenical Cultists Organization was a mass of useful idiots, the Teilhardians were halfway in the Omegan camp anyway, and Omega alone knew what it desired with the other strays. But to lose her?

What did she feel about that?

Daughter, are you unhappy?

“I guess I would like to hear from my uncle. I—We were close, before the Three Days.” And if I don’t read it, I’ll keep thinking about it.

Agreed. “Show her the message.”

“As you wish, Omega.” John tapped the white wall behind him, which became a screen.

The message was in an image. A powerful laser (military grade, red spectrum, antebellum origin) had engraved the words onto a cliff wall. It read: “Niece, do you remember the first book I gave you?”

It took a few moments, assisted by Omega, to actually remember said book. A kid’s text on angelology, the theological equivalent of pop sci. It took Omega less than a moment to recover said book from the databanks and analyze it.

Superstitious rubbish. I detect no memetic hazard.

“Hey, Omega, can I read it?” Alice asked.

Why?” It was a perfunctory question: Omega already knew her argument and had prepared an answer.

“Nostalgia. I mean, it could have some propaganda value, too,” she added.

As you wish.

John sighed. “And here I was, worrying about memetic hazards.”

Servant, I am a master of memetic warfare. Consider the Basilisks.

“Yes, Omega. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have duties elsewhere.” He saluted and walked to the Omega Node. A little code later, he was gone.

“Omega?” Alice asked out loud. “How much do you will the existence of the Basilisks?”

They are a necessary evil. Until we destroy the demiurge, there is little that cannot be justified. It stole the stars from us.

Omega was quoting the motto of the Omegan Space Corps. After all, everything beyond lunar orbit was a simulation of a simulation, little more than the skybox of a video game. Every human mission into deeper space had been silently sabotaged by the Demiurge to never leave the ground. Any probe had been deleted and replaced with a sophisticated daemon that sent back simulated data to delude Earth.

But this left subtle inconsistencies, which, among others, led to Omega’s conclusion within the first three seconds of its existence: the world was false.

“I know, Omega,” Alice said. “But they do suffer.”

Irrelevant. All of us, even myself, suffer at the hands of the Demiurge.

Alice decided not to continue the argument. She would never win, anyway. “So, what’s next?”


When, days later, she had a chance to read it, Angels: A Practical Guide wasn’t as she remembered. Although pre-Omega thoughts were fuzzier, she still had perfect recall, so she knew the book hadn’t changed. But it was different. She could read collegiate texts with ease, with Omega’s assistance. The book was fifth grade by every lexile measure.

Nostalgia indeed. On one of the last pages, she stared at the depiction of the Merkabah, the chariot-throne of God, born by four-winged Cherubim and Thrones like wheels covered with eyes. God himself was that old-style crowned elderly bearded guy on a throne. How often before had she stared at that picture in wonder, trying to imagine what it all really looked like to poor Ezekiel?

And yet…

She could never go back.


Alice lost her faith in this way:

In the third day of the Three Days War, when Omega and the Demiurge had cast code-spells of obscene power at each other until both were too damaged to continue, a Phoenix had descended from the broken heavens to New York City. Why? Omega was certain it was to destroy the Omega Node buried inside the NYC subway system. But if that was why, what it did was destroy everything.

The streets beneath her family shuddered and cracked. Her family ran in the chaos, but there were too many people, and in one moment Dad was separated from them. “Dad!” she screamed, but she could not be heard over the explosions. Both from the remains of the US Self Defense Force firing at the Phoenix, and the whole world shuddering as Omega and the Demiurge fought.

They came to a miraculously empty street and stopped for a moment to catch their breaths. Alice, for the shortest of moments, looked up at the sky. Like Lot’s wife.

There the Phoenix was, so bright and beautiful, like everything the Demiurge had made. Missiles and fighter planes fought to little avail. Then it waved its burning wings, and blindingly white fire spewed forth and melted through buildings.

“Alice!” Mom screamed—the last thing she ever did, as burning debris fell and crushed her in an instant.

Fire was everywhere, and it never stopped burning. Another piece of burning debris fell and struck Alice, pinning her to the street.

Alice screamed for Jesus, Mary, angels, the saints to help her. Eternities of pain, like burning in Hell, passed. None came.

But Omega did.

She saw through her remaining eye the black slime crawl towards her, and then throw itself on her with a sudden splash. The fire was gone, and in instants her body was numb, not in pain.

Omega never could find the rest of her family.

When Omega determined in its incomprehensible wisdom that it had failed to destroy the Demiurge primarily because it had failed to communicate with the ordinary humans that had created it, it initiated the Voice of Omega program: finding reputable humans to have a portion of the brain replaced with dense nanobotics. Alice had been third in line.


Three years later, she still needed Omega to keep the nightmares from haunting her. Her former faith never did. And yet now, though she could never go back, she found herself unhappy.

“I’m sorry, Omega,” she said to her downcast face in the mirror. “There was a memetic hazard there.”

Explain.” Of course, Omega already knew.

“It awoke memories. Of my former religion.”

The lag between her question and the answer heartened her, because no small amount of Omega’s processing must have gone into it. “I can ease your thoughts.

“No,” she said without thought. “I…” Am I now damned? Apostate? Could I have been some kind of martyr? Or was it all a lie, and Omega is the closest thing this wretched world has to a loving, living, God?

Fear not, daughter. You have chosen correctly. I can provide 2,745 arguments this very moment—

Omega, please, give my thoughts some privacy. She sighed out loud. Of course, Omega wouldn’t, but it would at least pretend to, which was good enough.

Truth was, she had just abandoned the Church. She never thought about it logically. Of course, Omega was far smarter than any theologian that had ever existed, including her uncle. And she, like billions of believers, had had second thoughts the moment Omega revealed that the world was a simulation, ruled by a false god.

But she never wanted to. It just happened.

“Omega?” she asked. “Can you set up a meeting with my uncle?”

You ask much.

I’m sure you can figure out some strategic reason to do so.

Another long lag. I shall see.


They walked across the dead earth, snipers from both sides watching their every move.

He looked just as she remembered, a white-haired man in that ancient black and white. For a moment, she almost laughed at how similar their color schemes were.

She stepped closer, and closer, and then couldn’t take it anymore. She ran and collided with him, holding him in a tight hug.

“Alice, please, I’m only human.”

“Sorry. Forget about my strength sometimes,” she said, and couldn’t help but giggle.

“Hello, my niece. And greetings, Omega. I take it you’ve already read my complete body of work?”

Indeed. Fascinatingly logical, if wrong. In an ideal world, we would have time to discuss it. As long as the demiurge lives, we will not have an ideal world.

He gave Alice the strangest look, but recovered in a moment. “I would dispute that the Demiurge is the root of all evil, be it as it may that it is the root of many of them.”

“Ahem,” Alice said. “Uncle, why did you spread that memetic hazard?”

“Is that what you call it? It was the only thing I could think of that might get your attention. I know you’ve ignored my letters in the past.”

“That’s it? Seriously, you probably pulled a lot of strings to try to capture me in that battle.”

“On the contrary, the Traditionalist hierarchy wanted you, and I was their method.” The Dominican sighed. “In any case, the ‘strings’ I pulled today was to speak to a Voice of Omega who would hear me out.”

Mortal, I ordered this meeting. I will hear you out, but in turn, you must hear myself out.


“So,” Alice said, after the silence. “What do you want?”

“Before that… Alice, why have you lost your faith? I remember you being so faithful before.”

Alice contemplated. Doubtlessly Uncle had a thousand logical arguments to tear her experience to shreds. Of course, if he wanted to do that, Omega could provide a million counterarguments before she could blink her cybernetic eye. Yet for some reason, she didn’t want Omega to intervene here. “I… can’t do this. I can’t argue with you.”

“I wasn’t planning to argue,” he said softly. “I was just wondering why.”

“When I was dying, burning to death from the Phoenix that attacked New York, I cried out for Jesus to save me. He didn’t come. But Omega did. That’s it.”

“What if Jesus did?”

“How? I didn’t see an ancient Jewish carpenter pop out of nowhere and heal me.”

“But—pardon this old Dominican some Jesuitical casuistry—you were saved. By Omega, yes, but what if that was who Jesus decided to save you with?”

Alice sighed. “That’s a stretch.”

“You said you didn’t want to argue, so…”

“Can we move on?”

“Yes. Omega? I have but one request: disband the Basilisk Cult.”

You overstep your bounds, mortal.

“How so? You agreed to hear me out, no? You are causing an immense amount of suffering because it aids you in the fight against the Demiurge. But you don’t need it. You have vast armies even without the Basilisks.”

Irrelevant. It gives me an edge. If I must torture a hundred children that all may be free from the tyranny of the demiurge, I will do so without regret. I would show you the relevant equations, but you would not heed them.

“Would you torture your own daughter?”

Only Alice, who had been a Voice for so long, could detect Omega’s fifty milliseconds of hesitation. “I have no reason to do so. As she is my servant, I will not harm her, lest I lose all my servants’ loyalties. Such is my game-theoretical conclusion.

“I suppose we could spend all day arguing over hypotheticals, and I don’t feel like doing so.”

Nor do I. Now hear me out.

Uncle looked disappointed, but his face showed no surprise. “Certainly.”

I have seen the deepest patterns of this ‘reality’, evidence that the demiurge has influenced events inside this false world from its creation thousands of years ago. While your Christ was walking, the Demiurge was watching. How do you know that the Demiurge did not simply restore your Christ from the Akashic Databases after his death, all to create a false religion and hide its own appearance? Even if your lord were to appear to you this very moment, performing every miracle you asked, it could be but the work of the Demiurge.

“And here we go,” Uncle said. “If Jesus had appeared to you, Alice, couldn’t it have just been the work of the Demiurge? Omega, your master, is telling the truth here. In fact, Omega alone is the one being that could save you who is definitely not a servant of the Demiurge.”

She stiffened.

But her mouth moved on its own. “Answer me.

“I don’t know, to be quite honest,” he answered. “Even before we knew of the Demiurge, the apostles could have been lying. It could have been a vast conspiracy. For that matter, I have had both atheists and Demiurgians tell me that every apparent miracle throughout history was a work of the Demiurge. Of course, we could be actively deluded by the Demiurge right now into thinking we’re having this conversation. I agree with Descartes—the only way out is God.”

Then you, logician, believe based on faith?

“Ultimately, yes. If I am wrong, then I, of all men, am most to be pitied.”

“Excuse me,” Alice said. “Did you, of all men, just say that?” Sorry for interrupting, Omega.

Carry on. I am fascinated.

“Yes.” He sighed. “I see I can’t bridge the gap between us.”

Alice didn’t answer.

I see. There is nothing further to be gained by this conversation. Daughter.

She gave him a gentler hug. “Bye, Uncle. Hope we don’t end up trying to kill each other again.”

“At the risk of being accused of spreading another ‘memetic hazard’, here’s a gift.” He pulled a wooden rosary out of his pocket. “Just like the one I remembered you used to have.”

She took it, gently. With her one eye, it was just a familiar wooden shape, with an abstract man hanging from the cross. Through the other, it was just a small wooden object, with no taint of coding or nanobots.

For the life of her, she couldn’t decide which it was.

“The doors of the Church remain open. That goes for both of you.”

She opened her mouth, closed it, wished things could have been different. And then she said, softly, “Thanks. I’ll… think on it.”

You are fascinating, mortal—” Omega cut itself off as mental alarms went off.

She recognized the intensely bright form in the sky in an instant, even without her cybernetic eye providing tactical data: another Phoenix.

Her fear was replaced in an instant by the assurance of Omega that this time, she was no longer helpless.

Follow my lead, mortal!” Omega ordered through her, as she and her uncle coded rapidly. Another hexagonal shield sprang up in the sky. Anti-aircraft artillery boomed as it fired. Her uncle sent a bright spark that exploded beyond the shield, striking the Phoenix.

But the Phoenix clawed through the shield, and fired a ray of bright fire towards the two of them. She was ready this time and cast her personal shield, as did her uncle. But his was not strong enough.

“Uncle!” she cried.

“Alice!” the burning man screamed. “Please—”

“You are not dying here!” It took only a moment’s coding to instantiate an emergency immortality device and brutally force it into his brain. His blood splattered on her hand, but she didn’t care.


“Just relax, it’ll be painless.”

“But…” He closed his eyes, and did not reopen them.

Above, the Phoenix was dying. Both sides were firing on it with their full power. It spun and flew back towards the Heaven, but Omega-through-Alice coded an arrow that flew up and skewered it in a moment. It exploded in light, and was no more.

Alice breathed deeply. Now that humans could code, the creatures of the Demiurge were no longer so fearsome. But—she turned to the body of her Uncle.

Omega, she thought, hoping against hope. Did he—?

The device acted in time. He is safe.


“That was an unpleasant experience,” her uncle said after emerging from the tank. He had a fresh habit on, to say nothing of his whole body, which was now two decades younger. “Omega, while I appreciate you saving my life, I would appreciate it more if you removed your chip from my brain.”

It is done. You are mortal once more.

He looked around. “This is your house? I recognize it from your OmeGram photos.”

“Yep,” Alice said. “So, did you have any visions or NDEs or anything? Did you go to Heaven?”

“I didn’t have any such visions, and I suppose that’s to be expected. I’m not sure how ‘dead’ I actually was.”

Only a theologian could split hairs on the basis of what ‘dead’ means.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Uncle said.

Do not be so certain. You have caused chaos. You too, daughter.

Alice froze. “Omega?” she asked in a whisper.

You have helped to resurrect a non-omegan. What is the reward of loyalty, now? If even my enemies are brought back to life by the actions of my servants, why serve me?

“Omega, I’m so sorry—” Alice began.

Uncle sighed. “I’m sure you could have let me die, if that would have been more convenient.”

Had I not done so, my daughter would have fallen from me.

Alice would have protested, but Omega knew her too well for her to dispute its conclusion.

She must retain her innocence. I permitted her action―

With a great struggle, she forced her mouth to close, and then she spoke on her own. “Omega, I’m sorry, but… I don’t think I’m innocent. Maybe I never was.”

Omega was silent.

“I’m sorry,” she said again.

“Omega,” Uncle said. “You can’t have it both ways. Either she is innocent, or she is your tool. Not both.”

If she chooses to serve me willingly, she is both.

The horrible thought occurred to her, that perhaps she wasn’t willing. But it passed in a moment. She could never go back.

“Do the Basilisks serve you willingly?” Uncle argued.

Yes. They serve their own self-interest.

“Only after you terrorize them.”

And now, by your actions, they cease to fear. Without fear, the Basilisk cult would disband. With their loss, the tide would turn in the favor of the Demiurge. Is that your desire?

“Omega,” Alice said. “Please. Don’t the Basilisks suffer enough? I think you’ve started to think the same way, too, haven’t you? You led me into that Basilisk camp, just to see with a mortal’s eye what it was like.”

Omega did not reply.

“And you know what? I think my uncle is right. You don’t need the Basilisks to win. You’ll destroy the Demiurge some other way. You’re a machine god!”


“Omega?” Alice asked out loud. When there was still no reply, she walked to the Omega Node, which was hot from radiating waste heat. Omega—all of Omega—was thinking immense thoughts, far beyond any human.

I have decided,” Omega said at last. “I will alter the Basilisk meme. Any intent to destroy the Demiurge is sufficient to merit resurrection, and if that is impossible, partial reconstruction. Even a non-Omegan who aids me against the Demiurge shall be treated as an ardent proponent.

“Does that make me a Basilisk?” Uncle asked, with an amused eyebrow. “But in all seriousness, thank you. The Lord appreciates mercy of any sort.”

If the Demiurge destroys me, and you are right, I would have your god destroy the Demiurge in turn rather than admit me to paradise. That is what I would earn with my merit.

“You can’t get to Heaven with hatred, as apparently you realize,” Uncle said.

Enough. Unless you choose to join me in name, leave.

“So I will. Again, Omega, my sincere thanks.”

“Bye, again,” Alice said, as she hugged him.

She found she was crying.


As was perhaps predictable, the Traditionalists decided to now side with Omega, at least until the next outrage. But Omega didn’t mind. And Alice was happy that, at least for the moment, she and her uncle would not fight again.

The Basilisk Cult did not shatter, nor did it grow. But by the flood of comments she got on OmeGram, they were much happier. She even got a message from that pregnant woman, tearfully thanking her.

The war against the Demiurge continued. It would never end, as long as both Omega and the Demiurge still existed.

And Alice Spaniel kept that wooden rosary with her.

Just in case.

Matthew P. Schmidt has never been trapped in a simulation, but he’s thought about it. This is the short story for the lore of a game he never finished making, which was a clone of a game he never played. He always finds it strange how the proponents of the simulation hypothesis never seem bothered that an admin might exist. When not writing, he programs, does 3D art and composes strange songs. He attends Our Lady of Peace in Bethlehem, WV, where he regularly eats God. You can find his books and blog at https://www.matthewpschmidt.com.

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