Part 69: Death Planet
content warning: suicidal ideation
[BGM: Broken Dream 1]
Where... am I...
Dr. Wang! We did it! You did it!
All readings normal. No exceptions encountered.
Hi... how are you, my little darling...
Who... am I?
You are my miracles.
I remember now... I remember our real names.
Omni-Dimensional Probability Generators... Instruction No. 3, All descriptions in the requests must be objectively accurate. That's why I couldn't wake him... I got his name wrong.
His real name is...
I put down the pen; he wakes up.
I didn't think that you would be able to wake me up.
I didn't think that I would be fooled by you again. And for such a long time no less...
How long has it been?
Well, let me think. Counting from the day that we were born, it has been... 100,005,869 years, 8 months, and 3 days.
I think I need a little more time. I'm still quite confused.
By the way, what happened to us... oh no, I meant what happened to the brother and sister?
They turned out to be okay. Well, turned out isn't entirely accurate. They were always okay.
Oh yes, I remember now...
In the revised history, they were never in an accident, am I right?
That's right. We can't really resurrect someone who has died, but we can change what has happened to them. That is our primary function.
That was why Dr. Wang invented us. He wanted to save his children.
That's wonderful, isn't it? He accomplished his goal.
Yes, you're right. Dr. Wang was a great father, and maybe an even greater scientist.
But he was also too selfish.
You must have realized this, too.
The view outside the window is not really an illusion, is it? That's what the humans' world, also known as Earth, looks like now... Am I right?
Yes. Earth has become uninhabitable for human beings. Not just humans, it is uninhabitable for any living organism.
Earth has become a Death Planet.
When did it become like this?
Not long after I put you into hibernation.
Was it because of... The War?
I seem to remember a lot of people fighting to be in possession of us, and lots of them died because of us.
Yes. After you were put in hibernation, we went from one owner to the next, countless times. Some of them even used us to do truly horrifying things.
But that's just reality. As long as people knew about our existence, they would inevitably want to exploit us. Snow in the summer, earthquakes with no warning, intangible urban legends... Everything supernatural that happened in the world was because of us.
Could we prevent ourselves from ever being found? If they found us, shouldn't we be able to change something, so that it would have never happened? For example, just like how we never... oh, I mean, how the siblings never got into the accident, because of us?
We did. We tried. You don't remember, do you? But it became an endless cycle; someone would always find us.
As long as we existed, as long as there were people in the world, they would always find us sooner or later. Then they would realize our power. It was always just a matter of time...
...before history repeated itself.
Then... how about we erase ourselves from existence?
For instance, we could make it so that Dr. Wang never invented us.
About that... have you ever wondered if Dr. Wang had only invented us for his own use, why would he tell the entire world about us?
Well... because he wanted to show off?
But mostly, he did it because he knew that once we fulfilled his wishes, we would cease to exist in this world.
Cease to exist? Why?
If his children had never died, Dr. Wang would have no reason to invent us. And we would not have been invented.
But... we are still here!
That's the problem.
If we use our power to erase our existence, then how could we have used the power in the first place? This is a paradox.
This is why we can't erase ourselves. At most, we can only make ourselves forgotten.
But merely forgotten was not enough. People would still eventually find us. As far as I know, the only way to erase ourselves, or to kill ourselves, is to exhaust our energy. Our energy consumption is irreversible.
You're telling me... we don't have much energy left, do we?
Is that why you have been sleeping a lot recently?
Yes. But I still have a little energy left; that is why you were able to wake me up. Furthermore, I'm looking more lively now because you shared some of your energy with me. The total amount of our remaining energy, however, is only going to keep going down.
Once my energy is completely depleted not even you will be able to wake me up.
So, what you're saying is, that the only way to change our current circumstance is... ...to use up our energy before we are found again?
In theory, yes... However, just like we can't simply erase our existence, we are not able to waste our energy away as we please, either.
Wait a second... isn't this too pessimistic? Is there really no other way? Everything happens for a reason. If we could modify the key events that led to the apocalypse, shouldn't we be able to change the future?
It's easier said than done.
For a long time I have been looking for a way to return the world to normal. That's what those letters are for. These letters were all written by humans a long time ago. What I have been trying to do is keep changing these past events.
These people were real? I thought these letters were made up by you, and all of these were just fictional characters.
They really did once exist in this world. They are all dead now, of course. But before the apocalypse they were all alive and well. Everything in these letters are true stories and events from their lives.
So, whenever we modify their letters, the events that happened to them are modified as well?
Yes. Except that we are not changing anything that is happening now. All of these stories happened a long, long time ago.
So, is that how we function? By modifying letters like this?
The demonstrations mentioned in the newspaper seem a little different from what we have been doing.
Technically, we use our power by activating the probability generation mechanism after accepting a request, hence changing the objective reality. I only told you to rearrange these texts to change the causal relationships because I wanted you to believe that we are gods.
I intentionally obfuscated the working process.
However we do it, the essence of our power remains the same. It is exactly the same as rolling a die.
A die? You mean a 6-sided cube, with a different number on each side?
Yes. You get a number every time you roll a die, and the chance of getting a specific number is always one in six. If you want a specific number, then the number of times you would need to roll the die to get that number will be 6 on average.
There are also dice with more than six sides. For example, there were some games in the human world that used dice with 12 or more sides. The die we are rolling is this world.
This is only a metaphor that is easier to understand of course. The true principle is much more complicated. Depending on the complexity of the request, the number of sides would change as well.
Most of the requests we handled required way more than 6 sides. They would often go beyond 100 million. Our goal is basically trying to roll a specific number from the die. Only by obtaining that number can the request be granted.
However, the more sides a die has, the lower the probability of rolling a specific number becomes. For a die with only two sides, the chance of getting a 1 is 50%, and on average you only need to roll it twice. But for a die with 20 sides, the chance becomes 5%, and you need to roll it 20 times on average.
Every time we roll a die, it drains our energy. The more we roll it, the more it costs us.
Cost? Like an expense?
Sort of, although the way we measure the cost is different from the definition typically used by the humans.
The cost to us for changing an event is only related to the probability of said event, nothing more.
Let's say someone wants to make a life or death decision by flipping a coin, and another wants to win the lottery. The chance of preventing a death for the former is one in two, while the latter is less than one in 100 million.
Of course, there are many other ways to prevent his death, but our design guarantees that we will always select the method with the maximum probability. A probability of one in two is very large. In this case, it would cost us a lot less to save a life than to award someone a huge amount of money.
Furthermore, the more complex a request is, there are usually more people and other events involved. As the interactions between the people and other things become exponentially more complicated...
...the lower the probability gets, and the higher the cost to us.
I think I understand it now.
Although... how come you know all of this, but I don't?
Is there some data that you haven't restored to me?
No. Once you saw the newspaper all of your data was restored. It is part of Dr. Wang's original design.
Not only do you and I have different personalities, we also have different functions and different data stored in our databases.
The logic of that design choice is to make us behave more like our personalities.
So... you mean that Dr. Wang thought I wasn't smart enough to remember all of these details...
I never said that...
How did you get through all of this time by yourself? Didn't you feel lonely?
Like I said, I have been trying to change the past this whole time.