Authors: Matthew Schmidt
The API of the Gods
Matthew P. Schmidt
The API of the Gods
Copyright © 2015 Matthew P. Schmidt
All rights reserved.
Published by O and H Books
Author Blog: smithgift.theinspiredinstructor.com
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed,
or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording,
or other electronic or mechanical methods without permission.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses,
places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s
imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The shining fluorescent lights, the
screech of metal being milled into shape, overpowered by the screaming of
managers and CNC fairies, and the sweltering heat of the machine shop nearly
overwhelmed me. But I did not have the luxury of going to a quiet place to cry.
Not only had we to make up for our losses in the last battle—excuse me,
tactical solution deployment
—but we were ordered to make over ten times
more of my golems for our next deployment.
My title is
Captain of Metal Armies
depending on who you're talking to, and how
much they may know. At the moment I was glorified sword-machinist, grinding
blank after blank into blades. Others with even higher titles had such offices
as go-fer, drill operator, and wielder of oxy-propane torches or the primeval
fire before worlds (whichever was handy). Middle management had shown up
briefly to deposit a vial of Ichor on a workbench in the center, which would
have disappeared within seconds had I not sworn to swear a geas to
anyone who touched it. Rhetorical meta-oaths are frowned upon, I know, but no
one asked if I was joking.
Whence came the thought that I had
reached the point where there were things I needed so much I would threaten to
kill people over it. Where had I gone wrong?
"WATCH IT!" the CNC fairy
screamed at me. "YOU'LL LOSE A FINGER!"
finger," I said. "And shut up, you're not even sentient. Go bother
someone else before I recycle you."
The fairy hissed, but floated over to
the part of the shop where they were making the armor plates.
I sighed and wondered for the hundredth
time how I had gotten myself into this.
The interview had gone swimmingly up
until the interviewer told me what Pantheon Solutions, Inc. actually did.
"We are here to leverage our information technology expertise to provide
customer-focused reality-altering services to our Gods for reasons that we can
neither question nor understand."
I had no words for several seconds.
"Excuse me, sir?" I asked. "I don't understand."
"That's what I said," said the
interviewer who had introduced
himself as Sean. He was
young (thirties, it looked) and extraordinarily handsome, and I wondered how
hard it was for
to get a girlfriend. "Beings of our nature are
so far beneath them that we cannot know what they truly intend, except what
they decide to tell us in our inadequate way. We must only trust what they ask
us to do is for the right reasons."
I had three thoughts. The first was that
I had just become a protagonist in one of those horror stories of jobs from
hell that programmers love to swap. The second was that, no, I had only
stumbled into an alternate reality game, which might have been amusing if it
hadn't wasted several hours of my life in the process. The third was that even
if Pantheon Solutions was serious or insane or seriously insane they still
needed to pay me if I worked for them. If they didn't cough up the two hundred
thousand a year they offered, I could go to court for theft of services. It
still beat unemployment.
Sean was still going. "...while
normally we'd start you on bug hunting, with your experience I'd like to see
you expanding the API's Python binding—"
"The API," I repeated blankly.
"The API of the Gods. Our core
technology: a library serving as a programmatic interface to the transcendent
powers of our deities. We currently have bindings for C and C++, a mostly
complete binding for Python, and we're working on the Java side as we
"Are you seri—Are you seriously
claiming to have a
" I trailed off. Horror story,
"Supernatural would be the proper
term. Yes." He looked at me with an eerily prescient gaze. "If you
want to leave now, the exit is right down that hall and security will show you
out. And, as long as you don't break the NDA, this will be the last we talk. Or
if you'd rather see the API in action..."
My logic that I told myself as I
followed him down the other hall was that I might as well see the whole horror
story. In some small corner of my heart, I had some tiny insane hope for it to
be true. Who wouldn't?
The desktop he showed me was an ordinary
desktop, with a text editor already open. Plugged into a USB port was a bush of
brilliantly colored wires dense enough to give an electrician a heart attack,
and the wires ended in some cross between a stone tablet engraved with bizarre
lines, a robot arm, and a 3D printer. I could have sworn I saw real gold in
parts of the thing. Then again, I was within one of five tall office buildings
within the expansive gated complex, and who knew how much all that had cost.
Someone very rich must be very insane, I
"Go on," Sean said, motioning
to the chair. "Write a hello world. I recommend C++."
"Python is simpler," I said,
He frowned. "The Python binding
is... inefficient. But if you
"Fine," I said and didn't add
that he just wanted me to work with python. My mouth had already lost me enough
jobs. "I'll use C++." I began to type.
A hello world program is considered the
most trivial program there is, one that does nothing but output "Hello,
world!" I had written more hello worlds in more ways than I could count,
and my only issue then was including the various parts of the API of the Gods
that Sean instructed me to add. The final program was bizarrely large for
something so simple.
When I finished, I went to the menu,
hovered over "build" and hesitated. "Is something wrong?"
"One sec," I said. I waved at
the mass. "Is this thing safe?"
"Well, in a metaphorical or
philosophical sense, no, but—" he began.
I wasn't listening. I had been a stage
magician briefly in college, and while he was distracted looking where I did I
with one careful hand behind me. "Seems good," I said, turned to the
screen, and started the build before he could react.
The strange thing began to whir and hum,
and I watched in freaked-out fascination as it began to assemble a
symbol-covered gray plastic cube. When it stopped, the guy took it out and
handed it to me. I could swear the thing it looked the most like was one of
those cuneiform tablets. Except this was a cube of gray plastic with what
looked like a printed circuit board from another dimension. The crisscrossed
"wires" were so tiny they hurt my eyes to squint at them. My finger
felt a small round hole at the top.
"Okay, this is neat, but—" I
"Hold it still," he said in a
voice beyond that of a manager, like that of a distant ocean. I did what he
said. He took from his pocket a sheath and took from the sheath a needle-thin
dagger. He unrolled the shirtsleeve of his other arm and held on his arm over
the cube, and I saw tiny scars all along it. Though I was squeamish then, I
didn't flinch when he pricked a new one, and a tiny drop of shining blood
dripped through a groove in the dagger into the hole.
Let me explain. What I had expected was
some trick; some "impossibility" designed to spectacularly say
"Hello, world!" and fool a lesser mind than mine. (Yeah, I'm
arrogant. So what?) But I had specifically changed the printed string to
something else and put in a bunch of carriage returns (the '
's) for good measure.
was that the word
"Hello," (with comma) appeared in light and floated in front of the
cube, and down by my knee "FOOLS!" appeared and then disappeared
I somehow didn't drop the cube.
"Do you believe now?" Sean
asked. He did not even seem surprised at what I had done.
I looked at him, the screen, the cube,
then again, then again. "I—can I try something else? Um, ninety-nine
bottles, the Fibonacci sequence—"
"No." The voice like an ocean
"But—How am I supposed to know that
this is really—" I protested.
"What I have shown you as a
demonstration could never be done with human power, nor could all humanity ever
pay for what I paid to show you this. If you desire this, then join us.
Otherwise, we shall go our separate ways."
"Can't I at least think about
"Think all you want," Sean
said, and now it was just the HR manager again. "Just answer by tomorrow,
Golem assembly is seriously complicated
even with standardized parts, and I had no time to think between solving one
misfit part and the next cry for help on some other section of the blueprint. I
had relented and let one drop of "my" Ichor go into a golem assembly
daemon. It was fascinating to watch it reach with twisted golden hands,
daintily take up pieces from the tables or human workers and socket them
together it midair.
I forced myself to turn away. I only did
so because of the deadline, an ironically accurate term. We had little time.
And if anyone asked how to fit the fingers on again, I was going to go
If I wasn't already.
I couldn't sleep that night, not just
because the emergency room bed was uncomfortable and they still wouldn't let me
go home. Nor could I explain why I had repeatedly punctured my arm with a
letter opener without sounding even more insane, and my feeble lies didn't
convince the doctor of anything. They said they weren't going to commit me,
Which I had long deliberately spelled
lowercase, but considering what job offer I might be accepting in the morning,
I thought, I would potentially be spelling with a capital from now on. Michael
Arnold, programmer for the Gods. It had a nice ring to it.
I had searched online until my eyes
ached. Pantheon Solutions, Inc. had a shiny bland website and a mailing
address, and nothing else. Google Maps showed their complex looked even larger
from the air, including a warehouse I had not seen on the tour. The only
mention I saw of the company on IT forums was quiet wondering as to what they
were, since they had seemingly sprung out of nowhere about a year ago. The only
post that mentioned a job offer was the guy turning it down because "they
were crazy as hell." I tried to find any of the symbols I found on the
cube elsewhere, but beyond geometric patterns, nothing.
I did have the cube with me. I would
have swiped it with my ninja stage magician skills, but Sean let me take it
home without comment, except noting that it wouldn't do me much good.
He was right. Dribbling any amount of my
own blood into the cube did nothing. I think my last attempt opened an artery;
by the time the paramedics arrived I was near passing out.
I did have time to think in the
emergency room. There was nothing else to do, and even if not committing me,
they still weren't letting me out yet.
When I was little, I always wanted to be
a mage. True, mages did not exist any more than unicorns did, but that did not
stop me from pretending with my little wizard hat and robes and staff. To
pop-psychoanalyze myself, I'll say it's an obvious fantasy: smart kid now has
magical power and cannot be rejected or hurt by anyone. I don't think it was
harmful as some people think it is, but maybe I went too far. After enough high
school RPGs, I might have gotten the imaginary wizard-ness out and learned to
be a computer whiz instead. Maybe I was still grasping for any little straw,
and I had really gone insane.
Yet... yet if it
The security end of technothaumatugy was
beyond me, though I had tried many times. It was too much thinking in multiple
levels of abstraction and reality itself, and I suspected those who did it
didn't have completely pure blood. I had another small suspicion that they were
a little too close to what mundane IT called black hats, not helped by their
literal black-and-runed robes. But I was once told those served a functional
purpose. No one disturbs a bunch of dorks with fake beards doing weird things
in wizard get-ups.
It seemed more likely to me that they
just wanted to wear the wizard get-ups in the first place, but whatever helped
them float our boat. (Or rather, unfloat it.) And if they wanted to be in them
out in the summer heat by Lake Superior's beach, more power to them.
One of them left his laptop and the
chanting circle and came up to us. "We can keep the gateway open for five
minutes at most," he said, and tugged at his gray beard. His youth made it
look even more a fake. "That's how long the daemon takes to cycle its
awareness through the palace."
"We can deal with that," said
the Head Supervisor of Tactical Solution Deployment (whose name is never
spoken). He turned to me. "All your guys can get inside in that time,