Mapping the AntiGenome
It's late, but as I've mentioned, we have no real conception of time here. The tunnels are forever dark, and our clocks might as well be Dali's. I read somewhere about a sensory-deprivation study done by some scientists once upon a time; they said that when we're removed from external clues, our internal clocks go haywire. A day can seem like a week, and vice versa.
I'm beginning to understand.
We're exploring the possibility of an anti-genome. Tera wanted to assassinate the mother, but the rest of us refuse to go along with it. Drive offered the notion of induced trauma to the fetus, but then Kelvin stepped in.
"There are some interesting things coming from some people working on virtual-genetic subroutines," he said. "A tech on the Antef has been developing some interesting realignment structures that might be useful for us." (The Antef is a sister ship in our fleet.) "It may be possible for us to . . . " He paused.
We waited. For a while.
"Yes?" Tera asked.
He tapped his chin and darted his eyes. "Reverse him," he said finally.
We blinked. "Reverse him? I asked.
"In a manner of speaking," he said. "One of the subroutines has to do with the Matrix equivalent of the genome -- basically, each person's code."
I glanced at Ramb, who was either biting her tongue, or preparing to do so. She had spent a great deal of time with the biochemistry training programs, and she was always ready to stomp out someone trying to bamboozle their way through anything scientific.
"Hear me out," Kelvin said, extending a hand of patience to us. A cloud of skepticism hung in the room. "The Matrix has to transpose each person's identity into the Matrix, right? Well, how does it do that? By digitally representing our DNA -- transplanting our genetic map. Each person's genetic information is ported into the Matrix OS. This is how we look the same inside the Matrix and out." He moved his hands nimbly as he spoke, in the same lanky manner of his walk.
"Okay," he continued, "so for those of us born outside of the Matrix, it takes what's there and just copies it, yeah? Well, this tech has a theory that for people born inside, the genome and its Matrix equivalent -- they're calling it the diginome -- work . . . together, I guess."
Tera squinted. "How do you mean?"
"The theory says that the genome and the diginome form a symbiotic relationship, where they influence each other by turns. Now, most people will spend their entire lives inside the Matrix, so the real genome doesn't have much to offer, aside from the basics -- number of legs, height, and so on."
He paused. "But some people are saying that it's possible for the diginome to take the lead."
We all exchanged glances. "What does that mean, exactly?" Drive asked. In our crew of engineers, Drive was definitely mechanical. He'd never gotten into the nuts and bolts (so to speak) of the ones and zeroes. In this respect, I felt pretty close to him -- after all, I'd been recruited for purposes of graphic design.
Kelvin tapped his chin. "According to the theory," he said after a few seconds, "it's possible that the diginome may be capable of directing the development of the human genetic map."
Tera slowly shook her head. "The software changes the hardware," she said.
Kelvin nodded slightly. "Yeah, pretty much."
"So," I said, wanting to feel as though I were contributing something, "if this theory is true, then does that mean we can somehow tinker with the diginome and un-create this guy?"
"Not really," he said. "Deleting the code entirely would be too risky. There's no telling what would happen, really. Think of it like just making something disappear. You're familiar with the conservation of energy, I trust?" I nodded. "But there is talk of an anti-diginome," he said. "There may be a way to supplant the code with its opposite. So if he's really as evil as we've been told, this has the potential to make him pure goodness."
"Another coming of The One, perhaps?" Drive asked.
Hakuin shot him a hostile glare. We've had some interesting conversations about the nature of The One; suffice to say Hakuin doesn't buy it. Story for another time.
"But," Tera said, "wouldn't an anti-diginome be the opposite of more than just his personality? I mean, what's the opposite of human skin type? Scales? Suppose we implant the opposite of lungs?"
"Or," I suggested, "what if the anti-diginome and the human genome code react like matter and anti-matter? Wouldn't that raise some eyebrows?"
Kelvin shrugged a little. "I don't really know," he said. "Like I said, this is all more or less in the theoretical stage right now."
Hakuin held a hand over his mouth and rubbed his cheek. "This tech is on the Antef, you say? What's his name?"
"Uh," Kelvin said, glancing at Tera and Ramb. "Her name is Ridley."
Hakuin nodded and turned to Drive. "Where is the Antef?" he asked. Drive sank into his seat and punched a series of buttons. The screens flickered and scrolled.
"About two hours away," he said. "They're charting a series of tunnels to the north."
"How about we pay them a visit?" Hakuin asked.
We broke north.