Virtual Instance

Everything you see in the Matrioska Multiverse may constitute spoilers for other worlds I'm working on. Proceed with caution!
A virtual instance is as to Unallocated Space as a virtual machine is to a regular computer system: an Instance that exists as a isolated microcosm of the surrounding space, allowing experiments to be carried out and new uses of The Word to be tested with a significantly reduced chance of severe consequences like corruption or aberrant flowering.


Virtual instances start off as small, dark, empty voids and are often sparsely detailed even when subjected to further environmental engineering. Filling a virtual instance requires appropriate application of the Word, whether single utterances or more complex verses. Blanks and other objects generally cannot pass in or out of the virtual instance without a near-insurmountable exertion of effort; for this reason, and the fact that a virtual instance can be destroyed in moments (see below), it is considered ethically questionable to use a virtual instance to create sentiences with self-preservation instincts.   A projection of the user - not a distro or new, independent blank - may appear within the virtual instance and may be 'puppeted' remotely by the virtual instance's creator or one of their collaborators. The experience of working in a virtual instance in this manner is said to be similar to that of using a glove box to handle dangerous chemicals; sensations are remote and ill-defined, but any dangerous conditions within the space are safely contained behind a nigh-on impenetrable barrier of reality itself. In general, making good use of a virtual instance is an exercise in both the use of the Word and rigorous scientific record-keeping.   At any time, the creator of a virtual instance or anyone else with the right knowledge of the Word may cause the virtual instance to collapse, destroying it and everthing else within it. On a fundamental level, this destruction comes about as a result of the portion of the Matrioshka Multiverse's real-space structure that serves the virtual instance shutting down, clearing its memory caches, and restarting with default settings. A temporary holon bubble is created at the destroyed virtual instance's location while the section of the Matrioshka brain restarts, with the time required for the holon bubble to resolve being directly proportional to the level of hazardous or corrupting conditions created within the virtual instance before it was destroyed. On rare occasions, the bubble never resolves, requiring maintenance workers in a crawler or residents of the associated part of the Boundary Districts to come by and perform maintenance.

Localized Phenomena

A virtual instance, like most instances, typically is created to exhibit naturalistic cycles, such as the metabolism of biological systems placed or created within it. This means that, could someone actually find a way into a virtual instance, they would most likely suffocate if the creator hadn't bothered to implement air or starve without the provision of food. However, the presence of 'normal' time within a virtual instance may be useful for testing certain time-based processes for later implementation in other instances, such as fundamental physical laws and chemical reactions.


Though moving things into and out of a virtual instance is luckily extremely difficult for even gifted users of the Word, it is not believed to be completely impossible. Indeed, it is believed that experiments into piercing the boundaries of a virtual instance have led to more than one true death and the destruction of evidence in more than one criminal case. As it turns out, placing something into a virtual instance is a good way of disposing of it in such a way that no one - even investigators from The Substrate - will find it. For this reason, information regarding the penetrability of virtual instances is held in close confidence by high-ranking members of the Substrate, and any attempts to penetrate them beyond basic safety tests draw immediate suspicion.

Pocket Universe
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Cover image: by Ferdinand Stöhr


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