Chapter 2.4 - Dead Man Dive
Federation Hospital Autopsy Room
Jan and the other investigators are paying a visit to Sharon to discuss diving into Klaus’s brain.
Sharon: …So you’re saying you want to dive into a dead man? As a doctor, I can’t allow that. When you enter the nervous system of a corpse, there’s a risk you’ll be influenced by information from their degenerating vital systems. In other words, you could be dragged down into death as well. Not to mention that it’s illegal without special permission.
Jan: Getting the proper clearance would be very difficult. We don’t have time.
Jan: This man might not be Voyager.
Sharon: You mean the real one is still out there?
Sharon: …You get 45 minutes. Medically, that’s the longest I can guarantee your safety.
Jan: I appreciate your cooperation.
Sharon: Don’t thank me just yet.
Sharon: You might already know this, but you'll need a suitable device to monitor the dive. Equipment from the Federation Police forensics lab would be sufficient.
Jan: So we have to move the body?
Sharon: Ah, transporting it without permission will be tricky. If someone finds out that the body isn’t here…
Jan: Can we buy some time?
Sharon: Thankfully it’s late. Only myself and two guards have access to this room. They just came by for the midnight patrol… I believe you’re safe until the next one at 2 a.m.
Jan: Right now it’s 12:15… It’ll take us a half hour to get to the dive room. Round trip, that’s an hour… and the dive limit is 45 minutes. Again, just barely enough time.
Jan: Just something from earlier. We’ll return by 2 o’clock. I don’t want you to get in trouble.
Jan: What is it?
Sharon: I’m coming too.
Sharon: I have an acquaintance in the forensics department, so I can quickly explain to him that this is for an important experiment.
Jan: That doesn’t mean you have to get involved. Even just buying us time here is more than enough.
Sharon: I’ll just lock the room in its current state. My colleagues are often lazy and do the same thing.
Jan: Why are you helping us?
Sharon: As a doctor, I can’t just sit back while you undertake such a dangerous dive.
Jan: Are you sure?
Archon Police Station, First Floor Lobby
Mikhail: Phew. We finally made it here. If we can get the body to the briefing room…
Jan: Yeah. But let’s proceed carefully. We’ll have to be quiet while we’re inside the station.
Erich: We’re supposed to get to the briefing room without being seen by any other officers?
Mikhail: Captain, that’s crazy! Even on the night shift there’s still people all over the station!
Melisse: Yeah… It’ll be pretty hard to get all the way to the briefing room without being seen…
Bugs: Melisse, how can you be so faint of heart? We’ll find a way!
Mikhail: Well, if someone sees us, they’ll get a manager and it’ll be game over. So I guess we don’t have much choice…
Jan: My thoughts as well. We don’t have much time… so let’s just do it!
Avoiding the attention of the other officers, they make their way to the briefing room.
Jan: Looks like no one saw us. Alright, Mikhail, prepare for the dive at once. Erich, ready the level 6 armament for Bugs.
Mikhail: Got it. Leave it to me.
Jan: Thanks… both of you.
Sharon: I’ve said it before, but diving into a dead body is very dangerous. Please keep an eye on the time.
Jan: Yes, I will. I’m sorry… we’ve been so much trouble for you.
Sharon: Don’t worry about it. I don’t want to see any more victims either.
Jan and the others dive into a virtual rendering of Klaus’s mind.
Jan: This place… I’ve seen it somewhere before…
Mikhail: Strange. It looks just like the virtual reality trap that I created! It’s probably the case that it just recreates the last distinct memory before death, but this is the first time I’ve seen a dive into a dead man…
Melisse: It seems the data has been damaged in places…
Sharon: Be careful. Parts of the scenery will be missing where the cells are decaying. If you touch those places you may not be able to log out safely.
Melisse: We… had to log in to a place where the memories are disappearing…
Jan: This entire world is Klaus’s consciousness at the time of his death… Mikhail, where is Klaus now?
Mikhail: In order to investigate his memories, you’ll have to find his shadow.
Jan: His shadow?
Mikhail: His shadow. The shadow is the undeveloped self that is repressed during a person’s lifetime. As the cells decay, Klaus’s social persona will slowly disappear. But the feelings that he repressed while he was alive will remain.
Jan: Where is it?
Mikhail: I can’t give you specifics. Try to imagine it as a literal shadow.
Jan: I see. Are there any previous cases of someone making successful contact?
Mikhail: I found a paper from T.C. 4400… since then there have been a total of 1,513 port-mortem dives. 88 of them were successful. The other 1,425 dived out after encountering some life-threatening danger. Of the 88 successes, 21 of them reported seeing the shadow in person. And of those, only 3 were able to successfully collect data from it. The other 18…
Jan: What happened?
Mikhail: The data collector’s mind was contaminated.
Lactis: What’s wrong? This isn’t like you. Were you upset by that story?
Melisse: A little. But it’s not…
Lactis: It’s not… what?
Melisse: With the development of communication, people who are seperated by light-years can share vast amounts of information... and what’s more, with the development of the U.M.N., people can even share feelings and sensations. But… thinking that we can share death seems a bit arrogant…
Lactis: The ability to govern life and death should be left to the gods…?
Melisse: Not quite. I don’t know if that’s the power of the gods… but…
Melisse: I’ve thought about this before. Somewhere far away, and a long time ago… I wondered, before we’re born into existence, does our consciousness exist as part of an all-encompassing mind? A consciousness that exists everywhere, and the moment we accept life, we’re torn away from that circle. “Joining the circle once more.” Maybe that’s the true purpose of existence…
Lactis: But you can’t enter the circle while you’re alive…?
Melisse: Right. I thought that the only way in was to sever your connection to your own life… Remembering that now, I think that what we’re doing is a violation of the Golden Rule.
Lactis: As a realian, even my consciousness is manufactured. Maybe it’s just a human trait to think about those things.
Jan: Lactis, Melisse! Are you ready?
Mikhail: Ready? Starting the timer in one minute. Whatever happens, return within 40 minutes. If we lose communication, or if there’s some unexpected complication, I’ll perform a compulsory logout from here.
Jan: Alright, everyone confirm.
Jan: Okay, the objective is Klaus’s ‘shadow’ self. Taking into account time for interrogation, we have thirty minutes to find him. Everyone, move quickly!