Chapter 3.9 - Veritas Hideout
Jan and the others have arrived at the Veritas hideout.
Alexei: You guys sure do take good care of this machine here!
Jan: Thank you for assisting us on such short notice.
Alexei: Don’t worry about it! …But it’s a pretty strange story, ya know? A Federation police captain, now a wanted man!
Alexei: Ahh, it’s not like it’s a bad thing. Frankly we could use some folks like you on our side.
Mikhail: Hey hey! This doesn’t mean we’re your buddies now, y’know…
Melisse: Mikhail! Think before you speak… we’re on our own now! We need all the help we can get if we’re going to stop Yuriev. Is that what you say to people who are trying to help us even in spite of the risk!?
Mikhail: I’m sorry.
Alexei: Ahaha, don’t worry! In your shoes I’d probably say the same thing. You guys can hang out here until things cool down!
Jan: I wish the circumstances were better…
Alexei: Hey, I said I’d take care of ya! Just relax. Wanna drink?
Jan: Actually, I’m trying to cut back.
Mikhail: Right now I want to know if there’s any new information on Voyager. Know anything?
Alexei: Shit, you’re a persistent lot, aren't you? Okay, fine… From what I know of the Federation police, Yuriev is putting a lot of pressure on the sixth division. Because of him their effectiveness is deteriorating. …And no matter what era it is, if air-headed commanders run off with their own agendas, their subordinates will wander. Case in point: It is the recently enthroned Sergius XIV, not Patriarch Julius, who will be leading the Pilgrimage Council. If he hurries, it could be two, maybe three days from now… and that fool Yuriev is a snake hiding in the grass…
Jan: What about Voyager? Are there any new developments with him?
Alexei: Ahh, the Net Preacher…
Jan: The Net Preacher?
Alexei: Yeah, that’s what we call him. They say that when someone dies in the U.M.N., their consciousness is stored on file… I don’t think he killed those people himself.
Mikhail: You don’t think he killed them? …Then who the hell did?
Alexei: Voyager offered them the world they wished for. Sounds kinda like heaven, doesn’t it? Ahh, I don’t really know, but… it sounds like he’s using the U.M.N. for evangelizing. So, we call him the Net Preacher.
Erich: Get to the point.
Alexei: Oho! This one’s in a hurry, isn’t he?
Mikhail: Don’t be offended. That’s just how he is.
Alexei: Fine, the point. Lately there’s been a rash of copycat crimes. The police are clueless, but according to our own investigation, the only one that can be attributed to Voyager himself is the incident at the nursing plant.
Jan: …Nothing we didn’t already know.
Alexei: Don’t jump to conclusions! That’s all we know about the crimes, but… we’ve obtained some interesting information regarding his identity!
Jan: Interesting information?
Alexei: Uh-huh. Do you know why Yuriev is using the cerebral narcotic to control Voyager?
Alexei: Honestly, we were surprised too, but apparently Voyager’s brain… what was it? The prefrontal lobe, I think. He has some kind of congenital impairment in that area!
Jan: The place where working memories are produced…?
Alexei: Well, I’m no doctor, so I can’t tell you the details, but… it seems that using the network all the time allows him to preserve short-term memories.
Jan: It’s certainly possible that using the network supports his brain functions, but what does Yuriev have to do with that? I don’t see the connection.
Alexei: Oh, there’s a connection alright! According to our younger members, Voyager has the development of those damaged synapses to thank for his incredible compatibility with the network… Maybe he's no Net Preacher, but the rumor that he can enter and exit the U.M.N. at will might not be entirely untrue. So, knowing that, Yuriev keeps tabs on him by way of a purified form of the narcotic. That’s all we know so far. We have no idea why Voyager started dealing with Yuriev.
Jan’s communicator starts ringing.
Alexei: …Eh? Someone calling?
Jan: Sorry, it’s my communicator. It’s from Sharon…? Sharon, are you all right?
Sharon: That’s my line. I heard at the hospital that you were suddenly arrested, but that you escaped.
Jan: And then…?
Sharon: I told them I didn’t know anything. What in the world happened?
Jan: The Chief… has been killed.
Sharon: Mr. McCallum!? My god… why?
Jan: Amidst the string of Voyager-like incidents, we discovered the truth about the Federation government’s involvement. Then, the Chief…
Sharon: Was it murder…?
Jan: Yes. Sharon. I wanted to ask your opinion on the Voyager case…
Sharon: Well… Actually, my investigation into the traces Voyager left in the network was stopped as well, but…
Jan: Voyager has…
Sharon: A congenital impairment in his prefrontal lobe?
Jan: You found it too?
Sharon: People who leave traces like that have certain special abilities. They leave a unique pattern… their bodies are composed of an extra element than usual … and they can see a place called the “domain of complex numbers.” Also, people with a prefrontal impairment like Voyager seek out vast amounts of information and stimuli. Much like an addict. And there’s one more thing… other people with the same condition have organized a syndicate. The stream of information flowing through the net is being purified and circulated…
Alexei: That’s what our people said! They heard that people like Voyager are gathering and forming some weird group! Apparently they’re charging outrageous prices for the narcotic, not that I have a problem with that. And what’s more, when members of that group enter the U.M.N., they leave a unique log pattern!
Jan: …Is that true?
Sharon: Yes. It has been proven that only people with this prefrontal impairment leave that distinctive pattern…
Mikhail: Doctor Rozas? Just now, you mentioned a unique pattern?
Sharon: Yes, a pattern characteristic of the syndicate of people with the same condition as Voyager.
Jan: Did something occur to you?
Mikhail: A big something! Just before we were imprisoned, an Archon police officer named Dewey gave me a little going-away present.
Lactis: Dewey? That operator?
Mikhail: He said he found a strange pattern while monitoring the police internal network. He made a copy on a disc and gave it to me.
Jan: Really! Then if we can analyze the disc, we can identify Voyager’s pattern!
Mikhail: Right! Maybe Voyager is closer than we think!
Erich: But if it’s one of the syndicate members, couldn’t that pattern have been left by anybody? Won’t it be difficult to prove it was Voyager just from that?
Mikhail: No need to worry. I'll squeeze the police force’s U.M.N. terminals a little and the answer will come out!
Jan: Begin the analysis immediately! Mikhail, I hope you’re right!
Mikhail: Got it!
Jan: Sharon… I’ll want you to confirm the results of our analysis… can you stay on the line until then?
Sharon: …Sure, no problem.
Jan: Thank you. Mikhail! Are you going to perform the analysis alone?
Mikhail: I’ll do it with Erich. Right?
Jan: What’s wrong?
Mikhail: The disk is jamming. It’s not accepting the analysis…
Jan: A problem with the computer terminal?
Mikhail: No, this terminal is even newer than the ones we used at the station… Someone must be obstructing the disc access through the network…
Lactis: A hacker!? Erich! Is that true?
Erich: …Like Mikhail said, we’re being attacked from outside.
Alexei: Strange… The periodic security checks didn’t report a problem… and the self-diagnostic program woulda alerted us if there was a hacking attempt…
Sharon: What’s the commotion…?
Jan: Just some technical difficulties… why, what’s wrong?
Sharon: There’s commotion here too! The police just brought in an emergency case… apparently they believe it’s one of Voyager’s victims…
Jan: Police information? How’d you get that?
Sharon: I overheard it from the ambulance driver.
Jan: Interesting. Can you hear anything else?
Sharon: It seems they found some strange letters written on the wall in the victim’s room. Other than that, nothing… I’m sorry. They’re taking him into operation. It doesn’t look like he’s going to survive, though. I can’t give you an exact time, but I might be able to get some more information by this evening…
Jan: Are you going to be okay?
Sharon: Yeah, do you know Block 53?
Sharon: After the operation is over, I’ll go there.
Jan: Okay. We’ll meet at Block 53. But don’t do anything rash.
Sharon: Now really… would I be fit to be your wife if I did something like that?
Jan: I’m sorry… You might be followed by the police. Just be careful when you leave the hospital.
Sharon: I will. Until later, then…
Jan: Mikhail! Is that disc analysis going to take a while?
Mikhail: I don’t know! With the hacking attempt, it might be two or three more hours!
Erich: I’ll support Mikhail as long as it takes! Please take Melisse and Lactis and go to Doctor Rozas. I’ve also finished Bugs’s maintenance. I’m sure he’ll be helpful. Bugs. Can you go?
Bugs: Leave it to me~!
Jan: Good. Lactis, Melisse, Bugs! Let’s go to Block 53!