(IC) The Wieler Vaccine.
Years into the future. Unknown system, in a room overlooking the endless field of stars.
Gigaer: (Sips tea and sits back into a large leather chair) I didn’t think I would live to see the day that a journalist of any repute would want to talk to me.
Interviewer: With the truth of these matters only now coming to light, this interview could make my career. Shall we begin?
Gigaer: Yes. I suppose going over Roc’s fall from military grace, his subsequent incarceration and his so-called death would be a waste of time. I will only state that I had a small hand in his fraudulent passing. Shakor, the Ushra’Khan leadership and I could not allow such a travesty to continue, but we had few options. We came to the conclusion that for the man to survive, the legend must die. All went according to plan, and while he was hidden from me for some time after the event, the revelation of a larger problem caused them to bring me back into the fray.
Interviewer: You mean Infomorph Psychosis.
G: I do.
I: What is Infomorph Psychosis?
G: I.P. is a recursive genetic abnormality that is aggravated during the cloning process. Basically, in about 1 out of every 60,000 capsuleers, there is a genetic error that only becomes apparent after about one hundred infomorph transfers. Since the brain of the clone itself is changed in an instant while accepting the transfer, adjusting chemistry and building pathways, every clone is different and therefore issues can manifest over time. It is, before the point of onset, nearly impossible to detect. It is like a viral strain that becomes stronger and stronger as multiplies and mutates, but blends in seamlessly into the background as it does. When it begins to affect the mind is not unlike forms of schizophrenia. The subject’s relationship with reality becomes strained and frayed when exposed to stressful or mentally demanding situations.
I: Such as capsuleer operations?
G: In general, yes. Specifically combat and the infomorph transfers involved in a capsuleer dying. The subject begins to act like they have overdosed on a booster cocktail, sometimes acting incredibly violently to anyone or anything that can be targeted, other times shutting down to the point where the brain lobotomizes itself. There are dozens of general reactions to the onset of I.P., some distinct and others subtle.
I: So why is this only coming to light now?
G: The main reason is that when someone is fully under the influence of I.P., the infomorph transfer process encounters an error, and the capsuleer is lost forever in transmission. The largest of organizations that catered to capsuleers knew about the problem, but had no way of even identifying it because every subject was dead by the time a problem was found. The managed to keep the number of occurrence out of public scrutiny for quite some time.
I: What about Aura?
G: Because no real data could be gathered, Aura could not be brought to bare against this issue. Aura was never programmed to second-guess a capsuleer’s perceptions and thought processes. For the longest time the problem was just covered up and explained away as random accidents attributed to everything from solar flairs to divine intervention.
I: But that all changed with Roc.
G: (Sips tea again) Indeed. Roc was the only live specimen we ever had. For the longest time what actually happened out there to make him fire on an ally ate at both him and I. Eventually once the Ushra’Khan had him safe and sound and we tested him for psychological and infomorph stability, the answers were unmistakable.
I: So you had the first and only live subject of Infomorph Psychosis. What did you do next?
G: After explaining the situation and the scope of the find to my superiors, a small research facility under the purview of Eifyr and Co. was re-purposed for this endeavor. The best and brightest that we could trust gathered to find the cure.
I: How was Roc during all this?
G: Lucid most of the time, though deflated. At times his mood would swing wildly, either to extreme rage, usually ranting anti-Amarr sentiments, or becoming completely unresponsive and even near-catatonic. His condition worsened slightly over time. The anti-Amarr sentiments were amusing because there were two geneticists from the Society of Conscious Thought among the research team. His actions were always remembered though, and I believe he even once tried to apologize to the poor Amarr pair. Probably one of the hardest things he ever had to do.
I: How was he managed?
G: I spent many weeks with him, trying to keep him from losing it entirely. Granted, I am no therapist, but his actual therapist could not be brought in for her own safety, and I was one of only two people he seemed to respond to at all.
I: Who was the other?
G: A friend of his who he calls PajamaSam. A technical genius if there ever was one. I brought him on both to help deal with Roc’s day-to-day emotional upkeep as well as the technological issues with trying to create a cure with only one non-disposable subject.
I: So what is The Wieler Vaccine?
G: It’s a retrovirus injected into every new clone among a plethora of other chemical therapies before the clone can be used. The vaccine targets the genetic sequences affected during the infomorph transfer process and responsible for the compiling and onset on I.P. in the clone. When the transfer is in-progress, key genetic codes are added, subtracted and modified by the retrovirus. By the time the capsuleer awakens in the new clone, the retrovirus has done its work and burned itself out. PajamaSam also designed an Aura patch to identify the initial symptoms of I.P. and transfer the capsuleer to a new clone immediately. Some have taken to calling that The Pajama Patch.
I: Why name the vaccine after Roc Wieler?
G: (Finishes tea) It is customary for a new disease to be named after the first patient and the cure to be named after the one who discovered it, but after deliberations we decided to instead name the vaccine after Roc. To gain insight into this affliction with only one subject, we had to put him through tests and procedures that bordered on… no, they were pure and unadulterated torture. No ordinary man would have survived, especially in such a physically and mentally weakened state, but Roc did. Every time we pulled back for fear of breaking him or killing him, he urged us forward.
I: Who else knew about all this?
G: Other than private researchers brought on in secrecy, as well as the entities that brought us together, nobody. At least that was what we thought. When it came time to shut the lab down and transfer the database’s contents to a more secure location, we found that we had been hacked, and every bit of data copied and transmitted somewhere into Jove space. What’s more, the hacking algorithms were Jove in origin. The running theory is that we may have stumbled upon a key to their ancient sickness by accident. Could I.P. have been the initial component to their illness? We can only guess. When we had our cure we simply sent it to every major capsuleer-tending corporation with the understanding that there was no reason to out anyone’s negligence in this, and that they could implement the vaccine with little to no public notice. We figured the knowledge of what had happened would eventually come out, but then was not the time. Roc’s continued existence was still an imperative secret, and public knowledge of I.P. would cause needless panic if a cure was not already in-place.
I: How was Roc treated?
G: Because he was already suffering the full effects of I.P., the vaccine was harder to administer. We had to transfer him through several dozen clones consecutively over the course of five days in order to work out the damaged genetic coding being transfered through the process. It was arduous for him to say the least. When it was all over, I helped him out of the last decanting pod, handed him his kandjal back since he first had it taken from him upon his incarceration, and told him it was time to get his tattoos put back. He gripped the weapon so tight his knuckles turned white and he… well I’d say he wept but if that made it out into the media he would kill me.
Gigaer and the interviewer shook hands and parted ways.