Hi, readers! I've just finished Dreamfall and I can tell you, I was supremely disappointed with the ending. So much so that I decided to write this fanfic, alongside all those other fanfics and theories on the continuation. Whatever Dreamfall Chapters turns out, this is my interpretation. Please read, please do enjoy, and I'll only post the next chapter if I get reviews! Rants and raves, come and get me!
"That's right, Ryan. Morpheus is a drug used in conjunction with the Console as a dream inducement aide. You could try to play around with the Dreamer without a dose of it, but the effects just wouldn't compare to a full Morpheus/Dreamtime experience."
"I tried it myself, Diane, and I can tell you, WATIcorp really raised hell by making us wait a full month before unlocking the full potential of Dreamtime with its supplement! I'm expecting sales to soar with this."
"And soar they have. WATIcorp stock jumped seventeen points at the release of Morpheus, and consumer electronics sites across the Wire rewrote their reviews in accordance! I haven't witnessed such spectacular re-reception since the good Watilla's firmware update two months after its release."
"WATI does have a habit of saving the best bits for last."
"You got it, Ryan. And with CEO Samantha Gilmore's keynote address in CES 2219 coming up in a few days, let's hope the best is as good as it's been."
"Oh, but let's not forget, Diane; medical details state that an overdose of Morpheus sends the body into something like a healing coma – except without the reversibility. It's also notable that an overdose isn't too far off the standard."
"We've been told not to worry. WATI officials are releasing an emergency antidote administrant along with Morpheus itself. It's quick acting, and a victim of an overdose will recover within days of use."
"Well, that pretty much perfects the plan of Project Alchera, now Dreamtime. WATIcorp's got it all figured out. With the whole deal of on-demand lucid dreaming, and the surprise inclusion of DNI or DreamNet Interconnectivity – allowing connected users to share dreams – this product has rendered every other entertainment device out there obsolete! They've changed the face of entertainment as promised. But forever? Well, let's just wait and see. Until next time…"
Cape Town, South Africa, is situated at the base of a tall landform known as Table Mountain, which is a plateau-like elevation just over a kilometer tall. Known in the local Afrikaans vernacularas Kaapstad, the governmental capital is home to about eleven million people, and is a world biotechnological powerhouse, churning out scientific advancements and genius students alike from its research centers and universities respectively – sometimes, the roles were even reversed.
The Adderley Hotel has been around since the early 21st century. Here was where Helena Chang chose to reside in Cape Town, that the balance between possible contact distance and proximity to Casablanca would be struck.
Three months ago, Chang had transited here by tube, right after her visit to Zoë Castillo's Jardin des Roses home, and that bug she'd placed on Zoë was still actively transmitting data over a secure "ANON"-type data channel in the Wire. Now if she'd moved a little too far from the source, the signal would suddenly go extraterrestrial and be mirrored off a satellite – which was not good at all. Chang had gone to insane lengths to keep her bug whispering only to her, loading packet sniffers onto every Wire relay station between Casablanca and Cape Town. The sniffers scanned for activity through a secure port that only the bug was allowed to use, and silenced the relay stations for that port whenever a stream came through. It was a dangerous feat, tampering directly with some serious backbone hardware, but with the kind of work she ultimately did, not even the Eye in the Sky could track her down.
After having dinner at the place's restaurant, Chang went straight to her room for a quick checkup on her console. The bug extended wireless tendrils into surrounding medical equipment on her command. Zoë was going fast now, though it was very surprising that she'd gone as far as she had. Morpheus at overdose levels rapidly corrodes cerebral neurons, and breaks down the corpus callosum over time. Most test subjects lasted a month, some reached two, still others died after just a week. But Zoë was still pushing on. Some part of Chang was glad that Zoë's body was somehow fighting to stay alive, but it had to be done, her death.
A Morpheus overdose is mostly featureless, similar to things most doctors should have seen at some point, and as Zoë's coma began three months before Dreamtime's release, there was no reason to suspect that that was the cause. This was a suspicious, but quiet, and mostly safe way of putting someone to sleep. Chang had to be sure, though. Whatever feelings she may have had, there were more important things than-
Suddenly, a burst of static appeared on her console, followed by corruption of the data coming from the heart monitor. The audio taps on Zoë's auditory nerve crackled with artifacts and static, and then abruptly…stopped. The link went dead.
"What the hell is this?" Chang said to herself. "EYE infil? That can't be…" She tried sending the re-engagement/reboot command to the bug, but it wasn't responding. She examined the crashlog dump file, and then she noticed that even while transmitting heavy static and interference, the bug did not report any failure.
"Jamming," Chang resolved. The utterance of that word evoked a memory of an event that occurred during her tracing of Zoë through the two weeks between first and final contact:
The bug was the result of incredible – but off-the-radar – advances in JIVA bioneering, as ordered by mother company WATIcorp. A cloud of nanomachines circulated in the bloodstream rather than a single, crude device, the bug accessed the optic and auditory nerves directly, enabled selective touch reception through the spinal cord, and could record data directly to the bugged subject's memory centers, without being noticed at all. It used no other power source other than glucose in a subject's bloodstream. Through a combination of advanced placement, organic construction, and low-level undetectable jamming, it could never appear on even the most advanced medical scanners, unless the user knew exactly what to look for. Ironically, however, these advances were laid on an almost legacy (for the company's purposes) processing platform, because of the need for reliable universal immune acceptance. Newer "mainboards" (the term was a carryover from the days of old motherboard-needing computers) were "disliked" by some human bodies, and a bug that didn't work on everyone was unacceptable. As a result, very high-end jamming could defeat the bug, and strong EMP could possibly break it – although the subject would die along with it.
Helena Chang was confused. Every time Zoë took a right turn at the end of the street of Jardin des Roses towards the market square, her link to the bug would display some minor interference. Now this could easily be attributed to the Static. Zoë, however, took lots of rights at the end of Jardin des Roses, and going back she took lots of lefts as well. Each of those turns, at that corner, resulted in a burst of noticeable static. What was going on?
The answer to this came when Zoë did not take a turn at that corner. Instead, she entered the little business establishment of her best friend, Olivia DeMarco. Alien the Cat. Full of everything. Both legal and contraband. And did it help that Olivia was a heavy hacker herself? After one of Zoë's visits to Alien the Cat, Chang could no longer work her tap on Zoë's mobile. Some military-grade cloaking software was installed.
But the real thriller was when Chang watched as Zoë entered the store. She had a brief glimpse of the contents – old Watilla shells, memory modules, Chinese mobiles – right before her link to her bug was killed. Quite magically, the bug began transmitting again immediately after Zoë left the store. There was an obvious conclusion to this.
"Jamming," Chang had resolved.
"Olivia DeMarco." Chang replayed all of Zoë's conversations with Olivia over her mobile. Olivia knew lots of things by now: at JIVA Zoë was attacked; WATIcorp was somehow involved; and the notes of Reza Temiz. What were in those notes?
"Shit." Chang swore in a rare instance. "Dreamer Console. Morpheus. He'd gotten them all. They were all in his notes. Olivia must have decrypted them all. But she's in hiding." Yet it didn't seem so impossible. That was three months ago.
Chang tried to piece things together, looking back at the archives. Then, something. It was the open window of the video log of Zoë's first visit to Alien the Cat. Apparently, Olivia had been in the backroom for a while, and Zoë took the time to look around. Yes, that was how Chang got that brief glimpse of the contents of the store. The jamming was active, and stronger than it was outside, but still it hadn't died. Until-
"Hi, sweetie." At that point, the link was terrible. Then it died. Thinking back, Chang remembered that Zoë had met Olivia outside of the store once, and there was static again. So the clear thing now was that the high-grade jamming had not come from the store at all. It was an interference field, radiating constantly from Olivia DeMarco.
Who most likely was in Zoë Castillo's hospital room right now.
It is unsure, but maybe Chang smiled a bit.
The sunlight streamed through the window in golden shafts, breaking where the blinds occluded the light. Long, yellow shadows were draped across Zoë's face and body, lending a kind of glowing, vivacious aura to an otherwise somewhat lifeless girl. She breathed in little steps that always seemed insufficient, and a heartbeat monitor that gradually fell to the lower forties in bpm was a metronome to the slowing tempo of her hold on existence, and bore testimony to the dampening of her life.
Gabriel Castillo wasn't present. He tried as much as he could to be there whenever he could, but life support was expensive as it had always been. He still needed to go to work. And even though he never admitted it, there was just a little inkling of despair and acceptance trying to break free. He didn't want to think that his daughter was dying; people have recovered from comas many times before. But her vitals had been on a steady downhill curve for the past three months, with not a hint of recovery surfacing. Few people as well visited Zoë – the occasional old friend, perchance, most of whom would have given up hope a long time ago. So for the most part, Zoë Castillo was alone in the room.
This brought forth an advantage to Olivia DeMarco. Dressed in nondescript clothing – a far cry from the outrageous outfits she used to wear – she quietly slipped in, carrying a little sling bag with her. She kneeled next to Zoë at her bed and unzipped the bag.
"Sorry it took me so long, sweetie," Liv said as she pulled out a Dreamer console. "The EYE can be so frustrating sometimes. I wish I could have been there to stop you from getting in here in the first place, but, well, here I am." From beneath the console, she opened a little hatch and retrieved two vials – one of Morpheus and one of the antidote. They came in hypodermic sprays – as effective as needles and painless too. Olivia pressed the antidote spray against Zoë's neck. The liquid ran smoothly in.
"Let's pray this works, sweetie," she said, taking Zoë's hand. "You're a lucky girl, still alive up to now. Your luck should still be here somewhere."
"…and then I woke up, right there in the Fringe VIP lounge, exactly where I was before I got hooked up to the console. Charlie was seated across me…"
Zoë Castillo stopped as she saw a sudden change in the old Vagabond's face. "What's wrong?"
"This is…interesting," he said, with no expression of that interest in his face.
"What is?" Zoë asked.
"Zoë...you are waking up."
"I am? I...guess that's a relief."
"You haven't finished living out your story, Zoë."
"I suppose. But I really thought I was going to die out there. I don't know how I know this, but Helena Chang gave me a really bad overdose of that drug. It's the same way by which Faith died – she's the girl I kept seeing in the screens, by the way."
"Don't continue, Zoë. Save your memory for what is to come next."
"I-" And with that, Zoë was gone.
The Vagabond paid close attention to what had just happened. "The Undreaming is Unchained," he said to himself. "But Dreamers shall fight against it."
Olivia DeMarco quickly packed up and left the hospital. This could take days to work, maybe even weeks, and the extent of what damage had already been done was unknown. But she did leave a message on Zoë's mobile…
Zoë Castillo's eyes flung open four days later – to the sight of a ring of doctors who had been patiently observing the steady rise of the vitals monitor at the foot of her bed. She sat up quickly, looked around, saw the doctors, and saw her dad. She stood from the bed, as he stood from the chair, and they slowly walked to each other.
"Dad," she said, as they hugged in a tight, teary embrace. The doctors broke into applause, saying among themselves things like "Amazing" and "It's a miracle."
"Zoë," her dad said. "Don't you damn do that to me again."
"I promise, dad," Zoë said. Yet despite having nearly died, despite waking up fresh once again, Zoë knew that her promise was empty. With an extended lease on life, there was a responsibility to defeat the "bad guys." It wouldn't hurt, though, to just have a rest from all that jazz before once again going on The Longest Journey.
They rode home that day. Doctors were shocked at the speed of her recovery. From a three-month coma to lively as ever in three or four days…that was as miraculous as miraculous went. They discharged her with little incident, just recording a wonderful day for hope that eroded but was never lost.
Zoë and Gabriel had been quiet in the cab for fifteen minutes. Her voice broke the silence.
"Dad, you know, about all this…the coma, the EYE…"
"Zoë. I'm your father, and at the same time, I'm a smart and compassionate enough man to know when to discuss these things. Right now, I'm just so glad you're back."
"Thanks, dad. I guess I'm glad to be back too." Zoë sighed and leaned on her dad's shoulder. She then took out her mobile and noticed that it was showing the private messages window. She entered her password, read a message from Liv – and widened her eyes.
Before they got to the Casablanca suburbs, Zoë pleaded with her father to let her off downtown. With extreme reluctance Gabriel acquiesced, but not without assurance that she'd be home as quickly as possible. That assurance was given, and Zoë left the cab, at a store called "Coltrane." It appeared to be some kind of jazz shrine, with saxophones, keyboard sets, and lots of brass. Entering the store led to a meeting of old friends. Olivia, Zoë, and two other friends Zoë shared with April Ryan...