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Story 15-2

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As the group leaves, Dio points out that the machine with two tubes wasn't ever used, and he wants to know what it is - it's labelled "IG Replicator" but nobody knows what that means. Dio also steals the Axelavir vial from Sigma, saying he'll give it back provided he Allies with him in the AB Game. He will smash the vial if Sigma tries to steal it from him or tells anyone else that it's been found. Dio says he has to do this because the AB game is really all about manipulating people. Dio leaves, and Clover will warn Sigma that Dio may be planning to Betray them, which would mean Sigma's death. Sigma wonders if he's really considering giving his life for Quark.

When Sigma and Clover make it back to the warehouse, they'll discover that Alice, K, and Phi are waiting in the warehouse, and the others are still in the infirmary looking after Quark. Dio has already cast his vote in the AB Room. The others ask Sigma about the room he was in, and on learning it was a lab, Phi asks if he found any Axelavir - but Sigma lies, per Dio's demand, and says he didn't. Nobody else says they've found anything either. In the 40 minutes before voting, Alice says she wants to go and have a look in the lab, and Dio says he wants to go and search the room Alice came from because "you never know, there might be some Axelavir in there" (groan). Sigma and Phi decide go to the infirmary to see Quark.

However, after the others have left, Phi asks Sigma to show her the journal he found (which Dio apparently mentioned to her). Phi identifies the language as Latin, but says she'd need time and a dictionary to translate it as it's scientific language. She can however read one of the entries, which seems like a personal entry rather than research:

When the body is infected with Radical-6, the processing speed of the brain is reduced. If we assume the brain currently operates on a 1:1 basis with regards to time, Radical-6 reduces this to 1:sqrt(1/6), or approximately 1:0.408. This means that for each second that passes "outside," the patient feels that only 0.408 seconds have passed "inside." Therefore, when 1 second has passed "inside," approximately 2.45 seconds, or sqrt(6) seconds, have passed "outside." In other words, when 10 seconds pass in the real world, a patient infected with Radical-6 would feel as if only 4 seconds had passed. This is why the virus has been termed "Radical-6".

'Radical' is another term for what is also knows as the 'root' operation - the function inverse to the taking of a power. In a less mathematical sense, it can also be used to refer to something that is extreme or severe. Those infected by Radical-6 eventually develop a powerful urge to commit suicide. The exact cause of this is unclear, and although there is as of yet no direct link between suicidal urges and the reduction in mental processing speed, many believe that they are not unrelated. Those infected with Radical-6 percieve the world to be moving at a fever pitch, as if it were a videocassette being fast-forwarded. For instance, although the patient believes that only 10 seconds have passed, in fact 24.5 seconds have passed. Given this increased speed of input, maintaining the ability to observe and reason would become a herculean task.

One theory holds that the disparity in time perception causes the brain to be flooded with massive amounts of information. Unable to keep up, it begins to fail. Whatever the cause, the infected invariably attempt to take their own lives, which is arguably the most terrifying aspect of this virus. Research suggests that a targeted antiviral could kill or at least disable Radical-6, but we have been unable to develop one. It seems our best hope now is to harvest antibodies from someone with a natural immunity to the virus. Thus far, however, we have been unable to locate a suitable subject, so I have continued my efforts to discover an alternative means of treatment.

Given my current rate of progress, I predict that I will have a workable treatment within a decade or two. It is my fervent hope that humanity will be able to survive that long. The bodies of those dead from suicide are piled up along the roads leading into and out of town. the entire area reeks with the stench of decay, and the sky is filled with the constant buzzing of flies. At times, their swarms are so thick that when one passes it feels as if a cloud has gone over the sun. Every day I see more crows, and rats are everywhere, feeding on the dead. Ironically, the only healthy-looking creatures are the stray cats, who have grown fat on a plentiful rodent diet. The few humans who survived the outbreak have been locked away by the government in underground shelters. I don't know how many were saved, but I fear only a handful. Their survival is the only hope that remains for the human race. Oh Lord, please... let their future be a bright one..

Sigma points out that this is consistent with Quark's behaviour. Phi also points out that it's odd that the journal says a cure is ten or twenty years away, but that in fact they already know about Axelavir. She also points out that there's a strange juxtaposition with the newspaper from earlier: the news paper says those that had the virus were quarantined, but the notebook says those who didn't have it were put into shelters, meaning that possibly this is a shelter rather than a quarantine. That would make sense - they, as survivors, were put into the shelter and put to sleep while others in the facility researched the virus and wrote the notebook. Sigma poinst out that this doesn't make sense, since they were captured before anyone knew about the virus, and it doesn't explain why they're in a Nonary Game. Phi heads off through the Magenta Door to search for more information, and Sigma decides to go and see Quark in the infirmary.

Tenmyouji and Luna are in the Infirmary looking after Quark; he's still asleep and stable. Sigma goes to look at Quark, and hears him gently whispering for his "Grandpa". Hearing this, Sigma decides he couldn't possibly allow Quark to die, even if it was to save Sigma's life.

The alarm rings for 10 minutes left in the AB Game. Tenmyouji says he wants to stay with Quark, and will allow the system to automatically Ally him; he says this doesn't matter as he was planning to Ally anyway to ensure his opponent Alice (who's on 1 BP) wouldn't die.

Sigma heads back to the warehouse. Everyone else is there, except Dio, who appears to have hidden inside his AB Room to prevent Sigma from attacking him. Alice and K ask where Tenmyouji is, and Luna explains his choice to them. Alice points out that this means she must vote Ally as well - she'd win if she Betrayed, but so would K, giving him 9 BP and meaning he would escape instead of her. Luna is concerned that K may try to force Alice to Betray so that he could escape, but K promises he'd never do such a thing. Phi points out that if this is the case, K shouldn't enter the AB room at all. K, however, refuses to remain outside and pushes into the AB Room.

Sigma and Clover head into their AB room. Sigma tells Clover he's going to Ally, and Clover is shocked, believing that Dio will certainly Betray and kill Sigma. Sigma points out that Clover could be trying to get him to Betray because she's on 9 BP, so a successful betrayal would let her escape but leave Sigma trapped. Clover denies this and says she's just trying to point out that Sigma will die if he Allies, and there's no guarantee they'll get the Axelavir. Sigma replies that this is true, but Dio will certainly smash the Axelavir if they Betray. Clover then tries to hit the Betray button herself, and Sigma throws her back. Clover is shocked that Sigma is determined to die, and says she just wants to stop that happening. Sigma steps up to the voting machine.

[CHOICE POINT]

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