There’s beeping and the hospital smell. I’m not dead. I’m supposed to be dead.
Somebody is speaking to me, and I don’t recognize the voice. “Easy now, John, things aren’t what they seem. Please take a deep breath and open your eyes.”
Angrily, “I’m NOT dead!” Looking around, “I’m still laying here in my hospital bed! Who are you – you’re not a doctor.”
“Whoa, now – actually, you are dead. Take a moment. You signed the experimental revival amendment for your cryogenic freezing contract. If the notes are correct, you stated, ‘Even if I end up like the Bobs, it’ll be worth it.'”
He’s being calm and patient, whoever he is. I did sign that amendment – wait, there’s no pain, and I’m not hooked up to anything! There aren’t even any machines in here, even though there is the annoying beeping. I have a body, so I didn’t end up as a Bob…but something is…
“I am sure it’s a little disorienting. Go ahead, sit up. There’s nothing wrong with your body anymore. The cancer is all gone. You are wearing a jumpsuit instead of a hospital gown, so you don’t have to worry about exposing yourself.”
Peeling back the covers, I see he’s right. I am wearing a jumpsuit. When I sit up, he sits in an armchair in the corner of the room. There’s another one diagonally facing him, and he indicates with his hand that I should join him. “Ok…what’s going on?”
“Please, come on over and sit. We find that it’s a little less of a shock when we bring somebody back if they are in the last place they saw before undergoing the procedure. You’ve been a frozen head for a little over two hundred years. Please take a moment and think about this: It was made clear that by the time the technology became available to revive you, everybody you knew could be dead – but it’s a little different when it’s a possibility and when it’s true.”
I walk over and sit in the other chair. “Ok…is everybody dead?”
“According to the files, your parents passed before your cancer diagnosis. Your ex-wife passed. Your children are both passed, and your granddaughter, Kathryn, has passed too. Kathryn had two children, both passed, and you have one Great-Great-Grandson in his late forties. He does not yet know of your revival and has no living descendants.”
“All dead…everybody I knew…nobody knows me…”
“That’s right; you are starting over. The system is helping mitigate your shock, and we’ll talk about that in a few min.”
“Ok, what am I starting over with?”
“That is where this conversation starts to become interesting. I understand from your historical profile that you were an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy novels. This is going to sound a little like one of those RPGLit books. You are now, essentially, in a video game.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“Nope, go ahead – say, “Character Sheet”.
I do, and there’s the traditional blue box I read about so often:
“Why don’t I have a name and wha-“
He’s smiling; “Hold on, I just wanted you to see some evidence. Let me give you ‘The Speech’ and then you can ask questions. Ok?”
“Sure, why not?”
He sits up, looking a little more official. “Ok, here we go. Bookmark ‘Life Acceptance'”
“Welcome to Nirvana. You have been revived from cryogenic sleep under Federal Statute ALA 3.1 Recovery of Cryogenic Human Assets. You do not have to accept this artificial life and may choose to die a ‘True Death’ under the law with no fear that your digital or biological assets will ever be used. A ‘True Death’ is defined as a complete cessation of life as before the ability to scan and recover memory, personality, and more became available in 2073. You will not exist in any medium digitally, chemically, or biologically. Your scans and DNA will be purged from all records and databases. Should you continue with this artificial life, you will be enrolled in the Digital Citizen Registry, and your DNA sequence will become your personal property and an asset at your disposal. Please choose now:
“Ok, that’s pretty heavy out the gate. However, the whole reason I chose cryogenics was that I might be brought back.” I select the ‘LIVE’ button.
“Congratulations, and Welcome to Nirvana! As this is your second life, you may keep your original name or select a new one. I do not recommend picking anything ‘funny’ or with special characters in it. You may be stuck with this name for a very long time because it is very expensive to change.”
“Hmm. I often went by JEB before I died. Let’s go with ‘Jebediah Walker’. It’s not a complete break, but it’s far enough removed I shouldn’t be constantly reminded of who I was since it sounds like that’s not who I am going to be.”
“That’s a very enlightened outlook. I am Revival AI Administrator Bob, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Jebediah.”
“Bob? They named you Bob!? Is that in any way related to the Bobiverse series?”
Bob’s looking a little sad at this, “Yes.”
“I’m sorry I brought it up. Though that series is one of the reasons I signed up for Cyrogenics.”
Bob sighs, “Don’t worry about it; the series has become a cult classic, and everybody, rightly, assumes that the AI names derive from it. We can’t change them because other users won’t believe you are an Admin AI without showing your character sheet unless you have a ‘Bob’ name; even then, about 40% still ask to see our character sheet.
Speaking of other users, let me tell you a little about Nirvana and help you get started in your second life.”
“What about the ‘real world’. Don’t I have financial assets and things still?”
“You do, however, the law requires an adjustment period of one PY, physical year, for all Revived Humans before you can access resources external to Nirvana. You will have no bills, fees or other financial obligations before that PY is completed, and your second PY hosted on Nirvana is paid for by your cryogenic facility under the ALA,” replies Bob.
“Ok, I have a few questions already. Why are we specifying a PY as opposed to simply saying, ‘a year’ and what is the ‘ALA'”
Nodding, Bob says, “Good questions; most are still a little lost at this point. The ALA refers to the Artificial Life Act and is the set of laws covering AIs and biological organisms that have been converted to a digital medium. The law is now 173 years old and has been unamended for seventeen years, although there are several pending suits. We distinguish PY, Physical Years, from DY, Digital Years, because many systems provide time dilation, and minors are still a protected class of citizens. Minors spending a PY in a 10x virtual space cannot be treated as ten years older regarding physical world rights. You will see differences for this on any character sheet you review.
Nirvana, where you are, is one of those 10x virtual spaces. So there will be 10 DYs for every PY that passes. And, yes, this is on purpose. Many of the first revivals had significant issues adjusting to a virtual life without a significant amount of time in a virtual space. This is for your sanity and mental health.
Additionally, this guarantees you 20 DY of life before you must begin to provide for yourself. Most revivals play for the first PY, and about 40% spend the second year going through reeducation in current history and the sciences before rejoining society as part of the workforce. The other 60% choose to try to earn a living as part of Nirvana itself. There are no AI characters in Nirvana; everybody is a visiting human or a digital human.
There are also no social laws imposed by Nirvana servers or its’ AIs. Behavior is up to each individual, and social rules are imposed by the community you are in. Players can die in Nirvana. However, you will be reborn after three digital days (yes, that’s a nod to Christianity); live players, ‘Visitors’ also have a three digital day lockout and suffer all the same penalties. The pain of death is the only pain in Nirvana that is muted by the system; simply to reduce trauma. The penalty for death is that you will be reborn naked, with an empty inventory. Death results in the loss of all items you were wearing or carrying with you. There may be exceptions to this; explore and discover them if you are interested. There are no EXP penalties or skill losses.
When revived, your body will be restored to the condition you were in when you were last saved at an obelisk, but you will be resurrected at the altar nearest where you died. Only you can update your condition at an obelisk, and if you update with damage, like a missing limb, there are ways to get it restored and update your restored condition. You can also address other ‘natural’ conditions like player race, aging, disease, etc., with things available within Nirvana.
In many cases, the societies you will encounter are based on the ‘Might Makes Right’ paradigm. Admin AIs will address technical glitches and any bugs. They cannot intercede on behalf of any players, except that any ‘Live Human’ may appeal to an Admin AI to escape torture. Digital beings must provide for themselves in every way. That was quite a data dump, questions?” asked Bob.
“Ok, so to reiterate, I get to play around for ten years, and then I have to decide what I am going to be when I grow up and have ten years to sort that out too. During this time, I either need to be strong enough to defend myself or organize with others to do so or some combination of the two because nobody will do squat for me.”
Bob responded, “You have confirmed that your brain is working, and you might not be an idiot.”