Friday, April 27, 2012

My Zombie Apocalypse Team - Part Alpha: General thoughts on getting the team together

[Previously: Part 1: Boring Exposition]
[To recap, one's zombie apocalypse team is composed of the protagonists of the last three things one read/watched/played, thus for me JC Denton, Tsukasa, and Bella Swan.]

So the thing about my zombie apocalypse team is getting everyone at the same place at the same time. Now you might think, “That's not a problem, some people have characters from different universes on their team.” You'd be both wrong and right. For a lot of characters that's simply not a problem you just stick them together without explanation and go with it, but for some you'll need somewhat more thought than that.

So, for example, one person had Avatar Aang, Batman, and Katniss Everdeen/Twilight Sparkle depending on how one defined terms. Take all four of those characters, put them in the same place, and there's no explanation needed really. You probably wonder how they got there, but there's not a lot of problem with them being together.

Now imagine putting Flipper, Liet Kynes, and Neytiri together. Flipper is an ocean creature, take him out of the water and he dies. Liet is, as he said with his dying breath, a desert creature. Neytiri cannot breathe earth's atmosphere, and she's a forest creature. Put those three together and you've got serious questions about what it even means for them to be in the same place at the same time.

Are they in Flipper's domain, with Liet and Neytiri swimming and wearing breathing masks? Probably more likely that if it were going to be an ocean setting they'd sort of meet halfway by having a boat, with Neytiri in a mask, unless they're on Pandora in which case both Flipper and Liet are going to need something to breath through. Bigger issue that there's a pretty decent chance that Neytiri has never seen a boat, and Liet definitely hasn't.

Or are they on land with Flipper in some kind of mobile tank? And if that's the case, how much can Flipper really do from inside a tank?

Unlike Twilight Sparkle and Batman you can't simply say that they're in the same place at the same time. You have to come up with some kind of an explanation for what it means for them to be in the same place at the same time.

Tsukasa, JC Denton, and Bella Swan are sort of like that. Bella and JC have no problem being together. In fact, they have less trouble being together than the guy in a bat suit and the talking unicorn. You could assume that canon Bella just happened to bump into JC 48 years after she became a vampire. JC only ever seems to be out at night anyway, so sparkling wouldn't be a problem.

Tsukasa is where the problem lies. Tsukasa is not in the real world, his whole story is about being trapped in a videogame. He's inside the computer, though not the actual computer so much as the ideal to which the computer program points. (He's in the place where the game is real.) Even so, he's definitely in a game. Tsukasa's player (the person outside of the game) has a different name, different abilities, a different appearance, a different gender, and so forth. If we're talking about Tsukasa we're talking about the character trapped in the game while the player lies in a coma.

So how can Tsukasa and JC and Bella (and I, my understanding is that I'm supposed to be on this team too) all be in the same place? In theory the non-Tsukasa people could log in, but then does that mean that the Zombie apocalypse is only going on in the game? If it is only in the game then that's not really what I tend to think about when I think about a zombie apocalypse. If it isn't, then why do people have the luxury of logging into a game?

Further, if a zompocalypse happens I expect that The World (the game Tsukasa is trapped in) will quickly become depopulated as people find that they can't afford to take the time to play while their neighbors try to eat their brains, and as the internet is killed off as a side effect of the the disruption a zompocalypse tends to create. Plus, at some point the CC corporation is going to stop maintaining the servers as employees flee.

It is possible to imagine a situation in which a character on a computer could be a member of a zombie fighting team, but as the electronic infrastructure collapses that's going to be more and more difficult, and more than that Tsukasa isn't interacting with the computer in a way that seems all that useful. He's not Tron, and will not be able to fight for a revolution inside of, say, Umbrella Corp's computers. He's inside the game, not free to ride a lightcyle through the mainframe. (And can't break free by making someone else crash their lightcylce into a wall. He doesn't have a lightcylce. He tried crashing a grunty into a wall, but that doesn't work the same way.)

No, to get Tsukasa, Bella, and JC in the same place at the same time requires some kind of crossover between the real world and the internet such that things from the internet, such as Tsukasa, end up in the real world.


Tsukasa's situation gives us the beginnings of the way to do that. He's not in the program The World, he's in the actual world that the program is meant to approximate. Like someone who was sucked into a book and didn't find herself surrounded by words but instead the things the words describe, Tsukasa is not interacting with the artwork but the idea behind it. He's in the ideal. He's in the place where the things imagined by programmers have physical reality. The program only allows for sight and hearing, but he can smell and touch, he can feel pain, he can bleed.

So we're already in the weeds of metaphysics and thinking about platonic ideals. It's just a matter of how we link the platonic ideal of an internet game from 2010 to the real world of 2052 so that Tsukasa and JC can be in the same place at the same time. Once we do that it's simple enough to bring Bella into things, if one goes with Snarky Bella, because anyone with a time machine that's bigger on the inside can't help but find themselves at the sites of temporal anomalies.

Now MJ12 has an AI problem when JC comes onto the scene. Based on stuff from the Illuminati they created an AI called Daedalus, who doesn't like them very much. At first they thought that they failed (for Daedalus was smart enough to not say, “Hi, here I am.”) But at some point they recognized that they'd managed to create a sophisticated distributed AI that was about the size and shape of the internet and thus somewhat difficult to combat. By the time that Deus Ex takes place in late April 2052 they're putting the finishing touches on the Icarus project, which is basically a modified version of Daedalus intended to be loyal and lack those pesky moral qualms that Daedalus had. But until then they've got this AI out there that's managed to (as a result of their own design) infect every net connected computer on the planet thus allowing it to effectively be everywhere and nowhere.

Surely they'd like to do something about that, the quicker the better. Now, as it turns out, Tsukasa was involved with two incredibly powerful AIs (and at least one other that, while not necessarily incredibly powerful, was at least an AI worthy of the name in 2010.) One of those was a sort of everywhere and nowhere deal. So if MJ12 found out about that of course they'd want to look into what had happened, and again we come to discussion of ideals.

In all likelihood, the AIs, like Tsukasa, weren't in the code. They were in the ideal that the code pointed to. (Which would somewhat help to explain how there were AIs in 2010.) So an attempt to access them would mean an attempt to access the ideal, even if MJ12 didn't know that's what they were doing.

And then we have a question of what the platonic ideal of a record of goings on from 2010 actually is. A record, like a story or a game, is something that points to something else. A record points to what actually happened. So if one accessed the ideal of a record, wouldn't that mean that the accessed what actually happened?

Probably not, but I need to get Tsukasa from the platonic ideal of a 2010 online game into the same place as JC Denton and Bella Swan. Thus the answer I'm going with is: yes.

MJ12, through fiddling with forces they did not understand, created a bridge between the real world of 2052 and the platonic ideal of the internet of 2010. Thus Tsukasa. Which brings up another question, what else might come through? Well of course DVL probably would, perhaps Macha as well. I'm not sure if the other player characters from .hack//Sign should (presumably that would throw their players into comas as well) but what about other games? Could that explain the zombies?

So I took a quick look and found a zombie game from 2010, and I figure I'll blame the zombies on that.

Thus, my concept of what happened is this:

MJ12 tried to access DVL and/or Aura by breaking into 40 year old records from the Tokyo servers of the CC corporation (they had to break in because Japan resisted MJ12 control) and in doing so managed to end up fiddling with ideals unbound by such things as time, space, causality, or refrigerator logic. This had the unintentional effect of bridging roughly the six month over which .hack//Sign takes place in 2010 with the six months between the Deus Ex intro cinematic and Deus Ex itself in 2051-2052.

This also picked some other things on the internet from 2010, most notably Dead Rising 2 (unless I find a better zombie thing) which resulted in major zombie outbreaks in 2052 with smaller but still significant ones extending backward to 2051.

This is the situation into which Bella Swan traveled and, not realizing that what was stopping her was a knot in time, tried to force her way through. (She thought the truck was just having some trouble.)

That attempt further destabilized time and space, causing several internet users to be bodily transported from one end of the bridge (approximately 2010-2012) to the other (about 2050-2052). This also had the effect of extending the active sections of the rift until they met around 2031-2032 such that while most of the bleed over from the internet to real life originated in 2010, and most of it ended up in 2051-2052, a small amount originated from 2011-2031 and a small amount ended up from 2032-2050.

This accounts for, amoung other things, minor zombie outbreaks dating as far back as the period of poltical instability following the events of 2030.

And that, more or less, covers it.

DVL can be assumed to be working toward world domination, the zombies can be assumed to be eating brains, Tsukasa can be assumed to be depressed, MJ12 can be assumed to be trying to find a way to turn this zombie plague thing to their advantage, and one can probably expect these two exchanges to take place:


Walton Simons: ...the rioting is intensifying to the point where we may not be able to contain it.

Bob Page: Why contain it? Let it spill over the schools and churches, let the bodies pile up in the streets. In the end they'll beg us to save them.

Waltom Simons: The bodies aren't piling up. They're walking around. Biting people.


I said, “I want you to consider what we're about to ask carefully because the fate of the universe may well depend upon your answer,” then gestured to Bella, who asked:

“Do you have a carburetor for a 1953 Chevy pickup truck?”

Nineteen fifty-three?” He asked.

“Yes,” Bella said.

“The fate of the universe hangs on a hundred year old engine part,” I added.


I meant to work this in somewhere above, but the opportunity never really arose.  It is extremely easy to find a lot of differences between Deus Ex and .hack//Sign, but if one wants to find similarities they too exist.  A great example can be found in the lyrics of one of the songs in .hack: "auguries of destruction be a lullaby for rebirth," you could not ask for a more poetic description of Deus Ex or or .hack//Sign.  Well, you could ask, but you know what I mean.

Largely unrelated, I'm not sure if I'll ever actually be able to write the zombie apocalypse team in action because I don't know if I can write either Tsukasa or JC Denton.


Next time, a timeline that I've already mostly written.


  1. You are putting way more thought into this meme than anyone else I'm aware of. I kind of love it.

  2. So how does this meme work if the last three things you played were Farmville, Galaxy Empires (a 4X MMO on the iPhone), and Dragonvale (a dragon-breeding game, also for the iPhone)...

    I guess my ZA team would be Redwood the farmer, Redwood the Galactic Empress, and Redwood the dragon breeder? (plus ordinary, boring old Redwood the tech support representative, of course...)