My name is Reiko Saeki. This is my confession.
In 2020 I learned that Masato Indō, the man who was once responsible for the Third Network Crisis, had disappeared. Following his extraction from The World R:2 on December 31st, 2018, the player known as Ovan briefly appeared logged in from Germany, and then vanished. I was assigned by the NAB to investigate, as Indō was a fellow investigator with valuable information.
When I found him in the Black Forest mountain range of Germany, there was an unearthly glow to him. His beard and sunken eyes were that of a man who hadn’t slept for eternity. He showed me to a shack on a flat corner of one of the hills. The shack was equipped with the latest in network infrastructure; fibre optic cables connected to an enclave of generators within a cave, and signal amplifiers arranged in the surrounding trees. The shack was old, musty and worn down on the outside, but a technological marvel within. It was a state of the art smarthome—DNA-scanning security, voice recognition on every door, appliance, window, and holographic text panels that lined all the furniture’s light displays, much like those in The World. There were supplies meant to last for years in the basement. It was a digital fortress.
Further in was the main attraction. I entered a room that had a solitary bed under a window sill on it, and a body with wires coming out of it that led out the window. The beeping of its heart was steady and robotic. It was the only noise in the house aside from the wind outside. Its eyes were covered by an older model HMD, and its hair trailed across the floor. It was the husk of what was once a human being. Upon closer inspection, it was a woman’s body—old and wrinkled from years of laying here, with atrophied muscles that contorted her limbs. Then, Masato told me the truth: the woman was Emma Wieland.
Or, rather, Erna Uhlenhuth, a German woman who helped found an entity called Mama. Ovan explained what he did know: that despite living only tangentially in reality, her existence carried on digitally. Not as a player or AI in The World or any other such digital space, but as a malignant force that was inherent within the Net. I asked him why he would do this for her, why he would look after his enemy, the ones who orchestrated the events that would lead to so much suffering, and then he took me out back.
Behind the house was a piece of wood sticking out a from a mound of dirt, which had a patch of grass clinging to life on top. It was Osamu Indō, her former caretaker. She was his one true love, and Masato carried on his legacy. If there was anyone he loved more than his sister, it was his father—his one true family.
Later in the night, when Masato had fallen asleep, I logged into the server farm with my P-COM device. When I entered the cyberspace of Erna Uhlenhuth’s mind, I was bombarded with a series of images. I felt naked. She had identified me. When I disconnected, I was crying.
I left before morning. I decided to launch a full-scale investigation into Mama upon my return.
Upon further research of Mama I discovered that they had captured my brother, Jun, and held him captive for years as a human test subject, as punishment for his interference in 2015. My brother has been suffering ever since. He has been Real Digitalized more times than any regular human should. I don’t want to write any more about this subject than I have to.
I was promised his freedom in return for your life.
I’m sorry, Ryuji. By the time anyone finds this I know you’ll be long dead, and I’ll have to live with my sin. But just like Masato, Jun is the only family I’ve got, and I’ll do anything to be with him. There was nothing else I could do. I only hope that your eternal soul, wherever it may be, can come to forgive me.
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