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Chapter Five

Summary Edit

Zoë Castillo wakes up in the Fringe, still in the VIP lounge where Marcus and the Twins attacked her, but they're long gone and Charlie is sitting beside her. Zoë is very fuzzy on what happened, but she is adamant that she's been to Arcadia, and met April Ryan. Charlie disagrees. He's been checking on her every fifteen minutes and she hasn't gone anywhere. Zoë doesn't understand how any of this is possible, but realises she's at a dead end in Newport. She decides to go home, and wait for Reza to contact her.

Outside the Fringe, Zoë gets a call from Olivia DeMarco, who says cheerily: "Hola, sweetie! You're going to Japan!" She's deciphered more of Reza's notepad. According to his notes, Reza was in contact with two people at WATI's corporate campus on Hokkaido Island, WATI City. One of them was the dead girl in Reza's apartment - Liv is still working on the rest. Zoë is weary, and disorientated from her experience, but is quickly energised by this new lead. She agrees to head to Japan, and is soon on her way aboard a Hydrofoil.


Back in Marcuria, at the Journeyman Inn, April is deep in conversation with Chawan concerning the Azadi Tower. He tells her that the wooden scaffolds are still up around it, and April says she's going to use them to reconnoitre. Brynn is keen to come along, but April refuses and says she's going alone. Brynn gets angry and upset, demands to know if she is ever going to stop treating him like a kid, and storms off. When she goes downstairs, April can speak to Benrime and ask her to stop Brynn from following her. Benrime says that April has a responsibility to Brynn, but April has a mission, and makes her farewells.

At the Tower, April crosses to the scaffold and starts to climb, only to be stopped by an Azadi guard. April fights with him and breaks his neck, then quickly climbs up. She ends up on a ledge outside the Azadi Emissary's office, just in time to overhear an odd conversation through an open window. The Emissary is talking nervously to a man in a black cloak, addressing him as the Prophet. The Prophet himself speaks only in whispers April can't hear, but from Sister Sahya's replies, he is apparently most displeased. When he leaves the Tower, April follows him across the city and watches him enter the Journeyman Inn, but when she goes back inside, the Prophet has disappeared. Benrime claims she hasn't seen anyone fitting his description enter the Inn, but April knows what she saw. Going downstairs into the storeroom, April spots the Prophet going through the same 'tunnel-portal' that Zoë used. April runs after him, and dives through just as the portal closes.


WatiCity OverCanyon
Meanwhile, Zoë has arrived in Hokkaido, just outside WATI City. She tries calling Liv, but the Static is causing problems on the line and they can't speak for long. Liv has almost finished decrypting the notes Reza left about his WATI contacts, but it's not quite done. Zoë decides to concentrate on getting into the corporate campus. Easier said than done - WATI City itself lies across a vast canyon, the bridge turnstiles are closed for the night and the ticket office for the WATI Museum cable car is shut. However, Zoë can help out a young couple, Kenji and Yuriko, to get tickets (or take Kenji's from the bin if he tears it up in frustration, or get one as a present from Yuriko in return for some advice) and finally ends up on the cable car to the museum.

When she gets off, she gets a call from Olivia. She's finished decrypting the notebook but the Static is too bad for them to talk. Liv switches to an EYE channel for clarity, so they'll have to talk quickly. Reza's contact is 'Damien Cavanaugh'. Despite the lateness of the hour he's probably still at work, but Liv can't tell exactly where. They'll have to talk via messages from now on. Liv realises agents have locked on to her, and she has to disconnect quickly. Wishing her well, Zoë goes into the museum.

The museum exhibits are past incarnations of WATI bots, in all their (sometimes freaky) glory. Zoë spots a staff door in the corner and tries to hack the lock, but a sharp-eyed security guard nixes that plan. Befriending a young boy with a stick of gum, Zoë persuades him to 'play' with an exhibit - an eight-foot BunnyBot - which activates and starts trashing the museum. In the commotion Zoë slips through the door into a maintenance corridor. She can change her clothes here for a maintenance uniform or stay as she is, then makes her way to the elevators. A woman is waiting there - Zoë can talk her way past her, if necessary, or simply sneak up and knock her out. Making her way up to the fourth floor, Zoë dodges the security birds in the corridors, and enters an open plan office where Damien Cavanaugh is working. She introduces herself as Jericho's friend. After he is shaken by the news about the girl in Reza's apartment, a co-worker of his named Rio Kuroki, Damien starts talking.

WATI is working on a massive new initiative, Project Alchera, which utilises the device Zoë saw in the Victory Hotel, a device called a Dreamer Console. It allows the user to experience a lucid dream, to dream anything they want to, the biggest entertainment release in history. But the project directors discovered there were glitches in the network linking the Dreamers to DreamCore. Both Rio and Damien were assigned - in different areas - to find the problem and fix it, but they soon realised that whatever the issue was, the prime effect of the glitch was the Static. As they continued working, they realised that the Dreamer Consoles have a more sinister purpose. They allow WATI to see people's thoughts and dreams. They even enable WATI to implant thoughts artificially, effectively making Alchera, in Damien's words, "the biggest brainwashing experiment of all time". And now someone, or something, is apparently hacking into it.

Rio and Damien wanted to expose the truth, so they went to Reza and his "notorious feed", The Hand That Bites. But now everything is going downhill - Reza is missing, and Rio is dead, while the Static claims more victims. Damien is deeply worried. They are running out of time before Alchera is released on the public, and if these problems are still there when it is, the results could be catastrophic. He had planned for Rio to help him when she returned from Casablanca, but without her there's no one he can trust. Zoë offers her help in Rio's stead. Damien is surprised, but Zoë is determined, for Reza's sake, and he finally agrees. They need evidence of where the Static originated, and stop it from spreading. To get that, they need to do a spot of industrial espionage in WATI's secure labs.


A time cut takes us outside a security door where Damien is checking that Zoë is clear on their plan. She is, and she starts on a long walk down to the basement that leads into the WATI caves. Damien is providing assistance from his console. The basement door opens on a timer, and the race is on.

The plan - narrated by Damien in sections - is for Zoë to plant a Data Worm in the DreamCore itself. To do that she needs to avoid the Spider patrolling the outer corridor, cut the power to the doors to access the outer labs, run both her genome and that of the worm through clearance, and use a datakey to enter the core room itself. When Zoë enters the lab she sees the DreamCore, which is a gigantic organic computer suspended in solution. It looks like a huge alien flower. Dodging the scientists - one male, one female - who are working on the computer, Zoë creeps down onto the second level and implants the worm, which swims through the solution and buries itself in the DreamCore.

While Zoë waits, in earshot but unseen, the scientists worriedly discuss the DreamCore, whom they refer to as 'she' and call by the name Eingana. Out of the blue they are treated to a visit from Samantha Gilmore, the public face of WATI and the leader on Project Alchera. The scientists, under her impatient questions, nervously report that Eingana is still having problems. There are system crashes and glitches - and she seems to be expanding. There's more data than her maximum storage capacity allows for. Gilmore doesn't want excuses. She wants to know what they're planning to do about it.


Aprildreamvortexflash

As the scientists start explaining, we return to April, who is now descending into the Underground Caverns Zoë arrived in, dropping down a rope beside the water wheel. She sees the Prophet making his way across the flooded cavern by boat, but has to find another way across. Seeing one of the creatures entering the ruins, April quietly follows, and realises they use musical magic to open the ancient doors.

She descends into a series of Catacombs, which are patrolled by more creatures, and makes her way through the ruins with the help of another glowing egg like Zoë's. She finds herself across the flooded area, dodging more creatures until she discovers a mysterious chamber. Inside is a huge swirling vortex of blue light. Curious, April approaches and touches the Vortex, which responds violently with bright flashes and lightning.


Back at the DreamCore, there is a sudden, massive surge through DreamNet and Eingana reacts. The core room starts to lock down - Gilmore is evacuated by her bodyguard but the scientists remain to work on their beloved project. Zoë escapes the core room, only to realise WATI security forces are sweeping the floor. They shoot to kill, but she manages to get away unnoticed and enter the elevator. It reaches the ground floor and opens - on more security goons. They are about to fire when the doors suddenly close, without Zoë's command, and the elevator starts to rise.

The Screen inside the elevator comes to life, showing the now-familiar Winter and the little girl. She whispers: "Find April - save April!" Zoë responds that she did find April, but she doesn't need saving.

The little girl answers: "Save me..."


Previous chapter - Next chapter

Themes & References Edit

This chapter sees Zoë finally learning the truth about WATI and its new project. At this point, her focus shifts from simply finding Reza to stopping WATI's plans. April also discovers what appears to be an Arcadian connection to WATI in the Marcuria necropolis, so the name 'Alchera' covers the events here very well.

Several players have reported an odd graphic down in the Underground Caverns when April is there. If April stands near the water, a ghostly silhouette of Zoë can be seen standing in or on the water. However, some players have searched and not found it. There has been some discussion as to whether this is some easter-egg link between the Caverns and Eingana's laboratory, but the fact that seeing it is a hit-and-miss affair suggests it is a glitch rather than intentional.

Chapters in Dreamfall
Prologue: Tainted | One | Lost | 201 | Winter | Alchera | Morpheus | Destiny | Convergence | All That We See or Seem... | Crossroads | Faith | Reversal | The Longest Journey | Epilogue: Dreamfall

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