The Gameplayers of Zan Chapter 2

Chapter 1[edit | edit source]

Date given: November 1, 2550

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

An unnamed ler woman(Maellenkleth?)is apprehended by human authorities. She had gone to the Museum of Ancient Technologies to destroy two obscure "petroleum-age" devices, and she has been connected with the crime. They had also asked her what she knew about the ler game Zan and its players, and she realizes they are very close to the secrets they must be seeking. She does not confess, so they put her in "the box", a sensory-deprivation unit. She stays there for an unguessable interval, trying to keep her mind focused, but she knows that upon being released from the box she will be unable to keep from telling them what they want to know.

She loses herself in a particular erotic memory, of a lover she had in her late adolescence, but loses the thread of it. She realizes she has come to a threshold, where her only recourse is to erase her own memory, to autoforget. She seeks at the centre of her mind, and begins its unraveling. Soon she doesn't remember why she is forgetting, and she tries to latch on to her memories before they fade. She returns at last to the lover of her adolescence, before even that fades. Then she has a vision of herself, enclosed by an unfolded hypercube, and then an immense screen behind it covered by complex, ever-shifting patterns, before they are stilled.

Clane Oeschone is a human medtech who is observing several of the Instructional Environment Enclosures, including the ler woman's. He begins to notice some odd brainwaves, characteristic of intense hallucinations, but not of undue concern. He is inattentive to the brainwaves for several hours, before guiltily returning to check them. The woman's brain has now reverted to completely regular waveforms, with no variation, and the medtech is forced to summon his supervisor.

The duty tech, Domar Venle, and his assistant, consult manuals, adjust dials, and finally begin disassembling the tank. Instead of removing the occupant, though, Venle calls for an outside line, and demands a conference with Eykor and Slegele. When he has it, he informs Slegele that the occupant of the tank was a ler, despite being registered as a human woman, and her imprisonment was in violation of the Compact. Further, she has disminded herself.

Eykor breaks in and declares the conversation to be classified secret, and says he will be over there immediately. He reprimands Venle for his insubordination. Venle recommends to Slegele that they have pediatricians on hand, because the ler woman's mind has regressed to infancy. Venle hopes that the ler don't find out what has happened to her.

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