Prisoners of VR

Chapter 23 23: Left Arm Rehab

The goal of Induced Reality was as the name implied, to induce reality. Therefore, the 3D Models that become a DOVA Agent's Avatar was created to be no different from their counterpart in reality.

But just making a perfect virtual model wasn't enough. The Avatar would have to adapt to its life as a digital lifeform. It would live in the DOVA Agent's Virtual Space, experience a lot of things, take in the data, and grow as a sentient being.

Eventually, when its accumulations attain a certain level, it would fully assimilate with the Virtual Space and become a proper denizen. It was then that the Avatar was termed a True Lifeform.

And the result of that was being able to give birth, as all lifeforms should.

Rahu retracted the Liger and closed his eyes, falling asleep as he arrived at his Virtual Space. It was an open grassland, situated adjacent to a city. The grassland stretched for a couple kilometres, after which, a forest spanned endlessly.

Placed smack dab in the border of the grassland and the forest was a pond, covered by rocks. Sprawled on one of the boulders, drinking water was the Liger.

Rahu arrived a couple metres behind it, watching its ears perk up in response. He observed the tumours that had begun to grow on its stomach, "It's that time already, huh?"

The Liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. They aren't naturally occurring species, and as a result of their hybrid nature, Ligers suffer from a lot of genetic defects. Tumours were just one of the many problems plaguing this hybrid race.

Rahu was sad as he patted its head, "It's not pleasant to experience this time after time. But at least, things are different in this iteration. You're a living entity now."

On average, a Liger lives anywhere between 15 to 25 years. This meant that, if a Liger were to live in his Virtual Space, it equated to around two years in reality.

The Liger he was employing now was the third one already. Though, it was the same individual. The one operating was its third iteration, in service from 21st August 2047.

Since he had the 3D Model of a Liger stored in his database, he would retrieve it and nurture it from there. So, in practice, all three Ligers were the same individual. That was one difference between reality and Virtual Reality.

But that didn't mean there were no problems. Every time he started from the 3D Model, it meant he would have to begin from a blank slate once again.

Keep note that before its death, the Liger's experiences made it a formidable predator. But the 3D Model version hailed from a zoo. After all, no Liger existed in the wild. So, its 3D Model version was just a large domesticated cat.

Rahu would have to train it once again and make it reach the stage of Sentience before he could use it. But, that didn't matter. After all, the Liger his Avatar was based on was currently the healthiest and the most successful hybrid in the world.

Moreover, it was a female, so it attaining the stage of True Lifeform was monumental. Even though the experiences of the past Liger iterations cannot be transferred to the current version, as it would simply cause an information overload and implode the Avatar, that didn't mean Rahu's experiences vanished too.

He remembered the various ways in which he trained his Liger. So, using that experience, he grew the successive iterations faster. The first iteration attained the stage of Sentience after six months of time in reality. That was its limit until death.

The second iteration attained Sentience in four months and Passive Sentience a couple days before death.

The third iteration attained Sentience in a month and Passive Sentience by the end of its second month. As it was the same individual, Rahu was getting more experienced in nurturing his Liger.

It was no different from playing God as he could experiment and grow his Liger through its infinite lives. Moreover, depending on his needs, he could also vary its development. This was the reason DOVA Agents were a strategic resource.

They could develop their Avatars to counter anything by investing their nurturing capabilities in the respective direction.

In the Virtual Space, Rahu sat on the boulder beside the Liger, closing his eyes as his body plopped to the ground. In response, the Liger's body jerked as its eyes shot open, the light in it different.

"'s...body." The Liger articulated roughly. Its vocal cords weren't suitable to voice a human language, but it was a bare minimum attempt.

Rahu had become the Liger itself. The air brushed on the fur, the ears swerved with every stimulus, a thunderous heart that pumped blood through the heavy body, and finally, a robust physique that vastly outclassed a human.

This was the beast that inherited the genetic traits of two of the top predators, the Liger.

In the 3D Model stage, the Avatar couldn't be used. It was no different from the rest of the constructs in the Virtual Space. After attaining Sentience, the DOVA Agent would be able to feel the Avatar.

It behaved no differently from the human lungs. The lungs were a pair of involuntary organs. Meaning, even without conscious input, they would function by inhaling and exhaling air. If necessary, humans could consciously control their contraction and expansion.

Controlling the Avatar was exactly the same. The DOVA Agent could actuate its movements, but the Avatar would be doing the actual moving.

Breathing, the thumping of its heart, and every other task necessary to prop up its body; like an involuntary organ, the Avatar, on its own, would be performing everything necessary to execute the task.

Moreover, the DOVA Agent was no different from the brain.

In the case of the Liger, if Rahu wanted it to move by ten metres, he would command it to move forward by ten metres. That's all.

The way to pace itself, the manner of gait, the air of intimidation, etc. everything was at the Liger's sole discretion.

If Rahu had to fine-tune and micromanage its actions, it would take him hours just to make the Liger take a step forward. And even then, it might not seem realistic.

This was where the Liger's sentience came into play.

Passive Sentience was the next level. It was similar to an athlete that had trained to the extreme. If Sentience was equal to a regular person, then Passive Sentience was equal to an athlete.

For example, a sprinter would be capable of bursting to top speed at momentary notice. The way to run, the distance between the steps, the body posture, etc. everything was ingrained in their bodies. It becomes their second nature, unlike in a regular person where they would have to exert conscious effort just to perform at a subpar scale.

Similarly, as the Avatar absorbs all the experience and the DOVA Agent's training, it becomes attuned to their thought process. And a certain point is reached where the Avatar is perfectly synchronised to the DOVA Agent's thought process.

Thereby, it can take action without the DOVA Agent's input, and the result would be exactly the same as if he were controlling it. This was Passive Sentience.

When a DOVA Agent reaches this level, they gain a bodyguard that protects them from all biological harm. Rahu was at this stage until the previous day.

But now, after facing terror under the hands of Manav, his Liger became a True Lifeform, having obtained the final part of the missing puzzle.

The stage of True Lifeform was reached only by a handful of DOVA Agents. In his country, Rahu was the second to do so, at least among those active or alive. The DOVA Agent Chief was the only other person that had attained it.

Manav may or may not have achieved it, but Rahu wasn't sure of it. Though, he had an inkling that Manav might have achieved it long ago.

As a True Lifeform, the DOVA Agent and their Avatar could swap bodies.

The moment Rahu inhabited the Liger's body, his eyes in reality shot open, the gaze menacing. After all, his body was now being controlled by the Liger.

It was akin to having a second personality. At the end of the day, both were reliant on Rahu's brain to process their thoughts. It was just that an added personality granted a different perspective to things.

After all, one was a human and the other was a beast. Their base stats were different, their thought processes were different, their senses were different, etc.

Through Rahu's body, the Liger focused on the nose and sniffed around, picking up various scents at a deeper level. That was its inherent nature. So, it was able to use Rahu's olfactory senses to the extreme, to the peak that his body was capable of.

Unless Rahu trained for the specific task for years, he couldn't attain that level of sensitivity. But a simple swap made it possible.

There were aches all over his body, but the most problematic of them all was his unusable left arm. Rahu's eyes stared at them coldly before closing its eyes. When they opened, the Liger's perspective had vanished.

Rahu was back in control, muttering in amazement, "Damn, that was something else."

It was hard to remain in the Liger's body, as he wasn't used to it. But as long as he keeps practicing, he'll become accustomed to swapping their bodies. The applications to this ability were endless.

"Now, I need to treat my left arm." He muttered and focused, returning to the Virtual Space. His body there was a direct reflection of reality. He couldn't move his arm here either. But that wasn't an issue.

He hadn't lost his arm. His current condition was similar to those that had their severed arms reattached. Even though the arm was perfectly fine, the trauma of the loss impaired the brain, preventing it from controlling it as usual again.

So, rehab was necessary, a process similar to what soldiers underwent after returning from war.

Rahu had been injured thanks to Induced Reality during his training days as a DOVA Agent. Of course, he was experienced with the treatment process.

Thankfully, as long as one wasn't dead, all injuries caused by Induced Reality could be treated.

Appearing inside a rehabilitation center in his Virtual Space, Rahu began his recuperation process. It was faster to do it here than in reality, since both affected his brain equally.

By undergoing rehab in Virtual Reality, Rahu was saving a lot of time. An hour since he started the rehabilitation session, the Liger calmly entered the center and sprawled in a corner, yawning as it stared at him grunting nonstop while causing his fingers to twitch ever so slightly.

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