|On the Unique Nature of the Lifeboat|
|Date||October 10th, 2016|
|Act||Act 4: The Secret History of Time Travel|
|Part||Act 4, Part 2: Preparing the Time Machine|
|Location||Bradbury Swimming Hall|
|Previous||Monarch Mission Statement 1999 (PR)|
|Next||Monarch Solutions Three Phase Plan (PR)|
On the Unique Nature of the Lifeboat is a document Narrative Object found in Act 4, Part 2 of Quantum Break. The document is a essay written by Sofia Amaral regarding the Lifeboat Protocol. This document is determinant and only appears if the "PR" option was chosen in the first junction.
While the Lifeboat Protocol is fairly straightforward on the surface, it’s important that the people involved with the project understand how it radically differs from other survival scenarios against so-called apocalyptic threats.
A traditional bunker built to protect the occupants from an environmental hazard (e.g., a chemical attack or nuclear fallout) is typically sealed airtight, and the occupants have their own electricity, air supply, provisions, etc. The bunker’s interior is isolated from the outside environment. But the Lifeboat’s design is different. It’s not actually sealed, because it doesn’t have to be; it does have strong walls and protected access points, but the outside environment is not the problem – it’s the lack of the Meyer-Joyce field that enables time to exist that makes the outside hazardous. From a technological standpoint, these differences make the Lifeboat’s operating principles quite different, particularly with regards to maintenance.
Compared to, say, the failure of the life support system in a hermetically sealed survival space, such as a bunker, the failure of the Lifeboat’s stutterproofing system has far more immediate and grave effects. A traditional life support system can be repaired – for instance, a failure in the CO2 scrubbers would pose a significant threat, but with replacement parts and tools, properly trained occupants could easily repair the system before they would feel any ill effects. In fact, almost any mechanical failure short of a full-scale environmental breach can be fixed as long as suitable repair materials and trained personnel are at hand.
But by its very nature, the stutterproofing is different: if it fails, everybody within its area of effect is immediately affected by the zero state, and becomes frozen. In a permanent zero state scenario, that means they would have no opportunity to ever effect repairs; there’s literally no time to react. The only exception would be personnel wearing an activated chronon harness, such as the Striker suit, but given that repairing the stutterproofing system is a highly technical, complicated process requiring an exceptional proficiency in the operation and engineering of chronon technology, this would be a scenario with a low probability of success.
It is therefore of utmost importance that the Lifeboat’s stutterproofing operates reliably and without faults, with multiple failsafe systems, because if it ever fails, it’s unlikely that it can be repaired or restarted. Accordingly, once the Lifeboat Protocol has been activated, there’s no real way to deactivate it other than removing the Chronon Field Regulator. This would be highly inadvisable, as doing so could not only disrupt the stutterproofing, but more importantly, without the CFR, the Lifeboat’s rate of chronon particle consumption is increased by a vast margin, effectively reducing its potential operating time to a fraction of what is intended.
Unique advantages and risks
However, it’s worth pointing out that even though the Lifeboat operation has unique hazards, there are also unique advantages. One such advantage is provisions. A traditional survival scenario in a bunker typically involves a poor quality of meals, due to obvious resourcing problems – anything that spoils easily is out of the question.
In a zero state scenario, however, spoilage becomes a non-issue. Anything stored outside the stutterproofed area remains in perfect condition. This advantage doesn’t only apply to comestibles, but also makes the storage of medicine, volatile chemicals and other similar articles far less of a problem than it otherwise would be. In fact, given the fact that the city of Riverport is vast compared to the relatively small number of people residing in the Lifeboat, in theory Monarch operatives could venture outside the Lifeboat in chronon harnesses and actually enjoy freshly cooked meals simply by entering a restaurant and finding the ready-made dishes that have been prepared, remove them from the zero state to a stutterproofed area, and enjoy them, as hot and delicious as if they had been just prepared – which, in fact, they of course would be.
To be clear: this is not a recommended activity, as it would be a foolish waste of resources to go after individual meals like that. The above scenario is mentioned here merely to illustrate the point; even though the Lifeboat has been designed to operate for decades of subjective time, it doesn’t actually need provisions for that long. If the Lifeboat’s own reserves start to run low, a well-planned supply run into the city could easily result in a great deal of perfectly preserved supplies.
Another advantage is that while the situation outside the Lifeboat would be dire, people frozen in the zero state would not actually be dead. If a solution is found to the End of Time scenario, everybody would resume their everyday lives, most likely with no awareness of time ever having stopped. However, it’s hard to know what the exact psychological impact of that knowledge on Lifeboat personnel will be.
There’s a real concern that the pressure of knowing that they have sole responsibility for the survival of the human race, and that there are billions of people outside of the walls of the Lifeboat, helpless and unaware, frozen eternally in that last moment, may prove to be crushing for some. On the other hand, knowing that their loved ones are actually not dead, and may be saved, and are not in any distress, or indeed even aware of the situation may prove to be a powerful motivating factor that helps us eventually resolve the situation. Of course, the solution to the problem of a permanent zero state is not currently within our reach, and we expect that finding one will take subjective decades, if it is indeed possible. We can but try.
It’s worth noting that since the people outside Lifeboat are indeed not dead, merely stopped, it should be possible for a team of personnel wearing chronon harnesses to exit the Lifeboat, retrieve a person, and bring them into the Lifeboat. However, I advise against adopting this practice; for the occupants, that should forever remain a theoretical scenario. Any situation in which somebody is brought in from the outside would cause undue stress on the occupants, who would at that point have to become acutely aware that their loved ones could be brought in… but since the Lifeboat has limited space, this could never be allowed. That kind of psychological pressure would likely lead to friction and questions of favoritism and, ultimately, increase the risk mission failure.