DNI Death Cults

DNI Death cult
Image from Bernd Helfert

One of the darker possibilities allowed by DNI (Direct Neural Interface) was realized shortly after the capability first became widely available. While a young baseline male and female were "chatting" with one another via eir DNI links from different orbital habitats, the habitat where the young woman resided experienced a catastrophe and the woman (along with 581 other baselines not adapted for direct exposure to the environment of space) was blown out into space while still alive and conscious, and with her DNI link to her acquaintance still active. The woman died a slow death by asphyxiation in the vacuum of space, and her every sensation - physical, mental, and emotional - during her final moments was transmitted to her companion via eir neural link, allowing him to experience her death for himself as though it were happening to him (though without actually physically dying himself) and live to tell about it (hypothetically-speaking; The man entered a state of deep catatonia for weeks afterward, and refused to ever talk about the experience of feeling someone else's death for himself as though it were happening to him; He suicided within a year).

As terrible as this, and other similar instances which occurred, and continue to occur every now and then (variously called "Proxy Death," "Secondhand Mortality," and a host of other macabre euphemisms), was, it gave rise to an even more disturbing, and blatantly insidious, phenomenon: DNI Death Cults. Individuals sharing a DNI link would form a pact among emselves whereby one would deliberately be killed (either by another or by suicide), thus allowing the others to experience eir death, and possibly glimpse the divine or whatever else comes after, as the "sacrificial lamb's" (term actually used both by death cults and eir detractors) life was extinguished, and possibly relate to others what ey saw. Needless to say, DNI Death Cults are abhorred almost universally (Both secular and more traditional religious authorities, particularly in the Solar Dominion and the Negentropy Alliance, condemn DNI Death Cults in no uncertain terms and reserve the harshest punishments for willful participants), and eir (surviving) members persecuted relentlessly throughout civilized space as indistinguishable from common murderers. In addition to this, a number of particularly infamous post-DNI serial killers (baselines, and even a few transapients) are known to have cajoled eir prospective victims into linking with em, and then killed em to experience eir victim's death vicariously, for what ey (the killers) term the ultimate rush, and possibly to catch a glimpse of the divine through the dying one's eyes. Whether the killers intend to convey eir perceptions to others is irrelevant. Ey, like DNI Death Cult members who don't serve as sacrificial lambs, are persecuted relentlessly.

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Development Notes
Text by Mike Parisi
Initially published on 23 December 2003.