Part One: Death of the Living Kai

Ok, here's the first thing you have to understand about Kai.

From the moment in I Worship His Shadow or Brigadoom that he crashed his ship into the Foreshadow, he's a dead man. What we're seeing is a thinly protected spaceship crashing at high speed into a stationary object. Try that in a Punto and see what happens to you.
       The ship or the Foreshadow must have absorbed the brunt of the impact, but Kai still went flying. He's catapulted through the front of his ship, we see his body pinwheeling and he lands in the debris.
       He's not moving. Pay attention to that. He never moves his arms or legs, he doesn't even turn his head. When His Shadow plunges the knife in, he makes no move to resist. His breathing is weak, he's unable to do more than speak softly. He does not appear to be experiencing pain of any sort.
       All this tells us is that his back or neck is broken and his spinal cord is severed. A nurse or doctor could tell us, based on his symptoms, how high the injury is. It's likely that his back is broken and the cord severed in several places, but it's the highest one that counts. Kai's a quad.
       But that's not his only problem. Note the small trickle of blood from his mouth and nose. We're talking internal injuries here. His body cavity is filling up with blood. His lungs and heart are probably all right, he doesn't bubble when he talk, there's no sucking chest wound, and no gouts of blood when he tries to breath, so his lungs seal is mostly intact. Mostly. But the impact has probably broken ribs and driven splinters and bone fragments through internal organs. He's probably in shock, which results in a loss of blood pressure, or we might well have seen fountains of blood. But the bottom line, is that he's dying of his injuries even as His Shadow approaches. Left alone, he probably only has minutes left.
       His Divine Shadow drives his blade directly into the center of Kai's chest. Kai, as we've noted, makes no move to resist, which is an indication of his level of injury. The blade may cut through the sternum, but more likely it's slid between the ribs into the heart. Kai's heart is literally sawed open by the motion of the blade, this is no minor puncture.
       His Shadow also sucks Kai's memories out at this point, which may also result in neurological damage. Even if not, it's probably not a pleasant experience for the dying person, and there may be some psychological trauma recorded in those memories.

Psychologically, Kai's lived just long enough to undergo a death experience, to develop an awareness and acceptance of his impending death, which itself is found to result in psychological dislocation and erratic behaviour in survivors. Basically, from what we can tell, some people don't take dying very well, and when resuscitated can experience feelings of dislocation, alienation, unreality and emotional distance and paralysis. So, add the consequences of death trauma to whatever psychological trauma the murder and theft of memories has inflicted.
       At this point, His Shadow's finished with him and gives orders for the body to be taken away to the bio scholars.

Part Two: Proper Storage of Romantic Dreamers, Tupperware

Now let's recap here. At least one, possibly multiple breaks in the vertebral column and spinal cord damage, confirmed but undefined internal injuries and internal bleeding, a heart that's been slit open like a trout's belly, and probably assorted other injuries.
       Now, let's consider where we are. The boonies of outer space, probably far from The Cluster. I imagine His Divine Shadow hasn't kept his army of cutting edge bioscholars at his beck and call. More likely all the techy brainy Bio Viziers are back on The Cluster.
       This means that Kai's body has to be transferred into cryostasis, or, given the fact that it's meat, into a less sophisticated cryogenic storage locker used for perishables. The transfer to the locker may not happen right away, there's a lot of cleaning up to do, debris to sweep, wounded to attend to, fires to put out. He hit the control bubble after all, so the Foreshadow may actually be crippled with multiple systems down or on the fritz, and most power and attention concentrated on core functions, or resuscitating the ship. It may be anywhere from half an hour to several hours before he gets put in the freezer.
              This raises the issue of decomposition. If he's been dead for several hours, we can anticipate some drainage of the blood, some developing rigor, minor decomposition, cooling of the body, cellular deterioration and decay.
       The corpse is kept in cryogenics for an extended period of time. One assumes that nothing much happens in cryogenics. But this is technology two thousand years less advanced than that seen in Stanley Tweedle's time. Technology seems more or less stable actually, but we might well expect a few refinements. In any case, we don't know that a simple corpse would be preserved in cryogenics in the same way that a living being would. The cryogenic chambers are designed to interact with living systems. They may not interact the same way with dead ones.
       Perhaps the Foreshadow returns immediately to The Cluster, or returns in a roundabout way. Either one works, Kai remains in the same chamber through the trip. It's possible that the body was removed, transferred to another ship, and delivered to The Cluster, incurring incremental damage or deterioration from the transfer from ship to ship, or cryopod to cryopod. More likely, His Divine Shadow returns straight to The Cluster. After all, his flagship is badly damaged and in need of repairs, and he's inherited some disturbing memories of the Time Prophet from Kai.

A note on the Time Prophet. In Gigashadow, we see his Divine Shadow going to question her. The fact that he didn't just blast her world to smithereens, or execute her sight unseen, is suggestive. Particularly, it's suggestive that he couldn't. The Time Prophet and her world may not be completely in His Divine Shadow's spacetime continuum. He may well have tried to destroy the planet and found he couldn't, before he travelled down. In addition, he may well have encountered it on the way back from destroying Kai's world. It's described in Brigadoom as an 'uncertain moon' which suggests that its position in space and in reality may not be fixed.
       Either way, after this encounter with the Time Prophet, His Divine Shadow returns to The Cluster, and all subsequent His Divine Shadow's do the same, convinced that they have encountered an entity beyond reality.

Anyway, Kai finally gets to the bioscholars and is defrosted once again. Immediately, he would start to decompose, and he's not in good shape to start with. Even defrosting him from Cryofreeze may have done tissue damage or caused deterioration of the specimen.

Part Three: Protoblood a Go Go

In Gigashadow, we saw that protoblood, even relatively minute amounts, was able to restore several corpses to life. These corpses appeared to react emotionally and to have the same attitudes and ideas as in life. They did not appear to experience sensations of pain, did not bleed, and were able to experience relatively major impacts (Yottskry's falling off the tower) intact.
       They spoke and moved, which suggests that the muscle systems and lungs were operating. Which implies the heart was still pumping. The lack of blood or bleeding suggests that blood had already drained within or out of the body and was no longer coursing in any significant way. There may have been coagulation, or vascular collapse, any number of other things which might occur in the recently dead/resuscitated.
       But this raises the question of how the protoblood circulated. It certainly didn't move through the cardiac circulatory system. It may have invaded the body through the lymphatic system.
       An interesting theory is that protoblood is actually composed of particulate matter something like non-reproducing viruses. These small, quasi-living molecular entities would be small enough to permeate cell walls. I'll call them viruses for lack of a better word. The slime of protoblood may be either a suspension medium for the virus, like seminal fluid for sperm, or it may actually represent a macro-colony of the virus. If it is a virus, then when it is injected into a compatible environment, it may actually have a built in imperative, or programming, to spread evenly through the environment, occupying all cells throughout the body, not just the ones closest to infection. A dead body soaks protoblood into its volume like a sponge.
       Given that blood is not circulating, and we're not getting oxygen transfer or any of the chemical processes fed by blood, it seems that the energy that now powers cellular activity is contained within the protoblood virus. Think of it as a power cell. Eventually the stored energy is depleted by use in the cell and the protoblood runs down. You need new protoblood.
       Protoblood viruses may actually be joined by morphological fields - they may be linked to each other by some sort of non-physical energy, the collection of them forming a field. The viruses may not have to be in physical contact to be in communication. There are several occasions where Kai has controlled a limb or body part physically separated from his body.
       Interestingly, Kai seems to require line of sight, which implies that the protoblood viruses may utilize the host body's defunct sensory system in order to enhance their abilities. The neural structure of the eyes allow the protoblood viruses colonizing that neural structure to link morphological fields of separated segments more readily. It's a neat trick, almost like projecting light through the eyes rather than simply collecting it. It's likely that the morphological link or field is easier to co-ordinate when a colony is physically divided if one segment can co-ordinate by sight with the other.
       This, by the way, also implies that the Protoblood virus colonizes and utilizes neural tissue for more or less the same purposes which the original living specimen did. Essentially, it is not the dead person who regains consciousness, but the protoblood viruses which acquire a consciousness similar or identical to the host's living state. The implications here are profound, think about that.
       In addition to line of sight, the morphological or morphogenic field probably works better with proximity. If segments are close enough, sight may not be necessary to co-ordinate. Consider that these parts also appear to rejoin readily, and always in proper alignment. Kai can't possibly have line of sight when he reattaches his head.
       This suggests that protoblood viruses also prepare or adapt a map of the host's physical matrix. It's possible that rather than copying the DNA, a protoblood colony in a recipient host will form a kind of morphological map of the colony early on and will maintain that map thereafter, which explains why Kai's hair and clothing also rejoin into proper alignment.
       This is not beyond modern biology. If you take a living sponge and strain that sponge through a grate until you've literally reduced it to nothing but floating cells, those cells will eventually reform into a shape identical to the original sponge. The protoblood matrix is the same thing, except that it takes its shape from the host it colonizes.
       Let's call the protoblood's 'awareness' of the shape of the host, down to fine details like hair, clothing and cell structure, a morphogenic field. It's a big word, but essentially 'morph' simply means shape and 'genic' means pattern, so what I'm talking about is a field, possibly a sort of psychic or energy field which is a kind of blueprint for Kai's physical shape, and which coexists with that physical shape. If the physical shape doesn't match up with the field, the field changes it back, because like the sponge, it 'remembers' how its supposed to be.
       It may not even be possible for Kai to change his hairstyle in any long term way. His hair may simply return naturally to a bun, eventually, no matter what he does, which would include crashing like a meteor into a planet from orbital height in May.
       This may explain why, at the end of Wake the Dead, his hair is back in its original shape. The fact that his hair went out of shape at all may have been either a sign of protoblood deterioration, or possibly a sign of psychosis. Note that if Kai's mind is actually protoblood viruses mimicking his brain operation, then derangement by those viruses may have physical consequences on the entire protoblood morphological matrix. On this point, we note that in addition to hair, Kai experienced yellow eyes and a marked loss of physical co-ordination. Renewing the protoblood or removing the psychosis would have eliminated the other physical symptoms. It may also be that the derangement of the morphogenic field of the colony may have caused the protoblood virus to deplete its energies unusually fast. I'd be willing to bet that Kai was physically hot to the touch during this episode. He may well have thawed himself out.

Part Four: Kai and Carbon, Fossils R Us

Whatever Kai is now, he's clearly not made of the same kind of material as us. He shrugs off blasts of energy which would vaporise normal tissue several times.
       In I Worship His Shadow, Thodin tells his men, "He's been decarbonized." In Lyekka, Kai tells Xev, "I do not contain protein." There are references to being decarbonized in the third series as well, I believe.
       Also, particularly in the third series, we see several references that Kai's matter is denser than normal. He tells both Stan and Bunny in different episodes that he will not float. In K-Town, Stan and Xev observe that he's extremely heavy, it takes both of them to move him and they don't move him easily. Nevertheless, he isn't so heavy that he cannot be carried by two or three men. His weight is probably somewhere between two hundred and three hundred pounds.
       Ok, what's going on here?
       Carbon is one of the most basic molecules, a ubiquitous building block of life. It's the fundamental unit of construction of every cell. So what does decarbonization mean?
       It means that something has removed all the carbon molecules from his body and replaced them with something else.
       Essentially, Kai is actually a kind of fossil. A normal fossil is a bone or piece of wood who's organic component is slowly leached away, particle by particle, the emptied microspaces being filled bit by bit by minerals, until eventually you have a piece of stone which is a perfect replica of the original, now vanished, bone or wood.
       The fact that the Carbon in Kai's body has been leached away and replaced by something else (and something has to replace it, it's too fundamental for the rest of Kai to be anything but a pile of dust or goo without it to hold everything together.) means that Kai isn't really Kai. He's actually a perfect replica of himself, down to the cellular level. Absolutely identical, but completely different in the way a stone fossil is different from living or dead bone or wood.
       But what?
       And for that matter, why?
       Occam's razor suggests that it has something to do with protoblood.
       But what's wrong with Carbon? Why replace it at all?
       Let me speculate that whatever it is in protoblood, probably tiny, flexible, versatile viruslike molecules, is antithetical to carbon. It destroys, or is destroyed by, repels or is repelled by carbon.
       The state of activity of the carbon seems to affect the relationship to protoblood.
       Both Zev and the dead clerics came in contact with protoblood. Zev scooped enough up with her hands to probably receive a massive infestation or infection, but she wasn't affected. Why? Possibly because her living tissues probably contained carbon in a state of activity, or transition or replacement. Literally, her live biochemistry acted as an inadvertent antibody to infestation.
       The dead clerics biological processes had ceased. Their carbon content was dormant or inactive compared to a living system. Thus, the protoblood viruses could invade and could neutralize or bypass the carbon.
       My guess is that the protoblood viruses actually evict and replace the carbon molecules, or they generate exotic molecules which bond to atoms better than carbon, so that the carbon is eventually freed from its molecular networks and ejected. It's as if the carbon molecule is sitting in a chair, and someone squeezes under it, to take its place in the chair and push it out.
       Again, there's precedent, with coral building itself colonies or shells of inorganic matter, to create a more tolerable environment. I would suspect that what replaces the carbon is not the protoblood viruses themselves, but by-product molecules generated by the protoblood viruses.
       As to what these molecules are, I have a couple of interesting thoughts. Carbon is unique in being an element with an unusually high number of valence electrons. That is, it can bond with several different atoms at once, and it can form stable combinations of atoms that are literally gigantic. The DNA molecule is an example. Because of carbon's unique versatility and flexibility, it's literally the building block of life, the core of almost all organic molecules.
       There are other elements, such as silicon which have properties similar to carbon in that they will bond readily with a number of other atoms, and you can use them as a foundation for very large molecules. However, they all have drawbacks which make them somewhat less flexible or adaptable than carbon.
       Silicon is the obvious answer as far as most science fiction writers are concerned. It's an element that's almost as versatile as carbon, but not quite. It has its own properties, and Kai neither shows properties which would follow from silicon, nor do his observed properties seem to be derived or related to silicon. It simply doesn't match up.
       In fact, no known element or molecule seems to fit the bill as we understand chemistry. So, whatever is taking the place of carbon in his system. It has to be something very exotic which can mimic the versatility of Carbon.
       So, what is substituting for Carbon in Kai's body? A couple of very tentative hypotheses:

1) First, the insects may be made of fundamentally different matter than life as we know it. And I mean fundamentally different. The periodic table of elements seems pretty inescapable, each element is simply an additional electron, neutron or proton. You can't exactly just invent a new element, at least not by assembling matter on an atomic level. But it's just possible that the Insects matter used different subatomic particles, or different combinations of subatomic particles, in the electrons, protons and neutrons of their atoms. If so, then you might well get elements with different properties than ordinary matter, and in particular, atoms or molecules that might replace carbon as a building block. It's esoteric, but who knows...

2) Second, it may well be that the insects are made of the same kind of matter as the rest of us. As proof of this, both the LEXX and the Gigashadow consumed human organic matter for sustenance. What we may be looking at is a very large, very exotic molecule, which is able to link with other atoms in the same way as a combination or number of carbon atoms. What the protoblood by-product molecule replaces is not the place of a single carbon atoms, but of several carbon atoms. Essentially, it replaces not atoms, but whole chunks of carbon based molecules. Protoblood by-product molecule would replace sections or chunks of a DNA molecule, one by one, until what was left was a more massive, stable and somewhat crude reproduction of a DNA molecule. It probably wouldn't act like a DNA molecule in every way, probably wouldn't be able to reproduce as DNA does. But for the purposes of the protoblood virus, its new cell structure composed of crude by-product replacement molecules would work just as well.

The thing is that modern chemistry doesn't know of any such molecule, and it's hard to see why it would have evolved when carbon seems so convenient and so common. But it seems at least within the realms of possibility, and more likely than an alternate form of matter based on different subatomic particles, or combinations of subatomic particles.
       Certainly, whatever it is that has replaced Kai's carbon, it's proportionately at least two or three times as heavy as carbon, judging by Kai's increased weight.
       I think we can be pretty sure, although not certain, that the dead clerics were primarily carbon. It's just vaguely possible that in the process of reanimation and contact with protoblood, the carbon is evicted and that actual reanimation (waking up) occurs when a carbon elimination threshold is reached.
       The question is, how does a body become decarbonized?
       It may be a natural process, related to regular contact with protoblood. Protoblood may slowly evict the carbon over a period of hours, days, or weeks or years. Given that we're getting a chemical process occurring on a cellular level, I suspect that it's not rapid. It probably doesn't occur within seconds or minutes, and likely not over hours.
       Thodin's comment suggests that Decarbonization was a process. Perhaps it's a baking process, slowly exposing the body to similar energies as seen in BlackPacks, gradually eliminating the carbon, while allowing the protoblood or the protoblood by-products to replace the departing molecules. (In fact, BlackPacks may well be an application of the original decarbonization technology.) Perhaps it's massive infusions of protoblood or protoblood by-products under conditions of extreme heat or radiation.
       I would suspect that during Decarbonization, the animated or inert body of the subject gives off a cloud of free carbon, or respirates carbon. It probably smells.

Part Five: FrankenKai

So, why go to all the trouble? In K-Town we get to see the mostly naked Kai. Yes, he looks like a corpse, much more so than the comparatively fresher bodies of the dead Clerics. This is probably because he'd reached a more advanced state of deterioration than the Clerics did before he received a protoblood infusion.
       But still, what the hell is up with that codpiece? Or that control panel on his chest? Or the brace built into his arm? Or the pump? What's with Kai's references to his system being composed of miniature machines?
       If the clerics in Gigashadow could just get up and walk around, what's with the bad cut and slash job on Kai? Why was that necessary?
       First, some basics. Kai acknowledges in Nook that he does not have a stomach. Kai's undead, he probably doesn't need a stomach, or a pancreas, or kidneys, or a liver, or a gastrointestinal system, etc. These organs no longer function in any meaningful way as part of the body's biochemical factory. There's new management. All of these organs would be resuscitated or reactivated by protoblood, which would be a waste of protoblood. Removing them would mean that Kai requires less protoblood, or that the protoblood he gets would last much longer.
       Kai probably has at least one lung. He needs it to force air through his larynx to talk. He may also have a sense of smell, or something equivalent. In addition to talking, breathing, blowing things out, we hear him give an involuntary 'whoof' if jerked around hard.
       But there's probably a lot more to it than just removing some unnecessaries. Think about this: Kai was a mess when he came in to the bioscholars, decomposition, spinal cord damage, internal injuries, broken vertebral column, broken bones, gutted heart.
       Hey, give that thing protoblood, and its just possible that what you wind up with is a quadriplegic Divine Assassin. Yeah, that's scary. So he just gets dropped on people and drools them to death? It's likely that the Bio Scholars had to undertake a number of basic repairs and modifications just to render the corpse functional. Of course, even as they did their repairs, the corpse would probably continue to deteriorate, even if they slowed that deterioration by working in a cold room. This probably contributed to his corpselike appearance.
       It might be that they infused protoblood before making repairs? But would that work? If protoblood automatically repairs damage or changes occurring after infusion, would it simply undo the repairs, returning the body to its quadriplegic state? Remember that the clerics, when they reanimated, kept their original wounds but became immune to new wounds. Only Yottskry healed 'old', and that was only after taking on the shadow essence. It seems more logical that everything would have to be done to ready the corpse before the protoblood was added.
       But even assuming that protoblood's added, all systems are repaired, and the carbon is baked out. Is the undead entity viable in the long term? Maybe, maybe not.
       We know that in the short term, any fresh corpse touched by protoblood can get up and start walking around.
       But what we have here is a living creature, a different kind of living creature. Living biologies require elaborate feedback loops to maintain stability, to keep everything in alignment so that our heart doesn't burst, or we don't piss our life out through our kidney's. There are dozens of processes by which we accumulate and transfer energy, exchange molecules, air, food and water, with our environment, process those molecules, strain out impurities, and deliver them throughout the body. This is a lot of complexity and a lot of interactions.
       Well, consider a protoblood based biology in a reanimated corpse. All of the systems, both on the macro level among organs, circulatory systems etc., and on the micro level among cellular and subcellular processes were originally designed for a carbon based economy and biology. These systems have been pirated by a protoblood based biology/economy, but that's not what they were designed for.
       Initially, probably everything works fine. But, its likely that over time, the system accumulates errors, feedback loops go slowly but steadily out of whack, or quickly screwy, and before you know it, the whole system crashed. Hey, it happens on very simple platforms like Windows 2000.
       No problem if you want your living corpse to last only a few hours or days, but a big problem if you're looking at long term operations.

Probably, for many years, the whole living dead phenomena was only a curiosity for scholars, or perhaps a religious trick for the gullible, or used to create short term Kamikaze warriors. A lot of science and technology research was invested into prolonging the functioning lifespan of the reanimated.
       What to do?
       Install regulators to stabilize the system. Effectively, we install pacemakers to make sure that the heart beats in a stable manner and doesn't go out of whack. So install new artificial organs to keep the body's new protoblood based biology/economy stable. Hey, we've removed a lung and probably most of the gastrointestinal tract. There's plenty of space. And of course, you'd want a few external access ports, possibly to have a face of the new organs exposed and external to facilitate tinkering. A malfunction of these new artificial organs might result in the entire protoblood system seizing up.
       Existing organs like the liver or kidneys might actually be pressed into service with suitable modifications to regulate the new biology. After all, they worked fine for the old stuff, so perhaps a little tinkering would actually help. This may explain why, in K-Town, Kai's abdomen isn't completely hollowed out.
       Obviously, this would be an evolving technology. There were probably Divine Assassins before Kai whose regulatory system was much cruder. It would be interesting to see if Kai's regulatory system was periodically upgraded, or if it was frozen by the morphogenic field of the protoblood.
       If so, the system appears to have reached state of the art 2000 years before I Worship His Shadow, or at least 'a state of the art.' Brizon's claims over Kai notwithstanding, he's been doing fine for several years without maintenance from the bioscholars. Of course, over two thousand years, substantial maintenance might be required.
       The other thing to consider, is that Kai appears to be growing more mechanical with each season, which may be a sign that his system is accumulating chronic errors. If this is the case, then his ultimate problem may not be lack of protoblood, but rather, his system may simply freeze up as we saw in K-Town and Tunnels, this time irreparably.

A final note on this subject: What are Kai's new parts, his new regulatory organs and his brace made of? I originally would have thought metal. But now, I'm not so certain. It seems to me that these new parts would have to be part of the protoblood's morphogenic field, which suggests that they too are infused with protoblood. Otherwise, they're destroyed the first time they take a hit, there's no self repair capacity. Also, they have to interact with the protoblood system. I don't think metal would do the job.
       It seems likely that Kai's additional components are biological in some sense. Biological in the sense of being porous enough to accommodate and shelter protoblood. I suspect that they may well be chitin, and might just possibly be refined or processed flakes of insect shell. Instead of metal or silicon, inert insect shell and cells were used for equivalent purposes.
       Any evidence? Well, in the second Mark Asquith documentary, Michael McManus tells us that Kai's brace is based on Insect technology, and he refers to it as 'liking to stay in its drum' almost as if it was a living rather than artificial component. If the brace is insect tech, then probably the rest of his attachments and implants are as well.

Part Six: Life of the Dead Kai

Okay, some important things to understand about Kai.

First of all, he's not dead. The dead do not make dry witty comments, the dead do not do contortions to evade moral responsibility, the dead do not get up and walk around. There is a long list of things that Kai does that the dead do not do.
       Kai is alive, he only thinks he's dead. Put another way, Kai is a sort of alive that he does not understand or recognize, so he thinks it's death.
       The original Kai, the warm, living, breathing, thinking, biological carbon based Kai is dead, and has been dead and gone a long time.
       The current Kai is a replica of that Kai, down to a cellular level. He's a fossil of that Kai, with his very constituents, carbon, replaced with protoblood by-product. His mind is also a fossil of the original Kai, with the exact same brain pattern, neural structure, thoughts and memories. But now, instead of the activity taking place among living neurons, it takes place among protoblood virus inhabiting the shells of neurons. Again, identical to the original on a macro level, profoundly different on a micro level.
       This fossil Kai is not fully distinguishing itself from the original Kai, but the two are different. This difference became apparent in Beach, when fossil Kai saw the living essence of the original Kai, who was somehow dressed identical to him.
       This is an interesting issue, why was the living essence of Kai dressed and coiffured identically to the fossil Kai? All of the other living essences were certainly not dressed or coiffured as they were in life. Even if they were, the living essence wasn't dressed the way and in the colours he had in life, he was dressed in the style and colours of the fossil. It seems as if there's a connection or attraction between the fossil and the living essence.
       The fossil Kai, by the way, is close enough in structure to the original one to be a natural vehicle for the living memories. The living Kai memories seem to fit and be comfortable enough in the fossil Kai that they dominate all other sets of memories, none of which ever seem to achieve any kind of dominance. Fossil Kai always identifies himself as Kai, and as the Kai who died fighting His Shadow. He never identifies himself as anyone else, even when deranged.
       Anyway, living Kai is long gone and we're only dealing with the fossil guy, so I'll just call him Kai, simple and proper.

Kai operates based on his memories of life, and his memories of what life was. He is still a living being, but he is now a vastly alien living being, with a fundamentally different composition and properties. He's basically a collection of viruses, sharing a morphogenic field, and inhabiting a decarbonized series of cellular shells, like living cells inhabiting a coral network.
       He is a living being, but his life and existence is absolutely alien to his mind and memories. It doesn't recognize it, and it has no frame of reference for it.
       Remember what I said about the protoblood economy/biology taking over a carbon economy/biology, but not being perfectly adapted or designed for the structures and organization designed for that carbon economy/biology system?
       The same thing is happening psychologically. Kai's living mind was designed to operate in a carbon based flesh and chemistry system. The system that it is operating in now is not one for which it was designed, and it somewhat alien to it.
       Consider this: Kai no longer has carbon based biology. Therefore, he isn't producing hormones, no more adrenaline, no more oestrogen, no more androgen, testosterone, endorphins, epenephrines, norepeneprhines or whatever. If we get mad, we release a flush of adrenaline which fuels and amplifies the emotion. If Kai gets mad, no adrenaline. He simply can't get mad. Or upset, or weepy, or whatever else hormones do to affect, create, amplify or support or emotions.
       Emotions thoughts, attitudes and drives are also based in brain chemistry. Brain chemistry is linked to depression, schizophrenia, a variety of mental illnesses, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, etc. All of which create or amplify emotional response. Kai has none of that. No endorphins mean that he'll never experience an orgasm as we know it, never experience a runner's high, perhaps never experience a sense of pleasure in the way that we do.
       Moreover, chemistry drives our physical reactions. Our emotional reactions are also physical ones, anger, lust, excitement gets our heart beating faster, it causes our stomach to tighten, our palms to sweat and so forth. These physical reactions are at least partly powered by chemical flushes, and sometimes they produce chemical flushes. Having these reactions may well simulate or stimulate an emotional reaction. For instance, if our heart starts to race, we may go into a panic attack. Once again, there's a disconnect with Kai. He has no chemistry to cause physical reactions, his physical reactions produce no chemistry. He doesn't even have a heart or certain organs, he doesn't sweat, so even were he potentially capable of physical reactions, he can't have them.
       Mantrid says that parts of his brain do not function. This makes sense. We've never noticed any cognitive impairment on Kai's part. Motor coordination, speech, vision, memory, thought are all unimpaired. Those parts of the brain, the higher functions are fine. However, significant parts of the brain were designed for and operate to regulate the body's carbon based biochemistry. Those are probably the parts which are inactive. These parts are also related to or are the parts which give rise to our reptilian urges, eat, fight, reproduce, survive. The basic human instinctual drives may not be functioning with Kai, or their function may be substantially diminished.
       Thus, for Kai, he feels like he doesn't have emotions. His current emotions bear almost no resemblance to what he feels now. His emotions feel distant and far away, faint, as if a person was shouting at him from across an abyss. Without the amplified stereo system of carbon based biochemistry, the emotions which arise naturally from cognitive function are simply not amplified the way they would be for us.
       Kai does feel emotions, or express emotions. He frequently exercises dry wit, so he has a sense of humour. His sense of humour is entirely intellectual and abstract, based on cognitive dissonance rather than visceral reaction. The level of his sense of humour, the abstract and highly cognitive way it operates, and the subtle way he expresses it are consistent with the lack of biochemistry. His most visible emotion is the one least dependent upon biochemistry.
       He also exercises a moral perspective, speaking on behalf of Stan in Stan's Trial, talking him out of destroying the MedSat in Terminal, and quite often going through byzantine convolutions to avoid killing or being responsible for killing. Again, arguably, he's operating out of an emotional framework. But if its an emotional framework, it's a highly intellectualised, passionless emotional framework.
       At various points, and in interactions with people, in the original series with Zev, with Desh in 791, or Norb in White Trash, he appears to relate emotionally to people. It's a minimalist response, but there seems to be something there.
       McManus himself said that Kai tended to act as a mirror, reflecting back to him whatever was directed at him. But this implies some capacity to reflect. Kai has no emotional intensity himself, because he's no longer got the biochemistry to support that intensity. But he still has the emotional structure, so if he gets intensity from outside, he can respond with something beginning to resemble intensity. In essence, external sources provide him with an intensity his internal operations can no longer create.
       Kai also provided emotions of sorts in both Twilight and Wake the Dead. In Twilight it appears that the planets radiations simply boosted his level of brain activity. Wake the Dead he simulated emotions in a deranged state with an outside push.
       Finally, in the initial moments when he regained himself, destroyed the predecessor, fought His Shadow, and rescued and was rescued by Zev and Stan, he appears to have formed an emotional bond with them. Under the circumstances, this makes sense.
       The intensity of his mind reawakening itself, of recovering its memories, its will and motive, would have created an emotional intensity completely independent of biochemistry. Without biochemistry it couldn't sustain himself, he'd quickly get used to being aware, conscious and in command of both motive and memory and his ability to experience intensity would rapidly diminish. Kai would be left with a single memory of one genuine intense emotional experience in his 'undead' state which would probably guide or drive him thereafter.
       His emotional detachment may also explain his evolving relationship towards Zev/Xev. In the first season, he simply responded to her intensity, reflecting back to her somewhat. As the relationship develops, Xev begins to seek or demand something back, some intensity or feedback from Kai, she wants not only to love, but to be loved, to be wanted, to be cherished and desired. Kai, in very real ways, cannot do this. No endorphins remember? He can't even have an orgasm. Because he can't give her what she needs from him, he becomes increasingly diffident or mechanical in his dealings with her, increasingly standoffish.
       In contrast, Stan's demands on him are much simpler and much more within his abilities to cope with. Basically: save my life.
       There are a few other details to take into account. Consider that live Kai's last emotional reactions, his last intellectual reactions, were a profound awareness and acceptance of death, of his own inevitable death, of death at the hands of His Shadow, of death of his world, his people, his way of life. When he stopped functioning, that was how all the switches in his neurons were set. When he regained his memories, that would be his last and strongest memory.
       Essentially, living Kai may have had such a powerful impression that he was dead or dying that the fossil Kai simply can't escape it. For the fossil Kai, it's roughly equivalent to a powerful lingering afterimage that he can't escape, like the afterimage blindness that comes from having a powerful light flash in your eyes. He's not dead, but merely convinced that he is.
       Certainly the only other significant thought/emotion/memory that was going through him around the time of his death seems to have had a motivating influence. This was the prophecy of the time prophet. It does appear to have driven behaviour and influenced his attitudes. If this was actually driving him, then we can only guess at the magnitude of the impact of the whole death experience.
       Keep in mind that death experiences, even for living people, are profound events. People who have had death experiences often react to it in profound, though usually short term ways. They may become alienated, erratic, disassociated from themselves or society, the world may feel unreal, their priorities dramatically reordered, they may become unemotional or hyperemotional. All of this amounts to a coping mechanism. People work through it. But Kai's emotional structure lacks drive or intensity, it is rarefied and abstract. Perhaps this means that his emotional coping processes work very slowly, or it works at low levels, or perhaps it simply doesn't have enough energy to work at all. Kai may be frozen in a psychological moment of death experience, without the energy to move past it or through it.
       It may be that under all the circumstances, believing that he is dead is his most effective coping mechanism for dealing with or understanding his current form of existence.
       Certainly, it's probably not helping that each of the memories of His Shadow's victims contained within him invariably end with "AAAAAHHHH NO NO ARGHHH PLEASE Aahhhh no aaaaa..." I imagine it would get to be kind of a linking theme.
       But I think that there's a little more going on here, or that could potentially go on. Kai no longer has carbon based biochemistry, with all its exotic little brain chemicals and hormones.
       But that doesn't mean he has no biochemistry. He's got a protoblood based biochemistry. This may suggest that there's a foundation for primal drives and urges, emotions, and emotional intensifications, feedback loops. Perhaps he even experiences these.
       But the problem is that his mind, his psychological structure, designed for a carbon based system, all the thousands of memories, all designed for carbon based systems, none of these recognize or are adapted for what he may actually be experiencing. There's a disconnect between the psychological chemistry he experiences, and the psychological chemistry his mind is able to recognize or accept.
       For all we know, he may actually have senses which he either doesn't use at all or doesn't use fully, simply because he has no psychological or neurological structure which will enable him to take advantage of these abilities.
       Essentially, Kai's actual state is one of autism, a disconnect between his consciousness and his inherited emotional structure and his current biological physical and emotional structure. Unlike most normal autistics, this functioning disconnect does not render him helpless and behaviourally deranged. Although perhaps to a fully adapted protoblood based mind, that's exactly what he is. In our terms, he is extremely functional and effective.
       Of course, if Kai's carbon originated mind had better connections to his protoblood nature, or if it was able to simulate or experience similar emotions to carbon based biology, Kai might not be a very healthy puppy. It likely wouldn't be a perfect fit and the results of a bad match might be much worse than the current no match. Even if it was a perfect fit, there could be problems. The intense emotional reactions might form feedback loops, they might be too intense or overwhelming. Kai might simply quickly degenerate or disintegrate psychologically.
       For instance, imagine the impact of all those memories, each ending with murder, if they had a full emotional resonance? If they all had full emotional intensity?
       It's likely that Kai's autism is literally what allows him to function at all with anything resembling a stability or sanity that we would recognize.
       However, his autism renders him emotionally disconnected and deranged in terms of what kind of entity that he is.

What's the prognosis?
       It's hard to say. There are a number of factors at work. His protoblood is limited. He may well be slowly accumulating systemic errors which will cause him to 'crash.' He may simply never make the whole journey. But, assuming that he lasts long enough, it is entirely possible that he may adapt psychologically to what he is. He may well resolve the tensions or disconnect, may transcend the autism created by a human mind and brain operating in a protoblood matrix.
       It's not likely to be an easy process. There really are no human/insect hybrid fossils like him. There's nothing in his memories, which he often relies upon, to guide him. The only thing that will help are time, and reflection and experience. As to what he may be, or what he may become, we don't know. I've speculated that his evolution over the three seasons may be evidence of accumulating breakdown, it may be evidence of a completely different kind of transformation.
       Kai, in Heaven and Hell, says, "I do not feel, but I do think about things." Prince asks what he thinks about. Kai replies, "I think about the differences between myself and the living."

© 2001 Darrow

© 2001 WordWrights

The Darrow Files