Spacetime Human Internal Fluctuating Transfer, or SHIFTing, is an ability that allows a person known as a SHIFTer to subconsciously transfer their consciousness to a different history in moments of extreme danger. While the concept occurs throughout the series, it is only named as SHIFTing in Zero Time Dilemma.
SHIFTers are a type of Espers.
The ability to SHIFT is born in certain individuals, known as Shifters. The ability to SHIFT allows the user to transfer their consciousness to different histories in time and is directly linked to the morphogenetic field. These transfer points vary in the concept of Spacetime. Consciousness can transfer between parallel points in history, even completely different routes than the original transfer point. Consciousness can transfer from a little as a few hours to as much as several decades. There are, however, two conditions to be able to SHIFT:
- The user must experience extreme danger, usually life threatening situations.
- The intended point in time in which the user transfers their consciousness must have a conscious, living version of themselves present to transfer.
However, this ability is not without its flaws and drawbacks. Most attempts at SHIFTing are involuntary or subconscious, the user sometimes not even aware that they are even using it and are usually interpreted as a life review because of the precursor that they must have a near death experience. However, with some practice, full conscious awareness of its usage and even precise event SHIFTing is possible.
Users without control of their SHIFT ability suffer from chronic memory lapses known as Reverie Syndrome. As mentioned above, the user must have a living version of themselves in that history or future. Secondly, while that person's consciousness transfers to that point in time, the consciousness of that version of themselves that they are transferring themselves to swap places with their original point of transfer. Essentially, the users of SHIFT sacrifice the consciousness of their alternate history's consciousness.
For example, if Person A from Timeline 1 is about to be caught in a bomb blast, they can transfer their consciousness to another version of themselves where they are no where near the bomb blast in a Timeline 2. Two things result from this transfer:
- Timeline 1's version of Person A's consciousness now lives onward from this safe timeline with all memories of the Timeline 1.
- Timeline 2's version of Person A's consciousness is now caught in the bomb blast and dies from it.
While normal humans that do not possess the powers of SHIFT cannot do so knowingly or subconsciously, they can utilize it by proxy so long as there are enough SHIFTers nearby to resonate with and utilize this ability.
In Zero Time Dilemma, Akane mentions that the number of SHIFTers in the world is increasing, and she theorizes it is an evolutionary adaption to an upcoming crisis facing mankind.
Virtue's Last Reward
Zero Time Dilemma
Prior to the Dcom test and the Decision Game, Carlos did not know that he had the ability to SHIFT. However, when rescuing people as a firefighter, he claims to always know which way to go in order to save someone, and which path will lead to his death.
In the Power Room and subsequent AB Room, C Team reaches a supposed dead end in the timeline during the AB game with Junpei and Carlos. While Akane is unconscious, both men agree to select "Ally" in the AB game in order for everyone to survive. However, in the timeline where Carlos selects "Ally", Junpei will always select "Betray". Consequently, Carlos will select "Betray" in the history where Junpei picks "Ally". In this history, Carlos is horrified that Junpei didn't pick "Betray" like "last time", and Junpei doesn't know what he's talking about. Before Carlos can figure anything out, Junpei dies as a result of losing the AB game. Akane beats Carlos to death with a fire hydrant, causing him to SHIFT to a history shortly before the AB game, when Junpei is telling Carlos a story about Akane's past.
Remembering the branching histories from the AB game with this consciousness, Carlos cuts Junpei's story off by saying exactly what he was going to say. Their confusion allows enough time for Akane to return to consciousness. Aware of SHIFTing abilities due to being a SHIFTer herself, she explains to Carlos that he may have SHIFTed.
In order to avoid the AB game altogether, C Team decides to all SHIFT to another history together. Akane reactivates the nuclear core to put their lives in danger so that they are able to SHIFT. Hesitantly following Junpei's lead, the three SHIFT to the history in which they are gunned down for not rolling three ones with the dice in Rec Room. With no time to explain his plan, Junpei has Carlos throw Akane into the fireplace, while he and Carlos use their bodies to shield her from the rain of bullets. Carlos and Junpei SHIFT to another timeline before they die.
Because more than six people are dead in the history Akane is in, she obtains the passwords needed to open the X-Door in the history Carlos and Junpei SHIFTed, too. Being an experienced SHIFTer, Akane is able to retain these passwords after SHIFTing. However, when the three try entering the passwords from that other history, they receive errors. An automated message tells them that they cannot use passwords from other histories. For breaking the rules, one of the Qs is sent to kill them.
Carlos SHIFTs by himself this time to the timeline in which he murders Akane with the axe, shortly after this event. Zero plays back footage of him covered in blood and murdering Akane for the others, but Carlos insists that the Carlos who did that wasn't him, since he came from a different history.
Eric and Mira do not have the ability to SHIFT. Because Sean is a robot, his mind is stored in a quantum computer in the facility. This quantum computer has the ability to access information from multiple timelines, thus allowing Sean to technically be able to "SHIFT" but not in the traditional method that the six SHIFTers in the Decision Game can.
After Mira is murdered, Eric is furious and reluctant to believe any explanation of SHIFTing, thinking that one of the participants murdered Mira and that they are just trying to confuse him. In one history, he is fed up enough to shoot Carlos with a shotgun as he is trying to explain.
In the True Ending, Eric and Mira are able to use the other SHIFTers' resonances to SHIFT to escape the exploding facility.
Having developed their powers during the events of Virtue's Last Reward, Sigma and Phi are both keenly aware of their SHIFTing abilities. However, Diana is unaware of the concept, despite being a SHIFTer herself, but is able to tap into her power during the D-Force Quit box where she recalls the events of the D-2 ending. In numerous histories, Sigma and Phi explain the concept of SHIFTing to Diana.
- When Kotaro Uchikoshi was asked by a fan how to SHIFT, Uchikoshi replied "by propagandizing ze series". When the fan replied they already do that, Uchikoshi replied "not enough. I think Justin Bieber does not know ze series yet."