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TWOTY 2048

Base made her way through the alley. It was grim and desolate but for the few rats

that scurried around her feet. The soil was sludgy and the walls of the buildings were

moist with the drizzle that had been pouring from an endless river of clouds since

daybreak.

It was now 9pm in Enclave xi5.u6, and past time she got to her Gathering. Her shell-skin was in stealth mode and on full armor, for this Enclave was not known for its love for the freethinker. Trying to blend in, Base felt herself the exact opposite: a complete stranger to these streets and the rats that inhabited them. Yet perhaps all felt this alienated.


Enclave xi5.u6 was built on the single belief that the free market will set people free. The neo-capitalistic city-state had seen the unstoppable rise of the rich and famous, until 1% of everyone owned 99% of everything. The other 99% of the population, the Commons, struggled to get a hold of the 1% that was tossed to them. Both sides believed it was karmic resonance that got them in their current position, so next to a small uproar every now and then, the Enclave remained as it was.


Base resented travelling through these streets. She need not forget the reason she

came here, nor the shell-skin armor that would protect her, should the situation turn

bad. Yet she need not forget the trouble she would be in if the 99% found out about

the assets that were implanted in her body, either. She was not part of the 1% in

power. She was alien to this Enclave. The 99% would for an instant ‘forget’ the fact

that she was a Guardian, for she was not their Guardian. She belonged somewhere

else.


Better not linger here too long, Base thought, and resumed her search. She was

looking for the dented steel doors of a restaurant cellar. She received the exact GPS-

lock on her VR-lenses, yet she dare not use the technology in this part of the

Enclave. Too many eyes, too little trust. To travel unnoticed among the Commons,

meant to become one. No detectable tech, no upgrades, no brightness.


Unconsciously mimicking the rats the Commons lived amid, she also scurried around

the streets, avoiding eye contact and keeping her head down, steeping her back,

hiding her face.


She had imprinted the location of the steel doors of the restaurant cellar in her brain

and now relied on good old human memory to get to her destination. Those with very

sharp sight would notice there was no dingy Chinese restaurant in the alley, nor any

other restaurant in need of a cellar with a steel door. One who knew what to look for,

would find a wooden door underneath the dented steel. A door that, under the right

circumstances, led to the Gathering Base was eager to attend.


And there it was, unremarkably part of this Enclave, but undoubtedly exactly the door

she was looking for. Almost sighing with relief, Base removed the chain lock barring

the steel, opened the double doors and found natural wood underneath. Then

removing her glove, she touched the wood and knocked. There was no answer.

Without wanting to attract unwanted attention, she knocked again, harder this time.

Again, nothing happed. She was getting a bit worried now. What if…? She knocked

once more, as hard as she could.


Almost instantaneously, she felt the SoulScan passing through her. It was such

advanced tech, that the rats did not notice and even her shell-skin could not

withstand the piercing eye of knowing. SoulScan searched her body, mind and soul

for lies, insincerity or anything opposing freethinking. This was the only way to enter

the Gathering, by letting them search her soul and try to find anything but despair for

this Enclave and its founding belief. It demanded a full transparency she felt no

discomfort with. She breathed in deeply as the SoulScan reached its conclusion.

Relieved, she heard a small ‘click’ and a warm light came shining through the door.


Looking over her shoulder and scanning they alley for Commons, rats or those in

power, Base put her bare hand on the wood. There was no handle, but she felt the

door open by the touch of her uncovered skin. She ducked and went inside.

Still wary of everything she had experienced, she entered a long and dark tunnel. A

small glowing light lit her way. The tunnel was so long she thought it would never

end, bending left and right, perhaps even going full circle. Some times, she thought

she heard the sound of people talking or laughing, which then faded as soon as it

came. Several SoulScans went through her, all of which she believed she passed,

until finally there was another wooden door. She could swear it was the same door

she entered the tunnel by. Almost reluctantly, she put her hand on wood. It opened.


With tears in her eyes, she found her home, her Enclave, on the other side of the

door. It was full of brightness, laughter and happiness. There was sunlight and

people talking. She did not get time to take it all in, for she stumbled right into the

Gathering of the Elders, the wise leaders of this wholesome place, all aching to hear

how her voyage to Enclave xi5.u6 had gone. This specific Gathering concerned the

festivities around the TWOTY, the Trend Watcher of the Year Award, supporting

critical thought, and diversion of free and future thinking.


Elder Sophi got up and welcomed her back. She invited her to take the stage: ‘Base,

would you mind sharing with us a world in which the future itself is owned and

organized by a mere 1% of the inhabitants? A future in which freethinking is

outlawed, where there is no place for diversity of thoughts about the future, for free

market thinking is the only law left. What will the world look like if we do not create

future ourselves, but believe Power will do so for us?’


She trembled, and started to tell them about her travels.

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