Thursday, February 1, 2024

Strata 11, Immersion V1, Crossroads (Guessing)

Lose yourself in the safety of books

The Book of Immersion

Volume 1

Strata 11

The Crossroads (Guessing)

The Book of Immersion is published on the Tale Teller Club website each week.

Each episode features CDM music by the band Tale Teller Club and illustrations by iServalan Homotech 23

Welcome to our world.

© 2024 Sarnia de la Mare

Tale Teller Club


Welcome to Immersion, You Have Reached Strata 11, Crossroads (Guessing)


To predict is always about a future possibility. Guessing, for a human, is usually more abstract, more emotional, and about the now. Artificial intelligence uses a different sort of guesswork. It is based on mathematics, likelihood, statistical evidence, and machine experience. Humans, whilst using all these models (albeit to a lesser degree) also use an extra ingredient, intuition. It is this fluid intuition that creates a human view of the environment, and allows a person to act accordingly. An intuitive machine can offer insight in an unexpected situation which may or may not be irrelevant. The sixth sense, refers to how the human brain understands where the body is in space. A seventh sense manifests in peripheral immune cells detecting microorganisms and delivering the information to the brain. The sixth and seventh senses are likely to help create 'gut feelings' in humans.

Out of the enclosure, there was a crossroads.
The left turn goes back onto the street where the bank was. It is dangerous, especially at night. Under the protection of darkness. gangs of criminals take control of the streets in convoys of vehicles running drugs and weapons.

They control the Zones with violence and the offer of protection. They are further empowered by gangs of decommissioned droids under their control. Criminal humans at the helm of everyday life have created a network of organised crime that remains relatively successful. Anarchy prevails and there is no official system of state policing or philanthropic social care. ‘Dog eat dog’ is the only expectation. And yet the societies in the zones are advancing intellectually, economically, and technologically.

Renyke asks the POS for information about Flex and Shabra……

…..There is an underclass of urchs, often referred to as lowers, who are very happy. They have been able to carve out an existence in the zones where colour, imagination, dance, and music are their pleasures. They smoke hallucinogens and celebrate life whenever they can. They are mostly nomadic living in temporary movable homes. Many have pop-up tents that fold onto pouches, vehicles they have fashioned from old wreckages, even armoured clothing with solar panels. That is the only data I am currently able to gather….Flex himself seems to be invisible….

‘And Shabra?’ demanded Renyke, irritated that things were not clear.

‘ ….she too appears to be invisible, there is no data available…..

Renyke, now annoyed, asks the POS for information about underground and overground terrain.

….My data shows there may be a network of tunnels beneath the zones from the old underground trains that are no longer used…..

Renyke began to be annoyed by the uselessness of his POS.

‘Are there tunnels?’ he asks his companions.

‘Yes my friend, there are always tunnels.

But no one gets down em without a fight or a pass, money, ya know, swapsie-trade….'

Shabra interjected

‘You won’t get down there with anything you got Mr Renyke. That’s the home of the crimgangs!’

Some areas underground were used as habitats, others for routes to deliver illicit goods. New tunnels were worked on by slaves and they had become a complex warren of labyrinths stretching deep into the ground. The territory and ownership of tunnel zones was more fiercely fought over than those above.

Renyke could hear the cacophony of danger.

There was no downtime in the Zones. Many businesses ran all night to avoid the vulnerability of robbery, arson, or take over. Market traders often sold their wares using shift workers. Stalls could be closed speedily if trouble was imminent. 

Flex is an urch and was born in the zones. He had no other cultural experiences to call upon but he had developed excellent survival skills and was even respected by people outside of his tribe. 

In terms of hierarchy, Flex was a maverick operator. As an experienced people-person and able to observe without judgement, he learned from a very young age to avoid trouble. He was something of a diplomat and his height and sense of humour had made him affable and connected over the years.

His disposition made him instantly trustworthy, at least to other humans.

The right turn led to the savanna. It was safer from the gangs but there were other dangers; wild animals, noxious substances from the old mines, and low flying craft from the official police trying to keep the greenbelt around the Midcast Projects clear.

The ground was also heavily polluted after the Russia/China wars. The habitat is now overrun in places with wild and mutated farm animals who were exposed to these dangerous substances. They remained extremely aggressive and would eat human flesh whenever possible.

There were caves offering safety from these animals connected by wet tunnels and lagoons, but these had never been mapped correctly. Word of mouth was the only reference but as survivors are so few, the informations was not to be relied upon.

There were also tribes of people who had made their homes in the savanna. Little was understood about them and they were rarely seen. They were deemed reasonably placid as they had never caused trouble elsewhere. They were also rumoured to be shy, excellent hunters, highly superstitious and had been thought to possess witchlike powers.

There was an urban myth that an old centre for strategic warfare that lies beneath the savanna was home to such tribes. They had fortuitous access to hi-tech equipment and were able to scramble satellite information allowing them to be hidden.

The road ahead led directly back to the midcasts from where Renyke had originally come.

Beyond the projects were the government departments, airports, factories and centres of information. Further still were the palaces and homes of the very wealthy. The Midcast Projects consist of medium to high-wage earner homes, with schools and facilities for professionals and academics.

The way that mainstream society was structured was based on a capitalist idea of perfection: consistent innovation, counteracting labour fallout due to advancing technology by placating a keen and able workforce. The ownership of the means of production, digital technologies, cyberspace, buildings etc, was protected and a privilege for as few empowered individuals or corporations as possible.

There was very little opportunity for upward social mobility. Governments and landowners were careful not to allow ordinary workers and lower professionals access to these avenues of power and control.

The biggest means of production have been the internet and interactive media. Both tightly controlled by a group of related conglomerates, most of whom had made their fortune through the production of weapons and vaccines.

Downtime for workers was spent in the VR cafes where mersers could get drunk, have sex, take a swim on holiday, and even murder people, albeit in their heads, during their coffee breaks.
RR, real reality, was frowned upon as anti-intellectual and subnormal.

But some midcasters had abandoned their lives for RR and have gone to the outer zones to seek fulfilment. For these people, RR is their calling or obsession. Others, like Renyke, find that their continued presence in the Midcast Projects is dangerous or compromised and came to escape an undesirable situation or death.

Renyke makes a decision based on the only experience and knowledge he has.

'We go left....back into town.'

to be continued © 2023 Sarnia de la Maré 

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