Eindhoven, Sector VH-117. 17:00, Central Work Time.
“We the NSI thank you for supporting us. NSI: from us, to you – for you.”
Neon and chrome illuminate your steps as you make your way downtown to King’s Court, the town’s central hub. The NSI “protectification informational reminders” are looping across monitors lined up across the road, your brain muting the chattering of the PR lady on-screen. She disappears from the screen to make way for NSI’s director, Mar-K. He watches you from behind his sunglasses – does he even have eyes? Rumour says he’s got them replaced by 360° vision implants years ago. Nowadays, Man does not need what God gave him.
You jiggle the K-creds in your pocket, and mull a bit on whether you’re going to pay the Xotic Tail district a visit later. You’re an adult now, after all. A little gambling never hurt anyone (much).
The monitors continue showing NSI’s videos, but something’s off, breaking the monotony of repetition.The images are frozen, screens flickering. The broadcast is being hijacked, you think to yourself in shock. You’ve come to a stop, eager to see whatever’s happening unfold.
The head of a fox appears. A hooded, masked figure enters the screen, stands in front of the backdrop.
“An individual chooses. A drone obeys”. A deep voice, distorted by a vocoder. “Citizens, open your eyes and deny the NSI. The Phantom Fox Doctrine will free you, if you allow yourselves to be freed”. The figure continues. “We will come for you Mar-K. I, the Phantom Fox, make this promise to you. We will strike when you least expect it.” The promise in the voice is evident, even with the distortion of the vocoder.
The screen changes back to the NSI-approved video materials. Their PR lady – Miss Sale, your mind supplies – is speaking directly to the viewer. To you. “At the NSI, we are devoted and dedicated only to you. If you help us, we help you. Join us. Help us. Will you?” she says, voice low and alluring.
You walk away, thoughts swimming about. You’ve reached King’s Court, taking note of the eccentric figures selling their wares and services. One of them waves to you, pointing at the bounty offers and other odd jobs hanging on the wall of their dilapidated shop. Another shouts that they’re currently hiring in preparation of the Abunai! Festival.
You ponder for a bit.
You’ve got your mind made up. It’s time to choose. Breathe in, take a step.
TO BE CONTINUED.