NXT: CHAPTER 2 — VARIOUS ASSUMPTIONS WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS (X-OTOXIN)

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PAST—2047:

A screen behind them flashed startling images and swung in various assumptions with possible solutions right after another.

     Voiced by Cora—the host at Raven Corps’ live, televised event—sat in the shadows, waiting for her turn in the spotlight.

“What if that cold breeze you feel while soaking up the morning sun is— “

…just someone opening a door in a different location?

“What if that cold chill crawling up your spine is— “

…your chair growing colder as the room temp lowers?

“What if that feeling you get when someone is staring at you, yet no one appears is— “

…true?

“What if that little voice in your head is coming from— “

…an actual person?

“What if that reoccurring, unapparent, scent you keep smelling is— “

…from a lab assistants coat brushing against your face?

“What if those unexplained muscle twitches where your hand or foot jerks on its own is— “

…because that limb was moved from its platform?

“What about those times you tripped over ‘air’, or those dreams that felt ‘real’? These are just some of the many questions. The answers, however, are what happens when fully immersed inside a virtual reality, designed with us in mind.

The screen went black, as her smile clicked on. “No, this isn’t a ghost story, people, although it should be, this is escapism on a whole new level. Created by this man, NXT WRLD is a virtual reality set in the Utopian future of America. Please, if you may, welcome, Doctor Edgar Wyatt.”

Cora Stiles, the bubbly-spirited hostess of the show, swiveled her silver chic chair around facing Edgar. Her pointy elbow rested inside the arm of her chair.

He, with an ankle rested upon his knee, smiled, and waved as the crowd applauded. He’s proud, his face full of collected amusement, and his hair was black with dusted gray. Just one of the many interviews, over the years, but different in the sense that he had, once again, changed the game.

“Good evening, and welcome to Ebony News and Entertainment Live Tonight. I’ll be your host tonight, Cora Stiles and I am here with our beloved doctor, Edgar Wyatt, and he is going to share with us some details about how our world is becoming better with his project.”

“Thank you for having me on your show. It’s an honor.”

“No, thank you. We’re excited for you to tell us everything about the second installment of NXT. Now, how is it any different from the first one?” She chuckled slightly, with the audience all nodding in agreement.

“It’s been a year since I began this study. We are all familiar with the social network, NXT, but this is called NXT WRLD. In it houses the psychologically disturbed based upon nine levels of disturbances. In time, I do see it replacing prisons, but in this we are exploring how believable this world can be, and if negative reinforcement can pose a positive outcome within the community to prevent adding more inmates to an already over swelled number of criminals, and potentially lower the crime rate.”

Her brows twisted, then she stammered, in a quick attempt to appear professional. “I-I’m sorry, but half my viewers may not have any idea what you just said. Can you simplify that previous statement?”

A condescending chuckle pressed against his dry lips. “Yes, of course. Instead of making them learn how to cope with the bad things—because most of them lack the capacity to do so on their own—we remove those instances in their lives, implanting a short, but believable, concept of their world’s history, and in turn, the ones who control those choices are rewarded for their kind gestures. The nicer the move, the better for their handler. On average, the one who controls the cyber-citizen, can make enough in a year to support a family of five with just that alone.”

“But how does not letting dreadful things happen to them, keep them unaware of the false reality?”

“Because, in my thoroughgoing study, it has shown that when a person truly believes that nothing bad will or has ever come to them, then they willingly fully immerse themselves in this fictional reality, thus revealing those individuals who act without first thinking. And if they are capable at coming to terms with consensus reality, then they are more capable at rising above their illness and taking control over their own life.”

“What if they realize it’s all a sham?”

“They won’t. We play into their cognitive dissonance, relieving their dire pressure to exert heinous crimes. We do a complete reset of that individual, much like you would do to a computer, and after so many times, to refrain from any brain damage, we issue a transference. So in reality, one may experience the same day over and over again but with different instances.”

“We are all aware of the consequences of what occurs when operating more than one system at one time.” Moment of silence ensued as she continued, “How have you combated this problem?”

“By use of solar powered generators for each device. Which will be for sale for everyone who owns more than one. The only thing it requires is five minutes of charging.”

“So, the system temporarily powers down for those five minutes? Is that because of your institution being placed in an area that is shrouded with endless amounts of trees?”

“Yes, and no; in NXT WRLD—unlike platform NXT—it allows sleep-time. During the five minutes, the individuals plugged in will actually be asleep despite living in a dream-like state. The synthetic compound used to trigger the recently discovered Clyctyn, inside the brains’ neuron transmitter nuclei, is a sleep aid injected through the transducer’s center prong into the brainstem. Without the transducer, it’s nothing more than a noxious gas that can temporarily force an individual into REM sleep. From what I have gathered, it increases the believability in this world.”

Her confusion, though an act of belittlement of his successes, was quite genuine. “How so?”

“Think about it. If you lived in a world, so perfect, that nothing could go wrong, and everything occurs by the need of the people, then that is a utopia. Or, in other terms, Deleuzes’ theory of vitality. Thus, unbelievable. Here, however, I combated it by presenting them with imminent, yet impenetrable, danger around them. To remind them, not everything is perfect by using Kant’s argument about providing sufficient transcendental logic. The warning.”

A smile escaped her lips, as a light bulb went off above her head. “What if they find a way to venture outside the safety of their virtual reality markers?”

He chuckled softly, then quickly realized she was not kidding. “Oh, um, well… Let’s just hope they are not that insane.”

“Why? What will happen?”

He clapped his hands together, stuffing them into his lap. “Honestly, I have no idea. But I can’t imagine it would be anything pleasurable. To them, at least.”

“Well, with everything they have done with their lives, is that really such a bad idea to let them suffer?” The select few who held resistance against the Utilitarian Government, her audience, brave enough to even associate with such treason, cheered in agreement.

Every now and again the thought had crossed his mind. Despite their insatiable blood lust, a reminder had to be made. “Harming any individual in any way is punishable by law if they are not consenting.  In this case, they cannot be in any position to consent. Besides, Projectile Memories lapse in the built-in simulation provided. But not all memories are forgotten, only the ones that would cause said individual pain or unhappiness.”

“What about the said tiny electrical impulses used within the transducers? Is that not harmful to an individual?”

“No, not in the amounts implemented by me. They are only meant to mimic the vibrations found in daily life. Such as impulses, sensations, feelings, et cetera.”

Darkness invaded her tone. “And what about the rumors circulating around of there being a tenth level housing a man who is rumored to have committed such heinous acts that we can’t even say on live television?”

He patted his chest, sweat formed on the temples. He matched her exact tone. “It never existed—such a man does not exist. I am to reform such individuals. Granted, not all who enter, make it past the first round.”

“What happens to them? The ones who cannot be saved, that is.”

“They are offered a new chance at life, in a sense. In exchange for memory erasure, with the use of telemechanics and radio-dynamics, we are able to upload their basic consciousness into an automated and self-aware AI.”

“How is this possible. Most people who decided to go that route in life can live longer, yet not learn anything new. Whether it be for a new type of job or really anything remotely human.”

“We have actually come into a recent partnership with the Thrive for Lyf company, Nexus. They are the ones who created this learning software that most AI’s today can automate unlike anything before. It’s more than an update, or download. It’s…well, life.”

The crowd—mostly AI—cheered and revered in this news. Their claps echoed throughout the stage.

Shortly after a few quick basic questions, he exited off stage. The entire interview took about an hour long. His twelve-year-old daughter—with brownish-red hair and deep colored freckles—greeted him with expelled enthusiasm. “You were great on there.”

He chuckled, placing a hand inside his coat. “Go back to the office. Call if only an emergency.”

Her eyes begged with confusion.

“I have a lunch meeting with our young savant. Don’t worry, you should know what to do by now.”

PRESENT—2067:

A break in the midday sky poured radiance down upon a bleak expression stretched across the wrinkled, anxious face of Doctor Edgar Wyatt—owner of Primal Intelligence—and the highly sought-after mind behind each explained—otherwise unexplainable—psyche of those under his neo-form of treatment.

He sat in the park, fidgeting with large a manila envelope thick with secrets only he knew about, while sucking in the humid air in which frizzed his gray hair. Soon after, a familiar set of footsteps approached. He yanked his mind free of the trepidation this meeting incurred within. Despite everything he had done to prevent the unveiling of his ordeals; innocence remained as grand, except when proven wrong. He slid the envelope beneath his leg and sweat trickled across his rounded face.

Without looking up—except for the slight peer through the corner of his folded brown eye—he sat, in an upright manner as the steps approached.

“Rain. It will be refreshing, don’t you think?” Edgar’s voice ceased the steps, and he was met with an annoyed grin from a face he hasn’t seen so far this year. 

An unpleasantly scented, rugged, man towered over. His clothes tattered and worn dangled off his lanky, lean body. Furrows deepened between his brows, which loom graciously over his darkened blue eyes. He appeared life had otherwise tossed him through Hell and back on numerous occasions and watched him become rigid, almost clenched away, from any penetrable mass. His nose was wide, and his face unshaven.

Edgar held every belief this man held no persuasive tactics above him. “There’s a storm brewing, can’t you feel it? I can, right in my knee.” He chuckled, half-heartedly and more so for his own amusement. It wasn’t matched.

“Your outdated weather analysis is not why I called you here, Doc.” His attention piqued, and nostrils flared in the slightest of hostility. “Do you have it, or not?”

Edgar snapped back to business. “What is your need for the Oculi Reports? They are of no value to you, or anyone else. You are mistaken if you believe otherwise.”

“I’m not looking for a use, just a means to an end.”

“But, why all?”

“What is this? Another quack of a session?” A sly smile crawled across the face of this rugged man. “I don’t have to answer to you anymore. Hand, it over.”

Edgar pulled the envelope from beneath him, gripping it tighter than before, hesitant. “I c-can’t.”

“Then I’ll just tell everyone what you are up to in that lab of yours,” he said. His words deepened, slowed. “You’d lose everything.”

“And who would believe you, Ray?”

“Everyone in this city once their source of power supply is cut short. Only then will they finally shut off their screens, disengage from the world you built, and finally see the sick reality we all live in.”

As Ray snatched the reports from his grip, Edgar snarled. “You wouldn’t do that; you know they wouldn’t be able to handle the truth. Look at you. You can’t even manage whatever it is you’re dealing with, and you’re not in it anymore. How is life outside of Two, anyhow? Not like you’d expected?”

“Oh, no. No, it’s not me that you have to worry about, Doc,” he said, tapping the corner of the envelope on his temple before directing towards him. “It’s you. Because I know of one that you definitely cannot handle.” He turned on his heels, triumphant.

Moments of angered silence stirred between them. Edgar contemplated his entire time with this man. “She didn’t do it, did she?”

He chortled in response, looking down at the envelope in his cracked hand. “I’m not the only one covering up a truth. Yet, you already know mine. Maybe I know yours, too.” He walked off leaving behind nothing slight of a small chuckle, almost menacing in nature, too disturbed to question.

Edgar picked up his ringing cell, his home office number blinked on the screen. The other line picked up, and a smooth voice answered. “Can you come back to the office?”

His daughter, Rachel, was on the other side. She must’ve not wasted any time getting back to work. Edgar smiled at the thought.

“What’s the matter?”

“It’s about patient 035-B… it’s another one.”

His brow furrowed in a dark crease and his frown turned grim. A familiar nod of disapproval edged across his glowered state. His hand shook across his mouth. “Are you absolutely sure it is?”

“Yes.”

 “Not again…” he muttered.

An inconceivable shudder pressed up his spine, excusing the short, abrupt phone call. Realizing Ray stood not so far away, he said, “One more thing…”

Stopped in his tracks, he placed his sharp jaw in his shoulder.

“Don’t trust everything your memory has to say.”

“I have a meeting to attend, Doctor. Goodbye.”


Chapter 2: X-Otoxin "various assumptions with possible solutions"
Chapter 2: X-otoxin

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