0xcac2
January 3rd, 2022
Chapter 27: foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 27: foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Sol learned two things in rapid succession: he had severely underestimated the intensity of his family’s reaction to his absence, and, much to his relief, Dex and many of the others who had worked with him had been long since arrested. No more names, it appeared, had come forward. Sol wasn’t going to press whether or not his father had anything to do with that. He’d rather not know.

Once the crying, and fighting, and even the celebrating was over, he went to his father’s office. His mother was there fixing his father some tea, and his younger sister — who had started her own training since his disappearance, and didn’t see any reason why she should stop now — was working away furiously at one of the desks.

0xcac2
January 1st, 2022
Chapter 26: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 26: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Talia carefully clipped away an errant branch on the bonsai, sitting back with a satisfied sigh as she pulled the remains away. The tree had really come into its own over the last few weeks, and she was going to miss it when she left. Her bag sat on the bedside table, filled with the few belongings she had to her name at this point, and bundles of food that the boarding house owner had been preparing for her over the last two days. The city was pretty, but after enough time here, she knew the gardens were never going to be enough to keep her occupied. While the truck in the desert had been too much garden with too little tools, the garden here was too small, with too many tools and skilled caretakers. Still, some of what she had learned from chatting with a few of the men who tended the plants about oxygen supplementing would definitely come in handy back in the city.

She heard a soft knock on her door, and Sol poked his head in.

0xcac2
December 31st, 2021
Chapter 25: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 25: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

They didn’t see their main teacher for over a week. In the interim, every day when they woke up, there was a new person there, taking them on some sort of excursion or activity. The first day was spent almost entirely in meditation in a temple-like structure in the center of the city. Pillows and rugs were laid out across the floor, long tapestries interspersing the carefully painted walls, all depicting various vistas from the mountaintop. Talia had to stop herself from asking why they couldn’t just meditate outside, where they could see the nature directly. It was essentially the inverse of the days they had spent talking and exploring, and while it took a while to get into the proper mindset, by the time evening rolled around, they had a difficult time getting out of the almost trance-like meditative state they had all reached. Two musicians sat in the corner, continuing to play music after another teacher came by and led them out for dinner.

“In this place, it feels like you’re supposed to give so many things up,” Talia said as they ate on the temple plaza. “Like, nobody really uses any tech here — besides occasionally to help with teaching. You’re so far away from everything. I asked one of the guys in town, and he said that whatever they can’t make here, and there’s a variety of stuff, they either all vote to do without or they have to organize the hard work of getting it transported all the way out here. Not to mention they don’t use a money system like the nomads or the cities, so there’s the hassle of bartering for what they do make.”

0xcac2
December 30th, 2021
Chapter 24: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 24: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Talia found the two young men already halfway through breakfast when she came down a few mornings after their hike. She had spent some time with her bonsai that morning, trimming it up and helping coax it along towards a fuller, greener look. It was a good, hearty one — they could be so delicate sometimes — and did really just need some dedicated attention. It was her quiet time in the day, now. Back home she would start almost every morning in the greenhouse. The smack of humidity as she went into it had been as good for waking up as a cup of coffee. There was nothing like that here, in the cool mountain air. Talia was finding she missed sweating it out at work. Everything was so heady here — people never stopped talking. Talking about what they were doing. Talking about why things happened. Talking, talking, talking. She had even gone by one of the gardens yesterday morning, in the hopes that she could find some peace and quiet there, but the sages working it had been deep in debate about stars or something like that.

Noah and Sol were quiet, at least, their mouths too full to be turning over any existential rocks this early in the morning. Talia nodded to them both and joined in, relishing the freshness of the food. They always had good, clean food at home, but city food itself tended to be packaged, machine-made nonsense more often than not. That was something they got right here.

0xcac2
December 29th, 2021
https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.ethchapter 23:
https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.ethchapter 23:

When Talia, Noah, and Sol went to meet with their teacher, after two days that felt to the three of them like they had managed to cover every subject under the sun, and a few besides that, he was waiting, ready for them. He greeted them all in kind, and sitting up on the steps, asked them to tell him about their discoveries and theories.

Between the three of them, they talked for over two hours, explaining everything they had asked and talked about. Their teacher listened patiently, nodding, never asking questions himself, just waiting for the next person to pick up the thread or continue the conversation. Sol found himself talking about his realization on the mountain, that it was the struggle for things that gave them their worth or meaning, quite proud of himself for having made such a breakthrough so early on in his stay here. Once he was done, the teacher finally began to speak.

0xcac2
December 28th, 2021
Chapter 22: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 22: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The three sat quietly in the middle of a low courtyard. Another man from the city, one none of them had met, had shown up at the crack of dawn and escorted the three newcomers out here, leaving without a word. The courtyard itself was at the very back of the city, almost nestled into the mountain wall. Pillars surrounded them, ivy dripping down in between. The stone was cold underfoot, and Noah noticed Talia kept shifting as one part or another of her body became too chilled. He wished he had brought an over cloak to offer her or something, then shook his head. He wasn’t here to flirt.

After a whole hour, during which Noah — and he assumed the others — were too anxious to even talk, sure that someone would show up any minute. Suddenly, a man in his mid-50s walked into the courtyard. He nodded to the three of them, then sat before them, remaining quiet.

0xcac2
December 27th, 2021
Chapter 21: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 21: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

“Alrighty, Sol, that should about do it,” the old man said, picking some small, furry animal that Sol didn’t recognize out of the trap he had set. “That’s the whole loop. Two stoats, not bad at all, not bad at all.” He laughed to himself, a giggly, high-pitched sound that did not match his face. He laughed a lot. It has become a sort of punctuation for the last two days.

Sol wasn’t entirely sure why he had stayed past the first, but he was starting to feel like the hermit really needed the company. He had told Sol three things on their first evening together — he didn’t have a name because he couldn’t remember his own, he had lived on the mountain for over twenty years, give or take a decade, but time wasn’t that important, and the sages of Ekur could stick their nonsense up their own butt.

0xcac2
December 26th, 2021
Chapter 20: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 20: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Every step Talia took felt more and more like a mistake. The scenery was nice, sure, and she had been able to forage for enough food to keep her going — the entire elective semester she had spent on mycology had turned out to be more than helpful when it came to surviving off of mountain mushrooms — but she felt like she was getting nowhere, slowly. She could travel during the day in the mountains, that was nice. But no guides could help her here, her AI was beyond useless, and she was starting to try and calculate how much food she would have to gather up to even attempt a journey back. There was no guarantee Saleh’s tribe would be anywhere near where they had been, but their last spot had been on a trade route, so there was a good enough chance someone else would be there who could at least help her find her way back to his group. Or maybe she could just stay with whoever found her. She had a feeling going back would mean Saleh would try to court her in earnest, and as much as Talia had enjoyed his company, it just wasn’t a feeling she thought she could return. He didn’t know enough about plants, for one. That was always going to be a dealbreaker.

As she roasted mushrooms for the third night in a row, she stared up at the sky above. The night sky had been so clear ever since she had come to the desert, and in the mountains, the stars almost seemed larger — though she was sure that was just her fancy.

0xcac2
December 25th, 2021
Chapter 19: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 19: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The gap between the two mountain peaks was formed by two tall, near-shear walls of what Noah could only guess was granite. Veins of varying colors ran through the sides, splintering and intermixing until they touched the dense, mossy ground where he sat cross-legged. He stared at the path in front of him. It was his last option. Over the last few days, he had hiked, climbed, and struggled through everything on this face of the mountain, ending up at a dead-end every time. Chasms he couldn’t cross, walls he couldn’t climb without specialized equipment, steel shale slopes that sent him tumbling and battered down the side. This was the last path he had been able to find. If he couldn’t find the path from this point… Well.

Maybe he would die?

0xcac2
December 24th, 2021
Chapter 18: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 18: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Sol was overwhelmed, to say the least. Exhausted would also be an accurate enough term. They had moved on from the marketplace, and after four days on the back of a camel, Sol would have given anything to go back to the tent, carrying crates and sorting spices. He thought the trip would be exciting, a break from the constant work of the camp, but it had its own ways to tire him out. Tywin, for one. He was on the journey as well, and he was more than happy to take advantage of such a captive listener. Tywin had gone on for hours with various diatribes on different games he hoped to play, ones he had heard about, ones he hoped would be created, on and on and on, continuously peppering Sol with questions about life in the city.

“It’s really not that interesting,” Sol said on the fourth day, exasperated. “It’s just like life here, but easier. We have things to do, the things you all do, spend your time doing. A lot of the work doesn’t even need to be done in our own city — it’s imported and traded in.”

0xcac2
December 24th, 2021
Chapter 17: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 17: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Talia groaned as she opened the tent. She could see the thin trail of smoke petering out of the grow truck’s engine. It was the third time it had broken down since the sandstorm that had swept through the area, and she found herself more and more jealous of the city — still within sight, though no longer looming in the distance — and the wide, tall walls that kept it protected from anything of the sort. Fans would be blowing like crazy at the edge of the city, funneling out any sand that had managed to find its way in. It always did. But not like this. Everything here, in the tribe, seemed to be caked with the stuff. She couldn’t get it out of her clothes, though the nomads seemed to be able to shake it off, move through it without much notice. But it was everywhere.

“Talia, can you — ”

0xcac2
December 24th, 2021
Chapter 16:
Chapter 16:

Rest came with illness, which seemed like the only situation where rest was deemed acceptable, or even considered. Amaya had visited three tents where people were suffering from some sort of ailment — stomach bugs or heat stroke or something undefined — and two of the three of them had still been doing some form of work as they lay in their beds. This did not seem to surprise Amaya, and she did not admonish them the way she had Noah when he had tried to speak that first night.

For Noah, the annoying part was her not letting him diagnose them. The AI could not fully replace a trained doctor, of course, but it was more robust than people often assumed when it came to evaluating and prescribing treatments for illnesses. Amaya indicated that it would simply make those who were ill uncomfortable, which Noah understood, but it seemed worthwhile to discard rules about tech aversion when it came to a person’s health. In his opinion, it would only be beneficial. He wasn’t asking them to let him implant an AI, only to let it scan them. But no. Amaya had also pointed out that most of its prescriptions would likely be based around medicines or treatments only available in the city, which Noah figured was fair enough. Still, it was frustrating.

0xcac2
December 21st, 2021
Chapter 15: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 15: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Sol saw the line of riders as the sun rose. He waved, yelling, and was relieved when one broke off from the line and turned his way. He had shed his tactical gear outside the city, and was now in a plain black t-shirt and cargo pants. After wandering for hours, he had tried to message back and find out what had happened to Travis, but his integration didn’t seem to work outside the bounds of the city — at least, not for communication. It was still more than happy to beep insistently, reminding him that he was exposed, dehydrated, and seriously in need of shelter. That obnoxious sound had kept him walking, desperate to find someone. His father’s company used some of the tribes out in this region for transport of more precious materials. He had always told Sol that they were trustworthy, and had no interest in the high-end tech pieces for themselves, making them better than any of the contract workers who might be tempted to sell their cargo off to the highest bidder than the actual intended customer.

Sol thought he could cry with relief when the rider finally reached him.

“Are you lost?” the rider asked, not climbing off of his camel.

0xcac2
December 20th, 2021
Chapter 14: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 14: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Talia tried not to look into the bucket and only focused on the tent around her. Beautiful, intricate tapestries filled the space, many illustrating not just the sweeping colors of the desert but stories that she didn’t have enough context to fully interpret. Characters she didn’t recognize went on journeys, encountering strange creatures and surmounting mountains before finally returning to the desert adorned with gems, some possessing special powers — the one that caused a river of water to flow from its center was obvious enough in its importance, but she didn’t understand the others.

Her stomach turned and she heaved again, her eyes shut tight as she vomited in the bucket. Her hands shook as she wiped her mouth with a damp rag the boy across from her offered again. She’d been shaking, vomiting, an absolute wreck for nearly three days now, and the boy across from her — what was his name? Talia’s mind swam as she tried to place him and remember their brief, sporadic conversations, until she gave up and collapsed back on the bedroll.

0xcac2
December 19th, 2021
Chapter 13: Foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 13: Foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The sand dunes rippled off in the distance, the setting sun lighting them up with a brilliant orange glow. Their smooth, cohesive surface stood in stark contrast to the brightly colored woven tents that flapped in the evening wind. They spread out, twenty of them dappling the desert plain. Robed figures occasionally walked to and fro, carrying baskets, buckets, and other supplies as they prepared for dinner. Three children played in front of the largest tent, cartwheeling and leap-frogging, ignoring calls to come in to eat, trying to stretch out the day just that much longer.

A rider approached, pulling up short of the children who laughed and swarmed the animal in greeting. He gave them a short hello then told them to fetch their mother.

0xcac2
December 18th, 2021
Ai Implant Schematic 2.0: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Ai Implant Schematic 2.0: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The truck was quiet. Here and there, you could hear someone fiddling with their equipment, a sigh or yawn of impatience, but there was no chatter. It’s not like they were at risk of tipping anyone off who may have been watching — the walls of the armored truck team one had loaded themselves into were heavily insulated and protected. They could have been chanting war cries, singing some rousing songs, even screaming, and no one on the outside would be any the wiser. But they were quiet. It felt right, in this moment, and Sol wasn’t sure he’d even be able to talk if he tried.

Anxiety had sealed his throat as soon as Dex had bolted the door on the truck shut. It had taken nearly two hours to navigate the streets to the north factory. Armored trucks were slow, some of the few vehicles that still relied on ground transport, as the weight of their usual payloads made them impractical for levitation-tech. That suited Dex just fine, giving them a way around the raised platform checkpoints that would otherwise nose around in whatever it was they were moving. And an armored truck making its way towards one of the most important factories in the city? Nothing could be more natural.

0xcac2
December 17th, 2021
Chapter 11: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 11: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The bathroom lights flickered simultaneously with the heavy bass in the next room. Talia stood in front of the mirror, her hands pressed hard on the cool granite countertop, trying to collect herself. She had woken to another party. The music hummed through the countertop, the vibrations making her nausea worse. She looked ghoulish in the light, and she splashed some water on her face, trying to clean herself up. The ends of her hair felt brittle and limp. Dark circles ringed her eyes. She needed to find Elliot, get something to make herself feel better. She couldn’t bear this headache.

Talia pushed open the door leading out to the living room. She didn’t recognize most of the people — there seemed to be a few groups that rotated through the apartment, but this was a new one. The lights made her feel dizzy, and she almost fell back into the comforting darkness of the room, just when she heard Elliot shout her name.

0xcac2
December 16th, 2021
Chapter 10: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 10: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The room was so crammed that people were standing on top of chairs. Noah rocked back and forth, anxiously watching the door. Two hundred and twelve people — he had counted every single one. The most they had ever had at a rally. And still no Andi. He checked his integration. They would start any minute now; Bartholomew would get up on that stage and start talking, and she would miss the whole thing. Nikia had seemed hurt when he didn’t take her up on the spot she had saved him near the stage, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He didn’t want Nikia and Andi to meet, though he didn’t want to think about why he was avoiding it, either.

A bell rang from the front. Two minutes until the speech. He thought about calling her again, but it had taken enough to convince her to come down here.

0xcac2
December 15th, 2021
Chapter 9: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 9: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The energy in the room was electric. Their first real mission. Sol looked around the apartment — Dex had nicknamed it “The Bunker” — and grinned. Guys were singing, joking around, bragging about their big plans. Despite the lack of space and the covered windows, it was cozy. Almost warm. The floor was littered here and there with their things, bundles of sleeping bags, and whatever people had managed to grab from home before staking out here. The walls were covered with hand-drawn posters that the guys had made, all advertising and predicting a better future. One that got back to the essentials. One that threw off the chains of AI dependence. One that made things matter again.

Sol wasn’t entirely sure why, but everything made sense when Dex explained it. You had to wake people up. Not everybody had the benefit of realizing how weird and off-kilter everything was, like everyone who worked with Dex had done. They had to be shown. And the best way to do that, Dex explained, was to disrupt the systems that were already in place. Sure, people would be mad at first. Furious that they couldn’t get the latest AI updates with the factory shut down, upgrade their hardware, do any of that. But as time passed, they would realize how much better everything had become.

0xcac2
December 14th, 2021
Chapter 8: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 8: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

“What?” Talia shouted. Some guy had landed on the couch next to her and was trying to say something, but the pulsing music obliterated his words. He tried again, and Talia still couldn’t make out his words. She shook her head and shrugged at him, and he jumped up, annoyed, then headed back into the crowd of people.

Talia settled back into the couch. It was a nice couch, she thought. Just the right amount of giving, and she was properly nestled now. There had been a lot of dancing earlier, but six drinks and some pills later, she was perfectly happy to stay where she was. She had called her parents, once, when she told them she was going to hang out with some friends. They had sounded pleased, though their messages since had been increasingly concerning. It stressed her out. She didn’t like that feeling, not now, when things were so breezy. Elliot and his friends had been happy enough to help keep her feeling good.

0xcac2
December 14th, 2021
Chapter 8: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Chapter 8: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

“What?” Talia shouted. Some guy had landed on the couch next to her and was trying to say something, but the pulsing music obliterated his words. He tried again, and Talia still couldn’t make out his words. She shook her head and shrugged at him, and he jumped up, annoyed, then headed back into the crowd of people.

Talia settled back into the couch. It was a nice couch, she thought. Just the right amount of giving, and she was properly nestled now. There had been a lot of dancing earlier, but six drinks and some pills later, she was perfectly happy to stay where she was. She had called her parents, once, when she told them she was going to hang out with some friends. They had sounded pleased, though their messages since had been increasingly concerning. It stressed her out. She didn’t like that feeling, not now, when things were so breezy. Elliot and his friends had been happy enough to help keep her feeling good.

0xcac2
December 13th, 2021
Ai Implant Schematic:
Ai Implant Schematic:

“Noah, do you have that speech for Bartholomew?” Nikia swept by with a stack of food boxes in hand, passing them out to the group sitting around the table. All on Bartholomew’s crack planning team, all young, all determined. The energy, electricity Noah had felt from Bartholomew in the alley was carried over and through everyone here. They were all thrilled to be here, all focused on what was coming next. This wasn’t like punching into a job you had to do. This was waking up knowing you were doing something radically new every day.

“I’m working on it!” Noah said. “He wants to cram so much into it, I’m doing my best to figure this out here.”

0xcac2
December 13th, 2021

Sol groaned and rolled over, the artificial turf tickling his arms as he stared across the park. Cars whizzed by overhead, their shadows briefly shielding the families playing in the park from the late evening sun. He’d ended up here, not really sure where to go. His dad used to bring him here, when he was younger. They’d walk around the park, Sol happily munching on whatever sweets his father had finally caved and bought him, while his dad lectured him about the businesses that ringed the central park. He’d point to each building, listing off facts about the families who owned them, what they did, how they had contributed to building the city.

Sol liked listening to his father talk about these things back then, when his father was happy to share what he knew with his son. Not now, when it was argument after argument. Why aren’t you paying more attention? Why haven’t you followed up on any of the portfolios I asked you to track? Back then, it felt like he could just listen, walk along, and that was enough. There weren’t any ridiculous demands. He had been sure by the time any of it mattered, it would make sense to him. It would matter to him.

0xcac2
December 11th, 2021
foundation: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
foundation: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Talia tried to distract herself as she walked, counting the long paving stones of the wide streets, stopping to rifle through a rack of some clearly faux leather that a street vendor was trying to convince a passer-by was real. The sun was bright overhead but only touched the street in occasional, piercing shafts of light, the mishmash of buildings around her doing their best to keep the street in a hazy half-light. A gaudy ad flashed images of the latest synthetic pets — docile creatures who were perfectly happy to live in the cramped confines of the city dwellings. No need to take the long trek to the few parks for these creatures! Her father had been trying to convince her mother to get a synthetic boa for ages, guaranteed not to squeeze or bite, but her mother wasn’t having it.

She winced at the thought of her parents. They had been so encouraging, all her life, of her studies. Had they known it would come to nothing? A gaggle of teenagers laughed behind her, splitting like the sea to pass around her. For a moment, she was in the midst of them, and she could almost imagine herself one of them — walking with her friends downtown, going to check out the latest tech shipped in from the traders, see what all the fuss was about. They were all bright colors and even brighter laughter, their clothes shifting and hissing with the sound of synthetic fabric — everything the latest, everything reclaimed, everything a statement, Talia was sure. She hadn’t ever really figured out clothes, just trying to stick with what she liked or what kept her as comfortable as possible in the cloying heat of the greenhouses. But these teens flashed past her with bangles swinging from their ears and necks and arms, AIs projecting dancing animated figures, making their music everyone else’s problem. Here and everywhere without a care for anyone in the world. Talia had never been able to disconnect like that, to not be acutely aware of who was around her and taking them into account.

0xcac2
December 10th, 2021
Noah: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Noah: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Noah didn’t know where to go. He had gotten off at a random stop, and was walking the street, his bag slung over his shoulder. The streets were growing narrower. He had wandered from the wide avenues of scholarly pursuits, and realized he was now in the district occupied by the same folks the AI had tried to thrust him into. Clerks, scribes, and the odd folks who lived in the scholar city but had to carry out the non-scholarly work to keep it running. These were not the well-regarded emissaries from the traders or the farmers who lived deep downtown in the consulates, but the wage workers who had to keep things like trash out of the streets or the electrical grid running. Necessary, but boring, dull work. Noah shook his head at the idea he could have been considered on the same level as those who were not even able to pass the most basic of exams.

Block after block of heavy, close buildings, ramshackle additions piercing what should have been a clear view of the night sky above. He clutched his bag tighter, looking around. Where was a transpod line? He shouldn’t have come out this far. But something had pushed him, some need to see the space the life path had tried to have him end up in, as if to prove to himself it was as absurd as it had seemed back home. Whatever his father said, there was no respect here. There was only drudgery and gloom. If they were so respected, so essential to the academic process, why were they living like this? Why were the other academics happy to let them lurk here in the shadows?

0xcac2
December 9th, 2021
Sol: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
Sol: https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

The mood in the room was so tense Sol could feel it, like summer sweat tacky on his skin. He hated everything about his father’s office — the towering window boasting one of the best views in the city, the austere, tech-packed desks, the buzzing incandescent lights that he always felt gave everyone a faintly ghoulish appearance. The kind of space you used to impress your business friends — cold and removed from the rest of the home.

“Why does it matter what the stupid thing says?” Sol yelled, “Why do I have to do anything, anyway? Why does it matter? It’s not like I couldn’t just sit here for the rest of my life and get whatever I needed, anyway!”

0xcac2
December 8th, 2021
Talia: https://foundation.app/collection/ekur
Talia: https://foundation.app/collection/ekur

Talia was in heaven. The towering planters of the hydroponic garden rose above her in pillars of green and white. She strode between them, flicking through screens on her datapad. So many problems to resolve, just the way she liked. Always something new to work on. Some of the water going to the plants on the third sector wasn’t maintaining the right nutrient levels, which didn’t make any sense with all of the hydration systems being interlinked. But she would figure it out. It had been a hotter summer, and the plants near the top of the dome were starting to brown ever so slightly. The reflective surfaces guarding them from the sun’s glare weren’t doing their job — the materials were likely getting worn after so many years in operation. She would have to organize a team to check and run repairs, though they would need to order in some new safety suits before they could do that. The heat on the top of the dome was often immense without the right protection.

Talia reached out, feeling a thick, green leaf between her fingers. It was important work, growing and maintaining plants as rare and unique as these. While some were simply uncommon or artisanal, others were heritage plants — some at danger of extinction. Work like theirs kept them growing for years to come, preserving the history of the world, in a way. The ancestors of these plants had grown before the separation of the societies before man had any real hope of even making it off the planet except in short stints. But in twenty, maybe forty years’ time, these same plants could be hauled to outer space, once the scholars had finally finished the interplanetary projects and the first-generation ship left the planet.

0xcac2
December 7th, 2021
https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth
https://foundation.app/@ahmedb.eth

Noah glanced around the party, sipping his drink. His family’s common room was crowded with people, the mirrored walls creating the illusion that Noah was infinitely more popular than he actually was. Servo-bots hummed here and there, delivering drinks and snacks, their dull colors contrasting with the bright clothes of the partygoers. A few of the guys were debating something over the food table, and Andi was loudly insisting that karaoke would absolutely be a great idea if people would just give it a chance. Every few minutes, Noah glanced down at his arm. The readout said, “CELEBRATE,” the AI’s only advice on how to make the most of his birthday.

Or, almost his birthday. He wouldn’t be eighteen — and he wouldn’t know his life path — until midnight.

0xcac2
December 7th, 2021
Cover
Cover

Hundreds of years in the future, technology has perfected society. People no longer worry about what or who they will be– their path is selected for them by a powerful AI integrated into every citizen since the day they were born. The system, if you ask anyone, works. The AI brought an end to war. It streamlined production and distribution. There is no unemployment, nobody left behind. Everyone is suited for their role and their role for them. It even reminds you when you need to drink water!

Noah, Sol, and Talia, each living in one of the three major cities in the region, face their eighteenth birthdays — and life paths — with a mixture of dread and excitement. But when the time comes, their worlds crack at the seams. The paths don’t make sense. Noah would be throwing away years of schooling. Sol would be doomed to a life he knows he would hate. And Talia would have worked all her life, giving up everything, just to be trapped in the same world she grew up in.

When friends and family are no help, each turn to the world for answers or escape. Their three journeys, diverging and intertwining, take them through the darkest and wildest corners of the societies they thought they knew so well, through the desert and its tribes who have turned their back on technology, and finally, to Ekur. Where there might be answers — or there might just be more questions.

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