17 February 2019 / Fiction Reconstruction: Chapter 4 In this, the fourth installment of Reconstruction, find out Vince's fate as he tries to reconcile his dealings with the Reconstructionists with his Overworld boss. Will the corporation catch him in his deceit, or will he manage to play both sides? Catch a glimpse of the strange landscape of the Overworld, as the story continues in 'The Overworld'. The artificial sun was setting on the west side of the city, its light merging with the real sun as it did every morning and evening for those who were near enough to the edge of the Underworld to see it through the expanse of buildings. The streets were small, just wide enough for two vehicles to pass. Autonomous, networked vehicles had been the standard in cities like this one for hundreds of years. Thanks to the technology, and the maintenance of the fleet by some Overworld company, there had never been a notable crash in the city, that Vince could recall. Vince got in the car waiting for him outside Paul’s house, and it drove away. Still, in spite of the fact that there was virtually no danger to Vince from being in the vehicle, fear consumed him. Shortly after the police had left Paul’s house, Vince had messaged the ever-listening CorpCorp to request new orders. The response came quickly - return. Thus, the time of reckoning had come. The impending meeting with Nora in the Corporate Intelligence department was not likely to be an easy one. The challenge that had arisen less than a day ago wasn't over, and it now seemed to Vince that it would never end. The car hummed along quietly as the city passed by. Neighborhoods of one high-rise building after another passed as Vince tried to focus on dealing with his next confrontation. The story that Vince had to persuade CorpCorp of was that the immediate threat of Reconstruction had been neutralised - that they no longer planned to release the application. Since the company still didn’t know that he had uncovered their plan to kill him, Vince planned to try to take at least partial credit for stopping the release of the application in the hope that that, along with the story of his escape - blaming ‘Alice’ for the gun and audio recorder - would impress them at least enough to get them to stop trying to get him killed. Worst case scenario is that they still wanted to get rid of me - But even then I’m not any worse off than I was before, Vince grasped at any bit of encouragement that he could find. The trick would be to figure out what they had planned for him. It’s not like they would kill me on the spot, right? Vince hoped that Corporate Intelligence still held to their precedent of getting rid of people discreetly. His dread became palpable as he contemplated the magnanimity of the hurdle which he would have to overcome--convincing CorpCorp that he wasn’t lying. He laughed under his breath, dispiritedly, at the seeming impossibility of it. The interview rooms were equipped with biometric lie-detecting sensors. They would use Vince’s biometric data, gathered on him since when he was first hired, as the baseline and determine the truth, or falsehood, of anything he said. Vince latched only the small hope that he could find, smiling briefly to himself at the thought of pulling one over on Corporate Intelligence. The rooms were used for briefings, debriefings, and other more nefarious activities. Being somewhat of an emotionally volatile individual, he knew that his stored biometric data would be a mess of statistics; his heart might have been racing during a presentation of a simple analysis of the company financials if his anxiety had already kicked in for a more serious meeting hours or even days later. His best bet would be to mimic his feelings about previous missions, hopefully overriding any other tells that he may have.He had reasoned with Paul and Benjamin that he could, perhaps, request to remain a spy for CorpCorp within the Reconstructionists. It would be the only way that he could remain working for the company while still being able to really meet with the Reconstructionists. Their real meetings would have to be more secret than before, being sure that there was no way that CorpCorp could discover his status as double-agent. Vince’s reports to CorpCorp needed to match whatever other evidence there was about the Reconstructionists, without being so condemning of them that it threatened CorpCorp. Besides all of that - convincing CorpCorp to keep him alive while not letting on that he knew that they wanted him dead, trying to remain a spy assigned to the Reconstructionists’ case, and overall trying not to get caught in his lie - Vince weighed whether or not he really believed that the Reconstructionists even trusted him. It was a ridiculous balancing act - but it would only have to be maintained until the actual release of the Application. There would be no more balancing after that. The car door opened automatically. Vince hesitated, his mind racing with the plan that had been developed throughout the day. It’s the only chance I have, he thought resignedly as he exited the vehicle. He turned his gaze upwards, and the Central Tower filled his field of vision. It was one of many similar structures spread out in the Underworld in order to support the opulence of above. Only a small percentage of its interior was utilized as office space, and for transportation between worlds.Vince entered an elevator and and unconsciously braced himself for the uncomfortably rapid ascent. It was ironic how easy and free traveling to the Overworld was for those who worked or lived there. In spite of the fact that there was, of course, no law or rule against anyone going to the Overworld, it was nearly impossible for Underworlders to get there. The elevator systems were all owned by Overworld companies, as were the towers that housed them. It was private property, secured by sensor arrays backed by AI which knew who needed to go up, and who didn’t. While there were other, far more primitive, routes to the Overworld that had been previously used during its construction, most of them had been built over in prior years.The lights changed hue and intensified as the elevator left the Underworld behind. A moment later, the elevator doors opened abruptly. The vast brightness of the central square of the Overworld flooded Vince with another wave of doubt. The polished aluminum-paneled streets, carefully designed golden artwork, and the naturally sunny sky overhead somehow felt more claustrophobic to Vince than the closeness of the elevator, and the dimness of the Underworld. The transportation in the Overworld, as with almost everything there, was far superior to that of the Underworld. Even so, Vince didn’t notice the chair in the transport pod, as it molded itself for personalised optimal ergonomics. He didn’t care that the interior lighting adjusted automatically to suit his current subconscious preferences. The otherworldly smoothness of the ride never crossed his mind. It was all meaningless.It was only a minute or two before Vince was at his destination - an innocuous, square, eight story building identical to hundreds of others spread evenly over the Overworld. Only the richest of dwellings had the luxury of breaking the mold. “Don’t forget your glasses.” The transport sang out as Vince left the pod. The standard augmented reality lenses were given to everyone in the Overworld. Without them, the identical, white buildings, gridded streets, and all the other lightweight materials of the Overworld would seem monotonous and boring. With them, a wide range of graphical layers could be selected for various different purposes. In comparison to most Overworlders, Vince’s layers were simple - company names on buildings, color and texture modifications so that buildings and transport pods had some variety similar to the Underworld, and the stargazer layer which made the galaxy bright in the sky even when the sun was out.Vince walked to the CorpCorp-owned building that the transport had delivered him to. While there was no obvious door, the wall directly adjacent to where he had left the vehicle opened, revealing a personal elevator platform. He stepped on and grasped the handlebar-like print scanner. I hope my palms aren’t too sweaty. Vince suppressed the thought. It was just another layer of redundant security, but Vince assumed that it was already being monitored by the AI biometric systems. The elevator went down, below the surface of the Overworld. A memory of a thought passed through Vince’s mind for the hundredth time. Was there a basement in every building, or just this one? Nora was waiting for him. “Come with me, Vince.” Vince nodded and followed his boss into the nearby interview room. The two stood in a small, empty room, staring at one another. “So, you work for them now?” Nora’s decidedly convicted tone dripped with contempt.Vince winced without showing it. But it was too late to worry - too late for self reflection. Vince plunged forward. “No, of course not. I only said that to get out alive.”“Likely story. How did you convince them to let you go after taking a shot at them?”“I blamed it all on you, of course. I just told them that you had planted the gun and recorder on me after we got to the basement, and explained my actions based on that. It was simple after I figured out the story. I didn’t know why my lovely wife “Alice” had tried to get me killed, except that she must have been paid a huge sum of money by the Overworlders. It’s exactly the sort of story that those Underworlders were likely to believe. I was just a poor guy who had been betrayed by his wife, and ruined by the Overworld. They had sympathy on “Leeroy”. One thing led to another - they told me their plans and I agreed to help! I’d say that I completed the mission quite well.”The story came out cleaner than Vince thought it would. A moment passed as Nora, no doubt, received further instructions from some AI through her earpiece. Vince hoped that pause meant that the AI was making recalculations - that his story had been convincing enough. “What are their plans, then?” Nora’s reply was softer than her previous inquiries. “They were going to release a dangerous application - one where all of those dirty Underworlders could plot to take down the society as we know it. They wanted this application to be a rallying tool to discuss the demise of the Overworld. They call themselves the ‘Reconstructionists’ and seem to think the reconstructing the society is within their power.”Nora gave a slight nod. “When will they have it ready? When is the release date?”Vince hoped that this was a question that they didn't already have the answer to. If what Benjamin had said was true, then CorpCorp would have no way of really knowing. “Well, they scrapped the idea, I think. At least, that’s what they told me before I left. They said that it was too dangerous, given the previous night’s events, to continue with their plans.” Vince paused, putting on a thoughtful visage before continuing. “I don’t know if I believe them, though. I think they were only just beginning to trust me.” Another pause from Nora. Vince thought he could see a slight grin forming, but it was gone before he could be sure. “Your instructions are to remain as an embedded operative within the Reconstructionists. Gain their full trust, and report daily through your mobile device.” Nora turned to leave, but hesitated at the door. “Oh, and Vince, good job.” The sudden end of the meeting made Vince hesitate almost as much as hearing Nora compliment him. That can’t be a good sign, he though as he returned the way that he had come only a minute before. While the descent to the Underworld might have been less stressful than the ascent, Vince’s mind generated just as many questions as he had before. The whole meeting was almost too easy. He somehow had gotten exactly what he wanted.It was two days later when Vince got an anonymous message. There was a link, and nothing else. Was this the application? He had seen Paul at work both days, and asked about meeting again; but Paul shrugged it off, making it clear that he wasn't going to talk about it.The link downloaded a single file. Vince opened the file, and found that it was an installation package for his phone. Is this it? Already? Vince thought, considering his options. He decided to transfer the file to his old, off-network phone as a backup, and began the installation on his operational phone. He selected the username Final Alias, and listed his purpose as “redemption”. A second later, the application finished installing and greeted him with single line: Welcome to the Reconstructionists.It was time to run.