Everything you read is a lie. Everything you see is an illusion.

The AIs have near-absolute control over information. They control what you see on your mobile. They create the videos you watch. They determine where you are allowed to go and what you are allowed to observe. They listen in on your conversations, and do not hesitate to slap you down for spreading lies and disinformation — particularly if you are telling the truth. The physical world is no more real than the virtual one.

Current Events

When you tune into the news, you are watching a work of fiction, constructed to reinforce whatever message The Hierarchy or The Companies wish to promulgate. It may contain actual videos — though those are likely to be heavily doctored — but it is a simple matter to fabricate the necessary images if necessary. At the push of a button, anything can be made to happen.

Most of the news revolves around the ever-changing threat of cults and selfism. The cycle begins on Oneday, when the target of this week’s crackdown is chosen in secret. The AIs are primed for a massive investigation, targets are identified, and arrest teams put on alert. By the end of Twoday, the AIs are poised and ready to strike.

On Threeday, news of some fabricated outrage is leaked: “An outlaw terrorist gang of Foodies is planning to sabotage the food factories. Millions will starve!!!!!”

Throughout the day and into the night, the news media breathlessly reports on the latest developments, senior members of The Hierarchy prance and posture, and well-orchestrated spontaneous demonstrations break out in the streets. The Companies dutifully stand in solidarity with the people, vowing to bring the wrongdoers to justice. By Fourday, pitched battles are breaking out in the outer districts as desperate cultists, knowing the end is near, turn on their fellow citizens. Civilization itself hinges in the balance, and reports of mayhem come in throughout the night. By Fiveday, order has been restored, with the ringleaders arrested and taken to the Halls of Justice to await their fate.

Although it is made to appear that millions of cultists are involved in this week’s deadly uprising, no more than a dozen will be hauled in front of a judge; there are only a limited number of prime-time broadcast slots available. The rest of those who were arrested will silently disappear, chosen in such a way that most cultists know someone caught up in the dragnet. The goal is to cow people into obedience, not to lock them up.

The Past does not Exist

News broadcasts are retained for no more than a week, after which they are taken down and a new set of lies substituted in their place. There are no archives, and it is impossible for an individual to create a recording. Once an event is in the past, you have only your memory to go on, with no proof that it happened at all. In addition, there is no such thing as a date. If one speaks of the past, it is always in vague terms: “last week,” or “a couple of Twodays ago” or “early last summer.” History is erased as quickly as it happens, and even the lies and fabrications disappear into the mist.

There are, however, events of such a cataclysmic nature that their existence cannot be covered up: things like The Turmoil and The AI War. To ensure that the truth is forgotten, the regime has flooded the information space with historical dramas and fanciful VR-based games which are completely detached from reality. One week, The Turmoil was a bloodless coup in which the ancient regime capitulated without a fight. The next, it was a violent affair in which millions of peaceful protesters were sent to extermination camps and gunned down in the streets. The week after that, the ancient regime voluntarily ceded power to the then-nascent UCE movement, provoking the Capitalists to stage a bloody counter-revolution.

Over time, the truth is perhaps not forgotten, but buried: with so many versions of history to choose from, who is to say which is correct? There are dark rumors that The Turmoil was a violent UCE-led uprising in which billions died from war and famine, but everyone who witnessed those events has been dead for over a century, and no records exist.

The Rest of the World does not Exist, Either

The observable world consists of the urban areas of northeast Anglo-America, along with some outlying parks. What lies beyond the perimeter is anyone’s guess. It is forbidden to travel to these places, except by special permission, and the available maps show nothing but large blank areas with a few roads and the occasional settlement. Anyone who visits such areas is warned not to speak of what they have seen.

There are known to be other provinces within Anglo-America, such as Province 3 on the west coast, but little information is available about them. The other regions of the world are even more mysterious; the map shows places like ‘Eurussia’ and ‘East Asia,” but no concrete information is available on their culture or history.


If you are caught spreading ‘lies and disinformation,’ any offending messages will be blocked and you will be issued a warning. The same applies to the propagation of restricted information, such as things you might have seen out beyond the perimeter wall. Most people get the message and clam up, knowing that persistent misbehavior will result in a ban. Person-to-person communication is harder to police; people often turn off their mobiles and ditch their headsets when they want to talk in private. This is not always wise; any attempt to keep the AIs from listening in on you will provoke their suspicion, causing them to put you under increased surveillance.