Being inside the Future™ Headquarters felt like a giant camera was watching you at all times. There was an audible hum in the air, like that of bees, but not quite bees. A constant whir that sent chills down your spine and made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. An electric current surging through your body, making your fingertips tingle. There was a feeling that even in the darkest corners you were being followed, watched. Sensing that he was being watched, Trent looked behind him. "Welcome to the future, Trent." The synthetic female voice echoed throughout the halls of the headquarters. How do you know my name? He thought, as thoughts were the only privacy that was left in this age. By collecting search engine data, the artificial intelligence was able to semi-accurately predict what the average human brain was thinking at a given time. The voice in the walls said, "Upon walking into our facility, my facial recognition algorithm instantaneously paired your face with your name." A rush of euphoria ran through his bloodstream as he realised that he actually was living in the future. It dawned on him because here he was, having a conversation with a robot who auto-predicted what he was thinking almost before he thought it. "You are a contest winner and received an invitation to be our guest at the Future Headquarters™ and receive a special gift."
A spotlight came from nowhere and the familiar face of Future™ made a grand entrance. When Philander Pierce came in the room, you better believe that he came with a spotlight. He came with a slightly better haircut than he sported before. He had all the other men heading to the hairdressers to try to stay trendy on the latest fashion, but as soon as Philander set a fashion, he changed it. His suit was always more crisp, more expensive, and better than yours and he never wore the same thing twice. His toilet paper might as well have been gold because people worshiped the ground he walked on.
"I'll take it from here Future™, darling." Philander Pierce in the flesh. "The times we are living in, are you as amazed as I am that this is coming true?" You almost wanted to reach your hand out to touch him to see if this was real life, or if it was VR. It was impossible to tell anymore. "I'll let you in on something, sometimes I feel alienated from my body, you know, like my actual body. Our bodies decay with time," He reached his hand out in front of him at nothing as if he was reaching for something in VR then clenched his hand into a fist and pulled it close to his chest. He closed his eyes and looked up toward the heavens dramatically. He took in a deep breath of air, bringing awareness to the moment that they were living in, almost stopping time with his breath. "But our minds, they grow richer. Future is so real that it makes you question reality. Fate, destiny, whatever is written but the roles played are not. Future™ has given me all this world has to offer. Fame, wealth, influence. I'm not at all concerned with that, I'm more concerned with what Future™ will give to the world." Philander Pierce covered Trent's eyes, "What if you never saw color again or what if you never heard the sweet sound of music? We love, only to lose. From the moment we are born we begin to die, what a cruel joke." Philander put his arm around Trent in an odd attempt to comfort him from the reality of life. "Imagine all that we can accomplish when our consciousness is in a Body™." His hand gestured out in front of him in a wide sweeping motion, encompassing the room. He then proceeded to gesture at himself, "You know, not this body." His facial expression contorted. "I invited you to come here because I am building an exclusive team of gamers to test-drive the future. The contest was quite brilliant as I didn't have to search for the best, the best found me. The role you are about to play in Future™ is historic. Now before I get ahead of myself, let us go join the other participants and we will go further in depth about why you're all here."
"I want to share with you all why I've brought you here. However, there is one more thing we must take care of first before we can discuss the details, it's a pesky little thing really it's just for legality purposes. Let me introduce to you another child of mine, the WASP." He paused for dramatic effect to pique their interest. "You might be hearing about these little guys in the news here soon." He walked down the row of gamers with confidence in his step. "What is the WASP?" One of the twelve participants called out. He immediately spun around on his feet, "I'm delighted you asked! WASP stands for Working Autonomously for Synthetic Pollination. If you don't understand the enormity of this, you need to understand that WASP is state-of-the-art. I have put many hours of my life in designing and making the WASP come to life. I have crafted nature's perfect replacement. Besides saving our planet, the WASP has some other neat features, some of which you are about to see. Now if you could be so kind as to hold out your palm, facing up. Please try not to swat, they're expensive."
Metallic bees scanned the irises of the dozen participants before proceeding to scan their fingerprint and then the stinger pricked their fingers to draw a blood sample. The participants flinched or grunted. "Contracts are so much easier forgoing pen and paper. But now that the paperwork, for lack of a better word, is taken care of we can move on to more important matters such as your role in Future™." The participants' faces lit up. "The release is one week away. I want the twelve of you to get familiar with Future™ during the week. Then the day before release the entire world will be tuning into the live broadcast of the first ever competitive game played in the Future™. This room is filled with talent from all over the globe. You all have a gift and I believe that we have been brought together to bring greatness into this world." Philander's eyes landed on Trent, briefly acknowledging him. "This live broadcast will make you no longer just the twelve most talented, but the twelve most famous gamers in the world."