In the building of Mergen Cognitive Services, which resembled a crystal sphere, Sebnem, the general manager's assistant, looked at her appearance in the mirror. She leaned the mirror against the screen and projected blue triangles on the screens of the buckles using the app on her mobile phone. The buckles with mini-screens were gifts to her from Mustafa, whom she had dated the previous year. The rapprochement between them, which began during a cocktail, did not turn into a relationship because of Sebnem's indecision. Mustafa, who had been appointed director of all Meaning Consultants in the company the previous month, had now started to come to the headquarters building more often. He was going to attend a critical meeting on the 41st floor. The meeting was to be held in the darkroom, where General Manager Engin Yurtseven never liked to be present. Moreover, Şebnem, who had managerial responsibilities, was not among the participants. It was understood that the meeting was included in the closed circle procedure by the consortium.
Engin Yurtseven returned from the sink, combing his white hair and straightening his tie. As he passed by, he asked Sebnem, "Is the darkroom ready?"
"Yes, Mr. Engin," Sebnem replied.
Engin Yurtseven quickly entered his room, took his folding computer, and plunged into the darkroom like a lightning bolt. As he gets older, his movements accelerate, I think it's an unnecessary show, Sebnem thought.
A few seconds later, the elevator light lid, and Mustafa and Arzu, director of corporate strategy, set foot in the corridor.
"Good morning, Sebnem. Has Mr. Engin entered the room?" Arzu asked. She was a tall woman, with subtle pixels flashing over the net surrounding the bun of her hair.
"Yes, he just entered," Sebnem said as she looked at Mustafa at the tip of her eye. In a rush of being late for the meeting, they barged into the darkroom and closed the door.
After entering the darkroom, Mustafa noticed that he had passed by Sebnem without saluting her. It made him nervous because he cared about people's feelings. He thought for a moment about going out and making up for his mistake but later decided it would not be appropriate. He was looking for a seat while thinking that she would understand me. Finally, he found his chair, sat down with heavy movements like the blind, took the telepathy ring, and put it on his head.
"Dear friends, welcome," Engin conveyed through the ring of telepathy. "As you may have guessed. It's about the new government formed by the Nation's Rise Party. Prime Minister Ferruh Özdemir criticized companies like ours in his speech yesterday. And the Minister of Commerce called me and invited me to Ankara. Ferruh Ozdemir has some requests from us."
"It will be interesting to compete with the prime minister," Arzu said. "We've been working on the company's strengths and weaknesses for two weeks. I think we are in good shape in terms of competition law and tax legislation. And in terms of technological infrastructure, we are stronger than ever."
The deep darkness and silence of the room seemed to strengthen Mustafa's intuition. "I think their goal is to take over the company. They want to intimidate their political adversaries by using the information the company has. We must urgently draw up the mind map of Ferruh Özdemir," he said.
"No manager can give instructions on such a matter," Engin said. "Whatever appropriate is done."
Mustafa knew how dynamic, flexible, and diverse meaning layers in Engin's mind were. As soon as he became CEO, he asked for cognitive analysis on the company's sales list to be applied to him. Mustafa thus had the chance to personally draw out his general manager's mind map and learn a lot about his values. Engin, who was not a religious person, had a belief in God. He believed that a proper order prevailed in the universe in parallel with his faith in God. Like many people in similar positions, he had a high sense of responsibility and cared about doing his duty properly. Although his sensitivity to justice was high, he had an incredibly flexible approach to it. Engin obviously wasn't against the reading of the prime minister's mind. He just didn't want to take responsibility for it.
It was not illegal to read people's minds through a mind detector in public areas because, contrary to popular belief, thoughts could not be read one-on-one. The work done was to analyze the electromagnetic wave patterns emitted from people's minds in general terms. Nine years ago, a Danish scientist found a whole new way to interpret the data recorded by mind detectors. The method he used was so complex that even experts on the subject had difficulty understanding how the process worked. However, the mentioned difficulties did not prevent this method from spreading to the world at lightning speed. Mergen Cognitive Services also owed to become one of the largest companies in the country to its use of this new artificial intelligence-powered method. The company's policy was to use mind detectors only in public places. It was clear that they would not face a legal challenge as long as they acted by this policy. "The prime minister does not need to know that he is subject to a meaning analysis. He doesn't worry too much about it because he uses a mind detector blocker," Mustafa said.
"The real problem here is political," Arzu said, using the telepathy ring. "The transparency we provide about people's intentions is not acceptable for a part of the population. Many people are not straightforward. On the one hand, of course, they know the connection between reading and interpreting the meaning and building it. The insights we include in our reports may currently be mostly used for targeted advertising. We are already highlighting this aspect of the event with commercial concerns. The prime minister's goal is to create a road map of meaning for every Turkish citizen. Then, using the power, to manipulate the meanings that individuals attribute to their lives."
"It's an interesting assumption," Engin said. "You seem to have received intelligence on this."
"I reached this conclusion by putting myself in Ferruh Özdemir's place. Although I don't like the guy, I appreciate his intelligence. There is a political opportunity here. He's tried this before, setting up a rival company. But the squad they created couldn't compete with us. Now he wants to take over the company, using the advantage of being in power. Of course, he will try to achieve this goal without scaring the business world," Arzu said.
"That's why I don't like this room. When it's dark, thoughts are pessimistic. It's all right to be cautious, but let's not be alarmed. Let's talk to the Minister of Commerce. Our elders said the head with the crown would become wiser. We won't have to wait long anyway. Is there anything else you'd like to say?" Engin said.
"The consortium members are very concerned. They fear that if the company's ownership structure changes in Turkey after Russia... it will create a domino effect around the world," Arzu said.
Engin was annoyed that the consortium, the main shareholder, took Arzu as an interlocutor. He even shared the authority of management with her." We should be united against the outside," he said. If he knew that the terrorists had left a ticking bomb in the company building, the last thing he would think about would probably be the distribution of authority.
After the meeting, Mustafa stopped by Sebnem for a chat. He noticed in amazement how much he missed her during the pleasantries. When they started to chat with each other, the joy of life he felt increased several times. While Sebnem was busy with an email; it's a metaphysical mystery, he thought, she's not interested in me right now, but even her presence is enough to make me happy.
Engin Yurtseven stopped by another meeting on the 41st floor, went to the restroom quickly, and suddenly stood over Mustafa and said, "Come on."
Mustafa, who had been immersed in watching Sebnem, jumped to his feet as if he had been electrocuted, and as he left, he said to Sebnem, "I'll call you later," as if he were talking about a routine action.
Quadcopters glittered under the midday sun on the airmobile runway on the terrace. The pilot of the quadcopter they were riding greeted Engin and Mustafa with an exaggerated gesture of respect. They climbed the steps and boarded the quadcopter, and sat on red seats placed at a ninety-degree angle with each other.
"I wonder if we would make a hard start and then go soft," Engin asked.
"In fact, we have strong trumps," Mustafa said.
"It doesn't suit us to use them if they're what I'm guessing," Engin said in a lectionary tone.
"Things about the misuse of public resources."
"So much so! So why didn't you tell me so far?" Engin said in an excited tone.
"We were only able to collect information from the systems. I didn't expect that much either."
Engin Yurtseven straightened his torso, joined his hands behind his head, and leaned back, saying, "Look, I'm relieved now. Let's drink a refreshing potion."
The attendant, sitting in the back, filled a blue liquid from the plane's vending machine and served it to Mustafa and Engin.
"How beautifully they fly," Engin said, showing the herd of storks they passed by.
"People like Ferruh Ozdemir are not interested in such things," Mustafa said in a thoughtful mood. "Only power and money."
The sea along the north of Ankara was choppy, and the ship traffic on it was heavy. Mustafa smiled, remembering Sebnem as he watched this holographic sea projected by a landscape projector. He thought life was weird; I'd forgotten about her. I wouldn't have thought about her if we hadn't met, but I want her with me right now.
The quadcopter they were in landed on the terrace of the Stargate Mall in the south of the city. They were subjected to visual abuse by acrobat holograms who were throwing fires from their mouths on the food floor. After dinner, they drank vitamin-fortified coffee from the restaurant's service robots and made their way to the elevator. The elevator first landed on the connecting floor, then moved to the left for a long time, and then went up again. When the door opened, Mustafa saw that they had passed into the other building. He attributed the place of the meeting to privacy concerns. The shrinking size of the listening devices made it impossible to hold secret meetings in the institutions' own buildings.
Trade Minister Ulus Gökgöz was sitting at the head of the table in the meeting room. He was very stylish with his pixel-patterned tie, flashy cufflinks, and a red handkerchief hanging from her breast pocket. His only flaw was that he looked like a grass man because of his planted hair.
"Dear friends, welcome, sit where you like," said Ulus Gökgöz.
"I didn't choose what to eat when I was a kid," Engin said. "I don't choose a seat now, either," he added as he sat in the chair closest to the door.
"I did choose. In childhood, you think you deserve the best of everything, "Ulus Gökgöz said. "Those were the days. We had electric fireflies. My brother and I used to follow them on summer nights," said Ulus Gökgöz, who seemed genuinely moved.
"We hope you will give us good news," Mustafa said, smiling.
"Yes, in a way. Mr. Prime Minister cares very much about what you do. And he wants full access to your databases. For a fee, of course," the trade minister said.
"We do not recommend such use. Journalists immediately start making a fuss, saying,' the state is spying on the minds of citizens.' Because the public can't understand the nature of what we do," Engin said.
"Is the legal arrangement on this issue ready?" Mustafa asked.
"We don't want it to be heard. So there will be no legal regulation. Mr. Prime Minister asks that the preparations be completed within a week at the latest," Ulus Gökgöz said.
"We will accept this as an order. The prime minister must have reasonable reasons. But in any case, I need to get the approval of the board," Engin said.
"Turkish laws apply in Turkey. You're already doing a job that the public doesn't like. Consortium members should understand the situation in Turkey. They didn't even answer the prime minister's phone. Maybe they think they would not do this in Turkey. But is that the case for you?" Ulus Gökgöz said.
"I understand you very well. Let's talk to the consortium and try to convince them," Engin said. He didn't want to expose the trumps they had early.
On the way back, Mustafa thought Engin did not have the qualifications required for leadership. He didn't even dare hint at what the company knew about the prime minister and his team. As he watched the clouds pass by them through the window, the message light of the pocket computer came on.
"Yesterday, a bomb with a high capacity of destruction was placed in the Mergen Cognitive Services building. Don't tell anyone, or you'll be responsible for the deaths. Meet me in Taksim Square in an hour, in front of the tree of knowledge statue."
In front of Mustafa, the image of Sebnem immediately appeared. And then he thought of other friends who worked in the headquarters. Now that his heart is pounding, the person who sent this strange, ominous message could be telling the truth. I have to let someone know, I can't take responsibility for such an incident, he thought.
"What happened? Is your mother sick? Your face is pale," said Engin.
"I just got a message from an unidentified man. He says someone planted a bomb in the headquarters building."
"I'll ask for the building to be evacuated immediately."
"Starting an evacuation would be risky. We don't know how the people who planted the bomb will react. In an hour, I will meet the person who gave me this information."
Engin unbuckled his seat belt, stood up, and started pacing inside the quadcopter. "What should we do? Damn those who did this. If done so. Our director of security, Serhat, the retired detective would know what to do."
"Don't let him call the police. They act with the understanding 'do not negotiate with terrorists.' However, everything must be done to save people,” Mustafa said. He couldn't believe he was saying such things.
Mustafa reached the Taksim Square, where the tree of knowledge, consisting of stone and hologram, was located, a few minutes before the meeting time. With the help of a state-of-the-art mind detector, he analyzed the waves emitted by a high school student who passed by. When he was nervous, Mustafa would do such random mind readings. Mustafa, like all other senior meaning consultants, primarily commented on emotional states. His experience showed him that semantic analyses based on emotions were much more accurate. For example, he immediately realized that the girl who passed him had a beautiful heart. There was little distance between the ore that formed the essence of her soul and the values that she possessed. She sincerely embraced human and moral values; I hope life does not disappoint him, Mustafa thought. Another noble soul, Sebnem, was in danger, and the person he was waiting for had not yet arrived. Colorful lights reflected from the tree of knowledge statue were playing around. A little boy just ahead was chasing the fish of the virtual aquarium. At that moment, all he had experienced seemed to Mustafa to be a dream.
After few minutes, a young man whose hair was white approached Mustafa.
"My name is Anton. I'm the one you've been waiting to meet, " the man said as they handshake.
“How did you know about the incident?"Mustafa asked. Despite all his efforts in the opposite direction, his voice sounded angry.
"No room for anger. I, like you, try to prevent a possible disaster,” Anton said. "They are using a subcontractor organization for this work.”
“Who's the real target? How can we prevent the attack? You, intelligence agents, see these things like games," Mustafa said. His anger had its share in the fact that he couldn't read Anton's mind because of the mind detector blocker.
“A fundamentalist organization supported by The Atlantic bloc organized the attack. Their goal is to send a message to Prime Minister Ferruh Özdemir. Fortunately, we also have access to this organization. In fact, we can deliver all the documents of the organization to your state. If you pay enough, they will stop the attack.”
"Why are you running this through me? Why didn't you contact the government directly?" Mustafa asked.
"Because the state will not pay terrorists. Swords will be drawn, and the innocent people will be hurt as always happens, " Anton said. He spoke Turkish surprisingly well.
How could Mustafa trust Anton? The bomb he was talking about could have been made up to leak money from the company. “What amount are we talking about?" he asked.
"3 million Uno," Anton said. "An amount that is not worth hurting people.”
"If they plant bombs elsewhere after they taste the money?”
“We have their management schemes. Once the bomb threat has passed, the ringleaders can easily be caught, " Anton said.
“And what's in your country's interest?" Mustafa asked.
"We chose between the bad and the worse, and we decided to support Ferruh Ozdemir. We don't want the Atlantic bloc to intimidate him,” he said.
“I hope the people in the company will agree to pay,” Mustafa said, leaving Anton.
Half an hour later, they were in the darkroom wearing telepathy rings, assessing the subject. This time Arzu and Engin, as well as Şebnem and security director Serhat, attended the meeting. Mustafa and Engin were in favor of paying the terrorist organization that planted the bomb. There was a lot of uncertainty. Giving away the money and getting rid of it seemed like the best solution.
“What matters here is your opinion, Serhat. You are the expert,” Engin said when he noticed that Serhat, the security director, was watching the discussion quietly.
"In my head, the thoughts are buzzing and spinning like bees," Serhat said. "We took a great risk by not taking the matter to the police. If bad luck happens, they'll try us all for life. Although we have located the bomb, it is protected by a laser security system. As soon as we get near it, they'll blow it up with remote control. Is giving them money and getting rid of it a good solution? I'm not sure, and I can't think straight because of the anxiety I'm having. This is the first time in my life.”
"Let's contact Anton and let him know that we are ready to pay, " said Engin, who took off his telepathy ring and left it on the table and walked out of the darkroom.
It didn't take Mustafa five minutes to get the account number from Anton and make the transfer. However, he sweated because of the fuss he had experienced. He was under the influence of mixed emotions. He had great anger towards those who made people's lives a bargaining chip. On one side was the fear that made him slightly nauseous. And when he raises his head and looks at Shebnem, the warmth that radiates into his heart…
They were at the mercy of some dark men. At that moment, Mustafa felt like he was floating in a void. His body was numb, as if he had suffered a stroke. His ears were ringing.
Finally, when the call he was waiting for came, he was startled and took the phone to his ear. The person on the other end of the line was a woman with a nice voice. She first described the location of the bomb and then said it was now safe to move it.
When Mustafa asked, "Are you sure there will be no mistake?" he realized that the voice he was listening to was pre-recorded. It was probably produced with a machine learning-based program that turned the text into sound.
Serhat got up and left them to take care of the bomb on the mark of Engin.
“Okay, so we're done?" Sebnem asked.
"We will have a little headache when the state and the consortium are aware of the issue. We will tighten security and move on,” Engin said.
It would not be appropriate for me to invite Sebnem to dinner tonight, Engin thought; we would not be able to relieve the tension. I will call her in a few days. The coming days will be busy, he continued his thought, things are getting complicated, and now Sebnem is also involved in the equation, but that is not a problem, she is worth everything.