We all turn to Katherine but it’s Vanessa who actually speaks next.
“You’ll find that this version in fact significantly improves on Ms. Henley’s original design. And while we’re certainly grateful for her initial work on the idea, it’s come a long way since those early stages.”
“Did you just steal this right out of Foogle’s Labs in Darwin?” scoffs Katherine. “Some kinda cloak-and-daggers corporate espionage? Bribery? Coercion? No, I bet it was blackmail. You likely got some dirt on Tunney, didn’t you? I bet you probably turned him, that gutless slimeball.”
“Oh, don’t be dramatic,” Vanessa says dismissively, waving her hand. “This isn’t a Grisham thriller. And it’s not like you Australians have a monopoly over creating totalitarian police states.”
“Can someone please for the love of God just explain what we’re looking at?” Coleman is looking around at us, clearly increasingly agitated that he’s utterly in the dark. “What the hell’s going on? I see a mini-model metropolis –granted, a super-expensive and detailed one– of some random city. Why’s everyone so worked up?”
I turn my attention back to the miniature city and study it for a moment. It’s fascinating how the human mind works when it’s trying to tease out a riddle. All of the pieces are here and I feel like I have everything I need to put this puzzle together. Katherine’s sudden departure from Foogle. Her work in Darwin. All of us suddenly here in Jinshui. The CCP initiating a state surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang. Like individual discs sliding into place in a rotary combination lock, I slowly piece it all together.
Chopra beats me to the punch though.
“This is a model city of Ürümqi, isn’t it?” he says, “the capital of the Xinjiang Province. You’ve somehow built a real-life proxy representation of the city.”
“And it’s even more than that,” I add, the last tumbler finally falling into place. “This is real-time, isn’t it? That’s why everything’s in motion. You’ve got IoT sensors all over the city tracking every movement of every Uyghur and you’re streaming all of that raw data into a system somewhere to reconstruct what’s going on in Ürümqi, all of it, at this very exact moment.”
I gesture towards the mini-city, sweeping my arm. “And this is a 3D-visualization of that, right? It’s not a physical model at all. Rather, it’s a hologram. Just like the fancy projectors you have mounted outside that hide this compound from spy satellites overhead. But here just on a vastly tinier scale. This monster science project thing lets you track and visualize every single Uyghur in the city in real-time at any time.”
“Good lord,” says Coleman, his eyes growing round. “You mad lads legit created The Eye of Sauron. Jesus.”