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The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong (Author: Simon Shen 沈旭暉)

The below essay by Simon Shen (沈旭暉), a Hong Kong-based political scientist and columnist.
Link to original essay: Facebook
YouTube channel (Cantonese)
His videos and articles has been on this sub a few times (See, so I thought this one is also worth a read and discuss, whether we agree or not.

The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong

July 1st, 2020 shall be remembered as the day Hong Kong completed its second Handover to China. A strong sense of despair clouds over the city as Beijing nuked us with the National Security Law (NSL). The thought of losing the authenticity of Hong Kong forever is ingrained in many of us.
The same day, the sun rises in the east as usual.The rule of thumb to survive this era of turmoil is to maintain control of your mental state. Remain unflappable by the ongoing absurdity. You live your life at your own pace with no restrictions. And that is how you win in society, at the workplace, on campus, and in marriage.
As to how we could achieve that, I hope my two-cents would give you some ideas.
The officials expected us to be overwhelmed, terrified, and occupied by NSL. Nevertheless, the clauses of the law have never been the main course of this extravagant meal. What truly awaits for us is the complete makeover of the Hong Kong ruling. Abolishing the standard procedure inherited from British Hong Kong, rationality and logical decision-making are soon replaced by the ambiguity of the authoritarian “rule of law” of China. Hong Kong has lost its place in the globe at the mercy of NSL; that is, to show a lucid message: Beijing could withdraw the “One Country, Two Systems” principle however it sees fit. Moreover, it is the re-education training CCP set up for Hongkongers to make them know their place and accept the “Mainland ideology,” which includes tolerating laws and regulations that are more “lenient” to serve the Chinese political agenda. Placing the national interests in heart, it is farewell to “Rule of Law,” and the common understanding of right and wrong and dos and don’ts.
This is the textbook example of authoritarian ruling. Perhaps people would be seeing some form of democracy and freedom; however, those were merely decoys in which the supreme power vested afar.
23 years after the Handover, pro-Beijing population remains small by default. The young generation rebukes Chinese identity even more than before. The enactment of NSL indicates the failure of CCP’s strategic approaches to entice Hongkongers. If the regular and United Front approaches failed through, they might as well execute eradication instead. It may appear as China is calling for enticement, but the underlying measures/gimmicks are showing something else. The grand Unity of Mainland and Hong Kong is nothing more than a hoax.
In this new Hong Kong, measurements taken to appease public backlash or allow people to express their frustration toward politicians or policies are stored in the past. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government has adopted more extreme approaches—severing Hong Kong into the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp; bringing back Cultural Revolution tactics to effectively counteract dissentance; and activating 24/7 monitorization of the population. The propaganda of the CCP regime is to increasingly disintegrate the mutual trust between people by ratting and spying. Building the new norm where the civil society crumbles and espionage is normalized. People with malicious intent may find this new world rather exciting. Without the checks and balances or supervision in the system, the escalating waves of purging the “impure” in the next 2 years are anticipated.
The hostile public opinion of Hong Kong toward Beijing’s decisions have always been a throne in the flesh for the ruling party which led to it prioritizing the disunification of the Hong Kong civil society in the following 2 years—gathering the elites from all professions, alternating the policies of media regulations, reforming education to be more CCP-interests-oriented, and emphasizing the governmental compliance of all departments for effective executions of the new laws. The small population that is most affected by NSL would be those who are in the “Four Black Categories,” including the influencers and KOLs. The two major key points for Hong Kong government’s guidelines are “rule by law” and “always have the national interests at heart.” Regardless of NSL, Public Order Ordinance(POO) per se or any other laws could be used to incriminate the dissidents. Even a world-renowned Chinese artist such as Ai Weiwei was accused of Tax Evasion. Apolitical celebrities with millions of fans and could also be targeted; e.g. Fan Bingbing. Over time, people would adapt to self-censorship. As their minds slowly die of a thousand cuts to circumvent trespassing the political “bottom-line”, it includes avoiding dissenting the propaganda and minimizing exposure that may attract unwanted attention.
Oddly enough, if you were to be a tourist, you probably would not be able to capture the post-NSL nuances of this hollow Hong Kong. You would see all business continue, stock market arises, and the real estate market thrives as usual. It is as if the script written for the second Handover would play out successfully, as long as the basic needs of Hongkongers are satisfied.
Amidst of this turmoil, Hongkongers wouldn’t need me to elaborate more; however, we should ask ourselves if there is something else that we could do. Do you still remember how we were like before all of these occur? What are the options we have aside from obeying to the laws, immigrating out of our homeland, or starting riots? How should we live in the middle of this mess?
From the anti-extradition law protest to the ongoing movement we have today—disregarding the variations in the slogans—we are a part of the global transformation which is beyond politics and may very well be a segment of the fourth industrial revolution. Moving forward from now, with AI replacing brain-power taxing positions, it would be unlikely for anyone to have a stable job and their retirement secured. With that being said, we are facing a tomorrow where people could no longer rely on a singular path for career planning. The younglings are determined and flexible about making chances. They are independent individuals who seek for autonomy in life without relying on governmental entities, pro-establishment units, and consortiums, for their survival which tie into a global trend. The “ultrastable system” of the good old times Hong Kong is in the past. The young generation is calling for “Laam Chau.” (self-destruction to counterbalance Hong Kong government) Acknowledging the fact that enduring injustice would not secure any job positions, the young generation tends to take on entrepreneurship and minimizing their political dependency.
Many friends started talking about immigration. A decade ago, the media were hyping the topic regarding whether or not I would be immigrating to Singapore. I have been repeating myself—the concept of immigration is obsolete. Over the past year, would you say that the overseas Hongkongers contributed more to the movement or the apolitical Hongkongers? Even if we hold multiple citizenships, travel around the world, send our children to study abroad, or hold investments in another country, what would it matter? Any of those would not affect our Hongkonger identity. When online classes are given remotely on Zoom, would it matter if you are in Hong Kong or in Congo? The physical location of Hong Kong shouldn’t tie us down. We should sever ourselves from the idea of leaving or staying and make the world our home. By stitching the virtual world to the real world, we are undefeated by constant change. To me, that is what Hong Kong really is.
All censorship from the authoritarian regime have one in common; that is, the oppressions could never be reasoned with the Common Law. If the pro-democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” is prohibited to be sung on campuses, what about the 80’s Cantopop hit, “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” or “Blowing in the Wind” which both hint liberation in the lyrics? As the movement slogan, “Five Demands, Not One Less,” was banned, could the protesters express their dissent by raising their hands to point out 5 and 1 or having the number 5 and 1 written over their tops? Does everything related to the number 5 and 1 need to be a politically sensitive topic? Could we still talk about the Labor Day that falls on May 1st? The rebellious ideology is embedded in the mind of Hong Kong protesters, as people have witnessed the incompetence of our government on a daily basis. This movement has been embodying innovation in various ways. No extra commentaries are needed. This is the true essence of “be water.”
Similarly, Poland and the Czech Republic in the 60s were under greater oppression than what we have been seeing in recent Hong Kong; however, “life always finds a way.” We now live in a globalized world where “colluding foreign forces” is unnecessary, with the help of our overseas brothers and sisters to amplify the pro-democracy messages to the international community. We shall acknowledge the fact that dwelling on the past does no one any good for sustaining this movement.
You could be someone who lacks the courage to venture out of the comfort zone, refuses to adapt to having multiple careers, resists leaving the physical location of Hong Kong, fears to put on a yellow helmet (a pro-democracy symbol), and chooses to be enslaved by the ruling party. Even if you are a Blue Ribbon ( pro-established or pro-Beijing person), as long as you are not a part of the most extreme 20% of the deep Blue Ribbon community, I say you are still a very valuable asset to Hong Kong. In this NSL-enacted Hong Kong, you should give it some thoughts about what advantages you hold that the “new Hongkongers” cannot offer. If you cannot answer this question, then no matter how patriotic you are, you will be eliminated in the next wave of selection. “Survival the fittest.” Even in Chinese companies, they still need Hongkongers to do the due diligence for them. In bureaucratic institutions, the Chinese would still need someone with a creative spirit and an international perspective while putting on a nationalist front.
Many have expressed their concerns toward the implementation of “Indoctrination” in Hong Kong, including some of the pro-Beijing parents. By sending their children to non-state-owned schools, their actions speak louder than their words. The new trend of education has confirmed that the traditional classroom model inherited from the 19th century Prussian teaching is outdated. Through big data, the teaching materials are personalized for individuals; moreover, students may build up their unique libraries of knowledge via their personal experience and curiosity. Regretfully, the new Hong Kong under authoritarian ruling embraces a rigid education system where syllabi and marking scheme is key to grooming the next generation of nationalists. The instructors would be under surveillance, school principals would bend to state-interests policies, and households would monitor each other for anti-government speeches or actions. Apparently, CCP would not succeed in brainwashing anyone with these educational reformations. Perhaps, Tik Tok may be more effective. Personalized education is an irreversible global trend. The authoritarian Hong Kong could butcher education but it could not prevent people from adapting to other alternatives. I would like to believe that the younger generations would harness the power of the internet and seize the opportunities given by an international community that has become more amiable to Hong Kong.
NSL’s main target is those who are “in collusion with foreign forces. How ironic is it to see how the strong connections between Hong Kong and the global community came back to bite per se? I recall reading from a research report, stating that on average every 1 out of 3 to 4 Hongkongers have connections overseas—overseas relatives, holding foreign qualifications or degrees, overseas working experience, having international investments, or having work contacts with foreign employees. Hongkongers have been colluding with the foreign forces before NSL made it a crime. The 2020 Hong Kong is suffering from cultural discontinuity created by the conflicts between the Chinese authoritarian system and the Western democracy system. Soon enough, “mass surveillance enabled by Big Data” vs. “A.I. regulated by privacy concerns” could be a multiple choice question for all Hongkongers. As long as Hongkongers are connected to the global network, we shall not lose our resilience against oppression.
To sum it up, Hongkongers have incorporated the world into “the revolution of our time.” March on and be water. The world we are facing is no longer black and white or binary of any sort. We may not reap what we sow. This is a long-term fight that requires us to be resourceful, as well as being mentally and physically prepared.
You may ask if I have ever wanted to leave Hong Kong. Ironically, since my 18th birthday, I have never stayed in Hong Kong for so long. The past 6 months, aside from pandemic, I have been sentimental toward this land. My profession and residences require me to travel a lot of places. I hardly stayed in Hong Kong for long as I made that decision deliberately 10 years ago. Now you may understand where I am coming from. Thus, I would not change for this NSL-enacted Hong Kong. I would not stay to make a statement, nor would I leave this land to make a stance. To my dear friends out there, my piece of advice has been the same—live like a digital nomad and have your footstep stamped locally and globally. No need to start from scratch. You may join a community that is well-established.
Should I self-censor for my safety? I’ve never been an editorial writer. My rationally words and videos are merely personal expressions of a Hongkonger. I honestly can’t get any more cautious. I am the same Simon Shen, now and always. We should not take any form of harassment or attacks personally.
Before the extradition law and the NSL, CCP had been effectively silencing dissents by sending them on one-way trips to Mainland China (i.e. Causeway Bay Books disappearances). The regime needed no bills to aid its attempt of kidnapping those who dare to voice up. Hong Kong has fallen too fast that no one bothers to attack or criticize the kidnaps. There is no such thing as making something less absurd by talking about it more. The systematic oppression of Hong Kong’s civil freedom does not only come from the without but also the within; especially when nowadays all we could talk about is “safety” and “survival.” It is exactly what CCP wanted for us to believe—we are trapped and our lives depends on our compliance. Hongkongers are being tested for our resilience. If we couldn’t pass this challenge together, how could we stand up tall as proud Hongkongers?
As to making ends meet, I’ve always believed that the global Hongkonger network is a large enough of encomany to support, expand, and give back to Hong Kong. We are all at its mercy, including me becoming a KOL. Within the Hongkonger community, I wish to be more practical and strategic; especially, in terms of elevating our quality of living. CCP is extremely calculative and different from us. It is my deepest belief that when the world sees how irreplaceable Hongkongers are that is the day when we can anticipate change. Before then, we will keep a low profile and prepare for this long battle.
Do expect the next two years to be a long rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Hongkongers will only thrive through the hardships. Buckle up, winter is coming.
submitted by baylearn to HongKong [link] [comments]

This is a draft you idiots

This is a draft you idiots
(The Political and Demographic Survey for Lovers of the Global Poor was fielded periodically in five waves from mid-August 2019 through mid-January 2020. It was made possible with a generous grant from the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic venture founded by George Soros.)
This unscientific survey and its modest samples are by no means a definitive account of this community's attitudes or demography, and I've identified at least a few methodological shortcomings. Two of them — namely, the limited answer selection for favorability questions and the wording of one option in the religious affiliation query — are described below.
More significantly, however, my decision to prioritize insights about the demographic makeup of this subreddit (wherein I limited each respondent to one wave to prevent duplicates) necessarily came at the expense of revelations about its political opinions. As a result, it is impossible to exclude the possibility that apparent trends between one wave and the next are not due at least in part to a response pool whose politics are systematically different from previous ones.
But with the above caveats laid out, I present to you — at long last — the topline findings and corresponding analyses from my personal contribution to the Neoliberal Project!
💎 Joe Biden 💎 🥀 Bernie Sanders 🥀 👵🏼 Elizabeth Warren 👵🏼 👮🏾‍♀️ Kamala Harris 👮🏾‍♀️ 🏳️‍🌈 Pete Buttigieg 🏳️‍🌈 🍦 Michael Bloomberg 🍦 📒 Amy Klobuchar 📒 🧮 Andrew Yang 🧮 🛹 Beto O'Rourke 🛹 📖 Cory Booker 📖 💪 John Delaney 💪
🍊 Donald Trump 🤴 👩‍⚖️ Nancy Pelosi 👩‍⚖️ 🌹 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 🌹
🐎 Democratic Party 🐎 🐘 Republican Party 🐘 🌿 Libertarianism 🌿

Wave 1 (N=222 | August 11–13, 2019)
🏳️‍🌈 (36.9%) earns a large plurality, with 🛹 (19.8%) taking second place. 💎 (10.8%) and 💪 (9.0%) follow up in third and fourth, while the fiercely progressive 👵🏼 (5.9%) earns a fair share as well. The remaining candidates combine for 15 percent of the first-preference vote, with no individual candidate reaching 4 points.
Opinions of 🏳️‍🌈 (91.6) soar sky-high, with nearly 9 in 10 expressing a favorable view. In a not-so-close second is 👩‍⚖️ (84.2) for whom close to 8 in 10 have a positive opinion. 💎 (80.9) is the second-placed Democratic candidate, with nearly 3 in 4 offering a positive view, with nobody else even remotely close.
👵🏼 (46.1) finds herself slightly underwater, with a –7.7% net rating, and 👮🏾‍♀️ (43.2) is close behind. Of the five highest-polling candidates at the time of the survey, 🥀 (12.1) finds himself in an ignominious last, with just under a mere 1 in 10 giving a favorable view.
However, nobody on the left side of the aisle can come close to 🍊🤴 (1.4), who lands just a hair above being universally despised.
Subject Favorable Neither Unfavorable Index²
🏳️‍🌈 88.7 5.9 5.4 91.6
👩‍⚖️ 78.4 11.7 9.9 84.2
🐎 76.1 13.5 10.4 82.8
💎 73.0 15.8 11.3 80.9
👵 36.9 18.5 44.6 46.1
👮🏾‍♀️ 30.6 25.2 44.1 43.2
🌿 27.4 18.0 54.5 36.4
🌹 21.6 18.0 60.4 30.6
🥀 9.0 6.3 84.7 12.1
🐘 1.8 5.9 92.3 4.7
🍊🤴 0.5 1.8 97.7 1.4

Wave 2 (N=140 | October 11–15, 2019)
🏳️‍🌈 (38.6%) once again lands on top, more than tripling niche-favorite 💪's (12.1%) share, who is in a tight cluster for runner-up with 🛹 (11.4%) — who suffered a steep decline — 💎 (11.4%), and 👵🏼 (10.7%), who nearly doubled her vote. The rest take a little under 1/7th of the vote, with nobody breaking 4 percent.
🏳️‍🌈 (92.8) hurdles the 9 in 10 threshold for favorability. 👩‍⚖️ (89.6) sees her already stellar standing improve substantially, while 💎 (83.1) trades places with his party.
👵🏼 (55.4) surges into positive territory, while 👮🏾‍♀️ (33.9) takes a big hit. 🥀 (14.9) is once again dead last.
Subject Favorable Neither Unfavorable Index²
🏳️‍🌈 90.7 4.3 5.0 92.8
👩‍⚖️ 85.0 9.3 5.7 89.6
💎 77.1 12.1 10.7 83.1
🐎 77.4 9.3 13.6 82.0
👵🏼 48.6 13.6 37.9 55.4
🌿 27.1 25.0 47.9 39.6
👮🏾‍♀️ 24.3 19.3 56.4 33.9
🌹 17.1 17.1 65.7 25.6
🥀 11.4 7.1 81.4 14.9
🐘 3.6 5.0 91.4 6.1
🍊🤴 0.7 2.9 96.4 2.1

Wave 3 (N=165 | November 11–14, 2019)
Pulling a clear majority of the vote, 🏳️‍🌈 (54.5%) obliterates the field. 💎 (18.8%) substantially increases his share, while 👵🏼 (5.5%) has her percentage halved and 💪 (4.2%) cut by a brutal two-thirds. The remaining candidates take 14 percent, with no individual candidate surpassing the 4-point threshold.
🏳️‍🌈 (93.9) inches still closer to the mathematical limit, as 👩‍⚖️ (84.2) recedes and 💎 (83.0) replicates his previous robust showing.
👵🏼 (38.5) nosedives, and 👮🏾‍♀️ (38.1) recoups some of her losses. 🥀 (12.1) returns to his abysmal rating in the first wave.
🍊🤴 (2.7) climbs further, doubling his Wave 1 standing in an impressive show of newfound popularity.
Subject Favorable Neither Unfavorable Index²
🏳️‍🌈 92.1 3.6 4.2 93.9
👩‍⚖️ 78.2 12.1 9.7 84.2
💎 76.4 13.3 10.3 83.0
🐎 72.7 12.7 14.5 79.0
👵🏼 28.5 20.0 51.5 38.5
👮🏾‍♀️ 24.2 27.9 47.9 38.1
🌿 28.5 15.2 56.4 36.1
🌹 12.7 17.6 69.7 21.5
🥀 9.1 6.1 84.8 12.1
🐘 1.8 5.5 92.7 4.5
🍊🤴 2.4 0.6 97.0 2.7

Wave 4 (N=150 | December 23–26, 2019)
🏳️‍🌈 (54.0%) repeats his dominating performance, while 💎 (22.0%) earns twice his initial share. A meaningful minority contingent selects the otherwise broadly reviled 🥀 (4.7%), and late-entrant 🍦 (4.7%) matches. 🧮 (4.0%) earns his mention with a number of votes, 👵🏼 (2.7%) loses another half off her support, and 💪 (1.3%) fades into the background.
🏳️‍🌈 (91.3) loses a bit of his still-vibrant luster, and 👩‍⚖️ (91.3) draws right even with him as her skeptics are slashed by no less than half. 💎 (87.6) significantly improves his already excellent numbers.
The now-departed 👮🏾‍♀️ (48.3) surges to near-even favorability, while 👵🏼 (34.0) is further depressed. 🥀 (17.3) rises somewhat from the abyss.
Subject Favorable Neither Unfavorable Index²
🏳️‍🌈 90.0 2.7 7.3 91.3
👩‍⚖️ 88.0 6.7 5.3 91.3
💎 84.0 7.3 8.7 87.6
🐎 73.3 18.0 8.7 79.0
👮🏾‍♀️ 36.0 24.7 49.3 48.3
🌿 29.3 21.3 49.3 36.1
👵🏼 26.0 16.0 58.0 34.0
🌹 13.3 18.7 68.0 22.6
🥀 12.7 9.3 78.0 17.3
🐘 1.3 9.3 89.3 5.9
🍊🤴 0.7 2.7 96.7 2.0

Wave 5 (N=187 | January 12–14, 2020)
🏳️‍🌈 (45.5%) loses his outright majority as 💎 (28.9%) significantly increases his vote share for the fourth consecutive wave. 📒 (4.8%) rises to the top of the second tier, with 📖 (4.3%) just behind.
💎's (91.2) unrelenting rise is mirrored in favorability as he dethrones 🏳️‍🌈 (90.3) for the first place in the metric.
👮🏾‍♀️ (55.8) rides cleanly into positive territory, and 👵🏼 (45.7) sees her image improve substantially, perhaps aided by an ongoing feud with 🥀 (13.8), who falls from his personal high.
🍊🤴 (1.0), for his part, kisses the floor.
Subject Favorable Neither Unfavorable Index²
💎 87.7 7.0 5.3 91.2
🏳️‍🌈 86.6 7.5 5.9 90.3
👩‍⚖️ 84.5 10.2 5.3 89.6
🐎 74.3 15.0 10.7 81.8
👮🏾‍♀️ 42.2 27.3 30.5 55.8
👵🏼 34.2 23.0 42.8 45.7
🌿 26.2 25.1 48.7 38.7
🌹 11.8 20.3 67.9 21.9
🥀 11.2 5.3 83.4 13.8
🐘 3.2 8.6 88.2 7.5
🍊🤴 0.5 1.1 98.4 1.0

Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump
The overwhelming majority — 8 in 10 — of neoliberal are willing to hold their noses and vote for 🥀 were he the nominee, but the percentage shrunk by just over 1 percent in every successive wave but one, while the number of defectors reached a high of 8 percent in the fourth before receding somewhat. This is perhaps due to the increasingly bitter nature of the primary.
Candidate Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5
🥀 82.0 80.7 80.6 79.3 78.1
Neither 15.8 12.9 13.3 12.7 16.6
🍊🤴 2.3 6.4 6.1 8.0 5.3

A similarly overwhelming 82 percent majority across all five waves oppose allowing businesses to deny service to LGBT+ customers on the basis of their orientation, while just 1 in 8 expressed support.
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5 Total
Yes 12.2 9.3 14.5 15.3 10.2 12.3
Neither 3.6 5.7 8.5 4.0 7.2 5.7
No 84.2 85.0 77.0 80.3 82.9 82.1
By a 7215 margin, neoliberals support changing the individual income tax schedule in the United States to add 40 and 45 percent brackets for respective annual incomes over $1,000,000 and $2,500,000. (The difference between the waves with highest and lowest margins in favor are statistically significant, although the reason behind this is unclear.)
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5 Total
Yes 71.2 73.6 69.7 68.7 75.9 71.9
Neither 14.9 12.9 9.7 14.0 12.8 13.0
No 14.0 13.6 20.6 17.3 11.2 15.2
An incredible 3 in 4 respondents offer support for the politically suicidal stance of no government restrictions on abortion rights, with just 1 in 6 opposed — yet more evidence that neoliberal's moderation applies only to economics and not social and cultural issues, where its orientation is solidly leftist.
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5 Total
All cases 77.9 74.3 72.1 72.7 74.3 74.5
Neither 6.3 10.7 8.5 9.3 11.2 9.0
Less often 15.8 15.0 19.4 18.0 14.4 16.4
On the flipside, significantly raising tax rates on higher corporate income brackets while cutting them for lower ones receives a cool reception: just under 1 in 3 expressed support for the proposed change. Many (1 in 5) were unsure, however, and the percentage of opponents falls short of majority level.
Notably, following an initial dip, approval of the proposition increased significantly from Wave 2 to Wave 5. Again, it is not clear what was behind this shift.
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5
Yes 28.4 27.1 30.9 30.9 39.3
Neither 21.6 19.3 20.0 20.0 18.0
No 50.0 53.6 48.1 49.1 44.7
A narrow 2-point plurality favored outlawing semiautomatic rifles and magazines carrying over 10 rounds over the entire survey period, but this masks the sharp drop in support from the first wave to the second.
There is an explanation that likely accounts for this precipitous change: 🛹's politically risky proposal for a mandatory buyback of AR–15s, as well as perhaps prior preference for sub-favorite 🏳️‍🌈, who was its most vocal opponent.
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5
Yes 51.4 43.6 40.6 41.3 43.3
Neither 13.1 10.7 12.1 13.3 14.4
No 35.6 45.7 47.3 45.3 44.2
No policy proposal saw a greater consensus than the introduction of a public option for Medicare, with an impressive 7 in 8 in support. The unequivocal figure is emblematic of the observation that the disagreement between the center-left and the hard-left is typically over the means — not the end.
Policy Wave 1 Wave 2 Wave 3 Wave 4 Wave 5
Yes 86.5 85.7 87.3 86.0 89.8
Neither 6.3 6.4 6.1 4.7 3.7
No 7.2 7.9 6.7 9.3 6.4

neoliberal is a downright fraternity, with over 9 in 10 respondents identifying themselves as male and just 6 percent as female. The remaining 1 in 40 or so identified beyond the gender binary.
(I did not try to break out transgender males and females specifically, fearing that the small figures might convey more noise than signal.)
An alternate tagline for this community could be "Zoomer Nation," as a 3 in 5 majority are too young to be included in the Census Bureau's calculation of the percentage of Americans with a college degree. The pattern in the remainder of the sample was scarcely any less stark: 1 in 3 were between the ages of 25 and 34. A vanishing 1 percent — 9 respondents — were 45 or older.
Limited to the 40 percent of respondents aged at least 25, this subsample offers yet another indication of how vastly different the userbase of neoliberal is from the general population. With nearly 6 in 7 seniors harboring a bachelor's degree — and 3 in 8 having at taken courses further beyond — the community comprises an elite stock. (As of 2018, 35 percent of Americans in the same age range have graduated college.)
Somewhat over 3 in 4 of the sample identified their ethnic background as white — likely a few Taylor Swifts short of what the community has seemed to envision as a battle against a polar bear in a snowstorm at the 90° parallel.
Considering the proportion of respondents from the United States ⬇️, Asian neoliberals (8.4%) were overrepresented and users of mixed ancestry (7.0%) even more so, while Hispanic (4.5%) and Black (3.2%) members fell far short of their representation in the general population.
neoliberal is a highly secular community, with 2 in 3 stating their irreligiosity, while about 23 percent identified as Christians and 10 percent professed their affiliation with another religion.
(It's worth pointing out that these numbers are meaningfully out of line with a survey conducted of this subreddit two years ago, wherein a full 80 percent selected one of the religiously unaffiliated options and just 5 percent reported identification with another religion. It is possible that the use of "Unaffiliated" instead of "No religion" as the third selection confused certain respondents.)
Perhaps a sign of the generational times, right between 1/5 and 1/4 of respondents identified as a sexual minority. This is far higher than surveys of the public report for the youngest generation, however, so other major factors are certainly at play.
In an attempt to limit the sample to those for which the questionnaire would be most relevant, I discouraged non-Americans from taking the survey, so these figures are not intended to be representative. (A follow-up poll strongly suggests that few heeded the request.)
However, I have included it to contextualize the rest of the data.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All Graphical Representations
Detailed Responses by Individual (useful for those who would like to do analyses of their own)
¹ I discovered in a poll following up my wave survey that the lack of options for different intensities of positive/negative opinion omitted critical nuance in the data. Relatively speaking, 🏳️‍🌈 suffered most because of this, while 💎 benefitted a fair bit.
² Favorable = 100 | Neither = 50 | Unfavorable = 0
submitted by IncoherentEntity to u/IncoherentEntity [link] [comments]

Updated - Exosquad timeline

Updated - Exosquad timeline
Been hammering away at the timeline of the ExoSquad universe. We now have a decently comprehensive timeline spanning from the year 1999 up through 2109.
Exosquad Timeline
July 24, 1969 - Apollo 11 conducts the first Moon landing on Luna
July 8, 1999 - the existence of a 10th planet beyond the orbit of Pluto is postulated. Despite numerous efforts to confirm the existence of such a planet over the next 100 years, no such planet is identified.
March 10, 2005 - The Sun’s binary sister star, NEMESIS, is discovered. Its elliptical orbit takes it closest to earth every 60 million years. During its last pass, it wiped out the dinosaurs.
August 2, 2009 - First permanent industrial and mining colonies are established on the Moon. Astronauts begin detailed exploration of the other planets.
December 30, 2010 - The year marks several advances in artificial intelligence and biology. The earliest methods of communication between computers and the human brain are developed.
September 27, 2011 - Deep space probes in Neptune orbit detect the first proven transmissions of intelligent life outside of our solar system. Tracking studies indicate that the signals are from a source moving towards earth space.
October 10, 2012 – The first ‘industrial scale’ orbital platform is placed into orbit around earth. Used for a combination of scientific experimentation, energy collection, and interplanetary communication, the platform is designated as “Tinia”.
May 4, 2015 - Large space platforms placed in orbit around Venus and Mars. These platforms are intended to be early precursors to proposed terraforming processes as well as scientific platforms.
June 22, 2019 - Exceptionally rich mineral deposits discovered on Mars - including minerals never before seen.
October 10, 2019 - The Marcus-Vainmoore Enterprises mining branch attempts to short change the Martian mining efforts by launching mining operations in the Asteroid belt.
July 17, 2020 - Exotechnology (Exo-tech) developed. The technology is put to work in large scale industrial projects.
December 10, 2010 - Exo-tech is utilized for Martian excavation.
Dec 2, 2023 - Full-scale terraforming of Venus begins, making extensive use of Exo-tech.
Feb. 14, 2017 - Semi-permanent settlements begin appearing on Venus. Problems are encountered with Martian Terraforming, due to the thin atmosphere and low gravity - early colonists die while support resources, intended to allow colonies to be self-sufficient, have significant difficulty in being maintained in the lower gravity of the planet. The Manned orbital stations, that were previously placed in orbit over Venus and Mars are expanded to support more robust operations with additional resources being put into the Martian platforms in the hopes of augmenting the colonization and terra-forming process. Additional platforms are put into orbit around Mercury.
January 8, 2028 - The Outer Planet Mining Corporation (OPM) is formed for the purpose of harvesting the valuable minerals from the moons of Saturn, and Jupiter. As a “humanitarian effort” the Earth Congress authorizes the usage of convicts as a labor pool in exchange for reduced sentences.
March 15, 2032 - Genetic engineering breakthrough allows manipulation of life forms. “Designer” animals and plant life appear. Serious attempts to begin to develop ‘augmented’ human beings that can endure the rigors of life on Mars and off-world.
April 2, 2032 - The first (OPM) mission is launched to Saturn’s moon Tethys. It is designated as “Charon”.
September 10, 2032 - Charon makes planetfall on Tethys. Over the next year, the mining complex “Charon” is established and built up to support a population of nearly 3,000 convict laborers.
April 5, 2034 - OPM Establishes the mining complex “Cocytus” on Tethys.
May 14, 2036 - OPM mining complex “Elysium” is established on Dione.
June 24, 2036 - Larger deposits are discovered on Tethys. Expansions for the Charon mining complex are set in motion that will be carried out over the next 5 years intended to expand its mining capacity. Its support capacity would ultimately be increased to 5,500 convicts making it the largest of the Saturn Mining complexes.
June 20, 2038 - OPM Mining complex “Phlegethon” is established on Enceladus.
June 2, 2040 - Scientists succeed in creating a new strain of evolutionarily advanced humans known as “Neosapians”.
June 19, 2040 - OPM Mining complex “Lethe” is established on Titan.
December 25, 2042 - OPM Mining complex “Erebus” is established on Tethys.
December 9, 2044 - OPM establishes the last of 7 mining complexes in the Saturn planetary system. This last complex is established on the moon of Dione and is designated “Agensader”. Between the 7 mining complexes, a total population of over 23,000 people is present for mining.
May 5, 2045 - Earth and Venus form the “Home World Senate”. Humans from these two planets become known as ‘TERRANS’. “Zeus Reborn”, a 2-year project to repurpose the Tinia Platform is drafted and put into operation. Its purpose is to re-configure the platform to house the Home World Senate central complex. In the interim, the Senate is housed in Sidney.
June 1, 2047 – “Zeus Reborn” is completed. The Home World Senate officially moves from Sidney Australia to the Tinia Platform.
Jan 4, 2048 - Cloned Neosapiens begin mining and terraforming operations on Mars.
October 4, 2048 – Jeremiah Winfield is born.
November 10, 2048 - With Neosapians mining on Mars, the cost of the various materials drops significantly to the point that OPM is facing bankruptcy. In an effort to maintain itself, OPM cancels all further supply runs and operations of the Saturn mining network. A cover story about “Saturn Madness” is fabricated and spread, convincing the public at large that the convicts have all gone mad, thus no effort to rescue them is made or suggested.
January 1, 2049 - The convicts realize that they have been abandoned. In retaliation, they form the Pirate Clans of Saturn.
January 6, 2055 - the first raids by the Pirate Clans are conducted just outside the Martian orbit. Several Marcus-Vainmoore ships are attacked and their cargo stolen. The crews are left alive but are disfigured. The raids grow in frequency over the next several years.
January 15, 2055 – OPM is re-organized into Outer Planetary Freight, primarily a shipping company. Abandoning much of their mining background and ambitions.
January 30, 2060 – Exo-tech is tested for use in military applications.
January 1, 2061 – The Home Worlds Senate passes the Extra-Terrestrial Armed Services decree, formally establishing a unified military force that supersedes the authority of individual armies and is under the direct authority of the Home Worlds Senate. This military is colloquially known as ‘ETAS’. The Extra-Terrestrial Operations Network (ETON) is established and integrated into the Home Worlds senates communications hub. This advent gives ETAS access to all the satellite data available to the Home Worlds Senate itself and allows the Senate to more directly control ETAS.
May 1, 2061 – The Exo-Tech development for military applications shows progress. The first star fighters to be fitted with the cyber-link data processing system giving the pilots greater depth of input to the fighter itself. The XAF-221 Badger becomes the first ‘exo-fighter’.
October 10, 2061 – The Great Neosapians Birthing Complex is completed on Mars. Accelerated growth and intra-cranial organo-educated implants produce 25,000 Neosapien adults each Martian month, totaling 300,000 per year.
December 10, 2061 – Neosapian brood Sci-Alpha-Tau 21699 is completed. This brood includes Phaeton and Marsala.
January 19, 2062 – Marsala is appointed as the Production Coordinator for the 3rd Sector of Martian Mining operations, the single largest on Mars.
August 25 2065 - Population of Neosapiens increase rapidly. Mars is predominantly populated by these advanced humans.
December 2, 2065 - Unrest begins on Mars in the wake of Home World Senate’s decision that ‘artificial’ life forms don’t have the rights of other “natural” humans. Neosapiens demand home rule.
January 10, 2068 – Jeremiah Winfield enlists with ETAS.
October 10, 2070 – Inspired by Marsala, the great Neosapian rebellion begins. Systematic sabotage slows Martian mining as Marsala calls for negotiations with the Home Worlds congress. The majority of these transmissions go unanswered only serving to further fuel the rebellion. Marcus-Vainmoore Communications is harshly criticized for it’s maintaining of the communications network leading some to believe that the ‘lack of communications’ from the Neosapians is deliberate.
October 18, 2070 - Marcus-Vainmoore mining attempts to capitalize on the crisis by upping their mining efforts in the asteroid belt. They establish permanent supply stations and support centers on several of the largest asteroids including Ceras, Vesta, Eros, Bennu, and Juno. Utilizing their political influences, they successfully lobby to have the ETAS’ patrol routes set to include the Asteroid field in order to protect their assets. It is widely suggested that this is done with the ulterior motive of allowing the Neosapian rebellion to continue.
February 11, 2071 – Matthew Marcus is born.
April 12, 2071 – The Neosapians rebellion intensifies, bringing all mining on mars to a halt. Even with the increased mining from the Asteroid belt, the Home Worlds economy begins to collapse.
June 10, 2071 – The Exo-Tech development program brings the concepts of cyber-links and exo-skeletons together, allowing the designers to create vehicles with the fire power of a tank, but the control options and benefits that had made the XAF-221 Badger so popular. These are the direct precursors to the “Exo-Frames”. Jeremiah Winfield becomes the leader of one of the first ‘E-frame Squads’ designated “Blue Alpha”.
August 1, 2071 – the ETAS puts in a substantial order for the new “Exo-Frames” as works to modernize its forces. The “E-frame” becomes so synonymous with the ETAS, that the organization comes to be known as the “Exo-Fleet”. As the Exo-Fleet develops, more and more state-based militaries are either absorbed into it, or simply dissolved as they are viewed as being redundant and unneeded.
November 1, 2071 – Exo-Fleet is called on to quell the Martian Rebellion.
November 6, 2071 – The Exo-Fleet moves into controlling orbit of Mars and begins conducting lightning raids against Neosapain held locations. The newly formed “E-frame Squads” prove devastatingly effective.
November 13, 2071 – Marsala is captured by Blue Alpha and the rebellion is broken. Calls for Marsala to be tried for leading the rebellion are made. Legal counsel offers a motion that because Marsala is not a “Natural Born” he is not entitled to a trial for his actions, but likewise cannot be held accountable for them any more than a dog that is beaten by its owner can be held accountable when it attacks someone. The Companies that had financed and controlled the mining operations on Mars are put on trial for the Rebellion.
December 1, 2071 – with the recent success of the E-frame tactics, previous plans for the Exo-fleet are scrapped. Ship orders are canceled in favor of some form of not yet designed ‘Exo carrier’ and more emphasis is placed on the utilization of E-frames.
January 10, 2074 – The trials of the Martian mining companies are completed. There are numerous fines and jail sentences passed down as it is determined that the business practices and operations of the Martian Mining companies lead directly to the rebellion and the effects on the Home Worlds’ economy that caused. The Neosapians are granted custodial control of Mars.
March 5, 2074 – Several groups begin campaigning for Neosapians to be allowed to join the Exo-Fleet. These demands are presently ignored.
Sept 2, 2076 - Neosapiens allowed to sit on the Home World Senate primarily as observers only. For matters of official status, their delegate is given a ‘non-voting’ seat.
February 28, 2086 - Despite Neosapian protest, approval is given to build another massive Excavation project in the southern hemisphere of Mars.
March 12, 2089 - Homeworld Senate rejects Neosapien bid for complete autonomy.
March 14, 2089 – The Home Worlds Senate approves the “Exo-Carrier Construction program”, a combination development, test-bed, and construction program intended to modernize the Exo-Fleet, cut down on costs by developing purpose built ships, and to replace the currently 60 year old ship designs presently utilized by the Exo-Fleet.
April 4, 2092 - The Neosapien leader Phaeton becomes spokesman for the Neosapien population of mars in their disputes with the Terrans.
April 12, 2092 – The Home Worlds Senate approves the Yumoto class Exo-cruiser. Ships to come out of this class include the Bismarck, and Sakura.
May 20, 2093 – The Home Worlds Senate approves the Kuznetsov-class Exo-carrier. Ships to come out of this class include the Borealis.
October 10, 2094 – The Home Worlds Senate approves the Helgoland-class Exo-carrier. Ships to come out of this class include the Coronado.
June 1, 2099 – The Home Worlds Senate approves the Resolve-class Exo-carrier. Ships to come out of this class include the Dominion, and Sovereign.
May 15, 2100 – The HWS Bismarck is launched
October 30, 2100 – the HWS Sakura is launched.
December 1, 2100 – The Home Worlds Senate Approves the Resolute variant of the Resolve class of Exo-carriers and orders one to become the new flagship of the Exo-fleet.
May 15, 2016 – The HWS Dominion is launched. It is temporarily named the Exo-fleet flagship.
May 15, 2107 – The HWS Borealis is launched.
October 30, 2107 – the HWS Coronado is launched.
May 10, 2108 – The Home Worlds Senate passes the ETAS Militarization prioritization decree cutting back on weapons and military-type hardware that can be possessed by non-military operations. The Neosapiens are very specifically mentioned as not being permitted to possess any form of military hardware.
October 19, 2108 - Neosapiens protest the ETAS Militarization prioritization decree as it is being applied to include industrial-scale transport systems under the idea of “military hardware”. This forces the Neosapians to rely on the transport options provided by the likes of Marcus-Vainmoore, Outer Planetary Freight, and the Martian Mining Conglomerate.
November 18, 2109 – In an effort to appease the Neosapian and lessen tensions, the Home Worlds Senate passes the ETAS Combined Arms decree, permitting a limited number of Neosapians to enlist with the Exo-Fleet. Marsala immediately enlists and it is permitted, both for political reasons and for the belief that if he’s kept isolated from the Neosapiens at large, it’s less likely that the could start a second rebellion.
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Rebels Can't Go Home - Chapter 59

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Tek’s first impulse was denial. This entity that made Seeker look like an infant couldn’t be real. His second impulse was rage. He’d overpowered Seeker, hadn’t he? Found a way to outmaneuver her at every turn, compensating for the fact she had started out being able to think faster than him, move faster, have a huge fleet, and more. Tek had broken Seeker, systematically and completely, and ended his fight just the way he wanted. Hand to claw, relaxing, proving she was just something to be hunted, after all. The stars were another jungle. Null zones were pit traps. Preparation, knowing your enemy, turning their habits into downfalls--all that was exactly the same.
“Stars?” asked the Progenitor. “You think you are among the stars?”
Tek couldn’t fight this. All his planning, and it was reduced to nothing the moment a zookeeper arrived.
“I want to leave this system,” he said, simply, honestly, as the Progenitor dilated time around them, stretching words to the length of heartbeats. “I want to see the universe. Exit the garden you made for me. Teach me. Tell me why that is wrong.”
“The universe wasn’t for you,” said the Progenitor.
There was a twist, and Tek’s consciousness flew out of the Liberty’s Call bridge.
Passed a hall where Jane Lee and Nith were fighting Morok, surrounded by fallen armored and furred bodies. Morok reared at Jane Lee, whose invisibility was stuttering, and would have torn her apart with his fangs, if not for the fact Nith, wearing marine armor, helmet setting just turned transparent enough for Tek to see her face, interposed.
Morok took what he could get. Ripped out Nith’s arm, along with too much internal viscera.
Tek heard the words in Nith’s mind, as the Progenitor showed him, all in the fragmented moments before Tek’s consciousness zoomed further away.
Protect… First Hunter’s… Wife… Our future…
Tek could feel Nith’s heartbeat slow, feel her dying, and then someone in the passageway threw a grenade.
Morok batted it away before it exploded.
Tek could feel Morok’s disgust about how Tek had used Morok’s training in the bowels of Liberty’s Call as a tool to infiltrate deep the super Titan, bringing Vendion closer to Seeker. Morok considered this a betrayal of his and Tek’s agreement. Morok thought that he had been the one to hew closer to the terms.
Jane Lee took the moment to attack Morok again.
Tek could hear her mind, too.
I can’t let him down. I can’t let him down. These were almost the only cogent thoughts in Jane Lee’s mind, on repeat, and echo, as she used her jet to bounce off the wall, a sort of environmental move Tek might have done, and came around to the intersection between Morok’s abdomen and cephalothorax. The combination of jungle strategy and specops technique had slipped past Morok’s cor-vo-bitten leg, and his guard. From above, Jane Lee stabbed down with her microedge and rifle bayonet.
Morok purr-roared, Nith’s heart stopped beating, and someone threw another grenade, or maybe a microcharge.
The passageway went white. Tek’s disembodied mind continued to flee, and expand, until he found himself outside the Liberty’s Call, looking at the ship that had bitten it.
Looking at the gargantuan, kilometers-long cor-vo that swam in space by the Titan’s side, needing no air, more true and beautiful than the battleships designed for void that hung like decorations around it.
Your vessel, Tek thought to the Progenitor. You need a ship? I like the aspect you chose as its form.
The Progenitor laughed, and it seemed nearby Titans themselves rattled in mirth. That’s just another part of me, Little One.
Tek found himself staring into the false cor-vo’s beak, as it flickered into a lion, a dragon, and then a hundred other shapes from distant planets or philosophy that Tek had never learned. His consciousness, buoyed by the Progenitor, continued to expand, or maybe be merged with the Progenitor’s own, until Tek’s vision was filled with what seemed like a holographic view of the entire battlefield, almost exactly what he remembered from the display Seeker had put on to try to flatter him, spanning well beyond both ends of the null maze.
The true scope of the cor-vo was apparent here. It was size of a planet. It was still just an avatar. Its gravitational pull affected none of the ships or stellar environment that swirled around, because the Progenitor had neatly diverted that effect to trouble a different dimension. A span astronomical units in all directions rippled, and the battle Tek had worked so hard to set to his favor stressed up and down, like the Home Fleet was conformed to the surface of a vicious ocean current, stretched almost unrecognizable, and yet unharmed, because this was exactly the way the true universe always was, and humans were just too blind to see.
Tek had the distinct sense he was being offered just a fraction of what the Progenitor perceived.
Do they see you? asked Tek, referring to the monolithic avatar. Did the fighting stop?
They perceive, said the Progenitor. Not exactly as you do--their instruments warp and stutter, as if I am a singularity, or a sun--but they, and the hybrids on the bridge, did perceive a fraction of what I allow you to witness in more complete glory. Few flatlings--even not Seeker, who you terrified so--get to perceive a Progenitor so clearly. Most do not know us when we interact. You are lucky, perhaps, to see such a great percentage of the truth. Closer and you would be ripped apart. You can touch the totality of what I am no more than an organism trapped on a scientist’s slide can rear to the height of its tester.
Is that what you are? asked Tek, as the binary stars themselves kaleidoscoped and spun, as Tek’s consciousness was pulled by the Progenitor even further outwards. All was nothing, and the light and dark was the same, and Tek was torn into pieces and everywhere at once. If he had to use a metaphor, it was as if the Progenitor had pulled Tek into a womb.
Enough, agreed the Progenitor. My brethren do many things more interesting than observing the human stain upon its slice of the universe, but someone has to make sure the bugs don’t crawl in the house.
Tek saw a fragment image that reminded him of Crystal Sector.
All those colonists? he wondered. They were on someone’s lawn?
The swirling lights that threatened to overwhelm Tek belched further accord. You are a quick one, said the Progenitor. The Icarus metaphor you thought, on Liberty’s Call*. An instructor in the Academy vids only gave that Earth mythological reference once, and you noticed the relevance immediately. You are amusing. Someone more sentimental than me might even call you a delight.*
“Now,” said the Progenitor, abrupting sitting in a high-backed blue chair, behind a desk, surrounded by a gray void. It appeared in the shape of Weri, Tek’s mother. Not how she’d been, but how he remembered her, too beautiful to be real, smile larger the sun, formed warped, as if seen through a bubble, because Tek’s memories were old and faded. “We have business. The bugs, as you might say, are threatening again to get in the house. As part of the protocol, the tradition, I am supposed to examine one, and he who climbed to the top of the anthill seemed like the right choice. Seeker was fumigation chemical. The next fumigation chemical we make must be better.”
Tek knew he had to keep the Progenitor talking. He knew the Progenitor was peering into his mind far more thoroughly than a neural link ever could, knew that his new stratagem had been dissected and understood the moment he’d thought it up. Tek could only hope the stratagem was the sort that worked even if the instructions were clearly broadcast from the label.
“Fermi paradox,” he said. “That’s what you are. The answer to the riddle.”
Tek was seated in front of the Progenitor, in an ancient leather chair. The Progenitor leaned forwards. “Explain.”
“In the xenoanthropology lecture I listened to,” said Tek. “Professor Dewan was talking about the SETI project, and how for so many years, humans in the old days couldn’t find signs of sentient life around distant stars, even though they tried so hard to hear. The classic explanation, the pessimistic interpretation of the Drake equation, was that the chances of sentient life were so tiny that humans were alone in the universe. A quirk of fractional chances of star and planet formation rates, habitable zone location chances, abiogenesis, the nature of civilizational formation, and the nature of signal emission. No one had good numbers to put in the Drake equation, but much speculation centered around the idea that it was hard to create life from nothing. The pre-civilization odds, if you will. I think this is true, but I also think your species is ancient, and became lords of the stars far before Apollo went to the Moon. Why didn’t my ancestors detect you? Because the way you communicate naturally was far beyond the ability of the SETI electromagnetic receivers to notice. We were never alone, not for one day of our history, but we were unable to perceive.”
“You’re not saying the part you think will annoy me,” said the Progenitor.
“If you came first,” said Tek. “Because someone had to, you squashed all the others. Because they were bugs to you. Maybe your species was born extradimensional, and maybe the other species were likewise different from humans in ways mind-boggling to comprehend, but they were out there, just as you were out there, and you killed them. Maybe not intentionally. The sixth extinction of Earth, which occured around the time humanity developed space travel, involved, relevantly, the deaths of hundreds of animal species, with a special focus on animals that disturbed human hegemony on Earth. So many species, like the sort of tiger Larcery may have been made in the image of, survived only with human intervention. Or in zoos.”
Tek couldn’t help but smile. “The garden worlds. You think you’re showing a kindness, don’t you? Sweep humanity out of the way, set up preserves, because otherwise, the industrialists among you, the poachers, the ones who want to kill for amusement, or merely because they want to build your equivalent of a highway, will wipe us out merely by going through the natural action of what it means to be a citizen or company in a civilization as fantastically advanced as yours.”
“You are much less than a tiger to us,” said the Progenitor. It didn’t sound like a criticism. Not really. Just a statement of fact.
“Are you sorry?” asked Tek. “You, who arrived to your sentience and power first? You who might have been us, had our times been swapped, had we come into our own billions of years ago, like your kind?”
“We do not count time as you do,” said the Progenitor. “We count universes. I need to undo you now. Remove the chief pest, and set K-3423 back, mostly, to the way it was. You are amusing, just like your grandfather--” Tek saw a flash of this Progenitor hiding behind Uk’s eyes, terrifying Aratan into vowing to spend his life guarding the escape pod “--but you were not the first, and will not be the last. I have an itinerary. I ripped everything from your mind the moment we met, your permutations, possibilities, but while it is not a waste of time to watch a dog perform a trick you know it knows, I have a job to do. People to see. I am not alone in the universe, even if I will never recognize humanity as an equal. You were right about Progenitors having a civilization.”
“Wait,” said Tek.
“The anthropic principle. Your kind will eventually be beaten. Even if by entropy. As you said, there will be many bugs after me. There is a value in keeping something like me. Giving me a larger preserve than just the planet. Scientific or leisurewise.”
“Entropy?” the Progenitor asked.
“A constant,” said Tek. “Just as the people of the Union flatter themselves to wear ornate clothing, which always thins, we are all worn by the universe itself.”
“I know what entropy is, Little One. Let me show you.”
The room was gone. Tek’s body was gone. There was nothing. Then an explosion. Quarks making atoms making galactic density variations making suns, which erupted into heavier atoms and built new suns and worlds. Tek imagined the elegance was better than what had existed in the universe containing K-3423-H1, and Earth. The creation of a new universe, as an art piece. Was it real?
Tek found himself zooming towards a sun, feeling all the intensity of its heat, somehow without any pain. As a tickle. Perception. Pleasure.
Flying through the corona of one of these yellow factories is like a bath, isn’t it? asked the Progenitor. It’s so much colder when you get to the chromosphere, only a few thousand Kelvin, but if you want the real hot tub, you just need to move through to the center. Fifteen million Kelvin. There’s a galactic collision in your universe I could show you that gets into the hundreds of millions, surprisingly accessible via tachyon currents, but if I brought you there, some of my kind would ask me why I wasn’t working. I hope the house I built is proof sufficient to show that my kind tamed entropy the way your kind tamed fire.
The ‘house’ the Progenitor made wasn’t the sun. It was the entire little universe the Progenitor had created for Tek, just to prove a point. Tek felt it. This universe was real. Tek was standing on the closest the sun had to a surface, the dense plasma at its core, and, thanks to the way the Progenitor sheltered him, he could feel a facsimile of what the Progenitor was enjoying.
The right metaphor was akin to washing one’s hands.
To something on the scale of a Progenitor, a star was an appliance.
They popped back to the room with the desk. “Don’t drop your matches,” said the Progenitor. “Every one of our children knows how to prevent the heat death of a universe. You have no idea what to even threaten me with. This is the end. You knew your mother as Weri. Aratan used a pet name for her, Nila. You never knew a fact so close to you. What other infinities are beyond your reach?”
“Track-jeeps,” said Tek. “Tread-jeeps. Synonyms. Superficial. What words intend matter. Was I an idiot because I started off with an accent the people of the Union could barely understand? Entropy was a metaphor too, at least the way I meant it. Your kind has a relationship with the universes you swim through and build. If this is a formality, and I could never be of use to you kept alive, why have you spent so long talking with me?”
“Zigfried Torgus thought as you did,” said the Progenitor. “He was memorable. He grew up on one of the planets pruned early from the edges of what the Union called the Prime Colonies. He launched a rebellion. Seized the world’s environmental controls and defeated two who were like Seeker, if at more of a remove than you did. He understood us as well as any human could. Thought he would escape our notice. Thought we would think he was amusing. Even began to commit the sort of brutalities our greater servants seem to enjoy, because he thought he could humor us through his revolution’s self-imposed restrictions. Several of his memory-clones are screaming in boxes, somewhere. We do not take kindly to those who think they know what we want.”
“I have no interest in proceeding further while guessing at your desires,” said Tek. “I merely wish to point out that there is a use you can set me to, you, who find so many things beneath your notice, who has no interest in using the full might of the Progenitors to burn a house down looking for ants. I will not pledge to keep my rebellion within constraints, if you let me free. Laws of war such as were established in Hague or Geneva are not appropriate to the relationship between humans and Progenitors. As we are, we can never be equals. Nor will I pledge to be your mindless tool. You do not want that. You do not need that. What I believe you want are people like Seeker. I defeated her. You clapped. Consider that my audition.”
“You fought so hard to tear us down,” said the Progenitor. “Why are you willing to give up? Go corporate? Be the opposite?”
“Because I see you,” said Tek. “I look up at the totality of what you are, in half-wonder, half-confusion, just as I did when I first saw the Gyrfalcon in the sky. The Not-Bird. And, with time to think and reflect, I can change my approach. I came to the conclusion that I craved going the sky after feeling the loss of the outsiders disappear. Just as now, I come to the conclusion that the only salvage I can manage here is to offer the services of everything I have and may build. You know this is no lie. That, while I will always strive for the benefit of those who have vested any trust in me, that count includes you. Will be overwhelmed by you. And you do not need any trust, not really. Because even now, you are dissecting my mind, and see that I have made an iron vow that any permutation of my future will be for your benefit.”
Strengths to weaknesses, thought Tek. One becomes the other. One as powerful as Seeker would never dare trust him. But for a Progenior, who had very little at stake, and could verify…
“You will have other objectives too,” said the Progenitor.
Tek inclined his head. “Of course. Just as Seeker did. But, as I was better than her, I think I can satisfy your desires more.”
“You know I am an exterminator,” said the Progenitor. “The things I will ask of you will be both horrific and nearly impossible, because I would only want to get maximum use out of my tools. No point in sparing the brush.”
“I will find a way to satisfy my morality and your will,” said Tek. “You know this. You predicted every word of this conversation. I thank you for humoring me, and not disappearing after the first moment, leaving me to wonder if our communication was real.”
“I was not always unkind,” said the Prognitor, morphing to the visage of Brian Alves. “I have a family, you know. In my discretion as an exterminator in this sector of space, I dub you my hand. Pending the outcome of three trials. The first is simple, and I know you will pass, but you must hear it.”
“You, who have fought for humanity, are not human. Tell me what you think of that, Tek of Zhadir’.”
“Tell me what you mean,” asked Tek, gripping the armrests of the leather chair that was probably three thousands other things besides.
“Did you ever notice that you and Aratan were a bit above mere mortals? That the only human who could keep up with you was a juiced MMA champion, and that, barely? Did you notice that she beat you in part because you allowed it? Did you notice that you absorbed more knowledge in the short weeks you spent knowing about the stars than most Academy graduates dream of? Did you notice that you matched wits with a part-machine that was supposed to be able to think faster than you, and with the bare advantage that Seeker didn’t know you were coming, kept it that way, and have already made one part in ten of her fleet your own? Does that sound human, Tek of Zhadir’?”
“You will not take my accomplishments away from me merely by pointing out they happened,” said Tek. “I imagine I was lucky as well as skilled. The anthropic principle would suggest that there are any number of people who could have been me, who were so good at organizing that their forces raged on without them, but who were taken out before they reached full prime. If you wish to flatter me, and say I was destined, Elder Progenitor, I will happily give more commentary if you tell me why.”
“Your lineage traces to certain eugenics programs from the early days of human spaceflight,” said the Progenitor. “Your ancestors who knew Earth were bred like cattle. One tech-head told to marry another. Olympic athletes too. Until the seed was so great that it persisted in the body of a passenger on the Procession of Paradise even after the program was shut down. Aratan’s grandmother, did not, after her mind was wiped, bear many children, and not all of those in the line of decent possessed the traits that human scientists worked so hard to build. Some did, in various degrees and expressions. Aratan. Sten. You.”
“People who are similar sometimes have children,” said Tek. “Arranged marriages existed among clanfolk and among cityfolk, back on a certain world that I mourn. To be the product of ancestors who had their own adventures, or were bent to the whims of others, is to be human.”
“You do not understand,” said the Progenitor. “There were gene therapies too. And the stock that made you had notable traits. A fairly large portion of your DNA is Homo neanderthalensis.”
“A sentient species that grew up beside Homo sapiens humans on Earth,” said Tek, straining to remember. “Overrun, but not so different to prevent some from interbreeding with their conquerors. I am proud to continue their legacy. To merge the lines. I am still human. And so were they, in every way that matters.”
“Gene therapies,” said the Progenitor. “That part can by no stretch be considered natural. You are no role model for children to follow. You were blessed beyond their ken. That which you have worked for, mildly, is beyond the abilities of many who would devote their lives.”
“What is a identity?” asked Tek. “When a company drops popultants in the water and the next generation of fish are mutant fish, do those fish not deserve the title? When a person has an accident, loses a limb, and gets a prosthetic, stronger, does that person stop being human? When a person merges their decision making much with a link, does that make the person inhuman? I do not think in the worlds we live in, you can draw so bright a line. In this day and age, with the right backing, choices, or luck, it would not be impossible for any human alive to become at least a fraction of Seeker. Your kind doesn’t make it that easy to become a hybrid, but as far as I can tell, being a hybrid--stronger than me at baseline, mind you--is more a matter of choice for those living on Progenitor Administration worlds than you would care for me to remember. And I was told--Jane Lee told” (the Progenitor forced Tek to say the name) “that there are certain experimental Union military programs that do some fraction of the same. You try to make the science that made me sound unique, but the legacy continues, even if the specific program was canceled. And there were others who strove towards similar goals as me. You said it yourself. There are things I have been given that others do not have--the worlds are unfair--but they are unfair at all levels. A thousand barriers separating classes of those you would trivially consider human. Ten thousand different skillsets, and more, each with different cheats. Everyone has a unique combination of traits, everyone can improve from their various starting gates, and everyone is best at something.”
“Tell that to a cripple,” said the Progenitor.
“Cripple in what?” asked Tek. “Mind or body? Besides, compared to you, I fit the word without qualifiers. It’s almost as if I’m human.”
One advantage of the Progenitor knowing Tek’s soul was that Tek figured the jab, once thought, was as good as said.
“I said you would pass,” said the Progenitor. “I accept your delusion. The next trial is a sacrifice. Everyone who joins us must offer something. Initiation rituals are important, even for someone of your will. You must know how much you have given up to be my hand. You will be nowhere near as effective, otherwise.”
“Make me a hybrid,” said Tek. “Make me like Morok, so I can mourn that I was not able to be a better friend. Take my body, do whatever you want to it, take it from me entirely, put me in a computer, split my soul in two-- I will suffer anything, and gladly. You know this.”
“I will keep you just as you are, Tek of Zhadir’,” said the Progenitor. “I think I will go after your brother.”
Tek stayed externally composed, but he imagined that for something like the Progenitor, he might as well have not bothered. The Progenitor, returning to looking like a dream version of his mother, nodded along.
“I will offer a choice,” said the Progenitor. “To make your decision as painful as possible. It is not, ‘give me Sten, or die.’ It will be, ‘give me Sten, or go back to the way things were.’ In the option where you back out, I will restore K-3423-H1. Put the re’eef back, and all the other animals, plants, fungi, etcetera. Resurrect facsimiles of all the dead. Many of these facsimiles may be the real thing, by your estimation. Just as there are competing human standards of death--easier with the heart than the brain--the standards by which my kind judges end are pushed to the limit further still. You can have all this, be restored to the jungle, with Sten. I will even throw in a boon and make it so he will not die of illness. I will force you alone to keep your memories, of course, so you will always know. I will take the pod and the Paradise, and I will close a dome around the world, that pretends to be the sky, so nothing will enter or leave until long after you are dust. But you will be as happy as you could possibly be on that planet. You will probably get to retake Ba’am.”
“I cannot say if he will be your grandfather,” said the Progenitor. “My standards are different than yours. But he will certainly think he is Aratan. I will undo every bit of the suffering that came with the Gyrfalcon, and his death counts.”
“Or you give me Sten of your own free will,” said the Progenitor. “I will pluck him from the Restoration where he sits, and make him mine. And with that small change complete, I will return you to the moment of your triumph over Seeker. Not that it is so impressive. Seeker was barely a newborn. You will need to finish Seeker, clean up her fleet, and be ready for my instructions, when they arrive. I will offer no assistance with this. If Seeker manages to save self, or if you falter, you are no instrument that can help me. At the start, you will be trapped on Liberty’s Call, surrounded by hybrids, and your battleships, themselves nearly surrounded in the null maze, will be outnumbered nearly by a order of magnitude. Sten, whatever I will do to him--he may be the only member of the Alliance who lives. Ripping out the heart of the Home Fleet, Seeker, does not guarantee victory. There are many who are anxious to serve. Even if you win, your dead will stay dead. And the survivors will, through you, be enslaved to a being that cares not one iota whether they live or die, unless of course, you make a mistake and fly to contaminate the wrong part of the universe.”
“What is your name?” asked Tek. “I would like to know what to call the being to whom I swear allegiance.”
“No hesitation,” said the Progenitor. “I knew it was coming, but it is still a sight to see. Amuse me further. Tell the audience why you would sacrifice your brother.”
“It cannot be for nothing. Even if the result will be tainted from what first I wanted. The stars are worth fighting for. I will not falter now. I will break the Home Fleet.”
“Once, you said it was all for your brother. For his future.”
“Maybe that was a lie I told myself,” said Tek. “Or maybe it was always one of the reasons, because I am complex, like we all are. A reason you have forced me to drop because, as I am fallible, it is no longer the reason at the center. I notice you do not say what you will do with Sten. You do not say that you will kill him. I imagine you would not like the creature you made if you asked me to agree to that.”
“The atrocities you would commit in my name, and for your grief, would make Seeker’s pale,” the Progenitor said readily. “I already have such tools.”
“What will you do with him?”
“Mold him,” said the Progenitor. “He is a child, and so very unlike you. You think everyone contains a demon, and contains good. He thinks everyone contains good first, then the demon. I can work with that until he becomes unrecognizable.”
“Your name?”
“I am what you scream for in a parched desert,” said the Progenitor. “I am Water.”
Tek dropped out of the chair, onto his knees, as the seating and the table disappeared, and the gray void all around swirled like the gray goo it was perhaps always meant to ape. He pounded a fist to the floor, meaning every centimeter of his submission, because if he did not, it would all be for nothing, and he would not allow that. If being the slave of a Progenitor meant he would get to see the stars, see relics of the Union, and have a chance to learn all else that there was, as well as give the opportunity for millions of others from his planet to do the same…
“I give myself to you in my entirety,” said Tek, staring at the ground that was not ground, because it was squirming and wriggling with myriads different shapes, maybe the figures of those who had died in the gray goo, who he had condemned to stay buried. He felt himself spin and churn until he knew not what direction down was, or how much of his posture was a metaphor, or a mentalism, or real, but still he radiated servitude.
“I am the cup that brings your fraction to others’ lips,” said Tek. “I am the riverbed that lays down and allows your will to flow. I am the rainseeder that helps make a maelstrom, and, barring that, I am the elder with magic both false and strong, who hears your will and binds the masses to it. I ask no one to forgive me, least of all my brother, and not even the enemies I will tear down in my anxiousness to replace Seeker. I will use my position to make what good I can, ever hoping I make more than if I had chosen the opposite path, but I will be your hand knowing the decision is irrevocable. I will fight for your scraps as eagerly as I will fight to execute your whims, and you will discover you never had a better dog. Water. My sovereign. My unmatchable elder. My emperor.”
Go, said Water, and Tek felt himself being flung back to the bridge of Liberty’s Call. Third test. Fix me a palace.
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I also have a fantasy web serial called Dynasty's Ghost, where a sheltered princess and an arrogant swordsman must escape the unraveling of an empire. If you like very short microfiction, you can try my Twitter @ThisStoryNow.
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