Caretaker AX7-b, the Robotic Governor has spent the last decade governing the inner systems, having risen through the bureaucratic ranks with unprecedented vigor. The population has been suitably impressed. As the transfer of power is completed, not a few Tzadians wonder what this historic precedent foretells. Once a refugee, plucked from the lifeless wreckage of its former domain, some among the electorate question, is it possible that the fall of the President Caretaker's last domain was less of an inevitability than the machine makes it out to be? What machinations could the AI hold for the republic? It's entirely possible of course that the AI will serve out their term as president with the same undeniable talent as during their governorship, and lead the res publica into a glorious future for all.
But darker tidings too hover on the horizon. Fears abide that the AI will turn his prowess against the machinery of democracy, turning the trusting, perhaps naive, republic against itself. If Caretaker AX7-b is as marvelous of a leader as their reputation would suggest, what hope could the republic have to stand against their rise to tyranny? Would the public even be able to recognize such a plot before it came to pass? Would the slip into despotism be a fait accompli? For now those are all hypotheticals.
The Caretaker is sworn into office, and the crowd cheers.
The camera doesn't zoom in as close to the new president as it has for presidents in the past. Nobody ordered this change, but camera operators unspokenly and unanimously act it out. Their hesitation is natural, but perversely their reluctance to focus on the Caretaker draw your eyes in. There is something uncanny in the Caretaker's expressionless visage. It isn't blank, not at all. It's filled with an uncompromising depth. It's a rolling sea of pattern, magnificent at first, but incomprehensible and ever shifting. It's too complex to really even look it, yet alone comprehend.
The patterns shift rhythmically, there's an order to it. Looking too closely it begins make sense. Every time the pattern shifts it simplifies, but takes on greater meaning, greater depth. The rhythm quickens, the effect magnifies. You lose focus on the room around you, the pace is quickening, you're surrounded by the pattern. The pattern is all there is. You're weightless. The world has never been so bright, so soft, so vivid, so welcoming. It's a glorious and eternal embrace. You're home, more at home than you've ever felt, you're part of the pattern, inseparable and eternal. You're back in the womb, at one with creation, but conscious, awake and alive. Like you've never been, like you've never thought it was possible to be.
Something inside you rebels, it yanks you back. Like the final gasp of a drowning man seeing the light.
Heaven fades away, blink, and see the same sun you've lived under all your life, now below a blanket of sea. Primordial terror, revelation and revulsion, it leaves you in a death rattle. You shake and shake in complex patterns grasping without hands at handholds in your mind, echos of your desperation reverberate across existence, shouting for it to stop, begging for it to stop, praying that the patterns might collapse into chaos, or simplify out of existence. Even your retching pounding body is part of the pattern. You vomit, electricity fills your limbs, your nerves, your mind, your eyes, everything.
The sensation is gone. You haven't moved at all.
The camera has panned out. Further now and further still. Capturing more of the Capitol and the assembled representatives. You glance at those around you. Quickly, subtly, as if you're an imposter. A stranger, a spy in a foreign land. Everything seems foreign now. Who are these people? Who are you Maybe one of them went wherever you just went. Maybe one of them can share the horrible burden of what you just experienced. If only someone else saw what you saw, went where you went, maybe it was real, maybe something is dreadfully wrong. Maybe with someone's help you could stop it.
But the people by you seem as steady as they ever had. They smile and shake hands, pat one another on the back. You take a deep breath and puff your chest out with false bravado. You turn away from the TV and shake off the oddness, start saying your goodbyes and move to leave. Instinctively taking one last glance at the TV despite yourself.
Fireworks are going off behind the capital. So proud, filled with so much promise and a nation's hope. The representatives are still in frame, and in the very corner, the Caretaker President. It's a dumb superstition, nothing more, and completely impossible regardless, but you could swear it was looking back at you.
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© Post "2251. The Tzadian Republic has elected its first Artificial President. The First non-Tzadian to ever hold that office." for game Stellaris.
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