States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.
The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization.
Fifty independent States have forged their societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.
Prominently, The Augment, a real-time, virtual overlay of sensory data
has become widely available for personal use throughout many of the post-fed nation-states.
"Ok, Helia, tell us what we're looking at as we kick off the Illinois' thirtieth Prairie Open."
"Well, Raj, Ever since the Great Divide the people of Illinois have prided themselves in being part of the virtual political process. Today, we here at Digital Freedom are eager to report, retweet and react as the party constructs battle it out for the livelihood of the people. The agricultural backdrop chosen by the populace for this year's Prairie Open is quite unexpected. Yes the landscape is symbolic of the state-wide economic downturn, but a wide open battlefield provides little opportunity for smaller, independent forces to mount effective guerrilla tactics in the political sand-box environment."
"Pixel sharp summary, Helia. Can you detail what measures are in place to quell the insidious rumors that the Prairie Open simulation engine is rigged?"
"Solid Q, Raj. The current version of Prairie Open simulation engine is orders of magnitude more complex than the Twitter and Fortnite platforms it was evolved from. In the past, PoliGames Limited has cited proprietary security protocols as uncrackable, even though internal and public access validation have been criticized by several third-party security firms. This year all results will be verified in real-time by the latest block-chain accountability routines. In short, all that happens here today will reflect the real choices of Illinois voters acting through their in-game Representatives."
"Impressive, Helia. Well let's turn back to the simulation to see if any other Reps have shown up to challenge the Industry status quo."
Lens flares dance beneath racing clouds as the in-environment camera POV slides skyward profiling the powerful construct of the Industry Rep. The anthropic behemoth flexes it skyscraper limbs broadcasting confidence it has from years of policy conquest. Suddenly, a circular shock pulse rushes from the horizon through the expanse of vegetation at the Industry As the wave of force hits, the giant construct stumbles as in-rushing wind pummels it to the point where it is forced to its knees to steady its monstrous mass. In less than a minute, the wind dies down to silence and the Industry Rep roars a great mocking laugh at its invisible attacker. Then, in a flash a rune of fractal patterns thousands of hectares wide appears around the Industry Rep, intensifying from subdued orange to molten silver. The fields as one leap aflame immolating the construct with a fire cyclone three kilometers high.
"Sweet Mohammed, what in Chicago just happened, Helia?"
"Breathtaking politics, Raj. Simply wow! The block-chain feed confirms the flame sorcery was fueled by several secular labor political action committees. Real-time influence of the working citizenry is also in play. Still, in all the decades I've been reporting Illinois politainment I've never seen the will of the people surge with such commitment and unity so early on, let alone with such tantalizing eye-crack. In previous political seasons the people have typically divided their real-time attacks across the twenty-four hour engagement period."
"Quite the opening attack, indeed, Helia. Any thoughts on what impact this could have on policy?
"Let's see Raj. Working citizens across the Augment are celebrating cautiously. A contract revolution reducing labor hours is perhaps the most optimistic projection at this point."
"One zero, Helia. After that fiery onslaught, I'm sure everyone plugged in is waiting with bated breath to see if the Industry Rep can emerge to maintain economic policy favoring its supporters. Let's check back in on the sim to find out."
Streaming clouds part around the towering helix of flame. The Industry Rep within the charcoal trimmed blaze extends both massive arms out at right angles to its torso and roars from within the pyre. The thunderous howl shifts up an octave into an eerie latinesque chant. Like streaming video in high-speed reverse the flame and smoke retract into the construct's scarred surface. The Industry Rep, still bent at the knee, and pulls its scorched, waxen arms inward to form the universal gesture for "go fuck yourself." From a glitter of pixels, a golden halo appears above Industry's head and then glides around it to form a translucent hemispherical defense barrier. A smirk slithers onto Industry's face as its extended arm erupts in metal and flesh transforming into an immense chainsaw. The undulating weapon reverberates across the sim-space daring any remaining party construct to challenge its supremacy further.
"A jaw dropping response by Industry, don't you agree Helia?"
"Absolutely, Raj. The secular labor junta has obviously failed to fully subdue the Industry Rep. The feeds indicate the spiritual extremist block has allied with Industry to solidify Contract Omega by invoking existing theologic sleeper clauses. If I had to guess, I'd say secular labor has spent its mojo too early on and will now be lucky if it can leverage any concessions with Industry this cycle. The Industry cabal forums in the Augment are raging with much delight at how the Prairie Open is unfolding."
"Well programmed analysis, Helia. What happens next is anyone's guess!"
The Industry behemoth arches its head high from its kneeling position amidst the incinerated remains of the virtual landscape. Industry's defiant posture invites any additional attack other party's might throw at it. Suddenly the Industry Rep's sneer turns to a grimace as its stance turns unbalanced. Three kelp-like tentacles erupt from the ground, two wrapping and pulling Industry's legs deep below the surface while one entangles itself in the chainsaw arm. With hardened flesh and metal grinding the tentacle pulls the mechanized arm downward with enough force to swing it decisively into Industry's naked, sexless crotch. An explosion of carnage splatters against Industry's force field coating the inside surface making it opaque.
"Oh! My! Manhood!"
"That's surely what Industry is thinking at the moment, Raj. By all appearances, the Nature Representative has taken on a subterranean form powered up from Labor's first-strike ashes. My intel from the feeds is preliminary, but it also appears the Justice Representative may have merged with the Nature construct to form a construct of Cthululian proportions. The move has certainly put the Industry Rep position in great jeopardy. If Nature and Justice can maintain their dominance over Industry we may see some major advance in state-wide environmental restoration policy. How this might benefit Secular Labor, given their early sacrifice, has yet to be known."
"Indeed Helia, clearly, this year's Prairie Open has many surprises in store, and we are barely one hour in. Well, stay tuned Illinois as we continue to stream all the action your way."
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