He hesitated some more. “I... I...” submitted by
“You want to see yourself? If that's what you really want, so be it.”
The white light warbled and then flickered like an old tube TV that shunted from one channel to the next. At first he did not understand what he was looking at. There was a dull gray box in the center of his vision. It was surrounded by cables on all sides, most of them plugged directly into the box. What stuck out the most to him was how wrong his sight seemed, everything was tinged in sepia.
“What's wrong with my eyes?”
“But it isn't normal.”
“That's the new normal.”
“The new normal? What am I looking at? I don't understand. A box?”
The chuckle seemed to be right on top of him now. “Look carefully, doesn't it remind you of anything?”
“I...” He looked again, the box wasn't a box. It was smooth, and rounded along the edges. It was roughly shaped like an obloid. There was a glow from various points of light along the top and several holes that had been drilled into it hold a panel in place along the top. The overall shape definitely seemed familiar, and then he realized what they were showing him "No, it can't be."
“Yes, it can be!" The chuckling turned into frantic laughter. "That's your brain inside of its new home.”
"Stop that immediately. Act like a professional."
“I get it now.” Sean said with some mirth. “This is just a dream. I must have hit my head after the accident. Does that mean I'm in a coma? Where's Cindy?”
“Again with Sin-D. They're trying to rationalize now. I wondered when that might start.”
“I can assure you, this is no dream. You're really here. We've really revived you, and that's really your brain inside of that housing unit.”
“Prove it...” Sean dared.
“If you insist.”
A hand (no, an instrument?) slipped into view along the bottom. It's “fingers” were long and needle sharp. One of them slipped into a port along the top of the box, and he felt a presence. It reminded him of someone standing a little too close behind him. Then his vision shifted, blurred. “See? With just a little bit of tuning, we can make your mind do what we want. Influence your senses.” His sight returned to its new, sepia-toned normality.
Sean suddenly gasped as he felt pain as the probe at the edge of the instrument prodded deep inside of the port.
Then the pain vanished and he shuddered as he felt a wave of pleasure, it reminded him of when he had been given some morphine after he had his appendix removed.
“Give you pleasure.”
“Whatever we wish, we can do so long as we have access to your brain case.”
The hand retracted and the presence went away.
“I still don't believe you.” He said indignantly. “The mind is great at playing tricks.”
There was the sound of air blowing over a microphone again. Was that meant to be a sigh?
“Shall we reveal ourselves?”
“I suppose so.”
His vision twisted around like someone had turned his head in their hands, blurring as it did so before coming to a sudden stop.
It was then that Sean noticed how shallow his depth of field was. He could barely make out what was directly in front of him, let alone the things in the distance. Sean was certain he was in a room though, a well lit one that was white. And he was also aware of the pair of bodies that stood before him.
“Knock it off." Sean said in a most disgusted tone.
The cold chuckling began again. "I always enjoy when they're confused." At last he understood that this sound was coming from his left. The... being standing there was the source of the noise. They were gun metal grey and stood at an indeterminable height. Sean lacked the perspective grasp such a thing at the moment. Their head was teardrop shaped, with three different sized red lenses built into the face. Below that was a grate, he conceived that this was some sort of mouth. It waved it's needle tipped appendage down at Sean before it answered, "We're human, just like you."
"Of course you are, but those are pretty good costumes. I bet they cost quite a bit of money."
"A disguise." The other one spoke up at last. Its mouth moved as the words were formed, but the metallic tinge to its speech undercut that this was just an affectation. It could speak just as well with its mouth closed. This one was a dark flesh tone, but what Sean could make out of its upperbody they were criss-crossed with lacerations that glowed. It raised a hand and reached out toward Sean's vision. Instead of five fingers, there was a dozen of little spindly ones that resembled the legs of a spider. Sean shuddered, or at least he would have if he could. He could hear a rapid tapping sound as the little spindly fingers began to thump up against something firm just above his head. Strange, he couldn't feel that. Once again his sight warped and warbled before settling. "I've enabled the facial expressive functionalities."
He tried talking again thinking that they have fixed his mouth, but no sound came. "I still can't speak." Sean paused and then tried again, nothing. "How are you able to hear me anyway?" He asked quizzically.
"We'll get to that, but to answer your question, there's a monitor over your housing unit that's automatically translating your vocalizations into text for us." The one to his right said. "Keep talking by the way, it'll make the neural net's job of training for translation easier." Unlike the one to his left, this one on the right gave Sean the impression that they styled themselves as something of a doctor. A very stern one with no bedside manner, but a doctor nonetheless.
The room was quite for a moment, aside from the sterile hum of electronics. "Say I believe you. Where am I then?"
"You're in the heart of the Metro. More specifically you're at Revivification Center 6 under lease by OMNICORP."
"OMNICORP..." He considered the word slowly. "I used to work for them. A few years ago."
"Sure you did." Tittered the Left.
"I'm going to start winding up the rest of the body. You mount the face and prepare the housing for transfer." Instructed the Right.
"Alrighty." The Left said in a warbled sing song voice.
The Right moved outside of his field of vision and the Left stepped up to him. Its needle like fingers grabbed onto something, and Sean's vision began to lower. Then there was a shake, a hiss, and a violent clack. He sighed, as he was now at waist level with Left. The body of Right was like a twisted band of noodles, just coils wrapped one over the other in a tight pack as if they were a squid. "That certainly is impressive looking."
One of the tendrils that made up his body rose up from the ground and tapped lightly at Sean. "You have no idea." Left ran the tendril down the side of Sean's vision. It was so odd that he couldn't feel any of this. Was this a symptom of being in a coma? Was this just an elaborate trick of some kind and he had been administered some sort of paralyzing agent? "I don't normally ask this, but what is your name little Thing?"
"Shaw-n." Left tested out the word. "You holdovers have such odd names."
"What's yours?" Sean tested, maybe he could ingratiate himself with these nightmare tormentors enough that they wouldn't kill him.
Two of the tendrils lifted up from the ground and made the universal sign for a shrug. "Does it matter? You may call me what you wish. They certainly do." The tendril on the right jabbed to the side outside of Sean's field of view.
"Stop lazing about and get to work." Right spoke up from somewhere unseen.
"Aye-aye, Captain." Left snickered and then lowered a hand into Sean's vision from the top. Its fingers sunk down into a panel in front of Sean, and there was a click and a whir. "Alright Shaw-n, I am going to be mounting your housing unit. Prepare yourself, it's going to get a little bumpy."
Two arms lowered from the ceiling and peeled open revealing fork like tongs. They were each fitted with a horribly long needle and they were coming straight for him. Sean began to panic, trying with all of his might to will his body into movement. "Wait! Stop! PLEASE STOP!" he gibbered as the arms grew closer and honed onto him with mechanical precision. "What're you doing!?"
"I just told you, I'm mounting your housing unit. I've got to inject your wetware with some progs first so it'll take." There was that sound that wasn't quite a sigh.
Sean's world shook again, and then there was pain. "Stop!" The pain was like a knife stabbing into him twice over. Then without mercy or warning, he began to feel himself being filled with cold. "You're killing me!"
"Killing you would be counterproductive." Piped in Right.
The cold and stabbing continued for an unbearable length of time and then without warning they stopped. In the absence of the stabbing and the cold, Sean's mind had begun to throb in pain. "Christ... Christ." Sean whined, practically sobbing. The arms pulled away from his head and retracted up into the ceiling.
Left twisted its hand inside of the panel, and it began to turn with the movement. To either side of Sean there was a several hisses that went off in rapid fire.
"Tethers are terminated. Hoist their housing unit."
Left twisted their wrist inhumanly on itself once more, rotating around another 180 degrees. Mechanical whirring sounded behind him and he felt himself rise. He couldn't see what was happening or feel it for that matter, but Sean was reasonably certain that something had grabbed onto him again. And now he was being lifted up into the air. Left's head came into view and they stopped there practically at eye level.
"Hello there, Shaw-n." Left's trio of lenses rotated on themselves, refocusing and narrowing their view on him. This had to be a nightmare, no costume was that good.
"You're not real." Sean stammered.
"Sorry, but if you're speaking, I can't hear you." The back of Left's horrible hand stroked the front of Sean's vision in a sickening gesture that could have meant to be tender. "Don't fret though, we're nearly done." Sean tried to shudder, to pull away, but still his body refused to react to his commands.
"The body is ready and powered up, as best as it is going to be anyway." Right said from behind him. "We're ready to commence the joining."
Two of Left's tendrils clapped together loudly. "Goody!" There was too much exuberance in their voice for Sean's liking.
Left began to pull away from Sean, but they weren't moving: he was. Left waved at him with one hand and lots of its smaller tentacle like arms. He desperately tried to turn his head about, to look around him, but his vision was fixed squarely ahead. He could not look away, to try and find the doom that he felt encroaching on him from behind.
Servos whined and then his field of view narrowed even further as darkness approached on either side of his vision. He stopped abruptly, and then nothing happened. Sean began to panic once more as Right stepped back in front of him. Now he was holding some sort of transparent tablet in his spindly hands. One finger out of a dozen hovered over a portion of it that Sean could see, but was unable to tell the color of thanks to the damnable sepia hue that now plagued him.
"This will hurt." That was all the warning he got as Right pressed down on the tablet and Sean heard a sound like a drill directly beneath him.
He heard his name being called, it was a voice that was familiar to him, it was sweet and he'd recognize it anywhere.
Sean groaned as he fought his eyelids in a battle of wills, eventually he won and they began to flicker open. Standing over him was Cindy. She was still wearing her winter apparel, albeit it was slightly torn. Above her was the sky, it was grey and full of clouds. He exhaled and the air fogged with his warm in front of his mouth. "Cindy?"
"Who else would it be dummy?" She smiled
"What happened?" He croaked as he tried to shift his weight beneath him, but the pillowy snow sank with his movements. "Snow..."
"Yeah, we were in the gondola. Don't you remember?" Her face turned to concern before she rubbed her nose with her sleeve. "God it's cold out here."
Sean's hands gripped at the slush, and he heard it crunch in his fingers. The cold wetness began to eek through his gloves, and even through his insulated pants and jacket. "I remember we were falling."
"Yeah. That was pretty scary." She laughed t
First submitted by
“Okay, dropping in now,” Jesri called out, her hands dancing over the console. Outside the cockpit, the charged plasma of reentry was dissipating to show sparse fluffy clouds. Droplets of water hissed and boiled away from the hull as the ship cut through the thin air of the Ysleli stratosphere.
Anja stood behind her, again fully clad in a suit of Valkyrie powered armor. One massive hand curled its fingers around a bracing beam, the other cradling her rifle. Even with the armor on, her stance betrayed impatience. “Time?”, she asked, her voice grating flatly through the suit’s external speakers.
“Looks like… two minutes,” Jesri said, wrestling with the controls. She swore as the ship jolted violently, bucking in the airstream. They had taken the Huginn fast-attack craft rather than a shuttle, and while it offered better protection and armaments the FAC was not designed for graceful atmospheric maneuvering.
Below them, large stretches of farmland covered the terrain in a regular hexagonal patchwork. Jesri squinted at the display, adjusting course to keep their trajectory centered. They had been able to identify a distinct signature indicative of Terran power cores in the mountains of the largest continent. They couldn’t be sure the weapon was there, but it was their best bet.
As the flat farmland gave way to rolling foothills, Jesri leveled off their descent. It wasn’t long before she saw their target, a cluster of buildings nestled in a remote valley. Conveniently, there seemed to be a large airstrip for atmospheric flyers present. She angled her approach to line up parallel with the runway, coming to a stop in the air a few hundred meters above the facility.
She keyed the ship to descend vertically, releasing her restraints and jumping up to grab her tactical gear. Anja tromped backwards to the exit hatch as Jesri strapped on her helmet and body armor, slick grey fabric sliding over an articulated core of ceramic plating.
By the time their FAC’s skids had made contact with the ground, she was fully equipped with armor, tactical optics and a matte charcoal breaching rifle slung loosely over her shoulder. The atmosphere on Ysl was within reasonable parameters, so she opted for a tactical faceplate rather than a respirator. One of them needed to operate the shuttle, and while that precluded powered armor there were other quite serviceable options at hand - the armory in the Valkyrie sector had proven to be quite well-stocked.
Anja toggled the landing ramp, moving towards it as it opened with a rush of equalizing pressure. Crisp mountain air rushed into the cabin, infiltrating under Jesri’s faceplate with the tantalizing scent of vegetation and moisture. She paused for a second to relish it, thinking of the last time she had set foot on a planet with a breathable atmosphere. It had been a long
She was jolted out of her reverie by a loud crack as a kinetic slug caromed off Anja’s armor, harmlessly ricocheting back to embed itself in the surface of the runway with a spray of fragmented stone. Anja let out a low growl and brought her rifle up while Jesri moved quickly behind a support beam.
Peering out, she could see the response to their sudden incursion. Green-liveried soldiers crowded around the edge of the runway, hiding behind some spare crates and pallets. The Ysleli were tall with long, gangly arms and yellowed skin that clashed horrendously with their uniforms. Two forward-looking, predatory eyes sat high on their faces like black marbles over a gaping maw lined with tiny sharp teeth.
“These fellows look pleasant,” noted Anja, sighting down her rifle. Her metallic finger squeezed the trigger and one of the assembled soldiers exploded in a cloud of blood, bile and steam. His companions dove quickly back to cover over the dark smear where their comrade had stood. An answering spray of fire echoed through the valley and drew sparks where bullets pinged off of Anja’s armor.
Anja stepped further down, her suit moving the rifle precisely to track exposed limbs or thin spots in the crate barricade. More shots lanced through the soldiers’ cover, followed by wet pops and ululating wails of pain.
Jesri shook her head and moved back to the controls of the shuttle. “We don’t have time for this,” she grumbled, keying up the automated defenses. “Anja, I’m turning on the perimeter guns!”, she shouted.
“No fun,” Anja replied irritably, firing steadily at the soldiers. Jesri punched the control and turrets activated from the top and bottom of the Huginn, tracking targets around the ship. When the next fusillade came from the troops at the edge of the runway, the ship-mounted cannons chugged a few heavy blasts into the piled crates in response.
The crates disintegrated in a spray of fragments, peppering the troops clustered behind them with white-hot metal shards. The few survivors limping back from the blackened remnants of their cover took direct hits from the following salvo, their bodies providing only a mild and messy impediment to the cannon’s fire as it tore through them to gouge deep ruts in the soil.
“No fun at all,” groused Anja, moving all the way down the ramp. “Come on, sister, I have a lock on the signal source.” Jesri followed her down, her rifle held at eye level against her shoulder and her stance low. The ramp hissed up behind them, sealing the ship. As they moved across the field towards the installation’s cluster of buildings, Jesri toggled her communicator. «I wonder how the boys are doing?»
, she sent, moving close behind Anja. Her sister pulled back a fist and slammed it through the door of the first building, sending it flying off its frame to crash into three soldiers waiting within. «They just have to talk, it will be fine!»
, replied Anja distractedly, pulling her sword off her back and fastening it under her rifle. Bayonet thus affixed, she ducked past the door with a pulse of wordless satisfaction through the link. Jesri sighed and moved to follow her just as the first screams started from farther within. Hopefully Qktk and Rhuar could handle things up top for a few minutes. Warmaster Reltryn growled low, the subsonic tremor of his anger causing his subordinates to flinch back. He was not unused to combat - in fact, the prospect of bloodshed was normally enough to brighten his mood considerably. The sudden appearance of a gargantuan warship over their capital, captained by a nightmarish alien monstrosity who howled at them in broken snippets of badly accented Yslel - that was a different thing entirely.
It wanted to fight, that much was obvious. He had come quickly in response to the customs agent’s panicked summons, forming up his picket patrol against the overwhelming bulk of the warship and attempting to negotiate the terms of combat. The horrid-looking alien warlord seemed to crave an honorable contest against the forces of Ysl, as was proper, but…
“INADEQUATE!”, it howled, its glossy mandibles jittering disconcertingly. “More required! Offer ours greater!” Spearbrother Syrir spoke placatingly to the demon beast, who shouted a few more enraged epithets before disconnecting abruptly. The spearbrother slumped, shaking his head, then looked up at Reltryn hopelessly.
“It demands greater forces be brought to bear,” he said, cringing away from the warmaster’s anger. “It does not consent to fight our patrol on the field of honor.”
Another growl rippled from the warmaster’s chest, and Syrir bared his throat in anticipation of death for his failure. It did not come, however, and he dared a glance back up to see Reltryn looking contemplative.
“Ordinarily,” hissed Reltryn, “I would demand my own satisfaction for such an insult. However, this shipmaster...” He looked out the viewport, seeing the bright sliver of the alien ship hanging distantly in the starry void. “This one may have cause to demand higher satisfaction than I can offer. His might is great.” He floated back to loom over his terrified subordinate. “Syrir, send a message to warfather Tarl. Inform him that our enemy has made a challenge to the honor of His Royal Majesty, long life and glory to the King.”
Syrir anchored his feet to bow low and pushed back towards his console, but Reltryn hooked a claw around his arm before he could depart. The terrified spearbrother met his gaze, shrinking back from the violent aura emanating from the warmaster’s every move. “Tell the warfather,” Reltryn growled, “that our enemy contests the honor of all warriors in his service.”
Syrir gulped and went to transmit the message, leaving Reltryn to drift weightlessly before the viewport and contemplate the bulk of their enemy’s great warship further. In his years of service he had seen much, and he thought himself knowledgeable about military matters. Yet this demon warlord was new. He brought a single ship to beggar navies and had knowledge of the Ysleli language and customs where Reltryn had none in return. Such a powerful and canny foe merited consideration, caution. Who could say what devilry such a being could wield?
Qktk slumped in the captain’s chair, legs shaking. “Mr. Rhuar,” he gasped, “I’m running out of things to say to them! How much longer until the ship can translate their language?”
Rhuar shook his head from the pilot’s station where he was communing with the ship via the jack. “Give it a few more minutes, Captain,” he said, “we’re tapped into their transmissions and are gathering as much source material as we can. You don’t want to use it before it’s ready, you’ll end up insulting their honorable grandmothers or something.”
Qktk clattered his mandibles in annoyance. “Right now I’m just screaming things I used to hear the Ysleli tradebrothers say when they were haggling,” he complained, waving his arms. “I don’t even know what half the words mean! In all probability they think I’m insane.”
“Insane is good,” snorted Rhuar. “I mean, not normally. If you’re insane on the bridge of a gigantic fuckin warship, though, it has an effect on people.” He stared into the distance, focusing on data from the sensor link. “It looks like that last exchange stirred them up a bit, so let’s wait for them to do whatever they’re doing. By the time they’re ready to talk more we should be able to speak in full sentences.”
He looked back towards the planet with the ship’s sensors. “If we’re lucky, the Huginn will be back up here with the weapon before these idiots are ready to fight.”
Anja barreled through the doorframe, sending chunks of the bunker wall tumbling down as her too-wide shoulders impacted on either side. The spray of stone chips and dust flew into the faces of the waiting soldiers, who swiped frantically at their eyes or fired blindly at the charging Valkyrie.
She was on them in seconds, her massive bayonet sweeping across the front rank and severing three soldiers at the torso. She speared a fourth through the gut, then fired her rifle to send his corpse blasting backwards off the sword into the remaining troops. They struggled to rise, dark blood coating them from head to toe, but before they could reorient they were cut down in the span of a second by precise bursts of rifle fire.
Jesri lowered her weapon and walked the rest of the way into the room. “Clear,” she said dispassionately. “Let’s move on.” They had pressed further into the complex only to discover an extensive warren of fortified tunnels below the surface buildings. No mere outpost, this was turning out to be a heavily fortified military research installation.
Not that it mattered much. Anja was forging a trail of destruction through the compound and it looked like the only weapons present were primitive kinetic slug rifles. Although they’d be a problem for Jesri if she got exposed to too much fire, Anja was entirely unaffected by their efforts. A few times they had tried to throw some form of explosive grenade - until Anja started batting them back towards the soldiers. They abandoned that tactic quickly.
They pushed through another line of soldiers who had fortified a security checkpoint, their weapons fire making quick work of the makeshift cover that had been pushed into the hallway. Anja gave a grunt of satisfaction as she passed the smoking remnants of the checkpoint and toggled her link to talk to Jesri over the din of battle.
«This looks like our target,» she noted. Jesri had to agree. The room they had entered was a large, low-ceilinged space with numerous pallets and shelves. On each were bits of technology scavenged from human installations - door controls, console displays, even a string of decorative fairy lights they’d found somewhere. The displays were labeled in angular lines of Yslel, neatly ordered in rows along the entirety of the room.
They advanced into the room, weapons ready, but encountered no enemies. Another door led to an extension of the warehouse and some token resistance. That room held more valuable prizes - rifles, armor, and other military technology. Some were strewn across tables in various stages of disassembly, groups of technicians fleeing in terror as Anja stalked towards them.
Jesri received a notice on her heads-up display that a data packet had been transmitted to them through the FAC. She found a niche to review it and saw with surprise that Qktk and Rhuar had managed to compile a translation data library for Yslel already, and had sent it forward to them. She looked up to watch Anja bodily throw a flailing soldier into the wall, staining the stone with a spatter of blood as he slumped lifelessly to the floor. Jesri sighed. It didn’t look like they’d have much opportunity to use the translator.
She moved through a shattered doorway to follow her sister, but stopped short when she came up against Anja staring fixedly at the contents of the next room. It was mostly empty, clean and spare except for the rubble around the doorway. A large table in the middle of the room was surrounded by a cluster of analytical and diagnostic equipment, and as Jesri moved around her sister’s hulking form she saw a cadre of frightened Ysleli scientists in lab dress quickly backing away from it.
On the table was a naked humanoid form, its skin dry and papery with age. The chest was sliced open, peeled apart to show the ribs and shriveled organs inside. Its head was turned to the side, facing away from Jesri, but the faded blonde hair was in full view. It had been plaited in a complex pattern, interleaved up to the crown of the head. Just like her sister Sophia used to wear it.
A low rumble suffused the air in the room, rising to a throaty growl as Anja stepped forward to confront the huddle of scientists. “You dare,” she thundered, stalking towards them. Her suit broadcast the words in Yslel as Anja spoke, bands of white-hot plasma rippling around her arms in a fiery mantle. “You fucking insects dare to touch my sister.” One of the scientists fainted.
“Please,” another shouted, “we only meant to study-”
“DEFILERS!”, she roared, the suit’s speakers augmenting her voice to bone-shaking volume. “THIEVES AND VERMIN!” She swept her sword across the group, slicing the Ysleli in half with a spray of blood. With a wordless scream, she leapt at the pile of dying aliens and began pounding them with gouts of plasma flaring from her fists, gore splattering around her with each thundering blow.
Jesri walked up to the table, laying her rifle next to her sister’s corpse. From the other side of the table, she could see that they had removed her eyes, blank sockets sightlessly looking out as Anja crushed the bloody remains of the scientists again and again into the ground. She stroked the corpse’s pleated hair gently, once, then turned to face her living sister.
“Anja,” Jesri said gently. The crash of the suit’s fists into the hardened floor drowned her voice in a wash of thunder. «Anja,» she said again through the link. «This isn’t why we’re here.»
“Our sister is dead!”, Anja screamed back, slamming her flame-wreathed fist through the wall. Stone dust settled lightly over the spatters of blood on her suit.
«And we’re going to avenge her,» Jesri countered, «by going after the one who did kill her. Not this trash.»
Anja straightened up, glaring down at the smashed remains at her feet for a few long seconds. “You are right, I was distracted,” she grated, “we need to find the weapon.” She raised her rifle and started towards the next area, pausing only once to look back at the examination table. “We will give no quarter to these grave robbers, however,” she growled, spitting the words out like poison, “if any more cross our path.”
Rhuar had to stop himself from pacing back and forth. The shipjack cable didn’t permit such things, as good as it would feel to walk off some of the building tension. “Uh, Captain,” he said, “there’s a lot of ships out there.”
Qktk shot him an irritated glare. “You said that,” he grumbled.
“Yeah, but I mean,” Rhuar tilted his head, causing a viewscreen to display a tactical map, “there are a lot of ships out there.” On the map, the blue bar representing the Grand Design sat centered in a sphere of graduated lines. The planet was visible, although growing less so every second as red dots continued to swarm up from the surface like angry bees.
“Jim’s moldy balls,” Qktk swore, “is each one of those a ship?”
Rhuar gulped. “Uh, no, each one of those is a fleet element. Ten ships on average.”
Qktk didn’t even bother to swear at that. “Do you have any thoughts on what to do if they attack?”, he asked plaintively, wringing his forelimbs. “I know this is a big ship with big guns, but…”
Rhuar shrugged. “Captain, I’m just banking on our asses running out of here as fast as we can after our fearless leaders come back.” He paused, looking thoughtful. “I hope they do come back.”
Qktk said nothing, but gave Rhuar a pained look and watched the dots gather into a red mass on the display.
Anja shouldered through another door, sending an echoing crash through the room beyond and raising a cloud of choking dust. Blood dripped from her armor and sword, dried flakes fluttering to the ground as she moved relentlessly through the bunker. They had not encountered any resistance past the laboratory with Sophia’s body, and Anja’s tension was bleeding over into her movements. Jesri had seldom seen her this angry, although she could scarcely blame her - the sight of Sophia’s eyeless gaze still haunted her vision as she advanced, lending a sinister aspect to every dark corner and obscured alcove.
They were moving through some sort of administrative area, consoles and primitive displays crowding desktops overflowing with charts and printouts. Offices lined the side of the hallway, but no movement came from within - this area seemed to have been abandoned or evacuated. Turning the corner they reached a sudden end to the hallway, a large double-door leading into a spacious office with soft lighting and luxurious furniture - and one occupant.
Anja slammed through the door to loom over the Ysleli sitting calmly behind his wooden desk, tossing a small reflective sphere between his spindly yellow hands. “Come in, come in,” he wheezed thinly, displaying needle-point teeth in a gruesome smile. “I’ve been waiting for you for some time.”
Anja stopped short, taken aback by the lack of reaction to her terrifying entrance. Her implacable advance had not spared much time for observation, but she now took the time to survey the room around her. Well-made furniture was placed in a loose ring around a low table in the center of the richly carpeted floor. Against the wall were several displays featuring restored Terran technology or curiosities - a jeweled music box sat on a lit pedestal, glittering prettily, while another rack held a matched set of three naval service rifles.
A sharp intake of breath from Jesri drew Anja’s attention to the back of the room, where a display occupied a place of honor among the collection. A nude humanoid figure in a delicate arabesque pose was lit gently from behind and below, a serene smile fixed on its prettily restored face. Auburn hair cascaded from its head in ringlets, shimmering in the display lights.
Jesri’s hands tightened on her gun until the material of her gloves creaked in protest. “Violet,” she whispered.
Anja whirled back towards the Ysleli, swiping her sword through the desk and reducing it to kindling. He was thrown into the corner, colliding with a display of vases and reducing them to shards that sprinkled over his slumped body.
“That’s annoying,” he said, levering himself into a sitting position. “Do you think you could refrain from further violence for a moment while we speak?”
Jesri stared at the slender alien - not only was he unharmed by a blow that should have sheared him in two, he was addressing them in English rather than Yslel. Her rifle came up and she squeezed a burst of fire at his head. The shots took him in the cheek, blasting the thin yellow skin to shreds and revealing an unblemished white-silver surface below. He gave her a reproachful look.
“Really, ladies, it was a simple request,” he muttered, straightening the remains of his chair and sitting down. The tatters of his face hung loosely down from his jaw, revealing the back rows of needle teeth set into shining metal bones.
“What are you?”, growled Anja, her free hand opening and closing menacingly.
The little alien gave her half of a wry smile. “Try to keep up,” he said, “I should think that’s obvious. Here they call me Administrator Trelir,” he said dismissively, a hand to his chest, “but more relevant to our discussion is my position as Emissary to Ysl.”
Jesri stared. “You’re the Gestalt,” she said accusingly, eliciting a wave of short, barking laughter from Trelir.
“Oh, goodness, no,” he chortled. “Merely a grain of sand on the beach, a pebble adorning the mountain. A representative. An Emissary, quite simply.”
“What are you doing here?”, Anja shot back, her frame vibrating with barely restrained violence.
“Just a bit of follow-through, some due diligence around the actions of your former employers,” he said lightly. “Nothing too important, but it’s good practice to tie up loose ends.” He tilted his head to the side, and a gigantic blast door slammed down to trap them in the room.
“Now,” Trelir said evenly, leaning forward across the ruins of his desk, “I have made my report to the greater Confluence. Please make yourselves comfortable while we await a response.”
The display flickered to life again, throwing odd reflections from Qktk’s shell as he drew himself up in the captain’s chair. The Ysleli who now appeared had mottled yellow-brown skin, thin scars tracing across his face. His dark eyes were hard and wary, possessed of an unmistakable competence - and exhaustion.
“You address Tarl,” he said gruffly, “warfather to His Royal Majesty Sitrl, long life and glory to the King.”
Qktk took a steadying breath and kept his eyes focused on the screen. “Warfather,” he said, relieved to hear the even tone of his voice, “I am shipmaster Qktk. I trust you can understand my words?”
Tarl inclined his head. “Yes, shipmaster. Your command of Yslel is impressive.”
Qktk didn’t feel like clarifying. His mind flicked back over a hundred tense hours spent in plush back rooms and noisy bars, cajoling and negotiating deals out of counterparts not inclined to take a Htt seriously. The watchword, as ever, was confidence. He had learned from the best how to deal with these prideful warriors, he reminded himself.
“Quite,” he said dismissively, gesturing to the side. “But beside the point. I see you have marshalled your forces, such as they are.”
Tarl’s face darkened. “It is not becoming of a shipmaster to sully honorable discourse with insults.” He leaned closer to the screen, looming in Qktk’s view. “I trust you will provide us satisfaction,” he growled menacingly.
Qktk stared back with studied nonchalance, even as his mind raced. Apologies were weakness, ignoring a challenge was weakness, so…
“The only insult, warfather,” he leered, contempt dripping from the title, “is the sad band of craven fools who appear before me. Do you believe that your assemblage of tin cans and pointed sticks can stand against my might?”
Rhuar glanced at Qktk in alarm as Tarl seemed to swell with rage. “You question the courage of a blooded warfather, insect?”, he hissed, his skin flushing a darker yellow.
“Oh, I should not impugn your courage, of course,” he said airily, “I would be terrified to face me in that ramshackle collection of plating you call a warship. One wonders what your unblooded grub of a fleetmaster is thinking, providing his esteemed warfather with such a laughable assortment of flotsam.”
Rhuar’s eyes were open wide, his exoskeletal arms waving in emphatic warning. Tarl was glaring at the viewscreen in an apoplectic rage. “You arrogant worm,” he growled, his voice low and dangerous. “You dare-!”
Qktk cut the feed and leaned back in his chair, breathing heavily. “I’m really not cut out for this,” he wheezed.
“Captain, what the fuck?”, Rhuar exclaimed, worry evident in his wide eyes. “You just insulted the largest military fleet ever! They’re going to murder us multiple times.”
Qktk shook his head. “The dockmaster at the old station gave me some tips on dealing with Ysleli traders once. Being rude demonstrates superiority and control, in their eyes. Insults keep them off-balance, but their sense of honor frowns on being provoked to physical violence by words. When they come back they’re distracted and you can get a better price out of them.”
Rhuar goggled at him. “Captain, we are not trying to save on a pallet of nutrient mix!”, he shouted. “These fuckin rage lizards started out wanting to murder us. Fuck knows what they’re thinking about doing after talking to the most infuriating version of you for an hour.”
“Trust me on this, Mr. Rhuar,” Qktk said sagely. “The dockmaster was very clear about their code. As long as you do not insult their children, their gods, or their king you will always have a chance to smooth it over. Our goal is to buy time until Anja and Jesri get back, and every second we keep them angry and distracted is another that they may use to complete their mission. If we can keep them from establishing the terms of combat with us, they will not fight.”
“If you say so,” said Rhuar doubtfully. “Seems to me like they’re about as angry as angry gets.”
Qktk chittered. “No, I think we’re still fine. They should be calling back any minute now. In fact-” He reached over and toggled the viewscreen, displaying their Ysleli contact.
Only it wasn’t Tarl. A massive Ysleli sat on the screen, lounging on an ornate throne some distance from the camera. His muscular bulk was draped in fine cloth and furs, but gleaming metal armor peeked out from underneath. His yellow skin was lined with age, eyes glinting with hard-won experience and a predatory savvy that lanced through the viewscreen to tickle all of Qktk’s long-buried flight instincts. One clawed hand drummed its fingers idly on a Ysleli skull, of which several were encrusted with jewels and affixed to his throne.
“You address the King,” he rumbled somewhat unnecessarily. “I am Sitrl, sovereign of Ysl, champion of Ysl, protector of Ysl.” His eyes flashed. “Word of you has reached my ears.”
Qktk was having a very hard time maintaining his calm facade. Rhuar was not trying.
Sitrl inspected one of his glossy, sharp claws. “My warfather says you named the fleetmaster an unblooded grub earlier,” he said casually, “which gives me pause because I am the fleetmaster.”
He looked back at the camera, his deep black eyes boring into Qktk. “Your powerful ship and hideous visage may cow my subordinates, but I am the King. You name me unblooded? A bold claim, to be sure, but one easily proven false.” His hand contracted, shattering the skull it rested on. “I will show you your own blood as the proof, every last drop of it. And then, shipmaster - we will discuss the punishment for spreading lies.”
The transmission terminated, and the cloud of red dots on the tactical display began to move slowly towards the Grand Design.
“Mr. Rhuar,” Qktk said weakly, “I will allow that I may have made a miscalculation.”
Hi! It’s Wednesday! I actually got around to advancing the plot in this one, so that was nice, but I fucked it all up with a double cliffhanger. I’ll make it better next week with an extra long chapter by way of apology. This installment makes the story longer than Hatchet - next time on Grand Design, Anja and Jesri escape to the woods and I’ll write ten chapters describing them foraging for berries. Up in space, meanwhile, Qktk and Rhuar will test their might in battle against the fearsome Ysleli! Come on, guys, LET ME SEE YOUR WAR FACE!
As always, thank you for your comments and for the time you spent reading. Have a good rest of your day!
I have previously posted about this idea on this sub before 
and have expanded it into a long FAQ 
with input from /changemyview
, but now I need to fill in the gaps as to how it will begin. I am trying to argue many things in this post, but mainly:
If our "humanity for each other" is expressed:
- It will break through many important deep-seated cognitive biases
- It is a principle that we can use through the "bottle neck"
However, our "humanity for each other" is not expressing itself very well, and I think the right to die can give it a cold-start.
The theme song for this post is: Ten Years After - I'd Love To Change The World
The projections of a negative future does not need repeating here, and we are looking for solutions. The socio/political option of a collective realization is shot down, for reasons including, but not limited to:
- We are playing the blame game and cannot agree on who and how to punish
- It's not affecting me right now, why should I do anything about it?
- We want someone else to change while not inconveniencing ourselves
- We cannot win, so it's better to get more for me and my own
- We can't do anything about it, but you've got to live your life
- I'll be dead by then, so it's not my problem
- I'll believe it when I see it, and we'll know what to do when the time comes
Having an 'attention action' horizon of at most a few years is deeply wired into us by evolutionary pressure, because that perspective has so far given us the best chance of survival. The problem is that the extinction of humans is not palpable, while poverty, hunger, police abuse, politicians corruption, among other things, are completely palpable. People feel those day to day, while in contrast to climate change and other similar issues, we may know it's going to get bad, but without knowing how, we have no idea how to react. We do not seem to be able to fix the problems that we created, leading us to draw the conclusion that evolution did not make us smart or ethical enough to solve the problems of our own thinking.
We can see issues of developing countries wanting what the West has 
, so, in my opinion, the lesson is that any change has to come from the top: in other words, the West will have to make the first move. As an example of the trend, here 
is an instance of Cambodian farmers unable to reliably work the land so must contribute to being part of the problem of making other people being unable to work their lands in order for their own survival today, while having as much children as possible because they need cheap labour and to hedge their bets because they could die of famine/wadisease, which are more likely in the future with climate change.
If we can show that some action P leads to solving overpopulation/overconsumption/overproduction, and that one nation starts the ball rolling, maybe it could lead to other nations doing the same, because the citizens would call for it. I'm trying to show that there is a last hope that can work for P, which could lead us to try new emergent strategies to run society, and that is by bootstrapping our "humanity for each other", just as rugged individualism bootstraps our "survival spirit". What could possibly be used as a bootstrap? I'm arguing that the right to die can.
Nothing short of a global enemy like an alien species can unite the humans. Unfortunately our monkey brain isn't good at equating that things like climate change is the alien invasion. The good news is that I think there is a global enemy that we can choose to implement, and that would also unite us against the common enemy. It's a tricky paradox to unwrap, but I think the right to die can do this, and not because of mass suicide. What it should do is institute a predator, but also give us a balancing scale and a mirror, both of which are tools that we can use to measure the balance and identify the predator. The predator must be instituted for the plan to work though; I don't think it will be enough to have the balancing scale and the mirror.
Stage 2: Bootstrapping our "humanity for each other" with the right to die
It is often stated that a biological species without a natural predator will reproduce unchecked until its resource limits. A predator has the ability to "go in for the kill", and as humans, we seem to be the masters, the apex predators of this world, because of abilities that are sufficiently distinct from other animals. No other species has come close to these abilities, so we have remained on top of the food chain, and thus have great difficulty self-restraining our over-everything habits. If we want balance so that we are sustainable and "live in harmony" with the environment, then the right to die will insert a formidable foe.
This new predator will be like counterbalance, but what's difficult for me to explain is that an efficient/guaranteed/peaceful method of suicide should be allowed legally, but not "supported" socially. Then, there will be forces that are encouraging the suicide; here is an example:
Have you considered the implications of suicide in a for-profit healthcare system like Americas?
If suicide is a legal option, why would my health insurance pay for a lifetime of therapy and mental health medication when they could just lead me to kill myself and save them money?
Even if you want to exclude health insurance or assume there will be some kind of legislation preventing this, depression often comes with the feeling of being an unworthy burden. By legitimizing suicide as an option, wouldn't it be more likely these depressed people kill themselves to save their caretaker from the cost and hassle of dealing with them? I feel like this is already a factor in some peoples decision to commit suicide, but at least now suicide is clearly shunned both legally and socially.
There is a common trope about doing anything to save our loved ones, fight for the family, etc; I've recently heard it said by Rose in one of the Star Wars movies, “We’re going to win this war, not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.” Everyone has different things that they love, and if they love it, then they want to save it.
This force that I call our "humanity for each other" is a factor as to why suicide is shunned socially. In the above case, people who "feel like an unworthy burden" will experience others try to save them on a case-by-case basis, as they are currently. The difference (after the right to die) though, is that they must respect their right to die, so if people really had "humanity for each other" and want to save their loved ones, they have to look to the forces that are encouraging the suicide and "fix" those: in our case, going after for-profit healthcare and "feeling of being an unworthy burden". So then by "fixing" the encouraging forces, you won't just be saving this one individual but others as well.
As an analogy, the right to die will erect something like a scale in balance, and we can identify the forces that are encouraging suicide by the forces that are tipping the scale - something we can't do very well today. The forces that are tipping the scale are numerous: on the one hand, there will be forces that are encouraging people to kill themselves; on the other hand, there are forces that motivates people to say things like "the suicidal who survive their attempt usually regret it, so we don't want people to kill themselves" and even this variant I call our "humanity for each other". If "every life is precious", and the right to die is respected, then our "humanity for each other" should be going after the "genocidal murderers" so that no one kills themselves.
But suppose someone doesn't have this "humanity for each other", or has biases like, "I'm doing everything right, they have no reason to come after me", or "if it's not in front of me, then it's not a problem". They may believe that they are an apex predator with an impeccable survival instinct, but, if the right to die is respected, they will also have to contend with the new predator in the environment, so if they want to survive, they will have to face the encouraging "kill yourself" forces, and do something about those.
Now the issue is identifying the predator(s) - are for-profit healthcare and "feeling like an unworthy burden" really the murderers? A suicide opens up a can of worms, and reactions are all over the spectrum. Everyone looks at a suicide differently: some empathize, some accept, some reject, and some can't stand to look at it, and it is this quality that makes a suicide analogous to a reflection from a mirror. A mirror is "agnostic" though, meaning it reflects everything thrown back at it, so it's difficult to predict the end result of reflection. However, we can extract a general trend, and I'll take for-profit healthcare healthcare as an example, but it could be other things.
A common retort of criticisms is the pot calling the kettle black, and one eventually admits that they are part of the problem. For-profit healthcare is something consumed and in demand, and one "must have" it, never calling into question the systemic effects of our individual choice. "We can't do anything else" or "I don't want to be the first" are some justifications for not wanting to inconvenience ourselves of privileges, among others. So, given enough reflection, one is lead to say that we are "choosing" to keep the murderer alive.
What can one do against the predator when they don't want to inconvenience themselves? They can begin to think of removing the right to die, but this removes the scale and the mirror, the tools which we need to identify the predator and keep him in our sights, which would put us back at square one. So if the right to die is respected, one will have to deal with the predator, especially if they have a survival spirit or a semblance of a "humanity for each other". If they don't want to inconvenience themselves, they will have to do whatever it takes to make the predator not a threat. In essence, the mirror shows that we are our own worst enemy, and the predator will hopefully unite us against that common enemy, so that we will learn how to live with ourselves.
Stage 2 (Again): In other words
How will it work? Once the predator is instituted, other parallel mechanics should also be put into motion, namely the mirror and the balancing scale. All that I expand on below should follow from the dynamics of the above three.
To be clear, it's not mass suicide that I'm arguing for; rather, that no further suicides are necessary because there is already a past history of suicides to reflect on, once our "humanity for each other" is alive and well. The discussion leading to (self-)reflection is the goal, not the act of suicide.
To understand the strength of the predator, you have to imagine it as if there were no lines drawn, so that it can swiftly go in for the kill, and human nature is free to react. If you draw a line at no one, suppose that were removed. Or if you draw a line for the terminally ill, suppose that were removed. Or if you draw a line for the 'curably depressed', suppose that were removed.
Against the predator that will take either you or your loved ones away, what strategies can you employ? Broadly, I categorize them into four: live with; kill; starve; and tame.
Living with the beast
This is what we are currently doing. The predator bootstraps our "survival spirit", so it stays alive and instead defers the consequences of its actions to the environment, as modeled here:
- human (passively supports) predator (defers externalities to) environment (leading back to whatever useful life is left, which is) human
With the right to die, the predator will finally have teeth and test between the environment and humans, and see that humans are an easier kill:
- human (actively institutes) predator (that goes for easier kill, which is) human
By instituting the predator, it will begin to divert its attention from the environment and make moves into human life. This makes the threat more real than an abstract, future existential one. This turns the predator away from eating the environment to begin directly eating itself, biting the hand that feeds.
Now against the predator that is encouraging you to die, instinctual biological action is either "fight or flight" and if you do not choose flight, then you are left to fight:
Kill the beast
The first instinctual strategy is to fight to kill.
The predator will encourage the fighter to kill themselves, and due to the mirror, the fighter will also encourage the predator to kill themselves. I've already given the example of health care, but there are an innumerable amount of encouraging forces, both direct and indirect, including, but not limited to:
- "The elderly and/or sick are a burden and need to kill themselves"
- "The 'degenerates' are a drag and need to kill themselves"
- "You need to kill yourself for being (part of) the problem"
- etc, etc.
The predator is like a creeping evolutionary Red Queen, and due to the mirror, the fighter acts out the roles of both the rabbit and the fox:
"The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner." -Aesop
Starve the beast
The clever strategy against an indominatable predator if you can't kill it is to starve it.
The fighter is still fighting, whether due to their "survival spirit" or their "humanity for each other". By trying to cut off the predator, they are trying to find out who is sustaining it. Eventually, they come to find that the predator that is coming after them or their loved ones is kept alive because of the individual consumption habits because the fighter depends on the predator for their privileges and conveniences.
The Red Queen continues to exert pressure on everyone, and so the fighter continues their fight because of their "survival spirit" and/or "humanity for each other". As long as the material conveniences are available and still 'chosen', the strategy of starving the beast will leave one in this loop for many repetitive iterations.
Tame the beast
The looping done while attempting to starve the beast will lead the Red Queen to incrementally exert more and more pressure. If we can't kill or starve it, we are lead to tame it before it kills us.
Here we are, caged with and by this juggernaut of a beast, and we seem to be driving it so hard that it seems certain to either crash or break down, and yet nobody really knows why we are driving it so hard at all - where are we trying to get to? However, while we think we have a handle on the predator, it becomes clearer that we are just keeping the predator alive, and it's been argued that we aren't in the driver's seat after all 
. The predator will see, "oh, is this what the market can bear?" and resist a new normal by asking, "how much more can it bear? It can bear more, right?" because it is just as clever as us because we support it
. The Red Queen will want to break through any equilibrium because it has bootstrapped our 'survival spirit'. The situation isn't hopeless though: what I'm arguing that can tame it and give it a counter-balance is our "humanity for each other", but it is expressing itself quite coldly right now.
It may seem that there's no way out of the looping done in the previous starving strategy, but fortunately our "humanity for each other" is also concurrently bootstrapped. Since it might need a cold-start, the bootstrapping will likely be rather unprecedented (just like the rugged individualism of bootstrapping our "survival spirit"), but once expressed, it should hopefully lead everyone to self-reflect and to the realization that "we have seen the enemy, and it is us", leading to the question, "why am I fighting against myself?" Here is a linear representation:
Right to die -> increase in (awareness of (potential)) sucides -> looking for the root cause -> general societal self-reflection -> radical change in consumption/production habits
Nothing unites the human species like a common enemy (take an alien invasion as an example). With the right to die, the predator becomes the common enemy, and with our "humanity for each other" bootstrapped, we are then able to unite against it.
The balancing scale
As a more illustrative example of this tool, the right to die should work as a balancing scale as envy is to this primitive society : https://aeon.co/essays/why-inequality-bothers-people-more-than-poverty
The mirror is a machine that provides the means for reflection and self-reflection. A reflection is difficult to trace, not to mention the innumerable forces that encourage one to kill themselves, but I can offer an example of both types of reflection.
Consider the social norm of "so where's your house and two kids?" For rhetorical purposes, I will call this a "terrorism source". Currently, future parents are psychologically abused into wanting to breed, and no one seems to do anything about it because there doesn't seem to be a power to go against cultural norms. What I'm trying to say is that there is a power that can fight the terrorism: terrorism itself.
Think of this reflected force like this:
terrorism source -> parents
Some people see events in the world and take them as signs that they don't want to bring a new child into the world. What just happened here was self-reflection. Some people aren't like this, and so we arrive at:
terrorism source -> parents -> child
Now with the right to die, you can then add "child -> suicide" for some cases:
terrorism source -> parents -> child -> suicide
If the parents loved their child, they would immediately see the force reflected back:
terrorism source -> parents <- child <- suicide
which they may misinterpret as "blaming the parents"; indeed the terrorism source may also take that stance, but that's not what I'm trying to say. Hopefully, some parents, after self-reflection, may finally deflect and direct that force back:
terrorism source <- parents <- child <- suicide
Stage 3: A new operating system
Wait, so my punishment for my actions is that the others want to kill themselves? Great! More for me and my own!
The tragedy of the commons is frequently brought up as a final barrier. Although I haven't studied in this direction yet, from secondary interpretations 
, it's claimed, by Elinor Ostrom and her work with collective action theory, that people in real life can and do overcome the tragedy of the commons. The way you do it is by creating a system of rules (i.e. "institutions") that punish people for gaming the system. The main problem, though, is that the people in power don't want to give up that power or change their behavior. I'm proposing that the right to die, while not quite a direct punishment due to incorporating self-reflection, should qualify as sufficient as a single instituted rule.
Once our "humanity for each other" is bootstrapped, then we can install a new 'operating system' (to borrow a term from the "Exponential Altruism" proposal 
) on top of it. But, this raises the obvious question: who will decide what direction? The right to die proposes a natural principle: since we cannot currently decide top-down, we experiment, in an emergent manner, ways to live. Then, if the citizen doesn't like the direction, they can be encouraged to off themselves, but if the experiment still cared, they would do anything to not encourage them to kill themselves. This is the metaphor of the balancing scale. If the people in power did not want to experiment, and still respected the right to die (this is a reason why it has to be instituted!), then if the citizen offed themselves, they would no longer have power over them. This is the metaphor of the predator, imploding itself alive.
If "every life is precious", then what kind of society would not encourage someone to kill themselves? I argue that this is a meaningful question, and I think its answer is along the lines of those espoused in "What must we do to live" 
We have to want a future for someone we’ve never met on the opposite side of the world.
Stage 1: Instituting the right to die
If the predator will do as outlined in Stage 2 and 3, then just one action is sufficient to lead to a cascade of actions. All the questions about overpopulation, overconsumption, overproduction, etc, reduces down to an initial one: how to institute the predator?
There are several barriers that people have against supporting right to die, including the 'survival spirit' and 'humanity for each other'! Along with the other pro-choice arguments, I can offer a few more:
- Some people think our civilization is headed in a suicidal path, and don't want to experience the pain of such, so would rather check out. We should give them that option. I model this individual perspective here:
individual consumption (supports) "the corporations"/standard of living (which leads to) unsustainable practices (which leads to) Bad Things™ (which leads to) despaisuicide
- To maintain our trajectory, we are gambling by expecting future generations to develop saviour-tech, while the same trajectory is stacking the deck against the future generations all the while. Against accumulating odds because we are unwilling to change our trajectory, future generations should have the option to fold.
- Nature has no rights; it's either do or die. It's also been argued that evolution has not made us smart or ethical enough to fix the (abstract) problems of "our" own making. But, if there is nothing wrong with human nature from the perspective of evolution, we should lift this idea of "do or die" into the space of human abstractions, namely rights.
As well as my previous argument that it will affect overpopulation/overconsumption . But in the context of the new predator, why also should one support?
- You are selfish and only care about your own? Good! We will need people who can fight to the last, because the predator is formidable.
- So you have an optimism bias and believe suicide isn't an option? Good! We will need people who want to save their fellow human.
Lastly, I haven't studied this angle yet, but I think it's relevant to the non-identity problem 
and could be (part of) a solution to it.
There are a few initial problems that stand out on first glance:
- Anything less than legal and expedient might not work
As previously mentioned, you have to consider this thought experiment as if no lines were drawn. Discussion on suicide methods has a strong taboo, and the taboo has to be lifted for this to work. I think the legal way is the most effective to raise the quality of discussion levels. Another less effective means is to end the War on Drugs, but while the means are "available" this way, the stigma is still there, and the knowledge, rather than being out in the open, will probably continue to be censored and not considered.
- The predator might be weakened
Without a guaranteed/peaceful/effective/always available means of suicide, the predator will lack the the teeth it needs to get us out of our comfort zones. We will also lose the vital instruments of the mirror and balancing scale. The predator will need to be maintained so that it is able to affect everyone simultaneously, through the bottle neck and beyond.
- Where to draw the line?
This is the main question of the current secular efforts throughout the world today. In the context of this argument, where you draw the line will determine how strong the predator is, and how strong you want the predator is influenced by how much time you allot for us to unite against it as the cause of (percieved) existential threats.
Related to the above, the religious will want to maintain their stance of drawing a line for no one. I have a few cards to start a discussion with the religious, but it depends on if the secular right to die for all will work or not, so I want to focus on the mechanics first.
We have thought of ourselves as apex predators for far too long; we should learn to fight with a predator that is just as capable as us. The main hurdle is of everyone realizing they are the problem and that we are all in this together, which I believe and have hopefully argued that the right to die can accomplish. Bootstrapping our 'humanity for each other' is not a complete solution, but it provides a base on to which to build a differently run society, one that answers the question: what kind of society would not encourage someone to kill themselves? The stamina for this challenge we already have; we just need the tools.
 https://aeon.co/essays/should-we-take-ethical-account-of-people-who-do-not-yet-exist I use words like "should" to point out weak points for people to chip away at, and for me to find out what I need to defend more. As always, the devil is in the details, and I need help fleshing him out. I don't know much about collective action theory and the non-identity problem, so I'd be especially interested in pursuing these ways of framing the problem. Thanks!
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