Benign (part 1)

June 28, 2010
I am an old man, it is true, but my people respect me and I am a fair ruler. It hasn't been easy leading the nation of Sacroma, but I have earned the respect of my people and I work tirelessly to ensure that it continues. The world does not need another uprising; the last one we had almost destroyed it.

It is said that many years ago, before our father's father's father, a period of affluence gripped the world. Nations larger than anything around today were mightier than we could ever dream of being. It continued on for a long time, this tranquility marked by innovation quicker than has been seen ever before- or since- and it would have continued further were it not for the Revolts. They were started by a small band of power-hungry anarchists and quickly led to the ruination of much of the civilized world.

After the Revolts of the Information Age, the world's pillars grew weaker and the nations that were once so strong started crumbling from the inside out. Rulers frantically tried attempts at keeping power in their own isolated hands and the people rebelled against the oppression, sending the world into the largest war it had ever seen, and hopefully will ever see. For centuries afterwards, small districts the size of old cities rose and fell as power-hungry dictators attempted and failed at governing the anarchist people. I was born in the time of the King Breme, a ruthless fellow of an icy complexion and a stare that would freeze blood. By the time I was in my 20s, however, our “nation” had gone through 5 or 6 attempted rulers and governmental systems. By that point, many of my generation, including myself, knew something had to be done, so we banded together to perform a peaceful takeover and hopefully launch the world, or at least our district, into a time of prosperity.

After many years of hard, strategic work, we managed to gain control of the government (if it could even be referred to as such) and immediately began reformatting it to better lead and direct the people. A naturally charismatic man, I was voted unanimously to head the new government, with my two best friends and most loyal sidekicks as my advisors. And so we slowly prospered. By now, I am past my prime and my nation weighs heavily on my shoulders day in and day out, but I would not trade my job for the world, nor would I trust it in the hands of anyone else. After all, we brought our nation from its knees.

I am an old man, it is true, but I do not have a heir named as of yet. I had a wife, many years ago, a beautiful woman by the name of Ambrosia who had been a lifelong friend and supporter, but in the manifold epidemics that swept our poor nation in its primeval years, she was one of the innumerable victims. Our people mourned her nearly as ardently as I, and it took many years for us to regain our metaphorical footing. Unfortunately, she died before birthing me a child, and in honor of her memory I never remarried. My trusted advisors, although nearly as old as I am, do not worry that an heir will be found before my time comes; after all, perhaps our system can even become a democracy. The prospect of such makes me joyous, for it would not have been possible as few as 30 years ago.

Oh and to think, I myself, along with the help of my trusted advisors, made such a thing possible. Were history books still being written, I am satisfied that I would be included in them. Even still, in this bookless world, my advisors keep careful note of the dealings that our small nation is involved with. Everything from production to trade (slim but not as nonexistent as it had been in the past) to decrees felt necessary by my right and left hands are recorded meticulously in the small black notebooks they carry with them always. I afford them the privacy of never having to share the contents of the notebooks with their ruler, resting safe in the knowledge that my trusted advisors have everything recorded and in its place. They always have everything in its place; why, what would I do without them? As a man with no arms is so too would I be, floundering in the river that is regency.

Today, my trusted advisors are to bring me reports of the alleged war out east, between two of our most prominent trading partners. If we are to keep a neutral standpoint, we will have to trade equally with both or not at all; neither nation will welcome an ally trading with their enemy. I wait, pacing slowly-ever slower as the years go on-around the small, sparsely furnished area masquerading as a throne room. It was one of the first places we took over, so many years ago in our conquest to save the world; at the time it had been the military base of the current leader. It had been thrown together in haste, scrap metals and woods, but it served its function and has since been a symbol for our peaceful takeover and regime.

As I wait, I call for a servant to fetch me my walker. I am well into my 70s now, having surpassed the average life expectancy by a good 10 years already, and my steadily decreasing mobility attests to my age. It is said that in the industrious Information Age, everyone lived as old as I was, many older still; but alas, along with most of the assets of their advanced time, old age has squandered since.

The servant returns with my walker and I shuffle along, determined as ever never to give in to the increasing immobility of my limbs. Having been malnourished for the better part of my life, it is in my nature to fight for my body with everything I've got; this means now that I take long walks each day on aching limbs. Within moments of the servant bringing my walker, however, a scout from my trusted advisors gallops in.

“They've word that Confur,” one of the two nations in the alleged war, “has a secret weapon they've traded for with Bane,” our enemy. “The only way to stop them from annihilating Abettor,” the other nation in the war, “is to side with Abettor against Confur.”

My every instinct screams to stay neutral no matter what, but if what the scout says is true, choosing a side may be the only way. “Send them in when they return,” I tell him, and he leaves to wait for their arrival.

Two aching hours later, my advisors return. 7 and 10 years younger than me respectively, they don't need to take quite the care I do when moving around, but they are still much more frail than they used to be, and as a result travel slower and slower the older they get. “One of these days you'll have to replace us,” they always joke in their calm voices, and I laugh and add, “you'll have to replace me first,” but their careful insistence gives them away. Every time they joke about it they grow more serious, more probing; they wish to know how readily I will give them up, are they to fall sub par. And every time I assure them that they are all I need; no one else will fill their spots nearly as perfectly.

By the time my trusted advisors enter the throne room, my patience is wearing thin; plans and schemes have bloomed in my mind in plethoras, but none will achieve the goal without heavy casualties. I await our meeting eagerly.

Soon however, it becomes apparent that my advisors' favored plan of attack is to join forces with Abettor; no possible strategy could keep us free from harm and they feel that picking a side is the only way to retain some trade and power. I personally would have kept us out of a war for as long as possible, for war is never without heavy losses, but my advisors are determined that allying against Confur and Bane is the only way. So against my better judgement I send out a scout with a written proposal to join forces with Abettor.

My advisors and I begin planning. How do you defeat two districts each as powerful as your own, with secret weapons up their sleeves? Everything they suggest is wrong: attack first, on the sly, do not give them the chance to get first blood. But everything they say I end up agreeing to; the logic is sound, if convoluted, and after all they are my trusted advisors. We plan on readying our troops within a week to join Abettor's for the war.
War. What a silly notion, that our so young little nation already needs to fight for its life.





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