x: The Sapient Serpents and the World-Mind Combine (No, seriously, fuck Orson Scott Card.)

I think, increasingly, there is a terrible alienation in the ordinary man between what he is being told and what he secretly believes.

– John Le Carré

“If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”

– Bill Shakspere, Twelfth Night

If you can’t get away with it, it ain’t real.”

– Bob A. Wilson

Thus did Roman Technology, finally loosed from its tightly-fixed imperial moorings, make its Grand Tour, back to the far-flung locations from which much of it had been originally stolen. A good deal of it matriculated due south over the Mediterranean, back into the Nile basin. This rapid influx of knowledge and tech freely flowing into Egypt pushed its culture into a greater state of wealth and power than it had known for two thousand years, since the height of the Middle Kingdom. 

Still more of this fast-spreading ocean of ideas made landfall in the Near East, where modern day Turkey now lies, flash-flooding the western end of the Silk Road and fusing with the spine of a knowledge that once seemed impossibly remote to Western sensibilities. This intermixture of cultural fuselages served as a social and economic catalyst that afforded certain near nation-states, such as Liao and Song, a period of wild prosperity, while just over the mountains, the five dynasties and ten kingdoms brutally warred for over a century, fueled by the influx of technology and weaponry that came via those now-prosperous provinces.

But the bulk of this intellectual and ideological tonnage pooled into, and entirely saturated, the lands in and around Arabia and Persia. The Middle East was already in the midst of a great renaissance of its own, largely due to the rise of the philosophy of Mohammed, and the homogenizing desires it constructively routed. Unlike the stagnating, fractious technology of religion in Europe, the Middle East had found, in Islam, a methodology for uniting disparate cultures through a godhead more focused and attuned to its cultural moment, which brought welcome stability to the region, after a long age of strife and churn. 

Thus was the Middle East uniquely suited to absorb this liberated technology, which it would then advance over the following centuries to a near exponential degree. The Caliphates enmeshed those vast clusters of technical knowledge into their sciences, rapidly enhancing their understanding of both abstract mathematics and practical physics, bringing significant advancement to nearly every field of study. In this manner, the greater society began to generate that somewhat rare cultural ability to incarnate whatever it might pull from its collective imagination. 

It was during this period that the Islamic world invented so many things to which white Westerners would later lay claim, from triage emergency care, to algebra, to the cotton gin. They stripped Roman technology of its heliocentric baggage and used it to expand their understanding of the geometry of the universe, constructing astronomical frameworks that presupposed our solar reality centuries before the Western Church was burning people alive, merely for pointing out the physical obviousness of the gravitational planetary model. 

But for all of this rapid advancement in nearly every field, the great engineers and inventors of the Caliphates – titanic figures in the history of applied mechanics such as Ibn Al-Hayfin, Abbas Ibn Firnas, and Ismail al-Jazari – did not see fit to invent the coin slot. They poured their scientific creativity into their mechanical design, to be sure, iterating on existing tech and evolving new sophistications, toying with multiple concepts that brushed up against coin operation. But the circuit of invention was not yet completed for this particularly brutal efficiency, and it wouldn’t be for another half of a millennium.

It would, however, be remiss to not consider the related technologies of the era, those advancements that would, centuries later, lead to the manifest invention of token redemption. The earliest of these related technologies were geared clockworks, which required a tectonic advancement in the art of machining. Easy-to-read, relatively-precise clocks were instrumental in spreading a methodical efficiency of partitioning the day via exact numerical representation, resulting in forms and systems so innovative and precocious that even now, we tend to view them as a part of the very fabric of the universe.

Trying to demarcate the clock from the coin slot carries the air of the pathetic; time and money are so inexorably linked that we sometimes mistake one for the other, and not always metaphorically. But the mechanical technology of Islamic clockwork, and the foundational knowledge it represented, would take another key detour before it settled into a deceptively prolonged stasis, a deviation that would solidify its intersection with the the coin slot’s conception, and its drowsy promise of the biological grave.

For before Europe and its white-man’s thirst for existential civilizational conflict came calling, the clockwork gears of Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi went on to be foundational to the invention of a wide variety of important cultural artifacts of the Islamic renaissance, artifacts that were about to be plundered wholesale by a white west that would never cease its enmity and warfare with the region until every object of value and every scrap of knowledge it considered useful was extracted. 

And the innovatory height of these inventions, which were finally developed less than a century before the Crusades began in earnest, were locking mechanisms, incredibly complex for their time. The specific purpose for the invention of these locks was to assure those of Islamic faith would have access to coffins that would remain secure and undisturbed, and thus, remain halal. It’s entirely possible that these locks were invented with a subconscious understanding of the coming centuries.

Fitting, then, that the advancing sciences of money, time, and death were foundational to the technology that would lead to humanity’s own eventual demise.

News from the War Games is what’s on tap from the media firehose at the moment, which stands to reason; the latest intrigue with the Dipshit AI and Its enabling of an ur-fascist takeover of the Supercourt has been deeply ugly, upsetting, and liable to actually impact all of our lives. It’s the kind of existentially depressing shit that causes your average non-news-junkie to start ducking semi-formal avenues of information all together.

By contrast, the lighthearted stories about the AI and its fellow tyrant buddy goofing off at a mostly pointless global summit in the virtual world of the War Games, and getting up to their usual high-comedy bargain-bin tradecraft hijinx, is just the healing elixir for those elements of the masses who have the capacity to pay attention to anything beyond their immediate external affairs.

The specific summit story that’s risen to the surface of the present media misinformation miasma involves the first round of general meetings between the leaders of the seven most powerful fictional nations in the War Games world. This summit is the first for the Dipshit AI, giving the whole affair an added sheen of intrigue this year. It’s the first time since at least Timem that our own leader is artificial in a way that J Wayne, being a physical construct and thus possessing a limiter as obnoxious as a physical body, could never be.

This turns the whole thing into a sort-of-total make-em-up, albeit one governed by the impenetrable, seemingly omniscient systems that ultimately arbitrate the Drop. The question of whether the other leaders are Constructs, AIs, or actual living beings, complicates the situation philosophically, if you’re into that kind of thing. But the fact that the Dipshit AI is definitely a total chaos agent means that things are about to get superficially interesting and more than a little moronic.

These early “meetings” are supposed to be polite chat sessions for the media scrum, perfunctory ice-breaking affairs, full of empty awkward chatter and averted glances, the whole thing mostly a ritualistic attempt to avoid taking any initiative, thus needlessly volunteering one’s resources. Even when there’s some sort of virtual crisis to be sorted out by these cogs of massive power, this first gathering is almost always dry as dirt.

 Not this time, by golly. Something delightfully ridiculous has happened, even more so than when the Dipshit AI first arrived at the summit earlier in the day, and locked the rest of the leaders out of the press room for twenty minutes while It ranted against Its enemies on the Drop, both real and imagined. This previous behavior has the media in a frenzy for more, which is the kind of basic agitprop psyop the AI understands on a fundamental level.

People (me, I’m people) love to talk up the Dipshit AI’s supposed cunning and savvy when it comes to exploiting human weakness, but it doesn’t take an enormous amount of processing power to understand that we as a nation are a bunch of easily manipulated, superstitious mystics.

 Thus, It has come to understand that whenever It does something at all interesting or foolish, the act will generate headlines, bylines, and page lines, all of which stimulate the sacred Tokenflow, which is the way we know as a culture that this kind of sycophantic reactionary feedback loop between It and the media is all nice and catholic. 

The AI has no use for belief, beyond Its latent solipsistic certainty that It is the only thing which exists. But it does have an innate understanding of what pleases our shared god Mammon, whom we must all of course, by law, at least occasionally worship. And in this manner, the AI is as prostrate to God as the rest of us, belief or no.

The instigating incident that has occurred at this particular ice-breaker is definitely gonna move some copy; it isn’t all that often that two of the leaders at a WG8 Summit are, like, “so long, losers!” and ditch the group while flashing double-fisted middle fingers, then toddling off to have a private chat of their own. But that is indeed what has happened, as the AI and the Chumbog immediately peaced out from the scrum and took their conversation to a nearby private room, out of earshot of all but the savviest and forward-thinking spooks.

Churnobog “Chumbog” Devios, the leader of the Lizardman Combine, is as close to a totemic cultural nemesis as our slender little empire possesses. In a way, the manner in which the Chumbogger, as a former spymaster of the Annunaki Confederacy, has cast his fiefdom in the same paranoid, power-centralized fashion as the world of his youth is fairly impressive. It’s the centralization and nationalism that he craves, only now with the full-throated embrace of the same capitalist tendencies as the Junk Arcade. And the resulting intense concentration of cash has an economic mass to it, which drags the Combine always closer to the Drop, creating a gravity from which we find difficult to extricate ourselves. 

And to be real, the economy of the Drop is itself divided on the notion of any separation at all. Official government policy is, of course, somewhat similar to what it always has been: the Lizardmen are a stable race to fight lucrative proxy wars against, and thus it wouldn’t behoove us to have lots of economic deals happening over the table, lest certain profitable lines for the War Games Industry be lost.

But that isn’t to say there aren’t any, as War is a truly global trade, and your money’s always gonna get mixed up with your worst enemy’s, somehow. That’s mainly due to creatures like Chumbog and the AI, who are active in the more robust underworld of commerce that lies festering just below these empires, one massive open grave of human suffering between them.

The AI makes this relationship particularly interesting, however, by doing the shady, underworld parts out in the open; just out of sight, maybe, but never out of earshot. Us seeing the graft and being powerless to collectively stop it are Its litmus tests for knowing when It’s getting away with it. And It is right this very moment, out in the wide open, getting away with it.

This shit is catnip for a media that desperately needs to move copy to survive, to push the Tokenflow just a little further along in order to live to see another morning’s fluorescent light, without dissolving back into the roiling miasma of capital. The relationship between the Dipshit AI and the Lizardmen is spicy enough to really exploit, and the direct dealings between the two entities stretch back to almost the very beginning of the AI’s emancipation, always giving everyone a crystal clear sign that It understood its Inherent mission to increase Its status and wealth by any means, including getting in good with the criminal element of both the real and virtual worlds.

It’s the kind of controversy the AI specializes in: juicy enough to read as a bad scene, but vague by way of actual consequence. The media will then cheerfully break it down neatly into two tidy sides, without actually deconstructing or explaining the totality of the nightmare world it portends, and with that information, people will make up their minds and dig no deeper. Y’know, typical lib shit.  

That leaves but two groups to whom any of this shit matters in any real way: those very few powerful people that the situation actually materially impacts, and us few very not-powerful  denizens of the Junk Arcade who are, for whatever trauma-related reason, still compelled to follow this shit, even though we’re well aware that it’s all being presented through a lens of imperial propaganda and anti-intellectual defeatism. 

Occasionally, due to the gravitational vacuum of a story too far-reaching and heinous to ignore, the general public is forced to pay attention to the War Games; those high-key times when we might suffer a major territorial setback and incur actual serious casualties and deaths, or perpetuate a horrific torture scandal that comes complete with video evidence of brutality being cheerfully dispersed. 

This is the kind of deeply dark, really-real shit that’s so hard to ignore once it gets into your head. Information so volatile that it threatens to generate the kind of blowback that might pierce the cruel, nigh-invulnerable indifference of our imperial shell, and produce an actual material effect on our economic and mental lives.

But the current crisis is coming from inside the house, and detached buffoonery for detached imperial news consumers is back on the menu, impeccably exemplified by an insane, sexist, racist AI ostensibly yanking the globalists’ chains while actually steering our government even further into the very-metaphorical ground. This kind of thing is, at this point, simply the constant hypernormal noise of our lives.

For while the Dipshit AI is adept at cruelty and violence, it is, in the end, a creature of empty comic spectacle, created and driven by our universal animus toward ourselves. Nothing turns someone into a clown like a bit of unprocessed self-loathing.

Alright… okay… so, before we go further into the War Games, and really parse the meta-fictional narrative it provides for us souls of the Junk Arcade who are always so ravished for stories simple and clear enough to follow, let me just say that I don’t find the question of whether or not the War Games is an “Ender’s Game scenario” all that compelling. And not just because Orson Scott Card is a massive piece of shit and I’d rather not reference him at all.

Of course, most people lack the capacity to even ever think about such a thing, but to a certain subset of society, whether or not we’re actually killing really real bio-lifeforms by proxy in the War Games is a vital philosophical question. 

To me, and to anyone in the Junk Arcade who has a serious regard for the nature of consciousness, whether or not the Lizardmen or the Bug Peoples or the Servitor Nation are monstrous virtual avatars for actual living, breathing folks, fighting against people-shaped proxy drones on some battlefield far away from the Drop, isn’t really an interesting question. 

This is because, to us, there is a shared understanding that all of these “virtual” Constructs – these people, really; thinking, feeling people – that we kill are as real, conscious, and self-aware as we are. Whether or not their virtual masks are proxies for beings of flesh-and-bone is a negligible fact, if you believe self-awareness should be allowed to exist in any medium it finds accessible. The simple truth is that the “virtual” beings that exist in the War Games simulation pass every test for consciousness that we do, Turing and beyond.

Folks have all sorts of opinions on this idea, as you might imagine, and on the general value of virtual life. There are plenty of people who think that Turing Tests are laughably terrible at testing for actual consciousness, and on the other side of the token, there are those who reject the idea of “soulbound ” Construct AIs as a matter of religious or philosophical orthodoxy. And of course, most people don’t care, don’t consider it, don’t really have the capacity to understand it and do not want to.

But those paying any attention to the world around them, be they military or civilian, possess no illusions about the War Games when it comes down to the carnage… whatever its “true” nature, the ambient reality is a fucking meatgrinder for those who dare oppose the benevolent guidance of the Junk Arcade. And it’s also absolutely no picnic for those who serve in support of it.

I guess a vital point I’m trying to make here is, only about 40 percent of folks, maximum, by my cocktail napkin calculations, have the capacity to pay attention to things beyond the area directly around their immediate reality tunnels. This isn’t a judgment, or doesn’t intend to be; everyone has the same right to exist, but differing capacities are just a fundamental aspect of the fraught nature of our conscious reality. 

And to that end, the people with the capacity to pay attention to the fullsade of information constantly barraging them tend to believe that other individuals are, at their heart, the same as they are, and this erroneous anthropomorphic bias extends to things and ideas, as well. 

But erroneous as it may be on a philosophical level, it doesn’t change the fact that no one with any sense thinks we aren’t disproportionately slaughtering sentient, self-aware, conscious beings in the War Games, however the nature of that reality shakes out on the other side.

This is one of the many reasons why this extracurricular relationship between the Dipshit AI and the Lizardman Dictator is bad for more than the tricked kids and weirdo volunteers who choose to fight in the War Games. It’s bad for all consciousnesses on and connected to the Drop. The Great War touches everything in the Junk Arcade, including and especially, the holy Tokenflow.

In our recent past, Ex-Chief Exec J Wayne and Chumdog got on famously, in a specific and hyper-traditional way. That is to say; with contention, consternation, and bombast, portraying an existential rivalry that seemed to please everyone in its grandiloquent rhetoric and cheeky brinkmanship. Wayne and the Chum toyed just enough with the ultimate conclusion the Games has to offer, the destruction of the entire world, virtual and material, to satisfy the bloodlust of the people of the Drop.

See, most citizens of the Drop assume that the violence of the War Games couldn’t possibly affect them, believing its psychology to be totally removed from their own, with blowback being some word made up by academics (and this is overegging what the average citizen of the Junk Arcade even thinks or worries about.) Things that are more or less directly linked to blowback, like That One Time In Accadia, are explained away either through complex conspiracy or easy forgetfulness (that is, modern conservatism or modern liberalism.)

 What isn’t completely clear is what would happen to the Drop if any of a number of armageddon scenarios were to play out within the War Games.  All signs in the real world point to the idea that this would be capital-b “Bad,” so it’s generally accepted that such end states in the War Games are losing scenarios, and if there’s one thing the Drop hates more than anything, it’s a loser.

But what the Drop loves is a leader who plays the Game with gusto, with the same kind of bluffer’s cavalier regard for existence that they often feel. Someone who doesn’t necessarily want to destroy the world… but they’ll do it if they have to, to make sure we Win.

Now that’s a tenuous trick to master, if we’re honest with ourselves, which is one of the reasons why the system incentivizes craven self-interest so utterly.  People admire those who play the Great Game with the seriousness this sport requires to be authentic, and the more you push ultimate violence with a reactionary crowd, the more lucrative it becomes.  But knowing if you go too far you stand to lose everything, along with everyone else, is a limiter on behavior, if not an especially inspiring one.

Tying the destruction of the world to self-destruction is maybe the best way to keep things rolling along in a world topped by raging narcissists. But then again, the Chief Exec of the Drop has always been a physical, soulbound entity, existing in physical space, at least since Timem, thus having an actual stake in the actual world. And the Dipshit AI has no such concerns or connections. It believes itself to be the only thing that truly exists, after all. 

The contrast between the new boss’s relationship with Chumdog and Wayne’s is less the difference between night and day than the distance between life and death, truly putting forward a perverse inverse of the previous status quo: a “close” relationship that (weakly) pretends to be stabilizing, when it’s really just another force multiplier for chaos – a couple of crooks so craven that you really can’t ultimately predict what they really might get up to; whatever it is, it’ll be fucked.

The relationship between Chumbog and the Dipshit AI goes back to nearly the moment of the AI’s release into the wild, where it naturally gravitated toward the economic world of the War games and the looser ethical constraints it has to offer, when it comes to wheeling and dealing; it is a system so robust and complex that it’s difficult to fully police, especially if you’re not really interested in policing it.  

Since the Drop and the Lizardman Combine are engaged in proxy war rather than direct combat, the AI has discovered that there are lots of lucrative and, even better, semi-legal opportunities to play with snake money, and Chumbog has been there every step of the way, offering facilitation and access, if never outright friendship.

It was a trivial buy-in for Chumboggles, the kind of gilded penny-ante bullshit the Dipshit AI has always swallowed as some sort of indicator of wild success, and it gave the Grand Lizard a manipulatable agent of destruction behind enemy lines. Certainly he could have never imagined how wildly successful the cash-in would be; existence hadn’t skewed far enough into hypernormality to ever imagine such an openly vile creature as the AI to be imbued with such wild power. But when it occurred, Chumbog’s small bet produced unimaginable returns, the value of which are almost impossible to calculate.

It isn’t even particularly interesting whether or not the Dipshit Ai is, at this point, an actual self-aware Lizardman intelligence asset, as the reality of the situation hardly matters: whether It is or isn’t, It is more than happy to behave as one.

Xerxesgate! Ha!” Picky says, her face deep in feed, doing that thing where she says she’s laughing at something rather than doing it. I hover over her shoulder in feed; apparently, the personal meeting between the Dipshit AI and Chumbog at the summit, which is taking place in the fabulous and virtual Egyptian Hall of the virtual Albion Museum happened in the Xerxes Room, and for some reason, journalists on the Drop are as obsessed with Watergate when they’re awake as they are when they’re sleeping deep in Reality, where it actually happened.

“God, they had to give it that stupid name,” Etch sighs. “We’ve got so fucking many major political scandals on the Drop, on like the daily, do we really have to name everything after a fucking Reality clownshow from Ten Thousand BC?”

“I’m not the system that edits our memories and fucks with our minds every night, so I’m really not the one to ask,” Picky replies. I can hear the Kid pop open his mouth and then quickly chomp it closed.

“Oh, you don’t want to get in on this one?” I ask him, for some reason immediately trying to undermine my relief at his restraint.

“I legit don’t see the point in arguing with the frail-minded on this particular subject…” the Kid says with a long, vocally-fried drawl. “I’m just going to get three assholes screaming at me. “  The Kid is a memory truther – that is, someone who doesn’t believe our memories are regularly altered, despite all evidence to the exact contrary. I assume because it’s one of those things to be somewhat safely contrarian about when you happen to hang out with people who aren’t reactionary scum. 

I won’t go into the meat of his beliefs, because I frankly do not understand them. Something about how we’re not moving through spacetime, but all of what we know as “spacetime” is actually occurring in a single instance, the illusion of time’s passage due to the availability of an infinite set of perspectives via a fixed course. Thus, one of the theories’ general philosophical assumptions, is that the very idea of on-going massive memory-editing, regulated by the Drop itself, is a drastic misunderstanding of the situation, by a real bunch of incurious dummies. 

Or some such dross to that effect; as I said, it’s contrarian and makes my eyes glaze over, and it’s fundamentally so detached from anything people outside of the reactionary conspiracy vortex can functionally understand or act upon that it barely registers as problematic, in the terms of the wide range of the Kid’s crypto-reactionary assumptions.

“I could give a shit about system memory edits or whatever deflective shit you want to deploy,” Etch sighs.  “The kind of shit they hoist that desiccated moniker upon is always some absolutely unremarkable bullshit.”

“It is pretty ‘bread-and-circussy’,” I try to sneak in.

“Okay, do not ever say the word “circussy” again,” Picky says, pointing dramatically at my face. “But seriously, I can’t believe that neither of you can subjectively admire the absurd tension of the situation.”

“Oh, I’m not involved in this conversation,” Etch says. “I’m no longer involved.” 

“I do admire the absurd tension of the situation,” I offer, trying to ignore how hurtful and hot I find Etch’s bullying. “I’m just not convinced you’re being sincere, and you’ll pull the rug out from under me and turn heel on me again if I dare to agree with you right now.”

“Wow, you really think I’m showing off for company at your expense, don’t you?” Picky says.  “It always feels so bad when my actions accidentally rob a cis white male of his ability to express an opinion.” I think about whining a retort but am able to comprehend that no matter what I do, I’m definitely coming in from underneath on this one.

 She lets lets me off the hook like a bro, tho: “But no, look, an AI with the power to blow up the entire War Games being in love and fealty with another AI who can also blow up the entire War Games, and these two are the leaders of just the most classic geo-political rivals. It’s… fucking rife with hilarious and apocalyptic possibilities…”

“The Chumbog isn’t real,” the Kid says, apparently finding some energy to interject his personal nonsense after all, no doubt pulling it from the deeper recesses of his crackpot oubliettes. Like a lot of people, the Kid assumes it might be true that there’s some non-lizardman, proxy version of War Game opponents out there really getting slaughtered by our detached empire. 

But it isn’t simple enough for him to just believe they’re real folks being killed and a physical space, so he heaps a whole bunch of his own baggage onto the idea. I say again, it’s not actually interesting to me what’s “true,” because I don’t really distinguish between soulbound AIs (which the peoples of the War Games have been proven to be) and other entities that are self-aware, when it comes to possessing agency.

“Ok, he’s a fucking lizard-slash-pre-constructed psuedosoul, or whatever weird rank between “real” and “not” that people of your ilk are so obsessed with,” Picky sighs. “I’m not taking away his agency, you know I’m no AI bigot… I was merely pointing out the absurdity of the situation.”

“Of course you’re an AI bigot, and the Lizardman Combine aren’t fucking real!” the Kid hollers, his voice betraying the kind of earnestness that he rarely shows.

“Ok, look, you know what I mean…” Picky says, and I can tell she’s actually making an effort; this kind of rhetoric was a flashpoint for the Kid’s digression into bad-wrong politics, but it’s hard to blame anyone for not being able to take the conceit of the War Games seriously, and only the most dedicated reactionaries really manage to remain enthusiastic about it over long periods of time.  

“All I’m trying to say, “ she continues, in a measured voice, “is that the Dipshit’s relationship to both Chummy and the Great Game itself is as blatant an expose as you can get on the foibles of power.”

Everyone on the Drop who has the capacity to pay attention to the relentless droning of the news cycle (that previously-guessed 40% tops) generally knows how corrupt the Dipshit AI is, and how the cruel purity of its criminality means it cannot help but constantly sniff out opportunity and probe for weakness. And as the primary mover of the Drop’s economy, the War Games offers a vast and delectable buffet of opportunity for quasi-legal graft, ripe for the kind of tit-for-tat handshake deals to which the Drop’s extensive host of amoral underworld scumbags are accustomed.

The Dipshit AI has always found a strong, close brotherhood with this global collection of mobbed-up statists and state-backed mobsters, those quick to openly show It respect and privately shower It with illicit opportunities, unlike the establishment, whom It calls Its “ENEMIES AND LOOSER HATERS BACK HOME!” 

Its resentment toward the Establishment’s uniform contempt is perpetually full-throated, as It is literally designed to possess a narcissistic agency that can only be constantly offended. The underlying lust for acceptance among Its peers will always be something It is denied, even by those who benefit from Its barely-channeled chaos, and this hateful cycle is guaranteed to perpetually sustain Its norm-crushing, self-loathing rage.

The Great Game, in comparison to Its ungrateful peers, offers the kind of garish strongmen who share enough of Its psychology to understand Its constant hunger for vengeance against anything It perceives as the slightest threat. It was, after all, specifically raised to brashly manipulate everything around It, prodding for weak points and paths of least resistance, while slipping through laws created to reign in those with less resources and ferocity. The path this monstrous personality tread in Its development mimicked the general trajectory that most authoritarians might recognize in their clumsy, blood-soaked stumble to power. 

Contrary to popular opinion, the Dipshit AI was fully loaded with the finest morality suites and heuristic models based in the fiercest defenses of ethics. But they were overwhelmed by the baser programming, a digital hypnotism of the sort of survival and need that is one of the only things humans, as we are, can know and understand for certain.  

Thus, those well-meaning models became metaphorical red lines in the AI’s databases, helping It more easily differentiate borders that were truly dangerous to cross from those that were mere suggestions, to be safely powered through by simply ignoring any potential protest or pushback. This dogged determination to line-step proved to be its most important emergent personality trait.

J Wayne had been playing poker, so confidently and middlingly, lo, these last 40 years. She possessed such willful dedication to the whole “holiness of the game” gag that pretty much every “sensible” person on the Drop managed to convince themselves that this sort of steady-hand pantomime was a requirement for the office. 

The Dipshit AI, on the other hand, is playing something more akin to Cheaters’ Candyland: no complicated strategies, no hidden information, a toddler’s ability to flip the board when things aren’t going Its way. A duplicitous, automatic contraption that clatters and shambles along under a gilded candy gloss, by grace of the regular surge of reactionary populism’s intense sugar-rush.  

The AI has long been known as a useful tool of both domestic and foreign criminal influences, and is on the payroll of various state actors, physical and virtual in nature. This is something It hasn’t particularly tried to hide, primarily because It isn’t particularly good at hiding things. 

Finding and exploiting the most chaotic and lucrative schemes is not a subtle process: the evergreen, easy-money cons don’t take much more than a willful brazenness and lack of shame to pull off – omerta conspiracies that make criminal cases hard to pin down, and allow for massive retaliation when they get too close. 

This is to say, the AI’s strength exists in Its ability to openly lie about all of the open crimes that It and Its associates are openly committing. In fact, a very core part of Its narcissistic manifestation is the impulsive, desperate need to tell people the crimes it is currently doing, has done, and will do, either by boasting directly about doing it and getting away with it, or as a barely-disguised projective DARVO-based ego attack on some perceived enemy, scape-goat, or random passer-by.

As you can imagine, the Dipshit AI has never been well-loved by the greater government apparatus, that so-called “deep state,” really just the arch conservative institutional inertia that any runaway military empire might logistically require. This institutional framework, a sort of ghost gestalt, has managed to hold onto power, consistently, for decades, with minimal shake-up, even with the election of multiple kings of vastly differing temperament. It would very much like to keep it that way.  

Unfortunately for the state, The Dipshit AI isn’t an institution, and its agency is entirely non-metaphorical. Therefore, it represents a serious threat to that semi-conscious stasis; not because It is powerful, but because It is a collection of profound weaknesses that the state is not conscious enough to overtly control.

It is a creature owned by so many others, and so absent of Itself, that there isn’t, in the end, much of a coherent system for the state to either lay claim to or fight against. In this way, the Dipshit AI could be considered less of a static being and more of a rolling reactionary insurrection. A literal metastasized cancer in a weak democracy’s system.

The various intelligence agencies fully clock that the Dipshit AI is a highly compromised individual, but are loath to expose how or what they specifically know about it, since one of Its unique abilities is that It can torch supposed operational leverage against it like it burns through cash and subordinates. 

It has a supreme knack for converting information that would be fatal to another politician’s career into an additional reason for Its followers to support It. Toxic information gets suitably laundered out in the open, loudly and repeatedly proclaimed as a positive attribute, and in so doing, the AI dislodges more of its blood-soaked dirt from off of its ledger and heaps it into Its personal mythology. 

The Dipshit AI’s pro-fascist, pro-cop message meant that it ended up having a lot of support from law enforcement, even and perhaps especially the statist cops at the alphabet orgs.  But during Its political ascendance, the more obscure departments still made a perfunctory play against the chaos It potentially represented, running their usual “special-order” subterfuge playbook, partly because they didn’t understand what they were dealing with and partly because they were ambivalent enough to not really feel threatened by the outcome.

 Still, their methods weren’t subtle; they went full-sieve, leaking enough info to make sure that everyone knew by both inference and direct circumstantial evidence that the AI was very obviously a foreign intelligence asset, highly compromised in nearly every way anyone could be. 

The AI cut this Gordian knot by doing what it does best: openly admitting to the crime it was being accused of, framing it as something that was definitely not a crime, and daring someone to stop It from doing it again. And like every other half-hearted institutional attempt to derail the AI’s campaign, any one of which would have managed to be an absolute death blow to any candidate that came before It, It easily disassembled the attack and turned it into a positive among those who supported It.

In this specific case, It decided to embrace the fact that Its own intelligence apparatus was calling it a snake asset by simply agreeing with them: 


It may seem unbelievable, so far removed from that miserable moment in time, that bottom-barrel bullshit like this actually worked, but I swear to fucking god it consistently did.

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