“All insurance documentation pertaining to this action are attached with this file.”
A volley of Smart-but-not-so-Smart fire met extinction against the shields of the Mall’s grand frippery.
Inside, Lexter Adept lay on the floor, focused on things only he could see. The documentation filled a large window at the center of his field of vision. The harsh terrain of legal phraseology hid many truths, but a decipherable name appeared many times.
The letters burned in pixels, searing away his newfound courage. As High Overlord of Terracon, Randall Dohan was a captain of industry worth billions, one of the seven architects of the 7 Worlds. A simple, Buckian’s human interface could not afford the premiums to fight such as he.
That’s how the law was written. The New Conservatives gifted it to their poor and passionate base. Bearing arms felt like power to the powerless, so the populists promised to loosen the laws restricting the 2nd Amendment.
But, there was a caveat.
Despite all the grass roots campaigning, fear mongering, and intimidation their base performed, this gift was not given freely. Other interests needed to be served. The wealthy and entrenched disapproved of being shot at by the lowly. So, they taught the New Conservatives about gift giving.
The right to bear arms came with the potential to cause damage, both physical and emotional. Insurance would be required. After all, if you needed it for your car and your body, then you needed insurance for your gun. It was the standard industry argument, promoting their expertise.
A system appeared, tiered like all insurance. Rights were set to premiums. Basic coverage allowed the insured to carry their weapons in the manner of their choosing, but whom or what they shot depended on how high a premium they paid.
In the end, the poor could basically kill each other, which they were doing previously. Now they just paid additional fees to do so. Some tried to pool resources to pose a greater threat, but the premiums were set too high. And the penalties for murdering outside one’s premiums were quite severe.
Surprisingly, few complained. Most people were pleased to pay their rates and enjoy their unexercised privileges. Sometimes just knowing you can execute your neighbor over unreturned power tools is more satisfying than doing so.
Lexter Adept served his deployment in the Iranian desert when these laws were enacted. He and his comrades killed with impunity there and would have happily traded places with anyone stateside with an itch for causing death. But, there were no takers.
While watching the newsfeeds during his downtime, he wasn’t sure he wanted to return. Gangs of wealthy teenagers, insured and untouchable, performed old school drive-by’s in underclass neighborhoods. Education trended away from science and toward Bible studies. The RFID tagging of homosexuals and other “known deviants” was becoming commonplace.
It was enough to make a soldier ponder the freedoms he was defending. The freedom of stupidity seemed the only one. Like all modern tragedies, American insanity was best experienced in the abstract on a screen.
He didn’t expect to endure. Few did. Like Nero, the human race fiddled away while civilization burned around them. They were in the midst of Cataclysm but no one noticed until the death count reached billions. The planet no longer cared to sustain them. Faced with the end, inventive humanity engineered its own evolution.
Technology made time obsolete, yet, while lying there, Lexter Adept wondered how he had wasted it all. His middle class immortality had been spent in the Mall where he barely ventured past the first floor. A ridiculous sorrow filled him. There were so many shoppes he’d never see. The food court would have remained alien ground if not for her.
Moments earlier all his years of survival offered some fruition. She was his catalyst, brightening his dim future. Without her there would be no realization. Paladin had forged an honorable legacy, off reality, and it was time to seize it. But the Sad Reality interrupted. It was a tragedy, actualized beyond abstraction.