Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Microstory 1422: Proto-Protectorate

Now that the source mage children looked nearly twice as old as they really were, they decided it was time to assume full control over Springfield, and possibly Splitsville. The Adhocracy was nice while it lasted, but it had come to an end, and times needed to change. People had spent their whole lives since the Deathfall hoping that it would all lead them back to Earth, but the source mages knew this was not possible. The last time they were there was nearly thirteen years ago, and as the members of the Triumvirate had explained to them, no one there could even remember that they existed. Durus was their home now, and they needed to make sure everyone knew that. They weren’t just going to survive, and hope the monster never took them out eventually. They were going to make this place safe and prosperous, so that if the Earthans did learn of their existence, some might even want to move. They thought they had their plans all figured out, but when Orabela showed them they were capable of gifting other people with special temporal powers, nothing they first thought of made any sense. So they started over, and spent months working on a brand new system. They called it the Mage Protectorate. They would give other people powers, so they could shoulder the burden, and protect the towns collectively. With more people, what was formerly called the Baby Barrier would be able to grow, and give the Durune people more space. The only question then was how to choose who received these gifts, and who didn’t. They couldn’t just let anyone run around with powers, doing whatever they wanted. Sure, they could regulate them with laws, but what if insurgents banded together, and rose up against their leaders? No, it was too dangerous to make the job available to just anyone. This required some way of weeding out potential bad eggs. This sparked the idea of the Mage Games.

Anyone could apply to be a town mage, but that didn’t guarantee they would be selected. The new leaders called upon their best statistician, and other experts, to gauge how many people would want in on this, and how many winners they needed to keep things running smoothly. This was a very involved process, which demanded help from lots of other people. This was perfect, though, because by including non-source mages in the decision-making processes, they only made themselves look better. This was going to be a fair government, where everyone’s voice was heard. They were going to call it a protectorate, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t also be democratic. The initial assumption was that the Mage Games would be held every year. Maybe there would actually only be one winner each time, and that one person would go on to join the ranks of the many veterans before them. This didn’t sound so unreasonable, but it came with risks. First of all, the source mages didn’t really want to have to go through this every single year. And, if the competition was annual, they worried it would be too accessible, easily corrupted by inequality, and fraught with logistical issues. A vicennial competition, however, would make turnover slow, and hopefully discourage mages from trying to quit early. Plus, most people would end up too old to compete a second time if they failed once; though neither impossible, nor against their rules. This fostered a group composed of committed competitors, who were not taking this lightly. If they didn’t manage to get in, they might not get another chance, and if they did get in, trying to get out of it would put the whole population in danger, so it was important that they understood what it was they were signing up for, and what it would mean for their lives. This was not a car dealership, though. The standards were flexible, and sensible. If they determined, for instance, that every town mage had to be able to do a hundred pushups, and their strongest competitor could only do ninety-nine, then they would just end up with no mages, and that wasn’t helpful at all. They wanted everyone who was worthy, and if that meant everyone who applied was ultimately accepted, then so be it. The point was to prevent the wrong people from having too much power, but if those people didn’t exist, or didn’t even try—and there was enough offensive work to justify the numbers—then fine. Armed with this wisdom, it was finally time to decide what the Mage Games entailed.

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