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Friday, September 1, 2023

Microstory 1965: Aggression

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image AI software
Leonard: Hey. This is a nice jet. How did you swing this? To be honest, I don’t know where our department gets any of its money, full stop.
Reese: The government didn’t have a black budget in your version of the U.S.?
Leonard: Yeah, I guess it did; I just didn’t give it any thought, because I didn’t work for any entity that would use it. So the public doesn’t know how much we spend?
Reese: They don’t know how much we spend, but they know the current pot for the entirety of the black budget, which is eight hundred billion dollars this year.
Leonard: Jesus, that’s a lot.
Reese: Yeah, so that pretty much makes the cost of this jet a rounding error. You don’t ever need to worry about our funding. National Command takes the largest portion, and we’re a part of that. The Office of Special Investigations enjoys both a transparent, and a black budget, because the Director reports directly to the National Commander.
Leonard: I see. Well, anyway, that’s not why I came over here. I wanted to learn about Mississippi before we landed. Everybody groaned when you told them that that’s where the mission would be. Where I’m from, the state suffers from a lot of racism, but it’s certainly not universally despised, like it seems to be here.
Reese: Did your version of the country have legal slavery until the eighteenth century?
Leonard: It actually lasted through the nineteenth century. About halfway through.
Reese: Oh. Well, it didn’t take us quite that long to end it, and preserve the union, though we did not come out of it unscathed. I am no historian, but what I do know is that it came at a cost, and that cost was the state of Mississippi. Even after the U.S. Internal Conflict of the 1790s was declared over, the southern National Commander would not let go. He chose Memphis as his capital, because it was at the border of the three most steadfast secessionists during the war, and the years leading up to it. Because of this, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi refused to accept that the south had lost. They continued to enslave people, and fight against anyone who attempted to put a stop to them. They lost eventually, but the post-war is considered by some to be bloodier than the main conflict. Arkansas and Tennessee finally admitted defeat, and started getting with the program. The southern NatCo and Mississippi did not. They held all of Memphis hostage, and—long story short—the union ultimately gave up and gave in. The city, and some surrounding lands, were absorbed into the half-state, half-independent nation. Again, long story short, it currently exists more as a territory than a state, and did later abolish slavery. You noticed that we crossed over into Colorado and Wyoming on our first mission without issue. Mississippi’s borders have only recently opened up. Until a few years ago, it was no one in, no one out. Now we can move back and forth, but we have to register. This team is technically on a diplomatic mission, which means that only the jet and the pilot registered—they don’t know that you and I specifically are on it—but we’ll have to be careful while there. If anyone we run into finds out that we’re not Mississippians, they may have some feels about it. It’s not illegal, but...
Leonard: Wow. This is a strange world. We had slavery for longer, but we kept the union intact. Though racism has lasted for the better part of two centuries after that.
Reese: I wouldn’t say we have all that much racism. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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