"Let's start thinking about the specifics of this public education proposal," Priscilla said. She and Phillip, both senators now, were discussing their plans to get government funding for a public education system.
"Agreed. We'll need someone to be in charge of the institution. And preferably it should be one of us."
"I'll make the proposal then and propose you to be the head. I wouldn't be taken as seriously as you since I'm only 19."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? If you pick a specific person to be the head in the proposal, it'll be harder to get the whole thing accepted. It's already going to be difficult."
"Hm... good point. We should ask the other senators how they'd feel about voting for you if the bill passed."
Phillip got his computer, which was mounted on his wrist, to project a keyboard and started typing. "I'll start drafting a poll."
"We'll need to find a balance between making the system to our advantage and making the proposal as general as possible so it gets accepted, like you said. Or maybe the best way to do it is to limit the proposal to instituting some public education system and not say anything about how it works, then let the senate pick someone to be the head of it and get to decide how it all works. We'll have to see what the poll results are."
"We could always bribe some people to vote for me," Phillip said.
"True... but I wanted to talk about how to rig the system to our advantage."
"A few. One: set programs of study. Instead of giving students the freedom to just take whatever classes they want, we'll force them to pick one of our pre-defined career options and then they have to take the classes in that program. This allows us to pick certain classes to be forced on everyone, and we can use that to indoctrinate students. For example, we could have a history class be required and give it a very pro-government slant. It also gets students into a general mindset that authorities know what's good for them."
"Hm... I like that. Good idea."
"My other idea is the syllabus template. Although teachers will choose the specifics of their own syllabus, we can have cerain things be required - like a forgiving due date policy. We want kids to grow up liking authority, after all. We can also require them to have attendance as part of the grading criteria - the more obedience matters relative to actual intelligence, the better off we are."
"Wow. You're good at this."
"Thanks. Any other ideas?"
"Hm... I think I'm getting one. Something to make kids look up to police more. We'll put a few government-employed guards around the premises, and - we can't tell the rest of the government about this but we can do it behind their backs - stage violent crimes on the premises every now and then, paying the 'criminals' to get caught on purpose with enough money that they think it's worth the jail time."
"There's a danger of one of them whistleblowing on us," Priscilla said. "It wouldn't be the end of the world, since we could argue we had good intentions, but it would still hurt a lot."
"We can pay them continually to keep their mouths shut until the trail has gone cold enough that there's no real evidence left."
"That would work I guess, but it sounds really expensive."
"We could always try to get senator wages raised," Phillip said with a smile.
Priscilla smiled back. "True. I'll make the public schooling proposal, you can propose a wage raise. Should be pretty easy to get the others to accept it."
"So Tina," Kyle asked. "what do you think about Priscilla's public education proposal?" They were both cops now, patrolling the street. They were standing next to the modern-day equivalent of a store: a warehouse with automated tiny planes that would fly products to people houses when they purchased them from the company's website.
"It's all BS. We don't need the government to pay for something that can be and is done perfectly well by private institutions. We should keep people paying for things they aren't personally using to a minimum."
"Yes, but... some people don't get the education they want because they can't afford it. Wouldn't it be great if knowledge was free?"
"It wouldn't be free. Everyone would still be paying for it, you'd just be redistributing people's wealth. And we already do that to some extent with all government services. I don't think we need to do it more."
"True. I guess I'm against it too."
"You need to spend less time with Priscilla. She's a bad influence on you."
"Maybe. But I think I'm a good influence on her."
Out of the corner of his eye, Kyle noticed four people wearing masks entering the store. Each of them carried an opaque bag. "Did you see that?" Tina said.
Kyle nodded. "Let's go check it out." They walked over to the door, which said, 'EMPLOYEES ONLY' and listened.
"Don't move," a voice said inside building. "We're not gonna shoot you unless you make us."
That was all they needed. They opened the door and pointed their stun guns at the masked people, who they now realized were holding what looked like old-fashioned lethal weapons.
Lethal weapons had been made illegal a long time ago; not even police were armed with them. The masked people didn't fire, but took cover. So did Tina and Kyle.
"Did you see that?" Kyle said. "Lethal weapons, right?"
"Looked like it. This is bad. How'd they get something like that?"
"Come here, employee!" one of the masked people said. "You get to be my hostage!"
"That won't work on us!" Kyle said. "If you kill an innocent person, it just increases the punishment you'll get if we capture you. It doesn't actually gain you anything."
"Then I'll just use him as a shield!"
"Too bad I don't have a lethal weapon!" Kyle said. "We're not afraid of stunning innocents like we would be of killing them."
"Never thought that'd actually be an advantage..." one of the other criminals said, half to herself.
"Look cops," the original masked man said. "If you fight us, you're facing a chance of death. You can flee and live for sure. It's in your best interests to leave us alone."
"Well we aren't selfish monsters like you are!" Tina said. "We care about more than our own interests!"
"We need a plan," Kyle said. "What are we actually gonna do? There's no other way into the building and we die if we step in there."
"Call reinforcements," Tina said. "We can wait 'em out."
"Wait hold on guys," the masked man said. "I've got a plan." Immediately the four people poured out at the same time while Kyle and Tina's guards were down.
Strangely, they didn't use their weapons. Instead two of them charged each cop hand-to-hand. Kyle threw himself backward and pulled his gun back out of their reach and managed to stun both of the ones attacking him. After landing on his back - which, ow - he saw that Tina had fared as well. They had won.
"Okay, what just happened?" Tina said. "Why didn't you guys shoot us?"
"Because the guns are fakes, okay?" one of the criminals said. "How did you think we would've gotten our hands on real lethal weapons that aren't produced anymore? They're just made to look like 'em!"
Kyle couldn't help but giggle. "Wow. Well, you guys are busted. You'll answer for your crimes."
"I still think it's insanely stupid to give the government a warning before we attack," Sid said. Their revolution was just about ready now. There were two dozen of them, they were all armed with lethal weapons (the technology to make them wasn't a secret) as well as the same shield technology that the police had to protect them from stun guns, and they had the element of surprise.
"I have to give them a chance to back down. A lot of them don't realize how evil the government is. I won't kill people who aren't truly evil."
"You're like Kyle."
"Is that an insult? Kyle's a good person. He's just way too submissive."
"You know he's a cop now, right?"
"Yes, but I don't think he'll stay that way. Anyway, this message will help us get the populace on our side."
"Maybe, but it's not worth the disadvantage of not getting a preemptive strike."
"You're going to go kill some cops while I'm broadcasting the message, aren't you?"
"No! I wouldn't betray your trust."
"Yes you would. You killed people for reporting you for cheating." Jane had found out the truth a while ago, and was now only working with Sid for the same reason she was working with the mainstream criminals in their force. "Dak?" Jane called.
Dak came in from another room where he was working on hacking the police communication network so they could throw the opposition into disarray when they started their attack. "Yeah?"
"I want you to keep an eye on Sid from now until tomorrow morning. I think he's going to try to carry out a preemptive strike while I'm delivering the message."
"That would be a disaster. Got it. I'll keep an eye on him."
"But it's a good strategy!" Kath said, "Isn't it worth the loss of appearance of legitimacy? We could take out so much of the opposition before they even knew what hit 'em!"
"Yes, it is a good strategy," Dak said. "But it's not worth doing something immoral."
"Don't listen to him Kath," Sid said. "Keep thinking the way you are. Maybe someday you'll even be like me. It's wonderful to be truly free, you know." He slouched in his chair.
"You're a poisonous influence on everyone around you, Sid," Jane said. "You're giving freedom a bad name. In some sense it's because of you that abominations like Priscilla exist."
"At least she doesn't try to impose morality on everyone like Kyle does."
"You're right - she imposes immorality instead."
"Sid, come in here with me," Dak said. "You're a hacker too. You should be helping me with this anyway."
That night, devices scattered throughout the city projected a hologram of Jane delivering a message:
"People of this city: be advised that a revolution is coming! The government that oppresses you will fall, and it will not be replaced with another government. Instead there's going to be true freedom for the first time in any of our lives! Do not be afraid. We will avoid collateral damage as much as possible, and we won't kill anyone who doesn't aid the government. Innocents have nothing to fear. Instead you should look forward to the abolition of taxes, prisons, cops that can't be challenged, business regulations and anti-drug laws. Crime will still be stopped and punished, but instead of a single organization having the exclusive right to do this, everyone will be allowed and encouraged to help us do it. Weapons will be made legal for private ownership, victimless acts will no longer be treated as crimes, and everyone will be free to exercise their rights and follow their consciences for once."
Jane swallowed. "Cops, senators: quit your jobs! We're giving you one chance to back down. If you show up for work tomorrow, we're going to kill you. Those who defend an organization that uses violence to impose its baseless authority deserve to be killed. But you can quit and we'll leave you alone. Or you can join the forces of freedom instead! Anyone who wishes to join us can go to 1322."
Jane swallowed again. "The revolution is coming. Jane out." And then the transmission ended.
Kyle watched the transmission. Dammit... it was happening tomorrow. He wasn't ready for this. But one thing was for sure: he had to stop it. He had to get an audience with Jane and talk her out of this at the last moment. And there was no time to wait until tomorrow. He headed to 1322.