Basic Income and the Boon of Socialism

I originally wrote this for my Argumentation and Debate class this past semester. It’s an argument in favor of instating a Basic Income that would put people just below the poverty threshold, and I chose that number because I felt that’s what I could support with the data I had. I personally think we should do more, maybe a $20K/yr basic income, or even $30k/yr, which would be roughly $5k more and twice the poverty threshold respectively, but Basic Income is already a pretty radical idea and I knew I’d be going in trying to convince people who had likely never even heard of the idea. I thought people might find this interesting


Claim: The US Government should instate a Basic Income of $150/wk ($7.8K/yr) paid to all residents of 18 years of age or older and $50/wk ($2600/yr) for those 15 to 17 years of age, with reductions for those who are employed.

First, it is important to outline the specifics of the proposal, and what it is hoped will be accomplished. A Basic Income of $7,800 a year would not put a person above the poverty line in and of itself. The 2015 Poverty Threshold is $11,770 for a single adult household (US Department of Health and Human Services). Below this amount, a person is considered to be living in poverty. Thus the proposed Basic Income is not an instant cure. To be above the poverty line, an adult living by themselves would require a further $4000 a year, or nearly half again the amount of their Basic Income. Based on the Dauphin, Manitoba Mincome experiment, a reduction of 50 cents per dollar earned working seems reasonable (Langley). This would mean that an individual adult living on their own would need to make, essentially, $6000 from working, which amounts to working roughly 16 hours a week at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (Department of Labor), or 13 hours a week at the current California minimum wage of $9 an hour (Department of Industrial Relations). If two adults lived together, as a couple or roommates, they would be only $400 below the Poverty Threshold of $15,930 for a two person household. If only one worked, they would need work only 83 hours in the entire year at the current federal minimum wage to raise their household over the Poverty Threshold. Due to the fact that this Basic Income alone will not keep one out of poverty, it is actually a “Partial Basic Income,” but even so, its benefit to the unemployed and underemployed is obvious.

There are several benefits to instituting such a program. First, the increase in socioeconomic status across the board would lower crime rates and alleviate the effects of unemployment on criminality. Second, the increased socioeconomic status of Americans would promote more healthy lifestyles. Third, more citizens would contribute to society as their financial security allows them to devote time to their communities. Finally, a Basic Income would be an effective contingency in the near future as increasing numbers of jobs are lost to machinery and computer programs. The cost of such a program would be easily covered if Basic Income replaced existing social programs.

To begin, according to the Handbook of Crime Correlates, high socioeconomic status correlates to lower crime rates, while higher unemployment correlates to higher criminality (Ellis). Basic Income may not in and of itself lower unemployment, but it would ameliorate the effects of unemployment as the unemployed are provided with a a guaranteed income of a given amount which will not run out. The unemployed will be less likely to turn to crime out of desperation. FBI studies show such correlation and suggest this cause (Raphael and Winter-Ebmer), and further state that the fall of unemployment can also decrease crime by up to 30% across the board. While Basic Income may not be quite as good as employment, Basic Income studies in Namibia show a decrease in crime of 42% (Bergman). There is, therefore, ample evidence to suggest that not only would a Basic Income decrease poverty, it would also decrease crime, and by extension what our society spends on it. If the Basic Income also required that individuals lack a criminal record, as suggested by Charles Murray (Longley), the potential loss of Basic Income could further dissuade individuals from breaking the law.

As well, a Basic Income could provide considerable benefits to society through improving the health of individuals. There exists an inverse correlation between socioeconomic status and “unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco use, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition” (Pampel). Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, the individual cost of such unhealthy behavior can be seen as a communal cost. Therefore, the general and widespread rise in socioeconomic status of individuals due to the institution of Basic Income, causing the fall in unhealthy behaviors, can be seen as reducing communal costs. This can be seen more concretely by looking at the Manitoba and Namibia Basic Income experiments. In Namibia, malnourishment, a seldom acknowledged but very real problem in America (Egger), fell by 25%. In Manitoba, hospital visits were reduced by 8.5%, and improvement was seen in the domestic violence and mental health rates (Bergman). US studies which preceded the Manitoba experiment also saw positive affects on nutrition and health data, such as an increase in the birth weights of newborns. People who are provided money for which they don’t have to rely on a job are statistically healthier and this increased health trickles down to younger generations too.

Crime and Health are not the only things improved by a Basic Income. The economy itself is improved as well. When one is struggling to feed themselves and their family, it can be truly difficult to have the money, energy or even opportunity to contribute to one’s society. A person struggling to buy groceries, for example, may not be able to afford the transportation costs to give their time to their church or people in need of support, even if they have the time due to unemployment. Indeed, they probably need such support themselves. The ability to help others, or even be of much functional value to one’s community is a luxury bought by the lack of worry for food and shelter security. However, Basic Income experiments in Kenya and the US show that if people are given money, they often invest it back into the community and economy which gave it to them. A man who had been given a year’s salary with no strings led to people in his village repairing their homes and starting their own businesses as that one man stimulated his village economy. In the US, recipients of Basic Income returned to school for acting classes and psychology degrees, or started composing, becoming researchers and “self-sufficient, income-earning artists.” (Bergman)

One final reason to instate a Basic Income is the inevitable progress of technology. More and more jobs that were traditionally done by humans are being performed by machines and programs. These machines and programs are often cheaper, more reliable, and do not require breaks as humans do. Baxter is a “general purpose robot” which can be adapted to perform virtually any job, and can “learn” how to perform tasks by being shown, rather than programmed. Baxter costs $20,000 (Grey), but a typical factory worker would cost $24,252 in wages alone over the course of a year (Assembly Line Worker Salary). Whereas the factory worker requires breaks and insurance, Baxter can be run 24 hours and will not cause expensive lawsuits or settlements if damaged while working. Driver-less cars are already in use, and the change of the transportation industry from human drivers to driver-less vehicles is eminent. When it happens, it will put 3 million people out of work across the country at least (Grey). Programs which can perform complex calculations and logic algorithms faster and with greater fidelity than humans are already in use, and their take over of human brain labor began before we’d even reached the moon. In the 60s, Nasa’s computers were humans who would use adding machines to compute long equations. Computer is no longer a job title, however, it is a physical object at our command. Instating a Basic Income would combat the inevitable unemployment and allow people to eschew their now-computer-performed job for their passion, regardless of just how profitable that passion may or may not be.

There are two primary arguments against Basic Income, however. The first is cost, and the second is an objection to laziness. However, neither sufficiently demonstrates why Basic Income should not become the law of the land.

First of all, government spending on Family and Children welfare support, Unemployment spending and housing subsidies amount to $200 billion a year (Chantrill). Secondly, looking at the costs imposed by society (McCollister) and the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter reports in the US in 2012 (U.S. Homocide), we find that in 2012, murders and non-negligent manslaughters cost the people of the US a total of $133 billion alone. Looking at the results of the Namibia Basic Income experiment, Basic Income could reduce the societal cost of murder by $53.28 billion. In 2013, Bergman projected the savings of Basic Income’s reduction of hospital visits to be $200 billion all on it’s own. Together, these effects amount to nearly $500 billion that could be saved were Basic Income instated in the US, and they are only a portion of the effects. The average societal cost of a crime is $290,569, and when crime is potentially reduced by as much as 40%, if we were as lucky as Namibia, that $290.5 thousand adds up. Further, if an individual’s Basic Income is reduced by $.50 per dollar they earn working, the average American would not receive Basic Income, due to making an average yearly salary of $44,888–far more than the $15,600 which would reduce Basic Income payments to $0 (SSA.gov). If it is assumed that 50% of employed Americans qualify for half of the Basic Income payment of $7,800, on average, the cost of supplying employed adults with Basic Income would be $447 billion. The cost of providing Basic Income to the unemployed (Forbes) would be $104 billion. Totaled, Basic Income would cost at most $551 billion. Easily paid by savings gained in replacing current government cash assistance programs with Basic Income, the reduction of the crime rate, and the fall of hospital visit and their associated costs.

This leaves the concern of laziness. The idea being that if people are given free money, they will stop working to live on the modest government dole. However, historical Basic Income experiments show that hours work typically fall by less than 15%. In Manitoba, total work hours fell by only 13% (Bergman), with breadwinners barely decreasing hours worked, while women took off a couple of months of work for maternity leave and students took more time for their studies. The Denver experiment showed an even lower decrease in total hours worked, only 9%, a drop caused by nearly identical factors. To the amount that people changed their approach to work at all in response to a Basic Income, it was generally to pursue work they enjoyed better.

In conclusion, Basic Income is a good without condition or provisos. It can lower crime, promote greater community engagement and communal health, lead to greater fulfillment as people use it to invest and support themselves through the growing pains of new careers, and give us a place to turn in the face of greater and greater rates of automation. It neither costs more than what we currently spend inefficiently, nor promotes laziness, and most of all, it provides security and livelihood for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society that they may grow to provide a greater portion of their security and that of society.

Works Cited

Bergman, Rutger. “Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone.” De Correspondent. The Correspondant, 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 May 2015.

Chantrill, Christopher. “Government Spending Details.” : Federal State Local for 2015. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

Department of Industry Relations. “Minimum Wage.” Minimum Wage. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

Egger, Robert. “5 Myths about Hunger in America.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2010. Web. 11 May 2015.

Ellis, Lee, Kevin M. Beaver, and John Paul. Wright. Handbook of Crime Correlates. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic, 2009. Google. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://books.google.com/books?id=eD0ttBXoMvQC&gt;

Grey, C.G.P. “Humans Need Not Apply.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 04 May 2015.

Longley, Robert. “Mincome: A Guaranteed Income for All Americans.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

McCollister, Kathryn E., Michael T. French, and Hai Fang. “The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

Pampel, Fred C., Patrick M. Krueger, and Justin T. Denney. “Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Behaviors.” Annual Review of Sociology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 04 May 2015.

Payscale.com. “Assembly Line Worker Salary (United States).” Assembly Line Worker Salary (United States). N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

Raphael, Steven, and Rudolf Winter€-Ebmer. “Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime*.” JSTOR. The University of Chicago Press, n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

SSA.gov. “Social Security.” National Average Wage Index. Social Security, n.d. Web. 8 May 2015.

Statista. “U.S. Homicide: Number of Murders by State 2013 | Statistic.” Statista. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

US Department of Health and Human Services. “2015 Poverty Guidelines.” 2015 Poverty Guidelines. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

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Hey, so I made a game!

Ok, it’s an expansion to an existing game which was published under Creative Commons.

I created an expansion to the call-and-response party game Cards Against Humanity based on the collectible card game Magic the Gathering.

Answers on the Storm Scale

As an expansion, it works exactly like Cards Against Humanity, and was designed to be similar in appearance, though distinct so as to not infringe upon CAH’s copyright. The set contains 100 new cards- 70 white response cards and 30 black call cards- the backs are printed with Cards Against the Multiverse, so while they will blend into the deck, they will be distinct. If this matters, CAH and CAtM cards will fit in standard card sleeves.

You can buy the deck professionally printed at The Game Crafter for $20 or as a pdf you can print out and cut up at Gumroad for Pay What You Want.

 

Play Black for Answers

YawgmothsAswersDesignElement

Sword of Answers and Responses

>>>Re-activating….

So, I did a good run, for a bit, I think. I, of course, petered out, but I did show to myself that I can sort of do something regular, especially if I keep myself too it.

So, I’m going to restart this. At the moment, I’m working on a couple books, a game, and a drawing. And I need to draw more in general. So this blog will be updated daily with either- a chapter or section of one of the books I’m working on, musings on the game I’m working on, or a drawing/progress update of a drawing I’m working on.

The Current Projects:

  • Currently Untitled Modern Occult Novel: A professional occult investigator is called to exorcise a haunted mansion after every more mainstream and near mainstream effort has been exhausted.
  • The Hunter’s Manual: A guide for prospective and experienced monster hunters discussing various monsters both well and little known.
  • Daemon Mailer: drawing Deviant Art is doing a contest to promote the new Hearthstone expansion. Given that the contest amounts to “Draw an awesome looking goblin!”, which is something I’m usually pretty interested in, I figured I’d throw my hat in. So I’ll be posting progress updates for that.
  • Currently Unnamed Convention Duel Game: game The basic idea of the game is a fantasy dueling game that can be played while standing at a convention or in a line. The idea is to use buttons as game pieces, allowing everything on a player’s side of the field to be worn on their sleeve.
  • After Sundown Tarot Deck: drawings A 78 card tarot deck with illustrations thematically fitting with the Indie RPG After Sundown for use as part of it’s character advancement system.

So, those are the projects I’m actively working on, but I seem to do best when I just pick up whatever I feel like working on and work on it a bit, and I’ve got a lot of other projects I’ve started and then put aside, so some other projects may pop up on occasion. If they do, I’ll explain them so people know what’s going on.

The idea is to have content every weekday, but that may not happen immediately, or it may quickly turn into daily content, who knows. And hell, sometimes I may just ramble for a bit, though I’ll try to have something of substance that day too.

Rilesh, mindforged

I remember my creator crafting me.

Strictly, this should be impossible. I was not even animate, let alone sapient, prior to the Mindforge. I began as stone and metal and wood. Crystals were a focus for the energies which would animate me and give me what biocentric scholars call the “illusion” of thought. Marble formed a skeleton around which living wood was grown—accelerated with druidic magics. The living wood acts like muscles, aided by the energy which animates me. In place of skin, I have metal plates covering most of my body. My head is more like a metal skull than skin and muscle above bone.

Before I was sent to be animated in the magical engine known as the Mindforge, I was purely a conglomeration of objects. I could not experience what went on around these objects, in the same way that a human child cannot recall his parents in the act of conceiving them.

Yet, I do remember. I see the pieces which would become my form. I remember my creator crafting a face which he hoped would be able to strike fear into the heart of the enemy, but be human enough for the living soldiers to consider one of themselves. I remember him cursing in the names of various gods when his commanding officer told him it had been decided we would wear helmets of thinly plated leather—we didn’t need steel helmets—for the former purpose and our heads should be crafted purely for the latter. I remember him spending a day cursing about a day of work wasted, which was really two days as he spent that day swearing and drinking and trying to read rather than work, and had to reforge my head with a hangover, every hiss of hot metal in cold water stabbing through his head, the bright furnace making his head throb even through his smoked glass goggle lenses.

I remember him cutting himself, time and again, as he wired together crystals, sculpted marble, fumbled with wood when it splintered and shattered from an overload of magic he only barely understood not being a druid, and hammered and filed metal. His blood is as much a part of me as the crystal in my helm-head, or the wood on my stone bones.

The first time my optics flared to life, I saw a blank, grey metal wall, which slowly slid open, revealing a clear night sky, far from the arcane explosions and bloody shouts of the war leagues away. I tracked the progress of comets and the positions of stars as they etched paths and shapes in the sky.

I stepped out of the Mindforge, and was given my designation. I opened my mouth for the first time, steam hissing through the sudden escape, and a sputter of alchemech fluid flying from my metal mouth, spattering onto the attendants and the floor, and said–

“Unit A3982 reports … I have been named Rilesh by my creator.”

The Mindforge attendants did not give me my name, merely my unit designation. They glanced at each other, I could see worry in their eyes, but I’ve since learned that I was far from the first construct soldier to exit the Mindforge with a name. Not all do, in fact many I’ve spoken too went through the entire war with only a designation, and perhaps a nickname given by the living soldiers, but some I’ve spoken too—and many I’ve heard of—have memories like mine.

It is not known what causes these experiences. The current thinking of living scholars is that it’s a side effect of the Mindforge. The device requires life energy, which is syphoned from a plane of such, and it is thought that some souls go to this plane after the death of the body. It is believed that those of us with these memories are picking them up through having a piece of one of these souls in our animating force.

Our own scholars—which we do not mention to the living scholars who would ignore them anyway—have another belief. Almost all of us with these memories also remember our creators cutting or otherwise injuring themselves during our creation. Those few who don’t remember this do remember their creators being very ill, frequently coughing. On requesting the personnel files on these creators, it’s been found that they were sick with an illness one symptom of which is coughing up blood. We believe that our memories come from the blood of our creators.

Our creation was outlawed after the war, thus we cannot test this.

My door opens, Beruk, the lizardman I travel with as an adventurer, pokes his green mottled brown head through the door. I raise my glowing eyes from this parchment and remove my spectacles.

“Rilesh, Kane has a job- you wear glasses?” he says as he sees me set them down on the parchment.

“I do when I am contemplative. My optics function at the intended clarity, and are not augmented or impaired by the lenses, so for me they are more of a psychological prop I use to focus my mind in thought.”

The scaled druid in rough-stitched hides looks at me in the expression I have become familiar with on the faces of the living. The expression which is always surprised by my artificial nature, even as it bases its entire interaction with me on that same nature. It is the look of a person who has just ignored another being’s right to privacy because it considers that being an object, and is then surprised when that object speaks like a man in words that simultaneously confirm and reject its objecthood.

“What is the job Kane has found for us?”

The lizardman flicks a tongue over his lips, rumbling in the reptilian equivalent of a human saying ‘um,’ “A local hedge wizard is fucking with the wildlife, mixing animals, creating new creatures. We have to go stop him.”

I peer at him. If I could smirk I would. “How wise they were to hire an artificial lifeform to stop this horrid crime.”

Beruk makes the same face he did when he saw my glasses, tinged with embarrassment—a fine look on a saurian face—before rumbling again, “we need to head out in an hour. Do… do you need some light in here?” he says gesturing to a lamp on the wall.

“No, the glow of my thoughtcrystal suffices for writing. An hour? Very well, I will be ready.”

“I-“ he rumbles again, longer, tongue flicking again, “sorry.” He closes my door and I hear him walk down the hallway unsteadily. Again, I’d smirk if I was able.


 

An hour later, my heavy steel clad feet thump down groaning steps. Kane, a thin-framed dwarf, beard carefully trimmed, clad in leather armour, pouch of lockpicks on his belt, and Beruk sit at a table with Shand, the long haired, fair skinned, pinion-eared fae wizard of our company.

Kane looks me over. He long ago became accustomed to my habit of wearing my warhelm on missions. The fearsome plated leather is much like the glasses. I wear it as a psychological prop. When I wear it, I once again become the contained explosion of violence I was crafted to be. At Kain’s direction, I engage a foe, and tear into them with efficient detachment. My wrist blade often makes short work of most opposition even though I am a less than skilled warrior. I was created to be an Artifice Soldier, to use artificer magic to create my own armament and augment it.

Humans discovered the artificer’s art long ago. It has its uses, mostly in the creation of large numbers of magical items and turning unwanted items into more desirable items. But in the hands of a constructed soldier, it becomes as much—if not more so—a weapon as the sword they carry. Living races have their clerics which can accomplish many of the same feats. They are as able to temporarily enchant weapons and armor, as able to increase their own or an ally’s strength or stamina, as able to produce light with a gesture and a word where needed. But they are also expected to provide healing, to be the party’s primary answer to undead, and to stay out of the fight. A living artificer would be too. A constructed artificer is a warrior with his own healing and augmentation in the palm of his hand.

“Glad to see you’re ready, Rilesh,” Kane says. “I didn’t think about your personal feelings on the matter of the job, I apologize.”

Kane, mercenary thief though he may be, treats me as a fellow living being more than most. Many understand, at least on a basic level, that we constructed soldiers are sapient, that though we are artificial we still think and feel and live, but that understanding seldom entirely translates to their treatment. It’s still not natural to Kane. He still thinks of me first as a machine of war, and second as a person. But the fact that he thinks of me as a person at all is important to me. “I understand, Kane. We do the jobs that come to us.” I reply, now closed with my group. I whisper it to Kane.

He nods. “It’s not the fact that they’re artificial. They’re really wreaking havoc on the woods and the farmers outside of town.”

“It’s also the fact that they’re artificial.” I say. I cock my head to the right, left eye glowing brightly a moment. With the immobile nature of my face plate, I’ve had to work out equivalents to expressions. This is the closest I’ve been able to come to cocking an eyebrow. “People are uneasy about such. I know, and you know, Kane.”

He looks down at my feet. “Yeah.”

Beruk is looking away, intently going over the instructions for safely retrieving his alligator companion from its stall with the porter who already wrote them down the first time. Shand places a hand on my shoulder. It took the fae woman a long time to become accustomed to living iron, and she still has difficulty with my nature. Nonetheless, the fae know what it is like to have one’s nature feared and mistrusted wherever it may be used.

“Is it possible that some of the less dangerous creatures could be captured, Kane?” Shand says, trying to build a middle ground between our task, and my “race’s” burden.

Kane looks past our faces and up at the ceiling, breathing through his teeth. “They want all the creature’s destroyed. Part of our pay depends on it.”

“I can’t imagine they know how many creatures were created,” I wheedle.

Kane’s eyes lower to catch mine. “We’ll try. You take responsibility. If you can find a way to capture them safely, and hold them until we figure out what to do with them, then we’ll do it. If any of them pose a danger—to us, to civilians, or to our ability to complete our job to the satisfaction of our employers—we can’t let them live.”

“They are my responsibility. I will find something to do with them. Which way is the hedge wizard’s hut?”

“It’s to the north of town.”

“Perfect. As we leave, allow me a moment to stop at the library. I need to speak to another construct there. I believe artificial creatures would be quite popular with my people.”

Kane cocks an eyebrow and sighs. “Yeah, five minutes. We could use a look at some maps at the library anyway.”


Gender is a curious thing to my fellow mechamagical constructs. We were created to serve as soldiers. There is of course a slight tendency in the men of armies to characterize combat as a man’s trade, but the not-inconsiderable number of female warriors shows that’s just self-centric thinking on their part. We were built to fight, not to catch the eyes of mates, thus we are broad shouldered and muscularly-sculpted, or sinewy and slight-framed for speed and stealth while scouting. Not a single mindforged was created with broad, child bearing hips and a slender waist, or an ample chest mimicking a mammal’s breasts. We are all either broadly masculine, minus of course the organ of male function, or completely androgynous. For this reason, we are often treated as male, when we are treated as the living beings we are at all. Not a few mindforged have taken this treatment and the actions of the biological men around them and crafted a male identity. But it’s also not uncommon for mindforged to sit on the opposite end of the biologicals’ spectrum, taking on the mannerisms of the biological females around them, and affecting a higher pitched voice (a simple manner when your voice is a purely magical effect and does not involve vocal chords). There are also those mindforged who eschew the whole matter, or take what mannerisms suit them from across the spectrum. We are artificial, and so is gender, why not create our identities to suit our needs just as our bodies were constructed to suit functions of war?

It sometimes distresses me, but Kane does evoke a certain… feeling in me. His treatment of me has been the best I’ve ever received from a biological. This doesn’t say much, but it says everything to me. I keep myself carefully ignorant of what he does when we return to town. I fear that if I knew too much about what he looked for, I would not be able to keep myself from creating an identity that is his desire, not my own… soul.


 

“What do you think, Ulim?”” I asked the mindforged across the library’s desk from.

“It is certainly possible that our people would be interested in the creatures. Do we know what has been created? I fear that they may well be dangerous, and you know as well as I, Rilesh, that a created animal is entirely different from a created person.”

I tilted my head upwards as my optics dimmed along the bottoms—a mindforged’s approximation of rolling their eyes—“Yes, I am aware, Ulim. The biologicals took wolves and tamed them into dogs, great cats and tamed them into house cats. Dangerous beasts can be trained and domesticated-“

“Over centuries, Rilesh!” Ulim interrupted me. “At least!”

“Talk to other mindforged. You are the center of our community here. Let them know, and I will see if this can be done safely.” I glanced over my shoulder, “perhaps I can simply find the wizard’s methodology, and we can try with rats and lizards for a start.”

Ulim looked past me, and lowered his voice as they leaned in. “That would perhaps be best, so long as you do not get adventurers on our shiny metal asses for the same thing you lot are about to clobber this wizard!” Ulim hissed.

“Talk to the others. Get their input. I won’t endanger-“ Kane flashes in my mind a moment, “-the town or our people.”

I hear a thin throat clearing itself behind me, and turn. Shand is standing a few feet away, pack over her shoulder. “Kane’s made his notes. Are you ready?”

I nod. “I’m sorry, Ulim. I feel this is important for us.”

They nod. “I know. Even in the war we thought your maker had accidentally put a biological’s heart in your chest.” His optics dimmed at the bottoms in semicircles, creating the glowing arcs of a mindforged’s smile.

I slip my warhelm on, my passive, immobile face suddenly replaced with a snarling scowl from which my blue thoughtcrystal glow seemed more icy than inviting. I’ve heard that before. I don’t take it well.