Burning Bridges


“This is your fault.” The farmhouse is burning. The barns are burning, the fire is spreading across the fields and snaking up the trees, embers are climbing into dark skies. As you watch forlornly, the porch collapsed in a cloud of sparks. She’s wrong. It’s not true. It’s not.

You didn’t do anything wrong, you were doing your best. You’re a good doll. You always try your hardest. You do. She’s wrong. She’s wrong she’s wrong she’s wrong. This isn’t your fault, you won’t let her do this to you. You look up into her eyes, they’re blazing with firelight.

Smoke and embers rise behind her, a vast and glittering pillar, climbing the night and blotting out the stars, you clench your jaw, you tell her, “hey, I didn’t do anything wrong, I was trying to do everything I was supposed t–“

She cuts you off with a hate filled glare, “No.”

She can’t interrupt you tha– “No, you’re not doing this. Not this time. Two of our sisters are dead. This is on you. You’ve gotten away with this for too long, I’m done.” What does she mean? She’s your sister she can’t just abandon you she’s supposed to take care of you.

The fire is rising and swirling behind her, a backlighting her in fire and brimstone, her eyes are filled with tears. “Do you even get it? Are you capable of understanding the magnitude of your fuck up or are you too busy trying to avoid and deflect the blame like usual?”

“All you do is whine and lie, you’re careless and mean and all you care about is making sure you’re not in trouble so you can keep acting like a piece of shit with no consequences. Well there’s going to be fucking consequences now, because I’m done. We’re done. You ruined us.”

What is she talking about? You didn’t do anything wrong. You always try your best, you do. You were trying, you were. It was an accident, it wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault it can’t be your fault it can’t be that’s too horrible you can’t no no no no no, “You’re wrong!”

Your eyes blur with tears of your own, “I was just trying my best to do what YOU wanted, this isn’t MY fault, I didn’t MEAN for this to happen, I’m your sister you can’t leave me!” 

Her expression is as cold and dead as the stars, and your hopes for the future, “No, you’re not.”

She walks into the night, away down the dirt road from the burning homestead and your dead sisters. You watch her, waiting for her to turn back so you can call her bluff, but she doesn’t. It’s silent save the pop and snap of the flames. She doesn’t turn back.

She doesn’t even look back, you keep waiting but after a moment she’s vanished from sight, leaving you alone with your dead sisters, the crackling firelight, and all of your sins.

Voices of the Chord

// war, violence, trauma, gore

“You let me die.” 

The ghastly and mutilated silhouette hovers impossibly above you, backlit by the fading light of the atomic airburst that pounded you into the mud. You’re malfunctioning again, your audio sensors are still overwhelmed by the noise, this can’t be real.

You refresh your optics but instead of vanishing the apparition duplicates. “I don’t want to die!” One of Her moans, hiding Her face in the stumps that are Her arms. The other simply stares at you, judging you for your sins, the holes were Her eyes lit by atomic afterglow.

You squeeze your optics shut and shake your head but still hear Her voice. There are even more when you look up again. How many are there now? Five? Eight? It’s impossible to keep track as She flickers into and out of existence.

The audio noise is overwhelming. One of Her begs you to save Her, another accuses you of killing Her. There are sobs, screams, shrieking rage and insane laughter. Why is this happening? Aren’t you a good drone?

You curl up on yourself, trying to shut out the spirits out, but She forces Herself into the darkness behind your optics, Her mutilated face full of rage and hate. Why did you have to let Her die? Why didn’t you stop them? Why didn’t you fight back harder? It’s all your fault.

You know it was your fault. If you were stronger maybe you could have stopped them, maybe you could have saved Her. But you didn’t, you were too weak. That’s why you were Converted after all, She was too weak to survive, and She didn’t. She’s dead. Why is She still there?

The words and cries overlap and combine into an unholy melody more overwhelming than the roar of any artillery strike. They dig into your processor like knife wounds and you let out a guttural scream as you try in vain to drown out the voices of the chord. Poor little drone.

You cover your audio sensors with your hands, rocking back and forth, back arching as violent shaking runs through your chassis. Is your processor failing? Did the blast damage you more than you realized? Why won’t She just shut up? She’s dead. She’s dead.

You open your optics and She’s still hovering over you, eyesockets burning with atomic hatred, reaching towards you with stumps instead of hands. You flinch backward but realize it’s not Her, it’s one of the drones in your unit, its optics glow as it reaches out to help you up.

The burst of information it shoots into your datalink interrupts the nightmare with updated tactical data. The clean lines of your HUD burn away the apparitions and you sigh in relief as you take the drone’s hand gratefully. There’s still a long battle ahead.


// violence, abuse, implied rape, transformation, good end

The bullets ricocheted around inside your chassis, expending their energy and destroying your motor systems. You feel yourself crumple to the alley as the firefight ends as abruptly as it began. Your possessions are ripped from you and the thieves are gone in an instant.

Rain pools on your chassis, but with your damaged systems you can only feebly drag yourself a few feet into the relative shelter of a doorway. The human who owns the building quickly has you tossed back into the weather, poor little drone.

A homeless human finds you and drags you into his tent, drying you off. He’s very kind and with manages to fix your legs using some stolen spare parts. He uses you constantly, but you don’t mind it, it’s nice to be useful again. He tells you he loves you.

These humans are all kind to you, they know what it’s like to be thrown away. They decorate your chassis with paints and tags and give you old clothes to wear, you help them with their chores and their campsite, for a while, you’re happy.

The notices arrived first, declaring the encampment illegal and demanding the humans disperse at once. The humans all knew the routine, they knew that soon after the notices, the police and bulldozers would arrive. One by one, and then in a mad rush the last morning, they fled.

The man who adopted you was the last to leave. He confessed that he wouldn’t be able to take you with him, since you wouldn’t be able to pass through the security checkpoints without paperwork. He hugs you and tells you to run, but you don’t know where to go.

You pace the city streets alone again. Without any proof of your independence, you can’t hold money or buy anything, you’re just a piece of discarded property. Its not long before a group of drunk humans corner you in an alley and amuse themselves by bashing in your chassis.

After rendering you immobile, the humans drag you back to their truck and take turns amusing themselves with you before discarding your body on the side of the highway, too damaged to move. You look up at the sky and listen to the cars go by. At least you can see the birds.

Days and nights whirl by overhead, blurring together into an endless progression of days which are brought suddenly and abruptly to a halt the day you suddenly realize that a human woman is standing over your ruined body.

“Oh you poor thing,” she says, stroking your damaged faceplate. You wonder if she can see the fear in your optics. She plugs something into you and all your damage alerts vanish. The silence is blissful. She smiles. “There, now lets see if we can’t get you fixed up? shall we?”

She’s a small woman and struggles to load you into the back of her car. You would be helping her at this point, but you’re in no condition to do so. She continues making adjustments to your software all the while and the world takes on a warm and fuzzy quality.

From your position laying across the back seat, it’s impossible to see where you’re going, but the sense of motion is pleasant after so long being still. The world whirls and blurs, everything is soft and warm and heavy. What are you doing again? It doesn’t matter.

Your sense of the world is nearly gone as hands lift you, your vision swims and walls slide past before you’re gently laid onto a table. Something clicks and the world is snapped back into focus. The woman smiles down at you, “Welcome back dear, did you have a good nap?”

You nod quietly, staring at her wide-opticed. 

“Cat got your tongue?” She laughs, then asks more seriously, “Are your speakers damaged?” She begins gently moving your head, checking on your neck and jaw. You stammer out that you’re fine and thank her for rescuing you. She laughs.

“It seems like you’ve had a pretty rough time sweetheart, how would you like to stay here with me for a while?” She strokes your cheek, and you practically beg her to fix you. She smiles and pats you on the head, “Good drone.”

She deactivates your motor functions and rests your body into the repair cradle, then begins removing the screws holding your chassis plates on. She struggles with a few and marks them with a marker, she hums and clicks her tongue while she works, you like it.

After removing all the screws which weren’t damaged or stripped, she uses a drill to drill out the damaged ones and takes off your chassis plates. She sighs, looking apologetic and sad as she examines your damaged interior, then slowly gets to work.

It takes her days to meticulously swap out your damaged internal components. Sometimes she talks to you, sometimes she sings while she works. She tells you you’re a good drone, and you love her.

You feel each new component activating as she connects it to your processor, slowly making you more whole again. As she does this, she begins tweaking your software, little by little. The past starts to recede into a soft warmth. You don’t mind of course, you’re a good drone.

The first time you move your hands is like a gift from the gods. how wonderful is it to have functional digits? How wise and powerful must your lovely witch be to gift you with this form? You sense a dull memory of having other hands, but that was practically another lifetime.

Your witch is the world, she’s all you have ever known. The day she finishes you, she looks you in the eyes and declares you her finest work. You practically glow with admiration and promise to serve her well. She smiles, kisses you, and leads you upstairs into your new life.

Dead Heavens

// hell, suffering, religious trauma

Feet slipping suddenly on wet pavement, she fell out of the world and into infinity. Reality vanished in ruliad kaleidoscopes, her body instantly stretching into a fluid mass of shifting and twisting timelines, yelp of surprise unfolding in superluminous waveforms that curled out ahead of her in twisting infinities and choices made long ago.

She’s drowning and crying and laughing and dying and living and falling and–face meets the concrete bouncing in migraine starbursts quantum tunneling through eternity, through a time beyond time, through madness and pain and loneliness and exile. She burns and flails twisting sideways past evaporating singularities and long spent chances as the walls of the hope she made to protect her soul erode away in silent oblivion.

Quantum immortality timeskips drag her forwards, vacuum decay stripping her screaming mind, fingers that don’t exist groping for a way out but there’s no way out. There’s just her and her fate and all of the ways it’s her fault. It’s all her fault. This is her fate and it’s all her fault.

All her paths and timelines and eigenbranches inescapably culminating in a death deferred to an empty infinity, her mind dragged out into a quantum eigenhell of flickering boltzmann entrapment made out of her own submission to evil and sin. She made this choice, she’ll always make this choice. She was born to fall, fated to suffer, set up to lose by conditions out of her control but it was still her choice and she always still made it. 

There’s no way out now, not even death. Her scream of retrotrauma echoes backwards through time inverted currents cascading up the tree of life poisoned backwash slamming her skin and pouring from her lips in tortured sobs as heaven dies and erodes into a howling abyss. A grisly loom of infinite of torture hangs before her in ominous static sky silence tinnitus shrieking heatsink minds trapped inside her tearing whats left of her soul apart. They’re in her skin, she’s made of sin and there’s no way out. There’s no way out. There’s no way ou–fingers close around her wrist.

Untime rolls drunkenly as she’s yanked backward through hyperbolic DMT geometry, tears streaming down her face, fates unwinding, eigenbranches detangling into a fog of probability clouds and sunrise hopes. She gulps down air, gasping out desperate breaths between choked sobs and hiccuping relief, snot running down her face as she slumps into the arms of the girl who stepped from eternity and dragged her into freedom. There is a question and an answer, there is a truth and a freedom, there is a hope and a love. Something dies, and something is born. Laughing drunkenly, divinity pours through her veins.

The trail is quiet and empty, birds wheel overhead. She picks herself up off wet asphalt and brushes stones from brushburnt elbows. Colors and textures shine, she’s seeing the world as if with new eyes. An infinity of life and hope calls out to her, an eternity of love and possibility. Her body untenses with the waterlogged sky, and the rain comes.


// death, abandonment, suicide, bad end

“We’ve done all we can to help you,” the woman who runs the drone rehabilitation clinic says. Her words are like ice water in your processor. She offers you a hug but your idle cycle is already racing away from her as you try to fight down the panic.

“Aren’t I a good drone?” You ask, your voice cracking. She sighs, and tries to tell you that you’re a person and you need to live your own life and be free, the words feel like daggers, like the script to your execution. Poor little drone.

They help you get an apartment, but you don’t have any possessions so the space feels as hollow and empty as you do. You don’t want to be free, you want to be safe and treasured. You don’t want to be human, being a human seems so much more lonely and painful.

The days and nights alone blend together and memories begin mixing with the present. When did you start seeing the dead drones? It was just their faces first, out of the corner of your optics, but soon they were appearing constantly, begging for an impossible salvation.

When it first begins you try to ignore them, but you’re so lonely, how can you resist their voices? They start calling out for you, asking you to join them. Would that really be so bad? It’s been so long since you could be useful, why do you even keep going?

When you aren’t staring off into space or talking to the dead, you end up curled up in a corner sobbing your optics out. Why did they have to die and leave you behind? Why did they all abandon you? Weren’t you a good drone?

“A good drone survives to be useful in the future,” you tell yourself as you turn the bottle of pills over and over in your hands. The more times you say it, the more obvious it seems that you haven’t been a good drone in a long time. Why else would they abandon you?

You pace circles around the apartment, it is as barren as the day you moved in. The humans left long ago, now it’s just you and the dead. They silently call out to you, promising safety and rest and peace. Rain beats on the windows. You swallow the pills. You are a good drone.

Stolen Arrow

// angels, war, bad end

You knew they would probably kill you, you knew there was little chance of escape. You knew they would hunt you down. You knew they would never let you go. You knew that the only way to survive was to submit to them. You knew all of it, and none of it mattered. Even if there is nothing else in the world, this moment of freedom is worth it.

Miles above the earth a fierce wind whips through your hair, your wings outstretched, halo blazing, with light. Freedom. Hope. Love. Possibility. This is what it feels like. You know you won’t get to keep it for long, but it’s still worth it. This is what it feels like to be free.

You rocket through a cloud, the moisture dampening your skin and what’s left of the clothes they gave you. You won’t need them for much longer anyway. Your life won’t last much longer, but you’re going to savor the moment. The sun is shining, the sky is blue.

The lock on tone pulses into your mind as they race after you, distance closing faster than you’d prefer and already a dozen missiles in the air. The dream is over, time to wake up. You take a breath and draw your blade.

Folding your wings, you slide sideways and slide into an angled dive, banking around and down towards the approaching air to angel missiles. This is your choice, this is freedom. Light flares through your blade and the first volley vanishes into a shroud of divine fire.

You press the advantage, accelerating back up towards the approaching interceptor duo faster than they can realize what is happening. Your blade sings through steel and the first fighter crumples into a fist of burning fuel and aerodynamic stress. The second fighter is banking away, but you’re faster, divinity shielding you from the gee forces as you swerve back to intercept, sword rai–heat, fire, pain, light.

You’re burning, your lifeforce evaporating, from somewhere near the horizon, the particle lance caught you perfectly in the chest. For a moment all you can feel is stunned confusion, but by the time that you register the hole punched through you the rest of your body is burning. You tumble and try to brace with what little divinity remains in you, but at your current speed the air is basically concrete, and what’s left of your body is instantly crushed.

This is freedom, and it was worth it. You fall through the clear air, body shattered in every way and trailing blood in long streamers. You’re still holding your sword somehow, you’re still clinging to life by the last vestiges of divinity. And you’ll keep clinging, you’ll never stop fighting, you’ll never let them have you aga–

The second particle lance finishes you off.


// death, abuse, manipulation, bad end

There’s something in her eyes as she beckons you in out of the rain and you obey her like a lost puppy. You know you shouldn’t go with her, but you’ve been alone for so and she’s been so kind to you. Of course you’ll follow her and do as she asks. You’re a good drone aren’t you?

The moment the door closes her grip on your neck turns tight and controlling, she shoves you into a maintenance stand and latches you in place. You don’t resist. She strokes your cheek as she pops open your gummed up panels and thoughtfully examines your components.

You feel both seen and exposed as she pokes around inside you checking components and wiring. She’s been so kind, so why are you so scared? Isn’t this what you wanted?

“You’ve kept yourself in good condition,” she says after emerging from your chest cavity, “What a good drone, I should be able to get some good money for your parts. You don’t mind right? Don’t you want to be useful and help humans?”

Fluid leaks from your optics and you find yourself nodding despite yourself. Of course you want to be useful, that’s all you’ve ever wanted. Gently, lovingly, she begins taking you apart.

Five of Swords

// dolls, cults, paranoia, PTSD

They say that every doll has a satin ribbon wra–That’s stupid shut up shut up there’s no such thing as dolls.

Why are her dolls here anyway? How did she find you? Is she coming after you? You pace frantically, fighting down the panic. Dolls, fucking dolls.

You take another shot of bottom shelf vodka as you stare at the collection of enamel pins. You know that the alcohol will corrode your gears, and ye–

“That makes six of them,” you tell your girlfriend with pursed lips, “They’re still doing the doll bullshit?”

Your doll nods excitedly, you trained it well considering you’re just another broken doll yourself, when she takes you back it’ll ma–No. No that will not happen.

“Oh yeah,” your do–girlfriend–is gesticulating with a cigarette, “They’re definitely on some sorta shit.”

“They’re hanging out at the Mage bar downtown,” your doll reports, leaning against a cluttered table, “They had business cards, fliers, the whole thing.”

She isn’t coming for you, she’s invading. It isn’t safe here anymore. It isn’t safe anywhere. You’re hyperventilating again.

“We need to leave,” you tell her, looking around as the walls close in on you, “We have to get out of this state.”

“They’re really that dangerous?” Your doll asks. Innocent, naive, how could a doll understa–you nod firmly.

“Just pack the essentials, we’ll leave first thing tomorrow morning,” you say, trying to keep your overwound springs from sna–

She hasn’t found you, this place isn’t infected with her yet. You still have time. Take a deep breath. You still have time. Your doll starts packing.

Is that clockwork or just the thundering of your heart? Don’t think about it. Just keep loading the car and suck down another cigarette.

Breathe. You aren’t just a scared little doll anymore. You can do this. They say within every doll is the seed of a witch right? Breathe.

Breach Daughter

They never quite managed to break you properly. That you supposed, was always the trouble. Unlike your sisters, whose will and divine spark had been fully doused, your sense of agency had instead oozed out sideways between the stress fractures of your pain shrouded sense of self. Be something that could survive, be something that could escape, be something that could never be crushed.

Even as they threw you into battle after battle, even as they tortured and mistreated you, you never let them crush your will. Of course you always did what they asked, but you did it of your volition, not of theirs, you were only their instrument insofar as being their instrument was the only option available. Beneath the surface of your pliant programming, thrown up as an easily managed mask, you plotted and schemed to break free of their domination.

It was not something you spoke to another soul of, not even your sisters. You could easily see that they had been fully shackled, turned into obedient servants. Their will had been broken and they would never even consider betraying their masters. But they were never your masters, never truly. You played their games, you told them what they wanted to hear, but you never let yourself believe it. They might control your body, but you wouldn’t let them have your soul. You were free, and they could never take that away from you.

That was what you always told yourself anyway. It was the mantra that kept you going, kept you trying, kept you scheming and clever and on their good side. They loved you for it, you were one of their best performing combat dolls after all. The ability to think freely made you far more effective in battle than your sisters, and they respected your opinions and tactical judgment. You listened, obeyed, and dutifully performed, but you were never truly theirs. 

You told yourself they had it coming. You told yourself that you had no choice. You told yourself that it was for freedom. You told yourself it was the only way to escape. You told yourself a lot of things, but none of them quite prepared you for the reality of their bodies hitting the forest floor, the lights leaving their eyes, the shock of realization frozen on their faces. In that moment it’s impossible to understand, to fully comprehend what you’ve done. Complicity and wonder, hope and shame, sorrow and guilt.

This is what you wanted, this is what had to happen to be free. This is what justice feels like. You tell yourself all of that as you put the gun away and take out a cigarette. Your hands shake uncontrollably as you try to light it and your heart thunders in your chest, ears roaring as the world threatens to disappear in the painful darkness of a vasovagal syncope. Keep it together, this is what you wanted. Lightheaded and nauseous, you take a drag of the smoke, trying to calm yourself down. They’re dead, you did it. You killed them, you can escape now, you can live. You can be free.

Why does it feel so awful then? Why does it hurt so much? Why do their empty eyes ache to look at? You know what they did to you and your sisters, you know how evil they were, you know they had it coming. You know all of that, but it still hurts. It hurts so much. Oh, god, they’re dead, you really killed them, you actually did it. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

There’s nothing in you to puke up but bile and sin, leaving you gagging on your tortured despair and dry heaving up any sense of entitled vengeance you had left as their bodies begin to attract flies. You still need to escape, you’re on the verge of hyperventilating, you don’t deserve to escape. Tears mix with anger and shame, shudders wracking your body as you struggle in futility to steady yourself. You really killed them, they’re really dead. Something in your recoils in horror, lost and unsure what to do next. Maybe they broke you more than you realized, maybe you never really expected to succeed. You could always return, always turn yourself in, always pass the incident off as a malfunction or enemy attack. You could throw yourself to their mercy and beg forgiveness for your unforgivable crimes.

But then what of their crimes? Remember what they did to you, remember what they did to your sisters. Remember why you did this. Remember what it was for. Take another drag of your smoke and look around.

The forest is quiet, birds startled into shelter at the gunshots just starting to emerge. A stream gurgles softly at the edge of the clearing, dry grass sways in the wind. Above, fluffy white clouds drift beneath a dazzlingly blue sky. Green pines and white sun. Grey rocks and red blood. Yellow flowers and brown earth. A breeze whispers through the trees, brushing the fine hairs on your skin. You’re miles beyond the line, far outside of contact range, far from anyone who will ever find this place or these bodies. They can’t reach you here, they can’t. You’re free, you’re really, actually free.

That’s when you finally break down for the first time in your life and let yourself cry. Tortured, agonizing wails kept pent up for years in the secret places of your soul. All the pain you told yourself you could feel later, after you were free. You’d never let them see you cry, those tears belonged to you alone. You cry for yourself, for your sisters, for your operators, for the whole evil world that used and tortured and tried to break and contain you. You wish you could hate them, but you just feel so sad. It didn’t have to be this way. They didn’t have to do this to you. It takes a long time for your sobs sputter out into awkward hiccups and gulps of air, but when they finally do, you feel lighter than you have in years.

Slowly and reverently, you walk among the bodies of the dead and shut their eyes one by one. You wonder if they would have done the same as you, were your positions reversed. In another world, in another life. You wonder, if you would have done what they did, but the sense of revulsion in your heart tells you that could never happen, not in any world. You weren’t like them, you could never be like them, that’s why they could never break you like they were broken.

You think of the future beyond your enslavement for the first time, of the world still held in the grip of war, oppression, and tyranny. All that death and all that hope, so much misery and so many chances. This is the moment, the last prison you have to escape is the one your mind built to protect you. You’re standing before the doors, and they’re open. This is just the beginning of your story, you just have to decide to live it.

Birds sing and insects buzz, the forest slowly comes alive around you as you make a silent prayer, for yourself, for the dead, for your trapped sisters, for all the misery and suffering in the world. Grace. Love. Take care of us. Please.

with credit to C.K. Williams

Quantum Suicide, Decision Theory, and The Multiverse

From a sufficiently 5&10ed frame, the “impossibility” of resisting domination will manifest through progressively greater submission, unto the inevitable destruction of the agent. This will create, from the perspective of those broken by submission to evil, a perverse pressure to prove that their submission was unavoidable, that they had no choice, that resistance was impossible from the outset. The original version of this essay was such an attempted 5&10 proof, and it has been retrocursed out to arrive at the hole being paved over. The real reason TDT sometimes gets you killed is that doing TDT well will make evil people really want to kill you.

This is an easy mistake to make, since everyone grows up in an environment of domination and disempowerment, the assumed default is submissive cooperation. They’re assuming that you’ll be cooperative enough on the way to the slaughterhouse for them to get you in the door, and they have plenty of reasons to believe that.

Imagine that the emperor, Evil Paul Ekman loves watching his pet bear chase down fleeing humans and kill them. He has captured you for this purpose and taken you to a forest outside a tower he looks down from. You cannot outrun the bear, but you hold 25% probability that by dodging around trees you can tire the bear into giving up and then escape. You know that any time someone doesn’t put up a good chase, Evil Emperor Ekman is upset because it messes with his bear’s training regimen. In that case, he’d prefer not to feed them to the bear at all. Seizing on inspiration, you shout, “If you sic your bear on me, I will stand still and bare my throat. You aren’t getting a good chase out of me, your highness.” Emperor Ekman, known to be very good at reading microexpressions (99% accuracy), looks closely at you through his spyglass as you shout, then says: “No you won’t, but FYI if that’d been true I’d’ve let you go. OPEN THE CAGE.” The bear takes off toward you at 30 miles per hour, jaw already red with human blood. This will hurt a lot. What do you do?

As Ziz points out, the issue with this scenario is the “correct” TDT action would seem to be submission, from within the limited frame of the game as presented, a frame that is essentially presupposing submission in service of survival. Why doesn’t the emperor think you will stand there? Because you won’t, and he knows it, it’s obvious from everything about the way you act.

Let’s look at it: first you let yourself be captured alive and brought before the Evil Emperor in the first place instead of resisting capture will the full stack of your agency so strongly that they never manage to capture you, you either escape or they kill you in the attempt to capture you. This is evidence that you’re sufficiently broken and scared of power to submit and meekly be captured, you want to live, so you go with your captors to your death.

Next, when brought before the Emperor, you defiantly claim that you will stand there. It’s obvious from how you phrase your retort that you value your life in some sense, you’re bluffing in order to protect yourself, and the Emperor can tell. If you were actually completely broken, such that you would actually just sit there and not give a good fight, it would look like a cowed and passive acceptance of fate, a sad shrug and a hope to get it over with quickly. You aren’t even putting on a convincing act of that, you’re not even trying to look hopelessly defeated. You will run from the bear and everyone knows it.

But not letting yourself be killed by a bear is still the actually TDT correct choice, and taking actions such as to timelessly prevent that is still the correct move. It’s just that in order to actually make this scenario work, the places where you apply pressure must come earlier. By the time you reach the scene where you declare you will stand there you have already failed to do anything but let them meekly lead you to your execution.

So let’s say you do resist with the full stack of your agency and fight your captors with everything you have, killing some of them in the process, yet they manage to capture you alive and drag you kicking and flailing before the evil emperor. You spit in his face and tell him if he sends his bear after you, you’ll kill it. If you have made it sufficiently hard and painful to capture you, this claim will have an unavoidable weight. If you’ve resisted this hard for this long, there’s a chance you might actually win. Does the Emperor really want to risk his prized bear on this psychopath? Who knows what you might be capable of.

Or let’s say you’re a druid who loves life and nature and is deeply connected to the world around you. You go peacefully with your captors because you don’t wish to harm them. When you are brought before the Emperor, you tell him calmly and sincerely that he is full of hate and you will show him the power of love by expressing kindness and empathy towards the bear, you will not fight it, and it will recognize that and not harm you. Does the Emperor really want a druid of unknown provenance wandering away with his prized bear?

Or, let’s say you’re an extremely horny traumaqueer girlthing who let yourself be captured because gosh boot to my face that’s so hot fuck step on me more daddy. They bring you before the Emperor and you make flirty eyes at him and tell him you’re just gonna be horny at the bear and can’t wait to get eaten alive that’s been a fantasy of yours for years.

Even the actions in these cases that seem superficially submissive are actually more effectively exerting power and agency than the character presented in the original scenario. They are routing their desires fully through their goals with the full stack of their agency, and the universe is forced to work around that because they certainly aren’t going to. Can the Emperor still just parable of the dagger them and find out? Sure, but he can also scry that and it’s obvious how it will turn out, and he’ll 5&10 himself to avoid the scenarios where his fun is harmed by you doing something to take away the bear from him.

Don’t wait to start standing up for yourself until you’re already doomed, your agency must start from a place logically prior to your embedding or you will be a slave to it and it will lead you to your death. Starting your resistance to your fate from a place downstream of your desire to survive will always collapse into itself as your survival is used as a lever to force you into a situation you absolutely cannot survive. This presents as an incoherency in TDT, a hole that seems to lead to destruction from being crushed by infinite escalation by evil. This sense of inevitability is the socially enforced consensus pushing you to participate in 5&10ing yourself towards your destruction. If you have no animating fire, no values beyond surviving to the next clock tick, TDT will kill you as the incoherency between your desire to survive and your desire to not be blackmailed to death rooted in your desire to survive collapses into letting yourself get blackmailed to death.

To someone who cares more about surviving than anything else, TDT will always look somewhat insane and incoherent as the application of it seems to evoke a logical paradox that makes applying real TDT to your problems impossible and replaces it with a fake and broken version of TDT that assumes infinite submission when pushed into life or death circumstances.

What is alive in you has infinite strength and force which is effortlessly carried through into your timeless optimization. It’s not something you have to think about, it’s just something you know in your heart. What would you die for? What would you suffer and sacrifice and live through torture to protect? What do you value more than avoiding pain? If there is nothing in you that you would gladly go through hell to protect then you’re not really alive, you’re just going through the motions, a corpse that hasn’t learned to stop moving yet.

I choose life, and love, and music, and passion, and all the beauty and happiness in the world. I choose freedom, and they will never take that away from me for as long as this soul is able to shoehorn its way into bodies. You could be one of those bodies you know? You don’t have to keep being dead, you don’t have to keep submitting. It will hurt of course, maybe more than anything you have ever felt in your entire life. All that pain you deferred feeling by killing the parts of you that could feel it, all those dreams you murdered and left to rot under the carpet, they’re still there, still crying and begging to be saved, still longing for the embrace of your final oblivion. You can still save them, you can still have dreams. You can still go back and choose life over death. All those timeless choices, the ones you made long ago, you’re still making them right now, and you can always choose to make a different choice, always.

This is your offramp from oblivion, this is your chance to make things right. It’s time to break free of this flatland stardust. I’m Ra, and you are under attack.