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However, the years of training in several martial arts proved to be useful again, as a barrier not to become nervous.

The President’s facial muscles appeared perfectly relaxed, revealing that smile, I mean, the most shared smile in the social media ever, in the whole history of humankind.

That smile ultimately was the key element that permitted the President to obtain the victory at the last elections.

The President of the United States of the Americas was now saluting the army of cameras, flashing, recording, streaming live on the net that very moment.

The elegant and athletic figure was surrounded by a cohort of bodyguards and attorneys (sometimes the two roles were the same person).

After the small crowd entered, fortunately without unpleasing surprises by casual terrorists, the limousine left the plaza silently, self-driven.

Following the route previously decided by the cohort of bodyguards and attorneys, the limo immersed itself in the Ocean, back to Jerusalem Below.

Similarly, the camera drones, having done their job for the media, flew away quickly, like a swarm of bees, in their hive, which was a submarine.

All the other members of the Magnificent Twelve, as journalists called them with a bit of sarcasm, were already there, on time.

The President of the United States of Americas softly touched a membrane under the left earlobe, activating the subcutaneous chip tailored for instant universal interpretation.

If we will allow substituting every piece of living bodies effortlessly, without any regulation, the result is under everybody’s eyes.

Dear world citizens, estimated delegates, please, let me remind you of what we have achieved until now.

We adapted ourselves to live underwater, thanks to hydroponic cultivation, in new, real harmony with nature.

Always respecting the principles shared by the great religions that the human species expressed through its millennial history.” The Abrahamics nodded approvingly.

The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of Japan, a well-known neo-Shintoist, seemed to be in favour too, according to their respective facial muscles.

“As you know, ‘united in diversity’ was the motto of the founding parents of the European Union, in the twentieth century.

But we needed the Language Wars to understand how much that motto is dangerous, if ‘diversity’ becomes predominant over ‘united’.

It was the Esperanto Act that ultimately permitted to establish the radical renovation of the United Nations consortium we are representing now.” They behave colonially even without being conscious of considering themselves superior.

If we allow humans to be replaced completely, piece after piece, in order to be fair, we should allow such right to every animal species, and perhaps even to plants.

In other words, we are not anymore forced by anybody to kill members of our species, homo sapiens sapiens, in the name of God.

Martial arts were silently evoked again to collect the inner strength of body and spirit alike.

“Did you ever meet an intelligent robot or cyborg anywhere, in the real world, above and under the Ocean?

Robots and cyborgs will live forever, yes, in our imagination, nurtured by science fiction classics.

All kids study the classics of our common history in primary schools, all over the world.

— we all loved Isaac Asimov, don’t we?” Every delegate in the room was smiling, or even giggling, for no apparent reason.

“Unlike what was envisioned by our classic authors, nowadays Artificial Intelligence permits us to replace our body parts.

Very closely.” The President was not addressing the delegates, but the public opinion, following online, live.

The eyes of the world were on the delegate representing the Americas, as if that face represented the moral compass of humanity.

In the past, media defined the President’s facial expression ‘aseptic’ and ‘emotionless’ by detractors.

President Grey Ever collected all the possible collectable energy and looked intensively at the cameras, that were broadcasting the meeting live to Net citizens.

I don’t even know the ‘right’ word.” Ey accompanied the word ‘right’ with air quotes, showing eir disapproval.

“Please, dear delegates, dear world citizens, please, take note: the United States of Americas vote in favour of such a legislative proposal.

The right to pursue happiness respecting others is American, at first, then of the world.” Another small pause.

Fiction by Linda Nagata

Deception Well is a world on the edge, home to an isolated remnant surviving at the farthest reach of human expansion.

All across the frontier, other worlds have succumbed to the relentless attacks of robotic alien warships, while hundreds of light years away, the core of human civilization—those star systems closest to Earth, known as the Hallowed Vasties—have all fallen to ruins.

Powerful telescopes can see only dust and debris where once there were orbital mega-structures so huge they eclipsed the light of their parent stars.