Jason kept wandering. But he couldn't help noticing that while the uninhabited forests and oceans he surveyed were as unchanging as ever, civilization was in flux.

Even as the Lausi Civil War continued unabated—nay, escalated—other wars began in other verses. The cause for each was similar: struggle between two major powers in the region, one promising the people liberty and equality, the other order and stability. In nations which had traditionally featured more than two significant political parties, groups with only the vaguest similarities cast aside their considerable differences and joined forces, until there were again only two sides. And Gyeeds, Droydania, and their respective high-powered allies were not only willing but eager to donate some of their own troops, or at least weapons, to the side they identified with. The death toll grew exponentially. Occasionally, one would see a letter-to-the-editor in a major newspaper pleading for an end to wars, but the editorials, like the people in general, invariably cheered on the soldiers, saying that now was the time "to fight for what is right". The dissenting voices quickly grew quieter and less frequently heard, until they had disappeared altogether.

The fate of entire organizations that dared to oppose the zeitgeist was no more heartening. In Droydania, activism against government policy or war in general had always been illegal, but there had generally been usable illicit avenues by which dissenters could share their discontent with each other. These avenues were removed. Caleb Vespinus's virus was found and excised, Caleb himself was rearrested—and executed—and the Droydanian government created a new task force whose sole purpose was to hunt down pacifists and liberals. The pacifists and liberals who escaped the initial round of arrests stopped talking about peace and liberty. In Gyeeds, freedom of speech remained in force, but the city's tradition of encouraging active discussion did not: protesters were no longer taken seriously. Marchers received no press coverage, picketers were pushed aside and given dirty looks, and those who participated in "die-ins" had obscene pictures drawn on their faces. In the United States in the 1960s, youth itself had risen up in a tidal wave of opposition to the Vietnam War; in Gyeeds in 2004, the young didn't want to be associated with opposition. Opposition wasn't hip, and Gyeedians had never been known for their resistance to peer pressure. It became clear to the pacifists and conservatives that the more they spoke, the less they were listened to. The pacifists and conservatives stopped talking about peace and order.

Droydania had long been an unpleasant place to live, in certain ways. Now, it became frightening. The security camera in the old abandoned warehouse that had caught Jason and company became just one of a whole host of security cameras that between them monitored every street of every city and every room of every home in Droydania. The only way to obtain the manpower for such surveillance was to make every citizen watch their neighbors. The government did—successfully. The crime rate quickly dropped to infinitesimal levels. That even included the emigration rate, since the government took special measures to prevent emigration. The suicide rate quintupled, but those who remained were more than ever in awe at their government's efficiency and zeal for order. And the government did not busy itself solely with spying on its citizens. It overhauled Ascension Assistance, its anti-poverty program, so that it became yet more effective. It pooled all of the best scientists and engineers in Droydania into think tanks that guided government policy and military strategy and developed new weapons. In a thousand more ways, it streamlined Droydania until it was a machine of an empire—a machine specially built for enlarging itself and destroying its enemies, both within and without.

Gyeeds had long been a Land of the Free in a far more literal sense than the United States. Now, it became almost entirely lawless. Prison sentences were halved, then halved again, then replaced for all but the very worst crimes with fines. All sorts of miscellaneous restrictions were done away with: price controls, anti-trust laws, non-smoking areas, bans on the most dangerous sorts of recreational drugs, building codes, monogamy (in the literal sense; adultery had been legal for centuries). Taxes were abolished, leaving the government funded only by voluntary donations, which promptly poured in. There were rumors (invariably conveyed to one with excited anticipation) that come the warmer weeks next spring, that most ancient and universal of bans, the one on public nudity, would be lifted. Even the Gyeedian love of cleanliness came to take a back seat to its love of individual rights, as the centuries-old strict rules against littering were abolished and the once-spotless streets were spotted with chewing gum. Sexism finally began to erode as some of the arbitrary restrictions on women fell away and Gyeedian men gradually came to realize that women were individuals, but this was small comfort for a woman (or a man) whose house caught on fire: putting out fires was no longer considered the government's responsibility, and there were no limits on what fees private firefighting companies could charge. Meanwhile, the absence of police made women the targets of muggers and like predators far more than in the past. As for the poor, heaven forbid they should need medical care, since there was now no way whatsoever for them to afford it.

All these changes were no less startling given the span of time in which they had come to pass: two weeks.