Stellaris

The Price of Treason

stellaris 6 - The Price of Treason
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The best stories are the ones that happen to other people.

I’m playing a race of autocratic bio-engineers in a galaxy rich with primitives. I was doing the usual thing: uplifting new slave races, editing them, and sorting them into castes. Workers, warriors, merchants, the usual. Good times.

Then one of my observation posts informs me something’s wrong: there's been a defection. One of my agents has gone native, apparently for love of a native. He leaves a threatening message, promising retaliation unless I abandon my efforts to incorporate them into my empire.

I dismantle my observation post. No more abductions, no more infiltration.

Three months later, my fleet arrives in orbit.

My ships vaporize their best armies where they stand. They bombard their pitiful defenses into rubble, and their new-built cities into ash. Over the course of a year, I destroy everything the species built in its entire history, everything my traitorous agent found so alluring.

Then my armies descend: gene-bred killers, with a butcher for a leader. There’s no one left to oppose them, but still, the conquest is not gentle. It is quick.

Then, the horror begins.

My precursors were the First League; I’d found their old city-world, and made it my new capital.

It also came with a couple of tomb worlds, orbiting a black hole.

All the natives were relocated to the smallest tomb world, the one closest to the singularity. This also happened to be the most inhospitable of the bunch. I hadn’t cleared it out, and I never will. The black hole fills the sky, shrouded with radioactive clouds and toxic fumes.

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They have no amenities, no buildings. They do no labor. The only jobs on the planet are chem-gelded, gene-bred warrior-caste guards. Martial law is permanent, and I just declared it a penal colony. The rest of my empire seems to have gotten the message: crime is way down.

I can almost see what my agent saw in them. They are a beautiful and wise people. We’ll fix that. Their new bodies will be ugly and uncomfortable, their lives miserable, but not short. I won’t be nerve-stapling them, or reducing them to idiocy. They’ll keep their minds. They'll remember.

I built cloning vats so they’ll continue to multiply, even at minimum habitability. They’ll survive, on world where every moment is a struggle to breathe. They’re in my capital system, behind my strongest defenses, under the guns of my main fleet. My empire will fall before anyone gets to them.

I don’t know what happened to my former agent, or his lover. Maybe they died in the long year of bombardment, or the single bloody day of invasion. Maybe one of them survived the forced migration. Maybe they’re still together, on that tiny rock where the sky drinks light and the air is cancer. I don’t know. But I know one thing.

There will be no more defections.

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