“Where are they?” is a question I would rather had remained unanswered, Mbotu mused. The stone-like bench, lost in the giant and austere entry hall, was cold and uncomfortable. It grew more so as time passed. He had been punctual. One does not keep ones God King waiting. The reverse, however, is a given. Mbotu had once done so himself. Was it only a year? Just one year since he had held the highest office there was: Secretary General of the United Nations of Earth. It might as well have been a millennium ago. The now redundant world government had succeeded beyond the wildest imaginings of its 20th century founders. After three centuries, war and everything associated with it had been abolished. No one was hungry; there were no rich, no poor; the environment had been saved and the excesses of unfettered capitalism had been reined in by the gentle power of the institution to which he had given over his life. Mbotu’s thoughts were interrupted by the echoing footfalls of an approaching functionary.
“You will be seen now.”
By the time the elderly Mbotu rose aching from the bench, the figure was already in motion. Instant and unquestioning obedience was simply assumed. No further words were exchanged and he followed as quickly as he could.
A lift took them to the top of the five kilometre ‘palace’, if that was the right term for the new seat of government. When the door opened it was as if he had crossed light-years to another world and in effect he had. This was the private residence of the alien warlord who now claimed the once peaceful and unarmed Earth for his own.
“Sit”, said an imposing alien figure. “Be comfortable”. As if realizing Mbotu’s thoughts, he added “There is no need for formality here. You are fully aware of your place and it is time to integrate you into the Imperial Government. You will be assigned quarters here. You will be restored to your former position and will retain it for so long as you are obedient and successful in carrying out our wishes. Earth must begin to pay its own way in the Empire and repay our investment in it. Our requirements are simple enough. You have advanced technology and global infrastructure. You will convert it to production to support our fleet and invasion forces. If all goes well, in a century or so you will supply troops as well.”
“But… we have no knowledge of arms and war”, interjected an appalled Mbotu, “We have expunged even the basics of dangerous technologies from our libraries and archives. They have been outlawed for generations!”
“We know. That is in fact why I am here and you are there.” After a pause he continued. “Perhaps I should explain the realities of the wider universe. Most civilizations travel a path similar to yours. They go from warlike tribes to larger and larger conglomerates hacking and beating at each other with primitive weapons. Then comes the first technological transition and wars which become more and more terrible. Those who survive become a single global state by one path or another. Since there is no longer a threat to be met, defences atrophy. There is no need for advanced arms, nuclear weapons or standing armies. Most societies degenerate to the point where they have only small special units for solving problems for the supreme ruler of the planet.”
He continued. “A few, like you, are more extreme. You have eliminated your military entirely. You have destroyed traditions which reached far into your past and once allowed the training of effective soldiers. Even if we had allowed you ten years warning you could not have fielded a fighting force worthy of respect. You blocked the development of nanotechnology, advanced spaceships, nuclear power, directed energy weapons, force fields and a hundred other things you deemed too dangerous. Your population became coddled and addicted to a safe and easy, if somewhat impoverished, life. The concept of self-defence, even if you still allowed so much as a sharp blade to be manufactured or kept, have become as alien to your population as invaders from another planet.”
“You believe you had a golden age, but soon enough your population will be taught the lie and will support our rule. By our standards you accomplished a global and equal poverty for all but the ruling class like yourself. We will return adventure to your decadent and risk averse populace. We will give you the option of thousand year lifespans and travel to the stars. Your children will be will be our willing adventurers and soldiers.”
Mbotu, steeled by life as a bureaucrat, diplomat and politician, stayed calm. “You say most. Obviously you are an exception.”
“Yes. A very small number of civilizations follow the path to Empire. From time to time we fight each other at the edges of our vast catchments, but for the most part we take the easier path. There are so many like you that it would be a waste of resources to spend our time locked in bloody combat and destroy the very planets and populations we seek.”
Mbotu changed the subject. “How long have you known of us?”
“Space is vast and the stars are like dust. Occasionally we stumble upon a pre-technological species, but for the most part we just listen. By the time we hear the first radio broadcast your sort are already into the endgame of the nation state. When we first arrived your Europeans were nearly ready for harvesting but there were still many capable of causing us annoyance. Your United States had the technology and fight to give us big problems. A deadly challenge to their supremacy might well have pushed them into developing some of the now proscribed technologies and made invasion too costly for us. Others like China and India had populations whom we would have had to mostly wipe out to stop them from fighting.”
“Over the millennia we have learned the virtue of patience. A few centuries is usually enough. Once you are decadent, disarmed and centralized…” the alien did what could pass for a shrug, “We arrive with a show of overwhelming force and you surrender without a shot. There are usually a few hold outs, but they are easily dealt with and turned into object lessons without wrecking what we want: a developed planetary civilization that will supply us the tools for the next conquest. You were not able or willing to fight for your freedom.” He paused for effect. “And now you are ours.”
[Copyright 20090712 Dale Amon, all rights reserved]