Author : Desmond Hussey, featured writer
“Not a single shot was fired during the Centauri Conquest.” General Kark says, stirring his cold narth-noodle soup. “Little known fact. They just rolled over as soon as our battle cruisers broke atmosphere. Signed the treaty before nightfall. Total subjugation. Easiest planetary occupation in the Hegemony’s history. Not a single casualty.” He smirks. “Well, not one of ours anyway.”
President Niboogi nods, feigning interest. Conquered slaves shouldn’t even be seen, let alone discussed, especially one as utterly servile as the Centauri. He casually plucks a bubbling drink off a passing tray carried by one of the ubiquitous legless and headless Centauri, walking on four prehensile feet, its eye tentacle extended beyond the heavy platter. He sips his frothing beverage and smiles. The Centauri may be a tiresome topic of conversation, but they make damn fine poon punch.
“Fascinating,” Senator Waboo’s wife clucks, “And to think how wonderfully compliant and versatile they are. I couldn’t imagine life without them. They were obviously made by the Onetruegod to serve us.” The two grey-furred Centauri contorted into her settee shift slightly beneath her ample weight.
“Well, there’s one good thing about them,” the Senator cuts in, “They’re quiet.”
They share a condescending chuckle.
“I hear the Emperor only uses Centauri servants.”
“Because they’re so quiet?” asks Mrs. Waboo.
“Because they don’t talk back,” quips her husband.
“What about their strange hand-talk? Is it true they have a secret language?” Mrs. Waboo queries with an air of mystery. Rumors of a covert Centauri language have been the hot topic of gossip tables for decades, attaining Urban Myth status.
“Hardly. They’re trained monkeys; able to convey simple commands to each other, certainly – we’ve all seen it – but they’re hardly intelligent enough to have a sophisticated language, let alone a secret one. Any race that uses its hands to eat, walk and talk can’t be that smart, now can they?” This from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“But what of the rumors, Minister? Their supposed martial prowess?”
“Utter hogwash. The Centauri are completely benign.” The General takes command of the conversation. “Their alleged martial skills are a child’s fantasy. They’re docile to the point of idiocy; wouldn’t even raise a hand in self-defense.” Demonstrating, he lifts his bowl with one hand, and, wielding his spoon with the other, jabs his Centauri table hard in the fleshy dimple on its back where its four shoulder bones meet. The creature winces, elbows bending slightly, then, uncomplaining, resumes its stoic tabletop composure. “By signing the treaty,” the General continues, “they became the Hegemony’s first volunteer slave race. Simple as that.”
“We’ve had Centauri slaves in our family for over ten generations,” the President’s wife boasts. “Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone has at least three.”
“Well – “The General is silenced on account of having a bowl of cold narth-noodle soup forced down his gullet by his Centauri table.
The President’s elite dinning party find themselves unexpectedly restrained, held captive in the ultra-strong arms of their Centauri slaves.
There’s an ever-so-brief scuffle near the foyer where Hegemony bodyguards battle with, what appears to be, a whirlwind of fists. When the martial dervish ends six guards lay in an unmoving mass crowned by two muscular Centauri.
Simultaneously, across the Hegemony’s hundred light year empire, within every household, every office, street and shop, even within the Emperor’s throne room itself, the Centauri, having bidden their time for a century, overcome their slave masters in a brief, but effective coup.
Not a single shot is fired.
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