When the founders of Providence made planetfall, they had but one credo to establish their new civilization on the uninhabited world: Blind ignorance is unfortunate. Willful ignorance is shameful. Manufactured ignorance is unforgivable.
Two hundred forty-one local years later, when the invading conquerors of Providence divvied up the planet, they wondered why the inhabitants had done so little to defend their bountiful home world. Especially Neh Ryn Suu.
Though not generally prone to deep reflection, something about the ease of conquest continued to nag at Suu during the transition to colonial rule. There had been no apparent resistance to their invading forces as they took control of planetary and interplanetary communications and announced new edicts of governance. In fact, Providence’s citizenry seemed to have a great appetite to learn the ways of its conquerors.
And that was certainly not Suu’s way. As colonial plenipotentiary, Suu knew the power of information and misinformation. Only the latter went out to Providence’s populace in the form of either wildly sensational or completely banal propaganda. All lies. And rarely well-crafted.
In Suu’s long colonial experience, truth never set citizens free. It only burdened them. A distracted mind, an immediately gratified mind, an addicted mind, these resulted in a placid planet. And Suu relied upon this formula, though always keeping the most powerful tools of control–fear and rage–at hand.
Nearly a year after conquest, the populace remained tame. Suu could find no evidence of domestic profiteering or graft. Plenty of opportunistic carpetbaggers and corrupt colonial officials continued to fleece the locals, but no cases of exploitation arising from the native citizenry. They were playing by the new rules. They’d quietly learned the language and customs of their conquerors and stirred no political pots. This benign acceptance of the status quo should’ve reassured Suu.
It did not. It called for interrogations.
On the third day of questioning in the very comfortable side room between his office and the rendition cells, Suu sat and casually asked, “How are things going for you, Citizen Fleur?”
Citizen Fleur smiled. “Well. And for you, Minister Suu?”
The inquiry seemed genuine, and Suu felt an unexpected tug. “I am satisfied when things are running smoothly. I am discontent when they are not. But, I am most uneasy when things are running far too well.”
“And this is the case?”
“It is, Citizen Fleur. I am looking to understand why the founding populace of Providence has so readily accepted colonial rule.” Much more bluntly put than Suu had intended. Another unexpected tug. “Why haven’t you fought back? Why aren’t you resisting us?”
“Because we are honest with ourselves. And because we are honest, we cannot compete with lies, deception and corruption.” Citizen Fleur stood. “Though, ultimately, neither can you, Minister Suu. Ignorance is unsustainable. We will learn what we can from you, and we will carry forward. Yours is an unknowable path.”
The moment became a monument. Suu could not resist the tug. “Are we then finished here?”
“That is always for the vanquisher to decide. What is done is done. Though,” Citizen Fleur motioned to the door opposite Suu’s office, “there is always a next step.”
Suu rose, tugged by the novelty of considering truth and consequences over lies and conquest, and uncomprehendingly led Citizen Fleur through one of the doors.