This is based on a prompt by Eric Krause: “A tiny planet declares independence from the intergalactic empire.” The planet’s name and designation are a nod to the prompter, not an opinion about same. ;-)
BONUS STORY: John Xero is featuring my sci-fi flash, Archived, on his site. You get two from me this week!
The Ministers have gathered, per instructions from His Sublime Majesty, Overlord, Emperor Warren the Seventeenth. Several of them skim their reports on private holoscreens, hoping to catch any final error before the H.S.M.O.E. does. Those Ministers who know and trust their counterparts have swapped reports to get another set of eyes on them.
At last, the Major Domo enters, plays a recorded fanfare, and introduces the Emperor. All rise as the undisputed ruler of most of the Local Group enters the State Room.
“Be seated,” he says, dispensing with further formalities. “I trust that all of you have prepared your reports?” They nod as one. “Good. Then let us attend to the matter of EJK7734.” He looks at the woman to his left. “Minister of Culture, I will ask you to begin.”
The Minister of Culture, Rebekah Fennel by birth, stands. “I am honored, Your Majesty. We all received the Declaration of Independence from EJK7734, known as ‘Krouze’ to its inhabitants, shortly before the broadcast services did. It is the considered opinion of the sociologists that Krouze has been infested with Dystopian-4 politics. My report describes the situation further.” The charts appear on the primary holoscreen.
“Minister, I am unfamiliar with the details of your labels.”
“Your pardon, Majesty. Dystopian-4 is what we call a ‘constructed reality.’ It espouses the belief that government is not only unable to provide solutions to problems, but is always the problem. As can be expected, it is always accompanied by a studied denial of any facts that do not support the constructed reality. Those are two prime indicators. The third, which is also present on EJK7734, is the suppression of opposing views by violence—usually threatened, but occasionally physical. We believe that as many as two-thirds of the populace, perhaps two billion people, remain loyal to the Crown, but feel unable to steer their planet to a more reasonable course of action.”
“Thank you, Minister,” says the Emperor. He looks at a serious man further down the table. “Given the potential number of loyalists, Minister of the Military, what could be done to minimize civilian casualties and suffering?”
“Sir,” says the Minister of the Military, “I would recommend Standard Plan SP-RB-79 in this situation.” He sifts through several reports, quickly adds slides from one and modifies a few others. “Damage to both sides would be minimal.”
“A thing of beauty.” The Emperor next turns to a fussy-looking man. “Minister of Economy. What is your assessment?”
The primary holoscreen fills with a mind-numbing array of numbers. “As you can see here, Your Majesty, EJK7734 is what the Ministry classifies as an MPP, or Minimally Productive Planet. A ‘backwater,’ in terms of several generations past. Yearly contributions to the welfare of EJK7734 exceed received tax revenues by two hundred billion Intergalactic Credits.”
“An interesting datapoint, Your Majesty,” the Minister of Culture interjects. “Dystopian-4 politics almost always manifest on MPPs.”
“Good to know. Minister of the Military, what would it cost us to put down this rebellion, using your recommended plan?”
The Minister purses his lips. “At a minimum, sir, six trillion credits.”
“Next to none, Majesty.”
“Very well. Minister of Transportation, what would it cost the Crown to transport two billion loyalists?”
The Minister of Transportation, a dark and slender woman, hems and haws as she calculates. “Perhaps one point five trillion credits? Depends on where we send them, Your Majesty.”
“Minister of Commerce,” says the Emperor, “does this planet contribute anything significant to the Crown?”
“Their primary exports are cotton and iron, Majesty. Their contribution in both regards is minimal.” His report flows across the primary holoscreen.
“Thank you, Minister.” The Emperor pauses for a few seconds. “So, we are hearing that a drain on the Empire’s treasury wishes to sever its ties with the Empire. It would cost us about four times as much to put down the rebellion as it would to transport loyalists to a friendlier environ. The planet itself provides nothing important, commercially or strategically. Am I correct?”
Seeing the nods of agreement around the table, the Emperor continues. “It is the provisional decision of the Crown, that EJK7734 be allowed to peaceably withdraw from the Empire, contingent on their allowing all loyalists to depart unmolested and with their personal property. We will study the other reports, but we suspect that they will reinforce our initial decision. I am placing Minister of Transportation Elsbeth Rialna in charge of relocating the loyalists, and she will call upon any of you in support of that. Minister of Planetary Resources, I especially expect you to help her find a suitable destination for our subjects. Once that phase is completed, we shall expect the Minister of State to establish diplomatic relations.” The Emperor smiles. “But nothing too elaborate. As with others in this situation, we expect that our wayward planet will beg to rejoin the Empire within a generation.”
His detractors called him Warren the Beancounter, but historians dubbed him Warren the Wise.