Unhallowed sterilized moons of mighty Bruticus. I thought so. Suthidruu.
That’s not quite it, not quite how it really sounds, just the closest humanly pronounceable approximation of their name for themselves. Fortunately, what it fully means doesn’t translate very well into any human languages, whether Kai’Siri or Terran. The actual name has ultrasonic tones and sickly olfactory cues that contribute to it’s meaning. I don’t think I want to find out what that is. But I don’t have to, not yet. Thank Cosmos for small things.
This species has embarked on a billion-year old killing spree. That used to be my old job, the one I quit after killing the crew of the ship I was stationed on, the same one I made my own. It, lots of them in fact, had come to send someone, an entire world of someones, to their version of paradise—one planet-buster or nova-trigger at a time—as this patronizingly compassionate, piously humble, and utterly mad elder species had done for eons.
The thought triggers some cognitive bleed from the ‘shard. It’s silent voice whispers a call to war. I block that out. Its original programming repurposed by my former masters, the ‘shard has had a predatory side ever since it was mine. Sometimes it wants to be let out to play, and to feed, and then things get ugly fast. When that happens, people die.
I rise, and check the interstellar news-nets. Lots of signal traffic. Young civilizations eager to make their mark in the universe, to achieve first contact with other intelligent species… “Hi, we’re here!” So blissfully unaware of the noisome ordure that goes on in galactic politics, until the older species decide to eradicate them as a danger, or ignore them and let them kill themselves off with their own tribalism. There’s next to nothing at ordinary channels from the older, more isolationist and rightly paranoid species.
My former masters were the game-changers. They got lucky through their own forced isolation, and grew strong too quickly for the elder races to respond to even on galactic timescales.
The Kai’Siri. Masters of the art of War. A powerful and aggressive human species that governs an empire of over half a million worlds, and whose proclivity toward violence is a threat only to those species who piss them off.
They were the new kids on the block, spreading their influence faster than could be dealt with. By the time they’d consolidated their power, it was too late. They taught many of the older species to stay quiet, to lay low and not make waves.
I’m the ultimate distillation of that, and they made sure to remind me that I was never one of them, just a living tool, a walking weapon, whose hours “on the job” were spent in a forced dream-state. I was the lethal, sleepwalking enforcer of the Exarchs’ will. Fuck the Exarchs. Fuck both of them.
Anyway, they’d managed to develop social mechanisms to overcome their aggression and channel the energy it gave them to constructive ends, even diplomacy and debate.
Kai’Siri love debate, and the more contentious the better. Most of their preschoolers have acquired enough critical reasoning ability to spot a flawed argument a light-year away. That’s one reason that traditional Terran methods of commercial advertisement and partisan politics never made much headway in their culture.
Socially, at least, the Kai’Siri evolved beyond their reptile brains, overcoming one of the worst threats to any intelligent species: themselves. But once they got over that hurdle, making themselves a major power, the other species kept a close eye on them.
The founding of the Exarchate marked a shift in galactic power struggles—those species who could quickly adjust did so, beginning an arms race that forced the Kai’Siri to remain militarized and alert to the present day.
Then they found the relics. They found the hypershards.