So I’m re-reading David Weber’s Out of the Dark, and a particular scene sparked this…thing. I can’t honestly call it a story. Perhaps vignette is the best description. It is a snippet of conversation between the highest ranked individuals on both sides.
A Conversation Between Deceased Antagonists
FCT> Fleet Commander Thikair, of the Shongairi Empire, commander of the colonization ( i.e. invasion ) fleet sent to KU-197-20 (Earth), as authorized by the Hegemony Council in the year 74,065 of the Hegemony.
RAR> Rear Admiral James Robinson, Naval Network and Space Operations Command. Possibly the highest ranking officer in the United States Military after the initial Shongairi KEW bombardment.
(fade in, FCT & RAR sitting in their respective chairs, drinks and snacks within reach)
FCT> “One of the many things that we didn’t understand about your cultures was this resistance to using whatever weapons were necessary to achieve your ends. For example, we knew you had chemical, bio-active, and nuclear weapons, but not one of your nations were willing to use them to become supreme.”
RAR> *nods* “We call them weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs and to answer your question, we don’t use them because we have used them.”
FCT> “I don’t understand.”
RAR> “Early in what we call the twentieth century there was a great war on our eastern continent. Both sides deployed chemical weapons. They were crude compared to later efforts, but the cost in lives destroyed and maimed was terrible. In a later conflict, nuclear weapons were used twice. The hope was that seeing the terrible destruction, the other side would surrender to prevent more casualties. Chemical weapons are easy. Bio weapons are almost as easy. Nukes are somewhat harder, but still a dozen nations have the capability. Once one nation starts using any of them, others will retaliate and it will spread until the Earth is uninhabitable. We know this as Mutually Assured Destruction. We have developed treaties to prevent this from happening, for if the WMD conflict spreads, no one will survive.”
FCT> “That doesn’t make sense.”
RAR> “That’s because as a race, your people are hunters. If the concepts follow those on my planet, hunters are either solitary or packs. I believe your culture is based around the pack. When a challenger to the pack leader appears, they fight until one submits, and then the fight is over. Unless one or both are mortally wounded in the combat, both will survive. We see this in the packs of our more primitive species.”
FCT> “Of course, that only makes sense.”
RAR> “As I said, you are hunters, but we are killers. It is not unknown in our internal conflicts for the stronger to continue battering away at the weaker until he dies. Once we developed more complex social structures, outright killing became frowned on. But we still engage in the practice. It has just become converted into organizational, rather than personal conflict.”
FCT> *whispered* “We should have destroyed you as soon as we arrived.”
RAR> “From your point of view, that would have been best. Of course, our point of view differs on that.”
FCT> “Is there no hope for my people, then? Can we not negotiate a treaty that lets us both survive?”
RAR> “I don’t know. There are many of us who would stop short of full destruction. Once the killer instinct arises it takes much effort to suppress it. But you have to understand that the person leading the retaliation fleet is among the most blood-thirsty individuals in our history. You and I can only sit and watch how events will play out. We can only hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail.
FCT> “Why would you say that? We are enemies.”
RAR> “The destruction of an entire race, no a species, even though an enemy, will leave the universe a poorer place. And in addition, it will leave a stain on our racial soul that may fade, but will never vanish.”
FCT> “I don’t understand you.”
RAR> “Let’s hope that someone on the retaliation fleet thinks like me.”