Short Fiction: Massacre

The existence of the La’Isshai is actually Nirala’s most closely-guarded secret, which is a little hard to believe once you’ve seen how quickly Dar spilled the beans in Nantais.

In fact, most Niralans spend their entire lives pretending the La’Isshai don’t exist. But once in a while, someone comes to trust a member of another species enough to tell the truth.

This comes in handy when you’re a starship captain in the middle of nowhere, trying to understand what you’ve gotten yourself into.


To: Resa Molloy, ISS Jemison
From: Koa Nantais, Office of the Ambassador
Re: news from home


Thank you for the scone recipe, and also the recent photo of David. I forget how quickly human children grow!

I’ve attached a photo of my most recent project. The neckline doesn’t leave enough to the imagination for my taste, but you’d be astonished at how difficult it is to find a good tailor out here.




As usual, Dar’s account is accurate, but lacking in detail.

Tabviel was (is) a Viidan military base adjacent to the Tishkani capital and, during the Second Empire, the headquarters of the imperial service. At the time of the incident (which the Viidiari refer to as the “Tabviel Incident” and which we do not refer to at all), Anha Nesenda and her team were on the base because the Empire, having recently lost control of its remaining two outposts on Nirala, had sued for peace.

The ambassador’s terms were simple: Stop impressing* us, and we will stop murdering** you. Most of us expected those terms to be more than acceptable to the (remains of the) Empire, which was suffering heavy losses on every continent. A few hundred Niralans weren’t going to turn the tide of that war.

The La’Isshai, however, found those terms unacceptable. The end of the war would mean the end of them; they’d recently discovered the senarie’s plans to terminate all 36 of them once peace was obtained. (I teach a master class on irony if you’re interested.)

The op ostensibly began as a strike on the ambassador alone. It got, as Dar mentioned, “out of hand.” Thirty-six La’Isshai went in; they left no one alive.

This put the Empire in an awkward position. After that slaughter***, the Empire was not only willing but eager to divest itself of us. But to capitulate totally to the senarie, with 3,000 dead and Tabviel in ruins, would have meant the end of the Empire on all fronts. Meanwhile, the senarie had realized that it utterly lacked the tools even to control the La’Isshai, much less to destroy them.

The Empire exchanged peace for the perpetrators, executed several of them to make a point, put the rest on a ship guarded and staffed by political prisoners and mercenaries whose greed outran their sense, and launched them into deep space – at sublight speeds, I might add. You know more about the rest than I do.

Nine were left on Nirala: Norak’s daughters, who immediately disappeared, and An Nantais. The senarie immediately recruited Nereved to find a way to fix the La’Isshai’s little character quirk of massacring everyone in sight. After that…well, you can ask Dar, if you haven’t already.

Watch your back. Don’t report. You’re walking into some very old grudges.


*Although uncertain where impressment ends and slavery begins, I will use the former because we were, at least, getting paid…in a manner of speaking. This was not the chattel slavery that has come to define the term on Earth and elsewhere.
**This term is used deliberately.



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