Gunship Diplomacy


And this is the only piece of fiction I’ve written since then that I’ve saved as worth reading. That may be hubris, but give it a go.

I wrote my first fanfic in forever back when The Mandate was having its kickstarter. I banged out a little script-format tiny fanfic drabble while I was supposed to be getting my place ready for RPG night, and posted it. So far as I know it - or its original script version, anyway - has the distinction of being the first The Mandate fanfiction to exist - or at least the first one ever posted on the net. It was on the old Mandate forums before there even was a fiction section! It saw a couple of revisions soon after, often late at night, and this is the final form of it. I’m happy with it, and don’t want to break it by trying to fix it.

The negotiations had been going on for some time, even after they were put through to the governor rather than one of his flunkies, and it was getting aggravating. For God’s sake, this wasn’t an unreasonable request, and while this planet was not exactly a core world, nor was it some bushscrub hardscrabble one, lucky to own a worldwide comm net for emergency messages. It was easily capable of the repairs and resupply necessary. And as far as his analysts - or at least, what analysts could be crammed aboard a hastily retrofitted outdated frigate - could tell, it was not an openly rebellious one either; just - unenthusiastic about the reestablishment of central authority.

The captain shook their head minutely and refocused on the negotiations, they had a duty - all loyal citizens of the Mandate - had a duty to perform. Perhaps it was time to remind the governor thus. In curt, definite terms, the captain restated the facts, just in case the governor had forgotten them. He in turn almost inflated with outrage, before expelling it all over the comm channel. “Pfha! The Mandate! What has the Mandate ever been to us, but tax collectors and laws and decrees made with no appreciation for local circumstances or wishes? No, Captain, let the Mandate rot. Let it be consumed in atomic fire, and something better rise up to replace it!” After saying that, the man seemed to exude an odd mixture of satisfaction and trepidation, as if this was something that had been bubbling beneath the surface for some time, but he at least realised how dangerous to say it out loud could be, in the current climate.

The captain, charged by the Empress Herself to reunite the Mandate and bestowed the command sceptre of the Imperial line for that purpose, felt their face harden. “Well, Governor. I cannot say what the Mandate has been to you and your people; I was not here, I would not presume to do so. I can however tell you what it was to me. It was both shield and sword against the night and all that lurked in it. It was the knowledge that anything could be endured, if you put your mind to it. It was all that is great in Humanity. It was then my disgrace and imprisonment.” Best not to think on that.

“But I can tell you, Governor in the Empress’ Name, what the Mandate will be to you and yours if you do not fulfil my legal requests for repair and resupply. In that case Governor, you will be guilty of treason, and the Mandate will be several megatons of Directed Energy Weapon fire bringing down the shield above your palace. Then, it will be a three hundred and twenty millimetre ferrous slug accelerated to a velocity easily capable of landscaping duties for the new Governor, impacting the palace itself. Immediately following, it will be drop-pods and combat shuttles filled with this warship of the Grand Fleet’s entire Imperial Marine complement landing both at what is left of that complex and carefully selected sites around this planet.” The governor looked like he was starting to truly comprehend the implications of his outburst.

The captain unconsciously adjusted their uniform and leaned a little towards the pickup. “My marines cannot hold the planet. However, with orbital fire support - which your defences cannot contest, as their automated lockouts recognise the authority granted me by this sceptre, even if you do not - they can kill you, your senior staff, and on and on down the chain until either a legally authorised individual grants my request, or there is no-one left who can wield that authority, in which case my men and I leave to find another shipyard, and your planet’s populace either slide into barbarism or are easy prey for any pirates or renegades that come after me. It will be of no consequence to you of course, as my commtechs have already traced this transmission to your bunker, and that will be receiving the second salvo. The physical symbol of your authority needs must receive the first strike, as I am sure you can understand.”

Having said this, the Captain of the List of the starship Vindicator, once Peer of the Realm, then court-martialed prisoner, now charged with reuniting the Mandate by any means necessary - leaned back in their command chair, something that could be charitably called a smile beginning to appear on their face. “Now, I believe you were saying something about atomic fire?”

In the original version this was just a script, with “Captain” and “Governor”, so in this I tried to get personality across without describing physical attributes. This is supposed to be something that you could see any of your captains doing, assuming the personality you ascribe to them fits, whether they be male or female, from a high-tech or low-tech homeworld, anything like that. Let me know if it worked, okay?

(PS: The ship’s name I stole from the default name for the Precursor ship from Star Control 2. I just thought it fit so well.)