Emboldened by their resounding success on Mikros, the Mechari returned to investigating numerous worlds for other prospective allies in which to invest. With their remarkable aptitude for mechanical engineering and total absence of morality, the primitive but intelligent Chua of Bezgelor looked promising. Giving the Chua simple gifts of basic technology, the Dominion hoped it would give them a leg up. But when they returned a hundred years later, they could not believe what had taken place...

538 AE Uplift of the Chua

Synopsis List
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Part One Titans of Industry

As her flyer dipped below the bruised cloudbanks, Axis Pheydra, who had taken orders from gods for centuries without batting an eye, found that she was capable of repulsion.

Her first suspicion was that a perceptor was malfunctioning. Surely this could not be the same world. Only an enormous asteroid or comet could account for such haze, the existence of which she would surely have noticed during her first circuit and dealt with.

But her probes confirmed what her sensoria resisted admitting. This was indeed Bezgelor. It seemed inconceivable that in the span of a mere century an entire planetary ecosystem could have become so degraded. Or, for that matter, that living organisms could survive in such toxic conditions for more than sixty-six seconds.

The lush forests that had carpeted over half the massive planet's surface had been completely denuded. Likewise its oceans, jungles, ice caps, and ozone layer. Its mountains had been mined hollow and paved over. The verdant groves had been replaced by factories and refineries that scabbed every horizon, churning noxious gases that made the sky seethe a cancerous ochre. The unceasing groans of machinery sounded like the planet itself begging for oblivion.

It seemed that her mission here had succeeded, to put it mildly. Judged sheerly by their capacity for industry alone, the Chua would make a promising addition to the Dominion. But were these creatures too unruly for even the Eldan to maintain control? It seemed but an eyeblink since her last visit here, on what at the time had seemed an unlikely gambit.

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Part Two A Promising Devilry

Emboldened by the resounding success of their mission to Mikros, the Mechari returned to their scouting with renewed zeal, investigating numerous worlds considered statistically optimal for incubating powerful prospective allies.

Pheydra herself had chanced to be in an adjacent system when probes notified her of the primitive but intelligent Chua of Bezgelor. Her interval of covert study confirmed that in addition to their unbridled deviousness, the rather dubious-looking creatures displayed an uncanny talent for mechanical engineering. Concluding that a species unconstrained by moral considerations had obvious strategic possibilities (and fascinated by their inventively bizarre reproduction cycle), she transmitted her findings and announced intentions to open communications.

With what she deemed the optimal fanfare, she made her presence known to their most powerful tribe, requested an audience with what she estimated from his bone coronet to be the incumbent chieftain, and presented him with crude and simple tokens of Dominion technology. Nothing fusion-powered of course, merely items sufficient to teach them the fundamentals of physics and, presuming they survived said lessons, to nudge them slowly but inexorably towards metallurgy.

Appearing profoundly moved, the chieftain reciprocated by presenting the new benefactors with a gift-wrapped parcel of fronds, accompanied by repeated pleas that they delay fully savoring its contents until back aboard their ship.

Consequently, it was only after liftoff that the box's occupant, an especially tumescent Bezgeloran tar-beetle, promptly exploded upon exposure to light per its ancient defense mechanism, coating all Mechari present in corrosive black ooze that required months of corrective drilling and acid-baths to remove.

Overriding her enraged envoys' suggestions to exterminate the entire populace, Pheydra reluctantly ordered departure. The trip to Bezgelor had been a waste. Superior candidates awaited everywhere. Ones requiring surely less...maintenance.

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Part Three Explosive Results

Now, Pheydra reflected as she toured the refinery, it appeared their efforts had propelled the Chua into a state of psychotic overdrive. As the ambassador with the strange smile showed her how they had created a weapons factory so efficient that its components were processed from prisoner protein to petroleum in seconds, Pheydra wondered if she was witnessing the most horrifying abomination in her long memory or the greatest achievement of her equally long career.

She understood their sudden eagerness to join the Dominion. They had scraped their planet dry. Now they faced a need for resources that their environment was no longer capable of producing. Some of her envoys were still in favor of nuking them. But the weapons prototypes they had shown her appeared remarkably efficient.

She turned to express these sentiments to the ambassador and saw that he was extending a small box to her. An offering, the translator explained, to cement their glorious alliance for ages to come.

She started to open it. Narrowed her gaze. Eyes glistening, the Chua expressed regrets on behalf of his mentally troubled ancestor who had misguidedly perpetuated that whole unfortunate tar-beetle business. He assured her that this parcel contained nothing of the sort. A brief pulse-scan confirmed the truth of this assertion. Taking the box, she expressed her wishes that it serve as a fitting testimonial to Mechari-Chua relations for all time to come.

She returned to her ship. Leaving the box in the care of her attendant, she withdrew to her chambers to reflect on her next stop. Just before the doors closed, she heard the explosion.

And discovered for the first time in two thousand years of sentience that her dentata could grind with irritation.