It did not matter which of the countless subject worlds it was. It did not matter if the society of the planet possessed a high degree of technical sophistication or was comprised of simple agrarians who knew nothing of machinery at all. In plain fact, to the Cholgachi, it was of no consequence whatsoever. They required but one thing from their conquered chattel…total unquestioning obedience.
Whether these beings paid homage to literature and the spoken word or had no writings and only the most basic of spoken languages, all were required to understand and to observe the terms of their subject status. First and foremost of these was the observance of the Cholgachi ritual of Kel’-Nakh-Tharee which, on all worlds, was understood to mean The Time.
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On the world or worlds chosen, the night sky would be alight with the unmistakable cyan beacon denoting the imminent arrival of the ships that would enforce the Mandate of Impression. The beacon set into motion the same process on each world. An exodus would be made to the place of meeting and tribute would be exacted by the Cholgachi Collectors.
None dared question the Mandate but merely complied. Upon planet fall by the ships, all adults deemed of sufficient strength, health and youth would stand in rank and file and be evaluated. An unspecified number, sometimes more and sometimes less, would be placed upon the vessels and would never return to the world of their birth. None knew where they went nor were unwise enough to ask. Compliance was both prudent and unavoidable.
On an otherwise unremarkable night, Falek saw the sky burst with unexpected illumination and the fire it sparked in his heart burned with seething intensity. Though his home had, for all of its history, bent knee to these damned interlopers, he could not and would not do the same. Whether it meant his death or not, he meant to make his denial the catalyst for his people to recall the simple word, “No”.
This story was written for the weekly Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt: time.